Finding the best eyeliner has been a long journey. I remember the first time I fell in love with eyeliner. I was 14 and I used my mum's sharpened-down black kohl in my waterline. It wasn't the best eyeliner ever, but it was a revelation. Immediately my eyes looked more defined and made me feel grown-up. I ended up wearing this look for the next six years. For daytime, it was always a little smudged around my top lid and a bit on the bottom. For nighttime, I would thicken the line around my eyes for a more smoky look (before I knew what I was doing).
But in my early 20s, I discovered liquid liner. And (without sounding too dramatic) it changed my life. The style I had been sporting with the smudged liner was looking a little dated. I no longer looked grown-up, but rather like I was auditioning for a Courtney Love tribute band. So I turned to Rimmel Glam Eyes Professional Liquid Eyeliner ($9) to give myself a subtle eyeliner flick.
Over the years, in addition to a wondrous liquid (or pen) eyeliner, four other eyeliners made their way into my makeup arsenal: kohl, colored, gel, and brush pot. These five are essentials that should be in everyone's makeup bag. By now, I've probably tried nearly 50 types of liner, so I thought it would be best to whittle them down to give you my definitive guide and list which types are the best. Your eyes will thank you.
Click through the gallery to find 16 of the best eyeliners and why you need them in your life.
The Super-Fine Liner Pen
If you want to add definition to your eyes but don't want to look like you're wearing eyeliner, then this is the pen for you.
The All-Rounder Pen
This is my go-to everyday eyeliner. You can't fail with this one.
The Thicker Liner Pen
A blunter end than some other pens, this gives you good control and a nice solid line.
The Smudgable Kohl
Some kohl doesn't smudge in the way you want it to, but this one by Bourjois is perfect for helping you create a rock 'n' roll look.
The Waterproof Kohl Liner
This doesn't budge when you put it on and it's waterproof. It's also worth noting that it comes in seven shades.
The Nude Kohl
Just because it's kohl, it doesn't have to be a dark color. This nude will help make your eyes look bigger.
The Drugstore Kohl Liner
This is a classic kohl that should always be kept in every makeup bag for those emergencies.
The Blue Liner
Think you can't do the blue eyeliner trend? Maybe this will change your mind.
The Inexpensive Gel Liner
Less is more with this product, but a bit of practice doesn't hurt!
The Long-Lasting Eyeliner
There's a reason everyone loves this: it just works so well. A dramatic and dark eye awaits you.
It means you don't get the hardness of the pencil, but it's easier than a gel. Win-win.
The Subtle Liner
A small nib means you can get more control to create a subtle look.
The Color-Pop Liner
The brilliant thing about this one is that there are many colors in the range, including taupe and a brown, which are ideal for those who want a sharp but gentle look.
The Classic Pot and Brush
This award-winning eyeliner is a combo of a liquid liner and gel and promises 12 hours of wear. It's best to use the Bobbi Brown Ultra Fine Eye Liner Brush ($31) to help you apply.
Once applied, this doesn't smudge.
The Sensitive Eyes Eyeliner
This one is easy to apply and stays put. A brilliant everyday little pot.