How to Wear Bright Eyeliner

Published in: Makeup Tips/How To

how to apply makeup cosmetics eyeliner makeup blog beauty blog

Hi, ladies!


How was our day? I was just listening to some empowering girl music by En Vogue. Remember them? Have you ever heard No No No (Can’t Come Back)?

Don’t care what other people say
Don’t listen to them anyway
Can’t let the evil get its way
Don’t let bad feelings make you pay

It’s like an instant shot of positivity with a cheer chaser (overkill? naw).

You know what else I love? Reading your comments. It’s so much fun to be able to talk with you guys, and not just about makeup.

Speaking of makeup, Michelle recently left a comment asking how to wear bright eyeliner.

“How would you use that bright eyeliner Karen? I have a few color liners but I hardly use them. I don’t know if I should use the same color eyeshadow, or if that’s too much. I read in a magazine once that you can simply skip eyeshadow all together and line your eyes with bright color, then finish off with two coats of mascara. What do you do?”

Well, I wear bright eyeliners more often as the weather warms, and they can be a little intimidating at first if you normally stick to black and brown.

estee lauder duo tone eye pencil aqua teal bronze goddess 2

But once you’ve worn bright eyeliners a few times they stop seeming so scary. You can wear almost any shade o’ crazy. The easiest way to do it for me is to keep the liner simple (a single line) and pair it with a brown or beige shadow.

estee lauder duo tone eye pencil aqua teal bronze goddess 3

I usually start with a brown, beige or neutral eyeshadow with a lil’ bit of shimmer (but not too much frost). Anything that’s too metallic or glittery can compete with a brightly colored liner, so I reach for quieter textures.

In this look I’m wearing Laura Mercier Satinee Creme Eye Colors in Ecru Silk (a pearly beige) and Rum Satin (a pearly light brown).

Now for the fun part

With a bright liner, I draw a thin to medium line on the upper lash line, starting from the outer corner (the side closest to my ear) and working the line inward in short strokes, trying to get as close to the root of the lashes as I can.

For these pics, I was using Estee Lauder’s Duo Tone Eye Pencil in Aqua (a shimmery teal).

After I’m done drawing my line, I add a few coats of mascara.

That’s it! Good to go.

estee lauder duo tone eye pencil aqua teal bronze goddess 4


When I wear brightly colored liners, I tend to go for shimmery blues. If blue’s not your thang, you could try a bright green or purple, like Urban Decay’s 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencils ($16) in Graffiti or Ransom.

For all you seasoned bright eyeliner-wearing ladies, do you have a favorite color? And what’s your favorite way to wear it?

I’m off to the bookstore now to do some reading for class. I must do my best to avoid the temptation that is the magazine section — Us Weekly, Cat Fancy (LOL!), Real Simple and, of course, Allure. 🙂

Hope your Tuesday was faboo!

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



Like this post? Tell your friends!

So far, 47 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Michelle says:

    This really helps, thanks Karen! Now i’m going to get my shopping on and add some more brights to my liner collection 🙂

  2. Karen says:

    Hi Michelle,

    You’re welcome! 🙂 I hope you have a pretty blue up in the mix!

  3. Tali says:

    I love the pic… but my eyes arent a nice almond shape like yours so if i line them I look like a suprised bug!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Tali,

      🙂 Hmm, how about a lil’ bit of color on the lid and just barely in the crease?

      I’m so excited for warmer weather — bright makeup is always so much fun.

  4. Elisia says:

    Love this.

  5. Katrina says:

    This vacation season I’ll be wearing Clinique’s cream shaper for eyes in 106 starry plum, with my eyelashes curled and waterproof black mascara. I’ll be putting Cliinique superbalm moisturizing gloss in 02 raspberry on my lips and calling it good. I’m a pretty simple makeup wearer to begin with and when I’m on vacation I really like to keep things minimal. After being in the sun all day I like to slip on a cute sundress, do as little makeup as possible and go to dinner. No fuss is the way to go for me.

    I also really like blue eyeliner on myself as well. Especially in the summer when I’m tan and makeup is the last thing on my mind. They say blue eyeliner and even mascara really brightens up the eye and I believe it. I only wear it on my top lash line too, I think it creates more drama in a simple way.

