After 20 hours of research evaluating 125 products, we picked Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil as our top choice.
Got a dedicated spot in your makeup bag for your favorite eyeliner? You’re not alone.
In 2016, Americans spent nearly $618 million on eyeliner, making it the second most popular cosmetic for eyes (mascara topped the charts with annual sales of around $942 million).
Eyeliner has been around since 10,000 B.C., and ancient Egyptians believed it had magical healing properties that prevented bacteria from damaging the eye region.
But times have changed:
And, unless you’re trekking through Nile-like marshlands on the regular, you probably don’t need an eyeliner to boost your immune system. Lucky for you, the best eyeliner still works wonders by concealing the effects of sleep deprivation and completely changing the shape of your eyes. Well, until you reach for the makeup remover, of course.
If you want to brighten tired eyes with a white pencil, define your style with the best liquid eyeliner for winged tips, or simply find a cheap way to get the lined look you love, we’re here to help.
We’ve narrowed down the crazy-huge selection of eyeliner at drugstores and popular beauty retailers to bring you this list of the best eyeliner options for every budget.
Certified organic product that’s approved by dermatologists. Water-resistant formula delivers long-lasting eye enhancement.
Some makeup wearers complain that the color fades after a few hours. Luckily, it’s easy to apply a second coat over the first layer of liner without ending up with a clumpy mess.
Formula: This classic eyeliner pencil has a water-resistant formula that you can feel good about. It contains zero parabens, phthalates, and sulfates, and it’s enriched with soothing jojoba and marula oils. This isn’t a self-sharpening pencil, so you can transform the tip into pointed perfection rather than settling for a rounded tip.
Performance: This Antonym eyeliner pencil lives up to the hype when it comes to drawing crisp, precise lines. You can use it on your upper or lower lids, and it’s also great for creating a smokey look. We love how this soft yet long-lasting liner doesn’t weigh down our eyelids when caked on.
Ease of Use: It’s simple to use this ecofriendly eyeliner on your lids, whether you’re sporting winged tips or shading your waterline. You can draw thin lines easier than you can with liners that have rounded tips, so this pencil is essential for pulling off a natural look.
Price: It’s $19 for this eyeliner pencil - a reasonable price for a quality pencil made with natural ingredients. Others seem to agree since we’ve noticed it frequently sells out on Sephora’s website.
One of Allure’s Best of Beauty award winners in 2016. The ophthalmologist-tested formula is safe for ladies who wear contact lenses.
Some users gripe that the pencil end of this double-sided eyeliner runs out too quickly. If you experience the same issue, you may want to switch to a traditional eyeliner pencil.
Formula: We’ve got no complaints about the cruelty-free formula for this Tarte Tarteist Double Take Eyeliner. Amazonian clay helps the liner remain on your eyes without weighing them down, while a combination of vegan ingredients help produce an attractive pigment and silk-like smoothness. You won’t find any parabens or phthalates inside, and the formula is ophthalmologist tested.
Performance: Power through your day in this long-lasting eyeliner. The double-sided applicator features a pencil liner and a liquid liner, both of which easily withstand the demands of work or play for 12 hours. The liner doesn’t smudge or run, and it pairs well with other vegan-friendly cosmetics from Tarte.
Ease of Use: It’s fairly easy to line your lids with this cruelty-free eyeliner, but a handful of reviewers warn that you should press down on the pencil end gently if you don’t want it to break. You can also try refrigerating it for 15 or 20 minutes before you do your makeup; that makes it less soft.
Price: We’ve seen prices ranging from $24 to $38 for this double-sided eyeliner from Tarte. Sounds pricey, but to be honest, we don’t mind forking over this amount for a vegan beauty product. If it's in your budget, we definitely recommend giving this product a try.
Three-time recipient of the Allure Best of Beauty Award and one of the top-selling gel eyeliners at Sephora.com. Flake-resistant formula lasts up to 12 hours.
If you’ve got oily lids or use a heavy moisturizer, this eyeliner might fade faster than the advertised 12 hours. Use a setting spray or apply it over powder if you want to prevent fading and smudging.
Formula: Smooth, glossy gel fills the pot of this Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Liner. This waterproof formula repels humidity and sweat, making it ideal for everything from long days at the beach to post-race selfies. We love that it’s a flake-resistant gel so we don’t have to spend our days picking off tiny flecks of black liner from our cheeks.
Performance: This gel eyeliner generally does what it’s supposed to, but you might experience some fading and smudging if you’ve got oily eyelids. If that’s the case, a makeup-setting spray or a light dusting of powder can help keep this gel liner in place. It lasts for up to 12 hours, so you can enjoy your day without dealing with constant touchups.
