beauty q & a

beauty q & a: eyeliner 101

When I first put out the call for beauty questions, I was excited to see that many of the questions touched on eyeliner. This is one of my favourite makeup topics, because there's so much to talk about, and so many transformative tips and tricks. I'll start things off by answering a few of the questions I received (using slightly creeply GIFs), and then I'll tell you a bit more about my favourite products. Here we go!


Q:"How to put on eyeliner in the absolute easiest way possible--I'm hopeless."  - Sam

A: Here's the easiest method I know. Use a really smudgy pencil, something soft like a kohl liner. Draw a series of dots or dashes along your lashline (see animation below). Then use your finger, a Q-tip, a sponge, a small eyeshadow brush, or even the eyeliner itself to connect the dots together by smudging. That's it!

Q: "How to put on liquid liner without looking like a Sharpie pen went nuts on your eyelids. Or that my 4-year-old applied it."  - Elisa

A: Try this easy three-step process.  First, choose a felt tip liquid liner. It's the easiest type to manipulate. Don't use a waterproof formula until you get your confidence up. This will allow you to fix your mistakes easily. Start by drawing a small triangle at the outer corner of your eye. It should go from the outer edge of your lashine angled up towards the edge of your eyebrow. Then, gently apply a bit of eyeliner at the inner corner of your eye. Take a deep breath and carefully connect the line at the inner corner of your eye to the triangle at the outer edge. Some people like to work outwards, others like to work inwards. Do what works for you. Make sure there are no patchy parts of the line and that you have a nice, smooth, gradually thickening line. Clean up any mistakes by dipping a Q-tip in moisturizer or oil-free makeup remover and gently dabbing/sweeping away any rogue smudges.

Q: "I find that my eyeliner smudges both above and below the eye. I don't necessarily want waterproof, is there another way to improve/a great brand you'd suggest?" - Jenny

A: There are lots of ways to extend the length of your eyeliner without using a truly waterproof product. My top suggestion would be to prep your lids with a great eyeshadow primer. Here's one of my favourites:

When you're applying the primer, make sure you rub it all the way into your lashline. That way, it will grip your liner, not just your shadow. Once you're applied your eyeliner, if you can give it extra staying power by setting it with a matte eyeshadow in the same colour. Just make sure that you tidy up any eyeshadow that falls under your eyes with a makeup remover wipe.

Q: "As women age, their eyelids start to sag and it drastically changes how you wear eye makeup. Suggestions on what to do might make an interesting feature."  - Bev

For those who find their eyelids are drooping a bit, never fear! There's so many products that will work well for you. Women of a certain age, and women of any age who have a monolid, hooded or downturned eye shape (like me!) often struggle with finding a flattering eye makeup look that will actually last. When the eyelid droops or overlaps, it naturally produces oil, which dissolves most makeup. There are, however, several formulas that can stand up to oil and to the natural movements of hooded eyelids. It's taken me forever to find these products, but I've found 'em!

Start by prepping your eyes when you're cleansing. I once read of a makeup artist who dabs oily eyelids with a cotton pad dipped in rubbing alcohol. That seemed a bit intense to me! I prefer to dip a cotton pad in a very gentle toner and lightly pat the lids once. Never moisturize your eyelids. Then apply an eyeshadow primer. The one I suggested above from Urban Decay is the best of the best, and they also offer an anti-aging version.

I won't get into eyeshadow too much in this post, but I will say that you'll generally want to stick with matte shadows, both for their endurance and flattering finish. When choosing an eyeliner, make sure you choose one that is intended to last, or has a waterproof formulation. I'll go through all the different types below, so keep reading for recommendations. Always curl your eyelashes and consider only applying mascara and eyeliner on the top lashline, as this has a lifting effect. Hope that helps!

Q: "What's the best kind of eyeliner for when you're in high school, to actually wear at school?" - Emily

I generally try to steer teens away from black eyeliner during the day, unless of course you're a goth and that's your signature shade (hi, Skye!). I just find softer shades like brown, gray, violet or navy look best with your bright young eyes. Whatever colour you choose, consider smudging it a bit to make it look a little more natural. But when you're got a party to go to, by all means bust out the black eyeliner. For special occasions, consider using a thin liquid liner just along your top lashline, and flicking it up at the outer corner. A subtle cat eye looks amazing and I wish it had been in style when I was your age. Most importantly, practice a lot and experiment constantly. Don't get stuck on one look at this stage in your life!


There are many types of eyeliners, but I'll be focusing on the most commonly found and beloved types today.

Liquid eyeliner

Liquid eyeliner comes in several formats, but it's essentially a thin formula that you apply with a brush tip or a felt tip. It comes in both waterproof and non-waterproof formats. I find this kind to be the easiest to use, so it's the best choice for beginners, but great for more advanced users too.

Tried and true: Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner, Benefit Magic Ink, L'Oreal Lineur Intense Felt Tip, Make Up For Ever Aqua Liner

Cream or gel eyeliner

Cream eyeliner generally comes in a small pot and is applied with a brush. It is my all-time favourite type, as it lasts forever and gives you great control. It's important and often overlooked but in order for it to apply well, you must clean your brush after each use. Otherwise, your brush will get all gummy and crusty and frankly unsanitary. I keep a dedicated brush for my eyeliner that I rinse with soap and water or swipe with a makeup wipe after each use.

Tried and true: Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner, Sonia Kashuk, MAC Fluidline, Smashbox Smashing Cream Eyeliner

Eyeshadow as eyeliner

This is a great option for a softer, long lasting look. You can use a slanted brush like this to apply the eyeshadow by itself, mixed with water, or mixed with a mixing medium like Make Up For Ever's Aqua Seal. This look is great for beginners and advanced makeup fans alike. It's most forgiving if you use the shadow by itself, as you can build the colour gradually.

