How to Tightline your eyes?

by Paris B on · 40 comments

in Brushes etc.,Discussions,Eyeliner,Tips

I’d never heard of this phrase “tightlining” until about a year ago. Before this, lining your eyelids or lashes to me, meant lining above your lashes. This was the method I used when using gel eyeliner, as I have shown in a previous post on how to use a gel eyeliner.

However, I’d read a lot of raves about a method of lining your lashes called “tightlining” which was supposed to give the illusion of bigger more natural looking eyes. Anything that can make my eyes look bigger is great! So, I decided to try it out.

The theory is simple. Get your eyeliner as close to your lashes as humanly possible to fill in the gaps (if you don’t already have thick lashes). This technique works better I feel, for ladies with lashes that are more sparse or who have light coloured lashes. The most popular way of tightlining is from UNDER the lashes. Be warned of huge scary eye pictures after the jump! 😉

If you are still here, watch out for scary pictures below.

Anyway, when I first tried lining under my top eyelashes, I would end up poking my eye or drawing onto the sensitive water line prompting tears and destroying my eye makeup. However, after a spell and a lot of trial and error, I worked out my best way to tightline my lashes.

How I tightline my lashes:-

  • I use my trusty Guerlain Kohl Pencil – the best ever! You can either use a soft eyeliner pencil or a liquid eyeliner with a fine tip. Gel eyeliners don’t work as well for some reason.
  • I lift up my top eyelid gently (picture is exaggerated) enough for me to see the underside of my top eye lashes.
  • Then I draw a line with the pencil right where the lashes start from. It takes practice because a little too low and you hit the sensitive water line which can cause tearing.
  • The 2nd picture shows the finished line.

Tips for tightlining eyelashes

And that is how I tightline my eyes.

I tried capturing a picture that would show how different the eye looks with and without tightlining but I can’t get it to show up on camera. The difference is very subtle but it is dramatic. You look like you did not line your eyes at all, yet your eyes look markedly larger. Truly, an optical illusion that works like a charm. My Mom saw me with makeup one day and remarked how strange it was that my eyes were looking bigger now than they did before. So, I’d say its passed the acid test. :)

What are the benefits of tightlining?

Well, it makes you look less made up for one. The traditional method of lining your eyes can be stark and it is quite obvious that you have put on makeup. So tightlining is wonderful for those days when all you want to do is slick on a simple champagne colored eyeshadow and mascara, looking natural yet polished.

The other benefit is that it doesn’t run as much, not for me anyway. I find that my line stays till the evening but that might also be due to the Guerlain pencil I’m using.

The effects of tightlining are subtle. No one can tell that you have lined your eyes yet your eyes look more defined in a very natural manner. Its quite impressive.

What are the drawbacks of tightlining?

You cannot draw a cat eye or do a nice smokey eye with tightlining. You need the usual sort of lining for that dramatic effect. Tightlining is too subtle.

If you aren’t used to it, it can you a long while to get ready. I used to suffer at it but now I have got it down pat so its no trouble anymore for me.

What you should use for tightlining

My recommendations point towards:-

  • a liquid eyeliner with a fine tip – I’m told that Kate Super Sharp Liner is good though I haven’t tried it.
  • a good soft kohl eye pencil with not too sharp a tip (I use the Guerlain Kohl pencil)
  • Make Up For Ever Eye Seal with any dark eyeshadow and a fine tipped brush

Have you tried this method of lining your eyes? If so, do you have any other tips for those wanting to try it for the first time?

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[ 39 comments… read them below or join the discussion ]

prettybeautiful August 27, 2008 at 10:33 am

i tried this method once…and i was tearing so bad that i became a panda eye after tht. and since then, i nv tried it anymore.


Nikki August 27, 2008 at 11:01 am

thanks for this! very useful! PB!!! Hows your trip?


cass August 27, 2008 at 11:09 am

Paris, do u line the lower lashlines too? Cos I experience smearing under eyes when ‘tightlining’ due to the two waterlines touching when I blink so lining the bottom makes the smearing less obvious.


ParisB August 27, 2008 at 11:22 am

prettybeautiful: Well practice makes perfect! I was tearing like crazy at first too. Still do sometimes

Nikki: Details on the trip coming right up!

