They say beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. Perhaps this is why a few couple of strokes from that eyeliner can bring so much difference in your look. You can see it in the car-eyed models making their graceful rounds on the runway; you can see it in the ‘oh-so-stunning’ actresses on the red carpet, and even in a few bold men wishing to make even bolder statements. Eyeliners are just what you need to change your subtle daytime look into a sultry and fierce night out style.
We have different eyeliner out there. From the sharp liquid liners to the smooth pencil liners, all these work differently to bring out different results like the smoky eyes, for when you want to channel your inner rock star. We have them in different formulas too, like the short-lasting gel eyeliners, which are soft and will glide smoothly across your lids.
All in all, you’ll need to get one that won’t fade easily, cause smudging, or leave you with a case of the raccoon eyes before lunchtime. To make your experience less risky, we have compiled a list of the best eyeliners.
Top 10 Eyeliners Of 2020 Reviewed
1. Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye LinerLiquid Eyeliner
Liquid eyeliner is da bomb but it is also intimidating as hell. Enter the Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner. Whether you’re a novice or a pro, this eyeliner will help you create thin or bold lines with ease. It dries quicker than you can blink (an exaggeration but you get what we mean). Plus, you don’t have to worry about smudging or fading. And don’t worry if black is not your shade because there are 11 other colors to choose from.
However, it has a glossy/shiny finish which is something not everyone is a fan of. Also, it seems to run out pretty fast and isn’t truly waterproof since it will smear a bit if you’re sweating heavily.
- Easy to apply
- Dries quickly
- 12 colors to choose from
- Runs out quickly
- Glossy finish
2. Maybelline Makeup Eyestudio Lasting Drama Gel Eye LinerEyeliner For Beginners
This gel eyeliner is a drugstore find that features a creamy formula that has been tested and approved by ophthalmologists and dermatologists as safe. And it can safely be used by individuals who have sensitive eyes or wear contact lenses. This eyeliner has highly concentrated pigments so you know you’ll get a rich color no matter what shade you choose (there are 10 of them!). It’s smudge-proof and waterproof, specifically designed to last 24 hours. And despite the low price, you get quite a bit of product to last you a good long while. However, the brush could be better and you’ll need to always clean it after each use. Also, it can be a bit hard to wash off.
- Comes in 10 shades
- Very affordable
- Lasts a long time
- The brush could be better
- Brush requires cleaning after each use
- Hard to wash off
3. L’Oréal Paris Infallible Super Slim Liquid EyelinerLiquid Eyeliner for Beginners
This liquid eyeliner from L’Oréal features an ultra-fine felt tip for creating very precise, lines. The eyeliner was designed to dry quickly and last 12 hours. It’s skip-proof, drag-proof, and smudge-proof. However, that last one is only true for certain individuals. Oily lids will find that it does smear without some primer. Also, it’s not waterproof so this is not something you want to wear if you expect to be sweating.
One thing to keep in mind is to make sure that the cap is tightly closed because it will dry out sooner than you’d like. As some owners have found out, the cap may come off inside your purse and you’ll find yourself buying a new one after a month. If you’re new to liquid eyeliners, then this is a great product to start out with as it’s pretty easy to figure out how to use it. Take note that this only comes in three colors – gray, black, and brown. Also, the color isn’t as rich when used over certain shades of eyeshadow.
- Easy to use even for beginners
- Makeup lasts a long while
- Dries quickly
- Runs out after a month
- Cap tends to fall off
- Only comes in three colors
4. L’Oréal Paris Infallible Never Fail EyelinerEyeliner Pencil
One thing that we all love to hate about pencil eyeliners is the fact that you need to sharpen it regularly but not keep it too sharp. Well, this pencil eyeliner from L’Oréal solves that little dilemma with its built-in sharpener. Because it has a rich, creamy formula, there’s no dragging involved. It glides easily on your skin as you apply it and stays there for as long as 16 hours without fading. If you want to create smoky eyes, you can use the built-in smudger.
However, this is not waterproof so if you expect to cry your eyes out sometime during the day, this is not the eyeliner to wear. And while it does stay on all day, those with oily skin will find that it may smear easily without a primer. Take note that some customers have complained about the smudger keeps detaching from the pencil, making it easy to lose.
- Built-in sharpener and smudger
- Glides smoothly on
- Stays on all day
- Not waterproof
- Oily skin needs a primer
- Smudger pops out easily
5. NYX Professional Makeup Slide On Pencil
This is another affordable pencil eyeliner for your collection. It glides on your eyelid pretty easily. Smooth as butter, in fact. It’s soft so it feels gentle on your skin. It just doesn’t last long; it tends to smear after a few hours. Since it is a pencil eyeliner, it does require sharpening, more so than some pencil eyeliners we’ve tested. It doesn’t have a built-in sharpener though so you better have one in your makeup kit in case the need suddenly arises. The shades are pretty, all 18 of them. It does require a bit of effort to take off.
