How To: DIY Bright Colorful Eyeliner

The farthest thing from clown makeup

When it comes to making more adventurous style choices for your wedding, makeup is probably the last place you’d think to experiment. I see the nightmare forming now: Oh, you want a bold eye? Here, let me make you look like one of the Real Housewives for your wedding. You’re welcome! But in a lot of ways, makeup can be a subtle way to make your outfit feel special without having to commit to something large-scale like an ornate dress or a fancy hairpiece. (Though, fair warning, this look definitely falls under the “Your Wedding Is Not Timeless” influence of wedding style. But, you know, on the tasteful side of that scale.) If you’re anything like me, lipstick is never going to happen on a day that involves crying, sweating, eating, drinking, and photography (one time I tried to wear read lipstick to a BBQ and I ended up with so much lipstick on my face I looked like a three-year-old who’d broken into her mom’s makeup drawer), but I’ll also wear Google’s version of “bold eye makeup” on the third day of never.

So whaddya do? Well, I’ve been trying to figure that out for twenty years to no avail, so we asked our resident makeup expert Nikol Elaine to come up with a colorful eye tutorial that looks nothing like the circus and keeps the rest of your face looking like… your face. Here’s the bonus gift though! You can try this tutorial with products you probably already have in your makeup drawer, which means you can trial and error it as many times as you want before your wedding until you get the color/thickness/shape exactly the way you want it. Free is truly my favorite category of makeup tutorial.

How You do it:

1. To actually make the eyeliner, it’s as easy as scraping a bit of eyeshadow onto a palette or mirror and mixing it with a drop of water. Voila! Instant eyeliner. Nikol is using a hot pink Mac eyeshadow, but you can use any color you already have.
2. Next, prime your eyes with eyeshadow primer to make sure it stays put. If you’re worried about the aforementioned crying and sweating, this will keep your liner from crying with you.
3. Using a small angled brush, take a bit of your homemade eyeliner and starting on the outside corner of your lid, draw a line toward the center of your eye. Stop halfway, then starting at the inside corner, draw a line toward the center of your eye until the two lines meet in the middle (is this a game-changer technique for anyone else?)
4. Curl your eyelashes by pumping a rubber-tipped eyelash curler five times at the base of your eyelashes. Switch and curl the other side.
5. Finish with a bit of mascara. If you’re pretty sure that the sweating and crying is a definite for you, use mascara on the top lashes only. No raccoon face for you!

Bonus Step: If you’re really into color, you can add a lipstick in another bright shade, just as long as it’s not the same color as your eyeliner (no matching!) We used Revlon’s new matte balm crayon in “Audacious” on our model, Kit (below). Just make sure to keep your face and cheeks very neutral if you’re doing both a bold eye and a bright lip. Otherwise you verge on clown territory.

Bold wedding makeup may not be for you. Or maybe it is. There’s plenty of time to decide. In the meantime, you can play around with this technique to your heart’s content. I’ll be over here trying to figure out which shade of purple eyeliner I like best on myself. (Jury’s still out.)


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  • emilyg25

    Yes! I do this! It’s a great way to wear bright colors without going crazy, and it always gets compliments. And thanks for the full-face photos!

  • Anon

    I’m a big fan of this with the bare lip. Beautiful!

  • scw

    I’m not a big make-up person but I love bright colors, and I’m happy to see a make-up tutorial that uses bright colors without going overboard. it reminds me of freshman year of college, when I lived down the hall from two women who always did their eyes like this to go out. they taught me their secret once: colored pencil! they just wet the pencil and drew it on their eyelids. has anyone else heard of doing that? I’m not suggesting anyone take a colored pencil to the face on the big day, but it sure looked great on my down-the-hall-mates!

    • Marcela

      Was those watercolour pencils? I don’t think the traditional ones would work without much irritation of the eye skin.

      • scw

        I really think they were regular ones. you had to soak them in hot water for a few minutes. it was nine years ago, though, I could be mistaken.

  • NicoleT

    I love bright eyeliner! I *always* rock that (even when I’m volunteering at a hospital). I love the toned down look; it’s definitely different from what I usually do and I might give it a shot one of these days (I’m the girl who would happily wear many of google’s bold eye makeup looks).

  • Kelsey

    And, yes. Yessssssss!!!!

  • Laura C

    Huh. A few years ago a MAC saleswoman suggested I do basically this with a dark brown shadow, and somehow it never occurred to me I could try it with bright colors. Not that I have much bright shadow, but I might give it a shot sometime.

  • KC

    Okay, so if incorporating fake lashes, those go on in which stage? (photo 3.5 kinda looks like lashes have been added, but maybe not, and you wouldn’t do that before an eyelash curler, right? but what about mascara? maybe it’s just easier not to do fake lashes…)

    • Nikol Elaine

      Hey KC!
      I love to put lashes on very, very last (icing on the cake!) I personally apply any shadow, curl lashes well, apply mascara, then false lashes. I hope this helps!

      • KC

        Thanks so much! That is the order I was sort of thinking would be most logical (because I would expect the mascara to tug on the false lashes?), but… my logic and makeup steps do not always go well together, so it’s good to know from a pro. :-)

  • snowmentality

    Oh, I love this! I tend to not be very confident with bolder makeup looks, but I could actually see myself wearing this. I think I’d be more comfortable wearing bright eyeliner with a nude lip (though Kit looks fantastic with the brighter lip color!)

    • Jess

      Yeah, I can only do one or the other, but I love it on her.

  • Are there any dos and don’ts regarding your eye color?

    • Nikol Elaine

      HI Amanda, thanks for your Q!
      I am a huge fan of “there are no rules to makeup, as I would rather you feel beautiful in whatever you choose to put on your face” With that being said.. I love thinking of the color wheel.. think elementary school.. complimentary colors, etc! Try something opposite the color wheel for starts.. after that play a bit with shades and tones! ( Let me know what you think!


      • I don’t know if I’m brave enough for red around my green eyes, but maybe some copper tones would work!

  • Sarah

    For slightly more $ you can buy Lise Watier Metamorphix which turns any shadow, even cheaper ones, into liner. I have deep sunk eyes so they can take a lot of colour and Metamorphix has been invaluable. It’s something like $15 for a tiny bottle but you honestly don’t need more than a drop for both eyes. More is not better with this stuff. I’ve been using it for at least 10 years and I’m only on my second bottle.

  • Caitlin_DD

    Not the point, but that lip color is great!

    • Jess

      are you kidding me? It’s amazing. I’m strongly considering finding it and seeing if it goes with my skin. Or with my skin when I’m tanner from being outside all the time. What a great summer color!

      On further review – it’s Revlon’s Matte Balm line, which is like my favorite line of lip color outside of the fancy expensive stuff. Now I’m definitely finding it.

      • Caitlin_DD

        Oooh, I’d love to hear if it works out for you (especially if you have blindingly white skin a la me…).

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