9 eyeliner tricks that will change your life (or at least save you time)

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Where would the world be without eyeliner? Would Adele even be Adele without her winged liner? Would Kim Kardashian even have a "natural" makeup look to turn to without her not one, not two, but three eyeliners? It's a sad, scary place to imagine. But even though eyeliner is an integral part of our makeup routine, it's not exactly easy to handle.

Once we got acquainted with which eyeliner to use in which scenario, we went hunting for the best hacks to make wearing it easy as hell.

Here are the best eyeliner tricks every woman should know:

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9 epic eyeliner tricks
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9 epic eyeliner tricks
Use Taupe-Colored Eyeliner to Open Up Your Eyes

We know what you're thinking: Taupe? Will anyone even see it? But consider this a lesson in visual effects. "It adds subtle drama and makes eyes look bigger without making them look heavy or closing them up the way a dark brown or black will," says celebrity makeup artist (and founder of Fiona Stiles Beauty) Fiona Stiles. "I smudge it all around the lash line, top and bottom, or swipe it on the waterline." Fiona Stiles Beauty Ultra Smooth Waterproof Eye Defining Pencil in Mulholland ($16, ulta.com) has just enough pigment to give it impact.

Use Mascara as Liner When You're in a Rush

You know those mornings where you've hit snooze five times and feel like you might melt if daylight touches your skin? That's when you need this trick the most. "Try using your mascara as liner," says makeup artist Moani Lee. "I curl lashes and then add two to three coats of mascara, pressing and holding the lash wand into the root of the lashes without wiggling it." This deposits mascara between the roots, which has an eye-opening effect without the eyeliner.

Trace Your Cat Eye With a Pencil First

Desperate times call for desperate measures, and is there any time more desperate than when you're trying to nail an over-the-top cat eye and just can't get it right? (No, no there is not.) If you're going for a more precise look like that that requires liquid liner, first draw the shape you want with a soft brown liner. "It's a lot easier to clean up than liquid liner, and then you can perfect the shape with minimal risk," explains Stiles.

Use a Post-It As a Guide for Winged Liner

If we had a dollar for every time we drew two perfect—but totally uneven—wings on our eyeliner, we'd be rich enough to run a controversial presidential campaign. To avoid that sinking feel as you step back from the mirror and realizing your two wings are wonky, try that trusty desk staple: the Post-it. "Place it from the outer corner of the eye to the eyebrow," advises makeup artist Troy Surratt. "It helps direct the flick, like a guide to make sure they're even on each side."

Makeup Primer Is Better Than Makeup Remover for Erasing Mistakes

This seems counterintuitive. But unless you have a really careful hand, you risk getting remover everywhere—including where you didn't screw up. Plus, the oil in the makeup remover will simply cause the liner to drag even more, says makeup artist Katie Jane Hughes. Instead, "Polish up the shape and precision with a small synthetic brush dipped in a primer," says Lee, who's a fan of Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer ($18, sephora.com). "This smooths out the edges while ensuring longevity and water resistance." A Q-tip also works.

Smudge Gel Liner With a Concealer Brush for a Smoky Effect

"When I'm applying eyeliner, I coat a smallish brush—like a concealer brush—by running it back and forth against the tip of the eyeliner until the brush is well coated. Then, I use that to smudge the liner on," says Stiles. Unless the look you want requires precise lines or edges, it's ten times easier to do this since a brush gives you more control. On top of that, the smudginess is more forgiving, especially if you have shaky hands. Pro tip: This is especially handy for those with monolids. "Create a thick line with the brush and buff it out," advises Lee. "It has a soft, eye-opening effect."

Create a Dramatic Cat Eye in Smaller Steps

There's no way of putting it nicely: Liquid liner is the worst. But it also gives you super-inky color, a clean edge, and it can stay put for hours. A penlike brush like Surratt Beauty Auto-Graphique Liner ($42, barneys.com) helps with precise lines, and it also helps to break the process into three separate steps. "First, perfect the flick at the end—make sure each flick is even and the same width, as well as symmetrical," says Surratt. Then do a really thin line over the tear duct at the inner corners, connecting it to the wing at the end. Finally, fill in your winged outline.

Match Your Liner and Your Shadow for an Unexpected Combo

Not only does doubling your shadow and liner make it budge-proof, it's ultramodern. "I love a liner that matches the eye shadow," says Stiles. "You still get the definition, but it'll look cooler and more modern than just using predictable black."

Look Down Into Your Mirror for Better Precision

This sounds like one of those tips that sounds good in theory, but doesn't actually work in practice. Good news: It's not. (Really. We just tried it.) Instead of using your bathroom mirror, place a handheld mirror on the counter, below your skin. "Look down into it so you don't have to contend with your lashes, as you would if you were looking straight on," says Surratt.

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