How To Make Eyeliner: Learn How to Make it Naturally at Home

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How To Make Eyeliner

Learn how to make eyeliner to ensure your ingredients are natural. We examine reasons to make your own and offer two DIY eyeliner recipes.

I’m one of those people with pale skin, thanks to my Eastern European ancestors. My skin always looks light and with no makeup, I tend to look tired around the eyes. I’ve tried eyeliner, and while it does improve my looks, I have to wonder what’s in it. I decided I’d learn how to make my own eyeliner without all the chemicals and additives. Can I accomplish it? You bet!

First, let’s look at a really good reason to make your own.

Ingredients in Commercial Eyeliner

People have been using eyeliner to make the female face look more alluring for centuries. Egyptians were among the first to use kohl, antimony sulfide, on the eyes to make them stand out. In the middle ages, kohl was also used, but with lead applied to the face (among other very toxic ingredients) to make the face look paler. The kohl lining the eyes would then make them stand out more.

With the introduction of commercial eyeliner, many chemical ingredients such as thimerosal, preservatives, turpentine, lead, and aniline were part of the recipes. Some companies never disclosed the ingredients, since it wasn’t required then. More recently, the FDA now requires the cosmetic industry to include ingredient lists in their products. This is better than nothing, but we know making our own always gives us better control over the ingredients!

Let’s take a look at some of the simple ingredients in homemade eyeliner.

Basic DIY Eyeliner Ingredients

There are two types of eyeliner you can make: those with water only and those that are a water and oil emulsion. Both can be used safely providing you are careful. There are no preservatives in these eyeliners and so can develop mold and bacteria quickly. I use a small clean spatula to scoop out a very small amount of the liner onto a saucer and keep the rest refrigerated.

The basic ingredients in eyeliner are lanolin, castor oil, waxes, and color. The color can be activated charcoal and/or mineral pigments. When choosing mineral pigments, be sure to use only those that are approved for cosmetic use. There are a few colors available, but it’s best to stick with what’s natural, such as brown or black. You can find these pigments on many soap making websites.

Activated charcoal can be found at health food stores or can be purchased with vitamins in capsule form. To use, just twist the capsule apart.

Always use distilled water. Tap water or water from other sources may contain bacteria which can spoil the mix or possibly even damage your eyes.

How to Make Eyeliner: Recipe #1 (Easiest)

This is the easiest eyeliner to make. There are only 2-3 ingredients.


Add ½ teaspoon of activated charcoal to a small bowl and add several drops of distilled water. Mix this together to make a paste. It may have a few lumps, but they will work themselves out. You can put this in a small jar or tin. I keep mine refrigerated just in case and never keep it for more than a few weeks.

And I always remove a small amount from the whole as bacteria can develop if you use it straight from the container, much the same as mascara.

To Use

Remove a small amount with a clean utensil and place it on a glass saucer. Take a very narrow brush and dab it in the mixture. Apply to the upper and lower lid close to the lashes. For best results create your line using many small strokes instead of one long stroke. Be sure to clean your brush well each time you use it and let it dry completely.

To Remove

Using a cotton ball with some coconut oil on it, sweep gently across the eyelid. Repeat several times if necessary and wipe off any excess coconut oil.

How to Make Eyeliner: Recipe #2

This recipe is a bit more involved.



Melt the oil and wax together, then add the charcoal. Once it is blended well, add the water and whisk with a small whisk or a fork. If it separates, add a small amount of lecithin, maybe a capsule full. This will keep in the refrigerator for about a month using the same steps as above. (See Recipe #1 for tips on applying and removing the eyeliner.)

Safety Notes

  • As with any eye make up, change your mix every month or so. It is inexpensive to make and keeping it longer will only encourage bacteria to grow.
  • Keeping your homemade eyeliner refrigerated will help discourage the growth of bacteria.
  • Clean your brushes well and allow them to air dry. I have several that I found at a dollar store that I keep in rotation.
  • Don’t use eyeliner on the inner eyelid, just on the outside of the lashes, and avoid getting it in your eyes. It may not cause permanent damage, but it can be very irritating.
  • Never use pigments not approved for cosmetic use. A little pigment goes a long way, so it’s not expensive to get the right thing.

Have you ever experimented with making your own eyeliner? Tell us about it!


About Debra Maslowski

Debra is a master gardener, a certified herbalist, a natural living instructor, and more. She taught Matt and Betsy how to make soap so they decided to bring her on as a staff writer! Debra recently started an organic herb farm in the mountains of Western North Carolina. You can even purchase her handmade products on Amazon!

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  1. Emily T. says

    Very cool idea! I’ve done my own lip colors, but I’ve never thought about eyeliner. I’m sure that you could just as well use this as mascara..
    Thank you for the links, it made my search easier.

  2. Barb says

    I have some brown iron oxide powder on hand. Would this be safe to mix with the activated charcoal and other ingredients to use on eye area? Also, wondering if I substituted aloe gel with the water if it would be less likely to smear. I have always had trouble with makeup causing “raccoon eyes”!!

    • Debra Maslowski says

      I have the same problem Barb! I have naturally oily skin and after a while, some of my eyeliner ends up under my eyes. To combat this, I use some translucent powder under my eyes, which helps to some extent. Since aloe vera does dry out some as it sits, it makes sense that it would help the liner to stay put. And yes, the brown oxide is fine, as long as it’s approved for cosmetic use, like those used in soap making.

    • Debra Maslowski says

      I haven’t tried it yet Jo, but I’m thinking that if you added just a bit more beeswax, and then you put it into a small mold or even an empty eyeliner pencil form that it might just work. Stay tuned, I’m going to try it really soon!

  3. Jessie says

    I thought activated charcoal was activated charcoal. Do I need to look for “cosmetic use activated charcoal?

    • Debra Maslowski says

      No you don’t Jessie. I use the activated charcoal in the same section as vitamins. It comes in capsules. You can also find it at co-ops and health food stores in the bulk section.

    • Debra Maslowski says

      Hey Sheryl! You can add cocoa powder or instant coffee, but since these both can cause bacterial growth over time, I would use them just in the portion you are using for right now, not in the whole batch. You can also use a brown oxide. Be sure to only use pigments labeled specifically for cosmetic use.

  4. Deb says

    I only wear eye makeup, and only on special occasions. I’m sure my commercial makeup has probably gone bad by now. Tonight is a special occasion night, so I’m going to make this NOW! I have an eyebrow/ eyelash brush. I wonder if I could also use the liner as a mascara?!

    • Deb says

      I made recipe #1. I applied it with a Q-tip and liked the results! I used it as mascara using an eyebrow brush, for a subtle look. Thanks for sharing these recipes!

      • Debra Maslowski says

        Thanks Deb! The recipe I have for mascara is different. It contains aloe vera, which I’m assuming will dry out a bit and make it stay put on the eyelashes. It’s good to know this works!