Home Tips & Trends Makeup Trend How to Tightline Your Eyes with Eyeliner: Everything You Need to Know

How to Tightline Your Eyes with Eyeliner: Everything You Need to Know

I’ve been tightlining for years – here are my best tips and tricks.

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As a beauty editor, I am often asked what my most subtle yet transformative makeup technique is. Tightlining, often referred to as “invisible eyeliner,” involves applying eyeliner right at the base of your eyelashes, on the upper waterline just so happens to be one of my favorite makeup tricks. This technique creates an illusion of fuller, more defined lashes, and adds an understated elegance to your look. Here’s everything you need to know.

What is Tightlining?

Tightlining is essentially lining the upper waterline to enhance the lashes’ fullness. Unlike traditional eyeliner that sits above the lash line, tightlining is more subtle and natural-looking. It’s perfect for those who want to define their eyes without the obvious look of makeup.

Why Do I Love Tightlining? Let Me Count the Ways…
  1. Enhances Lash Fullness: By filling in the spaces between each eyelash, tightlining creates the illusion of fuller and thicker lashes. This added lash density brings more attention to your eyes, making them stand out.
  2. Creates a Natural Definition: Unlike traditional eyeliner, which can sometimes look heavy or overly dramatic, tightlining offers a subtle way to define the eyes. It contours the eye shape without being obvious, lending a natural but impactful depth.
  3. Eye Size Illusion: For those with smaller eyes, tightlining can create the illusion of larger, more open eyes. The technique avoids the use of thick lines that might otherwise make the eyes appear smaller.
  4. Enhanced Eye Color: By darkening the lash line, tightlining can also make the color of your eyes appear more vivid. The contrast between the eyeliner and your eye color can bring out unique hues and brightness.
  5. Versatile for Various Looks: Whether you’re aiming for a minimalist look or preparing for a glamorous event, tightlining can be adapted to suit various styles. It’s a foundational technique that complements other makeup elements, enhancing the overall impact of your eye makeup.
  6. Smooths Eye Contours: Tightlining can smooth out the appearance of the eyelid by creating a continuous line from the lashes, giving the eye a more polished and refined look. (I actually even think it makes me look a bit mysterious but that could be totally in my head!)

Overall, tightlining is a subtle yet powerful tool in eye makeup. It enhances the natural beauty of the eyes without the need for dramatic makeup, making it a go-to technique for anyone looking to make their eyes stand out with a touch of elegance.  My best tips and tricks to nailing the technique are ahead.

@victorialyn How To Tightline Eyeliner🖤An easy technique to define your eyes and make them pop! #makeup #beauty #eyeliner #eyeshadow ♬ French Jazz Cafe (Gypsy Jazz Manouche) - SplashStudio
How to Tightline Your Eyes
Here are some of my tried-and-true ways to tightline without creating an major makeup mishap, which can totally happen if you are not careful!
Choose the Right Eyeliner

For tightlining, a waterproof and smudge-proof pencil or gel liner is ideal. Look for products specifically designed for waterline application.

Prep Your Eyes

Always start with clean, dry eyelids. If your eyelids are oily, use a primer to help the eyeliner stay put.

Gentle Application

Lift your upper eyelid gently and apply the eyeliner to the waterline. Start from the outer corner and move inwards. Keep the line as close to the lash roots as possible.

Connect the Dots

If drawing a straight line is challenging, try dotting the eyeliner along the lash line and then connecting these dots.

Layering for Intensity

 For a more intense look, apply several thin layers of eyeliner, allowing each layer to dry before applying the next.

Integration with Lashes

After tightlining, apply mascara from the base of the lashes to integrate the liner and lashes seamlessly. Or you can pop on imPRESS Falsies Press-on Lashes, which is something I often love to do!

What to Avoid

Avoid Harsh Products: Steer clear of eyeliners that are not formulated for waterline use, as they can irritate the eyes.

Don’t Overdo It: Over-application can lead to a messy look and might clog the lash follicles.

Be Careful with Color: While black is a classic choice, those with lighter lashes might opt for brown or grey for a softer effect.

Avoid Tugging the Eye: Be gentle when lifting your eyelid; excessive tugging can lead to premature wrinkles.

Regular Sharpening: Always keep your pencil sharp for precision but ensure it’s not too pointy to avoid eye injuries.

Hygiene is Key: Never share your eyeliner with others and replace it regularly to prevent eye infections.

Bottom Line

Tightlining is a game-changer in the world of eye makeup. It’s a versatile technique that can range from a barely-there enhancement to a bold statement when combined with traditional eyeliner styles. Remember, practice is key to mastering this technique. Start with a light hand, and don’t be afraid to experiment with different colors and intensities. Happy tightlining!


Janene Mascarella holds the answers to all your burning beauty questions. Her work has been published by a variety of top-tier titles and media outlets such as Cosmopolitan, Self, Glamour, Health, Cooking Light, Women’s Health, USA TODAY, The Washington Post, CNN.com, Woman’s Day, Parenting, Consumers Digest, Parents, Family Circle, Babytalk, Weight Watchers, Working Mother, Fodor’s Travel, Hamptons Magazine, Consumer Reports, ShopSmart, Modern Woman, CBS News, Shop Etc., Taste Of Home, PureWow, and many others. She was beauty director of BELLA Magazine for over 11 years, the fashion editor of Luxury Living Magazine, and a frequent beauty & lifestyle contributor for Parade.com. Besides deeply pondering hairspray holds and TikTok trends, Janene is the mom of two college-aged kids and she oversees copy and content for KISS Products, Inc.
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Janene Mascarella