The Best Eyeliner

A close-up of woman wearing eyeliner.

Buying Guide for Eyeliner

A close-up of woman applying eyeliner.

Why buy eyeliner?

For makeup novices and professional artists, eyeliner is a common staple that is fun to experiment with and elevate your overall look. The darker or brighter line of color adds dimension to the eyes and, depending on how you apply it—a cat eye, thick wings, or tight lining—you can create your ideal shape.

What should you look for in eyeliner?

  • Type: Eyeliner can come in gel, liquid, or pencil form. If you’re a beginner, you may want to stick with a gel or pencil, as these are more forgiving and can be easily swiped off if you go off track. Liquid eyeliner is excellent for making more precise and bolder strokes; however, it’s tough to remove if not done immediately after making a mistake.
  • Color Complementary: Although black is a reliable and universal choice, there are specific shades that can complement and enhance certain eye colors even more. Gold, copper, and emerald tones work well with blue eyes. Eyeliners in the purple and blue families, like amethyst, plum, and violet, are excellent for green eyes. Brown eyes are the most versatile and really pop with warmer tones like amber.
  • Extra Features: If you know you’ll be working up a sweat or need all-day performance, look for waterproof and smudge-proof eyeliners. Some eyeliners are infused with metallic sheens or glitter that you can throw on if you need to shine for a recital, a photoshoot, or a night out on the town. If you want to have the option of turning your eyeliner into eye shadow, some eyeliners come with a blended tip to make that possible. If you use eyeliner daily, you may also want to look into ones that have a sharpener at the other end.

What are some tips for creating the perfect winged eyeliner look?

The wing-tipped style eyeliner look is iconic and powerful for those moments you need to vamp it up. While it can be intimidating to try, it’s easy to master once you get the hang of it. It’s recommended to first use an eyeliner pencil and create a dotted line that is your ideal wing shape. Don’t dot the entire wing; instead, while looking in a mirror, build it up on either side of your eye one dot at a time so that you can easily adjust and make sure they are aligned with one another. Once they seem even, connecting them in one swoop of liquid eyeliner is much easier.

Our Picks for the Best Eyeliner

Pros: Whether you’re a first-timer applying eyeliner or a professional artist who needs a reliable product to add to your makeup kit, this mechanical eyeliner pencil will deliver. The creamy, matte consistency makes it simple to create wings or a natural tight line, giving you plenty of room for error with its removable formula. No need to sharpen it —just twist it up or down in its convenient retractable tube. Wear it in black or up to 11 other shades that are neutral or bright. NYX prides itself on being a cruelty-free brand, which is just another reason to feel good when you wear this product.

Cons: The brighter colors may not have as much payoff as they look in the photos. Also, it may fade easily if used on the waterline.

Bottom Line: This is a no-frills option that is easy to experiment with, given its applicator and texture, which are both easy to control. You can be as dramatic or lowkey with this buildable eyeliner product from NYX.


Pros: You don’t want to miss out on this waterproof, smudge-free liquid eyeliner guaranteed to leave sleek definition without any skips. Its flex-tip brush and hexagonal body are easy to control, giving you the stability to fill in any gaps or reconnect lines with precision. Outline your eyes in either a black or brown satin finish that should last you up to 24 hours.

Cons: It may take two to three strokes in order to get the level of intensity you want.

Bottom Line: For strong staying power to last you all day, this eyeliner is the one you can rely on. Its ergonomic features and ability to provide streak-free application every time is a hard combo to beat.


Pros: Get you an eyeliner that can do both—the COVERGIRL Perfect Blend Eyeliner Pencil, that is. Although formulated in pencil form, it leaves a glossy finish when applied. Use the pencil end for precise, detailed lines. To spice up the eyes with a smokey, fanned-out look, gently smudge the lines with the blending tip. It comes in black, charcoal, and black brown.

Cons: Although it delivers intense color, it may smudge after wearing it for a few hours.

Bottom Line: If you’re into playing up the style of your eyeliner and want room for versatility, get your hands on this blending pencil. Perfect precision or messy drama, the sky’s the limit for what you can do with a product like this one.


Pros: In black, brown, or gray, you can have sleek and sophisticated lined eyes in a matter of minutes with this liquid eyeliner from L’Oreal. The ultrafine felt tip delivers a smooth look without worry of skips, drags, or smudges that should stay put for up to 12 hours. Its quick-drying formula won’t have you waiting around once it’s applied either—just put it on and go.

Cons: Although it is quick to dry once applied, this means that the product itself may not last as long and dry up after a few uses.

Bottom Line: Applying liquid eyeliner doesn’t have to be intimidating, thanks to this product from L’Oreal. Take your eye makeup to the next level with this mess-free product that makes any error easy to correct.


Pros: An eyeliner that can turn into eyeshadow in an instant? Sign yourself up for this eyeliner pencil from Laura Geller. Its creamy, rich consistency and pigment easily glide on for a defined, tight line or can be blended out for a fuller, shadowed look. The formula is infused with caffeine and vitamin E to reduce puffiness and hydrate your eyelids. On the other end, you’ll find a pencil sharpener to keep your eyeliner prepped and ready for action. It comes in eight other shades, including pink and plum, for a bit of color.

Cons: The tip is too wide for precise, tight lining or defined lines, so it’s best used for smudged, smoked-out eye looks.

Bottom Line: For low-maintenance gals, this eyeliner and eyeshadow combo can save you in a pinch. The combo of caffeine and vitamin E will keep you looking fresh-faced while giving your eyes the care they deserve.

Final Thoughts

It’s all in the details—eyeliner included. With just a few swipes, the natural shape and color of your eyes can be instantly highlighted and leave a long-lasting impression. Give your creativity the green light and enjoy expressing yourself through every brush and stroke of eyeliner.

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