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Best eyeliner: Perfect your flick with the best eyeliners to buy from just £3

Need more eye makeup definition? Looking to perfect that flick? Then check out our pick of the best eyeliners from £3 to £20

Whether you’re looking for a smokey, feline or subtly defined look, eyeliner can make it happen. But with so many textures, finishes and shades to choose from it’s easy to get just a little confused. You could end up with the perfect texture but not the right durability – or, you might find your dream shade but without the desired finish. Fear not – there’s an eyeliner out there to tick all your boxes, and here’s how to find it.

If you already know what you’re after, then read on for our five favourite eyeliners. If you need a little help deciding, then scroll down the page and have a read of our bite-size buying guide which will explain all the key things you need to know.

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The best eyeliners you can buy

1. Kat Von D Tattoo Liner: Best liquid eyeliner that won’t smudge

Price: around £16 | Buy now from Debenhams

Find your eyeliner smudges after a few hours of wear? For a feline flick that sticks look no further than the Kat Von D Tattoo Liner. Whether you’ve got caught in the rain or finished an intense spin class, thanks to the Tattoo Liners long-lasting and waterproof formula your eye look won’t budge.

Earning holy grail status in many beauty bloggers makeup arsenals, the liquid eyeliner has a super flexible, needle-thin tip that’ll give you ultimate control and precision. Beginners and professionals find it easy to craft a sharp wing with the Tattoo Liner and unlike most budget liquid eyeliners the tip won’t fray with use. Our thoughts? We’d like to see a more varied colour selection but for a look that lasts the Tattoo Liner deserves to be your go-to.

Key details – available in two shades

2. Rimmel Soft Kohl Eye Pencil: A superb eyeliner at a bargain price

Price when reviewed: £3

You wouldn’t expect top quality from an eyeliner pencil at this price. But the Rimmel has the edge over other budget eyeliners. Experts might not necessarily use the word “kohl” for what is rather a delicate finish, but it builds surprisingly brilliantly to create an undeniably expensive-looking finish. In particular, the shade “Sable Brown” provides a subtle, smokey look at first, but once layered it could pass for a much higher-quality formula. Durability isn’t amazing in the water lines – most of it will wear off after about an hour – but if you embed it into the lash line too, you won’t need to reapply at all. A must for daily eyeliner lovers.

Key details – Available in four shades

3. Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner: The best gel eyeliner

Price when reviewed: £19.50

This multi-award-winning product comes from one of the most respected makeup artists in the business. The gel formula acts like a liquid, but glides onto the skin more easily – and once it’s on it’s on, for pretty much the whole day. You can easily do a workout or watch a sad movie without the worry that it’s going to pour down your face. You have to apply it with a tiny brush – which is annoyingly sold separately – and it definitely isn’t one to apply on the go because of the fiddly lid. But if you’ve got time to put it on at home and a steady hand, the results of this glossy gel are gorgeous.

Key details – Available in 12 shades

4. Lancome Le Crayon Kohl: The best pencil eyeliner

Price when reviewed: £17.50

Smokey-eye lovers, this one’s for you. It’s a no-nonsense crayon that does the job quickly and effectively, thanks to a soft kohl formula that glides on beautifully, smudges nicely and maintains a clean line where you need it. Some pencils can flake and leave scratchy grit on or in your eye, but this crayon’s softness ensures there’s no unwanted debris.

Admittedly, a wider range of shades would be nice: it’s only available in four sultry hues, namely black, brown, bronze and a grey-ish blue. Still, all work well along either the top or bottom lash line and even stay put in the water lines. Our only other caveat is to make sure the lid is pushed on tightly before throwing it into your makeup bag, as crayons like this don’t have that positive clicky action.

Key details – Available in four shades

5. Maybelline Master Precise Liquid Eyeliner: The best liquid eyeliner under £10

Price when reviewed: £6

The great thing about this liquid liner is its felt-tip-style nib, which makes it a breeze to apply, and ensures you’ll get consistent results. It feels nicely wet each time you use it, and never seems to dry out until you reach the very end. It’s masterfully precise too, even if you want to create the most intricate of feline flicks. The downsides are that there are only two shades available, and it feels slightly on the scratchy side. Still, for the price it’s an excellent find from an iconic brand.

Key details – Available in two shades

6. Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil: The best eyeliner for shade options

Price when reviewed: £15.50

This eyeliner comes in a remarkable 43 shades – yes, you read that right – making it the ultimate go-to crayon for whatever pop of colour you desire. The pigment is brilliantly strong, and some of the colours contain a touch of glitter or leave a metallic finish for those who like that sort of thing. More conventional blacks, greys and browns are available too for everyday use.

The formula also excels when it comes to softness. The words “glide-on” are spot-on, and you can smudge, blend and draw it on with satisfying ease thanks to clever moisturising properties. Staying power is another strength: once it’s on, there’s no shifting this sucker until you choose to remove it. Overall, it’s a great eyeliner – and when it comes to shades, you’re spoilt for choice.

Key details – Available in 43 shades

How to buy the best eyeliner for you

What features should I look for?

Eyeliner comes in all shapes and sizes – crayons, kohl pencils, liquid pens, brush liquids, gel pots – some of which you need to apply with a brush, others that you can draw on directly. Which you go for will depend on your desired finish, but look out for ease of use too – and consider how well the product will travel if you carry your makeup around with you, since leakage can be fatal to a makeup bag. For example, if a liquid pen has a sturdy lid that shuts with a click, you’re onto a winner.

How much should I spend?

There’s normally no need to go above the £20 mark, but sometimes a product – usually designer – comes along that owns something the others don’t, so you may choose to treat yourself. One thing to consider is how often you wear eyeliner: if you wear it every day, keep an eye on costs as you’ll be replacing your eyeliner regularly. However, if you see it as an investment that will be kept for special occasions, by all means go all out. Just keep in mind that the average shelf life of a makeup product is only around twelve months.

How do I know which formula to go for?

Ask yourself what look you want to achieve. If you love a subtle finish, go for a pencil; smokey-eye fans should opt for a thicker kohl pencil that you can smudge and use to create that cool, “slept-in” look. You can also use a crayon underneath the bottom lashes and in the lower water line of your eye for a defined finish.

If you edge towards a feline flick, a liquid brush or pen would be the best choice, as these don’t smudge and provide a cleaner line. If you have sensitive skin around the eyes or are just experimenting with eyeliner for the first time then a gel liner is a good idea, as it moves easily along the skin, without pulling. Plus, while liquid liners can’t be layered, a gel liner can be built up to achieve your desired look.

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