Tightlining Your Eyes: Do You Do It?

One way to make your eyes look bigger and more pronounced in a more subtle way is to tightline your eyes. Some people call tightlining “invisible eyeliner”. Actually, tightlining is a technique that makes your lashes look fuller, so you actually have more of a no makeup or less makeup look, while still drawing attention to your eyes.

It’s a good look for daytime, as well as a good anytime look for women over 40 or so.

So to tightline, you need a good, soft, black eyeliner pencil. Two that I like are:

  • Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On eye pencil in Zero (I actually got a half size pencil as a free sample when I purchased Anti-aging Eye Primer and the Naked Basics eye shadow palette during a 25% off sale)
  • Starlooks Kohl eye pencil in Obsidian that came in my October ipsy bag.


But you can use any black eyeliner pencil that you like.

How do you do it?  First, make sure you wash your hands. Next, get a mirror that you can see easily while looking down. Lift your upper eyelid, look in the mirror, and fill in the areas between your lashes, as close as possible to the roots, with the eyeliner pencil. Basically, you’re connecting your lashes with a line or series of dots of black. It doesn’t have to be perfect, because it’s not like traditional eyeliner that can be seen. Finally, take a closer look in the mirror at your handiwork, and then fill in any gaps. If you look at my eyes in the photo below, you don’t see any eyeliner.


Now apply a couple of coats of black mascara. The mascara looks like you did a really good job applying it from the roots, when it’s really the tightlined eyeliner pencil. You’ll be amazed at how defined your eyes look, and it doesn’t look like you’re wearing a lot of makeup!


I love the look of traditional black eyeliner (on the eyelid), especially on young women. But on me, it looks a little harsh (even though I do it from time to time), and it can be aging for gals of a certain age (like me). Instead, tightlining helps my eyes pop without looking so old.

If you want to add more drama to your look, you can always add eyeliner to your eyelid along the lashline, but perhaps in a color other than black — grey, copper, gold, silver, really any shade you like — to keep things looking a little lighter.

Here’s the link to a tightlining tutorial on Makeup.com. Their closeup eye photos look a lot better than mine, lol. In terms of the process, they recommend putting the  eyeliner pencil or cream/gel eyeliner on an angled brush to apply it, but I think that only makes it more difficult. I prefer to just go for it with the pencil. Try it both ways and see which you like better.

Also, I read about a product from Too Faced that’s supposed to make the process easier, Too Faced 3 Way Lash Lining Tool. It has three little prong-like mini-brushes that allow you to dab it right at the root line. (And I believe you can also use the tool as a traditional eyeliner brush.) I haven’t tried it, but it looks like it could make the job easier. There’s a link to it at Amazon, if you want to take a look. But then again, I don’t think it’s that hard to do it with a soft pencil.

To create my look, I used:

  • IT Anti-aging CC Cream
  • essence I Love Stage eye foundation
  • Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-on Eyeliner Pencil in Zero
  • essence I Love Crazy Extreme Volume Mascara
  • Laura Mercier Caviar Stick Cream Eye Shadow in Amethyst
  • Milani Colour Statement Lipstick in Black Cherry

So try it, and let me know how it works out!  And if you already tightline and have some tips that would make it easier, please share them in the comments.



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16 thoughts on “Tightlining Your Eyes: Do You Do It?

    • I was happy to find your blog via Monica @pear-shaped gal! Thank you for visiting back and leaving a comment. And I’m glad that you’re a fan of tightlining. It’s made a big difference for me. I hope I find some others who will try it!

  1. I love tightlining! Such a great little trick!! Lately I have been using the gel liner from L’Oreal. I actually like the formula better than MAC Fluidline or Bobbi Brown’s gel liner. Crazy, right?! The Milani pencil (can’t think of the name) is good too! How are you liking the IT CC cream?? I need to swatch the LM Caviar stick. It looks gorgeous!
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    • Thanks, Amber, for the great suggestion about the Milani Liquid Liner eye pencil. I have several so that will be another way to use them 🙂 Sometimes I too find that I like the drugstore brands as much or even better than some of the prestige brands. Often, they’re made in the same factories in Europe, lol. My experience with the IT CC cream is that it’s OK but I actually like the Lumene better! I have to write a review on the IT CC soon. It covers well but it takes a long time to set, and I usually need to apply powder to take down the dewy look, whereas with the Lumene, I put it on and I’m good to go. The Laura Mercier Caviar sticks are great. I don’t know why I haven’t reviewed them yet since I’ve owned them for ages (luckily I took pix when I bought ’em) 🙂

  2. I am SO glad you introduced me to this technique!! The tutorial that you reference is terrific. Long ago I tried applying eyeliner between the eyelashes, but always from ABOVE, and I never liked the way it looked. I have too much crepe-y skin on my eyelids, plus my eyes are small and close-set, so eyeliner was pretty much a no-go for me. But tightlining from underneath makes all the difference! I first tried it with a mini Too Faced gel pencil in black, and it was easy–love the gel consistency and couldn’t do it with anything drier–and just bought another one in dark brown yesterday, which suits my complexion even better. Thanks for the tip!!!

    • I’m glad you got a Too Faced gel liner in brown, Kim. It’ll look great with the brown mascara that you favor! I actually bought the Too Faced Three Way eyelining/tightlining tool yesterday with my Sephora bonus. And I just tried it this evening. It actually works!

  3. This was interesting to me….I’ve been tightlining my eyes for years, but I never knew what I was doing had a name! Lol. I just preferred the way it looked on me for daytime wear as it was more subtle.

    • How clever you are, G! You’ve been doing it all along. I just discovered it recently, and I agree with you, it is much more subtle…a better look for me most of the time, though I sometimes like to mix it up with a colored liner on the lid.

  4. Having hooded eyes, tightlining was a game changer for me. I use a pencil – Lancome Black Coffee or LM Bleu Marine Cake Liner. I really could use a third hand when it comes to doing this though! A MA at the LM counter showed me how to do this several years ago and it really is a lovely effect!

    • I agree with you, Kristi! Tightlining has made a big difference for me. I look like I’m asleep or invisible without it. I’ve been using butterLondon Wink Eyeliner Pencil or a soft crayon in black from Mirabella beauty. Both are very easy to apply but they have a tendency to also color my lower waterline at the same time when I blink after I first apply them. So I’m on the hunt for another option since I often like to line my waterline with NYX wonder Pencil in light to look more awake. Thank you for taking the time to comment and give me your recommendations. I’ve been curious about the new Lancome eyeliner pencils so I may try one of those!

      • I use Lancome Le Crayon Kohl in Black Coffee. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve repurchased it! It’s still dark but not as harsh on me as black. Clarins also did a 3 dot tool. I wasn’t able to figure it out successfully though! I’m glad it works for you!

        • I’ll check out the Lancome Le Crayon since you’ve had such good luck with it! I have the Too Faced version of the 3 prong tool but truth be told, I never use it — too much trouble!

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