Simple Retro-style Liquid Eyeliner Tutorial




Introduction: Simple Retro-style Liquid Eyeliner Tutorial

Achieving a simple retro-style look with liquid eyeliner may seem difficult, but when broken down into smaller steps, I can show you how quick and easy it really is. This type of eye makeup can be worn for a daytime look when paired down with pink cheeks and a neutral lip, or dressed up for a dramatic nighttime look with bold eyebrows and a full red lip. I will also include some advice about my personal product preferences within the step the product pertains to. As a college kid, I look for good products on a budget, so everything I recommend is completely affordable. Keep in mind, also, that my makeup mantra is the less stuff you have to put on your face to look good, the better, so it truly is a minimalistic effort towards a retro-glam look.

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Step 1: Start With a Clean, Moisturized Eye

You want to make sure before putting on any eye makeup, that your skin is clean and that you have applied some sort of moisturizing eye cream. This is important for a few reasons; the eye cream will keep the skin around your eyes from becoming dry, it will help maintain a healthy lash line, it will allow for a smoother, more fluid application of the the liquid liner, and it will moisturize lashes for easier mascara application (avoiding a clumpy, or spidery look). I recommend using Equate's eye cream because it works like it costs a fortune, but is actually really inexpensive and can be found in any Wal-Mart and most Walgreen's. 

Step 2: Apply Concealer

Dab on concealer to the upper eyelid to reduce redness and any discoloration as well as applying underneath the eye to cover up dark circles. The concealer will also provide a lighter base for the rest of the completed look. I use Maybelline's Coverstick Concealer, and have done so as a staple of my makeup regime for years. It's only about $4.00 is sold virtually everywhere that has a beauty isle.

Step 3: Spead Concealer Evenly

Using your finger (or if you're squeamish about applying makeup with your hands, a makeup sponge will work as well), spread the concealer around so that is evenly blended with the skin. Don't worry about getting any on your lashes, as they will be coated with mascara later on anyways.

Step 4: Dip Small Brush in Loose Powder

Take a small eye makeup application brush and gather some loose powder on the tip. I'm using a rounded brush, but an angled one would get the job done as well. Additionally, try and pick a loose powder that is a shade or two lighter than your actual skin because it helps highlight the eyes and make them appear brighter. You will be using it to set the concealer you've just applied. I've been using L' Oreal's Translucide Loose Powder on my lids for a while and would recommend it because it's doesn't gather in the creases of your eyes as the day goes on. It's roughly $11.00 but a little bit goes a long way.

Step 5: Apply Loose Powder

Evenly spread the loose powder both on the eyelid and below the eye. This will help set the concealer, meaning that now you have put powder on top of it, it will last much longer and be less likely to form creases. You now have a base-prepped eye that is ready for eyeshadow and liner.

Step 6: Dip Brush in Eyeshadow

Taking another small eye makeup brush, dip the brush into a loose, shimmery, and preferably white-ish powder. I like loose pigmented powders rather than pressed eyeshadows and especially those with a little shimmer, allowing for a dewy fresh look. Here, I am using Alima's Luminous Shimmer Eyeshadow in "Sparkling White." While I don't normally shell out $9.00 for a single eyeshadow, I could rationalize the purchase because it is has naturally occurring sunscreen in it, anti-inflammatory properties, and is nothing but pure mineral pigments. This is a particularly good product if you have sensitive fair skin like I do, and you also won't have to worry about this eyeshadow making your eyes water or burn (an important aspect if you don't want liquid eyeliner to smear).

Step 7: Apply Loose Powder Eyeshadow

Evenly spread the loose powder that's on the tip of your brush over your entire eyelid, down into the inner corner of your eye, and all the way up to the brow bone. The effect is subtle but is just noticeable enough to shimmer when it catches light. I used the eyeshadow sparingly but you can always add more if you feel the effect is too subtle.

Step 8: The Best Type of Liquid Liner

I've had the best luck with liquid eyeliners that are most like dipping a pin into an inkwell. Look for one that has a fine point tip, which will be  good for drawing (or rather painting) precise lines. I use Almay's liquid eyeliner in black which goes for about $7.00 at most drug stores.