  6. Karen says:

    Hi Katrina,

    Clinique makes a ton of fantastic vacation-friendly makeup. Have you ever tried their Quick Eyes Cream Eyeshadow? It’s super easy to apply and blend, and it stays put all day long.

  7. Katrina says:

    Hi Karen,

    No, I haven’t tried Clinique’s quick eyes cream eyeshadow yet. I’ll have to remember to take a look next time I’m at the mall. I was just browsing Nars the muliple duo in orgasm/south beach because I like the idea of being able to use the colors on my eyes, cheeks and lips. It seems like a very versatile product. But now I’m afraid I’m going overboard and I’ll end up with way too much makeup for the summer and I won’t end up using a fraction of any of it. But I’m so excited to see all the new and bright colors for summer and it’s my favorite time of year. My nails are even a painted a bright coral/orange color right now, I can’t help myself!

  8. Marisol says:

    I really like to wear mine colorful liners with a neutral eye. I don’t feel like it overpowers my eyes.

    Have fun studying!

    Marisol´s last blog post..Resolutions update: February

  9. Heidi says:

    I know what you mean. When I go to Borders, I head straight to the magazine aisle and read (more like looking at pictures lol) allure, glamour, and cosmopolitan. A girl’s gotta have her holy trinity!

  10. Leah says:

    This has absolutely nothing to do with makeup, but I just wanted to say THANK YOU for this blog! I just started reading a few months ago, and I know so much more about makeup (and cats) than I did before. It’s really helped me learn about different products and how to use that, and for that I am forever grateful.
    It’s also insanely fun to read! Your blog is the first I check when I come home for a great pick-me-up. If you stopped this blog I would cry!
    On a note about eyeliner, I like to use smoky purple with brown eyeshadow to make my brown eyes pop.
    Keep on doin’ your thang,

    • Karen says:

      Hi Leah,

      Wow! This was such a nice thing to say. I am really touched to hear that the site has helped you! I have a journal where I keep little notes to keep me motivated, and I’m going to print this out and pop in in there. 🙂

      Have a fantastic night!

  11. Marissa says:

    I love this post! I just started getting into wearing bright eyeliner. So far I’ve just used a lime green color (from a Vincent Longo eye duo pencil) with my dark brown eyes. I’m really liking the blue though.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Marissa,

      Thanks! If you can rock the green chances are you’ll be able to totally rock the blue, too. 🙂

      Your Vincent Longo liner sounds divine. I don’t have a lime green color so I’ll have to hunt it down. Did you get it at Sephora?

  12. A. Rose says:

    I love wearing bright eyeliners! Like you I always pair them up with neutrals and I keep everything else simple and natural. I just recently bought UD’s Ransom–it’s such a pretty purple color!

    When I feel like the liner is a little too bright, I smudge in some black liner as close to the lashline as possible so I get just a peek of color 🙂

    A. Rose´s last blog post..My 24th Birthday Weekend

  13. Laura says:

    I LOVE bright eyeliners. I’m not a terribly big fan of eyeshadow, since I have to wear gas-permeable (hard) contacts, and when that powder gets into my eye it becomes trapped between contact and eyeball and is extremely painful. I’m a big fan of Makeup Forever Aqua Eyes. They glide nicely, have beautiful colors and last all day. 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Laura,

      Make Up For Ever makes some awesome liners. What colors do you have? I have a black one, but have never branched out to the brighter shades.

  14. Kate says:

    I’m kinda breaking out into them but my favorite isn’t really an eyeliner. It’s L’Oreal HiP Kohl Eyeliner in Teal. It’s great. I do a great 60s Mod thing with it. I also use Covergirl Wetslicks in Moody Blue and a few others. The CGs deliver a thicker line than the L’Oreal HiP Kohl Eyeliners.

  15. Ashley Jean says:

    Love me some bright eyeliner. I like to mix loose pigments w/ an eyeliner sealer for super-intense color, then swipe it on over a line of black.

  16. Gloria says:

    I always feel like I need a black or dark brown liner in order to define my eyes. I pretty much always line my lash line every single day. Just recently have I branched out into just wearing mascara when I’m running late for work.

    But you do make bright liners look so fun, so I might try out some drugstore brands first. I know I bought a bright green liquid liner from Wet n Wild to try, but I haven’t had the guts. I guess tomorrow would be a good day, no?

