14 Easy Tips For Bringing Your Dried Out Eyeliner Back To Life

Eyeliner is a beauty product staple, and most of us own at least one type. You might love gel or cream liner or be a pencil girl, but regardless of your favorite formula, there is one annoying eyeliner quirk that irks us all: Eyeliners tend to dry out fast. So, when your favorite product looks like a clumpy mess, or you're struggling to apply it smoothly, does this mean it's time to throw it out? You may be tempted to, but not so fast! Try out a few tips and tricks that could save it (and save you money or a trip to the store).


Some methods are straightforward and designed to rehydrate the eyeliner by adding various solutions to it, whereas others are a little more complicated and potentially messy. While these tricks won't make your dying eyeliner last forever, and we fully understand the importance of not using expired makeup, an emergency resurrection can be your own little science project.

Try the eye drop trick (you may be surprised)

It may seem unusual, but mixing a couple of eye drops into your eyeliner is a well-known trick to help bring it back to normal consistency. Bustle notes that to do this, you need a dry gel or cream liner, a toothpick, and a few eye drops. Add the eyedrops to the eyeliner and then take the time to mix it together thoroughly. Depending on the consistency, this could take a few minutes, but you want it to be as smooth as possible. And that's it. It's really so simple because once the product becomes softer, it can be used as normal.


In addition to eye drops, you can also try using a contact lens solution. "If the liner is the type you dip a brush into, you can add some contact lens solution to re-liquify dried-up product in the tube," celebrity makeup artist Jamie Dorman told Makeup.com.

Mix it with your favorite unscented oil

Baby oil is a product owned by most of us, and it has multiple uses. You may already be using it to remove your makeup or hydrate your skin, but did you ever consider that it can also be used on your dried-out eyeliner? "Compared to many beauty products on the market, baby oil is inexpensive and can be versatile," dermatologist Dr. Blair Murphy-Rose told Martha Stewart.


Mixing gel and cream eyeliners with oil could be a great way to extend their lifespan. The process is straightforward, and you only need an unscented oil that is skin safe, like baby oil. You'll add a few drops to your favorite dried-out product (but do this slowly so as not to add too much) and mix it with a clean tool to get the oils into the eyeliner and rehydrate it. The goal is to have it look as good as new again and improve consistency. Ideally, it should make the eyeliner smoother and easier to apply. 

Dip it in warm water and wait

It can be hard to part with a favorite beauty product when it stops working before its time. This is why knowing how to revive your beauty staples can make all the difference, and for your eyeliner, it can be done with warm water.


Start by placing your eyeliner in an airtight container or plastic bag (to avoid getting it wet) and leave the container in warm or hot water. How long it takes will vary, but it could take up to 15 minutes for some products, so patience is key. This step can be used for gel or liquid eyeliner, and how the heat interacts with it will cause it to melt. This is great for dryness or clumps, although it is not a long-term solution and may only extend the eyeliner's life for a few weeks before you must repeat the process. 

Apply pressure with the back of your hand

Give your eyeliner a second chance by applying pressure with the back of your hand. This trick will only work for pencil and felt-tip liners but may give them the kickstart they need. "If your felt-tip liquid liner isn't working, first try pressing the tip against the back of your hand and holding it there for a few seconds," celebrity makeup artist Terri Bryant told Byrdie. "It could be that the eyeliner just needed a little reboot, but if nothing comes out, it's often an indication that the pen is out of pigment and it's time for a new one."


But how long does eyeliner last before it needs to be tossed? The consensus among experts is three months, and you really shouldn't push it. "If the mascara or eyeliner is old, this increases the chances that bacteria or fungus have contaminated it. If any of this gets introduced directly into your eye, you could end up with a serious eye infection," Dr. Sood-Mendiratta told Cleveland Clinic. So, if your eyeliner doesn't revive quickly, it's probably time to toss it.

