10 Top Tips For Applying Pencil Eyeliner

(Last Updated On: July 2, 2019)

It feels like it should be simple to draw a straight line, but when it comes to eyeliner, the process is just a little bit harder than it looks! I can’t tell you how long it took me to really figure out how to apply pencil eyeliner correctly, but that’s why I’m giving you all the tips I wish I’d had. It doesn’t need to be difficult to give your eyes that definition, so let’s get started.

Before You Start

Before you even get started, immediately make sure that your pencil is sharp enough. This will let you get the pencil as close to the lash line as possible. You may also have oily lids like me, so consider dusting some loose powder on your lids or using some foundation as a base to give yourself matte lids. This’ll prevent smudging and make your liner last longer.

Finally, and this may seem obvious, but before you start, make sure any traces of old makeup are removed. Any old smudges or residue will really disrupt your process and interfere with the precision you’re looking for.

Applying Your Pencil

After you’re completely prepared with your sharp pencil, then you can grab your eyeliner. Start from the center of the lid and move outwards. Keep the pencil slanted to move the liner easily on your lids. Make short strokes too in order to prevent mistakes. You don’t need to draw it all at once, especially if your hand is a little shaky!

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Then you go outwards and come back inwards. Keep the outer corner just a little thicker, and retrace the liner to get that thick appearance. As you go inwards, make sure you go a little thinner. To do this, point the pencil straight on the lid and take your time until you adjust to the process. Just connect the two lines and trace over them to darken, especially near the lashes.

Lower Lash Line

You might have just a little more difficulty with the lower lash line, but start slowly again. Place your liner on the very edge on the outside of your eye, almost where the upper lash line ends. Move inwards in short strokes until you hit the inner third of the eye and go back to thicken. Smudge the lower line just a little with your finger or a pencil brush and you’re done!

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Added Definition

If you want a little more definition to your eye, take the liner all the way to the lower inner corner. This will give you a more dramatic effect, and may make your lashes appear fuller as well. For thicker liner, go over it one more time.

The Dash Trick

If you have some trouble keeping your hand still when you’re drawing your line, take it slow and apply dashes along the lid. Then all you’ve got to do is connect them for one straight line!

Fixing Mistakes

If you happen to smudge your eyeliner by mistake, there’s no need to worry. Grab a tiny dab of primer or concealer and smear it on softly before covering it up with just a little powder. If you have a messy line, you can even clean it up with just a little petroleum jelly on a cotton swab. Clear lip gloss work as an emergency smudge remover as well!

Common Problems

You know the tips and tricks when it comes to applying your pencil liner, but you’re probably a little more familiar with some of the common mistakes! Luckily, many of these issues I’ve found can be solved with ease.

Shaky Hand Struggles

When it comes to applying pencil eyeliner like Butter London, one of the biggest difficulties is when people can’t keep their hand still. To fix this, take a seat and make sure your elbow is on a flat surface. Rest your pinky on your cheek to stabilize yourself as much as possible.

Transfer to the Eyelid

Sometimes eyeliner can transfer to your eyelid by mistake, especially for women with monolids. To fix this, increase the height of your eyeliner so the line is still visible when the eye is open. When your skin folds as the eyes open, it won’t transfer.

Too Much Color

Using too much colored liner can give you a harsh look. Accentuate just the upper or lower lash line rather than both.

Too Thick

If you accidentally thicken one side more than the other, start out with thin lines and build them up to match. If it’s too thick on both sides, use a precision tip with a cotton swab to thin it out.

Lash Problems

You might be in the habit of curling your lashes after applying your liner, but that actually disrupts your liner application. Curl those lashes first and then apply the liner so there won’t be any messes.

Liner Gap

One of the most common problems I’ve had is the gap between your lashes and liner. Make sure you line your eye as close as you can to the lash line and then slightly pull up on the lower half of your upper eyelid to see any bare spots.

Smudging Too Low

When you apply liner like Jane Iredale on your lower lash line, it can be difficult to make it thin, and if it’s too thick, you look like you’ve got a black eye! That’s why you need to line your eye as close as possible to the lash line as possible, and why you’ve got to smudge it. This won’t make your eyes look quite so intense, but will still provide them with definition.


It can be fairly difficult to apply your eyeliner pencil if you’re not used to it, especially if you’re in a rush and need to get going quickly. Luckily, I’ve managed to find a few tips that should help, and have isolated the problems that lots of us experience all the time! After a little practice and a few tips, you should have your eyes looking defined and beautiful in no time.

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