The Best Felt-tip Eyeliners of 2023

The Stila All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner is our top pick

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Best Felt-Tip Eyeliners

Byrdie / Lecia Landis

There are two types of people in this world: those who prefer liquid liners and those who, well, don't. If you identify as the former, you're going to want to keep reading—and if you swing more toward the latter, we would actually suggest the same. Why? Because being the liquid eyeliner lovers/connoisseurs we are, we decided to pay special respect to the class of liquid liners with felt-tip versions.

We tapped Los Angeles-based celebrity makeup artist Gilbert Soliz and New York City-based celebrity makeup artist Glenn Brownell for their expert insights on this particular makeup tool. And while we know those not used to liquid pens and markers might be skeptical, we have faith that these felt-tip eyeliners will convert you to the dark side (in the alluring form of dark, budge-proof, smooth cat eyes, that is.) Here are the all-time best felt-tip eyeliners we're wholeheartedly convinced liquid and non-liquid eyeliner lovers will love and adore equally.

Best Overall

Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner

5
Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner

Amazon

What We Like
  • Fast drying

  • Smudge- and water-proof

  • Marker-like tip provides precision

What We Don't Like
  • Might not work on sensitive skin

Without a doubt, this cult-favorite felt-tip eyeliner is not only a team Byrdie favorite but a beauty industry staple as well, with a loyal following of makeup artists and celebrities. But what exactly makes it so great? We blame the perfectly sized felt tip (not too big or too small), velvety smooth application, impeccable color spread, and budge-proof durability.

Price at time of publish: $24

Type: Liquid | Shades: 8  | Free Of: Sulfates, Parabens | Size: 0.02 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Editor’s Pick

EM Cosmetics All Day Wear Felt Tip Illustrative Eyeliner

EM Cosmetics Felt Tip Illustrative Eyeliner

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Smudge- and waterproof

  • Fast-drying

  • Maker-like tip provides precision

What We Don't Like
  • Too much liquid in consistency

Thanks to their marker-esque design, felt-tip eyeliners are typically the preferred choice when creating a dramatic (or not so dramatic—you do you) cat-eye. And according to former Byrdie Editorial Director Faith Xue, this illustrative felt-tip eyeliner from EM Cosmetics is one of the best she's ever tried. Not surprising, considering the eyeliner was inspired by the manga/comic book art pen and encourages big, bold, and beautiful lines. Plus, it's one of the fastest-drying and most durable formulas we've ever entrusted with our lash lines.

Price at time of publish: $22

Type: Liquid | Shades: 1 | Free of: Sulfates, Parabens, Silicones | Size: 0.019 oz | Cruelty Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Long-Wearing

Sigma Beauty Wicked Liquid Pen Eyeliner

Sigma Beauty Wicked Liquid Pen Eyeliner

 Courtesy of Sigma

What We Like
  • Lasts at least 8 hours

  • Smudge- and waterproof

  • Gives a flattering satin finish

  • Flexible felt tip for precision and desired width

What We Don't Like
  • Dries too quickly

The latest felt-tip eyeliner we've tried (and quickly fallen in love with), is this blacker-than-black iteration from Sigma that’s one to add to your arsenal if you demand 10-out-of-10 color payoff and long-wearing results. It's aptly named Wicked for its super-saturated jet-black hue, delivers a flattering satin finish, and will last you at least eight hours of wear thanks to its play-hard fade-, smudge-, and water-resistant formula.

Price at time of publish: $19

Type: Liquid, Satin | Shades: 1 | Free of: Sulfates, Parabens, Phthalates | Size: 0.1 oz | Cruelty Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best For Lash Growth

Eyeko Black Magic Liquid Eyeliner

eyeko black magic liquid eyeliner

Amazon

What We Like
  • Calligraphy-inspired felt tip impacts on one stroke

  • Widelash ingredient encourages lash growth

  • Smudge- and waterproof

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

Featuring a Japanese precision brush tip inspired by calligraphy, this jet-black felt-tip eyeliner delivers full impact with as little as one stroke. (Yep, it's just that good.) But its magic doesn't stop there. The cutting-edge formula also contains the brand's patented Widelash ingredient, which boasts a tripeptide boost to encourage lash growth for longer and more voluminous lashes in the long run. Oh, and it's smudge- and waterproof, to boot.

Price at time of publish: $22

Type: Liquid | Shades: 1 | Free of: Sulfates, Parabens, Phthalates | Size: 0.0135 oz | Cruelty Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Vegan

Ciaté London Fierce Flicks Precision Tip Liquid Liner

Ciaté London Fierce Flicks Precision Tip Liquid Liner

Ciaté London

What We Like
  • Easy to use

  • Flexible tip for control of application

  • Fade-free

What We Don't Like
  • Could dry up too quickly

Not only is this pigmented felt-tip eyeliner vegan, gluten-free, and cruelty-free, but it's also one of the best we've swiped in terms of precision and jet-black depth. Reviewers rave that it's flexibility makes it more intuitive to use than other options on the market so we'd say it's a great choice for beginners.

