My first encounter with eyeliners was when I was 11-years-old. It was the first makeup item I put on my face that wasn't lipstick. Ashley Simpson and Avril Lavigne were on my TV screen and I, naturally, wanted to emulate that pop-rock look. My mom, however, wasn't a fan. After putting my foot down and declaring that I, too, would put black eyeliner on the inside of the rim of my eye and smudge the outside of my lash line, my mom obliged.
It was love at first sight but my allergies (and beauty trends) had other plans so a few years later my relationship with eyeliner died down. I would apply it for special occasions but nothing too wild. My cat-eyes were more like kittens — or I simply outlined my eye and called it a day. Now that my relationship with makeup and skincare has matured though, I've decided that I needed to find the best eyeliners out there to start incorporating them in my daily makeup routines.
Sure, I love a good "no-makeup" makeup look but a cat-eye can do wonders when you feel you need an extra oomph to take on your eye. It is science. That's why I surfed the internet and scouted IRL via word of mouth to find the best eyeliners in the market and reviewed them so you don't have to.
The whole process went like this: Each morning, I would go through my usual makeup routine and simply add a cat-eye to the mix. I would take notes on pigment, the challenge of application, and durability. Mind you, I have very dry skin and my eyes water often because of my allergies. As a person who doesn't use eyeliner often, I forget I can't scratch my eyes leisurely for the sake of the look.
That being said, after two weeks of testing, I concluded that these are the best eyeliners you can find at your nearest drugstore, department store or online. From game-changing stamps to life-changing Japanese inventions, keep on scrolling to see how these 11 best eyeliners look on my face (and how I noticed I need to invest in a ring light.)
Best Marker Eyeliner: UOMA Beauty Afro.Dis.Iac Cleopatra Ink Liquid Eyeliner
This is the first eyeliner I tested and, needless to say, I was nervous. My cat-eye skills had gone from rusty to inexistent so the fine marker tip of this eyeliner was intimidating at first glance. However, it is exactly what makes this eyeliner so easy to use.
Though it's made with high purity carbon black, you don't have to worry about it being messy if you don't get your wing right on your first try; a Q-tip with warm water will help you fix your slip. My confidence grew immensely as I imitated this eyeliner application tip for hooded eyelids I saw on TikTok. Once finished, I went on my day and I'm glad to report it is as long-lasting and smudge-proof as it claims to be.
$18.00, Uoma Beauty
Best Brush Eyeliner: NYX Professional Makeup Epic Ink Liner
For my second day, I opted for this brush eyeliner from NYX Professional Makeup. Once again, I didn't know where my skills would fall when it came to applying liquid liner with a fine brush but I thought I'd just wing it — because a dad-joke can do wonders before you're about to face something challenging!
This brush pen did not disappoint. Not only was I able to do the same TikTok eyeliner trick in one go, but I received multiple compliments from my coworkers. Efficiency and flattery? Two thumbs up for me.
$9.00, NYX Professional Makeup
Best Overall Eyeliner: DHC Liquid Eyeliner EX
Having tested two solid first options, I didn't know eyeliners could get any better but I was in for a makeup treat. When I first was starting my eyeliner research, I asked around the Teen Vogue offices to get the scoop of my coworkers' favorite liners. When our fashion and beauty editor, Michelle Li, said that DHC's Liquid Eyeliner EX changed her life, I knew I had to try it.
Can an eyeliner be truly lifechanging? Well, not really, but it can ease up your makeup routine and get you a killer cat-eye; and that's close enough. This eyeliner is the best of both worlds when it comes to a pen eyeliner and a liquid, brush eyeliner. You get the ease of a brush liner of NYX Professional Makeup'sEpic Ink Liner and the precision of UOMA's Beauty Afro.Dis.Iac Cleopatra Ink Liquid Eyeliner. That's why this it's the winner in my books and the one I know I'll count on whenever I feel catty.
Best Stamp + Eyeliner Duo: KAJA Wink Stamp & Pen
According to our friends over at Allure, this stamp eyeliner was sold-out but now it's back to wow even more beauty enthusiasts. Of course, I had to include it in the mix. My muscle memory was getting better when it came to mastering the stroke of a cat-eye, albeit I still needed some help so a stamp seemed perfect.
The whole goal of this eyeliner if for you to execute your winged beauty statement in two simple steps. First, you stamp both sides (labeled left and right) and then you use the liquid liner to finish off the look. Though stamping my left was a breeze, the area around my eyes (specifically the right one for one odd reason) is very dry so I moisturized heavily that morning and I had a bit of problem getting the right eye stamped correctly. However, the eyeliner came to the rescue and I was able to salvage my look. It might have come out a bit more wonky than preferred but they worked together perfectly. And since I spent little to no time with the left eye, the struggle on my right one balanced out the time spent!
