Share a Tip Tuesday: Whip That Water Line Into Shape!

Published in: Eyes, Makeup Tips/How To

I love liner. Love wearing it on my water lines. Love the way it intensifies eye looks, but getting that stuff to stay put can be a bear.


Here are a few tricks I use to whip my water lines into shape…

Let’s wait a while…

After I apply a layer of liner, I wait about 10 minutes for it to dry, and then reapply. That second layer really seems to up my mileage.

Push on some powder

Somewhere out there is a lovely Chanel makeup artist who gets credit for this trick (thank you, wherever you are!). After lining your water lines with a pencil, pat a matching eyeshadow on top using a soft, firm brush. It sets the liner and extends your wear time.

Brush-wise, I like the Definition Liner Brush No. 10 from Burberry ($32) for this (although any good, firm eye brush with a little give should also work, like a skinny concealer brush). It’s downy soft, and the pointy tip is all about the details. Perfect for placing shadow along the water lines.

Bring on the Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Eye Pencils!

There’s no shortage of long-wearing liners out there now, but Bobbi Brown makes a great one. Her Long-Wear Eye Pencils ($24) are some of the best I’ve used. They glide along my skin like makeup figure skaters, without caking or breaking up later. Plus, no tears! — and they come in six shades. The one I have is called Jet (a midnight black).


Thanks for stopping by for another edition of Share a Tip Tuesday! 🙂 You left so many great ideas for makeup storage solutions in the comments on last week’s post. My cluttered counters thank you.

I actually get those silverware sorting/storage trays at Bed Bath & Beyond and use them to separate out eyeliners/lipliners/mascaras/eye shadow brushes. I don’t have a ton of room for a large makeup collection, so I have to keep mine fairly streamlined and organized.

I got a cardboard jewelry box as a gift with purchase, similar to plastic ones sold for jewelry findings or fishing supplies, but already had a jewelry storage solution. I instead used it to house eyeshadow and pigment samples and could sort by brand and color using all the compartments.

For small items I like to keep in easy reach on my vanity (instead of in my cutlery-tray-organized drawer) like fave lipgloss, mascara, or tweezers, I use small, silver candle holders from Bath and Body Works. They usually sell different designs in different seasons so I’ve got a few now, and it doubles as pretty, decorative pieces in my room.

Do you remember those vintage Coke glasses? I have a bunch of those and use those as brush holders. They looks so pretty all in a row standing in my vanity!
— Nina

I bought some acrylic storage cases off eBay and some stackables from Ikea but for my eye and lip liners I bought this off amazon. It’s pretty and holds all the ones I currently use upright and so I can see them easily.

I drink a lot of tea — A LOT OF TEA — and I always save those tall round tins that the round tea bags come in. They’re perfect for storing pencils, brushes, glosses, and roll-on perfumes.

Maybe it’s because I’m a lipstick fiend or that I tend to shop when there is a gift-with-purchase promotion, but I started using all those makeup bags that come with GWP (esp. Clinique) to group my lipsticks by color type. All my reds are together in one bag, pinks in another, corals/tawnies in another, nudes in another and plum colors in the last. Since most of the bags are different sizes, I save the larger ones for my larger collections (i.e. pinks and nudes).

I saw someone use nail polish displays (the ones that hold 20-30) to store their paint pots, color tattoos, etc… It looked so pretty!

Not so long ago, however, I decided to organize the lippies drawer, and I just used small shopping bags (like Sephora, Victoria’s secret…) to separate products into different categories. They fit in the drawers and at least I can find a lipstick without having to dig into the whole stash! Plus re-using the bags means I don’t throw them, and mother nature is happy. 🙂
— Lulle

I use a 3 tier rectangular spice rack to hold nail polish. Got it for $10 at Home Goods!

Scouring flea markets can yield some amazing bargains. Fifteen years ago, I bought an old-fashioned library card catalog (like, dewey decimal system) at a flea market for the express purpose of storing my makeup. It’s got 36 pull-out drawers which is plenty big for my ridiculous amount of makeup/nail polishes and tools. I keep eye shadows and lip colors sorted by color family. On top of the unit, I use recycled jam jars or cool glass containers for brushes and most-used items (like my top 5 eyeliners).
It’s my most beloved piece of furniture and sits proudly in the living room. I’ve always wanted an apothecary cabinet, too – same kind of idea. The old Chinese ones are amazing!

My storage tip? I “collect” cardboard rolls from toilet paper rolls, cut them in half and staple them together. This diy makes storage cheap, fun to make, easy to customize the storage and is suitable for any size drawer. I use it to store my lipglosses, lipsticks, eyeliners or mascaras.

Thanks for the awesome ideas!

Today, let’s talk water lines. Got any beloved products/tips/techniques you use to keep your liner from pulling a Houdini late in the day? I bet you do! Leave a comment here, or tweet me on Twitter @karenmbb with your tip using the hashtag #shareatiptuesday.

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



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So far, 21 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Appu says:

    Loving your share a tip Tuesday posts, Karen! I love the Bobbi Brown long wear pencils, they stay put on my waterline for the longest time. I have one in Smoke which is a dark grey. Less harsh than black and smudges out really well too 🙂
    Appu recently posted … Caudalie Beauty Elixir

  2. Nina says:

    My fave trick for lining my waterline (and I do so almost everyday) is to use a long wearing gray eyeliner. Things like UD 24×7 in Gunmetal, Revlon Colorstay Eyeliner in Charcoal or MAC Grey Utility Powerpoint Liner.

