The 10 Best Liquid Eyeliners of 2023

The Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner is our top pick because it’s easy to apply and has true staying power.

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The 10 Best Liquid Eyeliners of 2022

Sephora / Amazon

Liquid eyeliner can be used to create all kinds of makeup looks, from understated, everyday eye makeup to a dramatic wing. But mastering its application will take some practice and, of course, the right product. 

To find the best liquid eyeliners, we researched and evaluated different liquid eyeliners based on finish, ease of application, wear time, and price. For expert insight, we spoke with Krysta Lewis, professional makeup artist and founder of Aisling Organics. She shared insights on what to look for, how to apply, expiration dates, and so much more.

“I personally believe a satin [finish] is the most universal, and it's what I use on my clients,” says Lewis. “However, matte is great when trying to achieve a more natural subdued look.” 

Our top pick, the Stila Stay All Day Liquid Eyeliner, has a universally flattering satin finish, a long-lasting waterproof formula, and an easy-to-use felt tip. 

Find more of our liquid eyeliner recommendations below.

Best Overall Liquid Eyeliner

Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner

5
Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner

Amazon

Who it’s for: People who want an easy-to-use eyeliner for both daytime and nighttime looks. 

Who it isn’t for: People who are sensitive to waterproof makeup.

This popular liner comes in a satin finish and features a felt, marker-like tip that is fine at the top, which allows you to get as close to your lash line as possible. The thicker middle part of the tip will allow you to create depth as you move toward the outside of your eyelid. It dries super quickly as well, which eliminates the smudge potential.

Although waterproof options are more likely to irritate the eyes, this eyeliner has been ophthalmologist-tested to make sure that it’s approved for sensitive eyes. That said, it will definitely stay on all day and night long—even if you find yourself sweating or caught in the rain. You can make the line as intense as you want by applying more pressure to the eye, making this a great option for both day and nighttime looks. 

Price at time of publish: $23

Product Details: 

  • Shades: 8
  • Finish: Satin

Best Drugstore Liquid Eyeliner

e.l.f. Expert Liquid Eyeliner

e.l.f. Expert Liquid Eyeliner

Ulta

Who it’s for: People who want an ultra-fine tip for extra precision. 

Who it isn’t for: People who are new to liquid eyeliner. 

Not only is this option wallet-friendly, it’s one of the more precise brushes that you are likely to find. It has a very fine bristled tip at the end of a shorter wand, which makes it truly ideal if you want a sharp point at the end of a cat eye or if you want to get really close to your lash line. The formula itself is also highly-pigmented, so it makes an impact. 

Another great aspect of the easy-glide tip is that it does not require you to pull or tug on your eyelids to get the perfect wing. It is also free of parabens, aluminums, and sulfates, and it’s completely vegan and cruelty-free. While it is not waterproof, it still manages to have major staying power, so make sure to take it off with an oil-based makeup remover that will break down the bonds of the makeup while remaining gentle on your eyes.

Price at time of publish: $3

Product Details: 

  • Shades: 3
  • Finish: Semi-matte

Best Splurge Liquid Eyeliner

Pat McGrath Labs Perma Precision Liquid Eyeliner

Pat McGrath Labs Perma Precision Liquid Eyeliner

Sephora

Who it’s for: People who want a fast-drying and highly pigmented liquid eyeliner with serious staying power.  

Who it isn’t for: People who are not in a position to spend a lot on eyeliner and people who don’t like a matte finish. 

The entire Pat McGrath makeup line is known for its quality and bold pigment, and this eyeliner is no exception. It’s made with precision in mind, so it has a Flex-Art tip that allows you to have full control throughout the application process. This tip has just enough elasticity to contour to your lids in the right places while still providing you with control. It also dries super quickly, so you don’t have to worry about the formula smudging when you blink. 

The formula is intended to last up to 24 hours, and it is completely waterproof, making it excellent for use in humid and muggy environments. 

Price at time of publish: $34

Product Details: 

  • Shades: 1
  • Finish: Matte

Best Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner

Benefit Cosmetics Roller Liner Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner

Benefit Cosmetics Roller Liner Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner

Amazon

Who it’s for: People who want a waterproof liner that gives you maximum control. 

Who it isn’t for: People who have difficulty removing waterproof eye makeup or people who have sensitive eyes. 

The ultra-fine applicator on this eyeliner is similar in size to a pen, so you can hold it as close to the tip as you want to apply more pressure to achieve a more precise line. It has a matte finish and is pigmented enough to create a dramatic look if you add multiple layers or a more subtle look if you want to do just one quick swipe across your eyelid.

