eyeliners explained and how to apply gel eyeliner

The most commonly used liner is a pencil. It’s the type that women are most familiar with, it’s the easiest to use, and the quickest to apply.

Since I’ve ventured into gel liner, I’m not sure I’ll ever go to back to wearing just pencil liner. I love the impact and deep line I’m able to get from gel. Sure, a few strokes back and forth with a kohl pencil liner (these are usually very soft and easy to apply) will give you a nice, dark line, but there’s something about the thick line of gel that gives me more impact and lasting power than pencil.

As far as pencils go, I typically use my Mac powerpoint eye pencil. I’ve also used liners from Revlon, Stila, and Covergirl, and been equally satisfied. If you are looking for eyeliner, I recommend always buying waterproof. It will last longer and not be as likely to smudge. And it’s not as challenging to remove as, say, waterproof mascara.

The only gel liner I’ve tried is the Maybelline Eye Studio Gel Eyeliner. It comes with a narrow pointed brush, but I prefer an angled brush like this one. I’m pleased with the consistancy, staying power, and color. 

I don’t use liquid liner often, and I’m much more likely to “dot between my lashes” when I use it instead of drawing a bold line. Here is a tip when using liquid liner to make your lash line look thicker.

I’ve enjoyed the Revlon ColorStay liquid liner. It’s inky, the brush is small, and a little product goes a long way.

And now for a tutorial on how to use gel liner! It may seem pretty obvious, but I’ve got a trick that helps guide me when I’m applying the gel.


  1. says

    I love trying new eye liners but my favorite by far is a mineral eye liner! I love the look, not to say I don’t enjoy liquid or gel for a change of pace. :) Love your bangs. I have will power I won’t cut bangs until after my wedding, I won’t cut bangs until after my wedding…
    You look great
    Hailey @ Love, Laughter and Lipstick

  2. says

    Did you get the liquid pen? That’s what I received jn my Jan BB and I love it. I have been wanting to use eyeliner again in the past several years but my post 60 eyes were making it impossible. This thing is amazing for the elderly among us.

  3. says

    I just bought the Mabelline gel liner last week and I absolutely LOVE it!! I was so nervous about using anything other than a pencil but I saw some Laura Geller gel eyeliner on QVC and they made it look so easy and pretty. Since the Mabelline gel liner had a much better price, I decided to try it and so glad I did! I don’t think I can do pencil anymore either. And…your hair looks AWESOME in this post!!!

  4. says

    Kate, you you ever have problems with the “chunkiness” and “clumpiness” of gel? How do you sweep away fallout without getting black streaks? I use liquid for the top but it comes in a felt-tip pen and I find it pretty easy to control. I would imagine those brush liquid liners are the tricky ones.

    • says

      Only from using a “used” brush. The gel is smooth, but if I dont’ clean off my brush well, it leaves me with flakes. I do my eye makeup before face makeup, so I can wipe off any smudges!

  5. says

    That is a really great tutorial. I have not even seen gel eyeliner, will have to give it a try.
    Have you ever tried a eyeliner marker instead of the liquid liner? it is the same, and they are pretty awesome – I use liquid all the time, and have just switched to the marker, and it has the exact same look, but less mistakes! :)

  6. says

    Cute but I wanted to ask how old these pictures are or if you cut your hair? Your hair looks so much shorter and you have bangs still, which I have been jealously watching you grow out for the last year (mine won’t grow!). Not sure if you cut your hair again or if these pictures are just older ….

  7. says

    I use the gel eyeliner but didn’t know to use a pencil first. I just bought Bobbie Brown gel liner and brush and I have used Estee Lauder’s but didn’t care for it as much as I do with the BB. Thanks for sharing I’m certainly going to try it with the pencil first!

  8. says

    Love that you have brought back the bangs again!!!! Honestly I was kinda sad when you said you were growing them out so you’ve made my day! 😉

  9. says

    Your hair is straight! It looks great!

    The black eyeliner looks so good on you – I feel like black is so dramatic on me but it looks much more natural & casual on you. =)

  10. says

    I’m at work so I can’t play the video. Forgive me if you touched on this during your tutorial. For beginners: line your eyes first with a pencil. Then simply paint over the line with your liquid or gel eyeliner. Makes even the most nervous nellies have a perfect liquid look every time. :-)

  11. says

    I don’t comment too often…but I have to say (and I’m sure I’m not the only one) that I LOVE the new frequency of tutorials and makeup/hair related posts!!!!! I ssooo love your blog and love that you share your love for The Lord.
    And I’m just loving how often I am seeing Facebook posts about new tutorials or info on hair and makeup!!

