Best Drugstore Eyeliner, According to 5 Experts

What are some of the best drugstore eyeliners?

We asked experts to recommend their top picks.

Luba Todorova

Luba Todorova

Expert Makeup Artist, Warren Tricomi Salons

We all have tested every waterproof and claiming to stay on eyeliner, but the price doesn’t have to be what secures the results. All you need to know is what type of brush is easier for you to use.

This has a matte finish, great staying power and comes with a brush for a customized look.

This is one of a kind when you prefer the liquid with a soft playable brush end for a quick precise application.

This product is with a unique fine brush that doesn’t drag the skin for a thin line.

It is a beautiful multitasker great for the waterline with a flat angled delivery system.

This eyeliner pencil glides on very smooth and doesn’t budge.

Maria Licari

Maria Licari

Makeup Artist, Warren Tricomi Salons

It is a great liner for creating precision wings and getting closer to the corners of the inner eyelids. The brush tip is only .1 mm wide making this a mistake-proof product! This comes in 3 color options ranging from Black, Navy, and Mahogany. This is great for any daytime or nighttime look!

This is nothing short of bold, keeps all-day wear and it’s waterproof! I recommend this liner all year round but especially in the summer months! It has 4 color varieties from Black, Brown, Teal, and Purple!

This has a controllable tip applicator allowing you to paint your liner as thick or thin as you want. Although this only comes in Black and Brown colors, it is intensely pigmented and gives a super bold evening look!

Krystal B. Armstrong

Krystal B. Armstrong

Professional Makeup Artist | Licensed Cosmetologist

Have you ever loved the glide of a liner but the color payoff wasn’t great? Or the color payoff was amazing but the formula was too dry? Or the glide was nice but too soft so it always smudged?

Well, this liner by Maybelline is exactly what you need. It glides like a dream but it’s firm and is the darkest black on the market. No need to sharpen after each use wearing your pencil down quickly and it lasts with a good smudge-proof formula. I keep this stocked in my personal kit.

Jessica deBen Polish

Jessica deBen Polish

TV & Film Makeup Artist

NYX Vinyl Liquid Liner

Buy on Amazon
02/28/2024 02:05 pm GMT

The drugstore eyeliner you will find in Hollywood makeup trailers is NYX Vinyl Liquid Liner. Makeup artists rely on it because it’s waterproof and doesn’t contain the wax that most pencils are made of. The pencils melt and smudge with body heat. This liquid liner locks in place and the black pigment is a rich true black. Bonus: NYX products are very affordable!

Tabby Farrar

Tabby Farrar

Lifestyle Writer | Blogger, Just Can’t Settle

CYO ‘This line’s a keeper’

I’ve been wearing my eyeliner the same way every day for 15 years now, and I’m really picky when it comes to things being waterproof, smudge-proof, and generally good value for what you spend.

It is easy to use and is the only eyeliner I’ve come across that is genuinely 100% waterproof, smudge-proof and sweatproof. Whether you’re planning on swimming, surfing, trekking in serious heat, or if you just live in a very rainy country, you can rest assured that once you put this stuff on, the only way it’s coming off is when you want it to.

It’s an intensely black liner, with a fine brush that can be used to create either very precise lines, or if you adjust your grip, can sweep a perfect cat-eye flick in seconds.

For party animals, it’s a great choice for staying out all night and knowing your makeup will still be in place, while for thrill-seekers its staying power means you know you won’t be caught looking anything but your best in travel and sports photos.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the different types of drugstore eyeliners?

Gel Eyeliner: gel eyeliner is a creamy, highly pigmented formula usually applied with a brush. It is long-lasting and smudge-proof, making it popular for bold, dramatic looks. Gel eyeliner is also easy to control, so you can draw fine or thick lines depending on your desired look.

Liquid Eyeliner: liquid eyeliner is a smooth, fluid formula applied with a brush or pen tip. It is excellent for precise, defined lines and is often used for winged liner looks. Liquid eyeliner can be waterproof, smudge-proof, or both, so it’s a good choice if you want your eyeliner to last all day.

Pencil eyeliner: pencil eyeliner is a solid formula applied directly to the lash line. It is soft and creamy, blends, and smudges effortlessly for a smoky effect. Pencil eyeliner is also versatile: you can use it to tightline, create bold or thin lines, or smudge it for a more natural look.

