The best eyeliner for perfect definition

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Eyeliner comes in many shapes and forms, from pencil to liquid and gel. It’s rare you’ll find any girl that hasn’t played around with eyeliner at some point in her life, and it’s safe to stay finding the right eyeliner for you can be a tricky task. From angsty teenagers smudging a blunt kohl pencil across their lids, to experimenting with that timeless cat-eye or winged liner look; the liner you pick depends on the look you are trying to achieve. 

If you’re someone who uses eyeliner as part of their daily make-up routine to define the eyes by filling in the waterline, then a classic eyeliner pencil is the best choice for you. Choosing a soft tipped pencil will give you a more smoky effect, whereas a waxy pencil will help you achieve more defined lines. You may also want to opt for a retractable pencil rather than one that needs sharpening, as they can get a little fiddly the smaller they get. 

Gel eyeliner is the one that everyone seems to fear as it looks so professional. It usually comes in a pot with a little applicator brush. Gel liner is actually incredibly easy to use, and is the best for creating a winged liner with ease. You’ll find gels are usually rich in colour, but they do tend to dry out over time which will impact on its texture and pigment. It’s fine if you use it regularly, but if you only do this look on occasion, you may find the pot goes to waste. 

And if all of the above scares you and you think you’ll end up looking like Marilyn Manson rather than Marilyn Monroe, then eyeliner pens are the way forward. This fool proof method allows you to literally draw your liner on as if it were felt tip. This type of eyeliner is particularly good for cat-eyes but is also good for more subtle looks as well. 

We’ve rounded up the best eyeliners and found out what they’re good for and why, so you can find the one that will help you achieve your desired look. From your favourite high street brands to designer labels, there’s something to suit all budgets. When you are done, check out our round up of the best eyebrow pencils to complete your perfectly defined look.

1. Urban Decay Waterline Eye Pencil

A long-lasting liner for making your eyes pop

Best for: All day wear | Size: 1.2g | Colours: Black, Brown, Grey, Navy | Type: Pencil

Different colours
Cruelty free
Requires a lot of layering 

If you wear eyeliner everyday, then this long-wear eyeliner from Urban Decay should definitely make it into your make-up bag. The creamy formula is designed to be waterproof which makes applying it to your waterline incredibly easy and means you don’t have to keep reapplying it throughout the day. Customer’s love how pigmented the colour is and choosing the green or navy can really make your eyes pop if you’re looking to try a different look. Some couldn’t get on with the pencil at first, but it requires some pressure and a bit of layering the first time you use the pencil to really get the colours flowing.  If you enjoy creating different styles for day and night, this pencil could really help sharpen your look. 

2. NARS Unrestricted Matte Eyeliner Stylo

Create retro styles and cat-eye looks with this matte pen

Best for: Ease of application | Size: 1.4ml | Colours: | Type: Liquid pen

Easy to apply
Bold lines
Flicks require practice  

This NARS eyeliner pen is a great little product you can carry in your handbag to create a celebrity look wherever you go. This is one of the easiest types of eyeliner to use as the liquid eyeliner combined with the pen style is designed for you to easily glide it across your lids in one stroke. Ladies who have used this product love how it applies so smoothly without bleeding or creating a feathered look. The tip is pointed not angled, so if you want to try a winged style for the first time, this may take a few attempts, but cat eyes should be easy enough to achieve with this eyeliner.  

3. Trish McEvoy Intense Gel Eyeliner

A rich pigmented gel pencil which glides across the eyes

Best for: Pigment | Size: 1.2g | Colours: Black | Type: Gel pencil

Built-in sponge 
Sharpener included
Not a super-sharp liner 

This gel pencil gives you the best of both worlds as it is rich in pigment yet easy to apply to the lids. It’s soft, but once on the lids it is designed to set and stay in place, keeping the darkest colour all day long. The double-ended pencil has a sponge on the end so you can blend the liner and create smoky looks, and you’ll also get a complementary sharpener to keep this pencil working its very best. It’s not super-sharp eyeliner and is not designed for sharp, defined lines, but if you want a soft, natural look then this is the best eyeliner for practising your technique.  

