White eyeliner isn't anything new, but the do-it-all makeup product is currently having a moment. You can use it on your upper or lower waterline to make your eyes look bigger or create a winged effect with a liquid formula.
"I love using white eyeliner in a line through the eye socket for a mod-inspired look," celebrity makeup artist Jamie Dorman tells Byrdie. And no matter what your technique is, she says, "It always helps to brighten the eye and make you look more awake."
We conducted hours of research on the best white eyeliners, evaluating each on formula, texture, and ease of application. We also took into consideration how long each eyeliner lasted and how it handled throughout the day. Then we combined these results along with our own research and makeup artist recommendations to come up with the best in show.
Anastasia Beverly Hills Norvina Chroma Stix
Most people agree Anastasia Beverly Hills is the queen of eyebrow products, but the brand also reigns supreme in the long-wear eyeliner category. This twist-up pencil is ultra-pigmented (even in the white shade), offering bright, bold, pro-level results for up to eight hours.
The waterproof formula glides on oh-so-smoothly and resists smudging, smearing, and fading throughout the day. Want something a little more subtle for your waterline or tear ducts? Go with the apricot nude shade.
Price at time of publish: $18
Type: Twist-up pencil | Shade: White | Waterproof: Yes | Size: 0.1 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No
Essence Kajal Eye Pencil
May smudge on oily skin
On a budget? This super-affordable eye pencil won't let you down. The white shade goes on easily and is surprisingly pigmented—just bear in mind it's more prone to smudging on oilier skin types.
Price at time of publish: $2
Type: Pencil | Shade: White | Waterproof: No | Size: 0.05 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Maybelline New York Tattoo Studio Waterproof Eyeliner
Prone to smudging
From the drugstore category, we're all about Maybelline TattooStudio. As its name suggests, this waterproof eyeliner offers seemingly permanent results for up to 36 hours—no smudging, no fading, no smearing.
Price at time of publish: $10
Type: Pencil | Shade: Polished White | Waterproof: Yes | Size: 0.05 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No
Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner
Hard to remove
Prefer liquid liners? Stila is your best bet. This award-winning product is easier to use than most in its category, thanks to the ultra-fine, marker-like tip and smooth-gliding formula that dries quickly without smudging.
Price at time of publish: $23
Type: Liquid | Shade: Snow | Waterproof: Yes | Size: 0.05 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Morphe 2 Always Online Gel Eyeliner
We also like Morphe 2. This twist-up gel eyeliner is creamy and blendable but also long-lasting. It's waterproof, too, so you won't have to worry about smears or transfers for up to eight hours.
Price at time of publish: $6
Type: Twist-up pencil | Shade: Whimsy White | Waterproof: Yes | Size: 0.1 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best for Waterline
Tarte Fake Awake Eyeliner
Makes eyes look bigger
"You can put white eyeliner on the waterline to help make your eyes appear bigger," says makeup artist Delina Medhin. With this in mind, Tarte Fake Awake is a matte nude that simultaneously neutralizes redness and makes the whites of your eyes look brighter.
Price at time of publish: $20
Type: Twist-up pencil | Shade: Universal Nude | Waterproof: No | Size: 0.01 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Delina recommends, “Apply your white eyeliner at the waterline and stop right where the whites of the eyes are for a more natural-looking application. If you bring it all the way to the corner of the eye, it tends to look more dramatic!”
Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil
Not ideal for sensitive eyes
The shimmery metallic Yeyo shade of this award-winning eyeliner offers a stunning pearlescent effect. We appreciate that that waterproof gel formula glides on super smooth and lasts all day (or night).
Price at time of publish: $23
Type: Gel pencil | Shade: Yeyo | Waterproof: Yes | Size: 0.05 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Fenty Beauty Flypencil Longwear Pencil Eyeliner in Bad Bride
Goes on smooth
When you're feeling kinda fancy, reach for Fenty's Flypencil. The Bad Bride shade is a highly pigmented white shade with a hint of silver glitter. Not only that, but the twist-up design is easy to use, and the gel-like formula glides effortlessly without pulling or dragging on your lids.
Price at time of publish: $23
Type: Twist-up pencil | Shade: Bad Bride | Waterproof: No | Size: 0.01 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes
ColourPop BFF Ultra Fine Liquid Liner
Hard to remove
"White eyeliner can be used as a backdrop for jewels à la Euphoria-style eye makeup," says Dorman. If you like this look, ColourPop BFF is, well, your new best friend. It's got an ultra-fine felt tip for easy lines, dots, and wings, and you can expect intense pigmentation in a single swipe.
Price at time of publish: $9
Type: Liquid | Shade: Graceland | Waterproof: No | Size: 0.2 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes
NYX Professional Makeup Retractable Eyeliner in White
Hard to remove
This retractable eyeliner promises to last for hours and hours without smudging or transferring, holding up in hot, humid environments. Basically, it lasts as long as you want it to, and may even resist when you finally try to take it off.
Price at time of publish: $7
Type: Twist-up pencil | Shade: White | Waterproof: Yes | Size: 0.01 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Shadow Stick
Sells out quickly
This liner-shadow hybrid from Halsey's makeup brand About-Face is the versatile eye product you didn't know you needed. It offers impressive pigment in a single stroke, blends effortlessly, and lasts for 10 or more hours.
