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Eyeliner Week: Tightlining

By Sheila

And now a technique that is very closely related to yesterday’s waterlining tutorial. Although the two techniques are often confused, there is definitely a big difference between lining your waterline and tightlining.


With tightlining, what you are doing is targeting the area between your lashes in order to enhance your lashes and make them look more lush. It’s a very targeted technique as opposed to lining your waterline, which is covering the entire area with liner.

You can use a pencil or powder for tightlining, but I prefer to use a gel liner. In this example, I’m using a Stila Smudge Pot in Black with a very, very thin brush. The brush is a no-name one I picked up somewhere along the way, but I would recommend MAC’s #210 brush as well.

Ready? Let’s start with my naked eye (bonus points if you can tell me which band sang the song “Naked Eye”).

What you are doing with tightlining is pushing the liner right in between your lashes. It takes time, but it does get easier with practice.

Here’s a little diagram to help you visualize the technique.

Don’t ever claim that I’m not dedicated with these photos. Now you’ve been exposed to every fine wrinkle under my eye. Yes, I do love you all that much.

I don’t usually tightline the bottom lashes — it’s a matter of personal preference. With the upper lash, I’ll tightline from end to end. Here’s the finished look without mascara. Just a little extra “oomph”, which in my opinion is never a bad thing!

And with mascara and nothing else … kaPOW!

‘Scuze the spider lashes. I’ve been a bad beauty blogger and have put off replacing my Dior Show for far too long!

Tightlining is a great eye enhancing technique when you don’t necessarily want to pile on a ton of makeup, or in the case that you want a little something different in your usual eye makeup application. Like I said, it does take practice, but it does get easier over time. Remember, you want to PUSH the brush into your lashes — just keep pushing the brush right along the lash line.

Do you have any tips/tricks/advice/product recs to share that you’ve used with tightlining?

  • http://alotofcontestsandsuch.blogspot.com Nessa

    Lucious Jackson sang Naked Eye!!! My friend and I used to listen to the CD single and we thought they were saying naughty words, but they really weren’t.
    Great tut! I never knew there was something called ‘tightlining’.

  • Miss Boom

    Ooo, very nice and natural looking! Me likey!

  • http://www.rubysbeauty.com Lisa

    I love that look! Something else for me to try. I tried waterlining my upper lids this morning and I found out that my eyelids are extremely ticklish and sensitive. It was almost as bad as poking myself in the eye, so I guess I’m going to have to stick to just the bottom lid only for waterlining.

  • admin

    Ding, ding, ding! Way to go, Nessa! :)

  • http://silhouettescreams.blogspot.com SilhouetteScreams

    Now I’m confused. I line my waterline AND push it into my lashes. Im just going to keep calling it tightlining ;]

  • http://frostmeblog.blogspot.com Kim

    Just stumbled on your site – omg, thank you so much! My mom never wore any makeup and as an adult I STRUGGLE with how to put on anything but blush rofl… I can’t wait to see the whole blog!

    Kim @ http://frostmeblog.blogspot.com
    party inspiration

  • admin

    Thank you, Kim! Enjoy the blog!!!!

  • http://www.youtube.com/panacea81 ByLaurenLuke

    Great post and blog! Check out Lauren Luke’s tutorial on how to get the Lady Gaga’s latest look



  • http://www.samanthaward.com samantha

    Laura Mercier Cosmetics makes a product specifically for this. It’s a water activated cake liner, called “tightline.” It’s amazing.

  • admin

    Thanks, Samantha, for the product heads up!

  • http://coffeeholifemme@wordpress.com Binx

    Thank you for the step by step w/ photos guidance ^^

  • admin

    You’re welcome!

  • http://www.beautyinfozone.com MarciaF (beauty info zone)

    I think your pictures are really helpful. It’s hard to just write and explain tightlining so the pictures bring it to life.

  • admin

    Thank you, Marcia!

  • Barbara

    The photos are so helpful! Until I saw this post, I thought tightlining was just waterlining the upper lids.

  • Jules

    Would you recommend this strategy for someone someone with hooded eyes? What about using colors? I am a blonde with pale skin and heavy or hooded blue-gray eyes, do you have any suggestions?

    Thank you,

  • Sheila – Painted Ladies

    The beauty of this technique is that it’s universal – looks great on all eye shapes! Try an eggplant liner to enhance your baby blues!

  • http://www.taaz.com Courtney

    Great tutorial! We’d love for you to share some on Taaz! :)

  • Sunniva

    Well I guessed the Who, because they came out with Naked Eye FIRST! Anyway, awesome tutorial! Can’t wait to check out the rest of the page!

  • Sheila – Painted Ladies

    Thank you!!!

  • http://theatticdiary.com Ellie, The Attic Diary

    It looks really nice and natural for a day or work look, but I’m sure I’d just poke myself in the eye!

  • http://www.fajasshapewear7.co.cc Vedette

    Thank you for this. I really have problems doing this because I keep on poking my eyes and usually, I ask my little sister to do it for me.

  • LG

    Your naked eyes are gorgeous. So clear and bright!! Thanks for the tutorial.

  • http://Pinterest Susan H.

    If you have droopy lids this is a great way to line your eyes…no smug on your upper lids ladies!

  • http://www.beautylitfromwithin.blogspot.com Nidia

    Great pix and tutorial. I haven’t tried this yet, but I think I want to.. ticklish eyes and all.

  • http://www.painted-ladies.com Sheila

    Thanks, Nidia!

  • Michelle Ramos

    I use a powder kohl eyeliner called sormeh (by Mosha Katani). When I line my waterline, it automatically gets into the spaces between the lashes, tight lining them. Because I’m using a powder, I use a flat, slanted brush for application.

    Great job showing the difference in the techniques! Very helpful!

  • Melissa

    Laura Mercier makes a liner and a flexible, flat brush just for tightlining. The cake liner is activated with water and makes the perfect texture so it never runs into your eyes. The flat brush makes it so easy to apply- you just push it into your lash line! You are making it harder on yourself if you are tightlining with any other brush or liner! Stop by any Laura Mercier counter and their artists will give you a complimentary tightline lesson!

  • http://dbakeca.com Dbakeca Italia

    Looks lovely! Fresh and natural! Good tutorial!

  • http://milano.bbakeca.com/ BBakeca

    So useful! Thank you!

  • Lisa Carmichael


  • tinareynolds

    I love your tutotial I have been working harder on getting mine not to be to thick of a line

  • http://www.painted-ladies.com/ Sheila Arkee

    I’m so glad it’s been helpful to you! :)

  • Luckychii

    I’ve always tried to do this from above the lashes and ended up with a much heavier line that I’d like, then gave up on achieving this. I’ll give it another try from below. Thanks so much for the photos to explain what you’re doing!

  • http://www.painted-ladies.com/ Sheila Arkee

    You are welcome! Keep me posted and let me know how it goes.