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The Best Liquid Eyeliner

Last updated on September 7, 2022

Our Review Process

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Our Picks For The Top Liquid Eyeliners

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Product Overview
Key Takeaway
 Top Pick

NYX PROFESSIONAL MAKEUP Waterproof Vegan Liquid Eyeliner

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Waterproof Vegan Liquid Eyeliner

This boldly-pigmented eyeliner pen offers a matte finish. The felt tip is small and can handle very thin, precise lines with ease. Its formula is vegan and waterproof, and you don't have to worry about it coming off.

Overall Take

Handy for BeginnersThis waterproof eyeliner's precise brush tip allows beginners better control during application.

 Runner Up

stila Smudge-Proof Cruelty-Free Liquid Eyeliner


Smudge-Proof Cruelty-Free Liquid Eyeliner

This non-smudging waterproof pen eyeliner comes in numerous colors to suit both subtle and bold looks. Choose from regular or super thin felt tip options as well as a dual-tip version for versatility.

Overall Take

Comes in Several OptionsIf you're looking for a wide color variety and different applicator options, consider this eyeliner.

 We Also Like

REVLON ColorStay Ultra-Fine Tip Liquid Eyeliner, 2-Pack


ColorStay Ultra-Fine Tip Liquid Eyeliner, 2-Pack

Featuring a brush tip available in three sizes, this set of two liners is a great choice if you want strict control over application. These are designed for up to 16 hours of smudge-free use and come in several color options.

Overall Take

Versatile to UseConsider this non-pen option for a versatile applicator and a formula with up to 16 hours of wear.

 Also Great

L’Oreal Paris Infallible 12-Hour Quick Drying Liquid Eyeliner

L'Oreal Paris

Infallible 12-Hour Quick Drying Liquid Eyeliner

With several color options, this eyeliner pen has a felt tip that's designed to provide stability and control. You can expect a 12-hour wear time, though removal is easy since this version's not waterproof.

Overall Take

Convenient to UseThis pen is a great choice if you like clean lines and want something that's super-easy to use.

Buying Guide

If you’re looking for a way to make your eyes stand out, a good liquid eyeliner can help you create both bold and defined styles. This type of eyeliner lasts a long time since the formula is usually waterproof, so you don’t have to worry about smudging or touch-ups during the day. You’ll want to consider the desired effect, ease of use and your application skills to decide which liquid eyeliner is best for you.

You should first think about the color that would suit you. Black is the classic liquid eyeliner option and can provide a bold look. However, you could also consider brown if you want something more subtle. Your eye color may also guide you. For example, any color usually looks great with brown eyes, while a brown liner helps blue eyes stand out. Reddish tones are a good option for green eyes.

Liquid eyeliner comes in pen and non-pen versions. Pen eyeliners can be easier to use since you apply them the same way you’d draw with a marker. In addition, they’re less messy since you don’t have to dip the applicator in a container of liquid liner like you do with non-pen versions. However, pen eyeliners can dry out more easily unless you store them carefully.

Liquid eyeliner pens often have a felt tip that allows the liner to go on smoothly. The pen tips come in various thicknesses for either thick or fine lines, and some products are dual-sided for flexibility. However, felt tips can take some practice to master — it’s easy to make a too-thick line, so they’re not always the best for precision.

On the other hand, brush-tip liquid eyeliners make it easier to create very thin lines. These are available in both pen and non-pen forms to give you flexibility. While it can also take more time to master applying this type of liquid liner, the flexible tip gives you a lot more control over your look. Therefore, this type of liquid eyeliner works well whether you want something bold or subtle.

Liquid eyeliner formulas also come in different finishes and options. Matte liners are most common since they suit everyday wear, while glossy liners add shine to your look. While most liquid liners are waterproof, some aren’t. So, you’ll want to consider how long you need the liner to last and how easily you want to be able to remove it.

What to Look For

  • Consider using a primer before putting on your liquid eyeliner and other eye makeup for a smoother, easier application.
  • For the best results, start at the inner eye corner when you put on your liner and then carefully move the applicator across your lash line. Starting with a thin line is best since you can always go back over it. It helps to keep a makeup wipe handy too in case you need to remove and reapply the liquid liner.
  • If you’re new to using liquid eyeliner, it’s normal to face a learning curve. It helps to watch some tutorials or get advice from a makeup professional before trying it on your own.
  • Regardless of the liquid eyeliner color you choose, keep in mind the pigment will look bolder than a comparable eyeliner pencil would.
  • Always keep your liquid eyeliner tightly sealed and at room temperature to prevent it from drying out. If this does happen, first try giving the eyeliner container a good shake. Then, try putting the eyeliner container for a short time in warm water to see if that helps.
  • Once you open your liquid eyeliner, use it within six months. Toss the rest at that point, since bacteria can form. Also, don’t use your eyeliner if it has a strange smell or becomes clumpy.
  • Liquid eyeliner takes time to dry, so you may want to close your eyes for a bit after application to prevent it from smearing.
  • The waterproof nature of liquid eyeliner means a more challenging removal process. You’ll want to make sure you get a good makeup remover solution or wipes and avoid scrubbing too hard. You can consider using cotton swabs to help remove residue from your waterline.
  • If you have any sensitivities, be sure to check the ingredients list to make sure the liquid eyeliner won’t cause you issues. You might also prefer vegan formulas. If you wear contact lenses, make sure the formula is marked as safe for use with them.

More to Explore

The ancient Egyptians used a form of eyeliner as far back as 12,000 years ago, but back then, it was more for protective reasons rather than style. The black makeup was believed to safeguard eyes from the hot sun’s rays, repel flies and protect against infection. Unfortunately, the eyeliner often contained lead. In fact, Egyptians actually created lead salts for use in treating eye conditions as well as scars and discoloration.

Researchers have found that perhaps the Egyptians were onto something, though. They found that adding lead salts to human skin cells called keratinocytes started pumping out nitric oxide. This created immune cells called macrophages that go to the site of infection to potentially break down eye disease-causing bacteria. However, scientists think that if the Egyptians had lived as long as modern-day people, they would have started suffering cataracts as a result of the lead exposure.

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