4. Estée Lauder Double Wear Liquid Eyeliner

Precision lines and no smudges with this liquid liner

Best for: Smudge-free look | Size: 3ml | Colours: Black | Type: Liquid

Super fine tip
Removes easily 
Tricky to apply 

If it’s defined, delicate lines you’re looking to achieve, then the super-fine tip of this Estee Lauder Double Wear Liquid Eyeliner is designed to do just that. Ladies love that this eyeliner doesn’t smudge, and it creates thin lines that are subtle enough for your natural daytime look, as well as for adding definition to your evening smokey eye. A little goes a long way with this product, so you can expect to rely on it wherever you go, but be sure to pull the lids taught if creating a cat-eye or wing otherwise it can be a little tricky to apply.  

5. Bobbi Brown Long Wear Gel Eye Liner

A gel pot that will help you achieve make-up artist perfection at home

Best for: Choice of colours | Size: 3g | Colours: Black, Cobalt, Caviar, Chocolate, Espresso, Granite, Ivy, Sepia, Violet | Type: Gel pot

Lots of colours
Long-lasting
Takes time to dry 

If you have tried pens and pencils and not got on with them, then a gel pot could be your answer. This Bobbi Brown Long Wear Gel Eyeliner comes with an applicator brush which allows you to use the amount of product that’s right for you, and build up the pigment until you achieve your desired look. It is a little wetter than other types of eyeliner, so you need to be patient and let it dry, and also be careful not to rub your eyes throughout the day! However, most ladies found this is the best eyeliner for wings, and it also comes in a variety of colours which is great for creating striking looks that will really make you stand out from the crowd.  

6. MAC Liquidlast Liner

This easy-to-apply liner will not budge; perfect for partying

Best for: Party girls | Size: 2.5ml | Colours: Black | Type: Liquid

Easy to apply
Lasts all night
A nightmare to remove 

Searching for a liner that will see you through the rave? Then look no further than Mac’s LiquidLast Liner. This stuff has been praised for its staying power, but it can also be a blessing and a curse because you may struggle to get it off at the end of the night! The liquid applicator brush makes it easy to apply, and its waterproof formula has been designed to help avoid smudges and flakiness, even after wearing for several hours. Party girls, this is a must-have for your make-up bag.  

7. Bobbi Brown Long Wear Waterproof Liner

Create a seamless look with this waterproof pencil

Best for: Tightening the waterline | Size: 0.56g | Colours: Chocolate, Smoke, Blackout, Deep Sea, Evening Sky, Hazy Brown, Rich Ivy, Rich Plum | Type: Pencil

Gentle on the eyes
No need for sharpening
 Some colours don’t show up well 

The gap in the waterline can really ruin a smokey eye sometimes, but with this Bobbi Brown Long Wear Waterproof Eyeliner, you just might be able to complete the look. This pencil is designed to tighten your waterline but can also be used on or below the lids if you prefer. Users found the black liner to be incredibly pigmented and perfect for those finishing touches, but if you’re considering some of the lighter colours, they don’t always show up so bright and require re-application unlike the black one. The tip is soft which makes it easy on the eyes, and it’s a retractable pencil so there is no need for sharpening which makes it a great product to keep in your handbag for those last minute touch ups.  

8. Delilah Long Wear Retractable Pencil

Complete your smoky eye look with this retractable eyeliner pencil

Best for: Smoky eyes | Size: 0.31g | Colours: Coal, Twig | Type: Pencil

Built-in smudging tool
Comes with integrated sharpener
Tends to smudge (but that’s the point)

Smoky eyes are great for achieving a dramatic party look, and this eyeliner pencil from Delilah Long aims to help you achieve that look with ease. This retractable pencil has a built-in smudging tool which allows you to build up the liner as much as you wish and then blend it out to get the smoky effect. The texture of the liner is creamy which makes it workable on the lids, and users love how the tool helps get results that are smoky but not messy. You also don’t have to worry about sharpening this pencil as it has an integrated sharpener which will work automatically when needed.  

Need more inspiration?

Check out our guide to the best liquid eyeliners