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.

VOGUE article

What Does It Take For A Celebrity Beauty Brand To Succeed In 2021?

In November 2015, Kylie Jenner launched three lip kits. The kits, consisting of a lip pencil and liquid lipstick available in a pinky nude, a beige neutral and a deep brown, sold out almost immediately.

Jenner’s wasn’t the first celebrity beauty brand to launch. In 2009, Australian model Miranda Kerr founded Kora Organics, while actor Drew Barrymore launched Flower Cosmetics in 2013. But Jenner’s was the first to leverage the reach, engagement and influence of its founder in the social media era. Nearly six years later, the lip kits have evolved into a full makeup and skincare brand and in 2019, she sold 51 percent of her business (at a valuation of $1.2 billion) to Coty for $600 million.

The rise of celebrity beauty brands

Today, the legacy of Kylie Cosmetics—as well as Rihanna’s industry-changing Fenty Beauty, which launched in 2017—is everywhere, as celebrities jump on the beauty bandwagon. There’s Lady Gaga’s Haus Laboratories; Selena Gomez’s Rare Beauty; Kim Kardashian West’s KKW Beauty; Pharrell Williams’ Humanrace; Millie Bobby Brown’s Florence by Mills; Jennifer Lopez’s JLo Beauty; Halsey’s About-FaceVictoria Beckham; Paris Hilton’s Pro DNA, and many more.

Cardi B has teased a forthcoming makeup range, as has YouTuber James Charles, while Hailey Bieber, Gwen Stefani and Ariana Grande all reportedly filed trademarks for beauty products. Welcome to the golden age of the celebrity beauty brand.

It used to be that celebrities were the faces of beauty brands, starring in campaigns, endorsing the products in interviews and wearing the makeup on red carpets. But being the face is no longer enough—celebrities want ownership, becoming major players in the industry in their own right. And with the growth of the global beauty market over the last few years—the industry was valued at $532 billion in 2019—it’s not surprising.

“Celebrities are increasingly aware of the quick financial gains to be made, with the opportunity to monetize a loyal online fanbase and use their social media page as a marketing platform,” says Gabriella Beckwith, beauty consultant at market research firm Euromonitor.

But for everyone chasing a Fenty success story, fame and following alone won’t ensure sales. As the market becomes increasingly crowded, brands will have to rely on that notoriously slippery concept of authenticity to gain the trust and business of their target audience.

The power of authenticity

Today, beauty consumers have never been more educated about what they are putting on their face or more demanding about the quality. It’s why it matters that Pharrell Williams collaborated with his longtime dermatologist, Dr Elena Jones, for his skincare brand Humanrace. It’s why Halsey prefaced the announcement of her makeup brand About-Face in January by establishing her credibility. “Many of you know I’ve done my own makeup for a long time,” she wrote on Twitter. It’s also why actress Millie Bobby Brown drew criticism after posting a skincare tutorial in which she seemingly didn’t actually apply any of the products to her face. Brown issued an apology a few days later, writing, “I’m still learning the best way to share my routines as I get to know this space better—I’m not an expert.”

Eyebrows were also raised when Jennifer Lopez recently said that her age-defying skin was the mainly the result of years of olive oil use—despite selling a new line of skincare products (her multitasking serum costs $118). Followers were skeptical of these claims, with some even suggesting the singer had had Botox, to which Lopez responded: “For the 500 millionth time. I have never done Botox or any injectables or surgery!”

At the other end of the spectrum, Victoria Beckham established her credentials as a serious player by partnering with industry favorite Dr Augustinus Bader for her first skincare launch. “We tend to think of celebrity brands as inauthentic partnerships—traditionally, that is often what they were,” says Sarah Creal, co-founder and CEO of Victoria Beckham Beauty. “Celebrities can no longer slap their name on something and not have their communities realize that’s what’s happening. Those who are in it for the short term or inauthentically won’t last—consumers are savvy.”

A long-time beauty executive, Creal met Beckham at Estée Lauder, with whom the designer launched a capsule cosmetics collection, and was drawn to her passion and vision. While she says there is “no doubt” the former Spice Girl is a celebrity, they don’t consider Victoria Beckham Beauty a celebrity brand, but rather a bona fide indie startup. “Having Victoria as a partner obviously shines a light on the brand that we wouldn’t have otherwise, but we still have to stand up to the scrutiny and credibility that any new beauty brand would need to.”

The importance of quality over influence

Celebrities undeniably wield great influence over their following, but if they want to convince consumers to buy their products, this credibility and, most importantly, gold-standard quality, is non-negotiable. “People aren’t just buying into the face—they equally expect the product to work as hard as any other brand they’d engage with,” says Victoria Buchanan, senior futures analyst at strategic foresight consultancy The Future Laboratory.

The audience agrees. “[I think some] products by celebrities are bad quality because it is believed that people will buy them regardless,” says Marion, a 17-year-old gen-Z consumer from Toronto. “But the product itself should be more important than the celebrity or advertising.” It’s quality that she cites as the reason for buying the few products from celebrity brands that she’s purchased—a Rare Beauty highlighter with good reviews, a Fenty concealer because of its range of shades.

While a celebrity might make consumers aware of a brand (they’ll pay close attention if it’s someone they’re a fan of), it’s rare that they would buy a beauty product because of the name alone. On the whole, they remain wary of products, particularly when it comes to skincare, do their own research, and always listen to expert advice.

Like all trends, the celebrity beauty bubble will eventually burst. The sharp decline of celebrity fragrances following its 2011 peak shows what can happen when consumers move on from a category. Nothing lasts forever and we’ve already seen a gradual shift towards hair brands, such as Tracee Ellis Ross’s Pattern, Priyanka Chopra Jonas’s Anomaly, and sexual wellness products via Cara Delevingne and Dakota Johnson.

When that moment comes, those brands left standing will be the ones that have established their authenticity and credibility, played to the strengths of their creators’ personal ethos and identity, and, above all, proved their quality. As noisy and loud as your social media presence might be, in the end, nothing talks like results.

VOGUE article