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How to Make Waterline Eye Liner Stay Put: Get this Selena Gomez Look

We asked makeup artist Sheri Stroh how she created Selena's look and how she made it stay in place
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Selena Gomez's makeup artist for this look tells us how to do it

Selena Gomez: get this eye-makeup look – Sheri Stroh, the makeup artist who did this, tells us how!

Cate Blanchett, Penelope Cruz and Florence Welch are just a few of the celebrity beauties makeup artist Sheri Stroh has worked with over her decade-long career. That's her work on Selena Gomez, above. Sheri's also been tapped for editorials by Canada's top beauty, fashion and lifestyle publications, and interviewed for her extensive product knowledge and keen interest in green beauty. More important than all that, Sheri Stroh knows how to create that sexy Selena Gomez waterlined eye, and how to make that waterline eye liner stay put. So here's how to line your eyes kinda like you're Selena Gomez.

line your waterline like Selena Gomez

how to line your waterline and make it stay put

Lining your waterline: makeup and photo by Sheri Stroh

Dark liner along the upper and lower inner rims of the eyes -- the waterlines -- is a quick and simple way to give eyes a sexy mystique. Selena Gomez likes a dramatic look; some of us routinely line the upper inner waterline to make our upper lashes look thicker without looking made up. But even with the best liners (I love you Urban Decay 24/7 and Make Up For Ever), transfer happens. We'll get to Sheri's tips on how to make your waterline eye liner stay put in a sec, though. First let's get her tips on how to line the waterline.

waterproof eye liners for the waterline

How to line your waterline: try these recommendations from makeup pro Sheri Stroh (hey, that rhymes!)

How to line your waterline: try these recommendations from makeup pro Sheri Stroh (hey, that rhymes!)

These are Sheri's liners of choice: Covergirl Liquiline Blast Eye Liner in Black Fire ($10.26 at; IT Cosmetics No-Tug Waterproof Gel Eyeliner ($29 CAD at and $22 USD at ); and Make Up For Ever Aqua Black Waterproof Cream Eye Shadow ($31 CAD at

how to line the waterline

How to line your waterline: makeup and photo by Sheri Stroh

How to line your waterline: makeup and photo by Sheri Stroh

  1. Curl lashes, "especially if your lashes stick straight down," says Sheri. Curling them gets them out of your way if you're lining your upper waterline. Above: model Tyleen States.
  2. When Sheri does the upper-inner rim lining, she usually gently pulls the lid up. To do your upper waterline yourself, try squinting -- it creates a firm surface, which makes it easier to line. Makeup artist Alice Kilpatrick shared that trick with me years ago.
  3. To line your lower waterline, start by looking straight ahead in the mirror, then tilt your chin down without shifting your gaze. Gently pull down on your lower lashline if you like, and run your pencil gently along the waterline.

Okay, fine. This is a little how-to smoky eye vid I did for The Kit a few years back; in it I line my upper and lower waterlines. For some reason I didn't squint, but you'll get the idea. I didn't know Sheri's trick re: how to make waterline eye liner stay put then, but when you're doing a smoky eye, a little transfer won't hurt the look.

how to make your waterline eye liner stay put

How to line your waterline and make it stay put: makeup and photo by Sheri Stroh

How to line your waterline and make it stay put: makeup and photo by Sheri Stroh

After lining, dip a wide flat makeup brush into a pan of black eye shadow then quickly and gently press the shadow into place over the waterline eye liner. "Start with a little bit at a time to avoid excess shadow falling and catching under your eyes. You can always add more," says Sheri. "You can also powder your upper waterline, but you don't have to if it's too difficult." Above: model Kayla Clark.

how to make waterline eyeliner stay

Makeup artist Sheri Stroh's go-to brushes for lining the waterline and making it stay put

Yep, it's as simple as that. "If you have contacts, the powder may irritate your eyes. You can still do it though, just go easy. The trick is the wide flat brush to gently press the powder into the waterline nice and fast." The brush on the left is an old MAC brush Sheri says she's had for years. That's the one she uses with powder to make waterline eye liner stay put. The smaller brush is a Laura Mercier flat eye liner brush. "It's great for tightlining," she says.

budgeproof waterline liner techniques

Yes, you can even use eyeshadow for lining your waterline; Urban Decay Blackout is one of Sheri's faves.

Your favourite pressed black eye shadow should do for setting black eye liner on the waterline. Sheri uses Blackout from her Urban Decay Nakeds 2 palette.

who should avoid this waterlining look?

how to make waterline liner stay put

Lining your waterline: should you do it? Makeup and photo by Sheri Stroh.

Anyone can pull off a waterline eye liner look as long as she feels comfortable with it, says Sheri. "If you find black too harsh or aging, use brown or bronze or khaki for a softer effect." Above: model Frédérique Juneau.

  • Worried that your eyes are too small for waterline eye liner? "Keep the colour softer rather than going with stark black," says Sheri. 
  • Wide-set eyes? "Take the colour all the way into the inner corner." 
  • Close-set eyes? "Leave the inner corners bare and concentrate more in the middle to outer corners." 
  • Face in the 40+ arena? "I like when some of it has actually worn off a bit, so that it adds just a bit of definition." But if you're dealing with crepiness, you might like to avoid lining your waterlines altogether. The technique may draw attention to the texture around your eyes. 
  • "Women who have very sensitive eyes, watery eyes or vision issues (or stys or pink eye) should avoid this makeup technique too," advises Sheri. 
  • "And, because of bacterial issues -- some people don't wash their brushes, or they share makeup -- anyone with a compromised immune system should avoid it too. 

But overall, I'm all for doing what you want and makes you feel good. So line away!"

Selena Gomez: get this eye makeup look

Selena Gomez: makeup by Sheri Stroh

Do you line your waterlines? Or do you avoid it to avoid smudging issues? Will you try it now that you know how to make waterline eye liner stay put?

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Sheri Stroh is a hair and makeup artist with Plutino Group in Toronto. Model photos via Instagram/sheristroh.