The short answer is yes – you absolutely can and should wear eyeliner if you have small eyes! It all comes down to how you apply it and the shape you make.
It can look absolutely fabulous.
The key to eyeliner is that it should be used to create an illusion of a different eye shape. Depending on the shape of the eyeliner, it can be used to make eyes look wider, narrower, longer, and bigger.
Types of eyeliner
Liquid eyeliner usually comes in the form of a thin brush that dips into the pigment. Liquid eyeliner works best for creating small and detailed lines, such as wispy ones close to the lashes or winged eyeliner.
As liquid eyeliner can take a while to dry, it’s only recommended for use on the lid and upper lashes.
Pencil eyeliner works similarly to a standard pencil, wherein you draw the line directly from the pencil to your lid.
These eyeliners need to be sharpened to create a detailed line but can be used unsharpened to create a smoky look. As they don’t take long to dry, pencil eyeliners are great for use on the lids, waterlines, and under the eye.
This is a mixture of a pencil eyeliner and liquid eyeliner. Instead of having to dip the brush into the product, felt-tip eyeliners can be drawn directly to the eye. This is to provide more control for precise lines like cat-eye looks.
There are several ways to apply eyeliner to make your eyes look bigger. As everyone’s eye shape is different, it’s a matter of trial and error.
Generally speaking, winged eyeliner works best for those with small eyes as it works to elongate the eyes, providing the illusion of bigger eyes.
It’s important to keep the lines thin and avoid thickness around the inner corner, as this will make the eye sink back into the lid. It will also cover up your beautiful eyeshadow work!
If you want a subtle eyeliner look that creates the illusion of bigger eyes, we recommend using a thin felt-tip eyeliner to carefully draw a thin line of product right alongside the lash line.
Not only does this make the eyes look bigger, but it also makes your lashes look fuller!
Here are the general rules when it comes to applying other eye makeup products:
- White eyeliner on the waterline can make eyes look bigger as it creates the illusion of a larger sclera (the white part of the eye).
- Dark shades can be used to create the illusion of shadows. Blending a light brown matte eyeshadow slightly above your natural crease creates an illusion of a new crease, which will ultimately make your eyes look bigger. Blending darker shades into this new crease is also good, but make sure to only keep darker shades towards the outer corner of the eye. Blending dark shades into the inner corner will make your eyes sink and appear smaller.
- The inner corner of the eye should be kept for light and shimmer shades. In contrast to the dark shades on the outer corner, light and shimmer shades work to brighten your eyes to create the illusion of bigger eyes. Shimmers also help to catch the light, which draws attention to the eyes.
The key to applying eyeliner on small eyes is to be careful and use thin lines. It’s much easier to build your lines in size to suit your eye shape than it is to make thick lines that make your eyes appear smaller!
The problem (and blessing) with eyeliner is that it can very easily make your eyes look smaller or bigger. Look at the video example on my eyeliner on the waterline guide for an obvious example of this.
Lots of makeup artists will apply bottom eyeliner, whether it’s to the waterline or underneath the bottom lashes, to create a smokey eye. Whilst this does work to achieve a smokey and sultry look, it does have its downsides.
When applying eyeliner directly underneath the bottom lashes, you run the risk of potentially making your eyes look smaller. This is especially the case if you are wearing eyeliner on the top lid, as too much black will create the illusion of disappearing eyes.
This is why lots of people like to wear eyeliner purely on the top lashes, as it alludes to the idea that your eyes are bigger than they are.
Some people will also apply eyeliner to the waterline, but this can absolutely make your eyes look much smaller.
However, we recommend using a white eyeliner for this, as this will help to create the illusion of a larger sclera (the white part of your eyes).
If you want to apply eyeliner (or eyeshadow) underneath your eyes, there is a way to do so without making your eyes look smaller.
The same rules apply to the top lid as they do for under the eye. When using dark colors (like black eyeliner or eyeshadow), you should only keep these at the outer corners of your eyes.
If you want to apply eyeliner underneath the eye, create a small line just at the outer edge of the eye. Try to avoid connecting the line from the lid to your new line, as this can give a cross-eyed illusion!
For example, if you have a winged eyeliner on your eyelid, make sure the bottom eyeliner doesn’t connect to this. Instead, keep the line tightly near your bottom lashes and only 1-2 centimeters long.
One problem with applying eyeliner to the bottom of your eye is that it can often crease into your natural fine lines. This means that the color of the eyeliner can blend down these lines, which will only enhance them.
This can lead to smudging and a whole load of mess to deal with!
It ultimately comes down to your eye shape. Some people may find that bottom eyeliner helps to make their eyes look bigger, while others will experience the opposite. This is why it is important to practice different looks to see what suits you best!