In the high-stakes world of liquid eyeliner, there is no substitute for practice. I tell you this as someone who’s worn winged liner almost every day for the past 10 years. But with that said, using the right tools can certainly give you a helping (and steadying) hand — which is why I've put together this guide to the best liquid eyeliners for beginners. These liners come housed in pen or marker applicators with short, stiff tips, which gives you much more control than an inkpot and a long, bendy brush. Formula-wise, they’re richly pigmented and on the wet side, so they’ll glide onto your lids seamlessly. Some even boast ergonomically designed handles to mitigate slippage.
There are some tricks that can facilitate the process, too. To start, rest the elbow of your drawing arm on a flat surface to keep your hand steady. Then, hold your liner horizontally to draw short strokes across your lid — or, even easier, draw your line with a pencil eyeliner first, then trace over it with a liquid. And if you’re doing a cat eye, a piece of Scotch tape works perfectly as a stencil. (Lay it down between the outer corner of your eye and the end of your eyebrow.)
Then take a deep breath, have some cotton swabs and micellar water handy, and get to work with one of the best liquid eyeliners for beginners, rounded up ahead.
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1. Tie: Best Drugstore Liquid Eyeliner For Beginners
This felt-tip liner from NYX has garnered over 20,000 five-star ratings on Amazon, so it’s the clear favorite among both pros and beginners alike. The nib is fairly short and just a bit flexible, which gives you lots of control; and it’s extremely pointed, so you can easily draw wings “as sharp as a sword,” as one Amazon reviewer wrote. According to another reviewer, the inky-black formula is “ridiculously waterproof,” and it won’t transfer on oily lids. Several customers have picked this up as a more affordable alternative to KVD Beauty’s cult-favorite Tattoo Liner, not least because this one’s also cruelty-free and vegan.
2. Tie: Best Drugstore Liquid Eyeliner For Beginners
The name pretty much says it all: Maybelline Hyper Easy Liquid Eyeliner is designed to make life a little easier for novices, right down to the unique, hexagonal grip that fits snugly in your hand for maximum control. The brush tip is a little more flexible and maneuverable than a felt tip, so it glides smoothly along the natural shape of your eye, and you can adjust the thickness of your line seamlessly. With over 10,000 five-star ratings, it’s another Amazon favorite — though this leaves behind a slightly glossy, satin finish, as opposed to the NYX liner’s matte finish.
3. Best Prestige Liquid Eyeliner For Beginners
In the world of prestige eye makeup, stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner reigns supreme. It happens to be an excellent choice for beginners, too. The super-pigmented formula flows effortlessly from the pen applicator, so it’s almost impossible not to get a clean, crisp line on your first or second try. It’s also the rare liquid liner that comes in colors other than black. The brown shade pictured is a subtler alternative to black; or, you can try something like white or pink for a bolder, more playful look.
- Available shades: Alloy, Dark Brown, Intense Black, Intense Jade, Intense Labradorite, Intense Smoky Quartz, Midnight, Paradise Pink, White
4. Best Chubby Liquid Eyeliner For Beginners
This Eyeko Fat Liquid Eyeliner looks exactly like those markers you probably used in elementary school. Assuming your motor skills have advanced since then, using it on your lids isn’t much harder than that. The chubby applicator has a lot to do with the ease-of-use factor, but it also helps that the formula is very wet — no skips, no tugging, and no need to retrace your line. Considering its size, it’s surprisingly versatile, too, since the point is fine enough to draw the tip of your cat eye.
"I will never use another liquid eyeliner again!" one Amazon reviewer raved. "I don’t spend hours getting dolled up, but I can get the PERFECT winged eyeliner in ONE SWIPE. This is the greatest thing ever invented."
5. Author's Pick
I’ve tried countless liquid eyeliners over the past decade, but this one from L’Oreal — the first one I ever used — consistently outperforms them all. The ergonomically designed grip gives you tons of control, even if your hands are a little shaky, and the washable formula makes it easy to fix mistakes as you’re working. But it stays on well once it dries — it doesn’t get patchy or dull, and it maintains its rich, glossy finish all day long. (I always have one in my bag, but rarely need to use it for touchups.) The product itself lasts forever, too. I’ve had my current tube for about a year, and the formula is just as wet now as it was when I first bought it. I buy these two at a time, *just in case* my worst fears come to pass and L’Oreal discontinues them.