Liquid eyeliner can add a bold dimension to any makeup look, resulting in making your eyes pop. Furthermore, eyeliners have the power to take your beauty look from day to night in a single swipe. However, finding the right liquid liner can be tricky, especially at the best price. From hard-to-use applicators to smudgy formulas, there’s a lot that can go wrong.
We’ve revealed our favourite drugstore liquid eyeliner formulas that actually deliver to give your eyes that extra definition and are of great quality that surpass their price tags.
Types of Liquid Eyeliners
The key to finding your perfect liquid eyeliner begins with the applicator. Liquid eyeliners come in two main types, felt tip and dip-brush. However, there are a few additional tips which include precision brush-tip and roller wheel tip.
The type of brush tip you need fully depends on the type of wing you want to create. So, keep reading as we reveal which brush tip is best for each look.
The felt tip is similar to a marker pen and is used as you would too. It has a sponge applicator and a smooth, ink-like formula. Additionally, it is easier to control than a brush applicator. This makes it the better option for beginners as the ink is combined with the body of the pen, meaning you don’t have to dip the ink into the wand to reapply.
You can use these liners to create the exact level of intensity that you want as pressing firmly creates a thick line while pressing gently gives a thin one.
If you want a feline flick, a brush tip would be the best liquid eyeliner type you need. A brush tip is the most fluid formula of liquid liner and is usually wetter than others. This means it may require more drying time than felt-tip liquid eyeliners.
In particular, dip-brush has a brush applicator that is similar to nail polish. It is, therefore, your best choice if you want an intense, rich line. Because these liner brushes are usually not tapered, they are great for creating precision lines. However, if you want to create thicker lines, you can repeat rows of liner on top of each other to get the thickness you want.
Note: These formulas can vary widely with different finishes including matte and glitter.
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Precision Brush Tip
Precision brush tip liners are great if you want delicate, crisp lines. Crafted like an illustrator pen with a super fine-tipped applicator it provides thin, sharp lines.
The ultra-thin applicator also allows you to apply the product as close to the lash line as possible, while the fine bristles allow for precise application for intricate designs.
Roller Wheel Tip
The roller wheel eyeliner tip has a rolling, spinning disk applicator which resembles a pizza cutter. The wheel applicator is meant to deliver a razor-sharp line as it glides along the lid in one smooth motion.
The roller wheel is best for creating thin, precise lines and deposits a super-sharp line of pigment to give the perfect eyeliner wing. Additionally, the applicator rolls across the eyelid and is designed to eliminate shaky hand slip-ups too.
Note: It can take some practice to get used to.
How to Apply Liquid Eyeliner
Liquid eyeliner is arguably one of the most difficult makeup products to apply. These eyeliners can be unforgiving if you make a mistake, but once you know the tricks for a proper application it can be easier.
So, we’re going to show you a few ways to make applying liquid eyeliner much easier.
Prep Your Eyelids for Eyeliner
Using an eyelid primer on your eyelids will create a smooth canvas for you to apply the eyeliner. This creates the base for the eyeliner and eliminates any grease on the lids along with keeping the product lasting longer. Furthermore, it will also prevent it from flaking or smudging to keep your eyeliner looking great all day.
Use a Compact Mirror
Instead of using your bathroom or vanity mirror when applying your eyeliner, try using a handheld mirror.
To apply the eyeliner, hold your mirror below your face and look down into your mirror for better precision. This way your eyes are partially closed so that your eyelid is exposed, although partially open, so you can see your eyelid without your lashes getting in the way. This will help you get a closer look to achieve a cleaner look.
Get Into the Right Position
You need to make sure you have a steady hand when applying eyeliner to ensure that you get an even application. To prevent any wavy or uneven lines, rest your elbow on a table, and rest your hand on your cheek as you apply the product. Doing so will help ground your movement and make your line a lot more stable.