It's time to get shaking

Sometimes, the simplest methods are the most effective, and a good shake could help get your eyeliner working again. This tip works best with liquid liners, especially those with brush tips. As for how long you are meant to shake the product, this is not immediately clear, but it will not likely be for more than a few seconds (don't worry, it won't be a full workout here). Interestingly, doing this before every use is recommended, not only when the product is getting dry (via BeBeautiful).


As great as liquid eyeliner is, it's also one of the most dangerous products to use on your eyes because it can be a breeding ground for bacteria. So, if you've had your liquid eyeliner for three months or more, it's best to throw it away. The rules differ for other formulas, with Bollywood celebrity makeup artist Namrata Soni telling Vogue India that pencils can last up to 24 months and gel for nine months. "While gel pots last for nine months, they dry up fast, so you might not make it that long without throwing it out before," Soni explains (this is why we have tricks to use them again). 

A little saline solution can go a long way

If you find your gel liner has changed consistency and become a clumpy mess, adding a saline solution to it could be just what you need. The solution, a combination of sodium chloride (salt) and water, will hydrate the formula, allowing you to use it again. This is a tip that most people can do with minimal effort and no added cost because you can make your own saline solution by mixing water and iodine-free salt (via Healthline). 


This approach will only work with gel liners, which is great because often, these products dry out long before their expiration date. Despite this, there's a lot to like about gel eyeliner, including how easy it is to use. It happens to be the top choice for several professional makeup artists, including celebrity makeup artist Jenna Kristina who told Allure, "They're a lot easier to control and great for people that haven't perfected a liquid."  

A few minutes with the blow dryer could do wonders

Heat can be beneficial for bringing your eyeliner back to life, and this can be achieved using a blow dryer. The process is incredibly simple, as professional makeup artist Brittany Lo explained to Byrdie: "Place the eyeliner on a towel and use a blow dryer to heat up the eyeliner for about five to 10 minutes.". She claims this is a trick to use on pencil eyeliner and that you need to position the blow dryer six inches away for the best results. 


Once the eyeliner pencil is heated, you will sharpen the tip, and it should be good as new. But should you only be using heat on your eyeliner pencils when they dry out, or is it a step that could improve the product? Warming your eyeliner first could make it smoother, easier to use, and more gentle on the eyelid.

Open up the pen to re-hydrate it (but it could get messy)

Before giving up and throwing your felt tip eyeliner away, you could try something else: Open the eyeliner pen, remove it, and dip it into warm water to rehydrate it. "Soak the rod in a glass of warm water for a minute or two to hydrate," celebrity makeup artist Terri Bryant told Byrdie. "Then, take the rod out of the water and lightly dab dry before returning it to the pen. If the applicator tip was completely dry before rehydrating, you may find the tip needs a little trim with a pair of cuticle scissors to return it to its original shape which is key to getting that sharp line."


This method is likely a last resort, though. It's not that it won't work, but it does take more patience than many of the other tips and could also get a bit messy. You are also required to open the eyeliner, and if you do this step wrong, it's possible you could end up breaking something. All this effort for it to never be the same again. If you don't have a steady hand or patience, this is not the eyeliner hack for you.

Keep it flat to ensure it works as it should

How you store your eyeliner can make all the difference, and it's often recommended to keep it lying flat. Although other experts suggest you store it down if you want to prevent it from drying out prematurely. "Sometimes if you have your brush stored the opposite way, gravity over time is just going to be pulling everything down," celebrity makeup artist Ehlie Luna told Today. "Then when you go to grab it, you might get an inconsistent or drier tip. Store it tip down so they're always ready to go."


Where you store your eyeliner is another factor to consider, and it is best kept in a cool, dark place. "The temperature of the environment can have varied effects on beauty products, so it's important to be aware of where to store them," Joanne Dodds, a company spokesperson of Hairtrade.com, told Harper's Bazaar. "Humidity is one element that can cause items in your makeup bag to expire quicker, so storing your beauty items in your bathroom, for example, might be doing more harm to your products than you realize."