@cass : I don’t line my lower lashline. I look too beady eyed and nasty when I do 😛 So its just the top lashline for me


Connie August 27, 2008 at 12:34 pm

Tightlining is always a MUST for me. the eye just looks naked without tightlining. I don’t use my fingers though because I might budge my eyeshadow so, what I do is I lift up the lid with the back of my brush. You can also do it with a cotton bud. That way, you exert less pressure and it won’t affect your eyeshadow :)


Indira August 27, 2008 at 1:17 pm

To be honest, I never heard about tightlining before!! :)

I wear eyeliner the regular way because I apply it thickly :)


akiki August 27, 2008 at 1:44 pm

yeah, tightlining is a must for me too!!!
it really works for those with single eyelid or double inner eyelid.
i found that my lower lashline would have a line after a while although i never drew it ,and that made my eyes looked gorgeous!!
(not panda or smokey eyes,of course…)


Jackie A August 27, 2008 at 2:00 pm

Hey PB!,

I went for a wedding recently (the long drawn out, full of drama i.e: your mum tells you to wear lots of jewellery and grand saree type of wedding!!) and went to a shop to get my makeup done professionally. The lady did that to my eyes and I asked her why she was not putting my liner where I usually like it, like, close to my lashes on my top eye and she said that this was a relatively new technique! I liked my eye makeup because as a result, it looked very natural. But, knowing me, I will end up poking myself in the eye and needing emergency surgery to get my kohl pencil out of it!! Your eyes look fab PB!


ParisB August 27, 2008 at 2:08 pm

@Connie : I’d probably poke my eye out if I used a brush end LOL… but thanks for the tip!

@Indira: It won’t work if you apply it thick but for days when you want a natural look, try it!

@akiki: The lower lashline may be because the liner ran but if it works, hey that’s great!

@Jackie A: roflol! You won’t poke your eyes out hehe… Its easy to do at home but you do need a soft kohl pencil or use a fine tipped liquid liner. Its easier to manage that way.


Monstro August 27, 2008 at 3:33 pm

Hey PB, I am still learning this art of tightlining. Can’t seem to get the hang of it yet.
My Shu pencil smudges, so maybe I need that Guerlain hoh?
As for eyeliner brushes-any you can recommend?


Sesame August 27, 2008 at 4:26 pm

This is how I used to line my eyes when I did use an eyeliner. Never knew what it was called. Maybe I should attempt again…


August 27, 2008 at 6:00 pm

i do tightlining all the time!
normal lining wun work for me becuz of my eyelids…
can’t see it when i open my eyes!
and i never really had watery eyes when i line though 😀


ParisB August 27, 2008 at 6:31 pm

@Monstro : I haven’t tried Shu but maybe try a waterproof liquid liner instead? For eyeliner brushes I use a Becca one I bought during a sale long ago. I’ve heard MAC 266 (I think) is good.


Diana August 27, 2008 at 7:43 pm

I’m quite new too tightline too, heard (or rather watched) about it on youtube and that girl made it look easy breasy. I have a question though, what happened when you want to take off your make up? Do you use the usual eye makeup remover? Does it sting?


Natalie August 27, 2008 at 11:15 pm

Owh, so this is called ‘tightlining’…:-)


ParisB August 28, 2008 at 9:39 am

@Diana : I don’t use a separate eye makeup remover as I use cleansing oils to remove everything. So far so good. Everything gets taken off.


Jooj August 29, 2008 at 1:34 pm

er i do it with my cream/gel eyeliners, but it doesn’t stay on all day. L’Oreal HIP cream liners stay on my waterline better than BB gel liners, but they too fade eventually. For that reason i keep a liquid liner (L’oreal, felt tip, don’t remember what’s the name) specially for tightlining. now i’m looking for a liner that’ll stay on my LOWER lashline! am i asking for the impossible?


ParisB August 30, 2008 at 10:37 am

@Jooj : Sorry no help with the lower lashline coz I can’t line that! :)


August 30, 2008 at 5:40 pm

Haha, I can’t even line my eyes in the normal method, let alone tightlne! But I might wanna learn… got a cousin’s wedding dinner coming up.


Shannon August 30, 2008 at 8:53 pm

I tried tightlining.. but ended up with teary eyes.. Apparently Guerlain counters in SG is out of stock for their new Kohl pencil now. I was ‘convinced’ by the MA to buy their older version. Well… it did smudge slightly.. perhaps the newer version (that you hv) should be better..
Arghh… when’s the stock coming in?!! :(


ParisB September 1, 2008 at 11:05 am

@Shannon : Aww… I hope the Guerlain counters restock the Kohl pencil soon. Its really much better.


ParisB September 1, 2008 at 11:06 am

@rinnah : Its easy once you get the hang of it. Try it on a weekend when you will have more time to experiment.


September 1, 2008 at 7:22 pm

I’ve tried this out. Irritates my eyes a little when I have contact lenses on when I put on the eyeliner, but the effect is worth it :p


Jenn September 2, 2008 at 12:51 am

I always do tightlining..but with gel liner because it lasts longer than pencil liners..and less smudging too =)


ParisB September 2, 2008 at 10:39 am

@Tine : I never tried this before I stopped wearing glasses but yes the effect is absolutely worth it!

