Originally posted October 7, 2015. Updated May 2019.
Tightlining changed my life. Okay, maybe a slight exaggeration, but it has dramatically stepped up my eye makeup game for sure.
If you’re not in the loop, the art of tightlining consists of applying eyeliner to your upper waterline, which is the part of your eyelid underneath your eyelashes. While it may seem like such a minimal step, it can actually give your eyes a more professional and pulled together look.
Tightlining gets rid of the space between your lashes and the whites of your eyes. This ends up making your lashes look much fuller, and your eyeliner look more precisely applied. In the photos above, literally the only difference between the two pictures is that I had tightlined in the bottom version. See how it makes my makeup look more complete?
The easiest way to tightline is to lightly lift your lid by pushing up with your finger, and gliding liner under the lashes. You can of course also apply eyeliner to your bottom waterline, although doing both the top and bottom can actually make your eyes look smaller.
The real trick to tightlining is finding the right eyeliner to get the job done. You want a formula that will glide on super easily without having to layer for good pigmentation, so you don’t irritate your eyes. Waterproof is also something you ideally want to look out for, since it will last the longest.
Five of the best drugstore eyeliners for tightlining that I’ve found are:
1. CoverGirl Perfect Point Plus Eyeliner
This formula is on the stiffer side, but still does not take much pressure to build up on the waterline. I like the twist-up tip so you don’t have to worry about sharpening. The tip is also on the smaller side, so it’s perfect for getting right under your lashes without worrying about poking your eye. It’s not waterproof, though it lasts throughout the day. This is also one of my favorites for the upper lash line to smoke out due to the built-in smudging tip.
2. Milani Supreme Kohl Kajal Eyeliner
This is a good in-between formula, not stiff but not too soft either. While the formula isn’t waterproof, it definitely lasts. I love the rich black shade that applies opaque, and the twist-up tip is convenient.
3. NYX Professional Makeup Slide On Eye Pencil
NYX makes some of my favorite eyeliners, and this is no exception. This is a waterproof formula that won’t smear or smudge throughout the day– perfect for both the upper and lower waterline. The formula is very creamy, but it’ll stay in place once it’s set.
4. Rimmel Scandaleyes Waterproof Kohl Kajal Eyeliner Pencil
Here’s another smudge-proof, waterproof formula that is one of my go-tos for tightlining! This formula is pretty soft so it glides on easily without any tugging. It takes a little while to set though, so try not to blink too hard right after application or it might transfer.
5. L’Oreal Infallible Longwear Eye Pencil
This one’s my current favorite. It’s waterproof with a creamy formula that goes on dark and opaque in one swipe, perfect for ticklish eyes, since you don’t have to layer. I will admit this one can be a bit hard to remove since it’s so long-lasting, but it’s great for all day looks– up to 24 hour wear!
All of these have a really easy formula that doesn’t take a lot of pressure to apply. Each one has been able to last all day on me, which is hard because my eyes are known to be watery! Aside from tightlining, these also work well on the actual lash lines, whether you like a more precise line or you want a smoky eye look, so you won’t have to switch between too many products just to finish your eyes. I’m all about that multi-tasking life, so this point is really important for me.
You definitely don’t have to stick to black when tightlining; using different colors can be a cool way to make a look more exciting, as well. Most of the pencils mentioned above have color options to spice up your look. You can also use nude eyeliner, or a dramatic white, to make your eyes look bigger.
If you try out tightlining, let me know how it went in the comments below!