The Beginner's Guide to Creating the Perfect Winged Liner

No matter your eye shape.

How to Do Winged Liner
Photo: Getty Images

Some makeup applications are super straightforward. Take foundation, blush, or lipstick for example — with a quick swatch of color, you can look totally put together. Other techniques, however, are a bit trickier. Case in point: winged eyeliner.

We've seen the popular eye makeup look on everyone from Ariana Grande and Adele to Meghan Markle and Zendaya. And there's good reason why.

"Winged eyeliner adds drama to the overall eye look," says makeup artist Nick Lujan, who is the director of artistry and education for Kevyn Aucoin.

If you don't already know how to do winged eyeliner, there's no time like the present to learn how. Here, two makeup artists walk us through how to nail the process.

How to Apply Winged Eyeliner:

While winged eyeliner can be modified based on eye shape, Lujan says that the fundamental technique remains the same.

  1. Start by lining your upper lash line like normal.
  2. With open eyes, look straight ahead and determine the angle for your wings. Then, draw a straight line from the outer corners of your eyes.
  3. Connect the tip back to the lash line to finish your winged liner.

"My favorite tip is to keep a clean angle brush or precision concealer brush and makeup remover close by," Lujan shares. "Use the precision end of the brush, dampened by a tiny bit of makeup remover, to sharpen up edges and clean up any mishaps.

After using the precision brush, follow up with a clean dry cotton bud to remove any makeup remover. Repeat the process if needed, and be sure to clean the precision brush before making any second pass to avoid smearing and spreading any eyeliner product.

VIDEO: 6 Life-Changing Tips for Applying Eyeliner on Hooded Lids

Are There Any Hacks I Should Know About When Applying Winged Liner?

The biggest misconception with winged eyeliner is that it's a single stroke of perfection. In reality, Smashbox global lead pro artist Lori Taylor Davis says the perfect wing tip is achieved by walking the pigment across the lid, building color as you apply in short strokes. "This helps to control the application," she explains. As for the actual wing tip, she says to use the outer corner of your lower lash line as your guide. "It will ensure that your wing is at the correct upward angle," she adds.

That said, Davis points out that the wing itself depends on your desired end look. "The wing can be subtle or dramatic depending on your mood and eye shape," she says.

How Do I Apply Winged Liner to My Specific Eye Shape?

Hooded eyes can make winged eyeliner application trickier — but only if you don't know how to streamline the process.

"Following the fundamental steps of eyeliner will automatically create the perfect wing for the eye shape," Lujan says. "When the eyes are closed or looking down, the liner will look like a 'bat wing' automatically, so it's all about how you perform step three, with an open eye looking straight forward into the mirror." This step is crucial because if you try to apply your liner with your hooded eyes closed. When you open them, your wing could disappear into the folds of your lids.

For almond-shaped eyes, Davis recommends a thicker wing at the outermost edge paired with a thinner lash line. And for downturned eyes, starting halfway across the upper lash line and finishing with an equally thick outer corner is the trick.

Finally, Lujan says that winged liner is great for adding distance to close-set eyes, as well as lifting downturned eyes. "The angles of the wing can be used to lift the outer corners of the eye," he explains. To do this, apply eyeliner from the inner corner of your eyes to the outer corners, then extend the wing toward the crease.

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