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Beauty Trend: Graphic Eyeliner and Beauty Techniques to Try at Home

Graphic Eyeliner

Beauty Trend: Graphic Eyeliner and Beauty Techniques to Try at Home

The makeup styles and beauty trends we’re seeing in 2021 are truly unlike anything we’ve seen before. And it’s no wonder. The year 2020 was unprecedented in almost every way and brought about significant changes to the ways we interact, work, run businesses, and yes — even the way we dress. While we spent most of 2020 in our pajamas with greasy hair and little to no makeup, 2021 is the year in which we can all emerge from our cocoons with brilliance (or at least share cute pics on Instagram).

2021 beauty trends are wild and bold, featuring makeup styles that allow us to express ourselves in new and unique ways, with or without a mask. After all, we have a year’s worth of beauty and fashion innovations to make up for!

2021 Beauty Trends

In 2020, many businesses went online, which is a place they are likely to stay for a long time. Thanks to Zoom and other online team management software, many companies are probably going to keep working remotely indefinitely. With so many of our interactions taking place over the computer where only our faces and shoulders are visible, makeup has become one of the few ways we can express our unique style. As a result, 2021 makeup trends are veering away from the “less is more,” minimalist attitude of previous years, and are instead opting for brilliant colors, shapes, and dramatic lines.

In other words, the more show-stopping the better!

2021 makeup trends are taking a turn for the artistic, featuring colored mascara, metallic cat eyes, and ultra-emphasized or false eyelashes.

The Mask Effect

Another reason spectacular eye makeup has been trending this year is that so many of us started off the year or are still wearing masks during our day-to-day interactions, whether out running errands or at work. Since the eyes are the only part of the face still visible, they become the natural — and only — part to adorn. With the rest of the face hidden, it’s only natural that flashy, expressive eye makeup is coming into style in 2021.

What Is Graphic Eyeliner?

What Is Graphic Eyeliner?

Graphic eyeliner is the trending style of this year. It is an artistic, visually stimulating way of applying eyeliner and eyeshadow. Graphic eyeliner can look both retro — think Twiggy and the Mod era — or modern and galactic. In more recent years, cat eyes were the most dramatic form of eye makeup anyone ever used, but recently, makeup artists and Instagram experts have taken the classic cat-eye wing to a whole new level. Graphic eyeliner involves using eyeliner pens, powders, and gels to make heavy lines, shapes, dots, metallic swooshes, glitter, layered lines, and even tiny pom-poms to create a visually stunning work of art to frame the eyes and draw attention to them.

How to Apply Graphic Eyeliner

Choose the Right Eyeliner FormulaApplying graphic eyeliner successfully can require lots of practice and patience, but there are a few steps and tricks to make the process go more smoothly and to minimize the learning curve.

Choose the Right Eyeliner Formula

The first step is to decide which eyeliner formula you are going to be working with. There are several formulas you can choose from, but it’s best (especially when starting out) to go with something you are already comfortable or familiar with. Powder, gel, and liquid eyeliners will all do the trick, although different styles lend themselves better to certain eyeliner formulas.

  • Powder eyeliners work best for designs that feature a more smudged or blended look. Powders are not ideal for designs that require fine lines and more intricate, detailed patterns. Powders are often applied on top of gel or pen liners to make a softer, slightly smudged look.
  • Gel eyeliners are ideal for graphic eyeliner designs that feature bold, dramatic lines. Gel eyeliners work well for creating thicker and darker lines, like an angled wing eyeliner design.
  • While liquid eyeliners can be difficult for beginners to control, they are really the best when it comes to graphic eyeliner. When applied with a practiced hand, liquid eyeliners are able to create the most precise lines. Liquid eyeliner can make thick or thin lines and are best for intricate graphic eyeliner designs like double lines or detached lines.

Hold Your Skin

Applying graphic eyeliner requires intense precision and control. These designs are often quite complex and intricate, so taking extra measures to establish good control is a must. Rendering clear lines on your creased and wrinkled eyelids can be difficult, but gently pulling up on your eyelid skin can help create a smoother canvas for your graphic eyeliner application. Before applying your eye makeup, place your index and middle fingers on your eyelid just below the eyebrow and gently pull the skin towards your temple for best results.

Use Q-Tips

When applying graphic eyeliner, Q-tips are your best friend. Even if you have been doing graphic eyeliner for a long time, it’s easy to accidentally smudge your lines or make crooked or uneven lines. You can use a Q-tip to fix mistakes without smudging the rest of the design and having to start over from the beginning.

Don’t Forget the Primer

Eyeshadow primer is useful when applying all kinds of eye makeup, but it’s especially important with graphic eyeliner. Even if you don’t plan on using eyeshadow, you should always apply primer to the area on your lid where you will draw on your eyeliner. Otherwise, the natural oils from your skin will eventually cause your eyeliner to smudge and run, making you look more like a Frankenstein raccoon than a cutting-edge and sophisticated fashionista.

Graphic Eyeliner Techniques

Ready to try this fun beauty trend? Here are a few ideas to help spark your creativity.

High Arch


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A post shared by Nikki_Makeup (@nikki_makeup)

Otherwise known as the floating eye crease liner, this is a retro, Twiggy-inspired look that is a guaranteed jaw-dropper. This method involves using your favorite colored, glitter, or black eyeliner to draw a high arc between your natural eyelid crease and eyebrow. For best results, start at the inner corner of your eye and work your way outward.

Or, try your own arch design – like these dreamy silver arches found on

Silver Arches – Graphic Eyeliner Trend



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A post shared by Teisha J🍒 (@teishajenaie)

Bottom lids deserve some attention, too. You can use the same concept as the high arch to trace a line below your eye. You can also swoosh the wing upwards toward the upper lid near the outer corner. To make a low arc, follow the lash line like you would when applying eyeliner to your upper lid.

