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Eyeliner has been one of my favorite makeup products since I started wearing makeup. I have really big eyes, so eyeliner helps define my eyes and accentuate their shape. But one of my biggest struggles is finding an eyeliner for my waterline. I know I’m not the only one who applies beautifully pigmented eyeliner, only for it to smudge under my eyes or fade off.
Don’t worry. I learned about high-quality eyeliners when I worked at Sephora. There are plenty of eyeliners that won’t budge or smear on your waterline. All of these eyeliners are long-lasting and pigmented. Plus, you can find these liners at all different price ranges. Here are the best waterline eyeliner options.
Bottom line up front:
I recommend the Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil the most for your waterline. These are not only pigmented for the waterline, but you can apply these liners to your upper and lower lid, smudging them out for a creative look. They’re easy to apply and last a long time. Urban Decay says these liners are waterproof; while I disagree, I will admit that they’re long-lasting and don’t run on me.
My Top Picks Up Front
- Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil
- Milani Stay Put Eyeliner
- Fenty Beauty Flypencil Longwear Pencil Eyeliner
- Charlotte Tilbury Rock n’ Kohl Eyeliner
- Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Eye Pencil
- Inglot Kohl Pencil
- Laura Mercier Inner Eye Definer
- NYX Cosmetics Retractable Eye Liner Pencil
- Shiseido MicroLiner Ink
- Kulfi Beauty Kajal Eyeliner
- MAC Colour Excess Gel Pencil Eyeliner
- bareMinerals Mineralist Long-Lasting Eyeliner
- Jillian Dempsey The Brights Eyeliner
- Sephora Ultimate Gel Waterproof Eyeliner Pencil
- Pat McGrath Labs PermaGel Ultra Glide Eye Pencil
Tips to Find the Best Eyeliner for Your Waterline
Before I recommend my favorite waterline eyeliners, there are some tips that will ensure you choose the best eyeliner. These are tips that I learned at a young age when I was first buying and applying eyeliner to my waterline.
Find the Right Color
When you look for an eyeliner color, black is usually the first one that comes to mind. And there are many reasons why black is usually the go-to color. If you apply your black liner well, this one product will make your eyes look so much bigger. But black liner is versatile.
It’s the perfect color if you want to add a cat eye and do a new eye shape. You can also get creative with black eyeliner if you want a smoky smudged look. Black eyeliner is also the most intense color, making your eyes look sharper, so they stand out.
I also recommend staying open to other colors. For example, if you told teenage me that I would be wearing brown eyeliner, I would think you would be crazy. Like black, brown is a very rich color. But one thing I noticed about brown eyeliner is it’s universal, meaning it looks amazing on everyone. Brown eyeliner is also versatile; you can apply brown eyeliner to your waterline for a natural look or do a brown smoky eye with liner.
I also own eyeliner in various other colors. Green eyeliner has been a favorite of mine recently, though I also love blue, purple, gray, and red eyeliner. If you want your eyes to look bigger, I also suggest using white eyeliner.
Know How to Smudge
Even expensive high-quality eyeliner can fade or bleed. One trick I learned to keep your eyes looking intense is to smudge your liner on the bottom lid. This is a very bold look but will keep your eyes looking fierce all night — even if the pigment leaves your waterline.
Take your eyeliner and apply it to the lower lash line. Use a smudge brush or any defined brush and blend the eyeliner out, focusing on extending the pigment to the outer corner of the eye. I suggest doing the same to the eyeliner on your top lash and connecting the lines at the outer corner of the eyes. Add a winged tip, if desired.
Should You Use Waterproof?
Before answering this question, it’s important to understand more about waterproof eyeliner. Waterproof eyeliner is made with ingredients to ensure that the product lasts, whether it rains, your eyes get oily, or you sweat. This is the longest-lasting type of eyeliner. As a plus, it’s also smudge-proof and transfer-proof.
There are some downsides to using waterproof eyeliner. First, I noticed most eyeliners marketed as “waterproof” can still fade. I also have sensitive eyes and waterproof makeup irritates my eyes more than washable makeup. I’m also reading a source that says waterproof makeup can cause dry eye disease, which is a condition where your tears don’t provide enough lubrication for your eyes. Waterproof eyeliner also tends to be more expensive.
Keep Finish in Mind
I recommend using matte eyeliner. Matte eyeliner doesn’t contain any shine or sparkle. Glitter eyeliner is best to use on the top and bottom lash line — not for tightlining. The glitter can irritate your eyes. You can also tightline with a Kohl pencil and then outline the matte liner with a glitter pencil or liquid liner.
You should only apply pencil liner (also called Kohl eyeliner) to the waterline. Avoid using gel or liquid eyeliner on the waterline unless the brand says it’s okay. Gel and liquid eyeliner can sting your waterline. Even if these products are okay for the waterline, they may smear easier than pencil eyeliner.
How I Chose These Eyeliners
I considered all of the factors mentioned previously when choosing an eyeliner. All of the products I’m mentioning are pencil formulas and are safe for tightlining. They also have a matte finish. I prioritized black eyeliner, but I also found pencils available in various colors. I did include waterproof formulas, but I also included washable eyeliners.