The felt tip makes it much easier to use compared to eyeliner options with bristles, as you have more control over the exact shape of the line. It is fully waterproof and lasts up to 24 hours, so don’t worry about it smudging or flaking. This liner is available in both a true black and deep brown shades.

Price at time of publish: $22

Product Details: 

  • Shades: 2
  • Finish: Matte

Best Clean Liquid Eyeliner

ILIA Clean Line Liquid Eyeliner

4.6
Ilia Clean Line Liquid Eyeliner

Sephora

Who it’s for: People with sensitive skin who want to avoid harsh ingredients. 

Who it isn’t for: People who want a waterproof liquid eyeliner. 

Ilia is known for its clean beauty products that still manage to pack a pigment-filled punch, and this liquid eyeliner is no exception. It has a super-fine tip that makes it easy to tight-line your eyelids. The tip is also felt, which provides the maximum amount of control—so go ahead and create the most detailed look possible. The applicator is the size of a pen, which gives you control over how light or dark your line is, depending on how close to the tip you decide to hold the liner. 

The formula is made from charcoal powder instead of carbon black, and it's also gluten- and cruelty-free. It is also incredibly fast-drying, which will keep your lids from smudging the liner if you blink during application. Finally, while it’s not waterproof, it is still long-lasting and will stay put from day to night.

Price at time of publish: $28

Product Details: 

  • Shades: 1
  • Finish: Matte

Best White Liquid Eyeliner

Make Up For Ever Aqua Resist Color Ink Liquid Eyeliner - White

AQUA RESIST COLOR INK Liquid Eyeliner White

Make Up For Ever

Who it’s for: People who want a white eyeliner for brightening and highlighting the eyes. 

Who it isn’t for: People who are new to liquid eyeliner may find the thin wand too difficult to use. 

The Make Up For Ever Aqua Resist Color Ink Eyeliner comes in a dozen different pigmented shades and three different finishes, including an opaque matte white. While black liquid eyeliner creates a bold and glamorous look, white liquid eyeliner can help to brighten and highlight your eyes. You can even use it to create intricate designs overtop your eyeshadow. 

The formula is waterproof and made to last all day, yet remains safe enough for sensitive eyes and contact lens wearers. The precision tip allows you to create intricate designs, but it may prove a little difficult for beginners.

Price at time of publish: $26 

Product Details: 

  • Shades: 12
  • Finish: Matte, metallic, and chrome

Best Liquid Eyeliner With Color Variety

NYX Epic Wear Liquid Liner

NYX Epic Wear Liquid Liner

Who it’s for: People who want to create unique eye makeup looks using a variety of colors and finishes. 

Who it isn’t for: People who prefer a felt-tip applicator to a brush. 

In addition to being available in fun colors like sapphire blue and bright lilac, the NYX Epic Wear Liquid Liner comes with a super-fine precision tip that is made of bristles. While bristles can be harder to control, they also contour to the folds of your eyelids without any pulling or tugging. The eyeliner is super pigmented, which is an especially great option for colors that can sometimes require more than one coat to get the desired effect. 

This formula is completely waterproof and smudge-proof, and the shades are available in both matte and metallic hues, which allows for even more creative options. And given the price, you’re going to want to pick up several shades. 

Price at time of publish: $10

Product Details: 

  • Shades: 14
  • Finish: Matte and metallic

Best Matte Liquid Eyeliner

Makeup By Mario Master Mattes Liquid Eyeliner

Makeup By Mario Master Mattes Liquid Eyeliner

Sephora

Who it’s for: People who want a matte liner with an easy-to-use felt tip. 

Who it isn’t for: People who want a liquid eyeliner in a color other than black. 

Created by Kim Kardashian’s makeup artist, this line makes lots of products that are high-quality and long-lasting. This particular liner is especially easy to use thanks to its flexible felt tip and pen-like design. The formula is also pigmented without being overly intense, so you can easily scale your look up or down depending on the occasion. 

It’s completely vegan and cruelty-free, which is great for those with sensitive skin who don’t want a formula that could potentially irritate their eyes. It is waterproof and super smudge-proof, so you don’t have to worry about it flaking down your cheeks after a long day of wear either. 

Price at time of publish: $22

Product Details: 

  • Shades: 1
  • Finish: Matte

Best Liquid Eyeliner for Cat Eyes

Kaja Wink Stamp Eyeliner

4.7
Kaja Wink Stamp

Amazon

Who it’s for: People who are new to winged eyeliner and need a bit of guidance. 

