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Eyeliner that ruins your lashes? You don’t need that type of negativity in your life. Waterproof formulas are usually considered the best non-problematic eyeliners, but for those who want staying power that doesn’t compromise skin sensitivity or their lashes, oil-free eyeliner is the way to go.
Green beauty makeup artist and content creator Samantha Kolk agrees wholeheartedly: “Oil-free eyeliners are great for false lashes and lash extensions, as there's no oil to possibly break down the glue in the falsies," she explains. "They’re great for those with hooded lids, as well, because there’s not as much movement from the oils warming up on your lids and potentially transferring.” (If you haven’t done an ingredient search, you might even find that some of your faves are already oil-free.)
Whether you love your love falsies or you prefer your lashes au naturale, the best oil-free eyeliners are ideal for everything from simple lines to dramatic, playful looks. Check out our top picks.
Best Overall: Marc Jacobs Highliner Gel Eye Crayon
Don’t you love when a formula just gets it right? This cult-favorite eyeliner pleases users time and time again. With more than 40 shades to choose from and multiple finishes like matte, shimmer, satin, and glitter, you can have as much fun as you want without sacrificing your lashes. Plus, this gel liner delivers intense waterproof color for 12-hour wear.
What Our Testers Say
"The liner didn’t smudge or run on me when I wore it on the top lash line—I found that it really held up through some long days." —Ashley Rebecca, Product Tester
Best Budget: Essence Long-Lasting Eye Pencil
Smooth, simple, and long-lasting, this oil-free eyeliner gets the job done. Plus, at less than $5, it’s definitely worth the try. Users say it glides on effortlessly and creates effortless tight lines on the upper lid.
Best Drugstore: Maybelline Eyestudio Lasting Drama Gel Eye Liner
This gel pot eyeliner wins on multiple fronts. It’s safe for contact lens-wearers and is specially designed to last up to 24 hours. The pigment is supersaturated, and as a bonus, who doesn’t feel like a pro-MUA using the efficient applicator brush?
Best Applicator: KVD Vegan Beauty Tattoo Liner
This award-winning vegan and cruelty-free eyeliner gets major points for its precision applicator. Simply shake before use to get the formula flowing and you’ll be able to create everything from fine, exact lines to thick wings and cat eyes. This formula is buildable so if the pigment isn’t rich enough for your first swipe, layer it on for more intense color.
To preserve lash extensions, be sure to gently remove your eyeliner with an oil-free eye makeup remover. We recommend using a cotton swab for precise removal that doesn’t disturb your lashes.
Best for Lash Growth: Fitglow Beauty Lash Boost Eyeliner
“I love [this] eyeliner!” says Kolk. “It's a unique, 3-in-1 vegan formula that defines, lines, and even improves the look of your lashes. I love everything that Fitglow creates and this is definitely not an exception! The eyeliner is a semi-waterproof formula and it uses plants and peptides such as kale, carrot, and bamboo to help promote lash follicle strength and growth. It also has cucumber, which nourishes, conditions, and hydrates your lashes. So essentially, you're buying a lash serum with natural mineral and plant pigment for definition all while improving the health of your lashes.”
Best Pencil: Smashbox Always Sharp Longwear Waterproof Kôhl Eyeliner Pencil
If liquids and gels aren’t your cup of tea, you can always rely on this waterproof pencil from Smashbox. It’s self-sharpening, so you can expect your precision tip to deliver every single time you twist open the cap. It’s made of hyperpigmented kohl for a high color payoff that works well on the waterline and the inner lash rim. Users also say that it doesn’t irritate sensitive eyes.
Best Liquid: Beauty Bakerie Lollipop Eyeliner
According to Kolk, oil-free eyeliner won’t smudge and has built-in staying power, so it will last much longer. This smudge-proof liquid liner, in particular, is living up to that standard! The felt tip makes for an easy application and users say that it doesn’t flake or run.
Best Splurge: Tom Ford Eye Defining Liquid Liner Pen
If you’re willing to invest a bit more to get the products you love, then this luxury liner is for you. It has dual-ended sides—one with a fine calligraphy tip and another with a brush to create a wide range of sleek or dramatic results. The formula delivers intense pigment and users say it’s sweat and humidity-resistant.
Best for False Lashes: BeautyGarde Oil-Free Liquid Eyeliner
All of the liners on this list are safe for falsies, but this liquid eyeliner was made with the preservation of lash extensions in mind. It has a unique extended tip for precision application over lashes and unique eye shapes. It can even be applied over magnetic lashes!
Best Pigment: Honest Beauty Liquid Eyeliner
This vegan and cruelty-free liner has an ink-black, high-pigment formula for an ultra-rich finish. The flexible applicator tip is super easy to control and creates smooth satin lines that last up to eight hours. No flaking or smudging here!
Best 2-in-1: Lilly Lashes Power Line with Lash Adhesive
For those who love to find hacks that can shorten your beauty routine without sacrificing style, this one’s for you. It has the dual benefit of being an eyeliner and a lash adhesive all in one. The innovative formula provides a tacky, latex-free line with bold, pigmented color that binds directly to your lash. Simply apply two layers, allow the liner to dry into a tack glue, and then apply your lashes. Pay extra attention to the inner corners of your lids to make sure your lashes remain secure.
When it comes to oil-free eyeliners, we can’t get enough of the Marc Jacobs Highliner Gel Eye Crayon Eyeliner. It’s gel crayon formula is the best of both worlds and comes in several finishes so you can play as much as you want without sacrificing your lashes. In terms of pencils, the Smashbox Always Sharp Waterproof Kôhl Eyeliner Pencil is one of the best options around—users love that it’s self-sharpening and that it delivers deep, intense color. If liquid liners are more your speed, look no further than the smudge-proof Beauty Bakerie Lollipop Liners Liquid Eyeliner.
What to Look For in an Oil-Free Eyeliner
There are lots of risky ingredients hiding in many eyeliners on the market. Makeup artist Sammie Kolk says, “I always look for a gentle formula that won't sting or irritate my eyes. I am pretty sensitive and always look for more natural formulations—but ones that actually stay and work.” If you have skin sensitivities, it’s important to find ophthalmologist-tested eyeliners.
Not all liners are created equal! Some have a more translucent color and need to be applied multiple times to get the payoff you’re looking for. While there are liquid eyeliners out there that get it right, if intense pigments are important to you, your safest bets will be gel and pencil eyeliners.
Sure, applying eyeliner with your falsies might seem simple in theory, but depending on your level of makeup experience, the type of applicator tip that your liner has will make a major difference in your look. Thin felt tips will deliver tighter lines while brushes and thick tips might be better for creating cat eyes. Consider the look you’re going for to decide which applicator is best for you.
Why Trust Byrdie
Byrdie contributor Kindra Moné has been creating fashion and beauty content since 2013. Whether contributing to some of the top women’s lifestyle magazines or working in-house with global brands, Kindra has collaborated with some of the most knowledgeable beauty professionals in the industry. When she isn’t writing or trying out Instagram recipes, she’s giving wellness tips and sharing fashion news on The StylingSOUL Podcast.
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 oil-free eyeliners from a Black-owned and/or Black-founded business 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.