Love It Or Hate It, This Sexy ‘00s Eyeliner Trend Is Back From The Dead

2006 strikes back.

Emily Ratajkowski waterline smoky eye

With so much attention placed on the new millennium’s earliest years, it’s easy to forget about the distinct trends, culture, and crazes of the mid-00s. Defined by a borderline-religious devotion to side-bangs, giant handbags, and square-tipped nails, the micro-era is slowly but surely ramping up to the full-scale revival it deserves. One of the first mid-00s crazes to return crept back in so slowly, you might not even have noticed its proliferation among stylish celebrities and TikTok it-girls — not unlike the proverbial frog in a slow-boil pot. If the waterline eyeliner trend — that is, rimming your waterline and upper lash line with eyeliner for an even smokier effect — has yet to reach your FYP, just give it a few hours. It’s about to be absolutely everywhere.

It’s likely that this revived trend sprung from yet another TikTok craze: siren eyes makeup. Focused on shape and intensity, siren eyes use elongated, laser-precise eyeliner to lift the eyes’ outer corners and lend a smoldering, sultry feel. Siren eyes, however, concentrated most of the liner into sharp inner-corner points and wings. The waterline eye trend requires coating both lash lines in deep, smudgy liner — a familiar look if you were a tween or older in the mid-00s. The 2022 version of the trend employs a more advanced technique than most probably used back in the day, but the results are no less striking.

With just a few strokes of pencil eyeliner or shadow, the eyes instantly become more piercing, focused, and sexy. It’s no wonder why celebrities like Emily Ratajkowski, Zendaya, Dua Lipa, Gemma Chan, Yara Shahidi, and Hailey Bieber have all experimented with the look lately. Back in the days of old, before nary a YouTube video taught the art of blowing out the lashlines with eyeshadow, eyeliner in the waterline wasn’t so much a beauty choice as a no-brainer, just part-and-parcel of any smoky eye look. The difference between the modern version and the “classic” style, is a matter of product type, concentration, and placement.


First, make sure that you’re using an eye-safe pencil for filling in the water line as opposed to a liquid or gel. Any sign of eye watering, sweat, or tears spells out disaster for liquid liner here, and gel is too heavy and thick for the delicate area. Many TikTok users do opt for a deep eyeshadow in the waterline, but it can often be difficult to control, with shadow ending up on the actual eyeballs — surely optometrists would disapprove.


Carefully rim both the waterline and the tightline — that’s the upper-lash line — with one single coat of black. That’s the other key difference between modern, TikTok waterline makeup and the versions of yore — the contemporary take is considerably lighter to avoid making the eyes appear much smaller. Back in the day, stars like Paris Hilton, Beyoncé, and J.Lo really packed the liner on, but restraint is key here. While waterline eyeliner looks incredible with full-on winged edges, it’s equally flattering on more pared-down eye makeup styles, too.

Anthony Harvey - PA Images/PA Images/Getty Images

The best part of waterline eyeliner is that it’s truly so easy for all eye and lid sizes and shapes. It actually might be one of the most universally-appealing makeup trends TikTok ever yielded. Below, your ultimate guide to the best waterline-friendly liners out there to make getting the waterline look a breeze.

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The Best Waterline Eyeliners Of 2022