    Oh yea.. I love how you comment back on practically all the comments, even when you get so many!

    Gloria´s last blog post..Do You Care About the Brand?

  17. Evie says:

    I loooooove bright liners, especially in the summer 🙂 I definitely wear them with coordinating shadows, but my current favorite look is Urban Decay Sellout on the browbone, Stray Dog on the lid, and the new Flipside 24/7 liner. For me, the trick is to *thinly* line my upper and lower lashline *and* waterline, then smudge the liner a bit before it sets. You get a nice pop of color without the harsh lines that scare a lot of ladies away from bright colors 🙂

  18. Kailey says:

    hi Karen!
    I’ve got stone grey blue eyes… can I wear colored liners?
    I’ve heard you should always wear liners darker than your eyes if you have light eyes fading to dark at the edges like mine.
    I have Tarte Eyeliner in Ballet Dancers (I think thats the name, it’s a gorgeous aqua) that I recieved in a gift basket. can I wear it?? or will it look tramps/ugly like most non black or brown liners do on me, even with small aplications?

  19. mishel says:

    i have brown eyes and like wearing dark purple or a mermaid green colour. it’s kind of unexpected and looks cool, great going out look! =D

  20. jojoba says:

    it’s a beautiful colour for your colouring.

    don’t listen to others! :)))

    love this post.

    jojoba´s last blog post..Update/FOTD: Coastal Scents Ultra Shimmer 88 Eye Shadow Palette IS WORKING NOW!!!

  21. Heidi says:

    Yeah! I’m hopelessly addicted to glossy magazines pages. What can I say? It’s the small things that impact my life.

  22. Marissa says:

    I did get the Vincent Longo eyeliner during the wonderful Sephora sale and am kicking myself that I didn’t get more. We have similarly colored eyes so that gives me the confidence to try blue one day since it looks great on you!

  23. Kim says:

    I used to just have black eye liner but then I was on the receiving end of a gift — a plum-colored liquid eye liner by Almay. My boyfriend’s sister gave it to me because she never used it or could pair it with anything… so, I started using it. My favorite is with light gold eye shadow (Maybelline’s Bronze Glitz trio). I also just bought Stila’s convertible eye colors in clove and lapis (a goldish brown and a blue, respectively), and they do the work themselves 🙂

    Otherwise, I’d do it just like you do: neutral shadows with bright liner!

  24. Arianne says:

    I have this bright blue waterproof liquid liner by GOSH. I love it as it stays on all day, and it is hella bright. I don’t know if you guys in the States have GOSH anywhere, but it’s really good. I’m thinking purple next, or green.

  25. Evie says:

    Kailey, my eyes are the same color, and I have yet to find a liner color that doesn’t flatter them 🙂 If you’re a little shy of super bright colors, you might want to try a deep olive green like Urban Decay’s Stash.

  26. Bj says:

    I really love this blue on you Karen, I just got a beautiful green color for a certain holiday coming up. I have a beautiful liquid bluish green from the Jemma Kidd target collection.

  27. Tami says:

    Hey Karen,

    I happen to love colored liners and one of my favorites is Urban Decay 24/7 liner in Covet. I also have a mini Makeup Forever liner in 7L, a lovely turquoise shade, which I received with an old Sephora order. The latter lives up to its name because it doesn’t budge. Once, I used this to line my eyes at 5 am before heading to work. I was at a store later that evening and the salesgirl complimented my eyeliner. I’m used to eyeliner fadeout and was pleasantly surprised when I glanced in the mirror and saw my eyeliner still looked like I just applied it:)

    When I wear either of these liners, I always pair them with neutral shadows to avoid color clash.

  28. Karen B says:

    I’d love to try it but I’m not too handy with pencil liner on my top lid… Any tips?

