Have you ever found yourself scrolling on Instagram and TikTok only to wonder how on Earth these beauty influencers are able to achieve such sharp winged eyeliner? The answer isn’t only in the product they use, but how they apply it, too.
Sure, some people just magically have a super steady touch, which makes sketching on straight, sharp lines nearly second nature. For everyone else, though, it comes down to using the right tools and techniques. As helpful as it is to always keep micellar water and a small angled brush or cotton swabs on hand for touch-ups, an even easier way to perfect winged eyeliner is to apply it with precision from the start. That’s where tape comes in. Many social media stars tout tape as the answer to their flawless lined lid looks.
We reached out to pro makeup artist Keri Blair for expert tips on applying eyeliner using tape; plus, we asked board-certified dermatologist Dendy Engelman, MD, to offer insights on how using eyeliner tape might impact your skin.
Ready to rock your sharpest wingtips yet? Then keep reading.
Who Should Avoid Using Eyeliner Tape?
When it comes to using tape for perfecting your winged eyeliner, it’s less about who shouldn’t use it and more about why you might want to proceed with caution before incorporating it into your makeup routine.
“While using tape may be an effective way to achieve a perfectly straight eye makeup line, it isn’t good for your skin,” says Engelman, noting that the skin around your eyes is particularly thin and delicate, so regularly applying and peeling off tape in that area isn’t advisable. “Tape tugs on the skin when you remove it, which over time can lead to loose skin and even permanent lines and wrinkles. When you remove the tape, you also risk damaging or pulling off the uppermost layers of the skin, which can cause redness, irritation, or even, in worse cases, discoloration of the injured area.”
Beyond potential premature aging effects, Engelman points out that some folks might also have sensitivities to the adhesive used in tape. “People with sensitive skin or already-compromised skin barriers may be more susceptible,” she adds.
While Engelman doesn’t recommend adding Scotch Tape (or similar adhesive strips) into your routine, she says that if you’re hell-bent on trying the tape eyeliner hack for yourself, medical-grade silicone works well. “SiO Patches ($34) are an excellent alternative to tape,” she shares. (One thing to note, though: SiO patches aren’t straight like tape, so they may require some trimming to achieve extra-sharp lines.)
Now, what you’ve all been waiting for…
How to Get Perfect Eyeliner Using Tape
Start With a Bare Face
Although you may be accustomed to completing your skincare routine before applying your makeup, Blair says you have to switch things up to achieve your sharpest lid look. “The [tape eyeliner] technique works best when you start your makeup application with your eyes, meaning that you would apply your moisturizer and concealer and/or foundation after you apply your eyeshadow and eyeliner,” she shares. “This is because the tape can easily remove your foundation or may not stick as well if your skin has excess product or moisturizer on it.”
Map Out Your Look
Do you want your eyeliner to be the star of your lid look, or do you plan on pairing a sharp wing with your favorite eyeshadow? Your application process will depend on your answer. “If you want winged eyeliner over top of eyeshadow, apply your shadow first,” says Blair. “You can start this with a small piece of tape placed from the bottom lash line towards the tail of the eyebrow first—this will give you a guide on how to place your tape for the eyeliner later.”
When it comes to picking out your tape, some types might make the process easier than others. “Any type of tape should work—Scotch or transparent tape may be best so you can see through it,” says Blair. “Remember that tape can be very sticky and can pull and tug on the eye area so it’s important to place the tape on the back of your hand first to remove some of the tackiness of the tape. If you have sensitive skin, try using a medical-grade tape which can be found in the first aid section of your favorite drug store.”
Apply Your Tape
When it’s time to apply your eyeliner, start by securing your tape. “Place the tape at the angle you want. A slightly upward placement will give your eye a lift,” she says. “The higher the angle the more dramatically lifted your eyeliner will be.”
When applying your tape, don’t stretch it—or your skin—at all; just gently tap it onto your resting lids. “Do not pull or tug on the eye area when you’re applying the tape as a guide. This may create a buckle in the tape causing your wing to be wavy or warped,” Blair warns.
Apply Your Eyeliner
When you have a tape stencil in place, you have more flexibility with the eyeliner formula you use. “Using a cream, gel, or liquid eyeliner and a small, angled brush, draw your line from the corner of the eye out toward the tail of your eyebrow, using the tape as a guide,” Blair instructs. She likes MAC Cosmetics’ Fluidline Eye Liner in BlackTrack Fluidline and #263 Synthetic Small Angle Brush ($21).
Remove the Tape
Voilà—you’ve got perfectly crisp winged eyeliner.