Bend the tip of the eyeliner back (but be really gentle)

When your eyeliner is getting older, has been exposed to air, or has not been stored correctly, you may notice that the consistency changes, which is why it can become dried out. "The consistency of the product is going to change over time," dermatologist Hadley King told Women's Health. "They're [makeup products] going to dry out, get clumpy, and not apply as smoothly. That's true for everything from mascara to lipstick and foundation." The good news is that you can still try a few things if it's not past the expiration date. This includes adjusting the tip of your liner.


"When a pen-style eyeliner is drying out, sometimes you just need to kickstart the flow of the product," says makeup artist Jamie Dorman to Makeup.com. "I do this by gently bending the tip from the base on the back of my hand and holding it until I see product come up on the tip and on my hand."

Get a warm, damp paper towel and start wiping

Try wiping the tip with a damp paper towel to give your eyeliner a little boost. This will remove clumps or gunk from the tip while rehydrating it with water. What we love about this method is how easy it is to do, and you don't need any expensive products or fancy tools.


This tip is best used for liquid eyeliner with a brush or felt tip, which can be delicate (so take care when handling them). There are no real downsides to the hack because it doesn't require you to take the eyeliner apart or use solutions that could go wrong (changing the consistency to be too watery or not smooth enough). For this reason, it should probably be one of the first approaches you take for trying to save your eyeliner.

There's a lot to like about liquid liner, including how long-lasting it is. "Longevity is the biggest advantage of a liquid liner," celebrity makeup artist Armand Beasley told HerWorld. "A pencil liner can disappear over time whereas a liquid liner — especially the ones from Illamasqua, M.A.C or Guerlain, will be totally smudge-proof once dried."


Try cleaning the liner with makeup remover

If you use your eyeliner over other makeup products like eyeshadow and primer (which is often recommended to reduce the possibility of smudging and adding to the staying power), there may be a buildup on the tip. You may have yet to realize it, but the excess product could dry out your eyeliner over time and result in it not working as well. This can also be especially true for beauty products containing glitter, which is prone to drying things out, including your eyes.


So, how do you fix your eyeliner when it's got a buildup of makeup on it? The answer would be to gently clean the tip with makeup remover to remove excess product. You can do this by adding makeup remover to a soft clean cloth and gently wiping it along the brush (be extra careful with liners with felt tips). At the same time, this will moisten your eyeliner.

Keep it closed properly, always

It may seem self-explanatory, but it is easy to forget to properly close your eyeliner when you are hurrying to get dressed in the morning. Not sealing it will let air in and eventually dry out your product. Spending a few extra seconds to close it properly will make all the difference. The point about sealing eyeliner correctly applies specifically to liquid and gel liners. 


However, if you prefer a pencil, a great way to keep it fresh is to sharpen it regularly. It is also the longest-lasting option for eyeliner formulas because sharpening the tip will remove bacteria.

With liners using a brush tip, you want to pay close attention to how you close the lid onto the eyeliner. This is to ensure you do not snag the tip causing damage and distorting the shape (anyone who has done this before knows just how much you want to avoid this).

Get creative with your old, dried-out eyeliner

If all else fails and you can't bring your eyeliner back to life, you don't have to throw it out just yet. Why not get your creative juices flowing and find an alternative use for it, like using the brush as an applicator for gel eyeliner instead of buying a new makeup brush (of course, you want to keep in mind the potential dangers of using this product for too long because of the bacteria). Or dip it into your favorite nail polish and use it as a nail tool to create cute nail art. The tip of the eyeliner pen will work wonders for creating lines and dots, allowing you to try something new and exciting.


And what about the gel eyeliner pots? After cleaning them well, they could be used as storage for little gems, hair ties, or rings, or you could incorporate them into your arts and crafts.