Celebrity makeup artist Sabrina Bedrani, who works with stars like Sandra Bullock, Isla Fisher, and Kirsten Dunst, knows a thing or two about eyeliner. “You want a formula to glide on, but if it’s too creamy it won’t stay in place,” she says. That perfect consistency of not too dry and not too greasy is hard to find—especially on a budget!
What happened when Bedrani stopped by our offices to try almost 100 different drugstore liners? After nixing dozens of formulas for being too dry or chalky, not imparting enough color, or not lasting long enough, a few stood out as the clear winners.
The only thing more impressive than Bedrani’s knowledge about liner, was her full and thick eye lashes. “I use L’Oreal’s Voluminous Mascara ($6)!” she told us. “It’s what I use on all my clients. It makes your lashes long and full.” Looks like she has your next drugstore mascara covered, too!
“I like the texture of these, they’re really smudgable,” Bedrani says about CoverGirl’s Queen Collection Vivid Impact Eyeliner ($6). She tested the black on herself, drawing a thick line on her upper lid and smudging it up into her crease. “You can really build the color when they’re greasy like this, just blend it with your fingers,” she says. Her favorite hues are Jade and Midnight.
“These are amazing,” Bedrani says about Flower’s Easy on the Eyes Long Wear Eyeliners ($6). “You get a really sharp line, but it still glides right on.” Her picks from the collection include Black, Navy, and, her favorite, Aubergine. “This purple has a bit of shimmer that really brightens up the eyes.”
“This gives a nice solid line,” Bedrani says about Sonia Kashuk’s Eye Definer ($6) in Blackest Smudge. “There’s a lot of pigment and it’s not too dry.” She suggest picking this formula if you like a dark line on your top lashline.
Just like a classic black, not all colorful liners are created equal. The color, texture, and sheen of NYC’s Waterproof Eyeliner Pencil ($4) in Sky High made it a favorite. We’d wear this under our lashline a la Jessica Biel, or try Bedrani’s trick: “If one of my clients is wearing a blue dress and I don’t want to do a blue smoky eye, I’ll just do a little line of blue on their waterline,” she says.
“I like that this one has a sharpener and a smudger on the end,” Bedrani says about the hidden sharpener on Neutrogena’s Nourishing Eye Liner ($8). (The opposite tip, or smudger in this case, often pops off to reveal a tiny sharpener.) Bedrani favored Spiced Chocolate and Twilight Blue for their soft, slightly-shimmery finish.
“I hardly ever use just one color on my clients,” Bedrani says. “You need to use a few shades to get dimension.” Physicians Formula’s Shimmer Strips Custom Eye Enhancing Eyeliner Trio ($12) in Nude Eyes delivers that dimension without the guesswork. “This set is great for that,” Bedrani says. She suggests applying the lighter hues under your bottom lashline and in the inner corners, and the two darker hues on the lid.
“Wow, this is a good black!” Bedrani says while testing L’Oreal Paris’ Infallible Silkissime Silky Pencil Eyeliner ($10) in Black. “It’s a really pigmented, intense black, but we’ll see how well it lasts.” An hour later it hadn’t smudged from one of our editor’s eyes, passing Bedrani’s test.
Bedrani suggests adding a shimmery hue to give your smoky eye dimension. “When you do a dark eye, it’s always nice to apply a little bit of highlighter on the tear duct,” Bedrani says while trying CoverGirl’s Ink It! Liner ($6) in Silver Ink. “This would be perfect for that. It smudges well with the black and it turns into a nice gray.”
Not into shimmer? Try Rimmel’s Exaggerate Waterproof Eye Definer ($6) in Noir and Deep Ocean. “These don’t have any glitter in them and are kind of dry, which would be good on your waterline,” Bedrani says.
Admittedly, Bedrani found most of the drugstore gel liners to be very similar, but L’Oreal Paris’ Infallible Gel Lacquer Liner ($10) won her over for two reasons: the brush was better than the rest and the formula was slightly more pigmented. “This color is great,” she says about the hue Espresso.