Ease of Use: This rich gel glides on easily, but you may want to use your own liner brush. Some reviewers complain that the included brush is too small.
If you struggle with liquid liner, you might still rock the application process for this gel liner. That’s because you’ve got more freedom with a brush you dip and coat yourself than you do with a liner pen. Just make sure you coat both sides of the brush so you can create a thick line without sparse spots or smudges.
Price: You can score a pot of this waterproof gel liner for around $27, and reviewers say it lasts a while, making the price slightly less scary.
This luxurious liner makes it easy to define your eyes with crisp lines and dramatic designs (cat eyes, anyone?). The highly pigmented formula produces rich black lines.
It has a dual-sided applicator, so it may feel heavier in your hand than single-sided eyeliners.
Formula: This smooth liquid formula lasts a long time on your eyes - and in the tube. Liquid liners are notorious for drying out quickly, but reviewers rave that this high-end eyeliner lasts 6 to 12 months with no issues. Cosmetic users also love the highly pigmented formula, explaining that it’s a deep black hue that’s way darker than other black liners they’ve tried.
Performance: This is the kind of eyeliner you can fall asleep in (not that we recommend sleeping in makeup!). In fact, several reviewers admit that they’ve gone to bed wearing this long-lasting liner, and it’s also a popular choice among beach babes and gym goers.
Ease of Use: Think you can’t draw a straight line with liquid liner? Makeup junkies say you’ve gotta try this TOM FORD Eye Defining Pen because it's super simple to work with. It has two sides, so you can use whichever one works best for your current style. The thin calligraphy-style tip is perfect for winged tips and precise definition, while the brush-like end helps create softer, wider lines.
Price: This eyeliner costs nearly as much as our cell phone bill, but we - and tons of loyal users - still love it. Expect to spend around $60, sometimes as much as $80, for this designer liner.
Produced by COVERGIRL, which has been a trusted cosmetics brand for more than 50 years. Built-in smudger allows for easy blending.
Some users complain that it doesn’t last as long as pricier liners. However, there are also tons of reviewers who praise the long-lasting formula of this popular eyeliner.
Formula: Smooth, non-greasy formula deposits rich color on your lids. Some reviewers say the black liner isn’t as intense as liners from other brands, but many of them see this as a pro rather than a con. It produces a more natural look than most of the other eyeliners on our list of faves, and it’s long lasting but not waterproof.
Performance: This eyeliner does what it claims to do (goes on smoothly and lasts a while), but expect to reapply it a few times if you’ve got a long day ahead of you. The slim applicator fits easily in your pocket or purse; one of our Faveable writers confesses she used to keep this COVERGIRL eyeliner in the pocket of her scrub top for quick workday touch-ups.
Ease of Use: This is one of the most user-friendly eyeliners we’ve ever tried. A quick twist is all it takes to release more product from the self-sharpening applicator, and there’s even a built-in smudger for creating smokey eyes.
Price: For about the price of a Starbucks coffee, you can prettify your peepers with this budget-friendly eyeliner. It’s the cheapest eyeliner on our list, but it’s still a quality product.
Glossy finish enhances your eyes beautifully. Versatile tip lets you create different looks without switching between different eyeliners.
Some reviewers complain that this liquid liner dries out quickly, so make sure you put the lid on as soon as you’re done with your makeup.
Formula: Liquid liner is a must if you want a dramatic look or deep, dark lines, and this formula is pigmented enough to let you achieve both of those goals. The rich hues and glossy sheen of this waterproof liner make it ideal for a romantic evening with your significant other or a fun-filled girls’ night out.
The ingredients aren’t as natural as the ones in the Antonym Certified Natural Waterproof Eye Pencil or the Tarte Tarteist Double Take Eyeliner, but they get the job done.
Performance: The stila Stay All Day® Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner has been racking up the accolades for years (here’s a review from 2010 that proves it!). Makeup junkies love the smudge-proof, run-proof formula, and multiple reviewers dub it their “go-to eyeliner.” Did we mention it lasts all day?
Ease of Use: Mastering liquid liner can be tricky, but stila’s marker-like tip makes application a breeze. We’ve read numerous reviews that say this is the best liquid liner for newbies, and we totally agree! It travels smoothly across your lids, and that’s super important with liquid liner because it’s less forgiving than pencil.
Price: For around $22, you can confidently - and possibly even flawlessly - apply liquid liner with this easy-to-use product. Sounds like a good deal to us!
Available in approximately 40 colors, from classic black and grey shades to vibrant pink, green, and blue hues. Recipient of numerous awards, including Allure’s Best of Beauty and Readers’ Choice awards.
Some gals with oily skin report that they don’t experience the same long-lasting benefits that Urban Decay users with other skin types rave about. Also, you have to sharpen the pencil fairly often if you use it on a regular basis, so you might run out of liner quickly.
