The 15 Most Beloved Eyeliners You Can Always Rely On

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Best Eyeliners

Byrdie / Chloe Jeong

There are some makeup products you don't have to mull over too much, but eyeliner isn't one of them. After all, it’s near impossible to pull off a bad eyeliner. They can be too dry, too faint, run out too quickly, tattoo too permanently, transfer too easily, or simply be so imprecise that you can essentially kiss any fleeky cat-eye look goodbye.

Then there’s the impossibility of navigating life with just one eyeliner. You simply cannot serve ‘60s-dream-girl without a white. Carbon black is a waterline necessity. There’s no lash tight-lining without a great pen, and no cat-eye without a water-resistant black liquid. Attempting no makeup-makeup requires the optimum shade of brown—and don’t get us started on what a good gel liner brings to the table.

Of course, finding the best product to fulfill every eyeliner need can be an arduous (and expensive) process, so we rounded up the best of the best eyeliners to save you and your wallet the trial and error.

Best Overall: Marc Jacobs Highliner Gel Eye Crayon

4.6
Marc Jacobs
What We Like
  • Great color payoff

  • Can use in waterline

  • Wide shade range

What We Don't Like
  • Can feel stiff and dry

Finally, a liner so versatile it can deliver something for everyone. Somewhere between a pencil, gel, and Egyptian kohl, this product is “extreme-wear” for a reason. It’s waterproof, glides on up with ease, and smudges into a crease-defining shadow as you see fit. With a built-in sharpener to keep it fresh, the Highliner Gel Crayon is one of Team Byrdie's favorite day-to-night eyeliners. We're partial to Blacquer 42, but you can choose from a handful of shades.

Type: Gel crayon | Shades: 9 | Free of: Parabens, sulfates, phthalates | Size: 0.01 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

marc jacobs highliner gel eye crayon eyeliner

Byrdie / Ashley Rebecca 

What Our Testers Say

"The liner didn’t smudge or run on me when I wore it on the top lash line—I found that it really held up through some long days." — Ashley Rebecca, Product Tester

Best Budget: NYX Epic Ink Liner

4.5
NYX Epic Ink Liner
What We Like
  • Precise tip

  • Long-lasting

  • Waterproof

What We Don't Like
  • Can smudge after a while

Find your tightest line without breaking the bank with this NYX Professional Makeup classic. Lauded for its precision (the pointed tip delivers varying levels of thickness depending on how you press down on the lid), you achieve the flick that best suits your eye shape.

Type: Liquid | Shades: 2 | Free of: Animal byproducts | Size: 0.03 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

What Our Testers Say

"I was amazed at how easy it was to apply NYX's Epic Ink Liner without much error. Thanks to its flexible precision tip, it glided over my trembling lash line with ease, and not even my unsteady hand could make it veer too far from the curve of my lid." — Donecia Pea, Product Tester

Best Drugstore: Maybelline Eye Studio Master Precise Liquid Eyeliner

Maybelline Eye Studio Master Precise Liquid Eyeliner
What We Like
  • Waterproof

  • Affordable

  • Precise tip

What We Don't Like
  • Color payoff could be better

One of the thinnest, firmest felt tips on the market, this pen is worth experimenting with. Not only is it handily available in cobalt and chestnut, but is also as smudge-resistant and waterproof as the best of ‘em. You may have to be a little vigilant to achieve the color intensity of your dreams, but at this affordable price, you really have nothing to lose.

Type: Liquid | Shades: 3 | Free of: Fragrance | Size: 0.034 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Liquid: Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner

4.4
Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner
What We Like
  • Long-lasting

  • Great color payoff

  • Precise tip

What We Don't Like
  • Dries quickly when applying

This is the eyeliner formulated to address all your eyeliner hang-ups: feathering, skipping, bleeding, running, there’ll be none of that here, folks. Lubricated enough that it won’t pull at your eyelid upon application, you can simply glide your eyeliner on to your optimal thickness for all-day wear. And for you eyeliner rookies, let this product be your training wheels.

Type: Liquid | Shades: 8 | Size: 0.016 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner

Byrdie / Ashley Rebecca

What Our Testers Say

“With a high pigment deposit in just one application along with no smudging or smearing, this eyeliner will last through anything.” — Ashley Rebecca, Product Tester

Best Pencil: Lancôme Drama Liqui-Pencil

4.6
Lancôme Drama Liqui-Pencil
What We Like
  • Long-lasting

  • Wide shade range

  • Great color payoff

What We Don't Like
  • Can be difficult to sharpen

It should serve as a testament to the power of the Liqui-Pencil that most of its core colors are out of stock. This is the eyeliner that could take you from your desk to the dance floor and into the next morning, boasting 24-hour wear and extremely intense color. If you’re a fan of Lancôme’s famous Hypnôse Drama Mascara, know that this eyeliner pencil is in that very same league.

