There are several ways to achieve a smudged eyeliner look, but the best methods differ for everyone. One way is to apply an eyeliner and then smudge it with either your fingers or a makeup sponge. On the other hand, some people prefer to sleep on their eyeliner to achieve a more authentic smudged look in the morning. In addition, some eyeliners are easier to smudge than others or easier to remove if you mess it up the first time. Overall, smudged eyeliner is generally regarded as a good starting place for people new to eyeliner, because it does not require the same precision as creating a smooth line.
The exact method of putting on eyeliner varies from person to person. Most makeup artists recommend placing your elbow on a surface and then leaning your hand against your face. With the eyeliner pencil or brush in hand, draw a line on, above, or below your eye. Choose whatever method is best for you, even if it means standing in front of a mirror with no elbow or hand support. Once the line is drawn, gently smudge it with either a finger or small sponge.
If you have chosen to sleep on the eyeliner, put it on as you normally would and go about your day. At night, remove your other makeup so there is as little product on your pillowcases and bedsheets in the morning as possible. Sleep on bedding you would not mind ruined if the makeup happens to permanently stain it. The eyeliner should be at least somewhat smudged in the morning, but it will likely need some touching up.
Many people believe pencil and cream eyeliners smudge much better than liquid. Liquid eyeliner can smudge a little, but it generally needs a lot of coaxing. On the plus side, liquid smudged eyeliner tends to stay put longer than the other options and is more likely to be waterproof. Pencil and cream eyeliners are usually easier to apply, however, because the applicator is larger. Liquid eyeliner pencils typically have a small tip that requires a very steady hand and months of practice to perfect.
No matter your choice of application or eyeliner, smudged eyeliner is normally a quicker look to sport than a straight line. It might also require less upkeep should you cry and wipe your eyes with a tissue. Some dampness in addition to a wiping action will cause non-waterproof eyeliner to just smudge a little bit more.