The Best Eyeliners For A Foolproof Feline Flick

What links Audrey Hepburn, Adele, Amy Winehouse, Lady Gaga, Cleopatra and Angelina Jolie? Liquid eyeliner of course. While make-up trends come and go, the feline flick is a timeless classic and suits every aesthetic. From the ultra glamorous to the insouciantly rock’n’roll, it can be dressed up or down. The trick is to work out the right look for your face and chosen aesthetic, and stick with it.

How to successfully apply a liquid liner

Heed Vogue contributing beauty editor Pat McGrath’s advice, and draw the wing first. It’s easy to place the wing too low or high once you’ve already sketched a line along your lashes, especially considering that the natural curve of the eye slopes downwards at the outer corner. Instead, look straight ahead in the mirror, place a small dot where you want the line to end, draw your flick, then line along your lashes.

How do I choose an eyeliner?

Start by considering what effect you want from your eyeliner; while liquids offer a more precise finish and achieve that striking Hepburn-esque wing, gel and kohl liners tend to be more forgiving and can be blended and buffed in for a softer, more diffused effect. It might sound obvious but those who want a product just for the waterline should opt for a pencil or gel formula, as a liquid won’t stay put.

What is the best eyeliner for beginners?

The perfect eyeliner for you will also depend on your familiarity with the product. To beginners and those not au fait with applying it regularly, a liquid liner might seem intimidating as it requires a steadier hand. In this case, it can be wise to start with a pencil, whether gel or kohl, or for a pen-style liquid if that’s the effect you want. Beginner or not, the trick is just to go for it – liquid eyeliner can smell your fear. One of McGrath’s biggest tips, whatever your liner abilities, is to finish by tidying up with a cotton bud – even the pros get it wrong sometimes.

Is gel liner better than pencil?

Not necessarily – it all depends on the effect you want. Gel liners bridge the gap between liquid and pencil liner, as they impart much of the impact and precision of a liquid, but with more of the malleability and softness of a pencil. They’re an excellent option for those who like a soft, smudgy finish, if you’re creating more impactful eyeshadow looks (many make-up artists use them as a base for shadows), or if you like to apply haphazardly and buff and blend your line into place. Gel liner is also a great option if you like your liner to stay put once it’s set. Meanwhile, pencil adds intensity to the waterline and can offer a more exact effect.

From long-wearing gel liners to easy-to-use felt tips, find your perfect fit within Vogue’s edit, and get yourself in front of the mirror for practice. Shop the 15 best eyeliners below.

Best Gel Eyeliner: Victoria Beckham Beauty Beauty Satin Kajal Liner

Few liner formulas match up to this creamy, ultra-blendable number which, once set, stays put for hours. As versatile as they come, you can smoke it up with the built-in smudger or keep it to a minimal line. A must try.

£22, available at Cultbeauty.co.uk.

Best Eyeliner For Beginners: NARS High Pigment Longwear Eyeliner

Brilliant for beginners, this eyeliner glides onto skin, delivering excellent colour from the off (but it can be further built up), and stays put wherever it sets – no faffing around.

£19, available at Spacenk.com.

Best Eyeliner For The Waterline: Charlotte Tilbury Rock ’N’ Kohl Black Eyeliner Pencil

Queen of a serious sultry stare, it is only right that Charlotte Tilbury has an eyeliner that creates the look in seconds. Brilliant for all parts of the eye, this one is particularly good in the waterline – expect it to roll on and stay put for hours.

£19, available at Charlottetilbury.com.

Best Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner: Too Faced Better Than Sex Easy Glide Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner

Whether you’re diving into a pool or a hot steamy encounter (as the name might suggest), Too Faced’s Better Than Sex waterproof liner is a product you can rely on. It promises to stay put up to 24 hours without smudging, budging or fading. 

£18, available at Cultbeauty.co.uk.

Best Eyeliner For Cat Eyes: Tom Ford Eye Defining Pen

Two liners for the price of one, really. The dual-ended pen has a thicker side for a more graphic finish, or a finer side to help you get the line snug against your lashes. Genius.

