The 11 Best Eyeliners for Older Women That Glide on With Ease

One swipe of these eyeliners will deliver easy precision and solid pigmentation

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Best Eyeliners for Older Women Tout

InStyle / Reese Herrington

The need to switch up your beauty routine is an unfortunate side effect of aging. The moisturizer you’ve loved for years suddenly may not impart enough hydration. Your go-to shampoo becomes too stripping. And one day, after waking up and doing your makeup, you see yourself in the mirror and realize that somehow, your signature look appears severe in a way it never did before.

A major culprit? Eyeliner. Whether it’s your chosen color, format, application technique, or all three, this product can go from eye-catching in a good way to a bad way in, well, a blink of an eye. But that’s not to say you should give up on the category altogether. Changing the formula you use can go a long way towards creating a more wearable look.

Before we dig in, note that if you have no issue with the eyeliner you’re using and love the way it looks on you, that’s great — and don’t feel obligated to switch just because someone else told you that more mature women should do their makeup differently (forget that noise!). However, if you’re feeling like your routine could use a little refresh, or you’re new to makeup and want a little encouragement and direction, read on!

Best Overall

Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil

Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil


What We Love: It’s hard to beat the shade options offered by this range — you have your choice of nearly 40 hues.

What We Don’t Love: This is very nitpicky, but the very smooth finish on the component itself makes it hard to grip when sharpening, especially when you’re reaching the end of the pencil.

This now-iconic pencil is actually the best selling eyeliner in the United States, and we’re not at all surprised. We’ve been using it since it launched over a decade ago, and it remains the eyeliner we come back to time and time again — and our moms love it, too. 

The creamy pencil is available in dozens of shades and finishes, ranging from matte blackest black to metallic white and everything in between. It glides across lids of all textures and can last up to 16 hours, though we occasionally get smudging on the lower outer corners after a long or sweaty day. 

Unless you’re sharpening to a perfect point every time you use it — which you probably won’t, if you’re going for a softer line as suggested by our pros — the long pencil will last for months (we’re just finally finishing one after about a year). We will say that towards the end of the pencil, it can be tough to grip it as you sharpen, so if dexterity is an issue, try wrapping a rubber band around the base to give yourself something to hold on to.

If you’re new to the range, check out Demolition, a matte deep brown, Whiskey, a matte mid-toned reddish brown, and Mushroom, a shimmery taupe brown. This latter one is a sleeper hit — it’s our secret weapon for looking put together but not overdone, and is a wonderful substitute for darker shades.

Price at time of publish: $25

Type: Pencil|Number of Colors: 38|Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Budget

NYX Professional Makeup Slim Eye Pencil Long-Lasting Eyeliner

Slim Eye Pencil Long-Lasting Eyeliner


What We Love: For such a wallet-friendly option, this formula comes in a pleasantly surprising number of shades.

What We Don’t Love: The tip of this pencil can be so soft that it snaps off easily when sketching it on or sharpening it.

If you’re eyeing the shade range of Urban Decay’s pencils but are trying to cut costs, this product from NYX may scratch that itch with one of its 21 colors. There are many iterations of brown (eight!) to suit a wide range of skin tones as well as a handful of blues and greens. You’ll also find a white pearlescent shade, which is a handy hue to have to create the illusion of a more awake-looking eye. 

The pencil also glides onto mature lids easily thanks to coconut oil. While we can all appreciate a smooth application, the soft quality of the crayon can necessitate frequent sharpening — whether that’s due to the tip dulling quickly or breaking off when using it.

Price at time of publish: $5

Type: Pencil|Number of Colors: 21|Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Splurge

Guide Beauty Guide Eyeliner Duo

Guide Beauty Guide Eyeliner Duo

Guide Beauty

What We Love: The products in this line, including this eyeliner duo, are designed for those who may have issues applying makeup, whether that’s due to being a novice or have challenges with movement or strength.

What We Don’t Love: The formula is currently only available in two shades.

Yes, the price is steep, but if you have mobility issues or have just never been great at applying a straight line with eyeliner, this cream eyeliner and applicator duo is a worthy investment and comes highly recommended by Thomas. Guide Beauty was founded by celebrity makeup artist Terri Bryant, who suddenly began experiencing dexterity issues with her hand, and eventually was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. She now works alongside the brand’s Chief Creative Officer, actress Selma Blair, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. 

This formula — which only comes in black or brown at this point in time — is a soft, blendable cream that picks up easily with the silicone tip of the applicator (you’ll get two replacement tips with your purchase). After you glide the tip across the surface of the pot, use the notch in the applicator to steady your hand against your face, then sketch the product onto your lid. It dries down quickly and won’t budge until you take it off.

Once you use up the long-lasting pot, you can buy a new jar without having to buy the applicator again — and that new one will come with additional applicators, which we think is a very thoughtful touch.

