8 best liquid eyeliners
Whether you prefer sharp lines or Sixties-style flicks, accentuate your eyes with our favourite staple cosmetic
We’ve been wearing liquid eyeliner almost every day – to varying degrees of success – since about the age of 13, so have tried pretty much every one going in the quest for the holy eyeliner grail. Here we’ve compiled our favourites, some trusted go-tos and some new discoveries. We tend to opt for a brush applicator over a felt-tip style foam one, but there’s something for all preferences here. We’ve also considered how smooth the line is, whether you have to go back over to get a fully opaque colour, if they smudge or flake through the day and how easy it is to achieve matching, non-wobbly flicks.
Bobbi Brown Longwear Liquid Liner, £24.50, Bobbi Brown
Bobbi Brown’s Longwear lives up to its name – it’s the longest lasting we tried, with no transfer on to upper lids, no smudging and no colour-loss throughout the day, even in the middle of a heatwave. Its traditional dipping brush applicator is nice and slim, so you can build to the line thickness you want. Our only niggle is that it’s a little tougher to get off at the end of the day, but that seems a fair (and logical) trade for its longevity.
Tom Ford Eye Defining Pen, £45, John Lewis
This is one of those products that’s expensive for eyeliner so we really didn’t want to like it, but we do. In fact, it has now become our go-to for a perfect line every time. It’s double ended, with a wider, longer brush tip on one end and a shorter, thinner felt tip on the other for more precise work. The packaging is luxe and satisfyingly weighty, and the formula lasts all day, with no smudging.
Rimmel Exaggerate Liquid Eyeliner: £5.29, Superdrug
We have come back to this liner again and again over the years. It gives a reliably good, flake-free, matte-black finish for a quarter of the price of other similar liners. The plastic packaging is no-frills, but the results are excellent.
Hourglass Voyeur Waterproof Liquid Liner: £28, SpaceNK
We already rely on Hourglass a potentially unhealthy amount for its “seriously, where do you get your brows done?”-inducing eyebrow pencil, so we had high hopes for its liquid liner. This is our favourite of all the felt-tip style foam applicators for good colour, good finish, good application and good packaging. Faultlessly reliable.
Surratt Auto-Graphique Liner in Chat Noir, £40, Liberty
This might not look like much, but it is magic, because you can buy refills for it. No more shelling out £20-£30 every three months for a new liner; refill cartridges are £16. It is also combines our preferred brush tip with a pen format, doesn’t flake, even if you go over your line multiple times, and was created by makeup artist to the A-list Troy Surratt.
Chantecaille Le Stylo Ultra Slim: £28, SpaceNK
It is incredibly easy to get smooth, matching lines with this sleek silver pen from Chantecaille. The colour isn’t as deeply black as some of the others we tried, which is more flattering for some and gives a more gentle, smoky finish. Water-based rather than silicon-based, it’s good for sensitive eyes, and we’d also recommended it for hooded eyes thanks to its slim applicator and quick-drying formula for zero transfer.
Guerlain Liquid Eyeliner: £27.45, Debenhams
There is more to Guerlain’s liner than its dressing table-worthy (if we had one) packaging – though, let’s be clear, we do love that frosted glass inkwell and elegant gold handle combo. Like Bobbi Brown’s this is an old school brush pen and pot setup, with an ultra-fine tip for buildability and a fairly wet formula (watch out for transfer while it dries) with good depth of black and a slight sheen.
Clarins 3-Dot Eyeliner: £21, Boots
For a liquid liner that’s a little more minimalist, Clarins’ innovative pen has a three-pronged applicator that fills in gaps between lashes with tiny dots to give your eyes more definition and make lashes look fuller very naturally and subtly. Good for the eyeliner shy.
Verdict: best liquid eyeliners
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