The Best Eyeliners For Watery Eyes

Written by Marissa DeSantis
Elite Daily/Amazon
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Having watery eyes can make wearing any kind of eye makeup difficult. But it can feel especially frustrating to take the time to precisely line your eyes, only to have that eyeliner smudge or disappear just a few hours later. While the causes of watery eyes are numerous, ranging from something as simple as allergies to more complex medical conditions, finding the right eyeliner is more straightforward. The best eyeliners for watery eyes can be liquids or pencils, but they’ll always be waterproof formulas. If you know that your watery eyes are due to allergies, skin sensitivities, or contact lenses, you may want to look for a waterproof eyeliner that’s hypoallergenic and/or marketed as safe for sensitive eyes.

Makeup Tips For Watery Eyes

While the right eyeliner is key when you have watery eyes, there are other factors that can contribute to the condition (or that could just be making things worse). Before you go in with your eyeliner, make sure it hasn’t passed its recommended shelf life. According to Cleveland Clinic, liquid eyeliner should be replaced every six months, while pencils can be used until they run out (that’s because regularly sharpening the pencil removes the part that has previously touched your eyes).

To help give your eyeliner (and eyeshadow) increased longevity, you might want to start by using an eye primer to give your liner more grip. You also might want to consider skipping the tightlining, as applying eyeliner inside the lash line can cause further irritation and watering (it can also potentially clog the oil glands along the waterline, which can lead to styes and even infection). Lastly, you’ll want to be sure that you’re thoroughly removing all of your eye makeup at the end of the day. Because waterproof makeup is quite literally designed to withstand exposure to water, you’ll want to reach for a heavy-duty oil-based cleanser or micellar water when you’re ready to wash off your eyeliner.

Shop The Best Eyeliners For Watery Eyes

In a hurry? Here are the best eyeliners for watery eyes:

  1. Best Prestige Liquid Liner For Watery Eyes: Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner
  2. Best Liquid Liner Under $10: NYX Epic Ink Liner
  3. Best Eye Pencil For Watery Eyes: L’Oréal Paris Infallible Never Fail Eyeliner
  4. Best Gel Pencil For Watery Eyes: Rimmel London Scandaleyes Waterproof Gel Pencil
  5. Best For Sensitive Eyes: Jillian Dempsey Khol Eyeliner

1. Best Prestige Liquid Eyeliner For Watery Eyes

This Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner has been a long-time favorite among beauty editors for its easy-to-use, marker-like tip and long-lasting formula that’s waterproof, transfer-proof, and smudge-proof. The award-winning liquid liner comes in multiple neutral shades, as well as more colorful navy blue and dark green options. And if using eyeliner to create the thinnest of lines is your thing, the pen is also available in a finer micro-tip size that still has the same waterproof formula.

  • Available Shades: 8

Relevant Review: “I tried this based off some recommendations, and could not be more satisfied. I wear contact lenses so my eyes tend to be more watery and I have really oily skin, and I have never found a waterproof or long-lasting eyeliner that was not sliding and melting off within an hour of applying. Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner has stayed in place through the hottest, most humid weather, through tears, you name it. And I love the felt-tip style applicator…it is so easy to make perfect wings every time. Best eyeliner I have ever used.”

2. Best Liquid Liner Under $10

There are more than 50,000 five-star ratings on Amazon for this waterproof liquid eyeliner pen, which is available in classic black and brown colors. NYX’s Epic Ink Liner features a tapered felt-tip brush that allows you to precisely draw on thin and thick lines (just push down slightly as you swipe the pen across your lids for a thicker line). Plus, it’s cruelty-free and vegan.

  • Available Shades: 2

Relevant Review: “This liner is hands down the best I have ever tried out. The tip is perfect for getting those smooth, sharp wings we all desire. Stayed put through my 10 hour workday with no smearing or bleeding, even in my inner corner; and I have super watery eyes. Would highly recommend!”

3. Best Eye Pencil For Watery Eyes

For a mechanical pencil that still allows you to refresh the tip for razor-sharp lines even after repeated use, this L’Oréal Paris Infallible Never Fail Eyeliner comes with a built-in sharpener. (There’s also a smudger at the opposite end to help diffuse the liner for when you want a smokier effect.) To keep the pencil from drying out or feeling like you have to drag it across your lids, the formula contains moisturizing ingredients like cupuacu seed butter, hyaluronic acid, and sunflower seed oil.

  • Available Shades: 7

Relevant Review: “For me, this is the best eyeliner I found. It is soft enough that the color goes on without hurting your eyelids, but not so soft that it smears or is washed away by eye drops or tears. It does not cost a fortune either.”

4. Best Gel Pencil For Watery Eyes

As far as eye pencils go, some people prefer to use gel formulas because their smoother, thicker consistency makes it easier to glide the pigment across your eyelids. Waterproof, smudge-proof, sweat-proof, and heat-proof, Rimmel London’s Scandaleyes Waterproof Gel Pencil also delivers some serious color payoff, despite costing less than $5 on Amazon. The formula is dermatologist- and ophthalmologist-tested, as well as safe for sensitive eyes, according to the brand.

  • Available Shades: 5

Relevant Review: “Only eyeliner I ever use. Stays on all day. I have extremely watery eyes because of allergies. This liner is perfect for me.”

5. Best For Sensitive Eyes

For anyone whose watery eyes are caused or aggravated by skin sensitivities, paying attention to the ingredients in your eyeliner can be helpful. Makeup artist Jillian Dempsey’s khol eyeliner is free from potentially irritating synthetic ingredients (e.g. parabens and preservatives) and instead boasts a 100% botanically derived formula. This is a traditional eye pencil, so you will need to keep a sharpener on hand.

  • Available Shades: 6

Relevant Review: “Doesn’t sting, burn, or dry out my eyes! I have really sensitive eyes (I have to wear hypoallergenic mascara or my eyes turn really red), and this goes on my waterline, stays in place, and doesn’t irritate my eyes at all.”

About The Author:

Marissa DeSantis has worked as a beauty writer and editor for nearly 10 years. Her pieces can be found across print and digital publications like Bustle, Evening Standard, Teen Vogue, and InStyle.