Best Eyeliners for Your Waterline
Now that you know about applying eyeliner to your waterline, here are a few of my favorite products.
I do want to mention that Urban Decay also sells these eye pencils in a waterline formula. Since I also apply eyeliner to my top and lower lash lines, I use the Glide-On Pencils and apply them to my waterline. I never had any issues, and other reviewers I read said they do this, as well.
Now back to the Glide-On Pencils. These are the very first eyeliners that I fell in love with. I started using these Urban Decay eyeliners when I was a teenager, and they are still my go-to eye pencils. The pencils are pigmented enough for the waterline but are soft enough to apply on the top and bottom lash lines. They also have a smooth texture, so they don’t tug on your skin.
Urban Decay features these pencils in staple colors, such as black and brown, and various funky colors. For the waterline, I would avoid the sparkly colors and stick to the funky matte colors. My favorite funky colors are Rockstar (matte purple), Sabbath (matte dark blue), and Smoke (matte gray).
While these eyeliners don’t run on me, I also wouldn’t say they’re waterproof. They do fade on the waterline. That’s why I also mentioned Urban Decay’s waterline eyeliner.
Milani is one of my favorite drugstore brands. I’ve been using their products for years, and all of their products are pigmented and long-lasting. This eyeliner lives by its name. It doesn’t smudge or run throughout the day. I am reading that it may fade and you’ll have to reapply it a couple of times. Milani doesn’t offer as many colors as the Urban Decay liners, but they still have plenty of color options. I really like Femme Fatale, which is a matte dark blue.
I’m so-so about Fenty Beauty. Some products I use from this brand are absolutely amazing while others are less-than-perfect. I love Fenty Beauty’s primers, oddly enough. I will say, I never tried their eyeliners, but I’m reading nothing but stellar reviews about this one.
This eyeliner is long-wearing and smudge-resistant. The color payoff is amazing and glides on with ease. You can use these eyeliners on the top and lower lash lines and on the waterline. This eyeliner is available in numerous colors, and many of them are ideal for the waterline. I like Purp-A-Trader, which is a dark matte purple.
Charlotte Tilbury’s Rock n’ Kohl Eyeliner is what it sounds like. There are various intense colors to channel your rocker side. I love the Bedroom Black and Midnight Blue eyeliners, and Smokey Gray is a great daily liner if you still want to do an extravagant makeup look at the office or when you’re out during the day.
Your waterline eyeliner doesn’t have to be in blackest black. You can opt for a natural shade, so your eyes look bigger and more awake. That’s what Charlotte Tilbury achieved with her Eye Cheat color. She offers various colors that you apply to the waterline. These eyeliners are intended to brighten the eyes for the perfect daily look.
There are some downsides to these pencils. I’m reading they’re made of plastic, so they’re difficult to sharpen.
This Bobbi Brown eyeliner is perfect for tightlining for many reasons. The color is very rich and pigmented yet it still looks natural. Even though this is a pencil formula, you still get the smooth look of a gel liner. It also glides really well without skipping or tugging at your skin, so it’s a good eyeliner to use on the top lash line.
I am reading some complaints. For starters, customers said this eyeliner smudges badly. Bobbi Brown markets their eyeliner are waterproof and smudge-resistant, but I’ve been seeing a trend of these complaints. This eyeliner is $32, which is even more expensive than most of the eyeliners on this list.
I never heard of this brand before, but I’m seeing so many raving reviews about this eyeliner. Inglot’s Kohl Eyeliner has a velvety soft texture that’s easy to apply. The eyeliner doesn’t smudge or transfer. It is a waterproof eyeliner, but I’m reading it washes off very easily with makeup remover.
I love Laura Mercier’s eye products. I don’t have this eyeliner, but I’ve tried some of her other eyeliners. Every product I’ve tried is pigmented yet looks so natural. The same can be said about this Eye Definer. This product is available in various colors to define every eye, no matter your eye shade or color.
I’m also reading that these Eye Definers last a long time and are easy to apply. I don’t think these Eye Definers are waterproof and customers complained that they do run. I’m also reading that these break easily, which is a shame since these pencils are $26 each.
I know I always say I have a love-hate relationship with NYX, but I actually do like their eyeliner. While I notice their liners do run, they’re pigmented and are a good alternative to Urban Decay. For tightlining, I recommend this retractable eye pencil over their Kohl pencils.
It’s available in a variety of matte colors so you can always achieve the look that you want. The liners apply smoothly and last a long time. The major complaint I’m reading about is the twist-up packaging. Customers complained that the packaging can get stuck and the product won’t twist up. But at $6, you’re not spending much money on eyeliner.
I never used Shiseido makeup, but they’re one of my favorite skincare brands ever. But I’m reading amazing things about this eyeliner. Reviewers say this eyeliner goes on smoothly and it’s easy to apply to the waterline. It lasts a long time and doesn’t smear. But as with all Shiseido products, this one is pretty pricey. It’s $28 CAD; while not the most expensive liner on this list, it is still out of many makeup budgets. I’m also reading that this pencil is prone to breaking.
