How to Apply Eyeliner for Your Unique Eye Shape

Dacy Knight

Original Illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis

Despite what the name suggests, eyeliner is so much more than just tracing your lashline. You can quickly take a makeup look from zero to 60 with the swipe of a pencil. A calculated crisp line here or a carefully placed smudge there can transform the windows to your soul in surprising ways. Winged, mod, and smoky eyes aside, for an everyday lined look it turns out the most flattering eyeliner depends on your unique eye shape. For the ultimate tutorial in eyeliner application, we reached out to Lupita Nyong'o's makeup artist Nick Barose to show us where he draws the line.

Keep scrolling to see his answers to some of our initial questions about determining the best eyeliner for each eye shape then head below to discover the best eyeliner look for you.

BYRDIE: What are the top things to keep in mind when determining an eye makeup look for your eye shape?

Nick Barose: Keep in mind that it's not about a total drastic makeover change. It's a much more modern approach to work with what you've got and use eye makeup to open it up as opposed to overdoing it like in the old days. 

BYRDIE: What are the aspects you consider when choosing the eyeliner technique to use with your clients?

NB: I always look at their eye shapes and see where to add or subtract by using eyeliner or eyeshadow and am as discreet as possible so it's not ending up looking like I'm trying to make the eyes look bigger. You shouldn't see the try part. It should just open up the eyes. And it doesn't have to always be black. Sometimes you see people really tried to line with heavy, black, black shadow, lots of mascara—then all you see in the end are these black hollows in the eyes and the eyes get lost and end up looking smaller. It doesn't have to be black. It can be brown, bronze, olive, navy, or grey. Or the opposite—like when I get someone with dark eyes and dark lashes, instead of using dark all around I actually use black on the upper lashline then shimmery gold on the bottom and that opens it up instead of closing it down.

BYRDIE: What are the biggest eyeliner mistakes you see people making?

NB: Thinking the darkest, the blackest—the more you do—the fake lashes, the heavy liquid liner and all that will open up the eyes, but it closes it down.

For a less-is-more approach, scroll below to find your eye shape and study up on Nick Barose's instructions for your most flattering eyeliner look.

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