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    The Best Liquid Eyeliners For Pros And First-Timers Alike

    These pens are truly mightier.

    We hope you love the products we recommend! All of them were independently selected by our editors. Just so you know, BuzzFeed may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page if you decide to shop from them. Oh, and FYI — prices are accurate and items in stock as of time of publication.

    Rivaled perhaps only by a bold red lip, a crisp cat-eye has the ability to transform your look into one that’s timeless and all-day appropriate with the use of a single product.

    Warner Bros. / Via

    We tested some of the best-selling and top-rated liquid eyeliners on the market to determine the best ones across all price points, for both winged-liner pros and eyelining noobs.

    Editor's Note: We're currently updating these picks! Check back soon for more.

    NYX Epic Ink Liner


    While we could open this with “For a drugstore eyeliner…” we’d be remiss not to acknowledge that the  NYX Professional Makeup Epic Ink Eyeliner gives higher-end liners a true run for their money. The product is, without a doubt, the highest-quality liquid liner you’ll find in the aisles of your favorite drugstore (or in your local NYX store). It’s developed a bit of a cult following, and here’s why.


    First off, the flexible paintbrush tip makes application incredibly easy and lends itself to creating even lines in one buttery-smooth stroke — regardless of whether your approach to a winged eye is (like most) to draw the wing with an upward motion or (like me) to create it from the top down. Either way, it simply doesn’t snag. As a result, it’s a great choice both for those who prefer thin flicks and for anyone who rocks a bolder, thicker line. Often touted as a solid dupe for the $20 Kat Von D Tattoo Liner, NYX’s Epic Ink liner brings more pigmentation to the table, so you won’t find yourself having to build up color and redraw a line two or three times to get the saturation you’re looking for (potentially messing up that perfect line you got on the first try).

    While the brand officially describes the liner’s finish as “satin,” it seems to dry rather matte — and its staying power is unparalleled by any other liquid liner in its price range (and even many double or triple its price). After an entire day, as many product reviewers and BuzzFeed staffers can also attest, it does. not. budge. Note that if you’re a human of the oily-eyelid variety or are doing intense exercise, sweating, or running around all day in hot, humid weather, you may have to retouch a few spots; still, if it does wear, it’s more of a feathering or fading rather than the full-on smudging — or worse, running — that many drugstore-caliber eyeliners are prone to.

    Not only can we vouch for its ability to remain mostly intact after a full night’s sleep, should one fail to wash their face before bed, it’s also proven both sex-proof and shower-proof. Also laughing-until-you-cry-proof! Thankfully, you do have some time between application and the product actually setting to fix any snafus, so those without a particularly skilled approach to the perfect wing (aka the vast majority of us mortals) need not fear; correcting mistakes with a wet cotton swab is a breeze. Additionally, seemingly as the result of witchcraft alone, the liner is waterproof only when you need it to be waterproof — it washes off easily using plain ol’ face cleansers, without the need for additional makeup-remover products.

    The pen has been said to last an extraordinarily long time (though, to be safe, you should probably toss it if it hasn’t run out by the product’s expiration date of six months from initial use). If you’re looking for a long-lasting, highly pigmented eyeliner that’s a joy to apply and wouldn’t dare snag, the NYX Professional Makeup Epic Ink Liner is a surefire bet for those of all eyelining skill levels.

    Get it from Amazon for $7.

    Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner


    If you’re looking for a textbook waterproof eyeliner as precise as it is long-lasting, Stila’s Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner fits the bill. Truly living up to its name, it stays unmarred by things like a 14-hour day, a high-intensity workout after said 14-hour day, and even a midday nap, complete with tossing and turning.


    The Stay All Day liner is less pigmented than its winning counterparts in the high and low price points, which makes it a good choice for those who prefer the option to build their color. A more subdued look for the workday can easily transition into a bold cat-eye just in time for happy hour, with another swipe or two. There’s no skipping or pulling with this gliding felt-tip pen, which is easy to control and makes application incredibly precise — even for those who lack the steadiest of hands — without having to worry about stray paintbrush strands standing between you and cat-eye perfection.

    As with most felt tips, this liner particularly shines when creating thick lines with a sharp wing. And although the tip is already quite thin, if razor-thin lines are more your scene or you’d like to create geometric looks, the product also comes in a micro-tipped version.

