- 10 Best Long-Wear Eyeliners
- Best Waterproof Eyeliner 2020 • 7 Waterproof Eyeliners Reviews
- The Big Waterproof Eyeliner Buyer’s Guide
- Results and Experiences from Consumer Testing
- The Brands
- The Eyeliner Guide
- How do you remove waterproof eyeliner?
- When does eyeliner expire?
- What ingredient makes eyeliner waterproof?
- Who is waterproof eyeliner best for?
- What is the best eyeliner colour for my eye colour?
- Can I get oil-free waterproof eyeliner?
- Do I apply eyeliner or mascara first?
- Why does my eyeliner not stay on my waterline?
- If I have sensitive eyes, can I use waterproof eyeliner?
- Is waterproof eyeliner bad for my eyes?
- Links and sources:
- 19 Best Eyeliner Pencils to Buy Now
- 1. Urban Decay 24/7 Glide on Pencil
- 2. Marc Jacobs Highliner Gel Eye Crayon Eyeliner
- 3. Clinique Quickliner for Eyes Eyeliner Pencil
- 4. Stila Smudge Stick Waterproof Eye Liner
- 5. Julep When Pencil Met Gel Long-Lasting Eyeliner
- 6. NYX Professional Makeup Slim Eye Pencil
- 7. NARS Larger Than Life Long-Wear Eyeliner
- 8. Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Eye Pencil
- 9. Tarte Tarteist Double Take Eyeliner
- 10. MAC Cosmetics Technakohl Pencil Eyeliner
- 11. Dior Crayon Waterproof Eyeliner Pencil
- 12. Chanel Le Crayon Khol Intense Eye Pencil
- 13. Lancôme Le Stylo Waterproof Long-Lasting Eyeliner
- 14. Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Eye Pencil
- 15. bareMinerals Lasting Line Long-Wearing Eyeliner
- 16. Laura Mercier Kohl Eye Pencil
- 17. Charlotte Tilbury Rock ‘n’ Kohl Eyeliner Pencil
- 18. Benefit BADgal Waterproof Eyeliner Pencil
- 19. Christian Louboutin Oeil Velours Velvet Eye Definer
- Common Eyeliner Pencil Types and Tips for Choosing One
- How to Apply Pencil Eyeliner
- Pencil Eyeliner Makeup Hacks to Know
- 10 best eyeliners: Liquids, pencils and gel formulas that are easy to use and won’t smudge
- Charlotte Tilbury rock ’n’ kohl in ‘veruschka mink’: £19, Charlotte Tilbury
- Mac pro longwear fluidline in ‘blacktrack’: £17, John Lewis & Partners
- Rimmel exaggerate waterproof liquid liner: £5.25, Amazon
- Nars kohline in ‘minorquer’: £20, Nars Cosmetics
- Bobbi Brown long-wear liquid liner in ‘carbon black’: £24.50, Bobbi Brown
- Hourglass mechanical gel eyeliner in ‘obsidian’: £16, Space NK
- Tom Ford eye defining pen: £46, Selfridges
- Laura Mercier caviar stick eye colour in ‘burnished bronze’: £24, John Lewis & Partners
- Clarins 3-dot liner in ‘intense black’: £22, Clarins
- Glossier Play colorslide in ‘candyland’: £13, Glossier
- The verdict: Eyeliners
10 Best Long-Wear Eyeliners
You’re already well aware that the quantity of beauty products available is borderline obscene and if you’re anything like us, you don’t have the time, patience, or resources to try every long-lasting eyeliner that hits the over-saturated market. As beauty editors, we come across so many products claiming to be game-changers. So we decided to put a ton of long-lasting eyeliners to the test. Here are the ones that didn’t end up in our trash bins:
Kat Von D Tattoo Liner, $18
Tester: Kristen Oldham Giordani, Senior Editor
What she thought: Confession — before I tried this “Tattoo” brush tip pen liner I was a bit nervous it might never come off. It is created by tattoo queen Kat Von D after all. But, after doing a few test swipes on my hand, it easily wiped off reassuring me that I wouldn’t have to live with my eyes lined in a vibrant navy hue for the rest of my days. Phew. It did make me question whether it would last though. But … it did. Normally any liquid or gel liner I wear transfers onto the creases of my eyes by midday or evening — I have combo skin and lids that disappear when I open my eyes — a bad environment for any liner. But to my surprise, this didn’t budge and the color lasted all day. The pen-like applicator also makes it easier than most liquid liners to apply — though it still takes a steady hand and some patience. And the liner did wash off easily, with my go-to cleanser (Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser, $24.50) and water.
Almay Liquid Liner, $6.75
Tester: Anna Jimenez, Assistant Editor
What she thought: I don’t know why the average woman would need an eyeliner that lasts 16 hours like this one claims and does, but I appreciate the fact that it goes the distance. This eyeliner has been an all time favorite of mine for a while now due to the fact that it is highly pigmented, perfect for creating a dramatic look and never smudges off. It even lasts through a long night of dancing — many of the others I’ve tried melt off. It has a felt tip applicator and a pot, which makes it easy to apply and prevents it from running out of product or drying up like many pen style felt-tip eyeliners do. And the price? So affordable.
Tarte emphasEYES, $18
Tester: Molly Roemer, Associate Editor
What she thought: First off, this automatic pencil liner goes on super smooth like a liquid. Since it yielded a nice, thick line, I went for an Audrey Hepburn-esque, top-liner-only look. And it really did stay put all day — I put it on around 8am, and when I went to wash my face around 10pm, it was still in tact.
Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner, $21
Tester: Sharon Yi, Editorial intern
What she thought: I’ve heard so many good things about this magical little smudge pot — and they’re all true! The one annoying thing about it is that you have to buy a separate brush to use it, but once that’s taken care of, all you need is a tiny amount of the product to create any style line you prefer — thin or thick. And because it’s not liquid, it’s very easy to line the waterline (inner rims) of your eyes without fear of getting black ink drops on your contacts (if you have them, which I do). The gel liner is definitely long lasting, but it does fade a bit after a few hours, so it doesn’t hurt to reapply to keep it looking fresh. Overall though, it’s a keeper.
Almay Amazing Lasting 16 Hour Eye Pencil, $6.49
Tester: Jane Kim, Assistant Editor
What she thought: I love how soft this eyeliner feels — it glides right on, and is the perfect consistency for smudging, ideal if you’re going for a smoky eye look. It did smudge under my eyes after a while, which forced me to clean them up a bit toward the end of the day. But my upper lids were still well-defined after eight hours of wear, and I didn’t have to reapply my liner at all, which is good enough for me.
Chanel Stylo Yeux Waterproof Long-Lasting Eyeliner, $28
Tester: Susan Yara, Associate Editor
What she thought:
My absolute all time favorite eyeliner is Chanel Le Crayon Kohl in Noir because it’s richly pigmented and glides on nicely … plus, it gives a bit of a slick look when I apply it the bottom inner rims of my eyes. So I was excited to try this one because my usual tends to fade midday on my bottom lids, and it often settles into the corners of my eyes. This definitely doesn’t do that — it glides on smoothly and stays put. In fact, I had to remove it with eye makeup remover wipes at the end of the day to get the last of it off. And bonus — this pencil doesn’t have to be sharpened.