Price at time of publish: $50

Type: Cream|Number of Colors: Two|Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Automatic

L’Oréal Infallible Grip Gel Mechanical Liner

L’Oréal Infallible Grip Gel Mechanical Liner


What We Love: This affordable formula features one of the longest wear claims we’ve ever seen from an eyeliner — 36 hours.

What We Don’t Love: The intensity of the pigment seems to vary from batch to batch.

For a drugstore liner, this one from L’Oréal offers a lot of bells and whistles, including an easy-to-use automatic pencil, sponge tip, a hidden sharpener, and some unexpected shades (a vibrant green and punchy turquoise among them, plus soft brown and taupe gray, nice options for aging eyes). It also claims 36 hours of wear, though we wouldn’t recommend testing that yourself; always take your makeup off before bed! 

Some fans of this formula find that the pigment payoff can be inconsistent, though, sometimes requiring several passes of the pencil to build to the desired intensity. However, if you’re going for a softer look, this may not bug you much.

Price at time of publish: $11

Type: Automatic pencil|Number of Colors: Six|Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Drugstore

Almay All-Day Intense Gel Eyeliner

Almay All-Day Intense Gel Eyeliner


What We Love: The pigment is beautiful, as is the formula — it applies easily without dragging or skipping.

What We Don’t Love: This pencil is wrapped in a plastic material and it can be a struggle to sharpen.

This is a go-to of Vincent due to its affordability and creamy consistency, a must for eyelids with skin laxity; if the formula sketches on nicely, it’ll create a straight line despite uneven texture. “The pencil glides on smoothly and lasts — and they offer great black and gray options,” she says. 

The range also includes navy, green, plum, and a chestnut brown. We do want to flag that this pencil is like several on the market in that it is wrapped in a plastic coating. Not only does this make it look like the product is an automatic pencil (it isn’t), it can be tough to sharpen. This can be very frustrating to shoppers. Don’t worry — you can absolutely sharpen this pencil with a typical eyeliner sharpener, it should just be very sharp, and you’ll need to be patient as you go.

Price at time of publish: $7

Type: Pencil|Number of Colors: Six|Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Liquid

Thrive Causemetics Infinity Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner

Thrive Causemetics Infinity Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner

Thrive Causemetics

What We Love: This liner is seriously waterproof — and unlike many longwearing liquid formulas, it doesn’t irritate the eyes.

What We Don’t Love: It’s only available in black.

Liquid liner can be a tricky thing on aging eyelids, especially when it doesn’t dry quickly — it can transfer to skin on the upper lid and defeat the purpose of attempting a bold line. Thrive refers to this formula as “semi-permanent” and, well, it kind of is! Once you apply it, it dries quickly and won’t move until you take it off with makeup remover, yet it’s very gentle on the eyes. 

We’re also fond of the precise applicator, which allows you to make a very thin line or build up to a thicker swipe. Unfortunately, the formula is only available in black at this point of time, and not all mature women will necessarily find it flattering. We’re hopeful that Thrive will offer some other shades in the future, especially a softer black or brown.

Price at time of publish: $24

Type: Liquid|Number of Colors: One|Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Color

Victoria Beckham Satin Kajal Liner


Victoria Beckham

What We Love: The shades in this formula are beautiful and unique — and somehow toe the line between trendy and timeless.

What We Don’t Love: The pencil is very soft, which makes it fantastic for blending, but also means it gets used up more quickly, which may be frustrating if you’re on a budget considering the product’s price.

Thomas is a big fan of this formula: “It glides on like a dream, blends easily, lasts all day and, as an added bonus, comes with a smudging tool on the other end for on-the-go application,” she gushes. We’re personally in love with the gorgeous shades it comes in — shimmering emerald, matte teal, and an unexpectedly elegant bordeaux shade that looks outstanding with all eye colors and on all skin tones. While those colors may sound edgy, trust us when we say they are more sophisticated than anything else! 

The pigment is quite buttery due to being infused with nourishing vitamin E, which means it glides on easily, but to maintain a firm point, you’ll end up sharpening quite frequently. 

Price at time of publish: $30

Type: Pencil|Number of Colors: 15|Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Pencil

Pat McGrath PermaGel Ultra Glide Eye Pencil

Pat McGrath PermaGel Ultra Glide Eye Pencil


What We Love: Developed by legendary makeup artist Pat McGrath, these pencils boast serious pigment payoff.

What We Don’t Love: The texture is so soft, it can crumble if you don't sharpen carefully.

The intensity of these liners is not to be underestimated — you’ll get rich, saturated color with every stroke. You don’t have too many shade options (there are five), but you will find a mid-toned taupe, a harder shade to find that our experts love for fair skin tones. The creamy formula blends beautifully, making it easier to create a softer line, and once it sets, it won’t move all day, promises Thomas.

