How To Tightline Eyes

Learn this simple method to achieve a defined look that will make heads turn wherever you go.

Reviewed by Angela JacksonAngela Jackson, Licensed Cosmetologist
By Esha SaxenaEsha Saxena  • 

If you’re new to makeup, you might be wondering what tightlining is and why it is all the rage right now. Don’t worry, we have got you covered. We will also tell you how to tightline your eyes!

Tightlining is a technique that includes lining the upper waterline of your eyes with eyeliner to add more attention to them and make them appear larger and wider. In addition, by applying eyeliner straight into the lash line of your upper lashes, you can create the illusion of darker, thicker lashes. For decades, many experienced makeup artists have utilized this technique backstage, and it’s the key to nailing any eye makeup look. That is also the reason why it is called “invisible eyeliner.” Keep reading to learn how to conquer the technique of tightlining your eyes to make them pop!

Stylecraze Trivia
Tightlining eyes was trendy in the 90s. Luminaries of the makeup industry, Laura Mercier and Kevyn Aucoin, are credited with popularizing the tightlining eyes technique.

Why Should I Try Tightlining?

If you are someone with hooded eyes or eyes that tend to look droopy with that visible band of traditional eyeliner, tightlining is great for you. It is also an ideal technique for all you low-maintenance gals who don’t like looking too made-up and only want subtle definition.

And if you love a good old smokey-eye, this trick is an incredible way to intensify the look.
Here’s a simple tutorial to guide you through the process of tightlining and leave you with bigger, more twinkly eyes.

How To Tightline Your Eyes

What You Need
  • Eye primer
  • Angled eyeliner brush
  • Black gel liner or black eyeshadow
  • Eyelash curler
  • Mascara
  • Mirror
  • Q-tip

Step By Step Tutorial With Pictures

Step 1: Prep Your Eyes

Before you begin, make sure your hands and face are squeaky clean. Apply a pea-sized amount of eye primer all over your lids. This will ensure your eyeliner stays in place, and your makeup does not fade through the day. Allow the primer to dry before moving on to the next step.

Step 2: Cover Up Any Dark Circles

Choose your favorite concealer in a color that is no more than one or two shades lighter than your natural skin tone. Dab the formula over your dark circles, allow it to sit for a moment (your body heat makes it easier to work with), and gently blend it out. You can use a bit of translucent powder to set the concealer.

Step 3: Tightline Your Upper Waterline

Dip a damp, angled eyeliner brush into a black eyeshadow or a gel liner. Make sure the bristles of your brush are coated with just enough pigment.

Hold your upper lid in place with the help of a Q-tip, raise your chin and look back a little. This will help you see what’s going on. Alternatively, you can look down in a mirror and push the shadow in between your lashes.

Hold your brush vertically and wiggle its tip gently into the top waterline. Remember, your objective is to make your lashes appear fuller and lush – so, apply the liner anywhere you have lashes.

Stylecraze Trivia
Use black eyeliner to fill the lashline. Follow the natural lashline and extend the eyeliner outward for an elongated look. Use a pale eyeshadow to brighten your eyes.

Step 4: Define Your Lower Lash Line

Repeat the previous step on your lower lash line, pushing the pigment underneath your lashes. Start from the outer corner and tightline only about half to two-thirds of your lash line. This tiny step helps your eyes look way bigger.

Step 5: Clean Up Any Mess

Use a Q-tip dipped in a water-based makeup remover to clean up any smudges or errors. Once your liner has set, curl your lashes and apply a generous coat of volumizing mascara. Lush lashes all the way!

Here’s what the end result looks like:

Rad, right?

Now that you understand how tightlining works and how easy it is to do, you are probably filled with awe. Yup, this super subtle tweak to your eye makeup can change everything! Whether you want to just try out this technique or fully commit to it, these tightlining tips are bound to come in handy for you.

5 Tips To Tightline Like A Pro

1. Choose Your Eyeliner Wisely

Tightlining involves applying eyeliner close to your eyeball. So, the best eyeliner for tightlining would be a waterproof formula. You can choose between a pencil eyeliner, a cream, or even a gel formula. For a more natural look, try to use a color that matches your eyelash color.

Note: Steer clear of liquid eyeliners. They aren’t meant for tightlining.

2. Focus On The Roots

Tightlining is all about your roots. Make sure you get the eyeliner as close to the roots of your lashes as possible.

3. Gotta Curl Those Lashes

Ladies, tightlining is kind of incomplete without the curl. You need to curl your lashes well if you want to open up your eyes and achieve the maximum tightline effect. Apply a layer of mascara to complete your look.

4. Don’t Pick Anything But Waterproof Products

Waterproof eye liner and mascara


Always, always go for a waterproof eyeliner. This will ensure your tightline stays put throughout the day, no matter how watery your eyes get.

5. Take Care Of Your Lashes

Your lashes are precious. Tightlining can cause the lashes to fall out if you aren’t careful while applying eyeliner or curling your lashes. Apply some castor oil or a lash serum before you hit the bed to maintain the health of your lashes.

Thank God, there is the technique of tightlining eyes. It not only adds more charm to our eye makeup but also allows our eyes to appear naturally bright and beautiful. So, when you do not feel enthusiastic about wearing makeup, just learn how to tightline your eyes from this article and add the glam to your eyes without much effort. But know that it requires practice. So, try and try till you achieve your desired look. Also, be gentle with your eyes while you are at it.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I safely remove my tightline eyeliner?

Use either a cotton pad dipped in some eye makeup remover or a Q-tip with some Vaseline on it to remove the liner from between your lashes.

Is tightlining bad for your eyes?

No, tightlining is not bad for your eyes. However, it’s a little risky if you are not careful with your eye pencil or brush, considering they can slip into your eye and cause damage. You only need to be careful, and it gets easier with practice.

What’s the difference between tightlining and waterlining?

Tightlining is applying eyeliner underneath the upper lash line, whereas waterlining involves applying eyeliner just above the lower lash line.

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