NYX Super Skinny Eye Marker, $9
Tester: Anna Jimenez, Assistant Editor
What she thought: Anything that claims to be “supermodel skinny” makes me want to immediately hate it out of jealousy, but this liquid eyeliner rocks my world. Its felt-tip pen makes application so easy, and the pigment is super rich and dark. I honestly think anyone can apply this liner (shaky hands and all). What’s even better is that I can do a cat eye in the morning before work, go out the same night, return home and the lines are still perfectly in place — no smudging. It also washes right off with face wash and water, which I appreciate because I hate having to bust out the eye makeup remover. Only problem I’ve noticed (and why I didn’t give it a 10) is that the shelf life is limited due to that fact that it is a pen — after about a month of everyday use, it’s dried up and ready for retirement.
Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-In-Place Eye Pencil, $19
Tester: Susan Yara, Associate Editor
What she thought: I like wearing brown eyeliner during the day and this pencil glides on smooth and really does stay put. It never ended up smearing or settling into the corners of my eyes. It definitely lasted all day and was not hard to remove at night — just used my normal face wash and it slid right off.
tokidoki Perfetto Eyeliner, $16
Tester: Jane Kim, Assistant Editor
What she thought: This felt-tip liner glides on like a liquid. It is extremely waterproof — once dry, it was hard to smudge. Depending on how you like to wear your liner, this can be a pro or a con. (It was a con for me, since I prefer a smudged, not-so-precise look.) But it has amazing staying power and doesn’t smear — at all. It definitely lives up to its long-lasting claim, as it didn’t budge after eight hours of wear.
Lancome Le Stylo Waterproof Long Lasting Eyeliner, $24.50
Tester: Sarah Carrillo, Senior Associate Editor
What she thought: This automatic eyeliner was more like a thin crayon than a pencil. It was easy to apply, though it gives you a softer, smoky look rather than a pencil-thin line (which I was fine with, but if you like a more exact line, you may not be). Applying it to my inner rims was a little tricky, since the waxy texture didn’t quite want to stick to the area. It finally worked though and I liked the smoldering look I created. By the afternoon, most of the liner had faded from my upper lashline (no creasing though, which is typical with any liner or shadow I wear) and the liner in my waterlines had slipped down to my lower lashlines. But while it didn’t last all day, it also never looked bad, it just slowly faded and transferred, but without smudging or flaking. At night, I was able to remove it with eye makeup remover, although there were traces I had to clean up the next morning. Bottom line: I liked this liner and would use it again, I just won’t expect it to last perfectly all day, but with my oily eyelids, makeup rarely does.
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Best Waterproof Eyeliner 2020 • 7 Waterproof Eyeliners Reviews
An eyeliner is a gel, pen, liquid or pencil that can be applied to both the top and bottom lash lines or the eyes, and extended or blended outwards. It can be applied in many different ways to accommodate different looks: cat eyes, tight lining, smudged and blown out, smoky, editorial or even drawing images/ patterns on the eye. Using short strokes or sweeping movements, you can apply in any way you want. It can also be applied to darken the eye contours to enhance the eyelashes.
Pencils are more suited to smudged smoky looks, but cannot so easily be waterproof. However, liquids and gels can easier withstand the water and create a more dramatic eyeliner look. They are often the best at waterproofing.
The advantages of a waterproof formula are quite obvious. Waterproof is in the name. Resistance to weather, sweat, swimming and any other accidental scenario are factors drawing consumers to these waterproof products.
Even if you don’t require waterproof qualities, it is often best to use these formulas on the day-to-day for the best staying power, best smudge control, and best pigmentation. They will also survive the best over liquid or cream eyeshadows, or unset eye bases.
The Big Waterproof Eyeliner Buyer’s Guide
Searching for any new cosmetic product will always be very subjective based on your specific needs. As there is such a huge selection of products available for all purposes, there are priorities that you should identify with what you are looking for.
This is no different for when you are purchasing a new eyeliner, there are a plethora of considerations to make based on what colour, formula, finish or applicator style you would like to use. You must decide what you want from a product and how much you are willing to pay to get that. There are many available products from a multitude of different brands so it is no surprise that there will be an option that is right for everyone’s needs, whether that is something vegan, hypoallergenic or free from certain ingredients.
However, there are some common problems to avoid when selecting which brand to buy. Reviews are readily available (both online reviews and reviews from your friends), but in order to review yourself, here are the tips to find the best and avoid the flaws.
All of the most common pitfalls in a waterproof eyeliner product can be easily tested before or very soon after your purchase to make sure you avoid the negatives: smudging and transfer/colour bleeding, poor colour payoff and lack of pigmentation, lack of longevity, weak/poor applicator, dryness or roughness, colour bleeding, and difficulty to remove.
- Smudging and transfer can be tested in store, or immediately after purchase by applying the eyeliner to the base of the palm. It is best to allow to dry for a couple of minutes and test by wiping, rubbing and pressing onto the lines. If you can, it is best to wet your hand and wipe the line to test the waterproofing of the eyeliner. Try multiple layers to ensure that the product is as buildable as you require without smudging. If it becomes flaky or patchy, it isn’t necessarily a suitable formula, as this won’t last when applied.
- Colour payoff can be tested in-store before purchase on the back of your hand to ensure opacity. Do several long strokes adjacent to each other to make sure it is as pigmented as you require. Leave until fully dry to ensure the colour payoff remains constant once the product has dried down onto the skin. If you test over a foundation, the accuracy will be best, as it will be more true to life. Take note of how many strokes it requires to be opaque, as one swipe is best, as it will be more convenient than having to layer extensively.
- Many reviews can be found to help decide what purchase to make based on durability and longevity of the eyeliner, but testing it for yourself after purchase is the best way to know if it’s right for you. Apply first thing in the morning and wear until the evening, doing all your usual activities to get the best and most realistic experience of its longevity. Wearing it to the gym, in the rain, or in the shower will be a true test of its waterproofing. Try one that states 12 or 24 hour wear on the packaging or in the name.
- In store, test the applicator by gently pressing the tip against your hand to ensure it is sturdy enough to make the product last. Slowly drag it in curves along your hand to test whether it tugs on the skin or smoothly creates lines. If the brush starts to separate, the applicator will not apply as precisely or last as long. This ties in with the durability of the product, as you want the applicator to last until all the product itself has been used up.
- Seeing how much you can apply from a liquid or gel without again saturating the brush/applicator will indicate how dry the product is. With a pencil, rub the tester back and forth to see if the product warms up and how rough it becomes. If products pull or catch on the skin, they are too dry. If the pencil formula doesn’t warm up to a softer pencil, it is probably going to be very rough on the eyes. This is especially important for those with sensitive eyes or dry skin.
- If a formula is too liquid or doesn’t dry to the skin properly, the colour can bleed down the eyes and enhance dark circles. Testing the product before purchasing can give some indication of how the colour will move without being touched. Test it on the heel of your hand (or palm if your skin isn’t oily) to see if the warm product will bleed. Depending on how noticeable the bleeding is and the precision you are aiming for, you will be able to make an informed purchase.
- The test for difficulty to remove is easy. Apply the tester either directly to the hand or over foundation onto the hand (which is best). Use a tester cleanser, provided makeup wipe by the store, or head home to use your regular cleanser. If it is tough to remove, it will be more of a chore on the eyes. Don’t buy something you’re going to dread trying to take off at the end of a long day. Any waterproof product will be slightly harder than non-waterproof to remove. Make sure that the eyes aren’t red or sore after the product has been removed as this shows that the product was too set on the eyes and will cause irritation to the skin and eyes if use is continued. Be kind to the skin.
Results and Experiences from Consumer Testing
Results from consumer testing and lab research provide us with a selection of the best and worst products of all categories. This paired with reviews of specific products provides the best insight into the product quality of these waterproof liners.
Formulas and applicators are scrutinised based on several set qualities to determine where it is worth purchasing, and where it is better to avoid spending your money. Trialling and reviewing a wide range portrays the whole market to us.
