If you feel utterly naked without eyeliner, expand your horizons beyond Urban Decay's 24/7 pencil and KVD's Tattoo Eyeliner, and consider one of the best Japanese eyeliners featured here. Like other Japanese beauty products, these eyeliners are high performers in virtually every way that counts, from their staying power to their color payoff to their ease of application. The best one for you, though, will depend on the type of eyeliner you typically prefer (i.e. liquid, pencil, or gel; washable or waterproof).
These eyeliners are all relatively affordable, and most of these brands are drugstore staples in Japan. Only two liners here costs $20; the rest cost well under that. And in the absence of a local Japanese beauty store, a plane ticket, or a generous Japanese pen pal, you can find all these eyeliners right on Amazon. A much simpler option, if slightly less exciting.
Whether you like your eyeliner crisp and sharp, messy and matte, or able to stand up to sweat and tears, you’ll find what you're looking for in one of the five best Japanese eyeliners, listed ahead.
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1. A Classic Liquid Eyeliner From The Makers Of The "Best Mascara Ever"
From the creators of the best Japanese mascara of all time (this is a fact) comes this smooth liquid eyeliner — a staple in a well-rounded J-beauty routine. The water-resistant formula stays put in all kinds of weather (and on oily eyelids) and glides on smoothly for a clean, crisp line. Some amount of fading is inevitable over time, but the pigment stays pretty intense and doesn’t flake or peel off. The fine, flexible brush makes application easy for beginners, too.
2. A "Super Waterproof" Liner That Simply Will Not Budge
If you’re looking for a longer-lasting liquid liner, try this waterproof liner from DollyWink — another Japanese makeup OG, and a favorite among r/Asian Beauty Redditors and Amazon shoppers. It's really, truly long-lasting: One Amazon reviewer reported that this didn’t budge over the course of their 12-hour work shift. A few others commented that it outperforms the cult-favorite Stila and KVD liners, especially in terms of precision. This is also a good choice if you like your liquid liner looking slick, as it has a glossy, vinyl-like finish.
3. A Creamy Gel Pencil From One Of Japan's Most Popular Drugstore Makeup Brands
Canmake's Creamy Touch Liner is a great waterline and/or smudging-out pencil. Since it’s a gel, the glide factor is extremely satisfying (butter metaphors apply), and the color payoff is rich, bold, and a little glossier than a traditional eyeliner pencil. The point is really tiny, so you can get precise enough to draw on a cat-eye, or wiggle it between your lashes for a subtler effect.
4. Another Great Liquid Liner That In-The-Know Shoppers Rave About
It’s a little more under-the-radar than some of the other brands on this list, but Redditors absolutely rave about this Love Liner liquid eyeliner. (And many actually prefer it to more popular Japanese eyeliners.) It applies neatly, it’s highly pigmented, and it stays in place with minimal fading, but you can remove it with just some warm water when you’re ready to take your makeup off. The product itself seems to run out far less quickly than other tubes, so it should last you up to a year.
5. One Last Liquid Liner To Consider — & It Comes From Japan's Most Well-Known Beauty Brand
This liquid eyeliner from DHC, the iconic Japanese beauty brand, gets incredible reviews on Amazon, where customers rave about its smooth glide and the pen applicator that fits comfortably in your hand, which both make it really easy to achieve a sharp, clean wing. The formula claims to be water-resistant, but in practice, it seems to be seriously waterproof: One reviewer noted that it “survived two, 1-hour bawling sessions without smearing off at all!!” Pair it with DHC’s celebrity-approved Double Protection Mascara, especially if you’re after something natural-looking.