Best Longlasting Eyeliner: Lancôme Artliner Precision Liquid Eyeliner
For all my first tests I was playing it safe — aiming for a cat-eye that said, "I'm here but I cannot poke your eye out". You know, the vibes. However, upon reading the name of this eyeliner I felt inspired — artsy, if you will. So I channeled my inner artiste and flicked my wrist until the eyeliner line went over the crease of my eye. A major con of this styling choice is that it means that the cat-eye is in the rubbing zone where you just touch while you're intensely reading a book or are stressed about finals. Luckily, you don't have to worry.
Since you will most likely opt for a dramatic look with this eyeliner, you'll be overly conscious of what you applied on your eyes and the outcome of rubbing mindlessly your face, but if you do happen to forget it is pretty smudge-proof.
Best Eyeliner and Eyeshadow: Milani Line Play Metallic 2-In-1 Liner Shadow
I love a good multi-use beauty item. I'm a sucker for lipsticks that double as eyeshadow. So, as I sat down to write this review and read that you can use also this Milani eyeliner as an eyeshadow, I can't believe I didn't try it! If the pigment of the product has anything to say, it is that it would look just as great.
I tested it out in the color Magical Night, which is a light, shimmery gray, and I loved that you could actually appreciate the cat-eye without it being too sheer.
Best Luxe Eyeliner: Patt McGrath Perma Precision Liquid Eyeliner
This roundup is the perfect example that great liners don't have one specific price point but if you do craft a cat-eye more days than not and want to invest in a luxe eyeliner, Patt McGrath's Perma Precision Liquid Eyeliner is the one for you.
The name says it all. You get such precision with its fine tip that you don't have to worry about it running. Instead, you'll get such a sleek cat-eye each time that Patt McGrath herself would be proud of your skills. However, I do have to say that on me, it didn't live up to its smudge-proof claim so you might want to consider using an eye primer like one from Anastasia Beverly Hills , beforehand.
Best Pencil Eyeliner: L’Oreal Infallible Never Fail Eyeliner
As soon as grabbed this eyeliner, I was transported to sixth grade when I used eyeliner in the inner rim of my eye and prayed that my mom didn't notice. Luckily, I know better now and don't use that technique because it only makes me more teary-eyed; as much as I love a good black tear to confuse passersby.
Now, I prefer a cat-eye that makes me feel like I have my shit together and makes me look (hopefully) less intimidating than with black tears coming down my face every time I blink. But yes, back to this eyeliner. If you're looking for a fail-proof eyeliner that will get the job done, then look no further. However, if you're looking for an eyeliner that will produce a cat-eye that will cut your enemies, we suggest you try out the one below.
Best Dual-Ended Eyeliner: Tarte Tarteist Double Take Eyeliner
Do you love filling in your upper lash line with pencil eyeliner and love to create your cat-eye with a pen or brush? Tarte Cosmetics said, "Bet!" and created a dual-ended eyeliner that meets up all your expectations.
This liner easy to use if you still don't enough muscle memory to get the cat-eye of your Insta-dreams in one go but be gentle with the crayon end, it's pretty fragile so I suggest applying it gently and with no rush. I, of course, was running late that morning and it broke a bit on my first try.
Best Waterproof Eyeliner: Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner
I tested this eyeliner out on what I felt like was the windiest day in New York City and despite the tears that came down my eyes and my attempts to pat them down, this waterproof liquid eyeliner from Stila took its name to heart and finished off the day going strong.
If you can't tell by all the baby hairs in this picture, I really did go through a lot this day, walking to and from the office to fashion presentations and previews. At first, I didn't think it would hold up since the formula is a bit runny. However, I was pleasantly surprised that after I managed to create the cat-eye I was going fo, it stayed on like a true champ.
Best Precision Eyeliner: Glossier Pro-Tip Eyeliner
When I tested out Glossier's Color Slide eyeliners, they passed with roaring scores so I was excited to try out Glossier's latest liquid liner. When I first swatched it on my hand though, I was unimpressed with the pigment but as soon as I swept the tip to create my cat-eye I liked how easily it flowed. I'd say you do need to master the pressure you put into your flick. Despite that, it's a good eyeliner for the price (and overall Glossier hype!)
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Originally Appeared on Teen Vogue