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.

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Comments (94)

  1. Posted January 22, 2013

    Your hair looks awesome in this post. I love it.

  2. Posted January 22, 2013

    Hey Kate! I just got a sample of a liquid eyeliner in my January Birchbox. Could you do a liquid tutorial sometime? Thanks!

    • Sarah says
      Posted January 22, 2013

      I also got that and I’m not sure how its supposed to be used/look. I tried it and it looked like I drew a line with a sharpie. Too perfect of a line I guess. Not good.

    • ajl2870 says
      Posted January 22, 2013

      I did too! I like it, but I am still experimenting with it. Could you possibly do a post on liquid liner/tutorial for a cat eye?


  3. Tracy E says
    Posted January 22, 2013

    Love it! So what are you doing for the bottom?

  4. Hailey says
    Posted January 22, 2013

    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

  5. Lynde says
    Posted January 22, 2013


    • Kate says
      Posted January 22, 2013

      Just trimmed my bangs!

  6. Posted January 22, 2013

    cute hair!!

  7. Deborah says
    Posted January 22, 2013

    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.

  8. JANNA says
    Posted January 22, 2013

    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!!!

  9. Posted January 22, 2013

    Mary Kay’s gel liner is AMAZING! I use it all the time and I highly recommend it! 🙂

    • phyllis Gehrke says
      Posted June 13, 2016

      Me too…. Love Mary Kay Gel LIner and also like the applicator

  10. Posted January 22, 2013

    Thanks so much for this! I love the look of gel eyeliner, but have never really been able to master it.

  11. Emily says
    Posted January 22, 2013

    Ohmygoodness. I could hug you. I am saving this post because I’m eyeliner challenged (which is an understatement).

  12. Natalie says
    Posted January 22, 2013

    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.

    • Kate says
      Posted January 22, 2013

      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!

  13. Posted January 22, 2013

    Love your make-up in this post! What are you wearing on your lips?
    Thanks! I love your Blog!

    • Kate says
      Posted January 22, 2013

      nothing, just lip balm!

  14. Posted January 22, 2013

    Love this tutorial – thank you! Also – is your nail polish Chinchilly or something else?

    • Kate says
      Posted January 22, 2013

      It’s Essie’s Master Plan

  15. Posted January 22, 2013

    Girl, you gotta rock that cat eye more often! So fresh and classy.

  16. HLane says
    Posted January 22, 2013

    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! 🙂

  17. Posted January 22, 2013

    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 ….

    • Kate says
      Posted January 22, 2013

      Nope, taken yesterday. I just cut my bangs a few weeks ago.

    • Kate says
      Posted January 22, 2013

      by weeks I mean days!

  18. Posted January 22, 2013

    I swear by Wet ‘n Wild MegaEyes Creme Eyeliner applied with ELF’s lip brush!! http://www.drugstore.com/products/prod.asp?pid=347792&catid=183537&cmbProdBrandFilter=82269&aid=338666&aparam=goobase_filler

  19. Sarah says
    Posted January 22, 2013

    Do you always only put eyeliner on half of the lid?

    • Kate says
      Posted January 22, 2013

      Yeah, otherwise it makes my eye shape look strange!

    • Posted January 23, 2013

      I’ve always wondered where to “draw the line”… does halfway make eyes look bigger, etc.!?!?!?

    • Posted January 23, 2013

      I’ve always wondered where to “draw the line”… does halfway make eyes look bigger, etc.!?!?!?

  20. Posted January 22, 2013

    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!

  21. Posted January 22, 2013

    I love the Mac gel liner in a pot. Looks pretty much the same as the product you used here.

  22. Amy says
    Posted January 22, 2013

    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! 😉

  23. ajl2870 says
    Posted January 22, 2013

    I have never tried gel liner, but I definitely will now! Also, random, but you have the prettiest eye color! (I hope that doesn’t sound stalkerish, haha!) Also, LOVE your nail polish color. What is it? Once again, thanks for a great tutorial!


    • Kate says
      Posted January 22, 2013

      Thanks! It’s Essie’s Master Plan!

  24. Posted January 22, 2013

    I got this eyeliner called Eyeko in my Birchbox in December and I love it! Its very easy to use and has a nice bold color without looking dramatic! They sell it at Sephora! I think you would really like it! http://www.sephora.com/skinny-liquid-eyeliner-P310736?skuId=1429752


  25. Posted January 22, 2013

    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. =)

  26. Lauren says
    Posted January 22, 2013

    Any tips on how to re-vamp gel eyeliner that has dried out or isn’t as gelly? jelly? as it should be?

  27. Posted January 22, 2013

    Great tutorial! Have you tried MAC’s new Pro Longwear pencils? They stay on all day without smudging, even in water! Definitely recommend…

  28. Posted January 22, 2013

    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. 🙂

  29. Angie says
    Posted January 22, 2013

    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!!

  30. Posted January 22, 2013

    Hi Kate! I’m just stopping by to {finally} say hi. I’ve been lurking for quite some time but I’ve just started my own blog and wanted thank you–your blog always brightens my day! 🙂 Happy Tuesday!