    It’s quite similar in application (smooth), finish (matte with a slight sheen), and staying power (like, forever) to Tarte’s Tarteist Double-Take Eyeliner, except it’s packaged as a shorter pen, which makes it easier to maneuver with precision — especially helpful for glasses-wearing folk who can barely see their own faces during their makeup routine. It’s important to note that the formula does dry quickly, so if you don’t consider yourself a cat-eye expert and find yourself erasing and redrawing your wings in a fit of frustration each morning (#thestruggleisreal, but worth it, friends), you might want to choose a more easily fixable pick, like NYX’s, as your everyday liner. But if you’re confident in your ability to swipe and go, this eyeliner is likely to become your new BFF. It’s easier to remove than our $$$ pick, but you’ll still need to use a little elbow grease — or maybe some coconut oil — to ensure full removal.


    Unlike many of the contenders across all price points, Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner is available in a range of colors, because it’s 2018 and you should be able to draw a stay-put cat-eye in any damn shade you choose! Well, in your choice of 12 shades, to be exact: black, white, gray, brown, four blues, three greens, and a greenish-blue. Clocking in at 4.4 to 4.5 stars with nearly 10,000 reviews on Sephora and more than 5,000 on Ulta, the people have spoken — and if you listen, you can hear them singing Stila’s name from the rooftops. I mean, not literally, because that would be incredibly creepy? But the point is: This is a fantastic all-around waterproof eyeliner that’s a step up from the drugstore variety, it’s widely available at a reasonable price, and you’re probably going to love it.

    Get it from Amazon for $22.

    Tom Ford Eye Defining Pen


    When you want something that looks and feels like money, you go to Tom Ford to find it; eyeliner, it turns out, is no exception. You may feel $50+ is an absurd price for a liquid liner that doesn’t provide the wearer with, say, X-ray vision, and hey, that feeling is 100% valid! We get it! Why spend your lunch money for the entire week on an eyeliner when you could buy seven NYX Epic Ink Liners or two and a half Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliners for the same price?


    But look, the Tom Ford Eye-Defining Pen simply feels like luxury. It feels like power. It is opulence in shiny, sturdy, mahogany-and-gold stick form. The Hollywood star amidst a sea of plebeian cosmetics in your makeup bag, it will provide you with joy when you touch it, hold it, even look at it. And by golly, it’s a damn good eyeliner to boot. So if you like fancy things and you also like a crisp, opaque eyeliner that will stay put while you bask in fanciness, it will be $58 well spent.

    This liner features two tips: one brush tip and one teeny-tiny and very firm “calligraphy” tip that gives you ultimate control in designing your wing. Basically, the dual-ended product allows you to choose how precise you’d like your line or wing to be, all in one sleek package. The thicker line might be especially beneficial for those with hooded eyelids or anyone seeking a bolder look, while the thinner one is great for drawing a more subtle, barely-there line as well as creating creative, graphic looks with precision. This is the liner your double-wing cat-eye didn’t realize it was missing.


    In addition to being one of the of the most waterproof eyeliners known to man — “Once I took a shower without remembering to remove my makeup, and while the rest of my face looked super murdery afterward, my wings looked as sharp as ever,” one former BuzzFeed editor testifies — application is smooth and highly pigmented, like a Sharpie for your eyelids. It dries nearly immediately to create an effect that’s somewhere between matte and glossy, though more matte than Stila’s finish. Some users have noted that the smaller tip has a tendency to bleed a bit more than the larger one, but that could work to your advantage when using it to fill in close to your lash line to prevent any gaps between your liner and lashes. The pen is longer than pretty much any other liquid liner on the market; nearsighted users beware.


    Several reviewers have attested to this liner lasting upwards of a year (!) without drying out the way its more affordable competitors often do. Note that the pen contains 0.3 ounces of product, nearly twice the amount in the Stila liner, so take that into consideration when comparing prices (though of course, this is only a benefit if you’re using both sides of the pen regularly). Oh, and it’s only available online, so you can’t pop into your local drugstore or Sephora to replace it — which lends an element of exclusivity that, as much as you hate to admit it, elevates its status even further.

    TL;DR: If you’re gonna spend any more than, say, $30 on an eyeliner, it better damn well be from Tom Ford, a brand synonymous with being baller AF.

    Get it from Nordstrom for $59.