White Eyeliner and Its Uses

White eyeliner in its starkest form can look startling (think Harajuku girl) or Twiggy-esquely retro but these extreme examples aside, a white eyeliner is undoubtedly versatile and replete with uses.

White* eyeliner can:

Brighten the eyes

It gives the illusion of wider eyes and can make a person look more awake.

To achieve this, lightly trace the inside of the lower rim (also known as the waterline) with the pencil. If you are leery of wearing makeup so closely to the eyes, start off by applying the liner on the lower lash line, instead of the waterline. For a more obvious effect, line the upper lash line as well.

For subdued brightness, gently pull the liner colour outwards, carefully blending it out much like you would a cream eyeshadow**.

A subtle effect is also achieved by simply highlighting the inner corners of the eyes. To do this, gently smudge some liner there with either a soft but firm brush (MAC 219 Pencil Brush is a good one, as is Kevyn Aucoin Small Eyeshadow/Eyebrow Brush) or your ring finger.

You can tone down a white liner’s starkness with a cotton bud, a sponge tip or a pencil brush, by lightly sweeping across the line. Some white pencils tend to skip, so doing this would also help smooth the product on the rim/lash line. Moreover, this primes the line for eyeshadow layering, should you choose to top the line with eyeshadow. White, light gold or silver powder eyeshadow sets the pencil line to brighten the eyes, while layering with other hues creates a coloured eyeliner that lasts.

Be a base for eyeshadows

White eyeliner on the lash line or over the entire lid makes a good, sometimes hydrating, eyeshadow base that can:

  • Help eyeshadows to last

A fat white liner pencil is especially good for this purpose since it covers the whole lid quickly. A regular eye pencil would work too but more effort may be required for application. Do opt for a pencil that applies smoothly, to prevent dragging on the lid. However, try not to use one with a texture that is too emollient, as eye shadow may slide off or crease.

  • Keep eyeshadow colours true

A clean white base allows the actual colour of an eyeshadow to show up. It also prevents discolouration that might occur when eyeshadow is placed directly over foundation or a powdered base. However, the liner’s level of opacity may dilute the eye colour, so do play around with the liner and adjust accordingly.

  • Make colours stand out

In my experience, colours show up more intensely on a pure white base. The best effect comes from a semi-matte white pencil. A shimmery white pencil imparts some sparkle but like a flat matte one, may tone down the colours a little.

Fatty pencils such as MUFE Pearly Waterproof Eye Shadow Pencil in 01 Metallic White (a reflective, almost foiled, shimmery white) and Shiseido Integrate Eye Color Pencil in WT991 (a soft shimmery white) and a regular pencil like MAC Eye Kohl in Fascinating (a velvety white) are good whites to try for these purposes.

Be a base for the lips

As a lip base, white liner has a few useful functions. It can:

  • Make the lip colour last

Lip liner serves the same function but should you run out of it, a very sheer coat of white liner can come to your rescue.

  • Make the colour show up truly

Be sure to apply it sheerly; too much will pale the lip excessively and dilute the lip colour.

  • Prevent lippy bleeding

Draw it on and slightly extend out of the lip line. Remember to blend it properly with foundation after the lipstick has been applied.

Be a base for the brows

If you ever want to change the shape of your brows without actually shaving off/plucking/cutting them, a white eyeliner can aid in their camouflage. Simply colour over with the liner and go over with concealer or foundation.

Be a concealer

By virtue of its colour, white liner can really help to lighten spots. Colour over the blemish and then blend with a proper concealer or spot corrector. Its opacity allows better coverage.

Be a guide for brow-plucking

Using the liner, draw under the brow, following the brow line. Stray brow hairs can be easily marked out that way and removed. If you are confident, you could do this on the upper brow line, although this is not often recommended.

Correct makeup boo-boos

I’ve found that a white liner can eradicate or tone down most makeup mistakes in a flash. Think errant lipliners, eyeliners/shadows that have gone astray! Remember to blend carefully into the mistake, or you would end up with a blotchy patch.

