8 Apr 2012

How-to: Eyeliner flicks

As you know, I did a post lately on my favourite eyeliners... and in this post I mentioned that I really should follow-up with an information piece on how to do eyeliner (cat-eye) flicks.  Here it is.  It's a bit long, wordy and descriptive, but it shows you how to create perfect eyeliner flicks.  I hope it helps!

You need...
  • Eyeliner brush of choice (standard or angled, see here for eyeliner brushes)
  • Cotton buds
  • Eye makeup remover (both oily and non-oily - some great ones here!)
  • Liner of choice (Liquid/Gel/Cake/Cream/Paint)
  • Black eyeshadow and angled liner brush (if you wish)

1.  Create the basic line

Coat the brush in the eyeliner.  Get a good even coat and use the liner product to "shape" the brush into a tip also.  Rest your elbow on a hard surface, this helps eliminate some of the wobbles!
Brush placement: use the tip on the inner corner,
then the side along the length of your lashes
Step 1: inner corner

Apply eyeliner to the inner corner first using the tip of the brush and while looking straight ahead into the mirror. Do the same on the other eye.

Step 2: the lash line
Do along the top of the eye next. Using the side of the brush, aim for the lash line immediately along the top of your lashes - this ensures there are no gaps between your lash line and the liner. You can do this one of two ways - either look down into a mirror, or tilt your head right back (while looking straight ahead into a mirror).

Use short strokes or one fluid movement, whatever you find easiest, to create a thin line. Don't get too excited about making it even, because you can fix that later. Continue until you're about 4/5ths of the way out, right around or before where your eyelashes end, then stop and do the other eye.

Now we'll move on to the flicks at the outer corner...

2.  Create the perfect flick

Using a standard eyeliner brush

Make sure that your brush has sufficient liner on it, and hasn't dried out (you definitely don't want any skipping or dragging at this stage!).  You mostly want to be looking down into a mirror for this part, or tilt your head right back;  this prevents too much blinking and helps you see what you're doing a bit easier.

Method One: "Eyeballing" it

Step 3: The dot

Looking straight on into the mirror, draw a dot where you want your liner to end.

Step 4: The lower line

Now, tilt your head back (or look down into a mirror). Using the liner brush, draw a line from the dot down towards the outer corner - think of it as a line that would continue the curve of the lower lash line upwards.

Step 5: The upper line

Next, sweep the liner brush from the dot across to where you stopped the liner along your lash line.

Step 6: Fill it in!

Fill-in the triangular space created with your brush & eyeliner product.

Step 8: Clean it up

Check the shape, you may want to create a slight curve on the upper line from the outer point to the place you join up with the rest of the line.
Finally clean up (see the "Polishing" section below).

Method 2: Absolute Beginners

The magical device for absolute beginners!
Step 3: Scotch tape it!

We all have to start somewhere!  If you want to create foolproof eyeliner flicks, take a piece of Scotch tape (apply it once or twice to the back of your hand first to remove some of the glue), then place it from the outer corner of your eye up towards your brow, at the same curve/angle as your lower lash line.  Looking straight on into the mirror, draw a dot where you want your liner to end.

Step 4: The lower line

Tilt your head back (or look down into a mirror).  Using the liner brush, draw a line along the Scotch tape up to the dot (using the Scotch tape means that your lower line doesn't need to be precise, as the tape will create the sharp edge for you).

Steps 5+ are the same as above... bring the liner brush from the dot across to where you stopped the liner along your lash line, then colour-in the triangular space created with your brush & eyeliner product, etc.

Once the liner has dried, gently remove the Scotch tape.

If you have no scotch tape to hand, you can use the side of a credit card to create an edge to draw your flick against, and continue as above for the rest.

3.  Flicks for hooded eyes

Step 8 from above
For those with hooded eyes, you need a further few tweaks.  When you have finished your flick and ended on "step 8" as above, it will all look fine with your head tilted back.  As anyone with a hooded eye knows, the trouble starts when you tilt your head back to "normal" and are looking straight ahead...

A hooded eyelid causes
a skip in your liner
... you wind up something like this.  The hooded part of your eye causes a "skip" in your liner.  Depending on the shape of the skin that hoods the lid, it will probably be something like this shown here, an apparent thick line along your lashes and then a tiny tail coming out of the side of your eye, with no apparent meet-up between the flick part and the liner along your lid.

