Graphic eyeliner is one of the biggest eyeliner trends of 2023, and it's easy to see why. This type of futuristic, stylized eyeliner allows you to explore your creativity through different head-turning shapes and bold colors. Social media tutorials have given rise to the popularity of graphic liner, and the deluge of looks that followed have been flooding our For You and Explore pages. Ahead, learn about the striking eye trend and discover how to do graphic eyeliner using NYX Professional Makeup.
What Is Graphic Eyeliner?
Graphic eyeliner refers to any bold method of wearing eyeliner, like creating geometric shapes, adding pops of color, or opting for daring placements. The more innovative you get with it, the better. There are endless ways to wear the trend, but one commonality between all graphic eyeliner looks is that they stray from more traditional looks, such as classic black cat eyes or tightlining with nude eyeliner. Here, the eyeliner is the star of the show rather than just one aspect of your eye look. The goal is to be stark, bold, and completely unexpected.
How to Do Graphic Eyeliner Looks
You don’t need to be a professional makeup artist to master graphic liner. To get a graphic look, you’ll need to do just a little prep work: priming your lids, choosing the right eyeliner formulas, and picking the proper tools. Then, you can apply your eyeliner however boldly you like. As a finishing touch, well-groomed brows can pull the whole look together. Read on for a more detailed explainer.
Prime Your Eyelids
Whether applying graphic eyeliner or a swipe of dark lipstick, a proper base lays the groundwork for lasting results. In the case of the former, applying eyeshadow primer to your eyelids ensures a smudge-proof finish that won’t transfer. We’re partial to the Ultimate Shadow & Liner Primer, a creamy formula that extends the wear of shadow and eyeliner and creates a clean canvas for infinite eye looks. Plus, it’s available in four skin-adapting shades, so there’s one for every skin tone. Use the doe-foot applicator to sweep the primer over your lids, blend it with clean fingertips, and let it dry before starting your graphic eyeliner looks.
Select the Right Products
There is no singular best eyeliner for graphic looks; it depends on your preferences. However, different formulas offer unique benefits.
Pencil eyeliner: These long-lasting, pigment-packed formulas are makeup bag mainstays. For epically long wear time, take your pick from 33 of the Epic Wear Waterproof Eyeliner Sticks. These waterproof eyeliners offer up to 36 hours of smudge-proof, fade-proof color.
Those seeking an extra bold pop of color can try our twist-up Vivid Rich Mechanical Eyeliner, available in 12 matte, shimmer, and metallic shades. Creamy gem-inspired pigments will add a touch of luxe to your eyes in as little as one swipe.
Liquid eyeliner: Liquid liners are unmatched for producing precise, clean lines. We swear by a few formulas, like our Vivid Matte Liquid Liner in Black. This liner delivers high-impact matte color in a single, tug-proof swipe so that you can experiment freely with graphic lines. Plus, it has an ultra-fine precision tip for full control over your liner thickness and definition.
If you plan to go the colorful graphic eyeliner route and prefer a liquid formula, you can’t go wrong with the Vivid Brights Colored Liquid Eyeliner. Available in nine vivid colors, this easy-to-use liner glides right on—no skipping on your lids—to deliver bold, matte pigment. Plus, it’s fade, flake, and transfer-proof.
Pro Tip: Liquid eyeliners tend to smudge easily before they dry down. Beginners may be more comfortable starting with pencils and switching to liquids when they feel more confident and steady in their application.
Gel eyeliner: Gel formulas are often found in small pots and traditionally applied with a thin eye brush. They glide smoothly onto the skin and are super blendable, making them ideal for grungier, smokey looks. You can apply, soften, or smudge out your gel graphic eyeliner look with our Micro Smudging Brush. Or, if your design calls for a crisp line, dip a flat-angled brush, like our Pro Angled Brush, into a little concealer and carefully clean up messy edges.
Shape Your Eyebrows
Since your graphic eyeliner will be the focal point of your makeup, you want to keep your eyebrows tame (but not overdone) to help complement your look. Give your arches a few upward swipes with The Brow Glue Instant Brow Styler for lift, fullness, and definition. This eyebrow glue comes in four tinted shades (plus one clear gel) and provides up to 16 hours of non-sticky hold.
If needed, use the precise tip of the Micro Brow Pencil to fill in bare or sparse areas with fine, hair-like strokes.
