Beauty Level-Up #3: Waterlining

a blue eye with its lower waterline outlined in yellow
The part that is outlined in yellow is the lower waterline.

How do you line your waterline without discomfort?

This is where my teenage years of awful makeup come in handy. The first makeup I wore regularly was very stereotypically Desi: black-black smudgy eyeliner in my bottom waterline. The evidence is in my passport photo, in which I look, well, you can see for yourself how rock-wannabe I appeared below the jump.

The results may have looked terrible, but in the long term, the habituation means that I can poke a pencil near my lower eyeball without flinching or blinking very much.

Aside from habituation, there are three other factors to consider when it comes to waterlining.

General Eye Area Irritation
Do you have allergies? Do you sleep or have you slept poorly in the past few days? Are you catching a cold? Any of these things will mean that your poor eyeballs and eye areas are already sensitive. Treating any allergy or cold symptoms can help. To soothe an irritated eye area, you can use an undereye roller (I really like the one by Simple); these can be kept in the fridge for maximum calming effect. As far as short-term remedies go, the proverbial cucumber slices or tea bags can also help. The Beauty Brains has a great infographic about the undereye area.

There’s tightlining, and then there’s waterlining. Tightlining is along the lashlines, right at the base of your lashes, rather than in the waterline. Not only does it make your lashes look better and your eyes pop in its own different way, tightlining can be a great way to work yourself up to waterlining by getting you used to having objects near your eyeball. Sable at xoVain has a great, gif-littered tutorial for both waterlining and tightlining with a pencil.

Your Product
Softer, creamier eye pencils, like kohl or gel ones, are much less likely to drag and are therefore far less irritating than harder ones. The downside to them is that they tend to not be as long-wearing and can make a mess on your lower eyelid — and if you get too aggressive with the clean-up, your eye area will only end up more irritated.

passport photo of Heina circa 2007
me, circa 2007

If you do get messy, avoid irritating your eye area by using a soft cotton swab lightly soaked in mineral oil or gentle makeup remover to carefully clean away any liner that isn’t where it’s supposed to be by using twirling strokes. Colors that aren’t hard black, like gray or brown (or even super-rich deep red), are more forgiving of imprecision in eyeliner application. You can always smudge the liner to make it look like you did it on purpose, but then you run the risk of looking like 18-year-old me.

The relative hardness or softness of the pencil might not be the problem. You could be sensitive to the ingredients in that particular eyeliner. Another issue with your pencil could be debris, either fragments leftover from sharpening or glitter/grit inherent to the formulation of the pencil.

Pencils aren’t the only waterlining and/or tightlining option. A small, flat brush (I like mine angled) can be used to tightline or waterline with potted gel liner or a dark, highly-pigmented eyeshadow. Potted gel liner is a great option for tightlining and waterlining, but especially the former. I don’t recommend liquid eyeliner for tightlining or waterlining if you have even slightly sensitive eyes, as the ingredients in those formulations tend to be more irritating.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Benefit’s Push-Up liner. I bought when it first came out, hoping it would be as revolutionary as it sounded, but was disappointed. Others swear by its gel formula and unique application tip, however.

Are your eyes watering yet? As accustomed as I am to waterlining and tightlining, mine are!

Got beauty questions? Drop me a line via the method of your choice: Twitter / Tumblr [anon enabled] / Facebook/ (anonymous) / email

Beauty Level-Up #3: Waterlining

4 thoughts on “Beauty Level-Up #3: Waterlining

  1. 2

    I seem to have extra-wet eyes or something, I can never get eyeliner to stay on my waterline. Even the supposedly waterproof ones just end up transferring all over the place & disappearing 🙂 I’m not too fussed, I just stick with lining above/outside my eyelashes, that’s enough of a challenge!

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