22 Expert Eyeliner Tips For Hooded Eyes

Pro makeup artists dish their tricks of the trade.

by Vanesa Pacheco, Hilary Shepherd, Audrey Noble and Olivia Rose Rushing
Originally Published: 
Here are eyeliner tips for hooded eyes that will make smudged makeup a thing of the past.

Mastering winged eyeliner is definitely a challenge (although there’s a smorgasbord of hacks on TikTok). But for those with hooded eyes, eyeliner is just that much more difficult. Eyeliner (or any kind of eye makeup) becomes a bit tricky when you can't really see the eyelid. As a close friend of mine with hooded eyes once lamented, “All my beautiful work blending eyeshadows and eye-lining is basically hidden whenever my eyes are open.” (Of course, she still rocks eye makeup because nothing’s going to stop her from getting dolled up.) Instead, like many others who also have hooded eyes, she has simply changed up her approach.

Hooded eyes can range from slightly hooded to very hooded, where almost all of the mobile lid (the part of your eyelid that moves) is covered. On top of that, hooded eyes can also be a result of the natural aging process or tiredness.

One of the trickiest things to master with the feature is eyeliner, because depending on how hooded your eyes are, it can really change the way your face will look. If not done properly, it can either totally disappear or look more dramatic than you initially intended.

Below, makeup artists Erika La’ Pearl, Min Min Ma, Kim Baker, and Jamie Dorman dole out game-changing eyeliner tips for hooded eyes.

1. Find The Ideal Eyeliner

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First and foremost, find the perfect eyeliner. Once you find a product you love and that works for you, it can seriously speed up the application process — and make you look flawless at the same time. While searching for that immaculate eyeliner, remember to keep in mind how you’ll be using it and what kind of look you want to achieve. For example, if you're going to be applying it on your lash line, an eyeliner pencil may be your best bet.

“For eyeliners, I like that they glide on easy and [are] also long-wearing and stay put,” says La’ Pearl, the artist behind Cardi B’s makeup looks. Her go-tos for hooded eyes include Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil and Be a 10 Be Magnetic Eyeliner.

2. Focus On The Outer Corner

When thinking about wearing eyeliner, focus on the outer corner of your eyes. Using eyeliner or a dark-colored eyeshadow there will make hooded eyes look wider and bigger, which helps conceal the hoodedness. It will also help to create the effect of having liner on all of your lid, even though you’ve only applied it to the outer corner.

3. Apply Eyeliner To The Upper Waterline

Unlike other eye shapes, one of the challenges with hooded eyes is the lack of eyelid space that’s visible once you open your eyes. A good way to conserve the lid is to apply your liner to the upper waterline instead, aka tightlining. For this technique, it’s best to reach for a waterproof pencil liner, as liquid in your eye can be a big (or painful) mess.

Tightlining will help make your lashes look thicker and fuller. You can also gently feather an eyeliner pencil through your lashes to amplify the effect.

4. Only Line Half (Or A Third) Of Your Eyelid

For those with hooded eyes, lining the entire length of your eyelid can completely mask your eyelids. A good way to avoid this is to begin lining from the outer corner and carefully tapering inward only about a third or half of the way. This is also a great technique to use when trying to create a winged eyeliner look, as you can still create the wing without having to line the entire eye.

5. Use Gel Eyeliner For Wings

Creating the perfect wing is seriously an art, especially when it’s done without the assistance of some beauty tape. Liquid liner is a popular choice for this, as it will give you the best control and a sleek line. But for those with hooded eyes, liquid eyeliner can leave you with some unwanted smudges in places you weren’t expecting if the liner is still wet when you open your eyes.

An equally good substitute for liquid is gel eyeliner. Although it can take some getting used to, gel will still give you the control you need to make the wing perfect — and it’s not as likely to leave you with stripes all over your lids. Gel will also last as long as liquid liner, so no fretting over having to touch up your makeup throughout the day. La’ Pearl’s pick? Pat McGrath PermaGel Eyeliner Pencil.

Still, if you have hooded eyes and are partial to liquid liner, not to worry, says Baker, founder of Glamazon Beauty. “Just be sure to allow a little extra dry time. It will require you to keep your eyes closed after applying and drying one at a time” — definitely a small price to pay to achieve an incredible look.

6. Create An Elongated Wing

When creating a wing on your eyes, it can often be tedious to execute that perfect triangle and align it with the rest of your lid. And unfortunately, this technique is is quite difficult when you have hooded eyes — but it doesn’t mean a wing can’t be done. In fact, a wing can create a great eye-opening effect.

Instead of a small flick where most of the liner is on the lid, elongate it so that the wing can be seen when the eye is open and most of the dramatic effect is away from the lid. Just make sure the wing points upward, not down.

7. Avoid The Lower Lid

Of course, this is more of a preference, but eyeliner on your lower lashline draws attention downward, potentially making your eyes look more droopy and closed. Although there’s nothing wrong with lining the bottom of your lid (and there are definitely ways to do it so that it looks subtle and great), focusing on the upper eye will create fuller-looking eyes if that’s your goal.

8. Use Eyelid Tape Or Glue

If you’re really not in the mood (or don’t have the time) to adopt certain techniques, use some eyelid tape or glue, which will open up your eyes in a pinch. Beauty vlogger Michelle Phan has an excellent step-by-step method to using eyelid tape or glue. Using a tape like Koji Eye Talk Double Eyelid Maker can temporarily create a new crease so your lids will be more visible, which will allow you to do your makeup as you please.

Keep in mind, though, that using eyelid tape for long periods (or daily) might not be a good idea: The skin on and above your eyes is very sensitive and delicate, so using tape or glue in this area can have negative results, like making your eyes even more hooded.