Price at time of publish: $29

Type: Pencil|Number of Colors: Five|Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Waterproof

Stila Stay All Day Smudge Stick Waterproof Eye Liner

Stila Stay All Day Smudge Stick Waterproof Eye Liner


What We Love: The silky formula doubles nicely as an eyeshadow.

What We Don’t Love: Waterproof formulas tend to dry out more quickly, this one included, so take great care when replacing the cap on this product.

Thomas names this a favorite due to its large array of colors, lasting wear, and the easy automatic style. We’ve long recommended this formula in Vivid Labradorite, a creamy gray, to those with mature skin looking for a black alternative as it provides comparable definition without a harsh look, but we truly love most of the shades. Those who prefer brown will enjoy this collection — there are five different iterations of the hue to choose from — as will those who are looking for deep shades in “pop” colors that still look subdued, like eggplant, emerald, and sapphire. 

However, be sure to keep the pencil’s cap on securely when tossing it back into your makeup bag. Because of its waterproof nature, the formula dries out on the faster side, and a loose cap will hasten that process.

Price at time of publish: $22

Type: Automatic pencil|Number of Colors: 13|Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for Beginners

1999 precision colour pencil

1999 precision colour pencil


What We Love: These multifunctional pencils can be used on eyes, lips, or cheeks, making them perfect for someone new to makeup or who doesn’t want to fuss with a many-step routine.

What We Don’t Love: The color range is a bit limited as it includes more lip-friendly shades like orange and red, which makeup newbies may not feel comfortable applying to the eyes.

This age-inclusive brand features an edited collection of apply where you want, when you want essentials, including these highly blendable pencils that glide on with ease. They’re super pigmented, but sheer out easily, so you can create looks that range from subtle to dramatic. 

We’re partial to four shades of this formula for eyes: chocolatey Barna, burgundy Bor, navy Notte, and cerulean Wasser, which reminds us of the vibrant blue liner that Princess Diana used to wear. We love these pencils for their versatility, but those who are looking for more shade options from the line may feel a bit intimidated — coral and hot pink are not many makeup first-timers’ go-to eye colors.

Price at time of publish: $26

Type: Pencil|Number of Colors: Nine|Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Gel

Inglot AMC Eyeliner Gel

Inglot AMC Eyeliner Gel

What We Love: This ultra-pigmented waterproof, smudge-proof, and crease-proof formula won’t budge on mature lids.

What We Don’t Love: The longwearing formula is so durable, it’s hard to remove; the gel will dry out quickly if you’re not careful when securing the lid.

Many makeup artists, including Vincent, love this hardy gel formula from Inglot, who keeps Black (77) and Brown (69) in her kit at all times. “I mix the two depending on the level of intensity desired,” she says. “I apply these with a really fine eyeliner brush and it can give a more bold liquid liner effect, but the creaminess of the gel means it won’t feather into fine lines.” 

She adds that it works well in the waterline, too. It comes in an impressive 26 shades, including softer taupes that more mature women may prefer as opposed to black, which can read as harsh on some, and vibrant, bold shades like chartreuse. 

If you have very sensitive eyes, though, proceed with caution: Because the formula is made to last, that makes it hard to take off, so you’ll want to invest in a very powerful oil-based makeup remover, then work slowly and gently during the removal process. You also should be aware that creamy waterproof formulas in jars tend to dry out faster than pencils; be very careful how you store this product to keep it moist, or you can expect to have to toss it well before you make a big dent in your jar.

Price at time of publish: $26

Type: Gel|Number of Colors: 26|Cruelty-Free: Yes

What to Keep in Mind

Liner Type

There are many, many different eyeliner formats on the market, including gel, liquid, cream, and pencil. What you select can make a big difference on a more mature lid. “Try pencils and shadows instead of liquid,” suggests Ghodstinat. “A liquid can sometimes look too harsh if you overdo it.” 

When selecting a liner, take a look at the texture and formula. “Longer wearing pencils that set quickly are my go-to formulas,” says Lujan. “Sometimes liquids, gels and creams take too long to set and transfer.” Lujan advises against using greasier, softer formulas like kohl, as they tend to move throughout the day—but if that’s what you like, set them with a powder, which will help to lock them into place. In the same vein, Thomas likes waterproof formulas. “Look for products that have longwear claims and are waterproof so that the liner stays where you apply it until it’s time to take it off with a remover that has oil to help break down the formula,” she says. 

Ingredients should also be taken into consideration. “Our eye area is the most sensitive and delicate area of the face, especially as we age, and is the most common area to pick up any bacteria and experience irritation,” says Ghodstinat. “You want to ensure the ingredients are non-toxic and more natural—what you do not want are ingredients like parabens, phthalates, sulfates, artificial synthetic fragrances, and mineral oil.”