£46, available at Lookfantastic.com.

Best Brown Liquid Eyeliner: Byredo Eyeliner in Practical Brown

It might be under-the-radar but Byredo’s liquid eyeliner is beloved by any and all who try it. This brown hue is particularly flattering and lends a gentle shimmer to eyes for a soft, sultry effect. Plus, it’s vegan too. 

£31, available at Selfridges.com.

Best Smudge Proof Eyeliner: Gucci Stylo Contour Des Yeux Eyeliner

As well as looking extra chic in your make-up bag, Gucci’s eyeliner is waterproof, offers pigmented colour and truly stays put for hours. You can use it for flicks, in the waterline or even buffed in as an eyeshadow, plus there are lots of different colours to try.

£24, available at Selfridges.com.

Best Eyeliner Felt Tip: Pat McGrath Labs Perma Precision Liner

A favourite of Vogue beauty and lifestyle director Jessica Diner, this liner is rich in pigment but effortless to use. Perfect for a more defined wing.

£26, available at Net-a-porter.com.

Best Eyeliner For Sensitive Eyes: La Bouche Rouge Le Kôhl Noir

Developed without microplastics and with 98 per cent natural origin ingredients, this is a good bet for those who have sensitive eyes. It delivers impactful colour in both the waterline and around eyes. 

£26, available at Net-a-porter.com.

Best Brush Eyeliner: Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner

An industry favourite, Bobbi Brown’s Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner has a budge-proof formula and inky black finish. Use the finest brush you can find for perfect precision.

£21, available at Johnlewis.com.

Best Coloured Eyeliner: Dior Diorshow On Stage Liner

From pink to green, Dior’s coloured eyeliners are the best in the business. The brand’s make-up artist, Peter Philips, regularly uses them backstage for the iconic looks he creates for the shows, plus the flexible felt tip is super easy to use. 

£28, available at Selfridges.com.

Best Waterproof Eyeliner: Stila Stay All Day Smudge Stick Waterproof Eyeliner

A true cult classic, you’ll find this handy pen rolling around in many a make-up artist’s kit. The super-smooth tip helps you glide across your lash line with zero tugging or pulling for a neat flick.

£16, available at Lookfantastic.com.

Best Supermarket Liquid Eyeliner: Maybelline Express Eye Liner

Quick to dry but still bold in colour, this liquid liner combines the rich pigment of an ink well with the ease of a felt tip. It’s purse-friendly, too.

£5.10, available at Feelunique.com.

Best Vegan Eyeliner: Kat Von D Tattoo Liner

Tattoo by name, tattoo by nature, this liner is ideal for those who simply cannot be touching up their make-up once it’s on. Fully waterproof, its staying power is near legendary.

£18, available at Boots.com.

Best White Eyeliner: Shiseido Kajal InkArtist Shadow, Liner, Brow – Kabuki White

From an eyeshadow to an eyeliner, this Shiseido number is an excellent multi-tasker. White eyeliner is brilliant for making the eyes look more awake, so roll its Kabuki White shade in your waterline and expect to look infinitely more rested.

£24, available at Cultbeauty.co.uk.

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Model: Teanna Luck (@kculannaet)

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The 10 Most Reliable Eyeliners, According To Makeup Artists

Purchasing an eyeliner can feel like a gamble. You walk into your nearest Sephora, money in hand, on a mission to find a formula that doesn’t pull, tug, skip or drag. After perusing the shelves, you’ll settle on one in hopes that it won’t smudge before lunch.

The truth is, you never really know if you’ll get a return on your investment until you take it home and try it for yourself. By then, it could be too late. To make the entire experience feel less risky, experts who know a thing or two about eyeliners weigh in. Ahead, shop the 10 best eyeliners, from pencils to liquids, according to professional makeup artists. They’ll make you feel like you won the jackpot every time.