Subtly change appearances

Its bright shade acts as a highlighter and it can be used virtually everywhere on the face to draw attention.

  • Blended properly, a smidgeon of it on the nose bridge gives the nose definition.
  • Blended down the sides of the nose, it softens the nasal labia folds and minimises their appearance.
  • Applied on the brow bone, it highlights and lifts the eyes.
  • A gentle blend of it across the cheekbones highlights the cheeks subtly and enhances a smile.
  • A modest amount blended on the lower eye area will brighten it, adding a little radiance.

Remember, moderation is key for these techniques.

Create the semblance of a crease on single-lidded eyes

I have found that with my creaseless Asian eyes, a fat line (half an inch; plus, minus) drawn with white pencil on the lash line creates a noticeable mobile lid. When my eyes are open, it looks like I have double eyelids or a lid crease. This line gives me visible lids to work on with eyeshadow and makes my eyes look more defined and sometimes, bigger.

The possibilities are endless with the unassuming white eyeliner. I’d love to know how you use this wonder tool!

* A pure matte white may be too distracting on certain skin tones. Unless you would like a more dramatic look, you might consider moderate gold-tinged whites like MAC Powerpoint Eye Pencil in Gilded White (an excellent waterproof off-white with gold shimmer) or MAC Fluidline Gel Liner in Frostlite (another off-white shade with reflective hints of gold), which work well on most skintones.

Beiges like Make Up For Ever Pearly Waterproof Eye Shadow Pencil in 13 Iridescent Beige and Avon Big Color Eye Pencil in Vanilla, together with pale pinks such as Shu Uemura ME Pink, are nice options too.

White cream eyeshadows can be used in lieu of a pencil to brighten the features. They are versatile, easy to use and blend easily on the eyes, lips and planes of the face. A good one to try is Shiseido Hydro Powder Eye Shadow in Whitelights.


  • birkinbagbeauty says:

    I would not have considered white eyeliner for a base for lipstick, but it makes sense…thank you for the tips: I love my white and nude eyeliners

  • Melissa Street and Aileen Wrench says:

    Great post and great tips! You can also try Julie Hewitt’s Omit pencil (more skintone in color) and a very light blue pencil will pop the whites of the eyes too!

  • makeupmag says:

    Hi BBB,

    You’re welcome. :) I hope they work for you. Whites and nudes are indispensable in any makeup stash. ;)

  • makeupmag says:

    Hi IMPO,

    Thanks for your compliment and for leaving a comment. I’ve enjoyed your blog for a very long time. I am sure my readers will be glad for your recs.

    I will certainly take a look at JH Omit (thanks for reminding me about it) and oh, now you make me want a blue pencil (to think I recently gave MAC Light as Air away!). Perhaps a lavender pencil would give the same effect…now, that I have! ;)

  • JacQlin says:

    GREAT TIPS I’m gonna file this aside for future reference :)

  • makeupmag says:

    Thanks, JacQlin!

    I hope they work for you. :)

  • Tammy says:

    Thanks for the tips. My biggest issue is my teeth. Do you think this is good http://www.idolwhite.com

  • smile white pro says:

    love the articles here very interesting looking forward to reading more.

  • Lil says:

    Great post and great tips!

  • Janice says:

    lovin d tips!
    by the way, do u have tips on how to sharpen a cream based white eyeliner?

  • cindy says:

    hi which brands of white eyeliner do you recommend? which one do you like the most :)

  • Ev says:


    Maybe you can upload some pictures on where to apply the eyelinears and the different effects on different part of the face.
    It will be great if there are pictures.

  • cristina says:

    awesome awesome post! i’m a make up neophyte so i’m actually just starting to fully experiment with make up :D then i thought about white eyeliner.

    question, is this going to work well with asian skin? i’m a full-blooded filipina so my skin tone is morena (more of a beige-y, yellow-y, brown)
    looking forward to your response, and more of your absolutely interesting articles as well!

    • makeupmag says:

      Thank you, Cristina! :)

      White will be too stark on Asian skin, unless it’s blended out. It’s best you stick with something beige, golden or skin-toned. :)

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