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The Best Eyeliner Pencil - 2022

Last updated on July 5, 2022

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Our Picks For The Top Eyeliner Pencils

Show Contents
Our Take
  Top Pick

NYX PROFESSIONAL MAKEUP Matte Mechanical Eyeliner Pencil

Don't Waste Your Money Seal of Approval

NYX PROFESSIONAL MAKEUP

Matte Mechanical Eyeliner Pencil

Overall Take

Good Staying PowerUse these thick lines for a look that lasts.

  Runner Up

COVERGIRL Perfect Blend Plush Blender Tip Eyeliner Pencil

COVERGIRL

Perfect Blend Plush Blender Tip Eyeliner Pencil

Overall Take

Naturally Water ResistantThese classic pencils come with a handy blending tip.

  We Also Like

Rimmel Exaggerate Self-Sharpening Waterproof Eyeliner Pencil

Rimmel

Exaggerate Self-Sharpening Waterproof Eyeliner Pencil

Overall Take

Tips Stays SharpPrecision is a big highlight for this pencil.

  Strong Contender

REVLON ColorStay Ultra-Fine Tip 24 Hour Eyeliner Pencil

REVLON

ColorStay Ultra-Fine Tip 24 Hour Eyeliner Pencil

Overall Take

Oily Skin FriendlyThese smear-free pencils are built to last.

Guide written by Tod Caviness
Last updated on July 5, 2022

Nothing brings out your eyes like a little eyeliner, and there are a number of ways to put it on. Makeup professionals keep an arsenal of gels, creams and liquids on hand, but for sheer accuracy you can’t beat the old reliable eyeliner pencil.

For the uninitiated, an eyeliner pencil is just that: A pencil that (ideally) draws a nice neat line of makeup on the outer rim of the eye. They can be made up of a variety of different ingredients, but by volume an eyeliner pencil contains mostly waxes or gums that help the line stick and a pigment to provide the coloring. The devil is in the details though, and not all pencils are created equal.

Finding the right color eyeliner will usually be a lot easier than finding one with the right feel. Most eyeliner pencils put down a line that’s resistant to moisture, but beginners might want to start with a non-waterproof variety. You might have to reapply more frequently, but it will be a lot easier to correct your mistakes. That “wetter” pencil will also be easier to blend in if you’re going for the coveted “cat eye” look.

Once you’re a little more confident with your makeup skills, you can find a waterproof pencil with a little more staying power. That’s not to say you want something that feels too dry. The trick is to find something that goes on smoothly and doesn’t flake off or run, but that you can also blend easily if you need to. Many pencils come with a felt tip on the other end that you can use for precision smudging. If your eyeliner isn’t giving you a dark enough shade, you can even use some liquid liner and layer it over the pencil.

Finding the right shade of eyeliner can be tough, but there are a few basic fashion guidelines that will help. Almost everyone has a few reliable eyeliner pencils in basic black, and for the most part that’s a go-to color — but it doesn’t have to be. If you have especially pale skin, black may just give you “tired eyes,” so go with a brown or grey pencil instead. Browns can also work well on those with a medium skin tone, while those with darker skin can look good in silver, blue or a variety of other colors.

If you’re going for a night out and want colors outside the spectrum of black and brown, choose something that complements your eyes. Brown eyeliner is always a safe bet with brown eyes, but dark blues or greens can make the right eye shape pop. Blue eyes usually love a little gold or bronze around the edges, and hazel eyes play well with a range of other hues. Try purple, green or gold until you find your style.

The Best Eyeliner Pencils

1
  Top Pick

NYX PROFESSIONAL MAKEUP Matte Mechanical Eyeliner Pencil

This pencil goes on creamy and dries fast for a look that can last all day without a touchup. It's especially well-suited for the waterline since it's so hard to smudge. Depending on how you use it, it can administer subtle highlights or a thick line that's ready for the spotlight.

Features


Specifications

Brand
NYX PROFESSIONAL MAKEUP
Model
2
  Runner Up

COVERGIRL Perfect Blend Plush Blender Tip Eyeliner Pencil

These no-nonsense pencils can be used for a variety of looks. The tip draws a nice, clean line that can be blended easily thanks to the plush "eraser" end. Once it's on, you can expect it to stay smudge free rain or shine.

