The Best Liquid Eyeliner for Every Budget | BuzzFeed Reviews
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The Best Liquid Eyeliners

We hope you love the products we recommend! We do a lot of research and testing before making our picks for the best thing to buy in each price point. Just so you know, BuzzFeed may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Prices and availability subject to change. For more info on how we choose products and make money, go here

NYX Epic Ink Liner

$8

  • Buttery-smooth, even application
  • Highly pigmented
  • Washes off easily for easy mistake correction
  • Long-lasting
Buying Options

Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner

$22

  • Waterproof
  • Doesn’t smudge or run
  • Matte, with a slightly shiny finish
  • Easy to apply
Buying Options

Tom Ford Eye Defining Pen

$57

  • Super waterproof
  • Dual-tip pen
  • Long shelf life
  • Does not dry out
Buying Options

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. 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.

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NYX Epic Ink Liner

Starting from $8

The Details

Size: 0.02 fl. oz.

Satin, Semi-Matte Finish

Phthalate-free

Paraben-free

Aluminum-free

Cruelty-free

Vegan

What / Who It's Best For

  • People on a budget
  • People who may not always get a precise wing on the first try
  • People who want a highly pigmented eyeliner

Why We Love It

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).

Nyx liquid eyeliner held by hand

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.

User Reviews

“This is a great eyeliner that is very precise and easy to use. It creates a perfect wing. The applicator gives you a lot of control. For the price, this is a great deal.”
— Jasmeen From Target
“I used to be loyal to Stila liner, but this one works just as well, for a third of the price! It’s a great value and looks sharp. It's easy to apply and has a great black color payoff.”
— JMccoy34 From Target
“Got this as a replacement for the Kat Von D. It has the same type of brush tip, which I prefer over felt tip. You get very precise lining with this type of brush tip. The color is a nice deep, dark black. As far as I can tell it is waterproof, but still comes off easily with an oil-based remover. Can't beat the price!”
— DebbieB From Target
“My favorite liquid liner! Stays put all day, even on my oily lids. People always compliment my eyeliner when I wear this. It can be difficult to remove but I don't mind because that means it's staying put! Just use some coconut oil and it comes right off. It is super easy to apply. One word of advice is to store it with the tip up rather than down. It can be quite leaky if you let the ink pool in the tip.”
— DJVN From Target
“Works ridiculously well. I have four kids that drive me to insanity every day. This takes seconds to put on and lasts all day even with all the sweat and tears. Not good for waterline, though — try it under lower lashes instead. Perfect for winging it!”
— Amanda Blackburn From Amazon
“I use this instead of Kat Von D Ink Liner. Not only does it last longer, it is actually a bit easier to apply. I do think the Ink Liner has a bit sharper precision, but it's close. And much cheaper!”
— Arele From Amazon

NYX Professional Makeup

Five-Star Drugstore Find

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Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner

Starting from $22

The Details

Size: 0.016 oz.

Available in 11 colors

Cruelty-free

Waterproof

What / Who It's Best For

  • People who want a liquid eyeliner in colors other than black
  • People who want a truly waterproof eyeliner
  • People who prefer the option to build color

Why We Love It

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.

Stila Stay All Day Liquid Eyeliner Tip

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.

User Reviews

“After a one hour long Body Combat class in the middle of summer in a crowded room with hardly any air conditioning, I was VERY curious to see how this eyeliner would hold up. At the end of the class I checked it out and there was NO smudging or flaking. That is seriously impressive.”
— Taylor Ross From Amazon
“I've been using this product for over a year now and I love it. It does not smudge, run, or irritate my eyes. I wash it off with warm water and soap easily. The tip is firm, and I never have a problem drawing a straight line.”
— kamoshka From Amazon
“Perfect true black eyeliner. It stays all day without any fading or running. It's easy to apply and lasts for months. It is the only black eyeliner that I use/buy now. I love how opaque it is. You don't need to go over your line to get the color payoff you want! The finish is slightly shiny, so depending on personal preference you may or may not like that. After months of using the eyeliner, the color is just as saturated and opaque as the day I purchased.”
— Rebekah Gibbs From Amazon
“I use this for eeevvvvvverrrrryyyythinng. I have oily eyelids, and this is the only eyeliner that I've tried that doesn't smudge halfway across my face within three hours! I use it for wings, filling my lashes and waterline, everything (but not all at once). Also, sometimes I forget I'm wearing it, and I rub my eyes but usually it doesn't smudge! It can also hold up to a good workout.”
— txm From Ulta
“I’ve tried others but always go back to my true blue! Great staying power and it doesn’t sting my sensitive eyes.”
— CleoNYC23 From Sephora

Tom Ford Eye Defining Pen

Starting from $57

The Details

Size: 0.3 oz.

Available in two colors

Dual-tip

What / Who It's Best For

  • People who want the option to use two differently sized tips
  • People with high-end brand loyalty
  • People who want a precise matte line or wing

Why We Love It

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 $57 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 $57 well spent.

Tom Ford eyeliner on eyes
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.

Tom Ford Eye-Defining Pen Liquid Eyeliner Top

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.

User Reviews

“This is my all-time FAVORITE liner! My wings have never been sharper and the pen stays fresh for a long time. I'm just now replacing the one I purchased over a year ago. If you're on the fence I highly recommend making the splurge!”
— JaclynSophia From Sephora
“Okay, so glad Sephora started carrying this!! I first used it at my friend's and I was a believer! It stays on ALL DAY. And the best part? I bought this in July 2016.... I am JUST NOW needing to replace it!! Yes ma'am, that is over a year of everyday use. So $57, sure, but for the amount of time it last me and how amazingly it works I am okay with that!”
— Ramon135 From Sephora
“I used the Stila one for a long time the switched to KVD and used that for a long time. This one is much better. Stila was not pigmented enough, and KVD gave me a lot of issues with skipping and not giving a smooth line on top of shimmer eyeshadow. This one is always very smooth, very black, doesn't smudge, stays on through workouts and sleeping, and doesn't dry out in the tube. Worth it.”
— Narcissusa From Sephora
“This is my holy grail eyeliner! It took me forever to try it out even though I’d always read good reviews on it because it's so expensive! BUT I had it for a year now and there's still a lot of product and none of the tips have dried out or frayed even though I do a small wing every day. My wing also stays on all day and doesn't smudge off like my other eyeliners. More importantly, it makes doing winged eyeliner very easy! Something about the brush on this makes it easy and fast. I don't think I can use another eyeliner again. Even though this is expensive, I appreciate that it lasts a long time because my holy grail used to be the Stila liner but I always knew there must be something better out there because the Stila one would smudge off by the end of the day, and the brush would dry out after a couple of months, so I'd have to repurchase often. I think the Stila liner repurchases added up to the same amount or even more than this one costs per year.”
— gcharlotte From Sephora
“I’m a professional makeup artist and this is my favorite liquid liner! Super smooth and user friendly! I can create a precise line with it by having two different ends to shape with.”
— SharonTabbyCat From Nordstrom

Tom Ford

The Status Liner

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