As you’ve probably noticed, winged liner is one of the hallmarks of that perfect 50’s-inspired pinup look. Luckily, the gorgeous makeup technique has made a resurgence in the last few years, which means there are now more products available than ever to help you achieve that perfect flick. I’ve experimented with all sorts of products and methods over the last several years, focusing on ease of application, longitivtiy of product, and of course, how to do it in a timely manner! Below I will highlight some of my favourite tools and products, give you a quick tutorial of my current application routine for both gel liners and eyeliner markers, and offer some solutions to common concerns involving this fun vintage-inspired look.
The Best Tools
I have been drawing on winged liner for at least 8 years now, incorporating it into my daily routine for the past 4. Over this time I’ve tried several products including liquid liner, markers, and gel formulas. What I’ve found works best is when I can have a better grip and more control over the tool. This makes it easier to ensure a smooth line and faster application. I tend to shy away from liquid liner in of itself because of how short the actual handle is, as well as the lack of firmness and shape to the brush. But I still wanted to achieve that paint-like look, which is when I started to get into using liquid markers.
The Best Tools: Liquid Markers
Markers still contain the same type of formula, but have a felt-tipped pen, making it super easy to apply. My tried and true is the Stila ‘stay all day waterproof liquid eye liner’ in black. I’ve tried the Marc Jacobs version and I’m not fond of how tight it is when it dries on my eyelid. I’m also a fan of Kat Von D’s ‘Ink Liner,’ and own the white colour called ‘Neruda.’ When I run out of my Stila liner I will purchase KVD’s black ink liner called ‘Trooper.’ I like the formula better, it feels smoother and more pigmented.
I find markers the easiest of the tools to apply, especially when in a hurry. All you have to do is shake the pen, open the lid, and apply directly to the eyelid. You don’t have to worry about continuously dipping it into into the container to get more product like you have to do for liquid and gel liners. Eyeliner markers also give a bit of sheen when dry, and there’s never any fear of smudging – once it’s on, it’s not moving! My only issue with the product is that it tends to run out more quickly than the other options, which can be annoying and a more expensive option. I don’t have any trouble with the felt tip going dry while there’s still product left in the pen, however I find this does happen for the Maybelline version since it doesn’t have the shaking ability of the more expensive brands (you could shake it but it won’t bring the product to the top). I also find the formula lighter on my lid than gel liner, though out of the two, I find I have to reapply a layer over the liner at the end of the day to ensure that eyeshadow hasn’t stuck to it, diminishing the overall colour.
The Best Tools: Gel Liner
Gel liner, on the other hand, has a more matte and bold finish than that of the liquid liners. These usually come in small glass-like containers with twist-on lids. The formula is a lot more solid than liquid liners, in fact, it’s not liquid at all.
You also need to use a brush when you apply it, and sometimes that won’t actually come with the liner itself. I believe a small angled brush comes with the Maybelline version, but it doesn’t with the Bobbi Brown ‘Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner’ that I’m currently using. I really like using my Anastasia Beverly Hill’s dual-ended eyebrow brush with my gel liner. I only use the angled brush side, and although this brush is first and foremost for eyebrows, I find it small and thin enough to use for my liner. I lightly dab the brush into the product and then tap it onto my lid. You have to make sure you always close the lid tightly when using gel liner, otherwise the formula may dry out. But in the event it actually does, you can add a drop of argan oil to the product to rejuvenate it instead of throwing it away.
But which product is best?
I’ve had the Bobbi Brown gel liner for over 2 months and it’s still going strong, whereas my Stila marker is approaching the end of its life. I find it a little more time-consuming to apply the gel liner than the marker, but that might just be because I have been using markers for a lot longer. I also never have to worry about smudging or moving with the gel liner, and although it’s water-resistant, I still feel more secure about my liner staying put when I use a marker. However, I do prefer gel liner in that my eyeshadow doesn’t come off onto it, ever. So I rarely if ever have to apply another layer over it throughout the day. Both tend to be around the same price, depending on the brand (generally $18-$30). I’ve noticed that when it comes to actual product itself, gel liner lasts longer than eyeliner markers, but markers are easier to apply. I think depending on what you are most comfortable with, and what kind of finish you want, both are very viable options. Both allow you to have a little more control than the classic liquid liner approach, making application a lot easier and efficient!
Winged Liner Tutorial Using Gel Liner:
Step 1: Dip your angled brush into the product, gently dabbing it. If you have any excess product, you can wipe it off at the sides of the container.
Step 2: Using the side of the brush, and short strokes, gently create a small liner at the end corner of your eyelid. You’re focusing on creating the outer-outline of the wing itself first.
Step 3: Again, dip the brush into the product and use short strokes to create the rest of the liner, ensuring that the liner slowly gets thick after it passes from the inner corner of the eye past the pupil.
Step 4: Gently, using those short strokes, extend the liner from the rest of the eyelid to the point of the line you initially made for the wing. This is the point where you should have finished making the wing.
Step 5: Use a flat concealer brush (I’m fond of my Mac 195) to smooth out any errors. Alternatively, you could use the tip of an eyeliner marker to get rid of any ridges.
Winged Liner Tutorial Using an Eyeliner Marker:
Step 1: Shake the eyeliner pen really well, take off the lid, and gently apply the felt tip to the eyelid. I find it best to apply it sideways, rather than straight on.
Step 2: Start towards the end of the eyelid and slowly create the winged shape at the very end.
Step 3: Finish filling in the eyelid.
Step 4: Finish by smoothing out any mistakes with a concealer brush.
Common Concerns with Winged Liner:
Making it stay all day: What I find most helpful for this problem is to try to find a water-resistant or waterproof formula, especially if you have watery eyes. Also using a good primer on your eyes will help the product to stick once it’s there. I like Urban Decay’s ‘Eyeshadow Primer Potion’ in original. Just dab it on before putting on the rest of your eye makeup. I also set my makeup when I’m done; I use Urban Decay’s setting spray for oil control (it’s summer in Canada, after all!), but the ‘All-nighter’ is also amazing. Then I apply a setting powder over top. I love Make Up Forever ‘HD Microfinish Powder’ since it’s light and translucent.
Creating an even line: A flat concealer brush is perfect for this! I use my Mac 195 and gently wipe it against the liner to ensure a smooth line. You can also use a Q-tip, but I prefer the straight edge to a concealer brush to guide the liner along.
Getting both sides to match: I’m the biggest perfectionist for this, but sometimes it can get time-consuming being too particular. My best advice for this is to start out small on both sides, and don’t get too carried away. You can also use a concealer brush to help reshape/extend the wing on one side to help it match the other.
Using multiple colours: I find it easiest to apply the traditional black eyeliner first, letting it dry, and then line overtop with the colour. Since it’s liquid you don’t have to worry about the two colours mixing, and you can always fix any mistakes made with the colour by applying more black to it afterwards.
Having the liner transfer to the top of the eyelid: This tends to happen if you blink or move your eyelid too early after applying the formula. To avoid this I hold my head back when applying liner, looking down at the mirror. This also makes my eyelids more tight and less wrinkly so that there’s a smoother line.
I hope this has been helpful,