How to Do Wingtip Eyeliner

Get a beautifully winged eye, no fuss required.
... Ralf Nau/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Winged eyeliner has been a makeup mainstay since the heyday of Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe. They made it look easy enough, but anyone who's ever tried it knows how frustrating it can be to get a perfectly symmetrical winged-eye look with a flimsy eyeliner that seems to have a mind of its own. But with a little practice and a few expert tricks, you can rock your wings, Hollywood style. Keep the rest of your face fresh and clean to showcase your eyes, or up the retro factor with a red lip.

Prep your lid by smoothing on a drop of eye-shadow primer. Let it sink in as you work on your eyeliner, and the rest of your eye makeup will go on more smoothly.

Choose a felt-tip or brush-tip pen eyeliner with a very fine point. Felt-tip eyeliners tend to be easier to use for beginners, since they have firmer tips and more control than do eyeliner brushes. In the same way that kids draw with markers before they move up to paints and brushes, you may want to start with a felt-tip eyeliner if you're new to the game of lining your eyes.

Apply the eyeliner across your top lash line, as close to the lashes as you can using short strokes to draw on tiny, connected dashes or dots. Once you've dashed your entire lash line, it will look like a single smooth line.

Look at the curve of your bottom lash line. At the outer corner of your eye, where your upper and lower lid meet, imagine a line extending up toward your temple that follows the curve of your lower lash line.

Apply a small piece of clear tape to the outer corner of your eye, lining it up with your bottom lash line and angling it toward your temple. The edge that runs from the corner of your eye should be a straight, clean edge, not the edge that has been cut. To make the tape less sticky and keep it from pulling at the delicate skin near your eye, pat the sticky side of the tape with your fingers -- or stick it to the back of your hand and then pull it off -- before you apply it. Using tape is optional, but it can give you even better control and help you achieve an extra-clean line if you're a beginner or you have unsteady hands.

Draw a thin, short line from the outer corner of your lash line toward your temple, connected to the eyeliner you've already drawn. Start with less than a 1/4 of an inch -- a little wing can go a very long way -- drawn in two or three short dashes. If you use tape, follow the line of the tape's edge, wait 15 to 30 seconds, then peel the tape away. Do both eyes, then take a step back and check in the mirror for symmetry.

Use a pointed cotton swab dipped in eye-makeup remover to clean up your eyeliner if it isn't symmetrical. It may take a few tries to get both eyes equally winged. If one eye looks great and the other's a little off, remove only the "off" eyeliner and try again.

Use short strokes to thicken or lengthen the upper edge of the wing until you get your desired look. Finish the rest of your eye with soft, neutral shadow to showcase your liner.

  • If you notice any redness or irritation from removing and reapplying eye makeup too often, take a breather. Let your skin calm down for the day and try your winged eyeliner another day.
  • Notice how your lashes are relatively sparse at the inner corners of your eyes, then get progressively thicker at the corners. Similarly, eyeliner looks best if it's thinner on the inside and thicker on the outside.
  • For a twist on the tape trick, you can also hold the edge of a credit card on the outside of your eye, lined up with your bottom lid and angled toward your temple. Use the card's edge to draw a clean line.
  • For even more control as you work your wing, use a lighter eye pencil -- soft taupe to brown, depending on your skin tone -- to trace a template of the desired eyeliner shape. Any flubs made with a light pencil are less noticeable and easier to remove. One your penciled wings look exactly as you want them, fill them in with your black eyeliner.

Lindsey Robinson Sanchez, from Bessemer, Ala., has written for the "Troy Messenger," "The Alabama Baptist" and "The Gainesville Times," where her work was featured on the AP wire. She has a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Florida. She writes style, beauty, fitness, travel and culture.