Everything you need to know about tightlining

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Perfecting your eyeliner can be tricky for even the most steady of hands.

But if you’ve been trying to pull off a smoothly-lined lid, or super-defined flick for quite some time and have had absolutely no luck – perhaps a new technique would be of interest?

You may have heard of the term ‘tightlining’ before, but if you’re not entirely sure what it’s about or how to do it, read on as makeup artists Eloise Proust and Tobi Henney (female) explain…

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What is tightlining?

“Tightlining is often called invisible eyeliner. It is achieved when eyeliner is applied not above or below the lash line – but [within the] inside of the upper lash line. It creates the effect of no eyeliner while still enhancing and brightening your eyes.” – Eloise

“Tightlining is the make-up technique where you use eyeliner to line the inside area called the waterline, or the wet skin area directly before the lash line. I prefer tightlining the upper lash line only.” – Tobi

What effect does tightlining give to the eye?

“I believe the main effect tightliner gives is a natural definition to the eyes and also to create the effect of thicker, darker lashes. Tightlining is also great to do when you are creating a super smoky night-time look.” – Eloise

“The technique creates definition around the lash line, allowing the lashes to look thicker and more enhanced. Being so subtle, there is [almost] no make-up visible. It can make your eyes appear more bright-eyed and awake.” – Tobi

What sort of eye shape benefits most from the results?

“Most eye shapes can get away with tightliner, however it is perfect for anyone with hooded eyes who suffer from their top eyeliner transferring onto their top lids. [By using this technique], they don’t need to worry about it happening anymore.” – Eloise

“It is great for smaller eyes and those with hooded eyes.” – Tobi

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How does one ‘tightline’?

“Use your free hand to lift up your top eyelid so you can see the base of your lash line. It’s a good idea to have a small magnified mirror that you can look down onto. Gently draw small strokes across your lash line. It can be a sensitive area, so apply slowly and gently. You will get better and more confident each time you do this technique.” – Eloise

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“The best technique is to use your thumb to lift the eyelid area upward to expose the upper waterline. Using your liner of choice, carefully apply the liner from the outside of the waterline to the inside using small strokes. Check in a mirror by looking straight ahead to ensure there are no gaps.” – Tobi

What kind of eyeliner should you use when tightlining?

“I would definitely suggest a waterproof creamy pencil for a long-lasting look. My top picks would be Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay-In-Place Eye Pencil or for a gel eyeliner option, Laura Mercier Tightline Cake Eye Liner ($35, David Jones).” – Eloise

“My favourite products for tightlining are Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner applied with the Bobbi Brown Ultra Fine Eyeliner Brush. Alternatively if you prefer pencils, Charlotte Tilbury’s Rock N Kohl ($43, www.charlottetilbury.com/au) in Bedroom Black will glide on effortlessly.” – Tobi

bh recommends: Bourjois Clubbing Waterproof Eyeliner Pencil and The Body Shop Carbon Eye Definer.

Are there any alternatives for those who want a similar effect (without having to draw on the waterline)?

“If drawing on your waterline isn’t for you, try enhancing your eyes by using an eyelash curler and then apply a volumising mascara (I suggest Benefit’s They’re Real! Mascara). You can also create a similar look by applying a very thin gel eyeliner to your top eyelid. Just make sure you have a very fine, good quality eyeliner brush to do this look.” – Eloise

“Applying a few more lashings of mascara and a very thin liner on top is probably the closest look to tightlining. This will look more made up compared to the real deal.” – Tobi

Have you heard of tightlining before? Would you try it?

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Share your thoughts

Comments 5

  1. Nothing stays on my waterlines, so I use a flat ended brush with a dark coloured eyeshadow, and push the colour into the base of my lashes from the underside of the lash line.
    It’s easy, there’s less chance of stabbing yourself in the eye, and it works beautifully.
    Stays all day and doesn’t transfer anywhere!

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