Tried and true: MAC eyeshadows, L'Oreal HiP Pigments, Stila Eyeshadows

Kohl eyeliner

If you're using a pencil liner that you sharpen, it's probably a kohl liner. The main benefit of kohl liner is that they apply softly and blend easily. I use them in my waterline only because they simply will not stay on my eyelids. They're best for beginners, young eyes, and perhaps best used on the waterline or lower lashline only. They don't generally work well on mature eyes or any type of hooded or monolid eyes. They do work if you use them to create a base, then set them with eyeshadow, or if you use them in their waterproof variety.

Tried and true: Rimmel Soft Kohl Eye Pencils, Make Up For Ever Aqua Eyes,

Waterproof retractable eyeliner pencils

This type of eyeliner is like the tougher cousin of the the Kohl variety. It usually comes in a plastic stick, with eyeliner that you dispense by twisting or clicking the stick. This is my second favourite eyeliner as it gives you the smudginess of a kohl pencil with the staying power of a cream.

Tried and true: see below


These are my go-to gals. My favourites who have passed every test I've put them through.

Starting from the top: Chanel Stylo Yeux Waterproof is the best retractable pencil out there. It's wonderful for tightlining. NARS Larger Than Life Long-Wear Eyeliner is a classic, creamy eyeliner that doesn't budge. Stila Smudge Stick Waterproof Eye Liner is the fantastic for (you guessed it) smudging and creating the base of a smoky look. Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner is the easiest liner to apply and allows me to do it in one quick stroke. Lastly, my all-time favourite is MAC Fluidline in Blacktrack. It's just the best. It has a lovely texture, lasts forever and can even be used in the waterline.


I thought I'd wrap up by showing you my favourite day-to-day eyeliner look. I'll do it on a day (like today) where my hair looks bad and I don't feel like trying to make it look better. This casual, lived-in eye makeup look just kind of ties things together lazily. Using a waterproof, retractable pencil in black (I used the Chanel one from above), I first tightline my eyes, then blink a few times to soften the look. Then, I apply the same eyeliner to the top and bottom lashline and smudge it with my (freshly washed) finger. I curl my lashes and apply a few coats of mascara and that's it.

It ends up looking something like this:

Whew, you made it! I hope you found this post helpful. I loved all your questions and I'm so excited to take more. So if you've got one, leave a comment or send me a message here. Thanks for reading!

beauty q & a: everyday beauty, before and after

This post is my worst beauty nightmare. I hate going without makeup. I just don't have a face for it. Some people look better with less makeup and some people (in my opinion) look better with it. I look better with makeup on mostly because I feel better when I wear it. It also defines my features which, without it, kind of blur into one another. I hate being in pictures without makeup on, but I'm willing to do it for you guys in the name of education!

Speaking of which, I'm kicking off a brand new weekly series called Beauty Q & A where I will answer your questions about all things beauty-related, based on my lifetime obsession with makeup, hair and other frivolous things.

Since I will be using before and after images of other people to demonstrate techniques, I thought it would only be fair if I put myself out there first.  I'll show you what I look like when I wake up in the morning, and how I address my various beauty concerns using skincare products and makeup.

Okay, let's get into it. Here is what I look like with no makeup on, rolled right outta bed, complete with weird around-the-house hairstyle. My main skin issues are dryness and dehydration, redness, sensitivity, broken capillaries and acne scarring. Yep, it's a lot to contend with. Can you see why I love makeup?

These photos are not retouched. I've simply run my standard Lightroom preset over them to brighten them up a bit because I suck at exposing self portraits when I'm using a remote control!

Here's my day-to-day makeup. It's what I would wear if I'm basically going out to do anything social. Well, I wouldn't do my hair like this, but I digress...

After cleansing with my Clarisonic, I exfoliate using Aveda's Botanical Kinetics Exfoliant, then moisturize using Aveda's Botanical Kinetics Hydrating Lotion (I use their Tourmaline Charged Hydrating Creme at night). If my skin is extra dry as it is on most winter days, I'll use Belmondo's The Dew Face Oil, which is a saving grace. Then I load on Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry Touch Sunscreen with SPF 110 (recommended by my dermatologist.) This whole regimen is focused on restoring and retaining moisture and of course, on sun protection!

I apply a little bit of MAC's Strobe Cream on my cheekbones, then apply Bobbi Brown Corrector under my eyes. I apply Bobbi Brown Foundation Stick where I've got redness, then blend it out. (Side note: Chanel Vitalumière Aqua is still the best foundation I've tried, but I wanted to try this new one for fun.) I set the foundation with a luminous powder from the MAC Mineralize Skinfinish line. I'll then put on a little blush. NARS Amour is a current favourite. I prep my eyes with Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion and apply a medium brown colour in the crease. Right now I'm into MAC Wedge. I curl my lashes and apply a few coats of L'Oreal Voluminous False Fibre Lash mascara. Lastly, I do my brows using a combination of MAC Eyebrow Pencil in Lingering and sometimes Anastasia Tinted Brow Gel in Caramel. For some reason it's  not in the picture, but I'll always put on some kind of rosy lip colour too, usually a stain of some kind. I know this sounds like a lot, but the whole routine takes less than five minutes. 

If I have only two minutes, I'd just do the foundation, mascara, brow pencil and lip stain. My makeup routine is based around evening out my blotchy skin, creating luminance by layering subtly shimmery products, and bringing definition to my features.

I hope you found this helpful in some way!

So, I've received a lot of fantastic questions on facebook from family and friends, and I will be addressing those over the coming weeks. Thank you to everyone who sent in your thoughtful questions. Now I'm opening it up to you, dear readers. Please leave a comment below or send me a message with your beauty questions and I'll do my best to give you honest and helpful answers in this series!