- Gentle on skin
- 18 shades available
- Needs sharpening frequently
- Hard to wash off
- Doesn’t last all day
6. Clinique Quickliner for EyesQuick Eyeliner
This is a twist-up pencil eyeliner that has a smudger on the other end. We like the fact that you always get a fine tip whenever you twist it so no need to keep it sharp. It comes in a variety of shades (13 in all) from browns and blacks to blues and greens. It’s been allergy tested and is 100% fragrance-free and oil-free. It’s also ophthalmologist-tested. However, this does not retract back so be careful not to twist it too much and reveal more than just the tip as it will dry out the product. You also need to do a couple of strokes to get an intense color.
- 13 shades available
- Allergy-tested and ophthalmologist-tested
- No sharpening required
- Does not retract
- Requires a couple of strokes to produce an intense color
7. Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel EyelinerGel Eyeliner
Bobbi Brown’s Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner is creamy yet can be used to create precise, thin lines like a liquid eyeliner. The colors (there are 11) are intense and stay on until you’re ready to take it off. It’s very easy to apply as well as easy to correct if you make a mistake. However, this does not come with a brush and tends to dry out quickly. It’s also expensive so your makeup budget will definitely need to make room for this monthly purchase.
- Can be used to create thin or thick lines
- Stays on for a long time
- No brush included
- Dries out quickly
8. MAC Fluidline Eye Liner GelEyeliner For Oily Lids
For a foolproof gel liner, you’ll want the MAC Fluidline Eye Liner Gel. It goes on smooth and doesn’t require a touch-up throughout your long workday, even if you have oily skin. This eyeliner does not run or smear but it’s very easy to remove. It comes in a variety of rich colors (9) and finishes so you can definitely find several that will suit your style and moods. This eyeliner is non-acnegenic, dermatologist-tested, and ophthalmologist-tested. However, you’ll need to look for a high-quality brush to go with this because it doesn’t come with one. Also, it’s a bit pricier than our other picks. Lastly, it does dry out faster than you can finish the entire pot.
- 9 colors and finishes
- Stays on all day
- Does not smear or run
- Dries out fast
- Does not come with a brush
- A bit expensive
9. Marc Jacobs Highliner Gel Eye CrayonEyeliner For Tightlining
If you want a gel eyeliner for tightlining, then this eyeliner from Marc Jacobs is exactly what you’re looking for. It’s creamy, has a bold pigment, doesn’t run or smear, and comes in 26 colors and finishes. Even better, this gel eyeliner doesn’t require a brush because it’s in the form of a crayon – soft and glides easily across your lid for a flawless application. There’s a built-in sharpener as well to maintain the fine point. It is quite expensive for a small eyeliner. Because it’s so creamy, sharpening this can be nerve-wracking because you might end up breaking off the tip and wasting product.
- Doesn’t run or smear
- 26 colors and shades to choose from
- Glides on smoothly
- Breaks easily
- Requires sharpening
10. DHC Liquid Eyeliner EXWaterproof Liquid Eyeliner
This liquid eyeliner from DHC features a felt tip for easy application. It doesn’t smudge and stays on even during your sweatiest workouts at the gym. We do not lie. You can sleep with it on and wake up smudge-free. The fine tip is perfect for creating crisp, perfect cat eyes. However, it is only available in one color – black. It is also a bit expensive for an eyeliner.
- Easy application
- Stays on all day long
- Only comes in black
How to Choose the Best Eyeliner: The Ultimate Buying Guide
The eyes are the windows to the soul and, with the right eyeliner, can transform your look from fresh and awake to sultry and mysterious as well as anywhere in between. Of course, such a transformation isn’t easy without a great deal of practice and the right eyeliner. So, how does one find the best eyeliner on the market? Well, there is no one best eyeliner as there are several kinds and each one has its own benefits and drawbacks. And the type of look you are going for – subtle, natural, va-va-voom – will also affect your choice. To help you navigate this small but essential part of the makeup world, we’ve written a guide solely about eyeliners.
What are the Different Kinds of Eyeliners?