Price at time of publish: $14
Type: Shadow stick | Shade: Oxide | Waterproof: No | Size: 0.05 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best for Sensitive Eyes
Jane Iredale Eye Pencil
Goes on smoothly
Could be longer lasting
If you have sensitive eyes or wear contact lenses and plan to be tightlining your eyes, you want a pencil that won't irritate or cause redness. This creamy eye pencil glides on without tugging or pulling and the mineral-based formula is ideal for sensitive eyes. With shea butter, macadamia seed oil, and vitamin E, it's nourishing and gentle on sensitive eyes. The white shade is opaque for dramatic looks.
Price at time of publish: $19
Type: Pencil | Shade: White | Waterproof: No | Size: 0.04 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Sephora Collection Eye Pencil
A little goes a long way
Bright, frosty white shade
This creamy-matte pencil by Sephora Collection comes is tiny and glides on so effortlessly. If you're looking for a cool white and matte finish without a speck of glitter, the shade To Go is a perfect fit. Despite its small size, you get a lot of product out of it for a great value.
Price at time of publish: $13
Type: Pencil | Shade: To Go | Waterproof: No | Size: 0.025 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No
Our top pick is Anastasia Beverly Hills Norvina Chroma Stix in the shade White, a twist-up pencil flaunting ultra-pigmented, smooth-gliding, smudge-resistant results. If you're looking to spice things up with a glitter shade, we recommend Fenty Beauty Flypencil Longwear Pencil Eyeliner in Bad Bride. And if you don't want to spend more than pocket change on the trend, go with Essence's Kajal Eye Pencil, a long-wearing option.
How We Researched
To compile this list, our team of editors and contributors spent hours researching the best products on the market in this category, evaluating their key features—like ingredients, shade range, or design—in addition to reviews from customers and other trusted sources. We then used this research to assign a star rating from one to five (five being the best; one being the worst) to certain products on the list.
Meet the Expert
- Jamie Dorman is an NYC-based celebrity makeup artist. She also works as a creative director at The Only Agency and a beauty editor at Lucire.
- Delina Medhin is an NYC-based makeup artist, content creator, and educator.
What to Look for in White Eyeliner
Makeup artist Delina Medhin recommends using an eyeliner that matches the natural color of your waterline or just slightly brighter. For fair skin tones, this might mean staying true to snow-white liners, while darker skin tones may prefer a nude or neutral shade, like Tarte Fake Awake Eyeliner in Universal Nude or the Charlotte Tilbury Rock N Kohl Liquid Eye Pencil in Eye Cheat.
Nudes can also look great on fair skin for a more natural look. However, no matter your skin tone, the whiter the eyeliner, the bigger the pop. So choose wisely.
Are you looking for a white eyeliner that can withstand water and tears? Or are you more comfortable with a creamier formula that will last just long enough to get through the day? Whatever you prefer, most products clearly detail the level of water resistance and staying power, so you can make the best decision for your needs. Many products on this list are waterproof, including Maybelline New York Tattoo Studio Waterproof Eyeliner, and some are water-resistant like Fenty Beauty Flypencil Longwear Pencil Eyeliner.
All eyeliners are not created equal. Be on the lookout for clean products made without harmful chemicals, and give priority to cruelty-free products. If you have sensitive skin or eyes, be sure that your eyeliner is also ophthalmologist-tested to be safe for contacts and dermatologist-tested to be non-irritating. Note that shimmery options may not be the best choice if your eyes are sensitive, as shimmer particles have the potential to flake into your eye and cause irritation. Instead, pick a matte eyeliner. We love the quality of Tarte Fake Awake Eyeliner, which boasts ingredients that are natural, dermatologist-tested to be non-irritating, and cruelty-free.
Gel eyeliners, liquids, and cream formulas all serve different purposes. Liquids can be great for precise lines but can often be too tricky for the waterline, while cream and kohl formulas blend softly for a natural look. Gel eyeliners tend to work better for smudging and creating smoky eyes. It takes a bit of experimentation to understand the difference between the types, but for newbies, we recommend gel, like the Morphe Gel Eyeliner for easy and seamless application.
What does white eyeliner do?
When applied to your waterline, white eyeliner can create a more wide-awake appearance and make your eyes look bigger. If you're using the liner to impart this effect, make sure you're working with a soft formula to prevent any pulling, tugging, or scratching at the sensitive area. White eyeliner can also be used along your upper lashes to create a graphic effect that makes your lashes pop or as a base for your eyeshadow to give brights and neons a truer color payoff.
How should I use white eyeliner?
To create a more wide-eyed appearance, run your white eyeliner along your lower lash line, then apply mascara onto areas of your bottom lashes that may have gotten covered in the liner. You can also run the white eyeliner along your upper lash line to give your cat-eye a graphic spin or as an eyeshadow base. Simply fill in your lid with the white liner, press the shadow over the top, then blend out the edges with an eyeshadow brush.
Can I use white eyeliner on my waterline?
Yes. According to Medhin, putting white liner in your waterline can make your eyes appear larger. But be sure to use a sharp pencil, whether it's a twist-up or kohl pencil and not a liquid liner, for the best, most long-lasting results. And apply extra carefully to be sure you don't scratch your eye.
Why Trust Byrdie
Theresa Holland is a commerce beauty writer and freelance content creator. She considered dozens of white eyeliners for this roundup, evaluating each on formula, texture, and ease of application. She also consulted our testing insights and makeup artist recommendations to compile this list. Theresa has been contributing to Byrdie regularly since 2020, where she covers makeup, skincare, haircare, and lifestyle products.
According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find enough white eyeliners from Black-owned and/or Black-founded businesses to meet this percentage. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will evaluate the product ASAP.