The 12 Best Liquid Eyeliners to Nail a Cat Eye

Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner is a best-seller for good reason.

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The 12 Best Liquid Eyeliners to Nail a Cat Eye
Sephora/ InStyle
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stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner, our Best Overall pick, is 30% off at stilacosmetics.com.

If you're looking to define your eyes in a big way, a liquid eyeliner is the way to go. Nothing really adds that extra oomph to an eye look like a classic cat eye, a cool negative space design, or even butterfly liner. But mastering its application requires a steady hand and the right product.

It might take some trial and error, but once you find the right liner the possibilities for makeup looks are endless. To help you, we turned to the experts. Below, celebrity makeup artists Jamie Dorman, Sang Jeon, and Jamie Greenberg break down how to use liquid liner and share their recommended picks. Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner claimed our best overall spot for its large shade range and precise tip.

Ahead, a list of our favorite liquid eyeliners.

Best Overall: Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner

5
Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner

Amazon

What We Love: It's easy to use, long-lasting, and comes in eight shades.

What We Don't: Some of the shades apply a little sheerer and need two layers.

The Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid does it all and is a makeup artist fave. Dorman explains that it has an easy-to-use applicator that allows liquid liner to spread evenly along the top lash line. The fine tip is firm and makes a precise line every time. Plus, it will not budge; it really does stay on all day long.

Price at time of publish: $23

Type: Pen | Shades: 8 | Size: 0.016 oz

Best Value: Maybelline Hyper Easy Liquid Pen Eyeliner

Maybelline Hyper Easy Brush Tip Liquid Liner

Amazon

What We Love: It's a classic black liner with an easy application for less than $10.

What We Don't Love: Reviews claim it's not one hundred percent smudge-proof, so you might need to use a primer or setting spray if you have oily skin.

Jeon's pick for best drugstore eyeliner is Maybelline's Hyder Easy Liquid Pen Eyeliner. It glides on easily on the lash line and provides an even application of the highly-pigmented black liquid.

Price at time of publish: $8

Type: Pen | Shades: 1 | Size: 0.02 oz

Best Variety: Dior DiorShow On Stage Liner

dior diorshow eyeliner

Sephora

What We Love: It comes in so many fun colors and three different finishes.

What We Don't Love: The tip is very fine and may take a couple of passes to get a thicker line.

Greenberg, founder of The Blighlighter, likes the Dior Show On Stage Liner because of all the different colors and finishes it comes in. You get a total of 16 highly-pigmented colors like gold, indigo, and emerald, and that come in either matte, satin, or pearly finishes. The Dior spring runway show showed white eyeliner is trending. As an added bonus, she says the liner boasts 24 hours of wear time.

Price at time of publish: $33

Type: Felt tip | Shades: 16 | Size: 0.01 oz

Best Colors: Lime Crime Venus Pigmented Liquid Liner

Lime Crime Venus Pigmented Liquid Liner

Amazon

What We Love: It has a variety of fun shades available in a smudge-free formula.

What We Don't Love: It has a bristle brush which may be difficult for precise application.

Dorman's pick for best color eyeliner is the Lime Crime Venus Pigmented Liquid Eyeliner because it gives intense color on the eyes and it doesn't flake off. It's a waterproof matte formula that dries quickly and will not transfer or fade.

Price at time of publish: $18

Type: Brush | Shades: 11 | Size: 0.079

Best Black: KVD Beauty Tattoo Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner

4.8
KVD Beauty Tattoo Liner Vegan Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner

Sephora

What We Love: The black shade goes on vividly with a nice satin finish that lasts all day.

What We Don't Love: You have to store it properly (tip down) and shake it before using to really get the liquid out.

Everyone needs a great classic black liner in their beauty arsenal, and you can't go wrong with Dorman's pick. KVD Beauty Tattoo Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner's black shade, "Trooper," is an opaque black with a satin finish that goes on smoothly along the lash line. The ultra fine tip allows you to do so many things with the highly-pigmented liner (think graphic or winged cat-eyes) and it will last all day.

Price at time of publish: $23

Type: Brush tip | Shades: 2 | Size: 0.019 oz

Best For Beginners: Eyeko Black Magic Liquid Eyeliner

eyeko black magic liquid eyeliner

Amazon

What We Love: It's one of the easiest liners to put on with great precision.

What We Don't Love: It only comes in one shade.

Greenberg loves the Eyeko Black Magic Liquid Eyeliner for beginners because it has a very, very easy application. The fine brush tip makes it so the liner goes on smoothly and it's pretty much smudge- and foolproof.

Price at time of publish: $22

Type: Brush tip | Shade: 1 | Size: 0.13 oz

Best Splurge: Surrat Auto-Graphique Liner

Surrat Auto-Graphique Liner

Surrat Beauty

What We Love: The liner goes on so artfully and it has a refillable option.

What We Don't Love: Reviews say that it smears easily, so you might need to prep with primer beforehand.

Dorman loves the Surratt Beauty Auto-Graphique liner because of its Japanese calligraphy-inspired brush that allows for a nice, smooth application. It's also an InStyle Best Beauty Buys winner. The formula is opaque and buildable. It's even one of the sustainable options as you can refill the cartridge once you're out.

