Looking to perfect that bold cat eye or try out a winged look above your lids? Maybe you want to accent your eyes with a more subtle, but crisp line. Liquid eyeliner is a go-to for creating a bolder, cleaner look but can sometimes feel intimidating due to its unforgiving nature and rich pigmentation.

Luckily, eyeliner pens help to ease the learning curve a bit by giving you that liquid liner look while handling more like a pencil. Whether you’re new to the pen or a liquid liner pro hoping to spice up your look, read below for tips on how to best use an eyeliner pen.

Types of Eyeliner Pens

The first step in using an eyeliner pen is determining which type to get. There are typically two types of liquid liner pens out there and each have their advantages:

Brush tip eyeliner pens have a thin set of bristles on the end like a paintbrush. The softer, flexible tip makes them a bit more difficult to get the hang of. Once you’re comfortable, though, they can be great for creating delicate lines along the lashes, wispy wings, and the thick-to-thin contrast on your eye line.

Felt tip eyeliner pens have a stiffer, pointed tip like that of a marker, and can be a little easier for beginners. The solid felt tip can create more precise, bolder lines, can leave more color on the lid, is easier to control than a brush tip, and works really well for creating that beautiful winged edge look.

7 Tips for Using an Eyeliner Pen

There are so many different ways to apply a liquid eyeliner pen, depending on what look you’re going for.

Here are a few best-practice tips we’ve compiled to help you out:


Find a stable position.

If you’re newer to liquid liner, having a stable hand is crucial. Tilt your face slightly upward, face forward towards the mirror, and turn your gaze downward.

You can hold the liner pen in your hand like a pencil, rest your elbow on a flat surface or allow it to float (if you’re feeling confident), and bring the pen towards your eye. Then find a contact point with your pinky or the thumb side of your hand touching your cheek to help keep your line smooth.

Add tension, but don’t tug!

Before applying your liner, remove creases in your eyelid to create a smoother surface. With your chin up and eyes down, your lid should have fewer creases. You can then place a finger from your other hand just outside your brow bone to keep the skin taught, but don’t tug! Pulling too much on the skin can cause the line to change once the skin is released - and might increase your chance of wrinkles!

Trace it out first.

Many makeup artists recommend tracing out the line with a pencil or lighter strokes before committing to the final look. Using a pencil first and then tracing over with the eyeliner pen can help hide any rough edges and create a more smokey appearance. If doing a wing tip, you can use a light stroke to trace the triangle wing first and then fill in with liner once you like the shape.

*Makeup artist Sarah Lucero’s recommendation is to apply mascara before liquid eyeliner to "help guide you in lining your eyes and help you to understand your eye shape to create the most flattering line."

Work from outside in. 

Place the tip of the pen at the outside edge of your lash line and work inwards. Try to keep the tip of your pen as close to the lash line as possible. If you’re going for that pointed cat eye look, you can draw your wing at the end of the lash line outwards first, then move back towards the center. You may also want to trace over parts of the lid to thicken the line as it draws closer to the outside of your eye.

Use small strokes and work slowly

While you’re getting comfortable with a liquid eyeliner pen, it’s better to use a series of small strokes or dots along the lash line. More strokes covering small sections of your lid at a time will give you the chance to refine the shape of your liner without making it too thick. Eventually, many strokes may become just a few smooth sweeps as you become comfortable, but no need to rush! 

Correct and refine any mistakes.

Keep a set of cotton swabs nearby to help remove mistakes. By wetting the swab with water or makeup remover, you can remove any stray marks before moving on. You can also use concealer to sharpen the lines of winged edges. Finishing the look with eyeshadow after applying can help to hide any bumps in the line as well as to soften the sharp look of liquid eyeliner, if that’s what you prefer.

Be patient with yourself

Our eyes aren’t perfectly symmetrical, steadying your hand can take time, and learning to use an eyeliner pen takes practice. There are plenty of different techniques for applying liner and it might take time to find the best style for you. Just keep practicing!

Eyeliner Pen Maintenance

A final step in maintaining the ideal eyelid glam is knowing when to replace your eyeliner pen. Typically liners last between 3-6 months, but products differ. You can check when to replace your eyeliner pen by looking on the label for the shelf life. Most makeup products will note how long that item can last after being opened. For example, “3M” on the side of your eyeliner indicates that the product has a 3 month shelf life. 

If your eyeliner pen doesn’t indicate when it needs to be replaced, or you’re feeling uncertain, there are a few other ways to tell just from observation.

  • Smell: if your liner has a peculiar odor when you open it, it should probably be replaced. 
  • Color: if the color of your eyeliner pen begins to look dull or has changed hue, it’s probably past its prime. Sometimes products begin to change color based on oxidation or chemical reactions when the ingredients are past their shelf life. 
  • Texture: if the smooth liquidy finish of your eyeliner pen seems clumpy or dry, or if the texture of the tip seems to be degrading, it has probably expired.

More often than not, using a liner pen that has expired will just make it more difficult to apply and might look less glamorous than the day you first opened it. However, sometimes expired products can cause uncomfortable reactions such as skin irritation, clogged pores, styes or other more serious eye infections. That’s why it’s important to know and trust the quality of the liner you use!

Ready to Give it a Try? Find a Liquid Eyeliner Pen You Can Trust

At Chella, we believe makeup should help you embrace your natural beauty without compromising your clean and sustainable values. Our vision is for beauty, wellness, and sustainability to work in the same space— so you can be beautiful inside and out.

Chella’s Dual Liquid eyeliner glides on effortlessly, with a luminous and long-lasting effect.

Additionally, our products are cruelty-free, gluten-free, paraben-free, vegan, recyclable, long-lasting, and contain no harsh chemicals.  Check out our products today for beautiful makeup that you can feel good about.