The Best White Eyeliners, According to Makeup Artists

You may have heard the recent hype about white eyeliner on TikTok, but believe it or not, the eye makeup trick is nothing new. The use of white liner on the waterline is something Hollywood makeup artists have relied on for years to make actors’ eyes appear bigger on screen. In fact, it’s something Marilyn Monroe was known for.

As for how this sorcery works, Kelli J. Bartlett, a makeup artist and VP of education & experience at the dermatology services practice Ever/Body in NYC explains that the addition of white under the eye gives the look of extended scleras (the whites of the eyes), which of course makes eyes look bigger. Another benefit is that eyes will appear brighter. So if you suffer from red eyes, this can help neutralize the look of irritation.

Another benefit is that white eyeliner helps you to fake more-awake-looking eyes, says Kendall (Cookie) Koch, a makeup artist at Parlour 3 salon in Nashville. The cherry on top for looking well rested is to pair the white liner with a shimmering white or champagne highlighter in your inner corner. You’ll thank us for all the compliments on how well rested you look.

Now for the application process: Bartlett suggests keeping your chin down while looking in the mirror in order to access the waterline easier. And if you’re still wondering what the heck the waterline is, it’s the skin above your bottom lash line, closest to your eye.

Celeb makeup artist Jenna Kristina gave us another technique. She says that if you aren’t used to applying eyeliner to the waterline, it may be easier to close your eye while you apply. Yes, really! Her method: With your eyes open, place the tip of the liner on the waterline—at either the inner or outer corner—and close your eye, then go back and forth with the liner. Open up, and voilà!

And don’t forget mascara on the bottom lashes, says Koch. The stark contrast between inky black lashes and the bright white waterline makes this look all the more mesmerizing.

If you’re ready for bigger, brighter eyes, these are some of the pros’ top picks.