May 22, 2024

How to Tightline Your Eyes

Tightlining, or “tight-lining,” despite its action-packed name, is not a new extreme sport. It doesn’t have anything to finish with bungee cords, ratchet straps or zip-lining, but along with filling in my brows and curling my lashes, it’s an vital part of my everyday makeup routine.

In tightlining, you line the base of your upper lash line from below, getting down in there between the roots, and I do it EVERY. SINGUR. ZI.


Even when I’m under a severe time crunch and have to start making “tough” decisions on which and what parts of my routine I have to skip, I’ll skip bronzer, highlighter, and if I have to, I’ll even skip blush…as long as I still have time to tightline.

So how does tightlining differ from the common ways of applying eyeliner? Well, I typically apply eyeliner from above, where I get the suggestion of the liner down between the roots of my lashes and along the lash line, and in tightlining, it’s the same basic process, but I come at the base of the line from below it, where I can really get the liner down in there between each and every lash, and it makes the lash line look good and thick, and that makes the eyes look bigger.

Before tightlining my upper water line (left) and after (right)
For tightlining, of all the different eyeliner formulas — gels, powders, kohls, liquid liners, etc. — I like black waterproof twist-up pencil liners the best, and I choose the twist-ups because the suggestions are typically very thin, which makes it simpler to get down in between each of the lashes at the roots. I also like waterproof formulas because they last (and I love Chanel’s waterproof Eye liner in 88 Noir intense for this reason).


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Of course, if you feel like black liners are too stark for you, you can always use another shade. Deep blackish gray, brownish black, medium-toned gray, navy or brown all work, too. Whatever darkens your lash lines and floats your boat.

Step 1: Sharpen your pencil

To start, the first thing I do is sharpen my pencil.

I know that sounds kind of “Duh, Karen!” but using a sharp suggestion really helps. It makes it much simpler to get between those lashes at the roots.

Step 2: placing the pencil at the base

Next, I place the suggestion of the pencil just below my lash line, pointing at an upward angle, and close the eye I’m working on so that the suggestion of the liner presses up against the base of the lashes.

Step 3: start your tightline

Then, I slowly run the pencil along the lash line in short spurts, back and forth, back and forth, all the way along the line moving from outside to inward (toward my nose).

Step 4: check your work

Next, I’ll open my eye to make sure the line looks dark enough, and if it doesn’t, then I’ll repeat the same process until it does.

At this point, there are typically still a few gaps that need to be filled — places where the pencil didn’t quite get between the lashes — so I’ll take the pencil, and gently fill in those gaps until I have a solid black linia.

And that’s all there is to it! Terminat.

Sometimes when I tightline, I unintentionally end up with liner on my lid, and when that happens, I don’t worry about it too much. I just get a Q-tip and blend out the line. It creates a bit of a gradient best along the lash line, and I’m all about those gradients, man!

And if I only plan to line my upper lash line, and not also my lower lash and/or water line, and some of my eyeliner transfers to where it doesn’t belong, I just dip a Q-tip into some makeup remover, and use that to clean up.


Lastly, if your liner doesn’t always stick to your water line, dry your water line first by gently rubbing a Q-tip along it before you start, because some liners seem to work much better on a dry surface.

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