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When it comes to eyeliner, we're admittedly picky. There is nothing worse than a smudged line, flaky formula, or sticky application. Plus, we're not always entirely dexterous. We need a product that will make it easy—with an easy-to-use applicator, a simple-to-hold pen, and, preferably, a waterproof offering so it won't budge no matter what we have going on that day. We want to dance without our precise lines melting off our faces, sweat without repercussions, and get caught in a rainstorm if we so choose.
Our liner needs to do a lot of heavy-lifting is what we're saying. So to help, we did a lot of research on the subject. We tested, reviewed, read comments, and came up with the best waterproof liners on the market right now.
Best Overall: Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner
An editor and consumer favorite, Stila's Stay All Day formula is our top pick. The formula glides on with ease, dries quickly, and won't smudge or run, no matter what you do. That's right: You can sweat, cry, and dance your heart out, and it won't budge.
Reviewers rave that it lasts well on oily lids, watery eyes, and even stays put through a red-eye flight. The fine felt tip is perfect for precise application, but, unlike many other liquid liners, it can also be used to create thicker, more dramatic shapes. It glides on smoothly, and also has the distinction of coming in 11 different colors—including a deep blue, vibrant green, and crisp white, to name a few—rare for a liquid formula.
Best Pencil: Make Up For Ever Aqua XL Eye Pencil
Make Up For Ever's long-lasting formula blends intense, rich color with a super-gliding texture. As you use it, you'll notice it glide across your lids without skipping or tugging. (Apply with light pressure for best results.) The best part? It's available in plenty of shades and is entirely waterproof. Even better, all shades are richly pigmented, so you get complete color payoff with every stroke.
Runner-Up, Best Pencil: Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil
This eyeliner holds a cult-like status among beauty editors and beauty junkies alike. While technically a pencil, the texture is extra soft and creamy, more akin to a gel. Credit a whopping 50% moisturizing ingredients, all blended into the waterproof base. This creamy consistency gives it something many other waterproof formulas don’t have—a little playtime before it totally dries and sets.
Once you swipe it on, you have about 30 seconds to adjust it, whether that means you want to clean up any mistakes, smudge it out for a softer look, or layer it with another color. After those 30 seconds are up, though, expect totally locked-in liner that isn’t going anywhere (until you want it to). And with a whopping array of 37 shades, including matte, shimmer, and metallic finishes, there’s something to fill every color preference.
Best Drugstore: Rimmel Scandaleyes Waterproof Gel Pencil
With an intense color pay-off, this is tops for creating more dramatic liner looks. Ultra-smooth and cushiony, it’s still smudge-, sweat-, and heat-proof. It’s also been dermatologist and ophthalmologist tested, so you don’t have to worry about irritating your skin or eyes, even if they’re sensitive or you wear contacts. Available in five neutral hues, try using the nude shade to line your inner water line; it’s a favorite trick among makeup artists for instantly brightening your entire eye area and making you look wide awake.
What Our Testers Say
"For an eyeliner that’s supposed to stay all day and not move, this product certainly held up its end of the deal and stayed put. The finish is creamy and the color is very black, which allows this particular pencil to support almost any eyeliner look you’re trying to create." — Ashley Rebecca, Product Tester
Best Liquid: Pat McGrath Labs Perma Precision Liquid Eyeliner
This heavily pigmented liquid eyeliner has a precision tip that makes it easy to apply, whether you're an eyeliner pro or not. It gives you the flexibility to create ultra fine velvety lines or to layer up for a more dramatic look. The slick formula lasts up to 24 hours with little to no smudge, so feel free to leave it at home while you dance the night away.
Best for Beginners: KVD Vegan Beauty Tattoo Liner
This may look like any standard liquid liner, but take a closer look at the tip. Instead of the traditional felt-tip applicator, this features an innovative brush tip. Super fine and flexible, it makes for seamless application, no matter what kind of look you’re trying to create (just make sure to give the pen a good shake before applying.). The fade-resistant, waterproof color stays put, and the formula is also vegan, cruelty-free, and not tested on animals.
Best Budget: e.l.f. Cosmetics Eyeliner Pen
For perhaps the best deal on the market, e.l.f.'s Eyeliner Pen works just as well (if not better) than most of its prestige counterparts. It applies easily and smoothly, offering up an inky-black line and waterproof wear.
The fine, felt-tip applicator coupled with the rich black color makes it the ideal choice for creating cat eyes, winged tips, and other graphic liner looks. A helpful piece of advice: Once you’re done using it, store it pointing downward; this will help ensure the tip stays saturated with the pigment and doesn’t dry out.
Runner-Up, Best Budget: Maybelline New York Master Precise Skinny Gel Eyeliner
This budget-friendly, 1.8-millimeter micro-tip liner allows for the sharpest, most precise application possible. It's perfect for filling in space in between your lashes for a thicker line or for subtly lining your upper lid for a pared-back look.
Best Gel: Tarte Cosmetics Clay Pot Waterproof Shadow Liner
This creamy, stay-put shadow-liner hybrid comes in a cream-gel formula to allow for a crisp line, or something a bit sultrier. Amazonian clay and mineral pigments are blended together to deliver even, long-wearing, waterproof color payoff.
Apply the cream-to-gel with an angled eyeliner brush to create perfectly crisp and sharp lines. Or, buff it onto your lid with a shadow brush; it’s easily buildable and blendable if you want to use the opaque color all over. While the shade range isn’t super extensive, the colors offered are universally-flattering and versatile, especially given that they can work as both liner and shadow.
Best Long-Wear: Eyeko Sport Waterproof Eyeliner
Blended with coconut oil for super-smooth delivery, Eyeko's twist-up liner has a built-in sharpener (score) and blending brush (score again) to alleviate some of the stress that inevitably comes along with applying a straight liner line. It's 100% waterproof (even if you're working out) and won't move for hours on end.
Runner-Up, Best Longwear: Beauty Bakerie Lollipop Eyeliner
The results are in, and this smudge-proof eyeliner stays put until you want it off. The felt tip applicator is perfect for creating a jet black cat eye, and unlike many waterproof formulas, it is great for sensitive eyes. The vegan, cruelty-free formula is also free of parabens so you can feel as good as you look.
Best Anti-Aging: IT Cosmetics No Tug Waterproof Gel Eyeline
Here's the claim: This eyeliner is anti-aging, rich in color, truly waterproof, and doesn't tug on the delicate eye area during application. After trying it ourselves, we can say it checks all the boxes. It Cosmetics' liner is clinically proven waterproof, even after eight hours of wear. It's also infused with anti-aging ingredients including hydrolyzed collagen, silk proteins, and vitamins C and E.
Best for Sensitive Eyes: Julep When Pencil Met Gel Long Lasting Eyeliner
Ophthalmologist-tested and proven to last for up to 10 hours, Julep's waterproof liner formula is easy to use, sets in seconds and offers an intense color payoff to boot.
Best for Cat Eye: Laura Geller INKcredible Waterproof Gel Eyeliner Pencil
This waterproof, glide-on liner pen offers a precision tip for even application and transfer-proof wear all day and into the night. It won't smudge, run, or flake, keeping your cat eye in place for as long as you're out on the town.