The color you select is entirely dependent on what you like and what you think looks good on you. Many mature women find that while they may have loved a bold black liner in the past, it doesn’t suit them the same as it once did, and prefer to opt for softer shades like brown or charcoal. (You can find these shades from Inglot AMC Eyeliner Gel and Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Waterproof Eye Pencil.) We encourage you to experiment with new hues—including bold pops of color. How you wear your eyeliner is up to you, so long as it makes you feel your best! “I don’t feel there should be rules to makeup—it’s about whatever makes you feel sexy, capable, and cool,” says Thomas. “Wear the liner how and where you choose with pride!”

Your Questions, Answered

How should an older woman wear eyeliner?

“Frankly, however she pleases,” says Thomas. “Most older women have had years of practice to perfect the shape that suits them.” We wholeheartedly agree: You shouldn’t let your age (or outdated beauty standards) dictate how you do your makeup. That said, if you feel that the way you’ve always used eyeliner no longer looks quite “right” to you, you aren’t necessarily imagining things. “As we age and evolve, so do our faces and features,” says Ghodstinat. Vincent notes that properly-placed liner can bring youthfulness to the face while adding contrast. “With time, your lashes and eyebrows also tend to lighten, so eyeliner is a great way to deliver definition,” she says.

There are a few techniques you can try that you may find more flattering. Lujan recommends a simple yet powerful method, sketching a longwear pencil along the waterline. It’s easy to do, frames the eye, and makes lashes look fuller and longer (always a bonus. “I love any liner look that enhances a lift in the outer corner,” Lujan adds. “To add a lift, spill the color over the upper lashes in the outer corners.” He suggests using a firm smudge brush to soften the line into a smoky outer corner, smudging outward, upward, and close to the eye. “Like a small, smokey winged look,” says Lujan.

It is critical to do this with a firm tool (something too soft or flexible will move the liner too much) and while your eyes are open, looking straight on into the mirror. Do not stretch the lid with a fingertip, close your eyes, or look down into a mirror, as you will not achieve the same outcome. “What you see is what you get,” says Lujan. 

Vincent has a different method that she prefers to use to apply eyeliner to older women.  In addition to keeping her liner application tight to the lashes, she lifts the outer corners, but only drawing her line until just before the lowest point of the Iashline, meaning she stops ahead of the last few lashes. “This way, you’re not tracing the liner downwards,” she explains. “You can go a step further and add a flick to the outer corners to lift the eye and elongate it.” For those who wear liner on the bottom, she advises against connecting the top and bottom liner at the outer corners. “That can make eyes appear smaller,” says Vincent. Instead, follow the same trick you just did on the top — apply along the lash line and stop a few lashes short on the inner and outer corners. “This will create the illusion of a more open eye,” she says, adding that you should always blend your liner after application.

If you prefer to have more definition along the upper lash line, go for it, just don’t create overly bold lines. “Apply [your liner] to the lash line focusing on the outer corner and tapering toward the center of the pupil,” suggests Thomas. “Blend or smudge with the side of your finger or a pencil-shaped brush until the edges of the liner are soft and diffused.” Clearly, softer lines (without creating too much of a blurred and broad smokey effect) are key.

What eyeliner colors are best for older women?

The eyeliner color you select will not only depend on personal preference, but your skin tone. “For fair skin, I generally recommend a taupe or dark brown as black tends to read more harshly,” says Thomas, who suggests a shade of espresso on medium and deeper complexions, as well as deep charcoal and black. Lujan agrees. “Matte black, brown, and grey will be the most useful and defining [shades].” Additionally, if you’re prone to redness on the lower waterline, Lujan recommends using a flesh-toned pencil on that area.

You should also think outside the box with pops of color. “For a little fun, try a dark navy-black or plum-black as great alternatives to a true black,” recommends Vincent. Adds Lujan, “Forest green and navy blue are in trend for 2023.” We personally like shades such as plum and bordeaux, which beautifully enhance all eye colors without looking too harsh. Victoria Beckham Beauty Satin Kajal Liner offers all of these shades and more.

Why Shop With Us

Emily Orofino is a freelance writer, editor, and consultant with over a decade of experience in the beauty industry. The makeup category was her first love within beauty and she has tried thousands of products throughout her lifetime. After wearing black liquid liner almost exclusively throughout her twenties, she determined it looked too harsh and switched to dark brown pencil in her thirties. For this piece, she interviewed  Sasha Ghodstinat, brand trainer for Code8, Natalia Thomas, who has worked with stars like Zazie Beetz and Karlie Kloss, Dani Kamiko Vincent, celebrity makeup and brow artist as well as the founder of Kimiko, and Nick Lujan, Director of Artistry & Education at Kevyn Aucoin, who has worked with Beyoncé and Kim Petras, among others.

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