Jenn: Unlike you, gel liners don’t last as long for me! I guess thats what makes us all different :)


Julia September 6, 2008 at 3:11 am

Many people with sensitive eyes can’t do tightlining.. they wind up much too teary. I tightline all the time, never applied my eyeliner any other way, but I tried to get my little sister to do it and it irritated her eyes so much. I would definitely not recommend it for people with sensitive eyes..

And I use a MAC eyeliner.. my only problem is, I find that after a while my eyeliner will rub off and smudge underneath my eyes, due to the moisture of my eyes so close to the liner. Does anybody have any tips on how to prevent this?


ParisB September 8, 2008 at 9:48 am

@Julia : Yes people with sensitive eyes might find it a problem. I do find that using a product like Eye Seal from Make Up For Ever helps with sensitive eyes. And it doesn’t smudge either so might like to try that?


Bostonian September 17, 2008 at 11:19 pm

I started using tightlining about 2 weeks ago since i was introduced by a SA in Laura Mercier Counter. I was impressed by it. I have deep double eye lid and medium size eyes. I hate to use to eyelinear with traditional method. I thought it was too dramatic and i couldn’t recognize i myself after drawing eyelinear. I used Dior liquid eyelinear and loreal one before. i don’t like it ( might be my skill is not good) But even make up artist put them on me. I didn’t like it as well. Until i found tightlining skill. 😛 I love it. So far, the one that i am using is Laura Mercier eye liner and its flat brush.( So far, i am happy with it and am free of smudge frustration thru the whole day. :)


ParisB September 18, 2008 at 11:32 am

@Bostonian: Yay! Tightlining is a skill and takes a while to master, but once mastered you can’t ever go back! Glad its working for you and that you found a liner that doesn’t smudge!


Shuu October 19, 2008 at 4:31 pm

Hey PB! I really like your tips. I had never done tightlining before, well at least until I read your tips few days ago :). I noticed my friend did it before, as her eyes looked so stunning, yet so natural ^_^.
Well, as for me, I’m using Red Earth Jet Black and also Big Fat Fun from Bed Head. They work well as the color is very intense and they’re affordable too. hehe.


¤nOtcUte¤ January 5, 2009 at 4:25 pm

I did not know that this method is called “Tightlining” but this is how I’ve been drawing eyeliner on my eyes as this is the only way it looks natural and clean. I’m currently using Anna Sui Waterproof Pencil Eyeliner. It actually doesn’t smudge much n it stays in between the eyelined area but bcoz I have oily lids so it does smudge. Maybe you could give it a try


plain.jane March 12, 2009 at 2:37 pm

i do this often too but often it leaves a mark on my bottom line :S


phuong August 30, 2010 at 4:12 pm

hi, im 22, from vietnam on which make up industry is just barely growing. a couple of years back whenever i went out on the streets there was noone with make up actually, but now it’s definetely changing. i never have any make up on until i got a boyfriend from abroad, he said i was pretty but can be prettier with makeup so i start stuff on my face since i was 20. i dont usually apply foudation, powder, concealer since my skin is kinda flawless and sensitive (easy to get irritation). all i do is just tightlining my eyes (apply mascara_ somtimes i dont, kinda lazy). but yeah, i love the effect of tightlining. just wondering if there is any harm of tightlining?


CC August 16, 2011 at 11:15 pm

Thnx so much for this wonderful now-to! Usually when I try to tightline my eyes I end up getting those pesky “dots” on my upper eyelid. Now I get so many more compliments about how “rested” and “refreshed” I look. Haha! thanks!


ParisB August 17, 2011 at 9:45 am

I’m so glad it helped you! :)


Kiarna September 30, 2011 at 9:16 am

I am the opposite, I was never able to line the top of my lashes because it looked weird on me! So I always did the underneath^^ I didn’t even know it was an actual method haha


sophie September 28, 2012 at 11:03 pm

as I experienced,maybe slightly closing your eyes while tightlining them can solve the tearing problem.


Dian December 4, 2012 at 4:05 am

It seems a very interesting way to liner my eyes !

However somehow I felt that eyeliner (the usual method) makes my eyes (and face) looks tired. Have you ever had this kind of impression, Paris ? Any suggestion for this ?

Thanks :))



Paris B
December 4, 2012 at 11:10 pm

I’ve stopped lining my eyes the normal way (on top) for a while. What I usually do is smudge a deep colour near my lash line then tight line and it looks much better on me. Try it and see!


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