Type: Gel pencil | Shades: 8 | Free of: Fragrance, parabens | Size: 0.42 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Gel: Melt Cosmetics Ultra Matte Gel Eyeliner

Melt Cosmetics Ultra Matte Gel Eyeliner
What We Like
  • Great color payoff

  • Creamy texture

  • Waterproof

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn't dry fast

We know we’re not going to shock you with this one, it’s been on the radar of makeup fiends for a long time and for good reason. It stays perpetually moist, and its heavy pigmentation means it won’t metallicize when layered over lashings of eyeshadow.

Type: Gel pot | Shades: 6 | Free of: Parabens, gluten | Size: 0.88 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Long-Wear: Glossier Pro Tip Brush Point Liquid Eyeliner

Glossier Pro Tip Liquid Eyeliner
What We Like
  • Precise tip

  • Long-lasting

  • Great color payoff

What We Don't Like
  • Pen can dry out quickly

For those who rely heavily on favorable reviews to sway their makeup decisions, you’ve come to the right place. This viral product doesn’t even reference its power to survive hours on end in the name, but it should. Through tears, sweat, rain, and summer swims, this product will not budge.

Type: Liquid | Shades: 1 | Size: 0.01 fluid ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Black: Chanel Le Crayon Yeux Precision Eye Definer

Chanel Le Crayon Yeux Precision Eye Definer
What We Like
  • Great color payoff

  • Can use in waterline

  • Built-in sponge applicator

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

This is a bit pricey for an eyeliner, but it's worth it when your eyes are rimmed in the sootiest black out there. It's truly one of the best black eyeliners we've tried. The wax blend prevents it from tugging on your eyelid, and it’s the perfect choice to darken a waterline. Chanel recommends smudging the product out with the sponge applicator on the other side to achieve the apres-party eyes of a Parisian.

Type: Gel crayon | Shades: 8 | Size: 0.03 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Brown: Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil

4.4
Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil
What We Like
  • Long-lasting

  • Wide shade range

  • Waterproof

What We Don't Like
  • Can be difficult to sharpen

An industry and fan favorite, this eyeliner is beloved for its smooth texture and the kind of staying power that makes it the kind of all-rounder to outshine any product on the market. It also comes in 38—yes 38—different colors, but the vibrancy of the browns is frequently praised by reviewers, especially given the pencil’s capacity to smudge and then settle.

Type: Gel pencil | Shades: 38 | Free of: Parabens | Size: 0.04 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best White: Fenty Beauty Flypencil Longwear Pencil Eyeliner

Fenty Beauty Flypencil Longwear Pencil Eyeliner
What We Like
  • Can use in waterline

  • Long-lasting

  • Great color payoff

What We Don't Like
  • Can feel stiff and dry

Ah, a white eyeliner. So effective to brighten and widen the eye, so quick to bleed or flake onto eyelashes. Then, along came Rihanna. Available with a glitter or matte finish, the creamy Fenty Flypencil has impressive longevity and smoothes so easily from waterline to skin it could easily double as a highly-pigmented eyeliner.

Type: Gel pencil | Shades: 20 | Size: 0.01 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Oily Lids: Eyeko Black Magic Liquid Eyeliner

eyeko black magic liquid eyeliner
What We Like
  • Waterproof

  • Promotes lash growth

  • Long-lasting

What We Don't Like
  • Ink is thin; may bleed

Sometimes your perfectly lined eyelid lasts a mere several hours before it gives up and transfers to the brow bone. The culprit is often oily or hooded eyes, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up on liquid eyeliner altogether. You can live several lives in this eyeliner and it will still look like it was applied only moments earlier. Magic.

Type: Liquid | Shades: 1 | Free of: Parabens, phthalates, sulfates | Size: 0.013 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Sensitive Eyes: Neutrogena Nourishing Eyeliner Pencil

Neutrogena Nourishing Eye Liner
What We Like
  • Great color payoff

  • Long-lasting

  • Gentle formula

What We Don't Like
  • Can feel stiff and dry

You shouldn’t have to shell out a small fortune for an eyeliner that won’t irritate your eyes. This eyeliner is not only rich in color and smudge-proof, but it’s also hypoallergenic. With olive oil and shea butter as its core ingredients, watch it glide on smoothly and last all day.