The scientists in the Health, Beauty and Environmental Sciences Lab compiled their waterproof eyeliner results with internally controlled consumer testing. Continuous testing in the lab provided the best accompanying results to their focus groups. Their focuses were simple. They investigated whether the waterproofing claims were true, ease of application, quality of the formula and durability to create a concise review with justifications from both the lab results and focus group of the best waterproof products.
Their findings are product specific to best advise you. Sephora Collection Long-Lasting Eyeliner was found to be the best liquid formula in the lab (withstood continuous testing for 6 hours) in terms of durability.
The positivity was echoed by the focus group as it was reviewed as the best for the fact that it “stays on all day without smudging”. For pencil formulas, the lab results supported the Covergirl Liquiline Blast Eyeliner as the best product for having a durable formula resembling liquid when applied, suggesting that the best waterproof formula is liquid.
Consumer testing revealed that consumers preferred eyeliners with smaller applicators or brushes to be less clumsy and gain the best precision. Out of the 15 named products, only one was a gel formulation (Bobbi Brown) which indicates (as the highest proportion were liquid liners) that liquid formulas are more precise and are easier to last all day and match up to the waterproof claims.
Less mainstream brands such as Styli-Style and Napoleon Perdis appear in this named top 15 from the focus groups’ review due to the firmness of the applicator and durability of the formula. Staying power and ease of application were deemed the two most important factors when picking the best product.
L’Oréal, Wet’n’Wild and Pixi are the best cheaply priced, positively reviewed products by the consumers, as well as being highly regarded upon review of the results from the lab. These high street/drugstore options are best for those buying on a smaller budget. In terms of higher end products, the most highly regarded were the Bobbi Brown, MAC and Dior being receiving good review for their longevity. MAC’s pencil was reviewed as the least likely product to smudge.
Eyeliners of different formulas and styles were reviewed by consumers and staff of Marie Claire to determine the best product for each of their categories (such as drugstore or gel for example). The priorities for the reviews were staying power, pigmentation and transfer.
The best reviewed drugstore product was a pencil formula created by Bourjois. The Contour Clubbing waterproof eyeliner was especially praised for its price point. As most pencils can be harsh on the lid, waxy (and therefore poor at waterproofing due to patchiness and smudging), this product was praised for its soft application. Avoiding pulling or tugging on the skin was highly important to the consumers. Reviews state that it is also very true to colour. Reviews also include the Elizabeth Arden Beautiful Colour Smokey Pencil with a soft, powder formula.
When reviewing the best waterproofing ability however, NARS Longwear Liner was deemed officially “budge-proof”. Therefore, this product is recommended for application to the waterline. Stila claimed the title of best eyeliner pen in these reviews, as it was almost impossible to find something that the product couldn’t withstand. The thicker applicator was also praised in the review.
Similar to the Good Housekeeping laboratory and consumer testing, Bobbi Brown’s Long-Wear Gel Liner was named; this time, it was named directly as the best gel liner formula available for waterproofing. The fact that a variety of shades are available was also noted in the reviews, as with gel formulas, it is less common to provide a shade range extending from black and brown.
Gel pencil/crayon formulas also feature in their list of the best products. Milk Makeup and Marc Jacobs both offer liners of this style, both of which are smooth applying and long lasting. Estée Lauder were noted in the reviews for their renowned Double Wear Range (The Double Wear Infinite Waterproof Liner). This product is available in 3 shades designed to accentuate most eye colours.
In summary, Marie Claire’s consumer testing concluded that pencils (or crayon style liners) were the most popular formula for their priorities when purchasing this type of product whereas the Good Housekeeping reviews favoured liquid and pen formulas. Depending on the function of the product you desire, this provides you the best selection to consider. The brands named in these reviews will provide you with the best starting point to determine which of the formulas suits your style and your needs. Here, we will explain more about these brands and what they can offer you in terms of a high quality product.
Here are listed what are widely considered the top 10 waterproof eyeliner products available to the consumer. New products are released all the time, but all products listed here are tried and tested and come from reputable cosmetic brands.
Different brands offer different price points which is to be considered, as you want the most from your money for a product. There will be something in this list for any consumer.
- Bobbi Brown
- Kat Von D
- Urban Decay
- Pat McGrath Labs
- NYX Professional Makeup
Created by American makeup artist, her namesake company Bobbi Brown Cosmetics was established in 1991 to try to fill a gap in the beauty market for simple, wearable makeup that flattered everyone. They have been creating award winning products with positive reviews ever since. They offer a highly regarded long wear gel eyeliner in 10 shades that is waterproof for up to 12 hours. Apply short strokes using their separately sold Ultra Fine brushes for a smudge-proof look. An eyeliner guide is available on their website to add extra ease. Alternatives include their Long Wear Waterproof Eyeliner which provides a pencil formula for those who may not have as much experience with application. This is available in 6 shades.
Kat Von D
Created by tattoo artist and television personality Kat Von D, this brand offers vegan and cruelty free makeup choices. Bold colours and lasting formulas are what this newer brand are known for. As Kat herself is hardly seen without winged eyeliner, it is no surprise that there are many options for eyeliner. The award winning Tattoo Eyeliner (available in black and brown) offers 24 hour waterproof wear with a precise brush tip applicator. If these satin finish liners aren’t the desired finish, the Ink Well Long Wear Eyeliner provides a matte finish in 7 colours to create more editorial waterproof styles with a felt tip applicator. For tight-lining or smokier liner styles, try a pencil formula with the Cake Pencil Eyeliner.
As a readily available drugstore brand, Rimmel London are known to supply high quality yet reasonably priced makeup. Established in 1834, they are still drawing supermodels and celebrities to promote their popular product. Being so popular that the term Rimmel now means mascara in some Mediterranean languages, the brand is a household name. Rimmel Exaggerate Waterproof Eyeliner is a retractable pencil formula available in 5 colours. With a built-in-smudger and sharpener, any desired look is achievable. For a very reasonably priced product, you get 10 hours of waterproof wear. Finishes vary from matte to metallic. Reviews rave about its suitability for hooded eyes, oily lids and general daily wear.
Cruelty-free brand Urban Decay is an American brand owned as a subsidiary by L’oréal Paris. Famous mostly for their eyeshadow palettes (the renowned Naked Collection is what brought the most attention to the brand), eye products are a key focus for the brand. Their products are available widely in their own shops and department stores. Urban Decay Razor Sharp Water-Resistant Longwear Liquid Eyeliner comes in 13 shades with various finishes. The fine tipped brush is ideal for small lines and being able to build up. The fineness allows the formation of a smooth wing and precise detailing.
This American owned cosmetics brand is available in higher end department stores and is a subsidiary of Estée Lauder. The Easy Does It Liquid Liner is available in both brown and black. Their mid-range price point gives you 24 hours of smudge-proof wear and waterproof protection. It is ophthalmologist approved and 100% allergy tested, meaning this is a safe option for those who may have sensitive eyes and/or skin. They also offer a water-resistant pencil product available in 10 colours for those who may want more variety in the looks that they can create, still with long product longevity.
Stila is a relatively new artistry-oriented cosmetic company run by the first female to win Entrepreneur of the Year. Her venture into cosmetics is an undoubtable success, with her company predominantly being renowned for their highly rated liquid eyeshadows. Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner is available from Cult Beauty in 6 varied shades. A fine precision brush tip allows detailed looks and ability to build up. This product is “snag-free” so makeup beginners may find this easier to create the desired looks; it is ideal for learning how to create the perfect winged eyeliner, if you are unfamiliar with that style of liner. A Smudge Stick Waterproof eyeliner is a smokier, sexier alternative available in 13 shades (mattes and shimmers) that can multitask as an eyeshadow.
