How to wear colored eyeliner without looking like a 12-year-old

If I had to pick just one beauty trend to wear this season, it would be the candy-colored eyeliners that are popping up everywhere. They look so pretty and flattering, while making makeup super-simple – just a flick of the pencil and you are ready to go! However, this is also one trend that seems to scare women the most because it’s easy for colored eyeliner to go the route of a 12-year-old playing with her mother’s makeup. So, how do you walk the thin line between cool and kiddish? Read on.

colored-eyeliner1. Don’t pick a favorite color

Like clothes and lipstick, the color you adore might not be the best option for your peepers to sport. To make colored eyeliner work, you NEED to pick one that compliments (not matches) your eye color. Remember that opposites attract: brown eyes look best with richer, more saturated colours like purple, lavender, pink, turquoise, blue, gold and copper; blue eyes are incredible when paired with bronze, orange or rust; green eyes look wonderful with purple, gold or a dark turquoise; and hazel eyes really stand out in green or purple.

2. Pick your formula

The texture matters… a lot. Pencil liners give you the most control, making them excellent for novices or those who don’t have the steadiest of hands. If you want to rim the inner lashlines, use a firm, traditional pencil. For a smudgy look, choose a kohl, which is more malleable. Liquids give you the thickest, most dramatic line – those with a brush deposit the most pigment but require a steady hand; pen versions dry faster but are less saturated. Gels produce an even line and glide on more smoothly than liquids.

3. Get close to the lash line

Colored eyeliner really works best when it hugs your lash line, without any skin peeping through in between. For the cleanest effect, work your way from the top innermost area to the outer corner. Then do the bottom line, starting from the outside and work your way inward. Move the liner rather than you head.

4. Go graphic

Another way to distinguish yourself from the fun-loving-yet-clueless 12-year-old? Opt for graphic lines. The simplest way to do this is with a thin line of pencil along your upper lashes (you can tick it up at the edges, but don’t wing it out). For a strong, nighttime look, trace your upper and lower lids with the liner, extending it outwards in a triangular shape. If you are feeling more daring, trace a colored line in the crease of your eyes.

colored-eyeliner5. Make colored eyeliner the focus

Colored eyeliner is the beauty equivalent of a little red dress – meant to be seen, not overshadowed. And certainly not treated as “part” of an outfit. Frankly, the main reason colored eye makeup looks tacky so often is that it’s paired with super-bright lips, OTT eye shadow and teased hair. Want to keep it chic and cheerful? Stick to loose waves or a high ponytail and natural makeup (soft pinks, peaches and roses work best). If you use an eye shadow, make sure it’s neutral. In fact, this season the makeup pros recommend even ditching mascara for a clean, fresh take on the trend.

6. Go dark!

On a day when I want to go bright yet not so dramatic, this is the best bet: first, line your eyes with a soft black pencil. Then trace the colored eyeliner (jewel tones work best here) right on top of the black, lightly smudging them together. What you get is a deeper, richer shade that’s almost – but not totally – black. It gives just the right pop of color without screaming out loud.


Have you ever rocked colorful eyeliner? What is your best tip for dramatic eyes?


    • anubha says

      That sounds lovely and gives you so many colors to play with :) Do you wet the ‘shadow or put it on dry?

  1. Shivani says

    I wear a lot of coloured eyeliners even to work. Kind of takes the boredom out of the office space. I match the tone to my dress and have a big collection of different colours. How it works for me is to just line the upper rim and keep it smudged…it shows when it has to and doesn’t pop out to seem overdone.
    M I getting it right?

  2. Nathalia says

    The last time I wore coloured eyeliner I was 15 and it was an electric blue. I have hazel eyes, and mixed it with an equally blue mascara, so go figure. Since I discovered that make-up should be subtle, I haven’t gone near them. But maybe mixing black kohl and some purple might make the green come out subtly. Must try.

      • Nathalia says

        Of the electric blue make-up? If such pictures existed, which I am not saying they do, they would be hidden away in a box in my cellar, for me to show my kids when I am old and long over such vanities. :-)

        • anubha says

          Hahahahahaha… I have a whole bunch of pix hidden away somewhere that my mom can’t reach. Else I am sure they would be all over Facebook!!!!

  3. Katie says

    Today I actually rocked a silvery blue liner on the outter half of my top lid and blended it with a silvery white shadow with a thin brush starting on the inner part of the lid. My blue eyes really popped and I think I’ll be doing this more often!

  4. says

    I used to love this light blue liner I had when I was about fourteen, I still love turquoisey colours for a pop of colour in summer but these days I tend to go for a golden liner. Enough to add something a little different to your makeup but in no way too harsh for any time of day!

    Emily x –


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