Don’t Close Your Eyes
Closing your eyes while applying eyeliner can cause the lid to crinkle and, therefore, create an uneven line. However, you should also avoid pulling the skin around your eyes as it is more likely to smudge and appear wonky when you do let go of the skin. Instead, use one finger from your opposite hand to lift the skin slightly to hold the skin taut. Or, you can also tilt your chin up, but look down to expose your lid without closing it completely. This gives the closest, tightest line possible and eliminates fears of the brush skipping over the skin to prevent any gaps in the line.
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Use Pencil First
If you are a beginner when it comes to applying liquid eyeliner, use a pencil eyeliner first. Pencil eyeliners are much easier to use and more forgiving if you make mistakes.
Trace your desired shape with a well-sharpened pencil, then when you’re done, just go over it with a liquid liner to intensify the line.
Apply it in Small Strokes
Using shorter strokes can make liquid eyeliner much easier to apply, especially if your hands shake when applying it. In fact, using one long stroke can make the line appear wavy.
We recommend that you use a dot-to-dot approach, starting from the middle, by drawing a row on dots spaced apart along your upper lash line. This will give yourself a guide of where to apply the product. Next, simply connect the dots using small strokes to create an even line. Creating a lash line of dots allows you more control and time to make the line as perfect looking as possible. However, remember to keep as close to the root of your eyelashes as possible to prevent any gaps and stop just before the outer corner of your eye.
For the Perfect Wing, Use a Straight Edge
Using a straight edge when drawing your wing can work as a stencil for creating a straight line. Doing so will create a barrier for any mishaps and allow you to draw the perfect wing with ease.
To do this, grab a business card, ruler or something with a straight edge. Then, place it towards the edge of your outer eyelid sharply, facing up, depending on how high you want the wing to be. Next, using the eyeliner, follow it to get symmetrical wings by gently drawing along the straight edge
Tip: You can even use tape to prevent any smudges.
Fix Any Mistakes
Liquid eyeliner can be unforgiving when it comes to mistakes, but these mistakes can be corrected and prevented easily. Simply, dip a Q-tip into some eye makeup remover or eye cream and go over any spots that are uneven or too thick.
You can also use concealer to quickly correct smudges and polish up the shape or correct any lines that are uneven or too thick. Doing so can clean up the edges to smoothen the line, making it look super sharp and precise.
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Give Your Liquid Liner Time to Dry
Liquid eyeliner can take some time to dry.
On the other hand, if you open your eyes before giving it enough time to dry, the product can transfer onto the top of your eyelids. So, you can avoid any smudging while your liquid liner is still wet by keeping your eyes closed for around thirty seconds after applying.
Set With Powder
Greasy skin will not give you the colour payoff you want and it can even increase the chances of smudging.
If you have oily lids, then set your eyeliner with a translucent powder to prevent it from smudging throughout the day. Moreover, you need to wait until the eyeliner is fully dry and then use a fluffy brush to apply it gently over the eyelids.
Top Drugstore Eyeliners
Liquid liner can be hard to apply so having the right product makes the whole process a lot easier. So, give your eyes some extra definition with these life-proof liners!
Felt Tip Eyeliners
Maybelline Master Precise Liquid Eyeliner
This eyeliner is great for beginners as the flow of liquid is steady for light product distribution that you can build up to your desired look. Importantly, it dries quickly for waterproof and smudge-proof wear which lasts up to 12 hours.
Soap and Glory Supercat Skinny Liquid Eyeliner
This eyeliner is a bargain and a long-time favourite for its ease of use! If you find liquid eyeliner daunting but want a super fine liner that makes the perfect cat eye easily achievable, then this is the best option for you.
The felt tip applicator of this eyeliner pen makes for a super sturdy one-stroke application for either a fine wing or a thick, dramatic line.
Wet N’ Wild MegaLiner Liquid Eyeliner
If a rich pigment is that you want, then this cruelty formula is formulated with high-definition pigment and a unique blend of polymers. Furthermore, it also comes with an easy to hold felt-tip applicator which makes it effortless to control and work around the eyes.
This fast-drying formula also available in four different colours including electric blue and voltage purple to create classic or standout looks.
