How to Apply Eyeliner Over 40: Step by Step Eyeliner Tutorial For Mature Eyes

By Linda Robison

How to apply eyeliner: We'll show you natural looking eyeliner tips for mature eye. If you have issues with hooded eyes, droopy eyelids, wrinkles, poor vision, and/or shaky, unsteady hands.

You'll also find an eyeliner tutorial for contact lens wearers who find their eyeliner is always leaving residue on contact lenses. 

P.S. Click here to skip down to the bottom of the page to see the natural eyeliner tutorial for mature eyes! 

Eyeliner is sexy!  But many women over 40, 50, and beyond have a hard time applying eyeliner for many reasons including:

  • wrinkled or hooded upper eyelids
  • drooping or sagging upper eyelids
  • poor vision
  • shaky hands
  • don't know how to apply correctly to enhance mature eyes
  • are not using the right eyeliner makeup (pencil vs. gel)

But, I'll show you how to draw eyeliner that's easy and looks natural.

Why is eyeliner important

As we age everything seems to color, hair color, eye color, even eyelashes and eyebrows fade. So a little bit of eyeliner applied correctly can help make us look less tired, enhance eye color and even brighten our whole face!

How to apply eyeliner on upper eyelid 

Sometime time after 40, our eyelids start drooping downward. And that combined with loss of facial fat can make the eyes can look hollow or too close together. I found the best way to frame the eyes without accentuating that downward droop is to apply the liner to the inside at the lash line.

Ok, here is how I apply eyeliner on the upper lid. Take a freshly sharpened eyeliner pencil and place it right into the upper inner eyelash line. If you need to - you can use your index finger, gently lift the upper eyelid.

Top eyeliner tutorial pencilNo need to worry about winkled eyelids, poor vision, or shaky hands. This defines your upper eyelid and make lashes look thicker too

Then you want to run (sort of smudge) the eyeliner back and forth into the eyelash roots along the outer 1/3 of the eye only. Don't go too far in toward your nose as this can make your eyes seem small and too close together.

The beauty of this eyeliner application if you have poor vision or shaky hands  there is NO need to draw a straight or even line. 

You just need to:

  • press the eyeliner pencil against the inner eyelash line 
  • slide the pencil back and forth a few times until enough color is deposited

Also, it's a good idea to sharpen your pencil before each use to prevent smudging and to clean the pencil of any bacteria from the last use.

Now give the corner of your eyes a lift.

There are all types of eyeliner tips, but this last step can really give your eyes a nice lift.

Simply draw one line straight up from the end of your eyelash line. When you open your eyes, that line will blend in with your lashes giving the eyes an uplifting appearance. 

Don't draw the line straight out (like cat's eyes style) as this will most likely draw attention to any sagging of the eyelids.

Heavy cat's eyes style eyeliner might work well on 20 somethings, but once the eyelid starts drooping, you need to compensate by drawing the line up toward your eyebrows. I found that by drawing one thin line upward gives the eyes a nice lift. 

How angled should that line be? That depends on the shape and amount of laxity in your eyelids. But for most women a small dash angled toward the tail-end of your eyebrow works great. Play around and to see what works best. 

Now, just add mascara and your eyes have definition, lift and a bit of pop - without looking over-done or heavy.

Note: If you have issues with sensitive eyes, you might want to skip lining the inner eyelid rim and just apply eyeliner on the outer part of the lids. Skip down to the eyeliner tutorial for easy tips on how to do that.

How to apply eyeliner on lower eyelid

Depending on your eye shape and the condition of you skin, you may be able to wear a little bit of eyeliner on the lower lid. If so, try this tip and see how it looks on you.

Using your index finger, lightly pull your lower eyelid down. Now run the pencil on the 1/3 outer corner only of the inside the lower eyelid rim (water line). If you draw a line from end to end across the lower lid, it can look too harsh. 

how to put on eyeliner lower lids. Eyeliner application.Now add a little color to the outer lower lids for more definition

Note: Make sure to keep the color deposit very light. You just want a hint of color outlining the lower lid to make your eye stand-out.

Depending on the shape and size of your eyes, some women choose to skip this step completely.

Also, many find some of the eyeliner color from the upper lid will transfer to the lower lid when they blink and this is often enough to provide a light outline for the lower lid.