Maybelline is another subsidiary of L’oréal founded in 1915 and is the world’s number one cosmetic brand. They sell affordable, easily accessible and good quality makeup products across the world in 129 countries. They have a multitude of eyeliner products available in different formulas, colours and finishes, as well as specifically offering products that are safe for sensitive eyes. Maybelline Master Precise and Hyper Precise eyeliners offer refined felt tip applicators. Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner offers a more pliable and buildable formula also boasting 24 hour waterproof wear oil-free to avoid smudging in humidity. Many waterproof options are available. For beginners, this may be how to sample different formulas and applicators without spending too much.
Pat McGrath Labs
Called by many the world’s most influential makeup artist, Pat McGrath MBE created a high end, artist-oriented cosmetics brand. For the more experienced eyeliner appliers, Pat McGrath Labs offer the Perma Precision Liquid Eyeliner. With a thin pen applicator and a highly liquid formula, this is the choice of a lot of runway makeup artists. The liquidity may not be ideal for beginners, but for those more proficient in the eyeliner arts, natural to editorial looks can be easily created. However, it only comes in black. With the higher price point, comes high quality, as this is often regarded as first on the list of the best waterproof eyeliners.
NYX Professional Makeup
Again, a subsidiary of L’oréal appears in the top 10. This time, it is vegan and certified cruelty free for those who seek those qualities in all of their makeup products. Available in drugstores or independent stores, they offer reasonably priced colourful and flattering products.This is a brand that is popular with beauty influencers. NYX offer a liquid eyeliner in black or white to define or highlight the eyes. A tiny precision brush allows thin lines to be neatly drawn, shapes are drawn easier, and the liner is easily built up. For those more interested in colour, the Studio Liquid Liners are available even cheaper, to create bolder, brighter looks.
Created in Canada in 1984, MAC was designed for makeup artists by makeup artists. It quickly spread worldwide with its selections of textures and shades. MAC is often regarded as one of the first brands to include ethnicity when talking about makeup. Renowned for many iconic products, MAC offers many formulations of liner. The Liquidlast 24-Hour waterproof eyeliner’s claims are in the name. Flake free, transfer resistant and easily applied with a small precision brush applicator, this ophthalmologist approved formula is designed for even sensitive eyes. They also offer pencils and gels for those who aim for a different finish.
The Eyeliner Guide
Where did it originate?
Eyeliner was first used in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia where Kohl was used around the eyes. Cosmetics were used here for both aesthetic and for protection from the desert sun. It can be found everywhere in Ancient Egyptian art, and when Tutankhamun’s tomb was discovered, they found that he was wearing eyeliner. Eyeliner is the most iconic makeup item used at this time and the discovery of Tutankhamun reintroduced eyeliner into the mainstream in the Western World.
Black was the most common, but copper and blue colours were also relatively widely used in higher society. In more recent history, eyeliner has been associated with Goth and punk movements, as well as editorial runway/photography makeup.
Pencil-based and wax-based pencil formulas were the first to be used after Kohl (which can be a pencil or loose powder), with the addition of gel, liquid and shimmer formulas being added more recently. It can be used to add drama to the eyes, alter the shape of the eyes, or enhance the eye colour.
Winged liner has become increasingly popular due to the wide ‘cat-eye’ look. Eyeliner on the eyelid, lash line, and lower lash line can be used creatively and incorporated into eyeshadow looks. The versatile product is now an everyday staple for many people’s makeup routines.
There are numerous application techniques. There is no ‘wrong’ way to apply it, as it is something to be interpreted by the individual. Reviews from tutorial watchers and makeup aficionados commonly agree that the best application is to apply short strokes close to the top lash line in order to slowly build up the line. This allows you to have less risk of mistake, and an easier buildable coverage.
To do a wing, draw a line from the outer corner of the eye extending outwards and upwards towards the tail end of your eyebrow. The steepness of this line very much depends on your eye shape. Fill in the line back along the lid towards the inner corner. You can continue this line past the inner corner if you want to widen the appearance of the eye and enhance the cat-eye affect.
This is where eyeliner is applied inside the waterline of the eye. Pull the lower lid gently down with clean fingers and trace along with a pencil liner (usually the preferred formulation for this technique, but ensure the pencil is soft and warm). Take this as low as you want and smudge out as desired.
The cosmetics industry is one of the largest in the world and is rapidly growing. It leads to high sales, new brands being started all the time, and it feeds a business of influencers and artists to promote, review and create products to expand the industry even further.
- The cosmetics industry was worth 530 Billion US Dollars in 2017 with a forecasted value of 805 Billion US Dollars by the year 2023.
- For women aged 18-29, 56% wore eyeliner multiple times a week with 28% of the total sample reaching for the product every single day.
- Originally in Ancient Egypt, it was believed to have protected the wearer from the Sun God and ward off the ‘Evil Eye’.
- A recent survey revealed that 1 in 10 men in Britain wear makeup including concealer, mascara and eyeliner.
- They are produced using film formers, pigments and thickeners with pigments often being made with metal oxides to create stunning colours, as well as organic compounds.
45% of beauty related YouTube videos are tutorial based. A search for eyeliner tutorials on a search engine will bring you almost 59 million options of ways to learn to do liner.
- Eyeliners contain an average of 18 chemicals in order to create a workable formula, whilst maintaining that it is an eye safe product.
- A subculture of ‘Guyliner’ was developed around the turn of the century, mainly popularized by male musicians sporting a liner look. Now it is even more common for it to be worn by men in various styles.
Top 10 Tips For Care, Maintainance and Performance
Ensure you keep your eyeliner applicator clean. Wash it if it is a brush, and make sure you follow the expiry date.
The products often work best, last best, and apply best when warm. Putting the pot, pen or pencil in your bra of in your arm prior to using it can cause it to apply much smoother, as well as stop you wasting any product that might have been slightly dryer. Warm up pencils by drawing a thick line on you’re the side of your hand.
Don’t share your liner with other people. Preventing eye infection is the most important priority when caring for yourself and this will look after your product. Trust their review and buy the product yourself or vice versa.
If you are applying multiple eye colours, it is best to try to apply the light colours first to prevent staining the applicators with darker colours.
If you apply eyeliner first (before the eye shadow) you can take multiple attempts at perfecting your line or wing without ruining the eyeshadow.
You can clean up any eyeliner mistakes with concealer or a cotton bud dipped in micellar water or cleaner/makeup remover.
Be sure to not leave the eyeliner without the lid on, or applicator replaced to prevent anything going into the product. Bacteria growing in the product is what we are trying to avoid.
If you struggle to apply liquid eyeliner evenly or precisely, set a template using a pencil eyeliner and apply the liquid or gel over the top for the best shape.
Using a white eyeliner before applying a coloured liner overtop will make the colour more true to what it appears in the packaging, especially on darker skin.
Warming the tip of a pencil liner with a lighter allows you to use it as a gel liner for maximal product usage.
There are many ways to attract attention to your eyes. Applying dark eyeshadow blended around the lash line creates a similar smoky affect. Mixing a black eyeshadow (or any colour you want) with petroleum jelly creates a shiny eyeliner (which will not be as long lasting and will be in no way waterproof), or apply a lipstick with a thin brush and you can create wings. Check whether or not products claim to be eye safe and be extra cautious if you have sensitive skin.
