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The best liquid eyeliner

Applying liquid liner is a difficult art to perfect, but with the right product, you can master the technique that will give you a beautiful bold effect. Whether it’s striking winged liner or a subtle stroke to make your eyes pop, liquid liner can really transform your look. 

But which is the right liquid eyeliner for you? We all apply liner in different ways, and some better than others, which is why having the right product to hand will make it easier for you to get this skill down to a fine art. 

A pen is a safe bet if you’re a beginner. It will make it easy to try out different looks, and is generally easier to hold and control, just like using a pen. However, novices may also take well to a liner brush. These normally come with a little pot of liquid eyeliner that you simply dip into and apply. If it’s not your first time at the rodeo and you’re looking for something a little more professional to make your look really stand out, an angled brush will help you create perfect wings and sharp lines with ease. 

Finally, bear in mind that price isn’t always an indicator of how good a product is; it’s all about what feels comfortable for you, and what is easiest to apply to your eye shape to create the perfect look. We’ve rounded up some of the best liquid eyeliners in the beauty world right now, so you can pick one that suits your style and budget. 

1. TOM FORD Eye Defining Pen in Deeper

Create different striking looks with this dual ended pen liner

Specifications

Best for: Variety
Size: 1.36g
Colour: Black

Reasons to buy

+
 Two different ends 
+
 Smudge-proof 

Reasons to avoid

-
 Quite expensive 

The Tom Ford Eye Defining pen in the shade Deeper makes our top spot for the most versatile liquid eyeliner on the market. It has dual tips: one short tip for creating a cat-eye effect and a longer, narrower tip for defining the lash line and elongating the eye with a sleek wing. Users say that although it is expensive, it is totally worth the money for its stay-put power and anti-smudge formula. It has been noted that you need to use this product a few times to get the liner flowing, so do not be disappointed if the colour is not as bold as you expect on the first use.  

2. Yves Saint Laurent Automatique Eyeliner Effet Faux Cils

The blackest of black liner for a striking look

Specifications

Best for: Deepest shade of black
Size: 1.2g
Colour: Black or blue

Reasons to buy

+
 Strong pigment 
+
 Easy to use pen 

Reasons to avoid

-
 Longer drying time

You can get instantly defined eyes in seconds with this easy-to-apply pen liquid eyeliner by Yves Saint Laurent. Users say they tried this product as a beginner liner and got on very well with it, however, in some cases the liner can smudge easily because it takes some time to dry. Once you have got the hang of how this pen works, the colour is dark and bold and is perfect for creating a winged or cat-eye look with that coveted perfectly opaque finish. The best jet black liquid eyeliner on our list.

3. BURBERRY Cat Eyeliner

Create fine lines and open up your eyes with this liquid liner pen

Specifications

Best for: Cat eye look
Size: 7ml
Colour: Black or brown

Reasons to buy

+
 Liner and shadow tips 
+
 Create a smoky effect  

Reasons to avoid

-
 Tricky to master 

The Burberry Cat Liner is one for the pros. If you can’t leave the house without your winged liner being on point, then this is the product for you. It has dual ended tips: one for creating the defining line, and another for blending and building for a more complex look. Users love this liner for its versatility and professional results, but novices haven’t rated it as highly due to it being quite fiddly to use and a little more difficult to get to grips with than some other basic pen liners. The colour is strong and a little goes a long way, so for cat eye pros, this is a must-have for your make-up bag. 

4. Estée Lauder Double Wear Zero-Smudge Liquid Eyeliner

Take your wings from day to night with this strong liquid liner

Specifications

Best for: No smudges
Size: 3ml
Colour: Black or Brown

Reasons to buy

+
 Waterproof  
+
 Superfine tip  

Reasons to avoid

-
 A bit lumpy 

Don’t you just hate it when you look in the mirror halfway through the day only to see your perfect winged eyeliner has smudged off? With this liquid liner from Estée Lauder, you’ll be able to take your striking look from day to night as its unique formula aims to provide up to 15-hours staying power. Users love the thin-tipped brush which makes it easy to apply very intricate detail to the eye with ease, and how easy it is to control. The only downfall is that some customers noted this product dries up quickly if not sealed correctly, so just be sure to close the lid tight after every use. The best smudge-proof liquid eyeliner for people on the go.

5. Marc Jacobs Magic Marc’er Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner in Blacquer

This waterproof liner is the ultimate tool for getting ready to go out-out

Specifications

Best for: Going out-out
Size: 5ml
Colour: Blacquer or Coacoa Laquer

Reasons to buy

+
 Glides on easily 
+
 Stays put 

Reasons to avoid

-
 Doesn’t last long 

When getting ready to hit the town you’ll want eyeliner that goes on easily and stays put for the evening and according to many who have used this product, that’s exactly what you get from the Marc Jacobs Magic Marc’er. Users say the colour is dark and defined, and the pen is easy to manoeuvre across the eyelid for a sleek and effortless look. The only downside is, it's been said, is that this product doesn’t last as long as some, so it may be better for those who save the cat eye for a night on the town as opposed to all day, everyday wear. 

6. Smashbox Limitless Waterproof Liquid Liner Pen

An affordable liner for beginners to try out their technique

Specifications

Best for: Practising technique
Size: 6g
Colour: Black

Reasons to buy

+
 Easy to remove or correct 
+
 Not too harsh on the skin 

Reasons to avoid

-
 Dries out quickly  

If you’re looking for a great liquid eyeliner that doesn’t cost too much, then Smashbox is the way to go. Users love how easy this eyeliner is to apply, and also to correct. It wipes away easily, meaning that if you go wrong you can easily start over, and removing at the end of the night is simple. Customers who use this eyeliner on a daily basis say they notice it begins to dry out quite quickly, in as little as 7-8 weeks, but for the price, it’s worth it for the quality and pigment. For any novices in the liquid eyeliner world, this one's for you.

7. NYX Professional Makeup Matte Liquid Liner

A great budget buy that doesn’t smudge and lasts a long time

Specifications

Best for: Budget buy
Size: 2ml
Colour: Black

Reasons to buy

+
 No smudges (even in the gym) 
+
 Smooth matte formula 

Reasons to avoid

-
 A little harsh on the eyes 

If you’re looking for an affordable liquid eyeliner for everyday wear, NYX Professional Makeup Matte Liquid Liner is a high quality product with a low price tag that'll fit the bill nicely. Users say the staying power of this liner is immense, with some devotees even wearing it in the gym without any smudges or smears. It is a little harsher on the eyes than some of the other liners, as you need to apply more pressure to achieve a deep shade of black, but once on it aims to stay on all day without cracking or chipping around the eyes. The best budget liquid eyeliner for anyone watching the pennies, and a great gifting option too.

Complete the look:

Check out our guide to the best eyeshadow palettes.