Pencil eyeliners are the most common type as well as the most affordable. Obviously, these look like a pencil and generally work the same way. The tips can be soft or firm. Soft ones are gentler on your eyelid while firmer ones produce longer-lasting lines. Among all the basic types of eyeliners, this one is the easiest to apply and offers the most colors. Also, compared to other types, pencil eyeliners work best when creating the smoky eye effect and when you want to apply eyeliner on your waterline. However, pencil eyeliners need to be sharp for precision but not too sharp because nobody needs to be poked in the eye with a sharp instrument.
Liquid eyeliner, as the name already implies, is wet and similar to paint. It can come in the form of a tube with a brush attached to the cap or like a pen with a marker-type tip. Using this kind of eyeliner requires delicacy and precision because it can be very messy. This also means that it has a steep learning curve so you’ll need a lot of practice with this one. On the upside, it can be used to create really thin, subtle lines or bold, rich lines. It’s also perfect for tightlining waterlines. Compared to all the other types, a liquid eyeliner lasts longer and is more dramatic and vibrant in color. Plus, liquid eyeliner is smudge-proof when it dries.
The pen eyeliner is a combination of the pencil and the liquid eyeliner. It’s easy enough to apply like the pencil eyeliner but it’s also wet and requires drying like the liquid eyeliner. However, the color is less vibrant which could be positive – you have more control over how bold you want the color to be.
Gel or cream eyeliners are thicker in texture compared to liquid eyeliners but offers the same richness in color. These usually come in a pot with a brush. Applying a gel eyeliner is pretty easy compared to a liquid one because it glides across the eyelid. Mistakes are also less likely to happen. While it does take time to dry, it will be very resistant to fading or smudging. However, the gel or cream tend to dry out fast and you need to make sure you don’t lose the brush. Also, you need to make sure that the brush is cleaned regularly to prevent eye infections.
Powder eyeliners are perfect when you want to create smudgy or smoky eyes instead of crisp, precise lines. However, compared to other eyeliners, this kind does not last long.
What Color Should I Get?
The classic choice is black but it isn’t always a suitable choice. Very fair skin tones may find true black too harsh. If you’re just starting and want something that’s less stark and quite forgiving if you make mistakes, you can choose brown or light gray.
If you want to go for a soft look with a hint of the dramatic, you can choose dark plum or chocolate brown. For everyday use such as going to the office, you can choose neutral colors. Going out at night, you might want to consider blue or violet shades. White eyeliners applied on the inner edge of the lower eyelid can create an innocent look by making your eyes appear wider. Using a nude eyeliner on your waterline will give you the doe-eyed effect. This is perfect if you want to look awake or hide your red-rimmed eyes after a night of crying, drinking, or both.
If you want to make your eyes pop or appear more vibrant, you can choose a complementary hue. To bring out the richness of your dark brown eyes, go with navy blue, black, or deep brown. Dark blue, plum, and green will highlight light brown and amber eyes. Blue colored eyes will look brighter with warm browns, copper, or bronze tones while green colored eyes pairs perfectly with violets and purples.
What Finish Do You Prefer?
While most eyeliners have a matte finish, some have a shimmery or glossy finish. A matte finish is definitely more subtle but if you want a bit more oomph, you can opt for a more dramatic finish. Some eyeliners offer a little bit of shimmer to add a tiny bit of shine to your daytime look while others use big flecks that will make your eyes pop. The latter is best used at night when lighting is dimmer and therefore not going to make your makeup look overpowering.
Do You Want Something Waterproof?
Eyeliners that contain waxes and oils are naturally waterproof. But if you want something that won’t budge throughout your long workday, you may benefit from a waterproof eyeliner. The same goes for individuals who will be exposed to humidity or moisture unless they want to have raccoon eyes sometime during the day. However, you need to make sure that the one you pick is not so waterproof that it makes removing it a pain-in-the-ass chore.
What About Smudge?
As we’ve already mentioned, gel/cream eyeliners, as well as liquid eyeliners, are more smudge-resistant compared to other types of eyeliners. However, if you want to smudge and blend your eyeliner to create a softer look or a sultry one, you need to look for an eyeliner specifically designed for smudging. Pencil eyeliners are typically best for this task.
Make Sure You Get an Eye-Friendly Formula
Since you’re going to be placing the makeup right next to your eye, it’s best to ensure that the eyeliner does not contain any ingredients that can cause irritation. Sensitive eyes will want eyeliners that do not contain fragrances. Pencil eyeliners with an oil and wax base are generally good for individuals with sensitive eyes. Formulas that are specifically designed for minimal flaking and smearing are perfect for individuals who wear contact lenses.
Stunning eyes aren’t too far out of your reach, no matter what you initially thought. With the right eyeliner and a lot of practice, you can easily transform your look to suit your mood or event.