Why type of eyeliner do I use? A pencil eyeliner that stays on!

When it comes to pencil eyeliners, I prefer a hard waxy pencil (over a soft crayon) because it gives me control on color deposit and stays on all day. My two favorites are: Maybelline Wood Eyeliner Pencil and Maybelline Master Precise Skinny Automatic Pencil.

I have very sensitive eyes and have tried plenty of eyeliners. But for some reason these are the only two pencils that have NEVER irritated my eyes like other "hypoallergenic" eyeliners did. 

But, if you still have a problem with disappearing eyeliner, smudges, smears or problems with contact lenses read the tips below on the benefits of gel liners...

Smudge proof eyeliner for contact lenses and other issues

Applying eyeliner to the waterline can be a problem for contact wearers if the residue gets stuck to the rim of the lenses. Others just have issues with eyeliner that's always smudging, creeping into lines and wrinkles or just melting away. If this sounds familiar, try these tips:

1. Avoid using soft, thick, crayon-like eyeliner pencils. For example, I love this Loreal Smoldering Eyeliner for outlining the top of my upper lid and giving it a nice sexy, smoldering smudge.

Do not use this type of pencil as an eyeliner on the water-line.

Avoid this type of eyeliner for contact lenses


  • First, it's hard to control and often deposit too much color.
  • Second,  it's so soft and will leave residue on your contact lenses.
  • Third, it will melt, smudge and disappear too quickly.

Best eyeliner for all situations

2. Use a waterline eyeliner suitable for contact wearers and for those who want a smear-proof, soft natural everyday look.

A smudge-proof, water-proof eyeliner gel that's applied with a thin pointed brush is an excellent choice, especially for application control.


  • You'll have more control over the application
  • It won't deposit too much color per swipe
  • It won't disappear, melt or smudge as quickly
  • It won't leave as much residue on your contact lenses

3. If you still have an issue with residue on your contact lenses or smearing, then avoid the waterline all together. Instead try smudging the liner into the root of the eyelashes. This will also make the eyelashes look thicker too. You can see how to do this in the eyeliner tutorial below...

Eyeliner tutorial for mature eyes and contact lenses

Water-proof Gel Eyeliner - (Best eyeliner for contact lenses!)

Water-proof, smudge-proof gel based eyeliners are very contact lens friendly and will eliminate the problem of your liner disappearing or melting into any eye wrinkles, folds or hooded eyelids.

But, some feel it can look intense and harsh and I agree. Well, here is an eyeliner tutorial for a natural everyday look. And, if you want to "glam-it-up" you'll see how you can add the liner above the lashes and into the waterline for more effect.

What I like about this eyeliner is it won't dry immediately so you have time to wipe away and first time mistakes. And of all the gel eyeliners I've tried, this brand NEVER irritates my eyes. You can check out all the different gel eyeliner colors offered by Mommy Makeup here.

If you like this tutorial, checkout Mommy Makeup's DO & DON'T eyeliner application tutorial. 

Puffy eyes or crepey skin?

If you have issues with puffy or crinkly, crepey under eye skin - you can temporarily hide them with one swipe of the Easy Eye Solution Instant Eye Tuck Serum. You can get on sale at Amazon...

How to apply eyeliner final tips

Remember, there is no wrong or right way to apply eyeliner. How you apply it or what type of eyeliner you use all depends on many factors like your eye shape and what issues you may have.  it’s a matter of what works best for you. 

A Note About Hard Wax Eyeliner Pencils: Some complain that hard-waxy type eyeliners are difficult to apply because they don't depositing enough color, especially when they're brand new. So here is what you can do:

  • Try warming it up a bit, by placing the tip into the palm of your hand for a few minutes, the color will glide on more easily.
  • Or, consider rolling the tip between your fingers (make sure your fingers/hands are clean) for a few seconds. 

If you have any eye issues or medical conditions, always consult with an ophthalmologist before applying eyeliner or eye makeup.

Before You Go...What's Going On With Your Eyebrows?

Well defined eyes need full-looking eyebrows to help frame the face and provide a more youthful, approachable face. Thin, spare, barely-there eyebrows can make you look older, washed-out, or tired.

Click here to see how to make eyebrows thicker, fuller without makeup!

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