BEST GEL LINER – AMC Eyeliner Gel

“When I’m creating a bold eye, Inglot AMC Eyeliner Gel is my go-to eyeliner, as it’s available in a variety of rich high-pigmented shades,” says makeup artist Millie Morales (also a Garnier celebrity hairstylist). “The creamy formula glides on with ease, but most importantly, it boasts long-lasting wear.”

Shop $16

BEST SMUDGE-PROOF LIQUID – Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner

“When it comes to precision, I like to use a marker-like tip, as it gives me the freedom and flexibility to create an elegant wing or a thick dramatic look,” says Morales. “Stila’s Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner dries fast, won’t smudge and only comes off when you take it off!”

Shop $22

BEST BRIGHT FORMULA – 24/7 Eye Pencil

If you’re looking to try a colored eyeliner, look no further than Urban Decay’s 24/7 Eye Pencils. Makeup artist Steve Kassajikian says, “these shades are bright, pigmented, creamy, easy to blend, and glide on like a gel.” As if that’s not enough to get you on board, Kassajikian adds, “they set in 60 seconds and don’t budge throughout the day. Plus, they’re specifically made for wet surfaces like the waterline.”

Shop $22

BEST FOR CAT EYES – Flash Cat Eye Liquid Eyeliner

Celebrity makeup artist Claudia Betancur, a L’Oréal Paris brand ambassador, is a fan of the brand’s new Flash Cat Eye Liquid Eyeliner because it “has the perfect tip to create a precise wing, and glides on super smooth. The cap has a wing stencil attached to help create the perfect cat eye,” she says.

Shop $10

BEST WATERPROOF – 1.5 MM Mechanical Gel Eyeliner

“This micro-fine gel pencil has next level staying power,” says makeup artist and artistic director of Glamsquad, Kelli J. Bartlett. “I originally tested the Hourglass 1.5 MM Mechanical Gel Eyeliner on my hand, and it lasted through a workout and a shower, so you know it means business. I love to use it on the inner rim of the upper lash line to create a lush look as it holds up to watery eyes.”

Shop $18

BEST LONG-LASTING PENCIL – BADgal BANG! 24 Hour Eyeliner Pencil

Celebrity makeup artist Lisa Potter-Dixon says this liner “is a hard worker. It works wonders on the waterline and stays put due to its waterproof formula.” She adds, “it also works beautifully as a lash liner, plus the blending tool on the end means you can even use it to create a simple smokey eye.”

Shop $22

BEST PRECISION – Perma Precision Liquid Eyeliner

Makeup artist and co-founder of Shespoke Makeup, Rebecca Perkins, says it doesn’t get better than Pat McGrath Labs’ liquid liner. She says, “the pen tip is so fine, you can do super subtle details. Mother does not mess around, and her products always do what they say.”

Shop $32

BEST TRUE BLACK – Infallible 16HR Never-Fail Eyeliner

Finding a true black formula can be difficult. Luckily, Perkins assures that her pick is “tried and true.” She says, “L’Oréal’s carbon black shade comes in a gel pot (perfect for when I am doing someone else’s makeup) or the mechanical pencil (for when I’m doing my own makeup).” Finally, she adds, “it’s not fancy, but it works every time.”

Shop $8

BEST DRUGSTORE – Matte Liquid Liner

Dell Ashley, YSL Beauté Director of Makeup Artistry, knows a thing or two about luxury beauty, but there’s one drugstore favorite he keeps in his kit. He says the NYX Matte Liquid Liner is “a great budget-friendly eyeliner because it offers rich color and has a nice, long wear.” And at $8 a pop, you can keep your makeup bag stocked with it too.

Shop $10

BEST VERSATILE FORMULA – TattooStudio Sharpenable Gel Pencil in Brown

Vincent Oquendo, the artist behind Hollywood’s most beautiful faces (Lily Collins, Gabrielle Union, Nina Dobrev), recommends you pick up this other drugstore option. “I use it to create my shape before I perfect it with a black liner and for subtle definition in the waterline when I’m creating a sultry look,” he says. “The combination of black and brown liners create a more natural makeup look when smudged at the lash line.”

Shop $7

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