Formula: The Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil has a smooth, creamy formula free of sulfates, parabens, and phthalates. It’s packed with moisturizing ingredients that help this waterproof liner last a long time - without drying out your eyelids.
Performance: This dependable liner generally won’t flake, smear, or smudge unless you’ve got naturally oily eyelids or moisturize with oil-based products. If you fall into either of those categories, you can extend this liner’s staying power by pairing it with a powder shadow in a similar hue.
Many reviewers say they regularly rock this long-lasting liner for 12 to 14 hours with no issues. Make sure you smudge it during the first 30 seconds or so seconds if you want a sultry look; after that, it dries right where you put it.
Ease of Use: It’s a cinch to grip, use, and sharpen this bestselling eyeliner. The velvety formula glides smoothly across your skin, delivering bold color without tugging or scraping against your delicate eye area.
Price: At $20 a pop, there are certainly cheaper eyeliner pencils available. Just remember that you get what you pay for - which is why tons of makeup aficionados happily shell out their hard-earned Andrew Jacksons for this award-winning pencil.
The eyeliner is undoubtedly a staple in our beauty routine. It defines the eyes, makes your lashes look flirtatiously thick, and is versatile enough to be used for both ultra-chic and barely-there makeup looks.
In spite of being one of the most popular makeup products, many of us are still intimidated by the thought of using eyeliners. After all, they’re also one of the easiest makeup items to mess up. But with the right technique and product, acing eyeliner application is totally possible.
In this guide, we’ll give you everything you need to know to master eyeliner application regardless of what eyeliner type you prefer. We also have some handy advice on eyeliner colors, and of course, eyeliner tricks that will save your life—or at least your time.
Not all eyeliners are created equal. In fact, eyeliners are some of the most diverse makeup products on the market today. But don’t let that scare you! We’ve detailed and differentiated all the different kinds of eyeliner below. Check them out.
Everyone knows this as the OG eyeliner. The wood eyeliner pencil was an indispensable tool back in our teenage grunge/punk/goth/emo days. And even if you’d rather not admit that you went through any of these phases, there’s a high chance that the classic eyeliner pencil is one of the very first makeup items you’ve ever tried.
And that’s not surprising at all. After all, it’s way easier to use and maneuver than liquid and gel eyeliners—making it one of the most beginner-friendly pieces of eye makeup available. It’s also creamy, easy to smudge out, and easy to blend into your eyeshadow.
Eye pencils are also pretty versatile. When sharpened, they can create precise lines and get really close to the roots of your lashes. When you want a messier, smudged look, you can simply use your pencil with a blunter tip.
On the flip side, wood eyeliner pencils are difficult to use if you want supermodel cat eyes. A super opaque, jet-black line is pretty much impossible to achieve using this tool, too—so if you like that look, you might want to go for liquid and gel liners.
How to use: Typically, wood pencils will have a creamy and/or waxy consistency. While this makes them super easy to blend out, such a formula also makes them more likely to crease and run. That said, prepping your eyelids with a shadow primer will help avoid this mishap.
To create thin lines, start off with a freshly sharpened pencil and carefully draw using short, precise strokes—staying as close to your lash line as possible. Tilt the pencil a little bit to the side so you’re drawing with the side of the point instead of the tip. This makes it easier to see what you’re doing in the mirror.
Best for: Ladies who want an easy-to-smudge and easy-to-blend eyeliner, and those who like the versatility of a pencil that can create both thin and thick lines.
The mechanical eyeliner, which is also frequently called the twist-up eye pencil, provides all-day staying power and creamy pigment. It’s an iteration of the wood eyeliner pencil, but this time, you only have to twist it up instead of sharpening it. Because they’re not encased in wood (they use plastic packaging), some mechanical eyeliner pencils are able to sport waterproof formulas.
Mechanical eyeliner pencils are typically creamy, which makes them great for blended looks—and blended looks only. The twist-up mechanism means they operate with a blunter tip, so precise lines are difficult to achieve. Another downside is that it’s more prone to breakage than wood pencils—so if you hate wasting product, you have to be extra careful.
How to use: Twist the eyeliner to reveal the tip. Make sure not to reveal too much product at once as this might lead to breakage—especially if you’re quite heavy-handed. Press the tip of the liner onto the roots of your lashes and proceed to shade using a side-to-side motion.
Use a smudger to soften the lines using the same side-to-side technique. The creamy nature of this product buys you a bit more time to blend. But If you’re using a waterproof formula, you should definitely work quickly as it tends to dry in place a lot faster.
Best for: Girls who either hate sharpeners or couldn’t care less about razor-sharp lines. Also, those who are looking for a creamy, pigmented tip that won’t hurt their waterline.