And bear in mind that pink and red lip colours stain far easier than others. An eyeshadow can be patted precisely over the line you have created (or a translucent pressed powder) to set it in place and be sure to use setting spray. This line should last. Instead, you can create a winged eyeshadow shape, blending the shadows upwards and outwards towards the tail of the eyebrow.
This can be dragged as wide as you feel and can be as smoky or sharp as your look requires. Using a dark colour in the outer corner will accentuate the eye. Applying thick false lashes will also add drama. Eye makeup is where you can be the most creative and bold in your makeup, so using multiple techniques and changing styles allows the best self-expression.
How do you remove waterproof eyeliner?
Using cotton wool soaked with micellar water or cleanser (a waterproof makeup centered product works best), gently wipe around the eye area, being careful not to pull on the skin. Use as many balls of wool as you need until the wool comes away clean from the eye. Follow by washing the face with lukewarm water. Makeup wipes are available with descriptions that they can remove waterproof makeup.
When does eyeliner expire?
Each product will vary, and the expiry date will be printed onto the packaging. Normally, an eyeliner will last 6 months before it needs replacing.
What ingredient makes eyeliner waterproof?
The entire formula is usually different. Using a wax or gum base and a thickening agent allows the product to be waterproof.
Who is waterproof eyeliner best for?
Anyone with oilier eyelids or watery eyes could benefit from everyday use of a waterproof product. It is designed to withstand hot weather, the gym or even swimming. It is best for anyone who wants maximum durability in their makeup.
What is the best eyeliner colour for my eye colour?
For green eyes, try dark brown or warm metallic shades of eyeliner. For blue eyes, try dark brown, taupe or purple. For brown eyes, try cool blue or grey or gold; for hazel eyes, try dark green or purple.
Can I get oil-free waterproof eyeliner?
Yes. For those with eyelash extensions (or sensitivities to oil-based products), numerous brands offer oil-free formulas which are also best for humid weather according to reviews.
Do I apply eyeliner or mascara first?
Applying the eyeliner first allows you to create the best shape, but tight-lining can be done after mascara to fill any gaps and deepen the lashes.
Why does my eyeliner not stay on my waterline?
Chances are, the formula chosen isn’t waterproof. Try using a waxier pencil or product with a waterproof claim to avoid the colour wearing off.
If I have sensitive eyes, can I use waterproof eyeliner?
Not all eyeliners will react with your eyes in the same way. Some brands associate their eyeliners with being suited to sensitive eyes. Try Maybelline or Physicians Formula as a starting point.
Is waterproof eyeliner bad for my eyes?
If you have sensitive eyes, ensure you are using an appropriate formula for sensitivity. Provided you are removing it properly at the end of the day, it shouldn’t harm your eyes at all. Read reviews to ensure products are safe for sensitive eyes.
Using this guide for comparison of the formulas, brands and products, you will be able to find the best product for your eyeliner needs.
Links and sources:
22 Genius Eyeliner Hacks Every Woman Needs to Know
13 Tricks That’ll Make Applying Eyeliner So Much Easier
How To Choose The Sexiest Wing To Flatter Your Eyes
How to Use Scotch Tape to Perfect Your Liquid Eyeliner
87 Best Pink Eyeliner images in 2019
Wonderwing Eyeliner, £5.99, Rimmel
This looks like your usual felt-tip liner at the nib, but turn it on its side and it becomes a tapered wing shape that you can use to press your wing on.
Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner, £16, Stila
Hailed as an all-time favourite by Reddit users, with one fan raving that it can withstand a hot yoga class, Stila’s budge-proof liquid liner has a thin marker-like tip that’s perfect for crafting a precise, defined line.
Exaggerate Eyeliner, £3.84, Rimmel
A bargain and long-time favourite, Rimmel’s little pot of liquid liner is great for creating dramatic feline flicks in seconds.
Flash Cat Eye, £8.99, L’Oréal Paris
We’re always a sucker for good packaging, but clever is on a whole other level. L’Oréal really thought about our eyeliner bugbears with this one, not only giving us a formula that glides, but a cat eye stencil built into the cap so we can pull off a flick in a flash. Genius!
Rock N’ Roller Easy Eyeliner Ink, £20, Nudestix
‘Pizza-cutter’ and ‘roller-ball’ eyeliners are the answer to your tube makeup woes. The disc-like applicator makes it impossible to sway off course, even with the unsteadiest of hands. We love the one from Nudestix, which also come in a bronze and ‘golden rosé’ shade – an ideal switch up from your classic black for the party season (and for less detectable mistakes).
Styling Liquid Eyeliner, £27, Decorté
Kate Moss is already a major fan of this luxury Japanese beauty label and it’s little wonder why. This highly pigmented pen has the ability to create a thin outline or a bold, buildable flick with equal ease. Plus, it’s refillable for sustainability.
Grandiôse Liner, £25, Lancôme
Ever feel like you can never get the angle right when applying liner? Luckily, Lancôme have devised a bendable brush, making application an absolute dream and the results flawless every time.
The Feline Flick Eyeliner Pen, £22, Charlotte Tilbury
Charlotte Tilbury is known for her cat-eye liner and this product doesn’t disappoint. The tip is fine enough to offer pinpoint precision and the formula glides on without snagging.
Collection Fast Stroke Eye Liner, £2.99, Superdrug
Don’t be fooled by the purse-friendly price of this liner; Fast Stroke has become the fashion and beauty industry’s best-kept secret. It’s easy to apply, never smudges and lasts all day (just be sure to apply two layers for longevity).
Tattoo Liner, £17, Kat Von D
Getting the perfect cat eye can be tricky, and if precision is not your best feature, it can also take quite some time. For those who can’t live without a little wing but are always on the go, this eyeliner is literally a pen, super easy to work and lasts all day long.
Super Liner Perfect Slim Intense, £6.99, L’oreal Paris
This bargain-friendly goodie is one of the best liquid liners you can buy on the high street. The thin nib is perfect for creating a gorgeous feline flick and, overall, this pen is great for all liner-users, including beginners.
Eye Defining Pen, £46, Tom Ford
Tom Ford’s incredible double-ended liner pen is worth every pen. With two different sized nibs to work with, you have the option of creating elegant, thin, winged feline flicks or full-on cat eyes. The pen is relatively large but it allows you to have a proper grip and draw out from the inner corner of your eye properly. If that’s not enough, the pigment is perfectly opaque and doesn’t budge come rain or shine.
Chromaline Gel Liner, £17, Mac
One of our favourite gel liners (possibly ever), this jet black product ensures the perfect feline flick with every use. Super easy to use and coming in a handy little pot, the liner is perfect for beginners.
Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner, £19.50, Bobbi Brown
If you prefer to freestyle with your liner, invest in a pot of BB’s brilliant long-wear gel liner. It gives the glossy look of liquid liner with the easy application of a gel. Apply with your preferred eye liner brush for a no-smudge, quick-dry finish.
3-Dot Liner, £21, Clarins
For those seeking a subtle look for their everyday liquid liner, this three-pronged pen is able to get in between lashes for an ultra-close application.
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Eyeliner pencil is one of the many forms of eyeliner, which is the easiest to use and is just perfect for both beginners and skilful makeup artists. Also known as kohl eyeliner or crayon eyeliner, eyeliner pencil glides on smoothly on your peepers to create a more dramatic, defined look for special occasions or to up your everyday no-makeup style with a simple cat-eye flick.
Whether you’re the type of woman who draws on a precise wing, wears a smoked out look or just tightlines, the last thing you want is for your eyeliner to smudge or be sweated off. We have rounded up the best eyeliner pencils that are long-lasting, pigmented and easy to use, not to mention life-proof, so you don’t have to worry about your perfect makeup look.