Price at time of publish: $44

Type: Pen | Shade: 4 | Size: 0.30 grams

Best for Winged Liner: Kaja Wink Stamp Wing Eyeliner Stamp & Pen

4.7
Kaja Wink Stamp Wing Eyeliner Stamp & Pen

Sephora

What We Love: It comes with a winged-stamp to make it super easy.

What We Don't Love: The wing comes in one size.

Jeon's pick, the Kaja Wink Stamp, makes a cat-eye super easy — even for eyeliner novices out there. You get a classic black liquid liner along with a double-ended wing stamp pen in this set. Simply position the stamp at the outer corner edge of the eye (it is labeled "left" and "right" for the corresponding eye) so that the longest edge of the wing connects to your lower lash line. Then draw the liner along the upper lash line and connect it to the wing. And voila! A perfect cat-eye in seconds.

Price at time of publish: $29

Type: Felt tip and stamp | Shades: 1 | Size: 0.01 oz

Best Waterproof: L'Oréal Infallible Flash Cat Eye Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner

L'Oreal Infallible Flash Cat Eye Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner

Ulta

What We Love: It's a long-lasting liner on even the oiliest skin.

What We Don't Love: It only comes in two shades.

The L'Oreal Infallible Flash Cat Eye Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner will not move. It stays on vividly with no flaking or smudging all day. As an added bonus, it comes with a cat-eye stencil to help you create a winged eye look in seconds.

Price at time of publish: $11

Type: Brush tip | Shades: 2 | Size: 0.18 oz

Best Shimmer: Urban Decay Heavy Metal Glitter Eyeliner

Urban Decay Heavy Metal Glitter Eyeliner

Sephora

What We Love: The glitter really makes eyes pop and is long-wearing.

What We Don't Love: The clear base makes the colored glitter subtle, unless you really pack on the layers.

Who doesn't love a little shine? Add some sparkle to your eyes with the Urban Decay Heavy Metal Glitter Eyeliner, which contains fine colored glitter on a clear base for a buildable pretty liner look. It dries quickly and lasts all day.

Price at time of publish: $22

Type: Brush tip | Shades: 11 | Size: 0.25 oz

Best For Sensitive Eyes: Honest Beauty Liquid Eyeliner

Honest Beauty Liquid Eyeliner

Ulta

What We Love: It is hypoallergenic and made without parabens, carbon black pigment, or silicones.

What We Don't Love: It only lasts for eight hours before it starts to smudge.

Jesscia Alba's Honest Beauty Liquid Liner is made with sensitive eyes in mind. Dermatologist and ophthalmologist-tested, this is labeled hypoallergenic and doesn't include known irritants like parabens and silicones. You can easily define your eyes with its fine tip brush and super black color.

Price at time of publish: $13

Type: Felt tip | Shades: 1 | Size: 0.06 oz

Best Precision: Lancome Artliner Precision Felt-Tip Liquid Eyeliner

Liquid Eyeliner

Ulta

What We Love: The fine felt-tip brush makes the most precise outline.

What We Don't Love: This one is truly budge-proof and can be difficult to remove.

Sleek and classic, the Lancome Artliner Precision Felt-Tip Liquid Eyeliner is going to be your new go-to for a simple lined eye look. It has one of the finest felt-tip brushes that makes lining your lash line super easy. It's also made with double film-forming polymers so that it lasts all day.

Price at time of publish: $31

Type: Felt tip | Shades: 4 | Size: 0.04 oz

What to Keep In Mind

Brush Type

Most liquid liners land in two categories: felt tips or brush tips. If you don't have the steadiest of hands or feel like a beginner, all experts agree to opt for the fine felt tip brush so you have better control when outlining your eye. Brush tips have bristles that can leave to stray lines or a messy wing if you don't have control of how to use it.

Formulation

We all want our makeup in general to stay put. Depending on your skin type (i.e. oily) or if you have hooded eyes, eyeliner may be one the products that easily transfers or fades. If that's the case, opt for waterproof or water resistant formulations to ensure that line stays on as long as you want it to. You can always prep it with a makeup primer or lock it in with a setting spray as well.

You Questions, Answered

What's the best way to apply liquid eyeliner?

Greenberg says the best way to apply eyeliner is to outline where you want your liner to go. She recommends placing very small dots — one in the inner corner on the top lash line, one in the middle of the lop lash line, and another on the outer corner on the top lash line — while your eye is open looking at a mirror.

Next, connect the dots. Start slowly from the inner corner and bring in the liner until you reach the middle. Then start slowly from the outer corner and bring in the liner until you reach the middle Then go back in and add thickness to the line or you can leave it as is.

Dorman adds that most people find that a thin line that thickens at the outer third of the eye with a slight wing is flattering on most eye shapes. She says if your wing looks disconnected when the eye is closed but crisp when your eye is open, it means you have a hooded eye. In this case, she says to do your best to fill in the wing so that it looks more straight and precise when the eye is open.

What brush tip is best for beginners?

Dorman recommends a firm felt tip brush for beginners. She explains that if the top is too pliable, it will become difficult to control. If the applicator is too thick, she says it will make precision difficult.

Jeon agrees and adds that if the brush is thin and small to begin with, any mistakes that do happen will also be small and easier to fix. So definitely opt for liquid liners that have a small fine felt tip if you're just starting out.

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