White Eyeliner Is The Makeup Multitool You Need In Your Arsenal

Among all the makeup tricks in the book, none may be so impactful as using white eyeliner. In a world where black cat-eyes dominate, this product may sound like a well-kept secret finally seeing the light of day after popping up on TikTok, but at the time of writing, the hashtag #whiteeyeliner on the app yields videos with a total of more than 95 million views. Not so secret anymore!

One of the most popular ways that makeup lovers use white liner is by tight-lining their waterlines. This application is known to make the eyes appear brighter and bigger by seemingly expanding the whites of the eyes (known as the sclera), and emphasizing the shape of the lower lash line. Are you in for a long night out? A busy shift at work after a long study session? While white liner won't make you feel any less tired, it might make you look less so.

Some TikTok users credit influencer Alix Earle as reigniting the white eyeliner trend, with countless videos dedicated to achieving the look like Earle. In 2021, the creator shared video demonstrating how she uses the product. After first tight-lining her waterline off camera, she places the liner in the corner of her eyes. Next, she places the product on the tip and bridge of her nose to highlight. Finally, she buffs out the product. The result is a makeup look with an impressive level of dimension and increased brightness. 

Different ways to wear white liner

Although you can totally where white liner alone, one way to get the most out of the product is use it to make other makeup pop. Makeup artist @kriziaofficial on TikTok demonstrates how to use white eyeliner to accentuate your eyes in three different ways in her video. First, she places white eyeliner in her inner corner, thus giving the illusion of a lengthened eye as it complements her black, winged liner. Next, she places white eyeliner underneath her the outer edges of her winged liner as an accent. Finally, she places white liner on her lash line for that extra pop of light. The contrast between the colors makes the eyes pop.

Another way to wear white eyeliner is to experiment with the striking graphic eyeliner trend; here's one product you might need for nailing the look. In in an Instagram post, makeup artist @yeshelllohi creates intrigue by adding a few swipes of white liner over a simple cat eye. She places the white liner from the inner lid to the center of her brow bone, subtly opening up the appearance of her inner corner, and making the eye appear more round. She then places white liner underneath her winged liner to emphasize its shape. 

White liner can also be used as an avant-garde lip-liner. Makeup artist @majatumaniec.makeup creates a unique look with white liner around a peach-toned lip in her post, proving the tool is as versatile as it is striking.

White liner vs other colors

Although white liner has somewhat of a cult following, some makeup lovers are simply not into it. And that's perfectly okay! Aside from bright white, alternative liner colors are out there that may produce better results for the look you want. Some creators anecdotally report that white eyeliner can simply seem too intense on some faces, and instead opt for a neutral toned beige liner instead. User Katherine Innes, for instance shared in a TikTok video she prefers a nude liner to a white one, noting in the overlay text that the beige hue is "still brightening but less harsh."

There may be some science to why white liner does such a great job making makeup pop. The color white reflects all light instead of absorbing light, whereas black does the opposite, absorbing all light and reflecting none. This could be part of the reason why black or darker liners can sometimes make the eye appear smaller, while also creating a stark contrast with the whites of the eyes. Of course, deciding on white versus black eyeliner all comes down to your makeup preferences. TikTok user @sarah_wolak demonstrates in her video the difference in her eyes when she tight-lines her eyes with black liner and white liner, concluding in her caption that she prefers the latter.

Following this principle, any brightly-tinted liner color, such as a pastel blue or lilac, could achieve a similar brightening effect to white liner without being bright white. 

Choosing the right white liner for you

When experimenting with white liner, the general rule of thumb is to go with whatever makeup feels the best to you. We love the white liner look digital creator @sincerelytahiry posted on Instagram (and the smile she wears with it!) For those seeking a dramatic white liner look, consider Makeup Forever's pencil liner in "All Around White," which is advertised as an eyeliner, lip liner, and brow liner in one product. Makeup Forever also features two beige shades in the same collection, "Boundless Bisque" and "Infinite Sand," which we recommend for those who feel hesitant about stark white. Each liner retails for $22. 

For those seeking a liquid liner option, we recommend Stila's All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner in the shade "Snow," which retails for $24 dollars. Remember, no matter the color, the most effective liquid liner will not crack upon application, will not take forever to dry down, and will stay on once in place. According to reviewers, this liner delivers. "This liner is AMAZING! I use it personally and professionally and absolutely LOVE it!" one reviewer wrote. Keep in mind that liquid liner should generally not be applied to the waterline of the eyes. 

Last but not least, if you are looking for something in between liquid and pencil, gel liner is always an option. The Line Artist Longwear Gel Eyeliner in the shade "Matte White" from about-face is 100% vegan and formulated with clean ingredients. It retails for $13.