TIGHTLINING – Easy ‘eye opener’

TightliningI was a bit hazy about ‘tightlining’ myself until last year. Put simply, it means applying eyeliner to the inside upper eyelid.

The idea is to define and ‘open up’ the eyes and enhance eyelashes to make them look fuller, perfect for older women and for those of us with sparse eyelashes.

Even though you do need a gentle and steady hand so that you don’t poke yourself in the eye, tightlining is foolproof. Not everyone can draw on a straight line of eyeliner – I envy those who can slick on a perfect cat’s eye in seconds. Here though, you can’t mess up because the line follows the shape of the inside of your eye.

Tightlining is also ideal for people with tricky eye shapes or tiny ‘bumps’ on the lash line which means eyeliner will never look straight, or those with hooded eyes who can’t wear traditional upper lid eyeliner without it looking wonky.


It’s got to be dark and a shade that matches your mascara, for most people, that will be black. For my fair colouring though, I use either the black/purple Prunella (details below) or brown.


Because the liner is applied to your waterline, a waterproof eyeliner (for staying power) is advised, although personally, I think it’s not always necessary. The non waterproof, but ultra flattering black/brown/purple Prunella eye pencil from Mac, is my favourite tightlining pencil. Admittedly, it does gradually wear off and vanish after a couple of hours, but it’s no problem to reapply.

Pencil – Think soft, not hard. I prefer a ‘barely’ blunt tip, but I’ve read that a lot of people sharpen the pencil beforehand for hygiene and precision. My compromise is to sharpen, and then gently roll the pencil across a paper towel to round off the tip.

Mechanical/Twist up pencils – This is the first choice for many. The tip is always perfectly shaped and there’s no danger of pencil shavings or sharp bits getting into the eye.

Gel eyeliner – It’s got longevity for sure, but you need an incredibly steady hand to apply it and it stings if it gets into your eye.

Powder eyeliner – I use HD Brows palette in Foxy with a MAC 212 Flat Definer Brush to line my upper eyelids. This combination doesn’t smudge or budge, but would I use it for tightlining? Nooo, you know what it’s like when powder particles fall into your eyes.


Removing eyeliner from the upper inner eyelid is tricky, but I find Liz Earle’s Cleanse & Polish (even the new formula) is STILL the only cleanser that I can really work into my lashes without fear of irritation.



The liner can be applied in either short swift strokes or in a long window wiper motion (my preferred technique).


  • Look downwards into a mirror.
  • Look directly into the mirror, adopting a ‘wide eyed’ look.
  • Steady your elbow and gently pull up your eyelid.
  • Or, you can do what I do (probably not advised though), and hold the pencil almost vertically and feel your way to your upper eyelid – I don’t even need a mirror!


Sorry, you should probably steer clear of tightlining – I think the risk of irritation, infection and damage to the lenses is too great. (Let me know if I wrong though).


To stop the liner transferring to the lower lid – which can actually make eyes look smaller, I apply a skin toned pencil on the lower waterline. I use Charlotte Tilbury’s Rock ‘n’ Kohl and let it set before tightlining, but any white/nude pencil will do.

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