Eye liner was first used in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia as a dark black line around the eyes. As early as 10,000 BC, Egyptians and Mesopotamians wore various cosmetics including eye liner not only for aesthetics but to protect the skin from the desert sun. Research has also speculated that eye liner was worn to protect the wearer from the evil eye. The characteristic of having heavily lined eyes has been frequently depicted in ancient Egyptian art. They produced eye liner with a variety of materials, including copper ore and antimony. Ancient Egyptian kohl contained galena, which was imported from nearby regions in the Land of Punt, Coptos and Western Asia.
In the 1920s, Tutankhamun's tomb was discovered, introducing the use of eye liner to the Western world. The 1920s were an era commonly associated with many changes in women's fashion, and women felt freer to apply make-up more liberally.
In the 1960s, liquid eye liner was used to create thick black and white lines around the eyes in the make-up fashion associated with designers like Mary Quant. The '60s and '70s also saw new fashion trends which made use of eyeliner, eyeshadow and mascara in new ways. As goth and punk fashion developed, they employed eyeliner for a dark and dramatic effect.
In the late twentieth and early twenty-first century, heavy eye liner use has been associated with Goth fashion and Punk fashion. Eye liner of varying degrees of thickness has also become associated with the emo subculture and various alternative lifestyles.
Eye liner is commonly used in a daily make-up routine to define the eye or create the look of a wider or smaller eye. Eye liner can be used as a tool to create various looks as well as highlighting different features of the eyes. Eye liner can be placed in various parts of the eye to create different looks with a winged eye liner or tight lined at the waterline. Eye liner can be drawn above upper lashes or below lower lashes or both, even on the water lines of your eyes. Its primary purpose is to make the lashes look lush, but it also draws attention to the eye and can enhance or even change the eye's shape. Eye liner is available in a wide range of hues, from the common black, brown and grey to more adventurous shades such as bright primary colors, pastels, frosty silvers and golds, white and even glitter-flecked colors.
Different modern uses
Although many users of eye liner use it on a day-to-day basis for a simple definer of the eyes, there are others who use it for more than just an easy eye enlarger. There are many styles of eye liner. Most of them usually revolve around the winged eye liner, which is defining around your top eyelid shape and a line, about halfway toward the end of the eyebrow. It is usually connected to the defining around the top. However today there are some drastically toned eye liner.
Tight lining is the use of eye liner tight against the waterline under the lashes of the upper lid, and above the lashes of the lower lid. Due to the proximity to the membranes, and the surface of the eye itself, waterproof eye liner is preferred. Tight lining is a technique which makes the eyelashes appear to start farther back on the eyelid, thus making them look longer. Gel eye liner and a small angled brush may be used to create this look.
Depending on its texture, eye liner can be softly smudged or clearly defined. There are five main types of eye liner available on the market: each produces a different effect.
- Liquid eye liner is an opaque liquid that usually comes in a small bottle and is typically applied with a small sharp-tipped brush. It creates a clean, precise line. Because liquid eye liner gives a much heavier appearance, it is often only applied to the upper lash-line.
- Powder-based eye pencil is eye liner in a wood pencil. It is generally available in dark, matted shades.
- Wax-based eye pencils are softer pencils and contain waxes that ease application. They come in a wide variety of intense colours as well as paler shades such as white or beige. Wax-based eye liners can also come in a cone or a compact with brush applicator.
- Kohl eye liner is a soft powder available in dark matte shades. It is most often used in black to outline the eyes. It comes in pencil, pressed powder, or loose powder form. This type of eye liner is more likely to smudge.
- Gel eye liner, which is a softer gel liner, that can be easily applied with an eye liner brush. It can be precisely applied and is much softer than Kohl.
Traditional wax-based eye liners are made from about 20 components. About 50% by weight are waxes (e.g., Japan wax, fats, or related soft materials that easily glide on to the skin. Stearyl heptanoate is found in most cosmetic eyeliner. Typical pigments include black iron oxides, as well as smaller amounts of titanium dioxide and Prussian blue.
- Studies in Ancient Technology, Volume III, (Brill Archive), p.18.
- Thompson, Tina. "Bleeding Mascara: Eyeliner for Depressionistas". Archived from the original on February 20, 2012. Retrieved 7 December 2011.
- Kitchens, Simone (12 March 2013). "Tightlining: How-To". Huffington Post.
- J. Cunningham "Color cosmetics" in Chemistry and Technology of the Cosmetics and Toiletries Industry Editors D. F. Williams, Mr W. H. Schmitt. Springer. ISBN 978-94-010-7194-9 (Print)
- Media related to Eye liner at Wikimedia Commons