If you count Margot Tenenbaum, Marla Singer, or an Addams Family member among your beauty icons, you’re in the right place. The best eyeliners for smudging are all soft and creamy for a seamless smudging experience, with a pigment that's concentrated enough to remain opaque and dramatic, rather than smeary and disappear-y, when you blend it out. Beyond that, a waterproof formula is a good choice if you have watery eyes (or if you plan on sweating, sleeping, or doing any activity for several hours in your smoky eye), or a kajal for the most intense color payoff.
All the eyeliners on this list are smudge-appropriate, so you can stop your search here. But for future reference, a good hack is to look for an eyeliner with a smudger sponge on the other end, which implies that the formula is intended to smoke out easily. You can also look for anything with “kohl” in the title, which’ll give you a nice, sooty payoff.
For your best messy-in-a-good-way look, take your pick from any of the five best eyeliners for smudging, listed below.
We only recommend products we love and that we think you will, too. We may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was written by our Commerce team.
1. The Best-Seller
This best-selling Rimmel eyeliner has over 8,000 five-star reviews on Amazon, as well as over 1,000 five-star reviews (and counting). This just-soft-enough pencil is great for blending, as evidenced by the built-in smudger (and all those rave reviews), but since it's waterproof, it won’t smudge any more than you want it to after it sets. One Amazon reviewer reported that it even lasted throughout an entire wedding extravaganza, and presumably all the sweating and crying involved therein.
2. Best Kajal
Kajal pencils are known for their rich pigmentation, smooth glide, and creamy, workable textures, which is basically every element of a good smudging pencil. This one from L’Oreal is one of the best kajals you can get from a drugstore brand. A few reviewers note that it arguably smudges too easily, so use a light touch and have some setting powder on hand if you don’t intend to go full-on Marilyn Manson today. The included sharpener is a welcome bonus, too, since it can be hard to track down a sharpener big enough to suit a kajal’s signature thick stem.
3. Best Cream
One-and-done, luxury edition: This jane iredale eyeliner. Its unique, powdery-cream consistency is literally made for smudging, as is the stiff, tapered brush that snaps into the cap. Plus, the water-resistant formula won’t crease, smear, or flake after it sets. It comes in some gorgeous jewel tones beyond Onyx (the ultra-rich black linked here), like Sapphire, Amethyst, Emerald, and Smoky Quartz, for those unafraid of colored liner.
4. Best Multitasker
That skinny Rimmel pencil is rivaled in popularity only by this thick eye pencil from NYX, which boasts just over 8,000 five-star reviews on Amazon. It's a lot more versatile, though: With its chubby point, easy blendability, generous color payoff, and 14-shade range, this works equally well as an eyeshadow, highlighter, or eyeshadow base as it does a smudge-worthy eyeliner. It rings up at just under $4, so you’re certainly getting your money’s worth with this one.
5. Best Splurge
By Terry specializes in luxury makeup, and professional MUAs swear by their products. So although this kohl pencil is inarguably expensive, it is arguably one of the best-quality eyeliners you can get, period. It’s made of emollient wax for a super-soft consistency and oil-slick finish, and its waterproof formulation promises to last up to eight hours. The tip sharpens beautifully, too, so you can draw a precise cat-eye if you're not into the smudge-y thing today. Or, glide this along your waterline without worrying about tiny wood chips assaulting your eyes.