Eyeliner is an easy way to make your makeup look stand out. From dramatic cat eyes to a simple wing, it’s a great way to give your eyes an extra pop of color. Whether you prefer to keep it natural most days or like some daily flair, one of the best eyeliners is a makeup bag staple.
Turns out, women have used eyeliner to enhance their looks for centuries. It’s more than a passing trend, as it has withstood the test of time. In 2021, archaeologists actually discovered hundreds of items buried with wealthy Anglo-Saxons — including eyeliner! Experts say they found the “grave goods” after excavating 141 burial sites in Wendover, Buckinghamshire.
This longstanding love of eyeliner may be due to the way it highlights the eyes. In fact, a recent study shows women appear more youthful when their eyes, eyebrows, and lips stand out. Women appear younger because of what researchers call “facial contrast.” And this age perception holds true across all cultures, according to a study conducted by a team of French and American researchers.
The List: Best Eyeliner, According to Experts
Our top pick was unanimously recommended across 10 expert websites. This Stila eyeliner is a favorite for its longevity, easy use, and strong pigment. “To give you an idea of just how popular this eyeliner is, on Amazon alone, it touts over 19,000 5-star reviews,” boasts InStyle. “The pen itself is a perfect size — it’s not too thin, short, or long, all of which can make application trickier — and fits comfortably in the hand. The tip is on the finer side, which makes achieving precise strokes less of a hassle. It also streamlines detailing tight corners (like in the inner eye area) which is essential for mastering the siren eye trend.”
“It’s no surprise that this liquid eyeliner has maintained its popularity for many years. It’s everything you would want a liquid eyeliner to be: easy to apply, pigmented, fast-drying, smooth, long-wearing, and easy to remove,” claims Byrdie. “Just one swipe provided a rich, jet-black color payoff with a matte finish, and the formula dried completely within seconds to prevent smearing. Once applied, it didn’t smudge or run, and it was easy to remove with just a few swipes of a makeup remover.”
This eyeliner is a great choice if you like to switch it up from the typical black or brown. “If you want sapphire blue winged liner or a jade green cat-eye, you have to go Stila,” notes The Cut. “No matter the shade, each performs equally well, giving you a vibrant, sharp line of pigment that glides across your skin and stays put. If you want slightly different shades of brown or black, Stila excels at those in liquid formulation too.”
For a long day, you can’t go wrong with the Kat Von D Tattoo Eyeliner. This product applies easily and lasts for hours without causing irritation. As Who What Wear explains, “Kat Von D’s cult-classic felt-tip liner is beloved for its inky black color that practically does what the name would suggest: delivers an immovable trace of black wherever you so wish to apply it.”
“This popular liquid eyeliner is an editor favorite and has been a staple on the market for years,” notes Byrdie. “The small brush tip applicator makes creating precise definition easy and, and it provides full pigmentation in just one swipe. It glides on effortlessly, dries down almost instantly, and remains smudge-proof as you wear it.”
“The KVD Beauty Tattoo Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner is beloved by over 560,000 Sephora shoppers and is a mainstay in many celebrity MUA kits — and for good reason,” adds InStyle. “The tiny, pointed felt tip dispenses the rich liquid liner in the smoothest, most even way possible, which makes creating neat lines a breeze. And since the tip is so small, this liner lends to ultra-crisp wing application.”
If liquid isn’t your preferred formula, Urban Decay has the perfect pencil for you. And unlike most competitors, this product will go on strong and stay that way. “Few liners are as pigmented as Urban Decay’s 24/7 Eyeliner Pencil,” notes PopSugar. “It doesn’t budge, smudge, or fade. It’s available in 16 shades, ranging from black to shimmery purple. You’ll find that the formula glides on to skin, making application a breeze.”
“This budgeproof pencil is wildly popular probably because it feels like coloring with an oil pastel instead of a No. 2,” explains The Cut. “The formula is ultracreamy and glides on smoothy, while the color payoff is up there with something more liquid, like a marker. The formula’s also simple to play with and smudge out for an easy smoky eye before it sets for the day.”
This product also comes formulated with eye-friendly ingredients. As Business Insider says, “the innovative formula also features a slew of nourishing ingredients — including vitamin E, jojoba oil, and cottonseed oil — to leave your lids feeling soft and moisturized.”
Another great pencil option, the Charlotte Tilbury Rock & Kohl liner is easy to apply and to wear. Whether you want a clean wing or a smudged smokey-eye, this pencil can get it done. As InStyle puts it, “this soft kohl liner from Charlotte Tilbury is a fan-favorite for its highly-pigmented formula that glides on effortlessly, blends beautifully immediately after application, and dries down within seconds for long-lasting wear.”
“A creamy eyeliner pencil that glides across the skin with ease and can be manipulated to create different types of looks is a makeup bag staple,” says Byrdie. “We love this one because, in addition to being offered in several elevated neutrals, it features a creamy formula that can be applied in a solid line or can be smudged out for a blurred effect. The formula doesn’t need to be layered, and it delivers full pigment in one swipe. It applies on the skin and waterline without tugging or pulling, and once set down, our tester had no issues with running or smudging.”
For days where you want to switch things up, you’ll appreciate the wide shade range this pencil is offered in. “Tilbury thinks beyond the usual eye-pencil shades, and her unique color blends define eyes in an effortless-looking way,” adds The Cut. “Try the taupe-y Smokey Gray, a nice toned-down alternative to black, or the nude Eye Cheat, which is excellent at dialing down redness in the eye area without looking concealer-ish.”
For a pencil liner that comes in plenty of powerful shades, look no further. Victoria Beckham’s Satin Kajal Liner is easy to use and beautiful to look at thanks to its extra pigmented formula. “This satiny liner comes in a handful of subtle to not-so-subtle shades, including olive, a standout shade of metallic-y green that you should grab if you’re looking for an alternative to your standard black,” says The Cut. “The long-shade glides on and adds just a hint of color without too much shine or sparkle.”
“Our editors and beauty lovers adore this eyeliner, and so does our tester. Aside from the stunning shade range that features unique neutrals and gorgeous jewel tones, the formula is creamy and workable; it comes with a sponge-tip smudger on one end of the pencil, and can be used to create a wide range of looks,” explains Byrdie. “Because of the soft, creamy formula, it can be smoked out and manipulated to provide a diffused finish, or it can be used for shaper, more defined makeup looks.”
If you’re worried about picking out a bold color online, rest assured. “The application is smooth, and the colors are vibrant and true to what they look like on the website, so you can feel confident that what you see is actually what you’ll get,” says People.
You might also be interested in:
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This article may contain affiliate links.