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Tired of fidgeting with a liquid liner but can’t quite get the look you want with a pencil? Enter gel liner. The less needy, foolproof cousin of high-maintenance liquid liner glides on quicker than a pencil, but with a host of daring colors and cleanly drawn lines that rival the liquid ones.
Gel liners use silicon-based compounds to create pigmented color (including a super black) that’s easy to apply and won’t slide off easily. Plus, gel liners make it easier for a liner to glide on and last without fading or creasing throughout the day. More importantly, the simple-to-use brushes and self-sharpening pencils make the winged eye look a snap. No YouTube tutorials required. Don’t believe us? Try it out for yourself.
Below, the best gel eyeliners you'll soon be obsessed with.
Best Overall: Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner
There's a reason this formula is an award winner; it brings together the benefits of both a liquid liner (precision) and a gel formula (ease of use) and merges it into one killer liner.
Since it's so pigmented, you can achieve dramatic eye looks in no time flat. Best of all? The look will last a full 12 hours without smudging or fading, regardless of how sweaty you get or what humid forces Mother Nature throws your way.
Best Budget: NYX Professional Makeup Gel Eyeliner & Smudger
Even with a gel liner, there’s no need to commit to the winged look. NYX Professional Makeup’s gel liner can be smudged for the perfect smoky eye or applied neatly for a more polished line. Pair it with your favorite eyeliner brush for a make-up routine that’s complete in seconds.
Tip: For an extra pop, use the white “Emma” shade at the inner corners of your eyelid. Or switch to a dark brown for a more natural look during the day.
Best Innovation: Benefit Cosmetics They're Real! Gel Eyeliner Pen
It’s not all about your lash line—sometimes it’s about lifting up the lashes themselves. Benefit’s gel liner has an angled tip that can deposit color almost on top of your lash line and brighten the eyes.
Twisting the pen will squeeze the gel onto the eyeliner tip. Then swipe in any direction you like. The creamy eye formula stays on for 24-hours making mascara truly optional.
Best Drugstore: L'Oreal Paris Infallible Lacquer Eyeliner
With an angled brush and pot, L’Oreal’s waterproof gel liner lasts forever—and it doesn’t fade after a long workday. The shiny finish and an easy-to-draw line make getting the perfect winged eye a three-second ordeal.
Best Waterproof: IT Cosmetics No-Tug Waterproof Gel Eyeliner
Whether you’re on a boat or wearing eyeliner while watching your favorite drama, IT Cosmetics’ version is sure to hold up. The easily gliding liner comes in a handful of shades and gets raves across the internet.
Need another reason to try it out? The liner uses peptides and collagen to help smooth out lid lines and creases without tugging at your eyelid. Skip the winged look and use the first few minutes after applying to smudge for a smokey eye.
Best for Waterline: Smashbox Always On Gel Eye Liner
The folks behind Smashbox have made their gel eyeliner a makeup artist favorite—and for good reason. The pigmented liner glides easily—and stays put—when applied to the waterline. When applying along your lash lines, use shorter strokes to deposit full amounts of color. Mix it up by pairing bolder colors such as green and gold under your favorite eyeshadow before an evening out.
Best Crayon: Marc Jacobs Beauty Highliner Gel Eye Crayon Eyeliner
With a thin self-sharpening tip and 12 hours of waterproof wear, the gel eyeliner from the fashion house lives up to the hype with long-lasting results.
Tired of black? With shades such as Violet Femme, Orange Crush and Glam Jam you can swap out classic black for a more colorful lid that’s anything but boring. Set your liner with eyeshadow or a dusting of translucent powder to keep the look from smudging throughout the day.
Best K-Beauty: Tonymoly Gel Eyeliner
This K-beauty brand’s gel liner is a top seller in Korea—and for good reason. The brush-and-pot combo creates some of the easiest wingtips without spending hours in the mirror. The blacker-than-black gel glides on easily without smearing even the oiliest skin.
Use the liner alone for a no-makeup morning or pair with a bold lip for a night on the town. Tonymoly’s brush bristles create the desired slant on the first try and the gel-filled pot lasts forever. Try the pearl black shade for a night out. At a bargain, this is a hands-down favorite.
Best Color Range: Glossier Play Colorslide
These rainbow-colored pencils glide on easily and smudge only when needed. Be like the Insta models and swipe on a few different shades for a striking look or stick to Glossier’s classic Brack (the perfect brown-black combo to tote in your bag). The fast-drying gel formula dries quickly, which makes it perfect for layering liners.