9. Keep The Eyeliner Close To The Lash Line

La’ Pearl suggests applying eyeliner nearest your lashes. “One of my tricks on using eyeliner on hooded eyes is to keep the eyeliner very close to the lash line, so it doesn't interfere with the hood,” she tells Bustle, adding that it’s all about “opening it up and reshaping the eye.”

10. Use A Primer

To get your eyeshadow and eyeliner to stay put for long periods of time, reach for a primer before you apply your eye makeup. “I always make sure to use a primer so the makeup I am applying lasts and doesn’t crease,” says La’ Pearl. She suggests Be a 10 Begin 2 End Primer; these Bustle-approved picks are also solid choices.

11. Use A Tiny Brush

If you’re opting for, say, a gel eyeliner pot rather than a kohl pencil liner, make sure you nab a small eyeliner brush for perfect execution, recommends La’ Pearl. “I will use a tiny angled brush like Morphe M432 Flat Liner Definer Eyeliner Brush or Sigma Beauty E06 Winged Liner Brush,” the pro says.

12. Consider An Eyeliner Color That’s Not Black

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While it may be tempting to go for classic black, Ma recommends alternative hues for those with hooded eyes. “I like shades such as espresso, plum, or slate,” the pro, who works with stars like Zosia Mamet and Grimes, tells Bustle. “Black is too intense and can often close the eyes.” A softer dark shade, she adds, gives definition while keeping the eyes more awake-looking. She especially loves Jane Iredale Mystikol Powdered Eyeliners, which “are gorgeous especially in Amethyst, Dark Topaz, and Smoky Quartz.”

13. Don’t Be Afraid To Add More

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When tracing eyeliner on a hooded eyes, don’t be scared to build the line a little thicker, recommends Ma. “The liner tends to sit in the folded skin and can often get lost if it’s too thin,” she says. “Use your mirror and keep building the desired shape and thickness.” To achieve this, she points to a combo of Jane Iredale’s Bent Liner Brush and Mystikol Powdered Eyeliner.

14. Give Your Eyelashes Some Extra TLC

A simple trick to emphasize the eyes is giving more attention to your lashes, says Ma. Apply two to three layers of mascara, getting as close as possible to the base of the lashes, she says. “Don’t forget to give a nice curl and prime the lashes before the mascara.”

15. Try A Reverse Smoky Eye

“One of my favorite tricks I like to pull out of my makeup bag to use on hooded eyes is the reverse smoky liner,” says Baker. The technique involves creating the illusion of eyeliner under the lower lash line by extending the line upward “to give the look of a winged eye by smudging with a black eyeshadow.” (Use a small angled brush for this.) Her pick? Glamazon Beauty Eyeshadow in Galaxy, which “is the perfect matte black eyeshadow [for] the sexiest, smoked-out liner.”

16. Know That Less Is Sometimes Best

For hooded eyes, Baker likes to adopt the “invisible eyeliner” technique, which is when you apply eyeliner (preferably a liquid eyeliner that has a pointed felt tip, like Glamazon Beauty’s Flawless Gel Liner Pen) directly onto the upper lash line and then apply the “blackest of black mascaras,” she says. “I personally love this classic look; it’s always a slam dunk for day or night.”

17. Gradually Increase Liner Size

Dorman suggests having your eyeliner increase in size as you draw it on. She says to start off thin along the first two-thirds of the eyelid and then add thickness as you move towards the outer corner. End it with an upward flick. Even if you don’t want a dramatic wing, a small flick will help lift the eyes.

“Where the liner is thickest will draw the most attention. Make sure that if you want a lifted look, the liner is thicker on the outer part of the eye,” she says. “If the liner is thickest at the center of the eye, it will create a more round effect on the eye rather than a lifted look.”

18. Try A Thickening Mascara

Dorman explains that coating your lashes with a thickening mascara will help fill in sparse spots and keep your lines looking smooth, which is important if you’re seeking definition.

“Eyeliner is not flattering on a hooded eye if the shape it creates when the eye is open is not a smooth line,” she says. “If your eye shape prevents a cohesive line when the eye is open, you will need to create your liner shape on your visible lid and connect it to the line around the rim of the eye. Be sure to make sure there are no gaps between the liner and the space between your lashes.”

19. Look Straight Ahead In The Mirror

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s especially important for those with hooded eyes to make sure they’re looking straight ahead in the mirror when putting on liner. “Looking straight ahead as you apply eye makeup helps you see the shape of your eye as you create more shape and definition with makeup,” Dorman explains. “Because people you meet will see you with your eyes open, you need to know what they will be seeing when they look at you.”

20. Opt For A Matte Eyeliner That Won’t Transfer

Finishes are a matter of preference, but if you have hooded eyes you might want to consider something more matte than glossy if you want it to stay on. “Matte finishes are less likely to transfer and someone with hooded eyes will want to consider what finish will wear the longest without imprinting onto the upper lid,” says Dorman.

She recommends a long-wearing formula like the Westmore Beauty Wing Effects Liquid Eyeliner.

21. Use Oil-Blotting Sheets

Speaking of lasting power, you’ll also want to prep the eyelid before putting any primer and makeup on to make sure there is zero transfer. That’s where oil-blotting sheets come in. “I recommend blotting the eyelids with oil-blotting sheets to keep moisture on the skin from moving the liner,” says Dorman. “You might also want to dust a layer of translucent powder over lids to prevent transfer throughout the day.”

22. Take Your Time

Makeup artist Katie Jane Hughs shared a helpful step-by-step tutorial on IG. She recommends using gentle pressure and applying slowly and carefully.

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