Step 9: Apply Liquid Liner to Upper Lashline

The trick here is lift your eyelid with your finger so that you can better see your lashline. Then, run the tip of the applicator along your lashline, essentially trying to fill in all the gaps between your lashes so it looks like one fluid line. Try to avoid getting the liquid eyeliner in your waterline, which is the pinker, more watery part of the lid, closest to the eyeball itself. If you do, it can combine with the moisture in your eye and make creepy inky-looking tears. Don't be alarmed if this does end up happening. It's not going to hurt your eye, just grab a Q-tip and press it against the inner corner of your eye and it will absorb the excess.

Step 10: Draw the First Line Segment

Instead of trying to draw one perfect, continuous line (which is often why liquid liner is so frustrating because it is hard to do this), think instead that you're going to draw different segments that will eventually make one solid line. This is the first segment of your eyeliner. Draw the eyelid taut by pulling the outer corner gently with your forefinger and starting the line as close to the lashline as possible. You want to begin your line where the arch of your eyebrow begins and swipe it across in one steady motion, following the lashline until you reach the end of the lid. You want this part of the liquid liner to be fairly thick. When your eye is open, it should resemble the second picture.

Step 11: Draw the Second Line Segment

Now you are going to continue adding liquid liner to the line you have already created. Begin lining the lashes closest to the inner corner of the eye as close to the lashline as possible. You want this line to be less thick that the line you drew in step 10 because you are going to blend the end of this line segment into the existing liner, moving from the starting point thin line and tapering into the thicker line.

Step 12: Draw the Flare

Instead of starting with your eyelid drawn taut like the first two line segments, leave the eye open when drawing your flare (the upturned part of the liner that extends beyond the lashline on the outer corner of the eye). If you pull your eyelid tight during this step, it can distort the flare so you want to leave your lid open. Starting at the right end of the thick line you drew in step 10, draw in a single fluid motion a thin line going outwards and upwards. Lift the applicator slightly when finishing the line to make it tapered.

Step 13: "Connect the Dots"

This is the last step of completing your finished line. Since you have already drawn the curvature of your flare in step 12, you essentially need to "connect the dots" by filling in the space between the extended flare line and the thick first line from step 10. I have placed red dots on the places where the previous lines had stopped, so all of the space between the rough triangle it creates needs to be filled in with liner. If you mess up your line, don't fret. Just grab another handy Q-tip, wet the tip, and accurately wipe away the messy segment without having to start the whole thing over again. This is the benefit of doing the line in a few sections because you can simply redo the segment you're working on without having it affect the other finished segments.

Step 14: Apply Mascara

Generally speaking, most mascara's are the same, it's just the applicator that makes the difference. I love CoverGirl's LashBlast Fusion Mascara because it has a rubber tipped applicator that can really grip all around your lashes, adding both length and volume while keeping lashes separated. It's also inexpensive (about $7.00) and you get can get it at any drugstore or grocery store. Coat lashes twice for extra volume.

Step 15: The Complete Look

Repeat all steps on the other eye and there you have it! Simple retro-inspired liquid liner eye makeup in less than 15 steps, using only six inexpensive beauty products.

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    10 Discussions


    Question 1 year ago

    Mascara on top lashes only? I think this is where I had been going wrong when trying this look, I apply it to the top and bottom and it looks a bit off compared to the model pics. I have blonde lashes, so I have to tint them or apply mascara.

    I'm one of those unfortunate people that gets liquid eyeliner in my eye and on my contacts every time I try to use it. I think this is amazing, and I'm willing to practice to make it work. :)


    Reply 5 years ago

    I have terrible trouble with liquid liner, iv started using maybaline gel liner, it's amazing really lasts for me and doesn't irritate ?


    5 years ago

    Is that your eyes if it is they are gorgeous


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I never use eye liner because it always looks awful, i dont have good pulse so.... you can imagine. but you explain pretty well and looks even easy so I will definitely try it! =D


    8 years ago on Step 9

    i have u 5 rating.. coz i didnot know about this step hehehe ... :) it was an awsome instructable..


    9 years ago on Step 15

    Great tutorial... Love this. I don't really use liquid liners, but I will definitely try this!


    9 years ago on Step 15

    Your eyes look stunning!  I am terrible at doing the liquid eye liner.  My hands must not be very steady, I usually make a mess of things.  Your tutorial is very helpful and I really appreciate you stating exactly what products you're using.  I will have to try the retro look and see if I can pull it off.

    Victoria Girard


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Love the tip to keep the eyes open when drawing the flare. I have often tried to create this look with eye pencil and on top of it not looking crisp, I have a tendency to pull the lid taught, which then leads to uneven "flares"

    GREAT tips! Can't wait to do this tomorrow morning!