    Its less harsh and finishes softer, making it more forgiving and easier to correct (use a pointy QTip to correct, its cheap and works wonders).

  3. Katherine G says:

    My trick is to use a primer, like UD in Sin or Eden, along the area of the waterline. I have found it really makes a difference and helps my cheaper liners, like Rimmel Exaggerate in Deep Ocean, and my NYX Slide On Glide On liners, really stay put all day. If I’m in a rush for whatever reason (I’m usually insanely early for anything – work, school, career stuff, family stuff…you name it I will be there 10 to 15 minutes early), I will stick with my longer wearing liners like UD 24/7, especially if I need to skip primer and do the mascara/eye liner/lip gloss look to run out the door.

  4. Chelsea says:

    I look ridiculous with dark liner on my waterline, but I’d love to try this with a shade to look awake – like those beigey or white colors.

  5. Rads says:

    I use UD Perversion for my water really reeeallly black and stays put without too much of a fuss 😀 I find applying a bit of primer along the lash line (on the skin, not the lashes, of course!) helps avoid raccoon eyes.
    Rads recently posted … Anastasia Want You To Want Me Eye Shadow Palette

  6. I’ve never tried the Bobbi Brown long-wearing pencils…the pencil I usually use (MUFE Aqua Eyes) is good, but even IT doesn’t stay on my waterline all day–so I kinda doubt any other pencil could. The only thing that does is MUFE’s Aqua Black. It’s a cream shadow, but many use it as a liner, which I do. Put it on and that baby isn’t going ANYWHERE all day!
    Becca @ The Beauty Sample recently posted … The Sample: Chanel Rouge Coco Shine Hydrating Sheer Lipshine in 54 Boy Review & Swatches

  7. Chris25 says:

    I sometimes use a gel liner like MAC Blacktrack. I will also carry a mini Smashbox pencil in my bag for touch ups.

  8. GinaTheresa says:

    Hi Karen – I love your look in this post! Is that eyeshadow the new BLKR duo from Nars? It looks GREAT on you. Also, I use Revlon colorstay liners on my waterline, brown, black or gray depending on the shadows.

  9. Heather says:

    Thanks much for this Karen! I love love love the way my eyes look when the upper lash line is tightlined and water-lined, but the liner inevitably ends up in places it doesn’t belong (such as streaming a bit down the corner of my outer eyes or settling in below my eyes a bit). I’ll try your tips though, and hopefully, I’ll have better luck! : )

  10. Marina says:

    I can only think about the tricks that you have already mentioned, which are two layers and powder eye shadow on top. Can’t think of anything else right now. I wonder what is the most long-lasting nude eye pencil/liner. Would appreciate if someone can share 🙂
    Marina recently posted … Diorskin Nude Skin-Glowing Make-Up in Ivory Review and Swatches

  11. Kim says:

    Even the UD 24/7 liners will run when I use them on my waterline (or to tightline). I think I have easily irritated/watery eyes. 🙂

  12. Shaylee says:

    I don’t use liner on my waterliner (my eyes are incredibly sensitive!) but to keep my liner on my top lash line I layer, layer, layer! First, Primer – Usually Too Faced Shadow Insurance) then I set it with Cover FX Setting Powder. Next I apply a long wearing liner – usually gel, then set it with a matching shadow! Poof! All day liner! 🙂

  13. Alison says:

    I don’t have a tip to share apart from the old “dip your eyeliner pencil into gel liner” tip, which is a well known tip that works! I just want to say your makeup looks lovely on you in these pictures! What else are you wearing here?

  14. Natasha says:

    Thanks for the tips! I will definitely give the double-liner plus powder trick a try. Since my waterline seems to disappear within 10 minutes, I usually don’t even bother. But I have a special event on Friday — so it’s worth it to learn how to make it look good and last.

  15. rena says:

    Try Guerlain Kohl powder, it is designed for the waterline. Its a kolh powder, so i will line it on my waterline, blink and reapply.

  16. Karla says:

    Lately everytime I try to wear liner on my waterlines they dirty my contacts to the point it is uncomfortable or I can’t see well. Do any of you know of any eyeliners that do not do this to you when you wear contacts?

  17. Alice says:

    Waterlining has never worked on my eyes as it disappears in minutes, but I have very oily Asian eyelids where even water resistant liner and mascara would cause raccooning. I then ran into an amazing Sephora representative that suggested I use a face primer, like Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer, on and around the eye before applying eye shadow primer. This trick works wonders for me and can now tightline with MAC Technakohl liner (thanks, Karen!!) and regular mascara.

  18. Alison says:

    Loving the recent mentions of Hourglass and Burberry brushes! I’m always on the lookout for quality brushes.

  19. Lorraine ER says:

    I love this liner look on you and I adore the cat eyes you’ve done in more recent posts- I’m catching up right now! You look great Karen!

  20. ventureforth says:

    I’m echoing Karla’s contact problems – it gets so bad I have to take out and wash my contacts at work after waterlining or using certain mascaras. So frustrating! Any tips for us?

  21. Alexandra says:

    Thanks for the tip. Im fine doing my lower waterline but the other one i just cant bring myself to do it. Your makeup in todays post is gorgeous. Please make a post on it.
    Vincey says hi to Tabs.

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