There’s a reason the cat eyes of Alexa Chung, Audrey Hepburn and Adele are so revered—anyone who has ever tried to apply liquid eyeliner knows achieving flawless wings is no easy feat. You know the drill: You get the outline right, you start filling it in, the line goes wonky, you add more liner to even it up and before you know it, you’re reaching for the makeup remover. Liquid eyeliner is never going to be the easiest part of your makeup routine, but fortunately, there are some clever products out there that take the fiddliness out of feline flicks.
(You can even figure out which eyeliner is best for your eye shape.)
From ergonomic pens to eyeliner stamps, some new products are revolutionising how we apply liquid liner and placing the wings of Adele within our clutches. Take it from someone whose typical makeup routine is done on the 7:10 a.m. train to London: There are some truly impressive innovations out there that don’t require three tries to get right. Ready to find an eyeliner that will help you achieve a picture-perfect cat eye every time? These are our favourites:
If you’re into a super-heavy black band across the lash line, you can’t go wrong with L’Oréal’s chubby felt tip.
Okay, so this won’t give you that super-sharp feline flick, but it will give you a pretty fun band of stars across the eyelid.
It may look like just any other felt-tip pen, but upon closer inspection, you’ll realise the nib is perfectly tapered. Simply lay the pen on its side at the corner of the eye, and it’ll stamp on the most precise flick. It takes a couple tries to get the hang of it, but once you do, your routine will take less time in the morning.
I can’t pinpoint exactly what makes this eyeliner pen such a dream to use… perhaps the handle is just the right thickness or it’s something in the finely tapered nib. Whatever the case, Clinique’s liquid liner turns feline flicks into a one-sweep job. Another plus: The deep pigment leaves a crisp carbon-black imprint that stays put throughout the day.
Ask any makeup artist what their favourite drugstore liquid liner is, and chances are they’ll give credit to the fail-safe tip and rich pigment of this Rimmel classic. The nib is pretty sturdy, so you have plenty of control over how even your lines are. It’s a go-to for the kind of slightly thicker flicks that make your eyes appear instantly bigger.
In many cases, a good liquid eyeliner comes down to the handle of the pen you’re using. If it doesn’t sit comfortably in the crook of your hand or adapt to the quirky way you twist your wrist when you’re lining the inner corners of your eyes, it’s never going to work out. Lancôme’s liner is clever because it adapts to your hand’s every movement with a bendable wand.
This one’s a cult buy for good reason. Once you’ve got Kat Von D’s liquid liner on your lids, it isn’t going anywhere. If you invest in this one, make sure you’ve got a good oil-based makeup remover in your kit. Like Clinique’s lining pen, the application on this is inexplicably easy, with the ultra-fine nib allowing you up to up your tight-lining game while also giving you the option to build up the thickness.
Pricey? Yes. But this dual-ended eyeliner works double duty—equipping you with not one but two liner tips that allow you to create a number of sleek wings. Tom Ford’s liquid option features a super-slim nib on one end and a thicker one on the other.
This isn’t so much a liquid liner as it is an ingenious tool—one that makes perfect flicks a one-stamp job when used with the brand’s Vink Eyeliner Ink. Simply dip the tip in the ink, line it up with the outer corner of your eye and gently press to create a wing shape. Choose from three different sizes to complement your eye shape: medium, large or the delicate kitten stamp.
Collection’s little eyeliner is another drugstore gem with the clout of far pricier products. The pot offers an easy, one-stroke application and the formula doesn’t go patchy or flaky after hours of wear. We’re also impressed that it costs less than £5.
For a softer liner look, this pen by 3ina is stubby and allows for great control. Its colour is a slightly lighter black.
Hands down, this is one of the most immovable eyeliners we’ve ever tried. It’s highly pigmented and while it takes a little longer to dry, once it does, it stays put. Be warned: You’ll need to take this off with an oil-based makeup remover (do not scrub at your delicate eye area).
This liquid black Nars liner is easy to apply and gives great control. What more could you want?
Trust Charlotte Tilbury to make a super-cool eyeliner that’s perfect for creating sultry looks.
There’s no primer needed with this liner—it glides on easily and stays put all day.
Eyeko’s is great for creating those big ’60s-style flicks. By far one of our favourites.
This option requires a little extra practice thanks to the thicker tip, but rest assured that once it’s mastered, it will give you the best flick.
Now try to tell us you can’t nail a feline flick with one of these…