How to do Winged Eyeliner

how to do winged liner

We’ve all seen those makeup tutorials that promise a result of perfectly even winged eyeliner. Well, here’s the thing: there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to achieving that flawless swoop. Your eyes are special and unique, so the way you apply eyeliner and the products you use should be tailored to your individual needs.

Winged eyeliner might seem like a small detail, but it can significantly impact your makeup look and bring out your eyes. By emphasizing the outer corners of your eyes with a flick of liner, you can highlight your eye shape and enhance your overall look (if that’s your goal, anyway.)

But, how do you figure out the best way to rock that winged look? Well, reading this post is a great start!

Mastering the technique can certainly be a challenge (especially when dealing with hooded eyes or aging skin) but I’ll guide you every step of the way. From choosing the right eyeliner to finding the perfect angle for your lash line, this is exactly how to achieve the highly coveted look.

How to do Winged Eyeliner

While I may have mastered my own natural makeup look, this only came after the years I spent writing for fashion and lifestyle magazines. Not to mention, obsessing over celebrity makeup artists like Charlotte Tilbury and Mario Dedivanovic. I could explain how to do winged eyeliner all day — that’s the easy part. But when it comes to looking in the mirror and recreating the look yourself, let’s just say that I know the struggle.

The pain is real when you absolutely dominate the winged liner on one eye and then completely bomb your other eye. Do you fix it? Start over? Grab a glass of Rosé and light a candle?  Or, do you just rock the look? Well, you can say “goodbye” to all of that. Here’s the 411 on how to do winged eyeliner:

Step 1: Prep and prime.

This first step is very important. It sets the best canvas for applying your makeup and makes it stay flawless all day. I’m always trying to grab this Bobbi Brown Moisturizer before it sells out (it happens a lot because it is seriously that good!). I also recommend the Estée Lauder Futurist Hydra Rescue, which is perfect for those who want to conceal fine lines around the eyes without caking on concealer. (Check out my entire list of recommended concealers here.)

Step 2: Grab your favorite eyeliner.

The types of eyeliner you use to create the perfect winged can either make the process a piece of cake or a total disaster. I love Urban Decay 24/7 Glide On Eyeliner, but if you want a waterproof option, you have to try the Kat Von D Tattoo Liner.

If you’re trying to decide between a pencil and a liquid eyeliner, keep in mind that you’ll get a sharper and smoother look with the liquid liner. If you want to take the gel eyeliner route, use something like the Bobbi Brown Ultra Fine Eyeliner Brush for super precise lines. 

Step 3: Decide on a method of application.

When it comes down to applying the wing, you can start from the outer corner of your lid and work your way in, or you can start in the center of your lid and work your way out. The latter is the method I most often recommend to beginners.

Alternatively, you might find it easier to try the “connect-the-dot” technique. To do it: Place dots along your lash line on both eyes, then once they’re symmetrical, connect the dots in one smooth sweep.

I’d recommend trying out a few methods to see which one works best for you. 

Whatever you do, do not pull on the side of your eyelid. For one, you are just asking for more wrinkles, and for two, your eyes don’t naturally sit this way. This means that the straight line you think you are rocking won’t be a straight line once you let go and walk away from the mirror. 

Pro tip: Place your elbow on a stable surface and the palm of your hand on your cheekbone. This way, you can have a steady hand and get that sharp, snatched wing. 

Step 4: Draw the wing.

You can flick it, glide it, stamp it, trace it, or whatever way you find works best for you (I love the tips that the #SilbSquad shares, so if you have another method I should test out, please let me know.)

If you’re aiming for a soft glam makeup look, stop drawing your wing just slightly outside of your lid. 

To go with a full wing, drag the liner toward the outer end of your eyebrow. This is usually when tape and bobby pins come in handy; they’re great props to line the outer corner of your eye with the outer end of your brow.

Step 5: Fill in the wing.

Now that you have the first layer perfected, grab an angled brush or an eyeliner pencil and make small and short sweeps, tracing over those spots. This is when you can slightly pull your lid out while looking down or have your eye closed so that you can completely fill in your eyeliner. 

Step 6: Perfect your wing (if needed).

If you find your wings to be slightly uneven or of a different thickness, grab your favorite makeup remover. I highly recommend ditching the wipes and switching to something like the Elemis Cleansing Balm; it’s a total game-changer. That’s it — just finish up your look with your favorite mascara.

One more thing to keep in mind is that it can be incredibly helpful to determine your eye shape. This will come in handy when deciding which winged eyeliner idea will complement your eye shape best. Here are some common eye shapes:

  • Hooded: The crease of your eyelid is not visible or is partially hidden beneath the brow bone. 
  • Almond-shaped: The outer corner of your eye is slightly higher than the inner corner, creating an elongated almond shape.
  • Round-shaped: Your eye appears circular and the iris is fully visible.
  • Monolid: Your eyelid does not have a crease, making the eye appear smaller.
  • Upturned: The outer corner of your eye is slightly higher than the inner corner, creating an upward tilt.
  • Downturned: The outer corner of your eye is lower than the inner corner, creating a downward tilt.
Winged Eyeliner ideas

Winged Eyeliner Ideas

For Prominent Hooded Eyes

For those with a more prominent eyelid crease, a classic cat-eye look can do no wrong. Start by tracing along your lash line with your eyeliner and then extending that line outwards towards the end of your eyebrow. A thicker-winged tip adds a dramatic touch to any evening look.

For Hooded Eyes

A softer line with your eyeliner is highly recommended for hooded eyes. Avoid making the wing too thick, as it can overwhelm the eye. Instead, draw a thin line with a subtle wing on the outer corner of your eye, extending slightly upward. This will give your eyes a lift without overpowering their natural beauty.

For Round-Shaped Eyes

To accentuate and elongate your round eyes, draw your line all the way from the inner corner of your upper lash line to the outer corner. Don’t be afraid to make your line wide and long, as it will only highlight your eyes further! Finish by filling in with a dark black liquid eyeliner. 

For Monolid Eyes

The trick is to create more depth by making the line thicker towards the outer corners and tapering it down towards the inner corner. This technique can also work well for mature women whose eyelids may have lost some of their elasticity.

For Almond-Shaped Eyes

A classic winged eyeliner look can really bring out your natural beauty. Keep the line thin near the inner corner and gradually thicken it towards the outer corner for a subtle yet sultry look.

Other Unique Eyeliner Options

A winged effect on your lid is just the beginning of fun eyeliner ideas. A wing only lines your top lid, while a cat eye lines your bottom and top lids, connecting at the tail of the wing. For an extra pop of drama, go for the fox eye by lining the top and bottom of your waterline on the inside corners of your eye. 

Have you mastered how to do winged eyeliner?

I firmly believe in using the right products that work with your skin and suit your style. That’s how you can achieve a great day of makeup — winged eyeliner or not.

Keep in mind that if you continue to struggle to nail the winged eyeliner look, it may not be you; it could be the product. Check out my post on makeup expiration dates here. If you just want to dive in with the best fail-proof products, check out my everyday makeup options, my Sephora master list, and more of my makeup posts and reviews

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