Price at time of publish: $19

Type: Liquid, Glossy | Shades: 1 | Free of: Sulfates, Parabens, Phthalates | Size: 0.81 oz | Cruelty Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Splurge

SURRATT Autographique Liquid Eyeliner

Autographique Liquid Eyeliner SURRATT

nordstrom

What We Like
  • Tip inspired by Japanese calligraphy-inspired brush

  • Very precise lining

  • Long-lasting

  • Refillable

What We Don't Like
  • You have to assemble the liner cartridge into the liner before using

For a splurge-worthy liner, New York City-based celebrity makeup artist  Glenn Brownell says this is one of his favorites. Inspired by Japanese calligraphy pens, he says it will give precise lines and is the perfect go-to for those graphic eye looks. It’s lightweight and glides easily with vibrant color; plus, it looks stunning.

Price at time of publish: $44

Type: Liquid | Shades: 4 | Free Of: N/A | Size: 0.01 oz | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Budget

Maybelline Eye Studio Master Precise Eyeliner

4.8
Maybelline Eye Studio Master Precise Eyeliner

Amazon

What We Like
  • Ultra-thin tip for precise lines

  • Vibrant color

  • Easy and smooth application

What We Don't Like
  • Reviewers say that it will run if you have oily skin

Brownell likes this pen because of its impressive pigment that he says stands up to higher-end options. It has an ultra-thin tip that glides on smoothly and is easy enough to control for precise lines. Reviewers also rave about the color payoff, which is pretty and vibrant.

Price at time of publish: $8

Type: Liquid | Shades: 3 | Free Of: N/A | Size: 0.037 oz | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best For Cat-Eye

Tom Ford Eye Defining Liquid Liner Pen

Tom Ford Eye Defining Liquid Liner Pen
What We Like
  • Double-ended liner

  • Vibrant black shade

  • Easy and smooth application

What We Don't Like
  • It tends to bleed

Los Angeles-based celebrity makeup artist Gilbert Soliz likes this liner for cat eyes because it’s double-ended: one end is an ultra-fine tip that he says is great for creating that “feline flick,” and the other tip is a wider brush for thicker lines.

Price at time of publish: $62

Type: Liquid | Shades: 1 | Free Of: Fragrance, Parabens, and Sulfates | Size: .03 oz | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Waterproof

Pat McGrath Labs Perma Precision Liquid Eyeliner

Pat McGrath Labs Perma Precision Liquid Eyeliner

Sephora

What We Like
  • It does not move

  • Vibrant black shade

  • Fine tip is flexible for easy application

What We Don't Like
  • Reviewers say that the liner may dry after 4-6 months

Brownell says that this liner makes for a great waterproof option as it won’t budge or transfer. It delivers sharp precision to define the eyes thanks to its flexible and thin felt tip. The color goes on vibrant and glides easily along the lid for your best eye looks.

Price at time of publish: $34

Type: Liquid | Shades: 1 | Free Of: Petroleum and parabens | Size: 0.041 oz | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best For Oily Lids

Make Up For Ever Aqua Resist Color Ink Liquid Eyeliner - White

AQUA RESIST COLOR INK Liquid Eyeliner White

Make Up For Ever

What We Like
  • Smudge-proof

  • Comes in two finishes: metallic and matte

  • Vibrant shades

  • Precise lines in one stroke

What We Don't Like
  • Reviewers say that it can be hard to get product onto the brush

Oily lids are the bane of liquid liners’ existence — except for this Make Up Forever pick that Soliz stands by.. He says it is smudge-proof, and once it sets, it will not budge. The ultra-thin felt tip gives you precise lines easily, and the color goes on bright for ultimate definition.

Price at time of publish: $26

Type: Liquid | Shades: 8 | Free Of: N/A | Size: 0.07 oz | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Bold Colors

Dior Diorshow On Stage Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner

dior-diorshow-on-stage-waterproof-liquid-eyeliner

Sephora

What We Like
  • It comes in 9 vibrant shades

  • Long-lasting

  • Flexible felt tip for easy application

What We Don't Like
  • Reviewers say it’s not as waterproof as they would like

Soliz loves this liner’s colors. From bright white to shimmery emerald green, you get nine vibrant shades with rich pigment for your boldest eye looks. It lasts pretty much all day and is super easy to use thanks to its flexible felt tip that hugs every curve as you define the eye.