  29. Michelle says:

    I’m a big fan of wearing neutral eyeshadow on a fairly regular basis, so when I need an extra pop of color I tend to use a colored eyeliner.
    A few tips I could give for some of the posters who have an issue with using a pencil liner, or who feel like it doesn’t define their eyes:
    A really inexpensive (and easy!) way to get colored liner is to use your pigments wet. I have SO many samples/pigments from companies like Theshespace or Fyrinnae (as well as MAC), that all I do is add a bit of mixing medium to any color I feel like turning into a liner et, voila! It’s generally smoother than a pencil, and really easy to apply (plus, that way, you literally have every color of liner imaginable!).
    In terms of definition, what I like to do is to tight-line my upper lid (which is, essentially, applying black eyeliner to your upper waterline) – this really defines your eyes without applying any liner to your top lid!
    And lastly, for those blue liner-loving gals, try it with a bronze shadow… it seriously *pops*! (Like the sand and the sea haha)

  30. Elaine says:

    Hi Karen! I’ve been a convert to bright eyeliners. one of my favourites is that aqua-colored one in the boogie nights set (i think you did a post on that one…)

    I’ve used bright eyeliners on the lower lid in the inner eye (lining the other 3/4 with a darker liner). I’ve also used them as a base, then smudging a bit with a darker shade of eyeshadow that i’ve used on the same eye.

  31. Anastasia says:

    For some reason, I tend to like the bigger eyeliners better…I think they are easier to apply.

    I have tons of Bloom ones that I bought when I lived in England and I can’t seem to find a US equivalent. Any ideas? I would love to find a nice plum, but the skinny eyeliners are too hard for me to use.


    PS – I never seem to have much success in applying pencil eyeliner over eyeshadow either – I think I am makeup impaired LOL Any hints?

  32. JULIE says:

    I found that when I need to ease into the bright eyeliners, which is everytime I don’t wear them for awhile, I line with a bright eyeshadow. Its a little less WOW then the real thing but a step toward the bold.

  33. lipglossme says:

    I love how you answered a reader’s question and made it it’s very own blog post. 🙂

    I love that blue eyeliner on you! What a great pop of color.

    I like wearing bright eyeliners too. I love teal, purple, blue, silver, bronze, what else? lol

  34. redhead says:

    I have pale gray-blue eyes, so cool chrome purple (think MAC’s Nocturnelle in liner form) really makes them pop. I like to do my liner a bit thick, so when I’m wearing a bright liner I’ll smudge it with black shadow so I get a good black-to-purple degrade in stead of just one thick bright purple in-your-face line. I HAVE to pick up that plum Sally Hansen liner you reviews about a week ago – do you think it resembles UD Ransom?

  35. Bj says:

    If you’re not too handy with a pencil, buy a vibrant eyeshadow and smudge it across your upper lid, if you use some contact solution on a brush or damn eye shadow sponge it gives the shadow some extra staying power

  36. Solé says:

    Hi Karen!

    I’m getting excited just reading this post. I love bright eyeliners! I have like five shades of bright sparkly teal ranging from sky blue to dark peacock. I have other brights that I enjoy wearing but for some reason I just love the blue-greens. I also love those Urban Decay 24/7 pencils – they are awesome! In winter I wear a lot of smoky eyes and darker colors – what I like to think of as grown up makeup – but in spring/summer, I break out with all the fun bright colors and just go wild.

    This is how I do it: I usually just use a sheer wash of neutral (yet slightly shimmery) shadow on the entire lid. Then I line both the top and bottom lid with the bright color. If I’m going for an extra special look, I’ll line the inner corner of my eyes with a frosty white, silver, or a pale frosty variation of the same shade as the bright liner.

    Ooh, I can’t wait for spring!

  37. lyn says:

    the teal looks gorgeous on your skin tone!

    i’m a big fan of jewel-toned blues and greens – favs include urban decay graffiti, which is a beautiful grass-green, and makeup forever majorelle blue, the prettiest royal blue ever.

    some of my (asian) friends who don’t have double eyelids like to use their normal black eyeliner on the top lid to open up their eyes, then a swipe of bright color on the lower lid. it’s a really neat, unexpected technique and a lot of fun.

  38. Carla says:

    I like to use a gold body shop eyeliner, its gold but is also glittery looking. i have blue eyes so it works better for me than a blue liquid liner. i also love this electric looking teal liner i got from No7. we have no sephora in england!! 🙁 or makeupforever!!! totally love your blog karen, thank you so much! xxx

  39. Jemma says:

    Karen, I love your tutorials especially this one.

    Now all I have to do is practise!

  40. Emma says:

    I was just shopping at Walgreens and bought a blue, a purple, and a green eyeliner. I’ve been wearing blue for a while now, on the underneath of the lashes and on my waterline. Would green and purple be the same look? Would green look funny on my blue eyes?

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