Best Eyeliner Pencils and Tips for Using One: Contents
- 19 Best Eyeliner Pencils to Buy Now
- Common Eyeliner Pencil Types and Tips for Choosing One
- How to Apply Pencil Eyeliner
- Pencil Eyeliner Makeup Hacks to Know
19 Best Eyeliner Pencils to Buy Now
No matter you are new in the eyeliner game or are looking for that perfect eyeliner pencil to add to your makeup kit, these 19 options are the ones famous makeup artists swear by!
1. Urban Decay 24/7 Glide on Pencil
Urban Decay’s eyeliner pencil formula glides smoothly on the lid, never tugs and sets well on oily lids. Because the formula contains jojoba oil, vitamin E and cottonseed oil, this eyeliner pencil will never dry out and is perfect for tightlining, as it has ingredients that are beneficial to the eyelashes. These eyeliners are waterproof but if you work quickly during application they smudge like a dream.
We love using their bold colors on the lower lash line to give your eye look a pop of color. Urban Decay’s pencil eyeliner comes in a wide range of shades from jewel tones, glimmering metallic hues and classic neutrals. You can find them all online at Sephora.
2. Marc Jacobs Highliner Gel Eye Crayon Eyeliner
This unique eyeliner pencil formula is a hybrid between a retractable eyeliner and a gel pot eyeliner, all encased in a crayon format. The product also comes with a built-in sharpener to keep the point extra sharp for a precise application. The range comes in a selection of colors from eye-brightening silvers to enchanting jewel colors and wearable blues. The 12-hour waterproof formula is soft, pigmented and incredibly long-lasting. Pick up this eyeliner pencil in your favorite shade at Sephora!
3. Clinique Quickliner for Eyes Eyeliner Pencil
Quickliner is an easy-to-use retractable eyeliner pencil with a built in-sponge for a precise application or a smudgy finish. This long-lasting eyeliner pencil is waterproof, won’t flake and doesn’t need to be sharpened. It’s perfect for the on-the-go woman. The crayon comes in 10 matte colors at Nordstrom that range from black to brown to blue and purple.
4. Stila Smudge Stick Waterproof Eye Liner
Stila’s Smudge Sticks are waterproof mechanical pencil eyeliners that glide onto the eye without tugging or smudging. The eye pencils don’t need to be sharpened and have a precise formula that makes it easy to create a smooth line. The pigmented formula is easy to smudge and can double as a cream eyeshadow base. This eyeliner pencil comes in lots of bright and bold colors from duo chromes to jewel-toned shimmers and everyday matte neutrals. You can find them all online at Sephora.
5. Julep When Pencil Met Gel Long-Lasting Eyeliner
Julep’s gel-formula eyeliner pencil comes in a traditional pen form yet glides on smoothly without any tugging, for a smooth application. This has all the intense pigment of a gel eyeliner pencil yet this the ease of using pencil applicator. This eyeliner is ophthalmologist tested and will last for over 10 hours without flaking or smudging.
This eyeliner pencil sets within 30 seconds so if you want to smudge it you need to work quickly. The pencil comes in 22 colors at Nordstrom that cover disco glitters, jewel-toned metallic shades, bold mattes and the classic neutral tones.
6. NYX Professional Makeup Slim Eye Pencil
This slim eyeliner pencil is perfect for those of you on a budget. The waterproof formula is long-lasting, perfect for tightlining and resists bleeding. This creamy formula can also double as contour, an eyeshadow base and as an eyebrow pomade. The pencil comes in 31 shades at Ulta Beauty including bold blues, moss greens, gold shimmer and a host of flattering brown tones.
7. NARS Larger Than Life Long-Wear Eyeliner
NARS’ pencil eyeliner promises a highly pigmented finish with very little effort. The long-wearing formula lasts for 12 hours on the waterline without smudging or flaking. This is a great choice of eyeliner pencil for people who wear contact lenses and struggle applying liner to the lash line. This eyeliner is available in a range of dramatic shades at Sephora, all of which are named after iconic roads like Madison Avenue (a steely grey), Abbey Road (an electric blue) and Via Appia (a warm brown).
8. Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Eye Pencil
This eyeliner pencil applies creamy and smooth for a long-lasting look. It comes with a smudge sponge on the end of the pencil, making this a versatile product. In a single swipe, the tool’s spongy smudging tool can make your look immediately edgy and smoky. Once the liner sets, it won’t budge all day long. The range has a small yet wearable selection of 12 colors that includes pops of blue, jewel greens and bold chromes. Find them all at Nordstrom!
9. Tarte Tarteist Double Take Eyeliner
This award-winning eyeliner pencil is dual-ended with a waterproof black liquid formula on one end and a gel pencil on the other. The gel pencil is infused with Tarte’s iconic Amazonian clay and is wax-free, meaning it will slide on so you can easily create a smooth finish. The slick ultra-fine liquid eyeliner dries down to an easy-to-apply semi-matte and opaque black finish, perfect for creating a crisp cat eye.
This hybrid product is perfect for those who frequently travel or do their makeup on the go. Try tightlining the inner rims of your eyes with the gel liner before accentuating your lids with the liquid formula. But first get it online at Sephora!
10. MAC Cosmetics Technakohl Pencil Eyeliner
MAC’s retractable pencil eyeliner has a very soft and creamy formula that provides an intensely pigmented application. This pencil can be blended on application and dries to a long-wearing, smudge-free matte finish. This versatile eyeliner pencil has a small, precise end but can create a thicker line when applied at a flat angle. MAC’s pencil eyeliner comes in a wide selection of finishes and colors at Nordstrom, from bold golds to smoky blues and warm neutrals.
11. Dior Crayon Waterproof Eyeliner Pencil
This eyeliner pencil is one of the best quality formulas on the market. This waterproof liner is the perfect mix of a soft formula, long-wearing pigmentation and no flaking or smudging throughout the day. This pencil eyeliner comes with a sponge applicator on the end so you have the option to smudge it out. This intense eyeliner will wear perfectly all day or all night long. Their range of colors is limited but sticks to the classic black, blue and brown. You can get them all at Sephora.
12. Chanel Le Crayon Khol Intense Eye Pencil
Chanel’s classic pencil-type liner has a sharp point that allows you to draw on a precise fine line. This delicate eyeliner pencil has a formula that combines vegetable fats for a soft and easy-to-apply line and talc, which makes the product long-lasting. The delicate tip is extra soft so it can be used to tightline sensitive eyes. This intense pencil also comes with a sharpener. Available at Nordstrom, it comes in four classic shades – black, warm brown, grey and a brightening nude.
13. Lancôme Le Stylo Waterproof Long-Lasting Eyeliner
Lancôme’s Le Stylo eyeliner pencil has a unique twist tip that never needs sharpening, meaning you will always have a clean and precise line with no skips or streaks. This waterproof formula promises to be emotion and weather-proof. The liner also has a sponge tip on the end that can create pigmented smoky effects. Le Stylo comes in 4 colors at Sephora, with limited edition seasonal colors frequently being released that include plums, electric blues, warm oranges and bright whites.
14. Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Eye Pencil
This multi-award winning gel pot eyeliner is highly pigmented, long-wearing and delivers dramatic eye looks without smudging. This is a perfect gel eyeliner pencil for those who are new to this type of liner but want to step away from the traditional pencil liners. This gel eyeliner smoothly applies with a creamy, smooth finish that even beginners can master. It comes in 12 colors at Nordstrom, from rich greens and purple to intense blacks and shimmering greys.