Price at time of publish: $32

Type: Liquid | Shades: 9 | Free Of: Parabens, Formaldehydes, Phthalates, Mineral oil, and Sulfates | Size: 0.01 oz | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best For Beginners

Makeup By Mario Master Mattes Liquid Eyeliner

Makeup By Mario Master Mattes Liquid Eyeliner

Sephora

What We Like
  • Vibrant black shade

  • Flexible felt tip for easy application

  • Reviewers say it’s great for hooded eyes

What We Don't Like
  • Reviewers say that it transfers easily

For liner novices, Soliz recommends this option. He says it has a nice balance of shape and size to give you precise lines in one easy swoop. He — and all the reviews — also rave about its ultra-black shade that goes on vibrant.

Price at time of publish: $22

Type: Liquid | Shades: 1 | Free Of: Parabes | Size: 0.04 oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Final Verdict

Many experts and beauty lovers agree that the best overall liquid eyeliner is the Stila All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner.  With its vibrant color and true long-lasting power (seriously, it does not and will not move), it can’t be beaten. If you’re looking for beautiful bold colors outside of the classic black, opt for something like the Dior Diorshow On Stage Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner. You also don’t need to be masterful in the art of lining your eyes. Beginners should look to the Makeup by Mario Master Mattes Liquid Eyeliner for easy application.

Meet the Expert

  • Gilbert Soliz is a Los Angeles-based celebrity makeup artist. Soliz has worked with celebrities like Kim Petras, Mariah Carey, and Paris Hilton and has done many editorials in major fashion publications around the world.
  • Glenn Brownell is a New York City-based celebrity makeup artist. Brownell has worked with celebrities like Awkwafina and Nathalie Emmanuel.

What to Look For in a Felt-Tipped Eyeliner

Intensity

Liquid liners can create a pretty bold look, so consider the intensity of the formula before making your decision. Something deeply pigmented can help make your eyes pop. Liners come in many different colors nowadays, so it really just depends on what you’re going for.

Durability

You’re going to want to select a formula that won’t wear or crease throughout the day — one that will last you at least eight hours of wear.

Waterproof formula

If you know you’re going to be shedding a few (or a lot) of tears, opt for a waterproof eyeliner formula. The last thing you want is raccoon eyes at your best friend's wedding.

Formulation

Liners also come in smudge-proof formulations that help them last all day, which is especially important if you happen to have oily lids. For bolder eye looks that you really want to pop, opt for strong pigment intensity.

Applicator

Brownell says a felt-tip liner should be a happy medium between a firm tip and a soft tip. “The felt tip should be firm-stiff enough, so you have control, but flexible enough that it glides along the curve of your eye without skipping,” he says. Soliz adds that super-fine firm tips will help you achieve sharper lines, whereas thicker pens with softer tips are great for a classic line that defines the eyes.

FAQ
  • How do you apply felt-tipped eyeliner?

    Applying liquid eyeliner may sound like a real challenge to some, especially those with unsteady hands. The best way to approach this feat is by resting the elbow on a flat surface like a counter or vanity to steady your hand. Then lightly pull at your eye taut with the other hand and apply small dots or dashes as close to the lash line as possible. You’ll want then connect them together with short strokes, starting anywhere from the inner corner to the midpoint of the lash line. Piece of advice? Keep the line thinner at the start, only thickening it as you reach the outer corners.

  • How long does felt-tipped eyeliner last?

    Not very long! You should be replacing your liquid eyeliner (and mascara!) every three to six months as it has a short shelf life4. The reason is that liquid formulas are more likely to inhibit bacterial growth, which can lead to irritation or an eye infection.

  • Can you put felt-tipped eyeliner on your waterline?

    Your waterline is pretty sensitive, so we advise sticking to eye pencils that are designed for that part of the eye. You can, however, use felt-tipped eyeliner to line the lash line.

  • Are felt-tip eyeliners better?

    Soliz says it’s all about preference. He personally prefers classic liquid lines that have a brush (“It gives me a painter-like quality, and I love how they taper off at the edges,” he says), but it’s all about what you’re looking for in a liner. Brownell adds that felt-tip eyeliners can be more beginner-friendly than those with brush-tip applications as they are likened to when you use a pen; you can feel more in touch with the product, and it can be more comfortable to use.

  • Is felt-tip eyeliner easier to use?

    It definitely can be; you just have to practice. Brownell says to line the top lash line with your eyes open, looking straight ahead into a mirror. Don’t pull your skin taut or close your eyes, as he says you’ll want to create the shape on a relaxed eye to minimize any mistakes. Use the outer corner edge of your eyes as your guide as you glide the liner across. If you need help keeping your hand steady, he says to rest your elbow on a table as you apply liner on.

Why Trust Byrdie

Audrey Noble has over eight years of experience in the beauty industry, previously holding editorial positions at Vanity Fair, Allure, Byrdie, and Refinery29. Her work can be seen in Vogue, Harper’s BAZZAR, InStyle, WWD, Bustle, POPSUGAR, and more. As an eyeliner devotee with oily lids, she is always on the hunt for a long-lasting liner that will define her eyes and won’t smudge or transfer.

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