Eyeliner or Mascara: How To Choose The Right One For You

Photo: Getty Images/ Alejandra de la Fuente
There are certain famous feuds that don't have a clear winner. Running versus spinning. Netflix versus Hulu. The inside versus the outside of an Oreo cookie. And in the makeup world, the same principle applies to eyeliner versus mascara, wherein it's entirely unclear which reigns supreme.

Ask any makeup artist which products you need to accentuate your eyes, and they'll tell you to use the two of them in tandem for best effects. But if you're sprinting out the door in the morning and only have time for one? Pros say it's totally fine to opt for an "either/or" situation. But just as in the case of hot dogs versus hamburgers, it's up to you to decide which one you prefer, because what you reach for largely depends on the look you're trying to achieve. Whether you want to make your eyes look bigger, brighter, or bolder, here's exactly how to do it in no time at all.

Experts In This Article

If you want to make your eyes look bigger: mascara

Photo: Urban Decay

"Mascara instantly lifts and opens up the eye while giving the eye some definition," says Urban Decay's global makeup artist, Steve Kassajikian. But to make that happen, you'll need to apply product the right way. "Using too much product can make the lashes look thick and clumpy, which winds up making your eyes look heavy and weighed down," he explains. Start by curling your lashes, then apply your mascara in a back and forth motion at the root, and finish things off with a sweep toward the tip. But don't skip the all-important curling step! "Not curling adds a shadow to the eye, whereas curling them  draws them upward, making the eye appear more open and awake," says celebrity makeup artist Natalia Thomas. Finally, don't skip out on your lower lashes, because slicking them in mascara will help "open" your eyes even more effectively.

If you want to make your eyes look brighter: eyeliner

Photo: Dior

Shop now: Diorshow In & Out Waterproof Eyeliner, $34

To fake eight hours of sleep, you'll want to double up on liner, using classic black on top and a neutral or light peach shade in your waterline. "This gives the lash a more voluminous look," says Thomas, "especially when you use a kohl pencil on the underside of the top lashes, concentrating on the outside corner." FYI, using a heavy amount of black eyeliner around your entire eye shape will make your eyes look smaller.

If you want to make your eyes look bolder: eyeliner and mascara

Photo: Pat McGrath Labs

Shop now: Pat McGrath Labs Extreme Precision Eye Duo, $25

If you want to look more awake and add a little oomph to your eyes, eyeliner and mascara the duo to depend on. "I like to apply eyeliner in the lash line, then pair it with mascara to define and give the illusion of fuller, thicker lashes," says Kassajikian. "You can also use the liner in the waterline as well for a bolder, defined look." Thomas suggests starting with a thin, tight line of black liner on the top of your lash line. Then, amp up the appearance of your outer corners by pushing the pencil into the underside of the corners of your top lashes. Next, grab a neutral pencil and sweep it into your waterline. Finish things off by curling your lashes and applying mascara at the root in a back-and-forth motion.

For even more MUA tips on how to look more awake on your next Zoom call, check out the video below.

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