5 White Eyeliner Looks to Try, Stat

Plus, makeup tips from celebrity MUAs.

Person with a graphic white eyeliner look
Photo: Getty Images

While most of us typically reach for black eyeliner, white eyeliner is an underrated — yet impactful — alternative that deserves some consideration. One swipe of the product along your waterline instantly gives your eyes a larger appearance, not to mention some subtle '60s flair. "White eyeliner brightens your eyes and makes you look more awake," says celebrity makeup artist, Holly Gowers. Plus, it's really not that hard to pull off either. "Two easy ways to use white eyeliner are to line your top lash line or your waterline," she tells us. Meaning, if you can handle applying black eyeliner, you'll have no problem achieving a white eyeliner look.

Below, we asked Gowers and other celebrity makeup artists to show us how to recreate their favorite white eyeliner looks.

The White Waterline

Lady Gaga with pinned up curls, a fresh face, and white liner

Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

If you're thinking of trying out a white waterline look, it's best to work with a waterproof eyeliner pencil to avoid running white teardrops. The waterline is a sensitive area so start by warming the pencil so it's not too sharp — this can be done by drawing a few lines on the back of your hand. Next, take a cotton swab and swipe it along your waterline to soak up any excess moisture.

To get Lady Gaga's look, simply apply eyeshadow and black eyeliner on your top lids, leaving the bottom area untouched. Next, pick up a white eyeliner with a soft, creamy texture, like Urban Decay's 24/7 Eye Pencil in Yeyo, and run it along your waterline. Then, finish by tracing underneath your lower lashes with a darker shade, as well as a coat of mascara if that's your thing.

The White Lashline

Smiling person with a white eyeliner look

To line your top lash line, start at the outer corner of your eye and gently trace along your lashes to the inner corner, using M.A.C. Chromagraphic Pencil in Pure White. "I prefer a white eyeliner pencil topped with white eyeshadow like M.A.C. Eyeshadow in Gesso, but a liquid eyeliner pen or eyeliner gel works great too," says Gowers. "The line should be thicker on the outside and gradually get smaller as it approaches the inner eye. Pointed cotton swabs dipped in micellar water are great to keep the line sharp."

Pro tip: On some, crisp white may look a bit severe, so to tone down the intensity you can always reach for a light pink or beige liner to achieve a similar effect.

The Enhanced Cat Eye

Person wearing white eyeliner, sparkly white shadow, and a cat eye

Aside from creating a doe-eyed appearance, white liner can also add some dimension to your tried-and-true cat eye. "I like to use white on top of very thin cat eyeliner in black or forest green. It really adds something different to the eye, like a little statement," says MUA Elle Leary. "You can also trace the bottom portion of the wing on your liner to really define the shape and open the eye." Plus, it acts as the easiest clean-up method ever to fix uneven wings—no makeup remover or Q-tips involved.

To achieve a perfectly lined waterline, sit in front of a mirror, gently pull your lower lid down using your ring finger, tilt your head down slightly and trace along the exposed area, starting at the outer corner and gliding across. "If you'd like a more natural look for your waterline, pick a shade that is off-white and flatters your skin tone," says Gowers. "It will still have a brightening effect but will look less theatrical."

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The White Winged Liner

Person wearing white winged liner

The white winged eye is a more dramatic look and perfect if you're looking to jazz things up a little on a night out. For this look, celebrity makeup artist Jamie Dorman started by creating a subtle smokey eye with a matte taupe shade. "I applied the Divine color in Lime Crime's Greatest Hits Classics Shadow Palette," she says. "I placed the color densely on the lid and on the lower lashline using Rephr Brush 02 and blended it into the crease using Rephr Brush 14."

"Using Lime Crime's Venus Pigmented Eyeliner in Baby's Breath, make a cat eye shape starting with a thin line at the inner corner of the eye and increasing in thickness at the halfway point of the eyelid," says Dorman. "Keep the line sharp by putting a small amount of liquid makeup remover onto Rephr brush 29 to clean and perfect the line."

The Artsy White Line

Person wearing a graphic white eyeliner look

Who said eyeliner has to be straight or winged? If you're feeling creative, there's no harm in changing things up a little and trying a fun shape. For this look, Dorman used a contrast of white eyeliner with a deep tarnished bronze eyeshadow. "I applied Storm from Lime Crime's Prelude Exposed Eyeshadow Palette around the opening of the eye and blended it out softly to just above the crease using Rephr Brush 01."

Using Lime Crime Venus Pigmented Eyeliner in Baby's Breath, the makeup artist completed the look by creating delicate triangles on the inner and outer corners of the crease. "Place a line along the area just above the crease, keeping the line and the triangles disconnected," she says. "This looks best with a simple, glossy lip, I like Wonderskin Wonder Blading Supreme Shine Lip Gloss."

Updated by
Marianne Mychaskiw
Marianne Mychaskiw
Marianne Mychaskiw is a New York-based freelance writer and editor who covers everything from beauty and style, to wellness and entertainment.
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