Back to Basics #7: How to Apply Gel Liner

By Beautie | March 12 2012 | 18 Comments

gel liner

Gel liner: the wild wild west of beauty. You know it’s out there waiting to be tackled, broken and bested and the rewards are rich – perfect cat’s eye flicks! – but it’s oh-so-bloody hard! Never fear, Leonard’s here. Using a cheapy but goody, he’s taking us through the steps to perfect a simple, easy flick this week. Maybelline’s Eye Studio lasting drama gel liner, €11.99, was the product of choice. It’s affordable, lasts and lasts, priest’s socks-black and comes with a very acceptable little brush, so it’s a great buy.

He recommends Inglot for affordable brushes too, FYI.

liner step 1

Step 1: dispense a little liner onto the back of your hand – using it as a palette – so that you can properly control how much you’re applying to the eye.

liner step 2

Step 2: if you’re really unsure and new to working with gel liner Leonard recommends you lightly add three small, easy to work over dots to the eye. These help you locate where you’ll start and finish your liner, and where you’ll anchor it in the middle. So place one in by the bridge of the nose, one on the ball of the eye and one at the outer corner. Keep them small as he has done – you don’t want them rising above the width of the finished line.

liner tutorial

Step 3: Now get your product onto the eye and work quite fast. The best way to line the eye is to try to get it on in one quick movement or swoop. But if that doesn’t work, then the trusty three dots method is fine. Get the line as straight as you possibly can first time round as this’ll minimise tidy-up afterwards. Keep going over until you’re satisfied. Once you’ve joined up your dots, working from the nose outwards, you should have a straight line, tight to the lashline, out to the end of the lashes. Next, we’ll add a wing.

Leonard’s Tip: “Have Q-Tips on hand at all times to clean up any mess. Be as tidy as you can when doing it as the gel liner sets very quickly”

gel liner

Step 4: If you want to leave your line as is, for work or a more subtle look, then do, but if you want a more exaggerated cat’s eye flick, then here’s how you add it. Leonard recommends identifying the point you want your flick to extend to first, and then drawing back down from there. That helps you control the shape and size better than drawing upwards from the side of the eye. So take your brush – you may need to add some extra product from the back of your hand – and find the place you want your flick to finish. Make sure it’s higher up on the lid – that’s what opens up and widens out the eye.

Lightly draw back down to your existing line. Now go back over, shaping, tapering, extending and thickening the line until you’re happy with how it looks. You may find you need to draw back across the eyelid again too, to join up and smooth things out. That’s fine – and don’t forget, practice makes perfect!

Leonard’s Tip: “Set with a powder afterwards to make it last all night and into the following week!”


And don’t be afraid to do some tidy up if you need to. Leonard’s using his trusty Muji Q-tips here.

gel liner - finished version

And here’s the finished version on Eva’s lovely eyes. This one’s a bit more exaggerated than you see above – and we’ll bring it to you in a later tutorial!


Makeup artist: Leonard Daly,
Model: Eva Lawes
Photographs: Kirstie McDermott

Tutorials , , ,

18 Replies to "Back to Basics #7: How to Apply Gel Liner"

  • OtherMary says:

    Great tutorial. Nice to see the included Maybelline brush used.

    I think dark eyeliner always calls for tightlining, though. It makes the look more polished.

  • daisydaisy says:

    Fantastic…love it :)

    Will you be putting all the Back to Basics into a tab as you have done with the swatches, nails etc on the right hand side of the page?? Would be fierce handy….I know we can search for items, I did on Saturday for the false eyelashes tutorial…it was brilliant but I ended up taking the lashes off. Was my first time and I just couldn’t get used to them! :(

  • Kirstie says:

    Daisy Daisy – we will be, yep!

  • Fiona says:

    Wow, you make it look so easy Leonard! I also share the love of the Maybelline liner.

    ps Leonard, will you come live with me and do my make up every day pleeeeeease?

  • Alex Donald says:

    “Never fear, Leonard’s here” should be his new tag line! Great tutorial.

  • Eve says:

    The ‘drawing backwards from the winged part’ tip really works – I could never get my eyeliner to look quite like I wanted it to but I saw that tip on another make up blog (can’t remember the name) and it was like an epiphany! – Finally I was able to get the perfect cat’s eye flick I’d always dreamed of!
    Great tutorial by the way!

  • SparkleSparkle says:

    i always do the eyeliner first, then add all my eyeshadow, and draw over the line again. that way i dont worry about getting a wonky line, or doing it wrong and having to redo my eye.
    i do find the maybelline quite black, i used to have a bobbi brown one before that was a little bit more grey. but i have found that the gel has dried out a little bit and i can smudge it so that i get a softer line.
    i bought a purple one in the states a few months ago, i was delighted with myself, but its crap. its very hard to build up, so where you put pressure on your lid with the brush it tends to be a bit lighter. the gel seems to be a different texture to the black. has anyone else noticed this??
    who knew i’d have so much to say about an eyeliner?

  • Edelmc says:

    Great tutorial. There are 2 brushes in the photo- I know ones the maybelline brush but whats the angled one? Thanks

  • Audrey says:

    Gorgeous! This series is so helpful and I’ve saved the tutorials for future reference. Can’t wait for the next installments.

  • Leonard says:

    I am delighted that your all enjoying the Back to Basics tutorials. The angled brush is from Inglot and is a steal! Fiona I am afraid I come with baggage, a fella and a dog!!

  • Gossipgal says:

    Angled brush also caught my eye. Might pick one up even though I dont wear eyeliner.

  • Sabrina says:

    Drawing backwards is a great tip, the eye flick is my weakness, i always make a right balls of it. Thanks for the ace tutorial Leonard.

  • Orla says:

    Ooooh I love the tip about dotting it first… Makes so much sense because I tend to rnd up with one line thicker than the other (then you have to even it up and all that crap!)

  • Sinbon says:

    I too love Maybelline gel eyeliner. Thanks for the tips <3

  • Nora says:

    I struggle with eye liner, I got Rimmels liquid gel liner and the pen is just too thick. I always muck it up, I’ll have this open next time I do it!

  • Cailín says:

    Sparkle I also got the purple in the USA and yep it is a different harder texture and not that pigmented on the eye!

  • BerG says:

    Another great tutorial, can’t wait to try it out. Had been joining up 3 short lines and it always looked wonky. Now i know the trick is three tiny dots to use as a guide.
    These tutorials have saved me so much time in the mornings. Eyeshadow never looked so good, and i find i like to use it now. So a big thankyou to you guys.

  • Timely tutorial as I plan to buy the L’Oreal golden black gel eyeliner. Dreaming of a clean, classy every day look: a stroke of liner + mascara. A breath of blush and a light lip color. Nothing else :) Heavenly!

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