  12. says

    I’m 55 and my eyelids are a bit “loose” so I neede an eyeline that wouldn’t end up on my eyebrows. After trying many, many I’ve found that Smashbox has a waterproof eyeline that is AWESOME. I eventually had a thin eyeline tatooed on the top and bottom (it’s wonderful and because the technician paid so much attention to getting color between the lashes, my lashes look so much fuller) when I need a more dramatic line the Smashbox is what I use. Don’t waste any more $$ on anything else….learn from someone who’s tried at least 25 different liners.

    p.s. I love your blog

  13. says

    Love your blog! I was wondering if you had any tips for bangs. I have similar bangs like yours but have the hardest time getting then to stay swooped to the side; instead they flop into my eyes and I fight with them all day. Unless I use super hold hairspray ( which makes me feel they are now a visor ) I have no luck keeping them out of my eyes. Any tips?

  14. says

    Kate, I’m 55 and have been using liquid liner since I was in college, the 70’s! Have tried pencil on & off, but go back to liquid (for the top) every time. More defined as you mentioned, and to me, easy, smooth, & quick to apply. 😉 For years, I’ve used Maybeline UltraLiner. Nice handle & perfect brush. LOVE your blog & tutorials!

    • says

      ok, so i just read the previous messages and you DID cut your bangs! you go girl! i cut mine in october….i have this thing with cutting bangs in the fall and then letting them grow out by summer. but, this time ive kept them. i have grown to love them :)
      ~jennifer christine

  15. says

    I love, love, love Bobbi Brown gel liner. I do believe she was the first to come out with it. I try others and always go back to hers. Bonus, you can get discontinued colors and overstocks at Cosmetics Outlet much cheaper.

    I love her brush for it but also an angled Smashbox brush too.

    The Sonia K brand at Target isn’t good. It transfers to my lid quickly.

    for a chunkier line, I’m addicted to Sephora brand chubby pencil liners.

    My few cents! This was fun to read.

  16. says

    oh i use the maybelline gel liner too! love it. i use the color “espresso” most of the time…its perfect DARK brown because not as harsh as black but its not that awkward light brown/my liner is lighter than my brown shadow that some eyeliners are. also stays on my waterline/tightline longer than any other liners ive tried. :)

  17. says

    I LOOOOOVE the Mac Powerpoint pencil and have used nothing else for 5 years now (in “Engraved” shade – a nice black). It lasts forever without fading or smudging, which is the most important aspect, and it goes on nice and smooth. It is probably my most important piece of makeup (along with my Laura Mercier secret concealer – both are crucial for looking pretty and awake!)

  18. says

    Totally eyeliner unrelated. I have a request. I am stuck in something of a style rut and want to update for winter/spring. Shoes are my biggest issue. Its cold, wet, icy and snowy depending on the day so I have been sporting some pretty dull shoes. I LOVED the 30 in 30 thing you did. The colors, the feel, everything was stuff I would wear. But alas, its winter. In Washington. So i would need tights, always a sweater and no open toed shoes. Can you eek out a minute to add your favorite cold weather picks for a 30 in 30 kind of post? Not that you have to WEAR it, but I could really use a winter wardrobe do-over. Plus, I have no clue what colors are ‘in’ this spring. Im still donning the same colors as last spring. Coral, orange, turquiose, eggplant. (you get the idea) Maybe just add the warm accesories to your 30 in 30 to take it to winter? Please help us poor moms who dont want to always look like one!! Thanks.

  19. says

    I love using gel liner. I like Clinique’s Black Honey, Bobbi Brown in caviar ink and black mauve, and sephora’s made in manhatten (deep black navy and only $12). You need to see the Clinique one in person as the online coloring does not do it justice. I have found the best brushes to be Bobbi Brown and Tarte. On another note, do you ever wear false eyelashes? Could you do a tutorial?

  20. says

    Hi Kate- I’m curious, when should one use eyeliner from the half way point, as you did here, or all the way across the top (or bottom) lash line? I never know which one would be best for me. I am one of those people who never know what my face shape really is either…(sigh)

  21. says

    Here is a fantastically easy way to apply gel eyeliner and you don’t have to use a brush: take any pencil eyeliner you have, make sure it has a decent point and dip it into the gel and apply as you would with the brush. You get the same effect with less hassel. If you have a similar color pencil as you do gel that’s great but it doesn’t have to be the same. Try it! You will love the control you get and this method is also great for the waterline. Since most gel eyeliner tends to be waterproof it’s a great way to get that extra drama in the water line and it won’t move.

  22. says

    I’ve always used Tarte’s Amazonian Clay Liner in the little pot and I love it but I think it’s finally starting to dry out. Excited to get the Maybelline gel liner since its so cheap! But buying the Tarte one was worth it just to get the awesome double ended brush! Great post!

  23. says

    Your timing is impeccable, I have just purchased my first ever gel eyeliner and was stressing about using it. LOVE your amazing tutorial. Thank you!!!!Dashing off to do all the wonderful hints and look for an angled brush.

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