Best Eyeliner: The 2023 List Beauty Awards

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When we think of eyeliner, we think of transformation. Eyeliner is one of the most versatile beauty products out there; one that can completely elevate your look when done well, and cause utter chaos when applied incorrectly (we've all been there when a winged look goes awry). From bold, graphic looks in all different colors of the rainbow, to the perfect, pointed cat eye, eyeliner is an amazing tool for self-expression. 

While some people may say that wearing eyeliner is solely for the skilled, the product you use can have a massive effect on the overall success of your look. The truth is, there is an eyeliner out there for everyone, and there is no one way — or right way, for that matter — to wear it. We tested 10 eyeliners and compiled our five favorites to make your search for the best one a little easier.

You may assume that eyeliners are just eyeliners — one can't be that much different from another, right? But the nuances of each product, some more subtle than others, can make all of the difference when it comes to your final look. We tested each liner based on budget, ease of application, pigment, precision, and wear. Whichever one you choose, just remember that you never want to scrub your eye makeup off at the end of the day. Use a makeup remover that is soothing and hydrating, and try not to pull on the delicate skin around your eyes. 

Read more about the 2023 List Beauty Awards methodology and all the top picks here.

Best overall: Maybelline Hyper-Precise Liquid Eyeliner

Out of all the liquid liners we tried, one stood out as the most versatile, the easiest to use, and with an accessible price point to boot: Maybelline's Hyper-Precise Quick Drying Liquid Eyeliner. Available for just $7 from PrettyLittleThing, this liner lives up to all that its name entails. It features a felt tip that delivers a sharp line while also remaining flexible, meaning you won't have to drag the product painfully across your lid. The product dries fast, but not too fast, so you can hone your perfect shape without having to worry about it flaking off during application. 

It's also super pigmented, so you'll get a high-impact look for a low cost — one of our favorite combinations. Another major selling point of this liner is that it has a thoughtful, squishy grip, so you can focus on perfecting your look without having to think about how tightly you're holding the product itself. We must, however, point out a few quirks with this liner. 

Despite being advertised as having a hexagonal shape, to provide additional angles with which to grip it, the liner received did not feature this packaging. Rather, it was a standard liquid liner tube. Maybelline also sells another liquid liner, called the Maybelline Master Precise Liquid Eyeliner ($8.99 from Ulta) that is, as far as we can tell, the exact same product, but with a slightly different name. 

Purchase the Maybelline Hyper-Precise Quick Drying Liquid Eyeliner at PrettyLittleThing for $7.

Best gel: e.l.f. No Budge Retractable Eyeliner

Gel eyeliners are in between a pencil liner and a liquid one. Slightly more pigmented than the former, but less so than the latter, gel liners can be used on their own or as a guide underneath a liquid liner. And because liquid liners are not the best for waterline placement, gel liners are essential when you want to create that bold, fully-lined look. 

Specifically because of how it fares on the waterline, we found that the best gel liner overall was the e.l.f. No Budge Retractable Eyeliner. This vegan, cruelty-free eyeliner is accessible to all wallets. While this product works well on the eyelid, it stands out on the waterline, where it is easy to glide on and remains pigmented and buildable. 

This liner does not have a built-in sharpener like others do, which might be a bit of a hassle for those who would prefer to use it as a precise guide to their liquid eyeliner looks. But considering the price, we like that it is a no-frills, easy-to-use product. As the name suggests, the waterproof formula can also be a bit difficult to remove. Use a potent makeup remover in such instances, rather than scrubbing too hard. 

Purchase the e.l.f. No Budge Retractable Eyeliner at e.l.f. for $5.

Best for beginners: NYX Professional Makeup Epic Ink Waterproof Eyeliner

If you're new to the world of liquid liners, we also considered which product would be best suited to beginners. Ideally, this liner would glide on without hassle and be easy to remove, just in case of any small mistakes. Likewise, this liner should have an accessible price point so that newcomers can experiment with the look before committing fully to it. For these reasons, we found that the NYX Professional Makeup Epic Ink Waterproof Eyeliner fits the requirements to be a favorite amongst eyeliner newbies. 

This vegan liner comes in a standard tube shape, making it nicely intuitive to hold. It also features a felt tip that makes the application process simple, so beginners will not have to be extremely skilled in their precision to achieve the perfect balance with their liner look. 

The liner also dries quickly, meaning less risk of smudging or transfer during the application, and feels comfortable on the eyelid. While this product was not the most pigmented of all the liquid liners we tried, this could be a plus for beginners who are still testing out the look they like. Despite being waterproof, it was also easy to remove, adding to its convenience, and of course, saving our eyelids from any unwanted irritation. 

Purchase the NYX Professional Makeup Epic Ink Waterproof Eyeliner at NYX for $10.

Best precision: Covergirl Perfect Point Plus Eyeliner

For those who love to take their eyeliner to the next level, with a signature, sharp winged look, or who love to experiment with graphic designs, precision is essential. And when it comes to precision, one eyeliner stood out: The Covergirl Perfect Point Plus Eyeliner. This eyeliner gives precision a whole new meaning. 

It features a superfine tip made for perfectly precise application — out of all of the liners we tried, this one easily produced the most pointed wing. This cruelty-free formula boasted a strong pigment and dried fast to mitigate any mistakes. It also comes in a pot that sits upright, meaning the product might be slightly less prone to accidental smears than a liquid liner in pencil form. 

This liner was also easy to remove, meaning if you wanted to go for an intricate design or winged liner, you won't have to spend as long taking it off as you did putting it on. 

Purchase the Covergirl Perfect Point Plus Eyeliner at Amazon for $8.50.

Best pigmented: Wet n Wild Mega Liner Liquid Eyeliner

One of the most crucial factors to the success of any eyeliner look is its level of pigmentation. A watered-down black liner simply won't have the same impact as one that creates a bold, solid line. Of course, depending on the look you want, you might prefer more subtle pigmentation. But for our purposes, we were curious which product would produce the blackest of black liner looks, when you really want to make a statement. 

Of those tested, the Wet n Wild Mega Liner Liquid Eyeliner definitely delivered. Retailing for just $4.99, this liquid eyeliner featured a superfine tip for precise application, in addition to being the most pigmented liquid liner we tried. While this eyeliner felt soft to put on, it was not the fastest-drying liner of the bunch, so use caution during the process to avoid any unsightly smears. 

This eyeliner also comes in a pot that sits upright. But the bottle was quite small, and the actual applicator was relatively short and thin too. This could make the application challenging for some users, where it may not be as hassle-free as a pencil liquid liner. Once you've found your favorite liner, feel free to implement the best eyeliner tips we've learned from TikTok, and enjoy your beauty transformation! 

Purchase the Wet n Wild Mega Liner Liquid Eyeliner at Ulta for $4.99.