Gel eyeliners usually come in tiny jar or pots and are best applied using a thin eyeliner brush or a pointed pencil brush. They deliver solid pigment in one swipe and enable you to create both precise and smudged lines.
Most gel eyeliners are waterproof and long-wearing. And although they can be blended out during application, they’re pretty much smudge-proof once they dry. Also, if you’re a fan of the smoky eye but find pencil liners too lacking in terms of color payoff, then the gel eyeliner is definitely for you.
How to use: For a precise cat-eye, use a brush that is slightly stiff and has a super-thin edge. Drag the edge of the brush across the eyeliner to pick up some product. If you feel like you’ve picked up too much, wipe off a bit of the gel on the cap.
Press and drag the brush starting from the outer edge of your eye all the way to the middle. Next, create another line from the inner corner toward the middle. It’s important to do this in the right order. You should only draw on your inner corners when there’s not much product left on the brush.
You can stop right there, or you may proceed to draw a cat-eye. You may also use a smudger to softly blend the liner for a smokier look.
Best for: Gals who would like to have a versatile, super pigmented tool that can create razor-sharp lines, yet is blendable enough to be smudged out.
Felt-tip liquid eyeliners resemble the tiny color markers we used to use as kids—only now, they’re thinner, sleeker, and using them makes us feel put together. A felt-tip liquid liner will have a stiff-yet-spongy applicator and an inky liquid formula. They’re commonly long-wearing and smudge-proof, as well.
A good felt-tip eyeliner will give you solid pigment in a single swipe, which means a single pen can potentially last you a long time—that is if it doesn’t dry out. That said, make sure to always replace the lid tightly to prevent the pigment from drying out.
How to use: The beauty in liquid eyeliner pens is that there’s no need to sharpen, twist, or dip anything before use. They usually require you to give the pen a bit of a shake, though, and that’s to make sure that the pigment is well-distributed in the formula.
You can use this pen to create lines of various widths. Drawing with a light hand will give you a thin line, while pressing firmly will result in a thicker one.
Best for: Those who want a longwearing, matte, and solid color payoff without hassle.
Brush tip liquid eyeliners come in two forms: tube and pen. The pen form looks and functions exactly like the felt tip liquid eyeliner—but obviously, with a brush tip instead of a felt tip.
The other form makes use of a tube filled with a liquid liner formula and a brush wand that dips into the tube. Most liquid glitter and metallic eyeliners use this format; and that’s because the tube can accommodate a variety of formulas such as matte, glitter, shimmer, metallic, and even glossy shine.
How to use: Untwist the cap and pull out the brush wand. Then, carefully line your lids using the brush. The pointed tip lets you create thin lines with light strokes, but drawing with a firmer hand will also let you create thicker lines.
Best for: Glitter liner lovers, and those who like the flexibility of a brush tip.
You know that signature intense smoky look that’s associated with Queen Cleopatra herself? That’s made possible by Kohl and Kajal eyeliners. They are among the oldest known cosmetic products in history—with their use dating back to Ancient Egypt, India, and Africa.
Kohl and Kajal liners create super thick and pigmented lines that are easy to smoke way, way out. They come with a waxy applicator that looks like a chubby crayon. Because of their size and shape, they’re not meant for creating thin lines.
How to use: Kohl and Kajal liners are your best bet for smoky, smudged-out looks where precision isn’t that much of a big deal, so applying them is actually pretty simple. Simply press and drag where you need color, and then blend it out with an eye brush until your desired look is achieved.
Best for: Ladies who want an easy-to-smudge and super pigmented product and are not fans of super thin lines.
We all adore black eyeliner. It’s a classic staple that makes us feel put together day and night, after all. But don’t sleep on colored liners! Using the right shade can actually play up the color of your eyes. Here are the best eyeliner colors for your peepers—trust us, it works!
Blue eyes: Blue eye makeup may look stunning on blue eyes, but we all know that a blue liner is not that easy to execute every day. On the other hand, copper and gold liners boast warm, metallic hues that perfectly accentuate blue eyes. And they’re perfectly wearable, too!
Brown eyes: For brown eyes, ditch your usual black liner in favor of deeper shades that are visually more interesting. A nice navy or dark green liner will do wonders to brighten your eyes.
Hazel eyes: Olive-toned and chocolate brown eyeliners will look amazing against hazel eyes. The secret here is simple, really. All you have to do is find a liner color that’s close to the green and brown pigments on your irises.
Green eyes: Violet eyeliners pair amazingly well with green eyes if you want a flattering pop of color. Go for a darker violet if you want something that isn’t as attention-grabbing, but bronze liners will work well, too.