12 Brown Eyeliners That Are Anything But Boring

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Since the days of Cleopatra we’ve been lining our eyes with black pigments to try and help them stand out, but as the trend in makeup leans more towards a natural, fresh-faced finish, brown eyeliner is making a comeback. While bold black liner will always have a place—and for many, it’s their staple—brown is a good in-between hue that works across the board and is a little more approachable for the less makeup savvy

Another perk to brown liner: There are so many different shades of brown to choose from. Black is black while brown could be cocoa, espresso, taupe, and more. The options are endless, which is why we’ve gathered all of the best ones for you to choose from. 

From gel to liquid, here are the best brown eyeliners.

Best Overall: Tarteist Double Take Eyeliner in Brown

tarte tarteist brown eyeliner

Get your liner fix with this two-in-one. With a liquid liner on one end and a gel pencil on the other, you can finally save some space in your makeup bag. Use the precise liquid tip to create graphic lines and cat eyes then use the pencil on your waterline, between lashes, or on its own for a more natural finish. Another bonus: It’s made with mineral pigments and free of parabens and phthalates to keep your eyes feeling good.

Best Budget: Wet n Wild Icon Kohl Eyeliner in Pretty in Mink

wet n wild kohl eyeliner

For a simple, no-frills, long-lasting eyeliner, this price can’t be beaten. The rich pigment and smooth application let you create a line however thick or thin. For more precision just sharpen it up to a point or let it get low and flat for a more lived-in look. Many reviewers even said that it lasted all day without having to reapply.

Best Drugstore: Maybelline Unstoppable Eyeliner in Cinnabar

This easy to use liner can be twisted up or down so you’ll always have a perfect application—no sharpener needed. The small tip is ideal for fitting in between lashes, filling in the waterline, or getting into the inner corners of the eyes. Build it up with a few layers or use a single swipe for that no-makeup makeup look—no matter how you wear it, this liner is a good find.

Best Pencil: Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Whiskey

urban decay glide on pencil

Key Ingredients

Jojoba oil is a natural oil produced from the seed of the Chinensis plant, a drought-resistant shrub native to southern Arizona, California, and Mexico. It mimics natural sebum and conditions and seals moisture in the skin without clogging pores or exacerbating acne.

There’s nothing worse than going to apply eyeliner and almost injuring your eye because the pencil is either too sharp or too dry and won’t budge, which is why we love this one from Urban Decay. Half of the formula is made up of moisturizing ingredients like jojoba seed oil and cottonseed oil so it’s less likely to get stuck or pull on the thin skin around your eyes. Yet even though it’s a super creamy formula, it won’t smear around after it’s set—just make sure to wait about 30 seconds before you touch it.

Best Gel: Marc Jacobs Beauty Highliner Gel Eye Crayon Eyeliner in Brown

Key Ingredients

Vitamin E is an antioxidant vitamin and oil often found in anti-oxidant blend topicals or moisturizers. It also helps soothe the skin and protects the lipid barrier.

If you love the look of a liquid liner but don’t want to deal with the mess, try a gel formula like this one. Like those gel pens you used in high school, this liner glides on so smoothly that you’ll want to just color in your entire lid because it’s so fun to draw with. Vitamin E and rosehip seed oil are used to create the moisturizing formula so your skin will reap some benefits while you’re wearing it too.

Best Liquid: NYX Professional Makeup Epic Ink Liner in Brown

nyx epic ink liner

When you want to go bold, there’s nothing quite like a liquid liner to get you there. This one has rich pigment and a flexible brush pen to help you create the exact look you’re imagining. Just use the tip for fine lines or lay it on its side for thicker strokes. It’s also long-lasting and formulated to withstand sweat, humidity, and water—no meltdowns. We also love that the applicator is almost like a marker so you don’t have to worry about spills or dripping any excess liner.

Best Long-Lasting: stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner in Dark Brown

When you’re looking for your liner to carry your eyes into the wee hours of the morning or simply to just last through the workday, give this liquid liner a try. As the name implies, this liner will truly last the whole day (or night) with you thanks to the quick-dry, waterproof formula. The superfine marker tip is easy to use and won’t run or feather on the skin as you’re applying it—no mess. Just be sure you know exactly where you want to put it because once it’s applied, it stays put.

Best for Waterline: Milk Makeup Long Wear Gel Eyeliner in Bonus

Milk Makeup Long Wear Gel Eyeliner in Bonus

Finding a liner for your waterline can be tricky as it needs to have precision without a pointy tip and it needs to go on easy but not so easy that it will get everywhere. Plus, you don’t want it to make your eyes water more. Enter: This liner from Milk. The gel liner has a small tip that fits perfectly into the waterline and glides on smooth so there’s no tugging needed. It’s also paraben, sulfate, and fragrance-free so even sensitive eyes will be happy.

Best for Sensitive Eyes: Pacifica Natural Eye Pencil in Fringe

Key Ingredients

Shea butter is a plant lipid that comes from African shea tree nuts and is rich in fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamins. It's used to help moisturize, nourish, and soothe the skin.

Made with shea butter, jojoba oil, and mineral colors, this liner should be safe for most people with sensitive eyes. Numerous reviewers agreed that this was one of the only eyeliners that they can use on their sensitive eyes. Another perk: It’s water-resistant and long-lasting.

Best for Cat Eyes: Kat Von D Tattoo Liner in Mad Max Brown

When you’re going to put in the time and effort to create a cat-eye, you want to know that your liner won’t let you down—this is that liner. Try it once and you’ll understand why it’s called tattoo liner as it can last through oily lids, humid summer days, and even a rainstorm. But the reason we love it most for creating a winged liner is the precision tip. The tube feels like you’re holding a pen so the application is natural and fluid—perfect for pros and novices alike. Just be sure to shake it up before using it.

Best Texture: Bobbi Brown Perfectly Defined Gel Eyeliner

bobbi brown perfectly defined gel eyeliner

This gel-based pencil features a winning combo of waxes and emollients for a creamy texture that glides onto the skin with the utmost ease. Even though the formula is soft, it still imparts intense, rich color that lasts for 12 hours without slipping and sliding.

Best Natural: Jillian Dempsey Eyeliner in Rich Brown

With a base of organic jojoba oil, organic shea butter, and marula oil, this pencil is extra creamy, making the application super smooth. Flip the pencil over to use the built-in smudger to perfect your smokey eye or to blend in your liner for a more lived-in look. You can also feel good knowing that it’s vegan and cruelty-free.

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