If you've never heard of tightlining, I wouldn't fault you for thinking it's some sort of sailing technique, or possibly a new technological advancement in Tupperware.
Tightlining is actually a term for a tricky eyeliner technique that gives a sort of I'm-not-wearing-any-makeup effect: it defines your lash line and makes your eyes look subtly brighter.
Kind of like waterlining 2.0, tightlining involves jabbing eyeliner in between your lashes to make the crops appear more plentiful. If this sounds like a stunt circa Fear Factor, you are not entirely incorrect. Before you blind yourself with kohl, take a breath and put down the eyeliner.
Since this occurs in the splash zone, make sure that whatever form of eyeliner you use is waterproof. I'm using pencil. You can use liquid (more helpful if the tip is a stiff felt rather than a collapsible brush) or gel with brush, but I find the dry-time wait excruciating with the liquid, even if it is just a few seconds of resisting blinking. Using a brush plus liner seems too accessory-laden for me, so pencil it is.
Now, it isn’t necessary to waterline PLUS tightline, but in my opinion, it adds a heap of difference. My lashes have been extra sparse lately, so I’m all about the combo.
In the below GIF I'm using Too Faced Perfect Eyes Waterproof Black Pencil Liner. This pencil is particular great for waterlining because once it’s on your inner eyelid rim, it doesn’t transfer to the opposite eyelid rim when you blink--unless you're crying, in which case, stop applying makeup and take a minute because you're just fighting a losing battle here.
Waterlining is easiest when you’re looking downward. I have one of those standing table mirrors with a pivoting head, so I position it to look up toward me and I just look down without tilting my face toward its surface.
Gently holding my upper eyelid in a mildly surprised expression, starting from the outer corners, I make tiny strokes toward the inner corner of my eye. It’s hard not to blink when doing this, but that just takes practice. Soon enough you’ll be waterlining sans meat hooks!
OK, now that your water is lined, here comes the entire purpose of this story. Tightlining requires some of the same gestures as above, except a little higher, in your lash line.
Before you wield it again, sharpen your pencil--not, like, finger-pricking sharp, but just enough so the tip can nimbly fit between your lashes. Now use GENTLE stabby motions in your lash line, kind of like stippling with some very light smudging so it blends in.
I don’t hold my eyelid up for this part, but you can (and probably should) if this is new to you, because I tend to overshoot upward with my pencil and find little eyeliner dots above my lash line. Just by focusing my eyes downward again, I can aim true. If you do overshoot it, no sweat, just blend in with your lashes using a cotton swab.
See? It’s a really subtle doe-eyed effect, perfect when you’re sleeping over at a certain someone you admire’s house for the first time and don’t want to wake up sans all makeup. But maybe practice first so you don't blind yourself in your beau's bathroom.