Step 9: correct the skip
So how do you fix this?  There's another couple of steps.  First off, with your eyes open, and looking straight ahead this time (ie not with your head tilted back as before), draw a line using the point of the brush (make sure you have enough product on the brush to avoid dragging, you need a neat line here) from where the flick ended, to where the "skip" appears to start - this line will be actually on the hooded part of your eye.

Eye closed: what the
correction looks like

Next off, close your eye.  You'll see that in correcting the skip, you've created  something like what I've shown here.

Step 10: Handlebar!
With your eye closed, fill the gap as before, but this time, bring the line from the "skip" part straight down to meet the liner along your lash line.  What you've done is create a kind of "handlebar" shape.

Step 11: Clean up
Then open your eye again.  Now you should have the tick meeting up properly with the liner along your lash line... in other words, it should look right by now.

You may need to do a little bit of tweaking with your brush, or your cotton bud, but you'll get there with practice, and eventually you'll just be able to create this handlebar type shape from the get-go.

4.  Making them match!

Once you've mastered standard eyeliner, matching up where your flicks end is the tough bit, especially as our eyes are not perfectly symmetrical!  With practice you'll get the hang of creating equal flicks, but until then... the simplest way of creating mainly symmetrical flicks is using the "Scotch tape & dot" method above.

If you use Scotch tape on both of your eyes, you'll get a sharp straight line.  But you'll also have the advantage of having the same angle of line on both eyes (assuming you have the placement of the Scotch tape done more or less the same on both eyes that is!).

Once you have the same angle, simply measure from the outer edge of your eye up to where you want to place the dot, and do this for both eyes.

When I say "measure", I don't mean take out a callipers!  I mean use something like the width of a particular brush handle, or some equivalent, so that you have the dot more or less the same distance from the edge of your eye.

So - if you have the same angle and the same distance, you'll have (more or less) the same flick.

I say "more or less" because your eyes are not exactly the same shape, so you may need to tweak the position of the tape slightly, but practice will get you this too - and eventually you won't need the Scotch tape at all.

5.  Polishing your eyeliner

Your new best bud(dy) - ahhh I love puns!
  • Before you start adding more liner on both sides, stop, and tight-line your upper waterline first.  This gives the impression of a thicker line and very often eliminates any further need for further thickening the line
  • Can't get the flick to taper out at the end?  No problem!  Don't keep trying, just use a cotton bud, moistened with some (non-oily) eye makeup remover, swiped underneath or on top of the liner at the outer edge to sharpen the flick to a point
  • Roll a moistened cotton bud along the length of the liner to clean up any wobbles
  • If you're finished and your liner is still a little imprecise, use a matte black eyeshadow on an angled liner brush, and push some shadow over your liner along its length; it blurs and softens the liner slightly and hides any wobbles (it also sets it and makes it last a little longer)
  • Don't forget you may need to clean up with a little foundation or concealer underneath/beside your eye when you're finished, if you've used eye makeup remover
  • When you're finished your liner and are adding mascara, sweep the mascara wand across your eye to "pull" your lashes so they all tilt outwards a little... this helps accentuate your flick even more

Other Tips & Tricks

  • It's a good idea to use only non-oily makeup remover to clean up eyeliner mistakes, as oil-based makeup remover risks breaking down other product on your lids... and this will make you yell!
  • If you find that your hands are still shaking and your liner application is very wobbly, run a sharpened eyeliner pencil along your upper lash line first, then apply your liquid liner on top. The pencil will "grab" the liquid liner and help avoid wobbly liner
  • Simple tip: especially when starting out, but also if you want to do very precise eyeliner work, don't drink too much caffeine first!
  • Generally, for a "standard" cat-eye flick you want your liner to be thin enough at your inner corner/tear duct area, gradually getting thicker from the centre of your eye outwards, and then flicking up at the outer corner.  But the further out (away from your eye) or the higher up you place your dot, the thicker your flick is going to have to be.  When you're learning first, try to place your dot not too far out/a little lower down... get used to creating a flick here, then you can start moving it out/up 
  • Dry liner product will be harder to move along your eye and will cause dragging. This will drive you demented when you're learning, and you'll think it's you, not the product, that is going wrong.  You need to make sure that you have good product that will move easily along your eye. If it's older and/or dragging a bit, then you might need to replace it. Make sure you keep lids tightly on your products, and work from the back of your hand, this will keep them going for a bit longer.  See here for links to my recommended eyeliner products and here for brushes.


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