Type: Gel pencil | Shades: 4 | Size: 0.01 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Wings: Charlotte Tilbury Feline Flick Volume 2 Liquid Eyeliner

Charlotte Tilbury The Feline Flick Quick Fine Line Eyeliner Pen
What We Like
  • Precise tip

  • Long-lasting

  • Great color payoff

What We Don't Like
  • Pen can dry out quickly

The queen of resurrecting old Hollywood glamour, Charlotte Tilbury was always going to master a pen that delivers the perfect cat-eye, every time. Whether you favor a pin-up-esque, temple stretching stroke, or merely tight-line your way to a baby flick, you can achieve a bold and precise line in an instant. Let’s just say if Cleopatra lived in the 21st century, she’d use the Feline Flick Eyeliner Pen.

Type: Liquid | Shades: 2 | higSize: 0.03 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Waterline: Elizabeth Arden High Drama Eyeliner

Elizabeth Arden High Drama Eyeliner
What We Like
  • Built-in sponge applicator

  • Waterproof

  • Long-lasting

What We Don't Like
  • Can be difficult to sharpen

Don’t be fooled by the name, this Elizabeth Arden classic can deliver the subtlest of looks just as well as it does a full stage-makeup fantasy. With a built-in mini sponge for smudging, the product is both ophthalmologically and dermatologically tested for those prone to irritation, and offers 16 hours of waterproof wear, so bring on the waterworks.

Type: Gel pencil | Shades: 5 | Size: 0.42 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Luxury: Christian Louboutin Luminous Ink Liner

Luminous Ink Liner KOHL 0.135 oz/ 4 mL
What We Like
  • Great color payoff

  • Display-worthy packaging

  • Long-lasting

What We Don't Like
  • Ingredients not disclosed online

Spending over $50 dollars on a liquid eyeliner may seem absurd, but this is not just a makeup product, it’s an experience. And it’s not just pretty packaging (though, seriously, this should hold a place of pride on your vanity), the Luminous Ink Liner is also highly pigmented to easily run over any powder. It has a glossy finish and guarantees smudge-free wear. Trust us, this is a splurge you won’t regret.

Type: Liquid | Shades: 2 | Size: 0.13 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No

What to Look For in Eyeliner

Formula

When looking for an eyeliner, first decide which type of formula you prefer. There are gels, solid pencils and crayons, and liquids. Each formula has its unique benefits and potential drawbacks. You’ll also want to consider whether a waterproof formula would suit you best, for instance, if you have oily lids, live in a humid climate, or are wearing your liner in the gym. 

Some formulas, once applied, provide a bold, dark line, while others are more subtle and can be blended out or used to define your crease as well. Lastly, if you prefer a liner without specific ingredients, such as parabens, phthalates, animal by-products, or sulfates, look for a brand that leaves these out of their formula.

Longevity

Eyeliner is notorious for smudging and wiping off. Consider your skin type, environment, and needs when looking for an eyeliner. If you need your makeup to last all day, you should look for a product that can stand up to smudging. Waterproof formulas may last the longest but are sometimes difficult to remove.

Application

With the different types of formulas, there are unique application choices as well. Gel eyeliners come in easy-to-apply pencils and crayons or pots that require a brush. Liquid liners come in pots with a built-in brush or in a brush-tip pen format. Solid pencils and crayons that can be sharpened to your preference are also available.

Different brands will have finer or thicker tips and applicators within those categories. Look for eyeliners that appeal to your preferred application method and look. If you like a thick line, crayons and some liquid liners will provide that. Other liquids, gels, and pencils have thinner tips for fine lining.

FAQ
  • What kind of eyeliner should beginners use?

    Solid pencils are often the most beginner-friendly choice when it comes to eyeliner. They are forgivable and easy to control. They can be applied as-is or slightly smudged for a more natural line. If you want to try a liquid as a beginner, look for one that provides a fine, precision tip.

  • Is eyeliner pencil or liquid better?

    Eyeliner pencils and liquids are both excellent choices, and each provides a unique look. Liquids are more richly pigmented and can create a more solid, defined line. Pencils provide a more natural look that you can blend out. Combine the two for a bold look.

  • What is the purpose of eyeliner?

    The purpose of eyeliner is to draw attention to your eyes. Eyeliner lines your lashes, creating the appearance of thicker, darker lashes. It also helps your eyes stand out and can intensify the color of your eyes. Some styles of applying eyeliner can widen and broaden your eyes or create a more open-eye look.

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