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Even the most experienced cat-eye creators can struggle without the right liquid eyeliner. While it's tempting to go the prestige route, pricier doesn't always mean better when it comes to eyeliner (or any makeup, really). But finding the best drugstore liquid eyeliners is as easy as considering you preferred liner look — e.g., graphic and bold or sharp as a razor — and the type of tool you work best with. Oily lids or sweaty workout sessions will call for waterproof formulas, while liners that are marketed as smudge-proof should be long-lasting enough for an average day.
When choosing a liquid eyeliner, it's also helpful to consider the delivery method of the ink. Felt-tip pens, for instance, are great if you prefer to quite literally draw on your lines, as the marker-like applicator disperses the formula evenly and glides on smoothly so there's less chance of skipping or unevenness. There are also brush-tip liquid liners that require a steadier hand since you're painting the product onto your lids, so they’re best reserved for those who have already gotten the technique down. Because the brushes of these liners tend to be the thinnest, they're great for getting closer to the lash line (you will want to allow more drying time, however, because the formula tends to be more fluid). You’ll find both of these options in this guide to the best drugstore liquid eyeliners, ahead.
1. Best Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner Pen
This liquid eyeliner from Maybelline is a fan favorite on Amazon, with over 23,000 five-star reviews and counting. Delivering a waterproof formula for up to 24 hours of wear time, the EyeStudio Hyper Easy Liquid Liner uses a hexagon-shaped pen to give you a better, more stable grip. To promote even better control, the brand's flex-tip applicator bends slightly as you draw on your lines, so the pitch-black pigment deposits evenly without skipping.
2. Best Washable Liquid Eyeliner Pen
You don't always need a waterproof formula for liner that stays in place all day long. The Super Slim Liquid Eyeliner, from L’Oreal’s Infallible line, remains smudge-proof for up to 12 hours, but it washes right off without the help of heavy-duty makeup remover. The felt tip guarantees seamless application with even coverage so you can go from the inner corner of your eyes to the outer corner with a single pass. Press gently for a line as thin as the tapered tip of the pen, or press down more firmly for a thicker wing.
3. Best Liquid Eyeliner With A Super-Fine Tip
For the thinnest, most lash-hugging lines possible, COVERGIRL’s Get In Line Liquid Eyeliner features a tip that’s just 0.1 millimeter (if measurements mean nothing to you, the pointed tip of the L’Oréal liner listed above is 0.4 millimeter, so it's even thinner than that). Described as a "feather-fine" tip, the liquid liner has a contour-grip handle to help provide stability and precision since the brush is so flexible. Use it to create ultra-thin lines along your upper lash line, or build it up into a soft winged look.
4. Best Liquid Eyeliner Marker
If you're a fan of thick, bold lines, NYX’s Super Fat Eye Marker gives you all the drama in just a single stroke. Despite being bulkier than most other liquid liners, the marker has a felt tip that glides smoothly across your lids without dragging or skipping. The ink itself is a rich matte black color, and while it’s not waterproof, it’s still long lasting.
5. Honorable Mention
Inspired by calligraphy, this Almay liner features an inkwell bottle into which you dip your applicator to coat it in the pigment. The applicator has a tapered tip to give you more versatility with the lines you create (hold it lightly for thinner lines and press down for something thicker), while the ink itself offers 16 hours of wear time. It’s also impressive that this liner rings up at just $6 on Amazon, making it well worth adding to your makeup kit.