Or, what about this open wing eyeliner look?

Black Liquid Gel

Detached Lines or Empty Spaces

Detached Lines or Empty Spaces are one of the most popular graphic eyeliner trends we’ve seen so far. This design style utilizes sharp, dramatic lines that draw more attention to the open spaces than to the lines themselves. You can start by accentuating the corners of your eyes by lining the inner portion of the upper and lower lids. Next, start at the outer corner of your lid and draw a line upwards about a half-inch before making a sharp corner and bringing the line back down to just above the eyelid crease.

Negative Spaces

Simple Eyeliner

As the saying goes, sometimes less is more. We agree when it comes to using a little space to open up your eyes and really make things pop!

To get this look, try using a liquid liner. We like this Hyper Easy Liquid by Maybelline for a super affordable, easy to use pen style liner:

Maybeline Liquid Liner

Just start with the top line first, flicking it out ever so slightly at the end. On the bottom, work from the outside in, stopping the line at the outer edge of your eye. Finish by adding a bit of liner at the inner corner of each eye. The best way to do this is turn the liner so that you’re using the edge, rather than the tip.

Dotted Eyes

Dotted Eyeliner Trend

Adding dotted eyes is another simple way to try the graphic eyeliner technique that appears delicate and dainty yet whispers of something ancient and tribal. Some makeup artists prefer placing one, slightly blurred dot a millimeter below each eye. For this method, choose where you want your dot and place the tip of your liner pencil in that spot. Hold the liner pencil in place and begin twisting to get a larger size. Blend a matching powder liner on top to set the dot.

Other makeup artists have been known to place three dainty dots in a triangle shape at the outer corners of the eyes, while others like to place 2-4 dots along the bottom edge of the eyeliner wing. Make sure all dots are evenly sized and spaced apart. You can soften and set these dots by adding a layer of matching powder liner over the top.

Strain Lines


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A post shared by Makeup Artist Patrick Ta (@patrickta)

Gigi Hadid proves graphic liner has no rules. Instead of following the curve of the eye, why not try a straight line instead? It’s a simple way to add a lot of edge to your look, especially if you use a unique color or pare the look with a simple outfit that allows the makeup to be the feature.

Tribal Liner

Tribal Liner

This look is a little more challenging to apply… but worth the extra effort for those nights you want an extra WOW. To achieve this look, use a fine tipped, smudge proof, black liner, like the The Flick Stick by Lovoir:

Flick Stick

The gel liner helps create a fuller, more solid look for the geometric shapes. The fine tip also helps ensure your lines are clean and more symmetrical. This may take a few tries to get just right, so before rocking the look on a big night out, try practicing at home a few times. Just keep your makeup wipes handy in case you need to fix a spot or start over.

Pro tip: to get the look pictured above design the focal point of the inner lines towards the corner of your eyes. This design works great for those with wider set eyes. If your eyes are closer together, try placing the focal point on the outer corner of the yes by slanting your lines outwards rather than inwards. This will help bring contrast to your eyes.

Graphic Colors and Layered Liners

In 2021, bold lines and bright colors are truly the name of the game. Makeup artists have developed a new style of tracing lines in different colors to make a layered effect. You can start by drawing on a normal, black wingtip. Then, begin tracing along this line with several different colored liners and shadows. If you already know how to draw a cat-eye, layering on more colors should be a pretty easy technique to try out next!

Stacked Liner


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A post shared by nicole tait 🎨 (@nicoleetait)

Why keep things simple when you can go FULL ON!? Like the look pictured above. Nicole Tait, an Australian makeup artist, wanted to see how many wings she could fit onto her lids. She ended up with five different colors, all interlocked to create an optical illusion… it kinda that makes my brain hurt (but in a good way).

We’re loving this set of 15 colors to experiment with this look:

Colorful eyeliner metallic glitter

These pencils are easy to sharpen, the color glides on, and we’ve found that the product stays on well throughout the day.

Brightly Colored Wing

Brightly Colored Wing Liner

Already rock a cute cat eye? Swap your classic black liner for a bright color for this bold but simple look. Try matching your outfit for a monochromatic look. Just pick a color for your look and incorporate it into your outfit and makeup. So cute!

Want to use a light color light yellow? Pro tip: before adding your lightly colored wingtip eyeliner, apply thin black liner along your upper lash line to retain and define your eye shape.

Yellow Wingtip Eyeliner

Metallic Wing


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A post shared by Safai Kelly 💋 (@safai305)

Metallic eyeshadows have become very popular this year because they look bold, modern, and sophisticated. Many makeup artists are choosing to use shiny, metallic hues to make a dramatic wing. You can make your metallic wing by starting at the corner of your eye and drawing your brush outward and up. Brush the remaining shadow over the lids and brush a thin layer under the bottom lashes as well for a more piercing look.

For the finishing touch, brush a lighter shade of metallic shadow over the center of the lids and in the corners of the eyes to add dimension and to further open and accentuate the eyes. Like the Chaos Chrome iridescent shadows, which we reviewed here.


Don’t Be Afraid to Try a new Makeup Trend

Don’t Be Afraid to Try a new Makeup Trend
Photo by Matt Moloney on Unsplash

Do you know why we love makeup so much?

  • It’s easy to experiment with
  • You can tpunch up any look with some simple techniques
  • If you don’t like what you try, you can WASH IT OFF

So, don’t be scurred. Snag yourself a new eyeliner and give this trend a try, what do you have to lose… a $6 on a new product and maybe a few minutes of your time?

Worth it!