I never heard of this brand, but I’m intrigued by these eyeliners. I’m reading that the texture is very creamy, perfect for applying to the waterline. This is also a great eyeliner if you like to apply eyeliner to the lash lines because the liner keeps its shape. This is a retractable eyeliner, so no sharpener is necessary.
This eyeliner also offers skincare benefits. It’s formulated with aloe and vitamin E. It’s available in various matte colors. Plus, these colors are inclusive for a variety of women, especially women of color and South Asian women.
Before I say anything, MAC states on its website that you can use this gel pencil liner on the waterline.
I first want to mention I love MAC eyeliner, but they discontinue their best liners all the time. While this is a limited edition eyeliner, there are many reasons to get this while it’s available. Users report it’s smudge-proof, it’s available in various pretty colors (I like Graphic Content, Perpetual Shock, and Nudge Nudge, Ink Ink), and it glides on easily.
I will say some of these liners have glitter, so be careful about choosing the right color for your waterline. It’s also important to note that this isn’t the best eyeliner for a cat eye. Other customers complained about this eyeliner breaking. At $23, this eyeliner isn’t the most expensive, but it may be too pricey for some people.
I have a love-hate relationship with bareMinerals. Surprisingly, I’ve never been a fan of their powder foundations, but I love their liquid foundations and their BB creams. I also love their lip makeup — I’ve owned several of their lipsticks and lip glosses and love each one that I’ve used. I’ve never used their eyeliner, but I’m reading good reviews about this one.
Reviewers mention that this eyeliner really does last a long time — like, I’m talking about all day and night. The eyeliner also applies smoothly, and it’s available in various rich colors — I really like the red color called Garnet. The only problem is this may run on you, especially if you have oily eyelids.
I know so many people who love applying white eyeliner to the waterline to brighten up their eyes. This Jillian Dempsey eyeliner is perfect for that. Simply apply the white liner to your waterline. The white is pigmented enough to stand out, but it still looks natural. You can also apply this to the lash line and smudge it out for various looks. The pencil won’t tug at your skin, and the formula is clean.
In case you didn’t know, Jillian Dempsey is a makeup artist who has worked with celebrities like Kristen Stewart. Her brand is clean, cruelty-free, and vegan.
If you want a cheaper alternative to the MAC Gel Pencil, I suggest trying this one by Sephora Collection. I really like Sephora’s eyeliners. Once, I was going to get an Urban Decay eyeliner, but Sephora was out of both Zero and Perversion. I picked up this one instead and really liked it.
While this eyeliner is available in various colors, Sephora offers many glitter and metallic finishes. Make sure you’re buying one of the matte colors. Fortunately, the website separates these shades well. It does apply easily to the waterline, but not the lash lines. I will explain more in a bit. This eyeliner also lasts a long time. It does smudge a little, but it’s not very noticeable.
There are some downsides to this eyeliner. First, it tugs. This isn’t the liner with the smudge brush, so I suggest having a smudge brush on hand so you can blend the liner. It also breaks off, which is a pain but isn’t the end of the world. Fortunately, this eyeliner is retractable, so all you have to do is twist it back up.
This is another gel eye pencil, though I want to mention that I can’t find anything on the product page saying you can apply this to the waterline. Reviewers I’m reading said they apply this to the waterline with great results, but I would still consider some of the other products on this list if you have sensitive eyes.
As with other Pat McGrath products, this eyeliner is one of the most pigmented on this list. You only need one swipe to get an amazing color payoff. This eyeliner is also versatile. You can use it for a simple tightlining or do more extravagant looks. The liner has a soft formula, making it easy to apply and smudge.
Question: How do I get eyeliner to stay on my waterline?
Answer: It all boils down to the product you use. As the name suggests, your waterline is very watery, so eyeliners that aren’t waterproof are more likely to fade on the waterline. Even eyeliners that are waterproof will eventually fade. The best course of action is to experiment with different eyeliners. I suggest trying any of the liners that I mentioned on my list.
Question: Is it healthy to apply eyeliner to your waterline?
Answer: Eye doctors have advised us against wearing eyeliner on the waterline, wearing too much mascara, and more. Using eye makeup makes us more likely to develop eye conditions, such as dry eye disease.
Question: Which is the best eyeliner for tightlining?
Answer: I mentioned tightlining a little bit here. This is an eyeliner application technique where you apply eyeliner in between the spaces of your lashes. This results in a subtle look that still defines your eyes. It’s best to do tightlining with a pencil for the best results. Out of all of these eyeliners, I suggest using the bareMinerals one for tightlining.
Out of all of these products, I recommend the Urban Decay 24/7 Eyeliner for the waterline. This eyeliner has been one of my favorites for years.
It’s a versatile pencil; you can use it for your waterline and tightlining, but this is also a great eyeliner for the upper and lower lash lines. I also think these UD pencils are the easiest to use for a cat eye, graphic liner, and other looks. These pencils last a long time. I’ve had my current Perversion pencil for at least two years. UD makes these liners in countless colors, so your creative options are limitless. Just remember that many of their eyeliners are glittery, so be sure to choose a matte color.