When it comes to makeup, there are few things more frustrating than nailing your cat-eye only to notice it's smudged (or even worse — disappeared entirely) a few hours later. Even if dramatic eye makeup isn't typically your style, allergies, humid weather, and, obviously, anything that involves water, can cause even the simplest swipe of liner to fade or smear. That's why it's important to keep one of the best waterproof eyeliners in your makeup kit.
Finding a waterproof eyeliner is pretty straightforward since they'll often be labeled as such. But that doesn't necessarily mean that all waterproof eyeliners are created equal. If you have sensitive eyes, waterproof formulas may not always agree with you since they contain more waxes and polymers to give them their longer staying power, which can be harsh on the gentle skin around your eyes. This means you may need to try a water-resistant formula instead, and you'll definitely want an eyeliner that's hypoallergenic, fragrance-free, and alcohol-free, too.
Of course, if you're using a waterproof formula, finding the proper eye makeup remover to go with it is just as important. To cut through waterproof eyeliner, you'll want an oil-based makeup remover (or, if the word "oil" freaks you out, an oil-free cleanser that's specifically formulated for waterproof makeup removal). Certain micellar waters should work, too. Using a specially-formulated makeup remover not only ensures you're removing every last trace of waterproof eyeliner, but it also eliminates the need to aggressively scrub your eyes, which can cause irritation (and a few lost lashes).
Below, discover five of the best waterproof eyeliners you can buy.
1. The Best Cheap Waterproof Eyeliner
For a budget-friendly pick, this Prestige waterproof eyeliner is a favorite of Amazon reviewers. The retractable pencil doesn't require sharpening, and it features a rounded point that lets you draw on precise or thicker lines with ease. Available in a classic black and a range of other shades including dark brown, forest green, and navy blue, each long-lasting eyeliner is richly pigmented and easy to blend.
"This definitely lasts all day," commented one reviewer. "I can wear it for hours and it still looks black, which isn't always the case with pencil liners. Sometimes they start to look gray after the makeup has worn down a bit, but that doesn't happen to me with this at all."
2. The Best Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner
As difficult as it can be to perfect, there's no denying liquid eyeliner's ability to create crisp, clean lines. The Stila Stay All Day waterproof eyeliner is a longtime cult-favorite: Everyone from makeup artists to beauty editors to Amazon reviewers are fans (it even has over 3,600 perfect five-star reviews). The fine-point marker tip lets you create ultra-thin lines, but it's also easy to build into something thicker. The formula goes on smoothly without skipping or pulling, and the color payoff is rich enough to only require one pass (instead of needing to draw over your lines multiple times, which further runs the risk of messing them up). Despite being a liquid, it dries down quickly and doesn't smudge or fade once it sets. Get it in a range of blue and green shades, in addition to classic colors like black, brown, and gray.
3. The Best Waterproof Gel Eyeliner
This eyeliner duo comes with a pot of pigmented gel liner and a brush that allows you to create any type of lined look you could dream up. The creamy, oil-free gel is easy to apply, intensely saturated, and waterproof for up to 24 hours. The Maybelline Eyestudio Lasting Drama gel liner also gets the Amazon seal of approval, with over 1,300 five-star reviews. In addition to two classic black colors — blackest black and a gray-tinged charcoal — you can get this gel liner in brown and a gorgeous eggplant-purple shade.
4. The Best Waterproof Pencil Eyeliner
For a classic eyeliner pencil, one of the best formulas on the market is the Buxom Hold The Line waterproof liner. The bold formula remains waterproof and smudge-proof for up to 14 hours of wear, and it glides on smoothly for bold, even color with each swipe. Despite being waterproof, the pencil still gives you some wiggle room before it sets, which is perfect for creating smoky eyes. It comes with its own sharpener, too, and it's available in eight shimmery colors, including emerald green, champagne, and sparkling purple.
5. The Best Waterproof Eyeliner For Sensitive Eyes
For super-sensitive eyes, a truly waterproof formula that's nonirritating can be hard to find. As an alternative, the Neutrogena Precision Liquid Eyeliner is water-resistant, smudge-proof, hypoallergenic, and made with ingredients that are gentler on eyes. Even though it's a liquid liner, the pigmented formula dries quickly and won't fade or flake off. Plus, since it's not completely waterproof, it's easier to remove, so you won't have to rub or irritate your eyes trying to take it off.
"I bought this due to eyelid eczema, and it does not irritate at all," shared one reviewer. Another wrote: "This eyeliner stays put through a lot of water and wear. But what I've noticed that is really special is that unlike other waterproof eyeliner it will not get kind of flaky after long wear."
6. A Waterproof Eyeliner With The Most Color Options
If you're all about a bold statement eye, you'll love the color options in which this NYX Slide On Pencil comes. From shimmering green to silver and gold to purples, pink, and blues, there's no shortage of colors to experiment with (it also comes in a classic jet black shade, as well as a sparkling black that's great for dramatic smoky eyes). Then, there's the liner formula itself, which gets rave reviews for being pigmented and applying as smoothly as a liquid eyeliner without being as difficult to master for some. These waterproof liners are also PETA-certified cruelty-free, and because they require sharpening, they stay fresher, longer.
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