15. bareMinerals Lasting Line Long-Wearing Eyeliner
bareMinerals’ mineral formula is creamy and soft, perfect for blending with the built-in ergonomically angled sponge for a long-wearing, smudge-proof look. This eyeliner is perfect for traveling or for the woman that likes to apply her makeup on the go, as it also comes with a built-in sharpener. This eyeliner pencil can be picked up at Sephora.
16. Laura Mercier Kohl Eye Pencil
Also known as the Inner Eye Definer, this traditional eyeliner pencil is small and delicate with a soft formula, so it’s perfect for tightlining. Laura Mercier herself recommends using the “dot and wriggle” motion when applying the pencil, to fill out the lash line right at the root, as this will create the illusion of fuller lashes.
This soft pencil eyeliner is ideal for those who want to tightline or line the lower lashes but suffer from irritation, as this formula is designed especially to be used in these delicate areas. This kohl liner comes in 6 shades at Nordstrom that look amazing worn precisely or smoked out with a smudging sponge.
17. Charlotte Tilbury Rock ‘n’ Kohl Eyeliner Pencil
This gel-like eyeliner pencil is a cult-favorite for influencers and beauty editors. This pencil is super pigmented but can be blended out to make a smoky eye, making it a super versatile product to keep in your makeup bag. One of the best eyeliner pencils, this long-wearing liner melts into the skin after one application and will stay on for up to 14 hours.
Aside from being a gorgeously pigmented eyeliner, the formula contains crushed pearl powder, which is known to stimulate collagen production and hydrate the skin. This will help smooth the surface of the skin, making application even easier. The Rock ‘n’ Kohl pencil comes in 6 colors at Sephora – brown, black, dark grey, plum, navy blue and a nude.
18. Benefit BADgal Waterproof Eyeliner Pencil
Benefit’s pencil formula is denser than many of its competitors’ but this allows for smooth application and a wider line with minimal tugging. The eyeliner pencil comes with a smudging sponge tip to create an edgy smoky eye. This liner works well on the lash line, as the waterproof formula doesn’t smear or fade throughout the day. You can get this liner online at Nordstrom.
19. Christian Louboutin Oeil Velours Velvet Eye Definer
Christian Louboutin introduces a range of opaquely pigmented eyeliner pencils that have a smooth and creamy consistency. These liners smudge well for 15-30 seconds before setting for a long-wearing, fade-free coverage. The liner comes in a luxe, weighted pencil to ease application and is packaged with a high quality sharpener.
This range of eyeliner colors is inspired by Indian dancers and their extravagant eye makeup, including a bold yellow, a deep teal, a cool purple, a warm brown and an intense black. You can find them all online at Sephora.
Common Eyeliner Pencil Types and Tips for Choosing One
When choosing eyeliner pencil, there are lots of different options, not just in color and finish. The type of eyeliner you choose will affect the way it applies and the end results. Here is everything you need to know about the different types of eyeliner pencil and how to pick the right one for you:
• Gel- or Cream-Based Eyeliner Pencil: The formula of this eyeliner pencil is thicker with a richer color, making getting a sharp line much easier. The creamy consistency is incredibly easy to work with and allows you to be fully in control of your look.
• Liquid Eyeliner Pencil: This type is favored by girls who love creating clean lines that swoop or a dramatic wing. Pens with marker type tips are normally easier to use than brush tips. Liquid eyeliner pencil has a small thin applicator, meaning it’s easy to get thin precise lines but because of the thin liquid consistency they can be messy for starters.
• Powder-Based Eyeliner Pencil: This is the best for a less detailed and smokier look with a less intense color. It’s very easy to use – just trace it along your eyes and smudge it as much as you wish. Also known as kohl, powder-based pencil eyeliner can be great for a subtle look that just enhances your eyes without leaving too much color and for tightlining. Many people opt for using gel or liquid forms of eyeliner pencil for detail eyelid work and then the powder form for the waterline.
In addition, an eyeliner pencil can come in the traditional wood pencil form, when you need to sharpen the point every time you use it, or a mechanical, twist-up form, which features a built-in sharpener. While using the former you can get a super-sharp point for a precise cat-eye flick, the former creates more blunt tips than pointed, being an excellent choice for creating more blended, smoked out looks.
When choosing an eyeliner pencil you should also take into account the formula, as there are non-allergic options for contact lens wearers and those with sensitive eyes, organic products, as well as special eye pencils with lash-lengthening properties.
The color of the eye pencil is another factor to consider. Traditional colors, such as black, brown or grey, are perfect for timeless, natural looks, while brighter shades like eye-popping blue, green, orange or purple are great for those expert makeup artists that like to experiment and create bolder looks.
Based on your choice of eyeliner color you can also make your eye color pop or blend in with your makeup look. For instance, purple eyeliner pencil will look amazing on brown eyes, plum will enhance green eyes, while grey tones flatter blue eyes. Greys and brown are more flattering colors on older eyes. In any case, when in doubt opt for a classic black color that is universally flattering.
How to Apply Pencil Eyeliner
It can be smoky and smudged or precise and sharp, but eyeliner is one of the trickiest steps of the makeup routine and one that can make or break a look. Here we show you how to apply pencil eyeliner.
• Make sure the skin around your eyes and your eyelids are clean, as this will lengthen the wear time of anything you apply to the eye area. Pick a room with good lighting and find a mirror. Try and have some cotton pads or Q-tips ready.
• Some people prefer to do their eye makeup before their foundation just in case they make any mistakes – this is all down to personal preference.
• If you aren’t wearing an eye makeup look just apply a matte powder base eyeshadow, which will even out your skin tone and create an ideal canvas.
• Lightly hold the outer corner of your eye, this will assist in applying the pencil eyeliner evenly, but be careful to not tug at the skin.
• Place the pencil closely to your lash line and slowly draw a thin line from the outer corner of your eye. Place more pigment on the outer portion of your eye than on your inner corners, as this will make your eyes look brighter. The thickness of the line is all down to personal preference. The thinner the line is, the more natural it will look.
• To create a thinner line make sure your pencil is fully sharpened, and draw with the side of the point rather than the tip. This allows you to hold the pencil away from your face, making it easier to see yourself in the mirror.
• If you want to try a winged or cat-eye style you’ll need to create a thicker eyeliner line. Draw a 45-degree angled line up from the bottom of the eye’s outer edge. This line can be as long or as short as you wish.
• When placing eyeliner on the lash line get as close to the lash line without touching the eyes and gently draw the line from the outer corner to the inner corner. The liner on your lower lash should be much thinner – the most flattering size is one-third the thickness of the line on your upper lids. Of course, this is all down to preference, so make it as thick or thin, clean or smoky as you wish.
• If you make any mistakes just gently go back and clear them up with a little bit of eye makeup remover or micellar water, and a Q-tip.
• Now you can apply the mascara. Mascara will help enhance your eyes and your eyeliner.
Pencil Eyeliner Makeup Hacks to Know
If you’re someone who spends hours trying to perfect that wing or struggles getting a straight line on the eyelid, here are some eyeliner pencil hacks that may help you prevent those easily avoidable mistakes.
• Extend the life of your eyeliner by setting it with an eyeshadow of the same color that will act as a primer.
• If you are struggling to get that perfect straight line, draw a rough line first and then use a Q-tip and petroleum jelly to sharpen it.
• Another hack for those who are struggling with executing that straight line is to line your eyes with little dots and then connect them for that perfect line.
• If you find your eyeliner pencil has a crumbly texture, pop it in the freezer for ten minutes before using it.
• Use tape to get a sharp wing. You can also use a spoon or a business card to help with precision.