Kajal eyeliner: kajal eyeliner is a soft, smudgy formula often used for dramatic, smoky looks. It is usually applied directly to the lash line and can be smudged and blended for a more intense effect. Kajal eyeliner is typically long-lasting and waterproof, making it a good choice for hot and humid days or for those who want a bold look that lasts all day.

Each type of drugstore eyeliner has its own benefits and drawbacks, so be sure to choose the one that best suits your desired look and lifestyle.

What are the tips for applying drugstore eyeliner?

Here are a few tips on how to apply drugstore eyeliner like a pro:

Start with a clean and moisturized eye area.

Choose the right type of eyeliner for the look you want and the level of precision you need

If you don’t have experience with liquid eyeliner, try starting with a pen tip for more control.

Use light, small strokes to build up the intensity and thickness of the line.

Remember to line the inner edge of the upper lash line for a natural look.

Are drugstore eyeliners long-lasting?

Yes, many drugstore eyeliners are formulated to be long-lasting, but the actual staying power can vary depending on the brand and type of eyeliner. For best results, look for eyeliners that are smudge-proof and waterproof. You can also set your eyeliner with a matching eye shadow to make it last even longer.

Is it safe to use eyeliner from the drugstore?

Yes, eyeliners from the drugstore are usually safe as long as you follow the instructions and use them as directed. However, it’s always a good idea to do a patch test on the inside of your wrist before using any new cosmetic product. This is to ensure that you’re not allergic to any ingredients. And, of course, you should never share your eyeliner with anyone else to avoid the risk of infection.

Can eyeliners from the drugstore be used for sensitive eyes?

Yes, there are drugstore eyeliners specifically formulated for sensitive eyes. These eyeliners are usually made of gentle ingredients that don’t cause irritation. If you have sensitive eyes, it’s best to look for labeled hypoallergenic, fragrance-free, or ophthalmologist-tested eyeliners.

Are drugstore eyeliners suitable for contact lens wearers?

Yes, many drugstore eyeliners are suitable for contact lens wearers. However, it’s always a good idea to check the label or consult your optometrist to ensure the eyeliner you’re using is safe for your eyes and won’t affect your contact lenses.

Can drugstore eyeliners be used for tightlining?

Yes, many drugstore eyeliners can be used for tightlining, which is applying eyeliner to the inner rim of your upper lash line. Pencil eyeliners are often the best choice for tightlining because they are easier to control and apply precisely in this area.

What are the pros and cons of using drugstore eyeliners?

Here are some pros and cons of using drugstore eyeliners:


Affordable: drugstore eyeliners are usually much more affordable than high-end ones, making them accessible to everyone.

Wide range of options: with so many drugstore brands and products, you’re sure to find an eyeliner that suits you.

Good quality: many drugstore eyeliners are high quality and work just as well as more expensive brands.


Inconsistent quality: while some drugstore eyeliners are excellent, others may not last as well or as long. You may have to try several products before you find one you like.

Limited shade range: Some drugstore eyeliners may come in fewer colors than high-end brands.

Less availability: Depending on where you live, it may be harder to find certain eyeliners from the drugstore.

What is the best way to remove drugstore eyeliner?

The best way to remove drugstore eyeliner depends on the type of eyeliner you use. You can use a gentle eye makeup remover or an oil-based cleanser for pencil and kajal eyeliners. For liquid and gel eyeliners, you may need to use a waterproof eye makeup remover. Be sure to use a gentle, non-irritating product to avoid damaging your skin and eyes.

Can drugstore eyeliners be used with other eye makeup products?

Yes, drugstore eyeliners can be used with other eye makeup products such as eye shadow, mascara, and eyebrow products. Experiment with different combinations to achieve the look you want. Just let the eyeliner dry completely before applying other products to avoid smudging.

How can I make my drugstore eyeliner last longer?

To make your drugstore eyeliner last longer, you can try the following tips:

Use a primer or base for the eyeliner to help it adhere better to your skin.

Set the eyeliner with matching eye shadow to make it last even longer.

If you use an eyeliner pencil, you can sharpen it before each use to keep a fresh, sharp tip.

For liquid and gel eyeliners, you can use a waterproof formula that lasts longer.

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