Eyeliner is one of the trickiest makeup products to apply. One mis-step, and it can change the look of the most important area of your face. I find gel eyeliners extremely easy to use, and very long-lasting. However, one of the most classic eyeliners is a cake liner. Typically, one uses a cake liner wet. This is most easily accomplished if you wet the brush, not the liner cake.
I find cake eyeliners tremendously versatile. I use two brushes–the first to actually line the eye. A good flat-topped brush (here, Laura Mercier’s, but there are lot of companies that make them) is best for making a sharp, defined line around the lash lines.
Second, I use a smudge brush (again, this is Laura Mercier’s but several companies make them) to smudge the liner, and to add a bit of powder over the sharp line to add a bit of smoke. Alternatively, you could add a lighter color to soften and lighten the liner color.
I find that it’s best to use these brushes wet. First, most cake eyeliners are hard and give off very little pigment unless you fight them for it. A wet brush is a great weapon to beat some pigment out of the cake. I find that a spritz of water isn’t enough. Also, using my tongue usually leaves a color mark so I avoid that too. It’s best to run the brushes under water, then “squeegee” the excess water out by using two fingers, or dab the brush on a towel. Here, I’m using Chanel’s black cake eyeliner duo. I’m starting with the flat-topped brush in the matte side of the duo, to make a sharp line within the lash line.
This next picture shows how versatile a cake eyeliner can be, and why I love them. You can use them to make the thinnest possible line, or really layer it on for a thick, dark look. The reality is, that a cake eyeliner can give me the kind of control that I cannot get from other eyeliners. This is why I don’t mind the complication of using them. I cannot get a line of the same thinness and pigmentation with a gel, or a pencil–the thin, flat, wet brush and the highly pigmented, light powder makes using a cake eyeliner unique.
Next, I take a wet, squeegee’d smudge brush and put it into the shimmer side of the eyeliner duo. You can use a black eyeshadow (like MAC Carbon) for this part if you aren’t working with a duo.
I applied the smudge brush to the same three tester lines from the previous picture, so that it shows how you can “soften” the edges of the cake liner to the look that you are trying to achieve.
You can see around the edges of the largest and narrowest lines that you can sweep the smudge brush to a very soft edge if you like. I’m constantly amazed how easy cake eyeliner is to use, even on some busy mornings. And the layering helps the eyeliner last all day and into the evening–I had a very hard time washing this off with a tough cleanser!
Let me know if you have any questions!