What Is Tightlining, the Eye-Opening Liner Trick Make-up Artists Swear By?

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If bigger, more defined eyes are a priority for you, chances are you’re always on the hunt for the ultimate lengthening mascara or false lashes to give you the doe-eyed look you desire. But did you know there’s a simple eyeliner trick that could make all the difference to your peepers – even if you usually struggle with eye pencils?

It’s called ‘tightlining’ and involves applying liner to your upper waterline, to make lashes look “fuller, darker and longer”, says Bobbi Brown pro-make-up artist, Hollie Ellis. Curious about how to do tightlining? Here, make-up artists explain everything you need to know about the tightlining trick.

What Is Tightlining and Why Is It Done?

“Tightlining is a super-effective technique, where you line the upper waterline of the eye to create a defined outline,” Ellis explains.

Sascha Jackson, Stila UK lead pro-make-up artist, says the technique is used to create “the appearance of thicker lashes. It can be done on any eye shape, however, it works particularly well on those who do not have much eyelid space, and find wearing eyeliner on the top eyelid tricky,” Jackson adds.

What Kind of Eyeliner Should Be Used for Tightlining?

“I would suggest using a soft kohl or crayon eyeliner,” says Jackson. “Stila’s Smudge Stick Waterproof Eyeliner is amazing for this technique. Use a black or deep rich brown color for your top waterline, as these are the best options for faking thicker eyelashes.”

Ellis recommends a kohl pencil or gel liner: “They are much softer on the eyes and you want to always go for something either waterproof or long-wear. “Try the Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Liner,” she suggests. “It offers the precision of liquid liner, with the ease of a gel-based formula, all with eight hours of waterproof and sweat and humidity-resistant wear.”

How Should It Be Applied?

“The easiest way to apply this technique at home is by holding a mirror below your chin and looking down into the mirror,” says Ellis. “I like to do ‘dot to dot’ pressing motions, from the inner corner to the outer edge.

“Another good tip is, instead of going into the waterline, try and aim your product into the roots and in between the lashes. When you blink, it won’t transfer onto the bottom waterline.”

Jackson recommends lifting your eyelid to make it easier: “Gently place your finger on the eyelid and lift it up to reveal your top waterline, then run the eyeliner along the waterline, trying not to blink to avoid transfer.

“I suggest doing tightlining prior to mascara, in case you get watery eyes. Apply the mascara to complete the look.”

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