For cat eye addicts such as myself, the perfect liquid eyeliner is the holy grail of all makeup finds. The search is tedious, exhaustive, and expensive. You need one that is easy enough to apply, goes on smooth but isn’t too wet, creates a deep, rich black, doesn’t smudge or rub off on your eyelids, and remains that way all damn day. It’s a tall order, hence why I’m always the first in line to try any new liquid liner people are raving about. Unfortunately, if people rave about the intense black, it smudges. If everyone’s jazzed about the staying power, it irritates my eyelids. If the thickness is the big selling point, it’s impossible to apply. You get the picture.
So naturally, I had to go straight to the source: Sephora and its employees, the people who can try ALL THE LIQUID LINERS MWAHAHAHAHA at a glorious discount. I asked a deceivingly simple question: what is your favorite liquid eyeliner of all time? They didn’t steer me wrong with their mascara picks, and I knew they wouldn’t let me down on this either. The trouble is that liquid liners are so dang controversial that there were very few repeat responses—every cat eye for herself! That said, here are their top picks:
1. Kat Von D Tattoo Liner ($19.00)
I have heard some great things about this liner, but have resisted trying it because our editor (read: my makeup Jedi) Sam didn’t like it. However, I think I may have to test it for myself since a couple of the Sephora ladies I talked to were crazy devoted to it. This has a super-easy felt-tip applicator if you’re new to the liquid liner game, much like the Stila Stay All Day Liquid Eye Liner ($20.00) which is my personal standby.
2. Smashbox + Donald Robertson: New Photo Angle Pure Pigment Gel Liner ($24.00)
If there’s one thing I’m finding Sephora employees love, it’s NEW PRODUCTS. And who the hell can blame them? That’s what’s fun about makeup shopping! With the mascara, the new employee favorite was Benefit Cosmetics’s new Roller Lash, and on the liquid liner front, it’s this beauty from Smashbox. Let me tell you, this line is not for the timid. This is a hefty applicator, more like an old-school magic marker than anything else. But I’m told it is fabulous: flexible, smooth, and long-lasting.
3. Benefit Cosmetics They’re Real! Push-Up Liner ($24.00)
This is another chunker, to accompany your classic They’re Real! mascara. Like the Smashbox version, this boasts a soft flex tip which allows you to hug your lashline flawlessly. It’s a matte black gel that will give you a super dramatic look, according to my sources.
4. Sephora Classic Line 24-Hour Felt Liner ($14.00)
Two different Sephora employees pointed me in the direction of this Sephora-brand eyeliner, citing its intense black pigment and easy, precise applicator. After testing it on my hand, I was sold. I tested all of these liners on my hand, and this one was in contention for the blackest. Then…disaster struck. Okay not exactly a disaster, but I washed my hands. And while the other four held strong, Sephora disappeared almost immediately. I know you want to buy it more than the other because it’s cheaper, but DON’T DO IT.
So, which one stayed the longest? ….
5. Urban Decay 24/7 Waterproof Liquid Liner ($19.00 $10.00)
I’ll admit that at first I was turned off when my Sephora employee friend told me that it’s “super liquid-y.” I had a vision of myself waiting half an hour for my lids to dry in the morning, and ain’t nobody got time for that. But after this employee explained that you just need to remove a bit of product from the brush before you apply, I saw that the line on my hand actually dried fairly quickly.
I wash my hands an amount that some would call excessive. After a two-hour commute home and a shower, the line was still almost completely intact. I had to scratch it off with my nail (or I could have used makeup remover like a normal person, but what fun is that?) Moral of the story: this product is not joking when it says “waterproof” and you should buy it now while it’s on sale.
What’s your all-time favorite liquid eyeliner? Do you agree with these picks? Let me know in the comments because as always…the search continues.
(Featured photo: Shutterstock)
Beauty Expert & Hairstylist, Contributing Editor
Dorothy has been a beauty fanatic since she was a preteen growing up in a small Idaho town. She honed her makeup and hair skills on her willing mother and she’s a pro with a pair of tweezers, having fixed many a friend’s unibrow in college. Susan believes the true secret to beauty comes from within, but the right application of mascara and lipstick can help.