6 Gorgeous Graphic Eyeliner Looks to Try
Now that you know the basics, you may need some inspiration for your next look. That’s where we come in. Here, discover six graphic eyeliner ideas that are surprisingly easy to execute.
Reverse Graphic Eyeliner
One of the simplest ways to dive into the world of stylized liner is with reverse eyeliner, which flips a classic look on its head. Instead of drawing a dramatic wing on the upper lash line, you apply it underneath the lower lash line.
Trace a creamy eyeliner along your lower lash line from your tear duct to the outer corner of your eye. Once you get to the outer corner, flick the line upward, cat-eye style. You can leave the line crisp or smudge it out with the Micro Smudging Brush for a smokier effect. Finish with a few swipes of mascara on your upper lashes to balance out the boldness of your reverse eyeliner. Our On The Rise Volume Liftscara lengthens lashes with a lifted curling effect that can help make your eyes appear bigger.
Colorful Wing Graphic Eyeliner
If you’ve got your winged eyeliner routine down pat, you can put the black liner aside and swap in a punchy pop of color.
Though any shade of liner will do, selecting one to flatter your eye color will make for even more striking results. Identify the best shade for your eye color by looking at the color wheel. Generally, colors that sit opposite from each other are the most complementary.
Brown Eyes: Choose deep purples or blues. Give your brown gaze the ocean-eyes treatment with Aquamarine Dream from the Vivid Rich Mechanical Eyeliner collection.
Blue Eyes: Orange may be unexpected, but it makes for a gorgeous contrast when paired with blue eyes. Experiment with Vivid Rich Mechanical Eyeliner in Spicy Pearl for a warmer orange or the Epic Wear Waterproof Eyeliner Stick in Orange Zest for a paler coral.
Green Eyes: Seek out reddish tones, like mahogany, maroon, or eggplant. The Epic Wear Waterproof Eyeliner Stick in Chipotle Chilla is one of our favorite rich reds to play around with.
Hazel Eyes: Opt for pinks and greens. Try Vivid Brights Colored Liquid Eyeliner in Ghosted Green or Don’t Pink Twice, which will both illuminate the golden flecks in your eyes.
Negative Space Graphic Eyeliner
A minimalist makeup lover’s dream, the negative space graphic eyeliner trend yields a high-impact look with less product.
Use your preferred liner to trace your upper lash line to the outer corner of your eye. Extend the line out to make an exaggerated wing that reaches toward your temple. Then, draw another line above your mid-crease, follow it along the curve of your eye, and connect it to the outer wing. Now, you’ve created a bare “negative space” wing with a mod flair.
Polka Dot Graphic Liner
A scattering of polka dots makes for an ultra-playful graphic eyeliner idea. For this look, a liquid liner with a pointed tip, like Vivid Brights Colored Liquid Eyeliner, will be easiest to work with, allowing you to press your dots exactly where you want them.
Polka dots are extremely versatile. Arrange them into a wing or a cat eye, or sprinkle them all around your eyes in a few circles reminiscent of a bullseye pattern. You can even space your dots above your eyebrow to follow the shape of your arch. For added dimension, tap a few larger polka dots throughout your look using a cotton swab dipped in a bit of eyeliner.
Floating Graphic Eyeliner
In contrast to the more involved cut crease (an eyeshadow look that’s heavily blended and layered), the floating crease directs attention to the eyelid in a subtle way. This graphic eyeliner look works on all eye shapes, but it’s particularly flattering on hooded eyelids since the liner won’t fully disappear into a pronounced crease.
Just draw a thin diagonal line between your lash line and brow, right above where your eyelid folds. For a more rounded shape, use the curve of an eyelash curler to help guide your line. Or, go contemporary with a straight parallel line—it will give your look a chic ‘60s vibe.
Fishtail Graphic Eyeliner
One of the best things about eye makeup, especially graphic eyeliner, is how it can dramatically change your look. Case in point: Fishtail liner visually widens the eyes by “stretching” the outer corners into a fishtail silhouette.
First, pick a liquid liner in any shade you like. Draw an upturned wing starting at the upper outer corner of your eye, then make a downturned wing right at the lower outer corner of the same eye. (The start of each wing should be parallel to one another.) Use a flat-angled brush dipped in concealer to clean up any rough edges along the lines so the negative space between your “fishtail” pops.
Now that you’re inspired, share a pic of your favorite graphic eyeliner look on social media and tag @nyxcosmetics!