Who it isn’t for: People who want to have maximum control over their liner application or people who want a matte eyeliner.

This product comes with both a liquid eyeliner pen and a stamp that makes it easy to get the perfect cat eye by simply pressing it in place. The stamp is already in the perfect cat eye shape, so simply figure out exactly where you want it and press down. To continue perfecting the look, you can call in the help of the regular pen that has a precision felt tip. 

The formula has a light shimmer, but it is still incredibly pigmented. It lasts up to eight hours with each wear and is waterproof. The best part about this liner is that you can truly use the stamp as a one-and-done option, or you can use it as a guide to outline a larger winged look. 

Price at time of publish: $25

Product Details: 

  • Shades: 1
  • Finish: Shimmery

Best Liquid Eyeliner for Beginners

Tarte Double Take Eyeliner

Tarte Double Take Eyeliner

Target

Who it’s for: People who want a dual-ended liquid liner with a gel pencil for use on the lower lash line. 

Who it isn’t for: People who already have a gel or pencil liner they like. 

This is a great tool for people who love to switch up their eyeliner looks on a regular basis or people who want a built-in pencil liner for use on their lower lash line. It features dual-sided liners—one side is a metallic gel option, and the other side is a liquid semi-matte option. The metallic side is in a gel pencil form that has a precise tip with a self-sharpener that you can roll up. The liquid side features a felt tip with a semi-matte liquid liner. 

Both of the liners are a part of Tarte’s Amazonian Clay line, which contains mineral pigments that work to improve the health of the skin while you are wearing it. The formula is also long-wearing and waterproof, so no matter which side you decide to use, you can count on it to last throughout the day. 

Price at time of publish: $25

Product Details: 

  • Shades: 2
  • Finish: Semi-matte and metallic

Final Verdict

Our top pick is the Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner because its felt-tip applicator is easy to use yet offers enough control for creating a variety of looks. Plus, it’s highly pigmented and waterproof for all-day wear. 

For a more budget-friendly option, the e.l.f. Cosmetics Expert Liquid Eyeliner features a fine bristled tip that’s ideal for creating a sharp cat eye. It comes in three highly pigmented shades, all of which have a semi-matte finish that’s perfect for everyday wear.

How to Shop for Liquid Eyeliners Like a Pro

Finish

While finishes are a matter of personal preference, Lewis provides a guideline on when she chooses certain options: “Liquid eyeliners usually come in satin, matte, and shimmery, with shimmery being the best for special occasions, and matte and satin being a matter of preference,” says Lewis. She further explains that she often uses satin on her clients, however, she opts for matte if she’s trying to achieve a more subtle look. 

Application

When it comes to application, felt tips are typically going to be easier to control and are generally a better option for beginners. Bristled tips are great if you want to avoid any pulling or tugging that can come during the application process. In general, try to stay as close to the lash line as possible, with a slight upward flick at the corner of your eye if you’re going for a winged look. Make sure you don’t pull your eyelid out as you’re applying the wing, as it can look uneven or smudge when you let it go. 

Wear Time

If you’re not sweating or exposing yourself to any sort of harsh weather conditions, most liquid liners will last longer without smudging as opposed to kohl or pencil liners. Lewis explains that waterproof options will always last longer, but those with sensitive eyes may find it too harsh for daily wear. 

Questions You Might Ask

How do you apply liquid eyeliner? 

Lewis recommends resting your elbows on a table to stabilize your arm. From there, “Tilt your head back and draw a line, as long as you want your wing to be, towards the tail of your eyebrow.” Repeat this action on both sides. “Now start at the top lash line and connect this line to the bottom line,” says Lewis. “Once the lines are connected, you can fill in your wing.”

While Lewis does not recommend using liquid liner on the waterline, she says that you can closely follow the lash line without creating a wing for a different look. 

How do you remove liquid eyeliner?

To make sure you’re being as gentle as possible on your eyes, Lewis recommends an oil-based makeup remover. “Oil melts away the bonds in makeup while remaining gentle to the eyes,” she says.

Does liquid eyeliner expire?

While all liners typically have an expiration date of around one or two years, Lewis gets a bit more specific. “Any products that are in contact with our eyes should be thrown out after three months due to bacteria build-up and transfer,” says Lewis.

Take Our Word for It

This article was written by Brittany Loggins, a freelance writer who specializes in beauty and lifestyle content. To find the best liquid eyeliners, she thoroughly researched the various types on the market, considering factors such as finish, ease of application, wear time, and price. For expert insight, she spoke to Krysta Lewis, professional makeup artist and founder of Aisling Organics.

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