5 Nude Eyeliners That’ll Make You Look More Awake

June 17, 2024
By: Chloé Valentine Toscano | Makeup.com by L'Oréal

You may be aware that white eyeliner can help make your eyes look brighter, but less well-known is that nude eyeliner can do the same. Using a nude eyeliner on your waterline has an almost magical way of making you look more alert and bright-eyed, and it can even help make your eyes look bigger. Plus, they create less obvious contrast than stark white liners, making them well-suited for softer and more natural makeup looks.

If you’re on the hunt for a nude eyeliner to add to your makeup bag, keep reading. Here, we’ll introduce you to some of our favorite nude eye pencils and explain how to use nude eyeliner on your waterline for brighter-looking eyes.

How To Use Nude Eyeliner

You can use nude eyeliner any way you choose, but if you’re looking to achieve brighter-looking eyes, you’ll typically want to apply it to your waterline (the small strip of skin between your lashes and your eyeball). This placement helps make the whites of your eyes appear larger, which in turn can make your eyes look bigger. For a subtler effect, you can also apply nude eyeliner to your inner corners in lieu of (or with) highlighter to help brighten your eyes. Keep in mind that if you’re applying makeup to your waterline, choosing the right formula is important, as it’s a fairly sensitive area. In our experience, the best eyeliners for the waterline are creamy pencils or gel liners—liquid liners don’t work too well here. It’s also a good idea to ensure your chosen liner is waterproof and transfer-resistant so it’ll hold up throughout the day.

Note that lining your waterline is only one of many ways you can use nude eyeliner. We also love using a nude eye pencil to help trace out the shape of a wing before reaching for a liquid liner. Because it’s closer in hue to your skin tone than, say, a black liner, this is a great way to perfect your wing before applying a more pigmented formula. If you want, you can even skip the black liner altogether and use a nude or beige eyeliner to create a graphic, modern wing.

5 of the Best Nude Eyeliners To Try

Finding the perfect eyeliner can feel like a challenge when there are so many to choose from. Luckily, we’ve done the hard work for you. Ahead, discover five of the best nude waterline eyeliners that we’ve found.

1. YSL Beauty Lines Liberated 24H Waterproof Eyeliner in Unmuted White

If you’re looking for a brightening eyeliner, we recommend trying this creamy formula from YSL Beauty. The shade—which is neither beige nor purely white—can help make your eyes appear bigger and brighter without the sharp contrast that an opaque white waterline eyeliner might. We also love that the pigment-packed liner is smudge-proof, waterproof, and provides up to 24 hours of wear.

2. Maybelline New York Eyestudio Lasting Drama Waterproof Gel Pencil in Soft Nude

Those on the hunt for a budget-friendly option would do well to try this gel pencil from Maybelline New York. It’s among the best drugstore eye pencils for the waterline that we’ve tried since it goes on smoothly and stays put for up to 16 hours. The slight pinkish undertone is also extremely natural-looking, which makes this pencil well-suited for those after a no makeup-makeup look.

3. NYX Professional Makeup Vivid Rich Mechanical Pencil in Quartz Queen

Another affordable liner worth your while is this creamy, pigmented formula from NYX Professional Makeup. The vivid liner delivers high-impact, one-swipe color—making it a great pick for those planning to use their nude liner for a more graphic makeup look.

4. Colourpop Crème Gel Liner in Honeydude

Nude isn’t one-size-fits-all: what qualifies as “nude” depends on your skin tone. This warm-toned beige eyeliner is a great pick for those with medium skin tones, as it’s light enough to help brighten the eyes but not so light that it’ll look unnatural against your golden complexion.

5. Tower 28 OneLiner Multi-Liner in Work of Art

Those with darker skin tones in search of a natural-looking nude eyeliner should consider trying this multi-purpose matte option from Tower 28. It’s more of a pinky-beige tone than a pale nude, making it well-suited for deeper complexions. Plus, the unique formula is multi-purpose: you can use it to define your eyes, line your lips, or add a flush of subtle color to your cheeks.

How to Apply Nude Eyeliner to Your Waterline

Once you’ve found the best brightening eyeliner for your waterline, you’ll want to learn how to apply it properly to achieve the desired results. Applying eyeliner to your waterline doesn’t require the same kind of precision you’d use for a sharp wing, but it does require a careful and steady hand: As mentioned above, the waterline is a fairly sensitive place.

For your upper waterline, look straight ahead into the mirror while slightly tilting your head upward. Lightly pull up your lid with one finger to expose the waterline, then carefully apply your liner. If you’ve never applied waterline eyeliner before, you may find the process makes you want to blink—that’s normal. If your eyes start to tear up, take a break, dry them off, and get back to it. The process is pretty much the same for your lower waterline, only you’ll want to tilt your head downward for better visibility. That’s all there is to it!

Next Up: The 10 Best Products For A No-Makeup Makeup Look