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Never mind the shaky hands–your cat eye is only as good as your eyeliner. Liquid liner pens are the popular way to go (unless you’re a die-hard brush/gel user) because of their opacity, precision, and portability. But to be honest, it doesn’t matter what kind of liner you use when it comes to the universal gripe of these eye-winging tools drying out fast. In most cases, you don’t have the time to chuck them and buy a replacement. Instead (us included), you’d rather save your hard-earned coins and go the do-it-yourself route with a quick fix.
We’re admittedly happy to scour the corners of YouTube and Reddit for resuscitation tricks that range from easy to Macgyver. Thankfully, most of the ones we’ve unearthed are the former. From a quick shake to a few drops of contact solution, here’s a select group of hacks that will almost instantly breathe life back into the liquid eyeliner you can’t stop using.
Shake It Out
Can you hear a little ball bearing inside your pen? That’s for mixing things up. If you haven’t been doing so already, give your eyeliner a few good shakes before applying and the product should be able to escape the pen more easily. You’ll find this in eyeliner with brush tips more so than felt-tip ones.
This is another pretty obvious option, but potentially wasteful. Run the tip of the eyeliner on the back of your hand or inner wrist until product shimmies out of there. You can get a bit more vigorous if using a brush-tipped liner. For the felt-tipped ones, running it over a paper towel dampened with warm water could do the trick. You don’t necessarily want to dunk the tip into water directly or pass it under a running faucet because that’s only a temporary solution that might oversaturate the tip and make your liner too watery. Also, if that was a waterproof formula, well, it isn’t anymore.
Depending on how you store your eyeliner (ideally room temp, tip-side down) sometimes the product can get gloopy in the pen, disrupting the “flow.” A dip in a hot tub can liven things up. Just let your eyeliner pen sit in a cup of hot water–firmly capped, tip-side down–for a few minutes. Afterward, remove the liner from water, give it a few good shakes and try running the tip over the back of your hand to encourage ink flow and you should see the streaky mess form back into bold solid lines. You can repeat this a few times until you get the consistency you desire.
If your eyeliner sits inside a small pot (quite typical of gel and cream formulas) and it’s rock-hard or on its way there, that’s nothing a few eye drops can’t fix. If it’s rock hard, use a safety pin or toothpick to crack the surface before adding the drops so it can spread throughout the entire product. Next, use that same toothpick or pin to mix the liner until it has an even consistency throughout.
If you’re at your wit’s end with a pen and nothing else has worked, a last-ditch extreme effort involves a bit of surgery. Open the back of the pen–generally, it’s a twist-off or you can use tweezers or your nails to pry it open. Take the ink rod out (tweezers would be helpful unless you want eyeliner all over your fingers) and dip the end in warm water for a few seconds– you can sometimes see the water absorbing up the rod. You don’t want to inundate it completely so half a minute usually is more than enough time. Take it out of the water and blot the whole thing with a paper towel. Drop it back into the pen and close it back up. Sometimes it helps to store it tip-side down for a bit to let gravity distribute the water evenly.
BONUS: For mega hydrating, mixing a few drops of glycerin into this water dip will prolong your liner from drying out again quickly and give the consistency a bit more plumpness.
Now that you have a few quick fixes on deck, here’s the latest and greatest liquid liner options for finally getting that flawless cat eye:
Givenchy Liner Disturbia Felt Tip Eyeliner
This easy-to-use, waterproof liner is so pigmented, you literally only need one stroke of application.
$27 at Sephora
Honest Liquid Eyeliner
Flaking and smudging is basically obsolete once you swipe on this liner, made with plant-derived ingredients.
$9.99 at Target
Ilia Clean Line Liquid Eyeliner
Should you prefer a clean beauty option, this carbon black-free option comes with a flexible felt-tip applicator so you can play with different size lines and lengths, all while maintaining the best precision.
$28 at Sephora
L’Oréal Infallible Flash Cat Eye Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner
In addition to keeping the felt-tip moist, the top also doubles as a tool for crafting a flawless cat eye.
$8.24 at Ulta
UOMA Beauty Afro.Dis.Iac Cleopatra Ink Liquid Eyeliner
This “Blackety Black Y ‘all” liner feels weightless as you apply, but will leave you with the most intense liner look ever.
$18 at Ulta
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