Features


Specifications

Brand
COVERGIRL
Model
3
  We Also Like

Rimmel Exaggerate Self-Sharpening Waterproof Eyeliner Pencil

You can expect consistent performance from this pencil thanks to the self-sharpening tip. If you do need to tweak the size, there is even a sharpener included. Once applied, the lines are highly resistant to moisture.

Features


Specifications

Brand
Rimmel
Model
4
  Strong Contender

REVLON ColorStay Ultra-Fine Tip 24 Hour Eyeliner Pencil

These pencils resist all kinds of moisture from light rain to an oily complexion. Even though the feel isn't too dry, it has surprising staying power on a variety of skin types. It's not prone to smearing and the retractable tips help preserve the pencil.

Features


Specifications

Brand
REVLON
Model
5
  Also Great

L’Oreal Paris Infallible Smudge-Proof Mechanical Eyeliner Pencil

These pencils have a sharpener that's easy to use, which can help when customizing the thickness of your lines. Sharp or dull, the liner glides on smoothly and doesn't flake off easily. If you like a softer look, these work especially well.

Features


Specifications

Brand
L'Oreal Paris
Model

Our Eyeliner Pencil Buying Guide

Nothing brings out your eyes like a little eyeliner, and there are a number of ways to put it on. Makeup professionals keep an arsenal of gels, creams and liquids on hand, but for sheer accuracy you can’t beat the old reliable eyeliner pencil.

For the uninitiated, an eyeliner pencil is just that: A pencil that (ideally) draws a nice neat line of makeup on the outer rim of the eye. They can be made up of a variety of different ingredients, but by volume an eyeliner pencil contains mostly waxes or gums that help the line stick and a pigment to provide the coloring. The devil is in the details though, and not all pencils are created equal.

Finding the right color eyeliner will usually be a lot easier than finding one with the right feel. Most eyeliner pencils put down a line that’s resistant to moisture, but beginners might want to start with a non-waterproof variety. You might have to reapply more frequently, but it will be a lot easier to correct your mistakes. That “wetter” pencil will also be easier to blend in if you’re going for the coveted “cat eye” look.

Once you’re a little more confident with your makeup skills, you can find a waterproof pencil with a little more staying power. That’s not to say you want something that feels too dry. The trick is to find something that goes on smoothly and doesn’t flake off or run, but that you can also blend easily if you need to. Many pencils come with a felt tip on the other end that you can use for precision smudging. If your eyeliner isn’t giving you a dark enough shade, you can even use some liquid liner and layer it over the pencil.

Finding the right shade of eyeliner can be tough, but there are a few basic fashion guidelines that will help. Almost everyone has a few reliable eyeliner pencils in basic black, and for the most part that’s a go-to color — but it doesn’t have to be. If you have especially pale skin, black may just give you “tired eyes,” so go with a brown or grey pencil instead. Browns can also work well on those with a medium skin tone, while those with darker skin can look good in silver, blue or a variety of other colors.

If you’re going for a night out and want colors outside the spectrum of black and brown, choose something that complements your eyes. Brown eyeliner is always a safe bet with brown eyes, but dark blues or greens can make the right eye shape pop. Blue eyes usually love a little gold or bronze around the edges, and hazel eyes play well with a range of other hues. Try purple, green or gold until you find your style.

DWYM Fun Fact

Eyeliner was most likely invented in ancient Egypt, which should come as no surprise to anyone who has seen the heavily-accented eyes on all those hieroglyphic figures. As with most early forms of makeup, that beauty had a price. Back then, their eyeliner was made with lead salts, which were likely to cause cataracts in anyone who used them long enough.

The Eyeliner Pencil Tips and Advice

It’s great when you’re able to apply eyeliner properly, but knowing how to take it off is just as important. Make sure that at the end of the night, you wipe it off thoroughly with a cotton swab dipped in oil or micellar water. Otherwise, you’re risking some seriously irritated eyes on the morning.

Overnight eyeliner can be especially damaging if you’ve painted the inner surface of the eyelid, also known as the waterline. In fact, many health experts recommend you go easy on this area of the eye or leave it alone entirely. The waterline contains glands which can get stopped up over time by thick, waxy liner.


About The Author

Tod Caviness 

Tod Caviness has been a features journalist and writer for the past 20 years. He took the easy route to grooming and shaved his head decades ago. Little did he know it would open up a whole new world of expertise in razors, hats and suntan lotion. He is still learning how to braid his daughter's hair.