• If you struggle with shaky hands, plant your elbow on a flat surface and then rest your pinky finger on your cheek as a stabilizer.
• Using a white or nude colored eyeliner pencil on the lower lash will give the illusion of wider and more awake eyes. Also a bold blue or green eyeliner pencil will add a modern pop of color.
• And just like everything else in life, practice makes perfect. Experiment with colors, shapes and thickness. It might not work but the joy of makeup is it can be wiped off, and you can start again.
Photos via @zavvora, @_joanh, @beautsoup, @thesaraengel
Zoeva Soft Kohl Eyeliner
Highly pigmented and long-lasting, this liner looks great when drawn onto the waterline for a smouldering eye look that won’t leave you looking like a panda after a couple of hours.
Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil
£16, Urban Decay
Available in 50 – yes, 50 – shades ranging from classic black to metallic turquoise, this creamy liner features jojoba oil, vitamin E and cottonseed oil to ensure ultra-comfortable wear.
Charlotte Tilbury Rock’N’Kohl Eyeliner
£19, Charlotte Tilbury
Waterproof and long-lasting with foolproof application, this eyeliner is as good for a feline flick as a smudgy smoky eye. Keep well-sharpened for great definition.
Rimmel Soft Kohl Kajal Eye Liner Pencil
A steal, price-wise, and a great option for those who like to buff eyeliner into the roots of their lashes for the perfect smoky eye.
- Chanel Stylo Yeux Waterproof Long-Lasting Eyeliner
Easy to apply, long-lasting and available in a whole host of great hues, this eyeliner does just about everything, and has a retractable tip so that you don’t need to worry about sharpening.
- Nars High-Pigment Longwear Eyeliner
This eyeliner comes in a range of both matte and metallic shades, perfect for pepping up your eye make-up. Glamour’s fave is the chocolatey brown Last Frontier.
- Pat McGrath PermaGel Ultra Glide Eye Pencil,
£26, Pat McGrath Labs
For a smoky eye that simply will not budge, this eyeliner will be the last one standing at any party. A game-changer.
- Bobbi Brown Perfectly Defined Gel Eyeliner
£20, Bobbi Brown
With its innovative gel formula, this liner offers saturated colour and great staying power as well as a skinny, twist-up applicator for precision application.
10 best eyeliners: Liquids, pencils and gel formulas that are easy to use and won’t smudge
Whether it’s liquid, gel and brush, twist-up or traditional pencil, the sheer variety of eyeliner formulas available may be overwhelming, but it also leaves space for great creativity and experimentation.
If you’re not confident in applying a liner, start with a soft pencil, as you can get away with being less precise when creating a smudged, smokier look, before graduating to gel or liquid liners.
Whichever you choose, it should be soft enough not to drag or scratch your eyelids, pigmented enough that you don’t have to go over the line multiple times, and long-lasting enough that it doesn’t flake or transfer while wearing.
We’ve suggested shades that cover everything from the everyday – black, grey – to evening and party-appropriate, such as pink and bronze, but most of our picks come in at least five colour choices.
Invest in one of these eyeliners and before you know it, you’ll be a pro at the wings and flicks.
Charlotte Tilbury rock ’n’ kohl in ‘veruschka mink’: £19, Charlotte Tilbury
There’s no dragging too-hard on the eyelid here thanks to Charlotte Tilbury’s Rock ’N’ Kohl. This eyeliner is super soft and richly pigmented, so there’s no need to go over your line multiple times. Our favourite shade is “veruschka mink”, a dark, taupe-y grey that’s a perfect softer swap-out for black.
Mac pro longwear fluidline in ‘blacktrack’: £17, John Lewis & Partners
It takes a fair amount of practice to apply gel liners with a brush, but once you master it you’ll find it feels far more natural than using a pen. It also doesn’t dry with the same speed as a liquid liner, so you’ve got more time to get it right, and it can be smudged to give a smokier look. Mac’s “blacktrack” shade is pigmented and stays put well. We suggest applying with an angled brush such as Suqqu’s eyeliner brush D or a bent brush, such as Laura Mercier’s angled eye liner brush.
Rimmel exaggerate waterproof liquid liner: £5.25, Amazon
This has been a go-to since our teens for no-frills reliable flicks at a quarter of the price of other similar liners. It has a dipping pot and foam brush (which is a little thicker and more unwieldy than some other premium offerings), dries to a matte black and doesn’t flake.
Nars kohline in ‘minorquer’: £20, Nars Cosmetics
There’s no need to cart around a pencil sharpener with Nars’ twist-up kohl in “minorquer”, which is the perfect shade of matte black. It has a narrow but rounded tip, so there’s no chance of it scratching or dragging, and the pencil is soft and easily smudged with a fingertip or brush for a less defined line.
Bobbi Brown long-wear liquid liner in ‘carbon black’: £24.50, Bobbi Brown
If you loved Rimmel’s exaggerate liner as a teen but feel the need to graduate to something a little more luxe, Bobbi Brown’s long-wear liquid is just as reliable, producing matte black, long-lasting, zero-transfer flake-free flicks. It’s our favourite combination of applicator and formula: a dipping pot and long, sweepy brush (rather than felt tip). Note that you’ll need a oil-based remover to get it off at the end of the day.
Hourglass mechanical gel eyeliner in ‘obsidian’: £16, Space NK
Perfect for anyone who wants a foolproof winged eye, this twist-up, deep black liner is very thin, with a rounded tip, allowing for total precision. It also doesn’t budge throughout the day. Doing a liquid liner look with a pencil is more forgiving as the lines are a little smudgier, whereas liquids show up every bump in your technique (and eyelid!).
Tom Ford eye defining pen: £46, Selfridges
There’s no point pretending that this is anything other than ludicrously expensive, but it’s worth every penny. It’s double ended, with a longer, wider brush tip on one end and a shorter, thinner felt-tip on the other, for ultimate precision and control. Our only quibble is that we inevitably use one end up before the other; a shared cartridge wouldn’t go amiss.
Laura Mercier caviar stick eye colour in ‘burnished bronze’: £24, John Lewis & Partners
They may not technically be eyeliners, but Laura Mercier’s much-loved caviar sticks are soft and creamy and highly pigmented – everything you want in an eyeliner. Run along the lash line straight from the tube for a thick wash of colour (no need to be precise) or use a liner brush to press on the pigment. Our shade pick, “burnished bronze”, is a warm, shimmering deep brown.
Clarins 3-dot liner in ‘intense black’: £22, Clarins
If you find eyeliner application of any sort tricky, or you just prefer a natural, minimalist look, Clarins’ 3-dot liner is a gamechanger. It’s a liquid liner pen, but instead of a brush it has a tip with three tines. Simply press it along the lash line, keeping it really close to the base of your lashes (if you’re feeling brave, look straight at the mirror and press through them), for a defined, thicker-lash look.
Glossier Play colorslide in ‘candyland’: £13, Glossier
Glossier Play is the recently launched colourful, fun arm of Insta-cult brand Glossier, and is perfect for a party. The colorslide liners are simply soft, well-pigmented pencils that come in a fun range of colours. Our pick is Candyland, a rose-gold pink with shimmer; it’s gorgeous with bare lids and mascara, plus a bold red lip.
The verdict: Eyeliners
If you aren’t confident with eyeliner or you don’t have the time in the morning for the precision required by a liquid, Charlotte Tilbury’s kohl pencils are perfect: soft, smudge-able and highly pigmented. For classic flicks you can’t do much better than the ever-reliable Bobbi Brown long-wear, while those with a little more to spend won’t regret splashing out on Tom Ford’s double-ended pen.
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