  31. SH says
    Posted January 22, 2013

    Love the tutorial!


  32. Mimaw says
    Posted January 22, 2013

    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

  33. Posted January 22, 2013

    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?

  34. Posted January 22, 2013

    I always use pencil, I never get liquid liner right…

  35. Posted January 22, 2013

    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!

  36. Posted January 22, 2013

    hi, Kate! love your blog <3 i feel like you got a new haircut. with bangs. 🙂 did i miss something??????????????????
    ~jennifer christine

    • Posted January 22, 2013

      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

  37. Posted January 22, 2013

    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.

  38. kmsten says
    Posted January 22, 2013

    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. 🙂

  39. Posted January 22, 2013

    I love the Maybelline gel liner as well, I used to use Bobbi Brown and they’re totally comparable, except for the price!!! So I am staying with Maybelline from now on.

  40. Amy says
    Posted January 22, 2013

    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!)

  41. Posted January 23, 2013

    The gel eyeliner looks amazing! I’ve never thought about using it before. Also, I got my first Birchbox today, thanks for introducing me! 🙂

  42. Posted January 23, 2013

    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.

    • Kate says
      Posted January 23, 2013

      I will try as hard as I can to get something together!

  43. Posted January 23, 2013

    Love your hair in this post!

  44. Katie says
    Posted January 23, 2013

    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?

  45. Posted January 23, 2013

    I use Benefits “baby cake” cake liner with an angled lining brush. Love love love! I think I’ll give gel liner a try! Thanks Kate.


  46. Posted January 23, 2013

    totally unrelated!! Did you finally take the bang plunge? LOVE your hair in this tutorial 🙂

  47. Posted January 23, 2013

    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)

  48. Lisa D says
    Posted January 23, 2013

    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.

  49. Posted January 24, 2013

    gel for sure! I use to liquid but noooo more.

  50. Posted January 24, 2013

    Love your hair! I’ve been thinking about bangs, can we see a tutorial on this hairstyle! Love your blog, you’re very inspirational!

  51. Posted January 24, 2013

    I use Mac’s Liquid Last liquid eyeliner and I LOVE it. To soften it a bit, I add a little black eyeshadow with an eyeliner brush when it’s still damp. Dramatic staying power!

  52. Posted January 26, 2013

    Kate…to make an even bigger impact on your upper lash line…which is what you seem to be going for…line the upper waterline with pencil liner. If you don’t exactly get what I mean…here is a pic.. http://pad3.whstatic.com/images/c/ca/Eyeliner_3.jpg
    I know you wear contacts…so that may not be an option for you. But it really makes a HUGE difference. All my best.

  53. Posted January 26, 2013

    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!

  54. Posted January 27, 2013

    I love Estee Lauder’s gel liner – it is the only eyeliner I use.

  55. Posted January 31, 2013

    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.

  56. Posted March 18, 2013

    Hi there
    Good explaination, I agree that gel eyeliner is very tricky to use I mostly apply eye pencil but now I purchased a gel liner for cat eye. See this http://www.styleglow.com/eyeliner-how-to-apply-eyeliner/

  57. Posted April 24, 2013

    Very late to comment, but I have a pressing question?! My eyeliner always “bleeds” no matter whether I use pencil or gel. Is there something I could do to keep from looking like a beaten raccoon at the end of the day?

  58. Posted November 5, 2013

    Your photos are so beautiful!

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  65. Posted June 9, 2017

    Hey !! That’s a great information on eyeliners and pencils as it gets really difficult for a beginner to apply them .I would like to add that you should also try natural and organic eye pencils for even better look and besides these are 100% safe to use. Take a look at them Natural and Organic Eye care pencils

  66. Ayu says
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    Thanks for sharing the information, I am indeed looking for this information. Looks like I found good information on this article. Nice website 🙂

  67. Posted August 9, 2018

    Thanks for telling me about this beauty. I really appreciate this and this article really helps and guide about eyeliner and I always love to try new eyeliners. Thanks for sharing this article.

  68. Posted August 11, 2018

    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.

    • Posted March 1, 2019

      It is really a nice and helpful piece of information.

  69. Posted March 14, 2019

    The whole idea is to use a gel eyeliner as a base to create the underlying shape and either blend it into the hair you have or use it as a template to create brows, if you lack them. They suggest MAC’s Fluidline in Dipdown, but I found a much cheaper alternative that I used in the video.

  70. Posted March 22, 2019

    Gel eyeliner is a long-lasting eyeliner that creates a dramatic and noticeable effect. This type of eyeliner often comes in a small jar, and is applied with a brush. The finer the brush, the more control you’ll have with the makeup. Gel eyeliner can simply be applied to the upper lid to line the shape of the eye, or it can also be used to create special effects, such as the winged look that helps extend your eye.

  71. Posted April 2, 2019

    And the whole idea is to use a gel eyeliner as a base to create the underlying shape and either blend it into the hair you have or use it as a template to create brows, if you lack them.

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