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Call us crazy, but doesn't it often feel like the simplest of products are the hardest to find? Take black eyeliner for example. It's a go-to item in everyone's makeup bag, and there's no shortage of options out there (take a quick trip to the drugstore beauty aisle and you'll see what we mean) but finding the best formulas is no easy feat. A lot of them crease and smudge easily, a nightmare scenario for anyone trying to master a fierce cat eye. So, to help you sort through all the choices, we weeded out the poor picks.
Read on to discover the top eyeliner pencils out there that'll glide like a dream and make all of your eyeliner looks a long-lasting reality.
Best Overall: Pat McGrath Labs Permagel Ultra Glide Eye Pencil
True to its name, Pat McGrath’s Labs Permagel Ultra Glide Eye Pencil glides on smoothly, thanks to its infusion of silicone, making it easy to play with. You can keep the line super precise, or smudge it out before it dries for a smokey eye look. The highly pigmented color is bold and beautiful, creating dramatic definition. It comes in three matte shades and two shimmer finishes, and each color gives off high fashion vibes.
Best Budget: Rimmel Scandaleyes Waterproof Kohl Kajal Liner
Rimmel’s creamy kajal liner belies its price tag. Packed with pigment, you can build the color for as much drama as you’d like, and blend away as you please. The waterproof formula truly doesn’t budge and will stand up to sweat and humidity, even on the steamiest summer days.
Best Drugstore: Maybelline New York Eyestudio Master Gel Pencil
The 1.8 mm micro tip on this pencil can be used to draw a cat eye, and even allows you to get super close to the lash line—a tough feat—and it stays exactly where you applied it. The pencil automatically twists up, so you never have to worry about having a sharpener on hand, and it lasts for a whopping 24 hours of wear.
See more reviews of our favorite drugstore eyeliners available online.
Best Waterproof: Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Waterproof Liner
When they call this liner waterproof, they mean it. If you want to put it to the test, you could wear it to hot yoga—or a tearjerker of a movie—and it probably won't budge. Seriously impressive.
Plus, the award-winning eyeliner is so gentle that you could even use it on the waterline for tightlining. It’s made with the smallest amount of waxes and oils possible to keep the color pure and precise. The dense color is opaque and the versatile pencil lets you create a wide array of looks.
Check out our guide to the best waterproof eyeliners available to purchase online.
Best Smudge-Proof: Clinique Quickliner for Eyes
The smoothness of Clinique’s Quickliner allows it to hug the eyes for easy definition. The all-in-one pencil twists up, so you never have to bother with sharpening, and it has a sponge applicator on one end so you can create different liner styles. The transfer-resistant formula lasts all day and won’t budge—that is, until it's time to take it off.
Best for Waterline: Urban Decay 24/7 Waterline Eye Pencil
You know Urban Decay’s pencil means business when it has “waterline” in its name. This version is essentially their super popular 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil that has been given a makeover for your waterline.
Designed to stay put (a waterline is a tricky place, after all), it immediately sets as soon as you apply it so that it won’t rub off on your eyes. We mean it, the super creamy, demi-matte eye pencil truly won’t move. And since it's formulated especially for this sensitive area, you don't have to worry about irritation.
Check out our other reviews of the best eyeliners for your waterline available on the market today.
Best Shade Range: Marc Jacobs Beauty Highliner Gel Eye Crayon Eyeliner
If you want shade options, the Marc Jacobs Beauty Highliner Gel Eye Crayon Eyeliner can give it to you with a whopping 33 shades, ranging from shimmer to matte to satin to glitter finishes. No matter what look you have in mind, you can create it with one of these eyeliners.
And the pencil itself is impressive too, thanks to the lightweight formula that feels like silk while applying and wearing it. The pigment really delivers, and it promises 12-hour waterproof wear.
Best Gel: Em Cosmetics Matte Gel Pencil
Em Cosmetics was founded by OG beauty influencer Michelle Phan, and the girl knows makeup. That’s evident in her award-winning Matte Gel Pencil, which features some of the best pigments out there. Though it has the stay put powers of a gel, it goes on like a liquid eyeliner and has the look of a kohl liner. The waterproof formula is designed to last all day, yet the formula is gentle enough to be used for the waterline. Another bonus: The pencil is vegan and cruelty-free.
Take a peek at some of the other best gel eyeliners you can buy today.