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Max Factor Masterpiece High Precision Liquid Eyeliner
This liquid liner is designed with a unique and versatile paddle-style tip that glides effortlessly on the lids to give you the intensity of a liquid liner, with the control of a pencil for easy application.
Furthermore, the firm nip makes it easy to control for a smooth, straight line and dries with a matte finish to ensure you get consistent results.
L’Oréal Paris Super Liner Perfect Slim
If you have smaller or hooded eyes, then this is the eyeliner for you. Additionally, this is a great option for beginners too as it is easy to apply.
It has an ultra-fine tapered tip which makes it easier to reach those hard to reach spots like the inner corners and lash line. In particular, this is because it has a spongy nib is flexible enough to glide along your eyelids for a smooth flick.
Available for £6.99 from Boots.com
L’oreal Superliner Black n Sculpt Liquid Eyeliner
For thick lines, this is the best product! Its unique spherical tip makes it different in comparison to other eyeliners in that the clever little ball tip allows you to effortlessly sculpt a thick line. Furthermore, the colour pay-off is rich, meaning you get a long-lasting jet-black line.
The best part? This eyeliner is great for all eye shapes.
Milani Eye Tech Liquid Eye Liner
If a shiny finish is what you want, then this is the eyeliner you need! This liner dries with a dewy, vinyl sheen along with giving you pigmented jet-black colour. All the while helping to make your eyes really pop!
Additionally, its thin tip allows you to create a thin, medium or thick line just by switching up the angle you hold it.
This liner also has an ergonomic rubber handle. Why is this good? Well, it means that it sits comfortably in your hand, allowing for easier application.
Bourjois Mega Liner Felt Tip Pen
This eyeliner is great if you like particularly defined flicks. Where this pen has been moulded into a curve, it allows the product to rest comfortably in your hand for ease of use. This then allows you to build thick or thin lines with high precision.
In addition, the extra-large and thick angled tip allows you to build up your wing to suit your style. Simply, use the thick part to draw the line and use the thinner part of the tip to create the flick and to join up the line.
Rimmel Exaggerate Eyeliner
This is an extremely long wear eyeliner that lasts up to 16 hours. Additionally, this is one of the best budget liquid eyeliners on the market! With a highly pigmented formula, it swipes on the lid with ease. Its applicator is extremely easy to keep under control, allowing you to create a precise line.
It’s both thin and firm, so this felt tip-style pen means the application is easy and, once dry, has real staying power. Furthermore, the eyeliner comes in a variety of colours from deep, dark black to plum and emerald green and dries to a glossy finish.
Available at £5.99 from FeelUnique.com
Brush Tip Eyeliners
Rimmel Glam Eyes Liquid Eyeliner
This eyeliner is a better option for those who have a bit more practice with eyeliners. This is because you need a steady hand for this long and flexible wand. Where the thin applicator will ensure precise application, you can use the side of the brush for a crisper line.
The colour is highly pigmented for a bold, high-intensity colour, so there’s no need to reapply twice! Furthermore, the formula is also transfer and smudge-resistant and dries to a matte finish that will stay put all night long. Great if you want a bold intense look.
Available for £5.29 at Boots.com
Collection Fast Stroke Eyeliner
Don’t get fooled by the ultra-cheap price tag of this eyeliner. The ultra-durable formula will see you straight from day to night without the need to reapply.
The nib is solid and sharp, meaning you can easily create a clean, sharp wing without dragging your skin. The handy pot size that is compact so it won’t take up much space in your makeup bag, making it great for travel. Furthermore, it is also waterproof so you can wear it no matter what the weather and it’s available in black, blue and brown shades.
Revolution Pro Supreme Pigment Dip Eyeliner
For the vegans out there, this eyeliner is vegan-friendly as well as paraben and cruelty-free. Furthermore, this is also the best eyeliner if you prefer a stiffer and study dip brush.
The ultra-fine and flexible rubber nib will allow you to control how much liner you apply. Additionally, you can load the brush with the amount of pigment you’re comfortable with.
Excitingly, this richly pigmented matte finish that dries in seconds and is available in black and white shades.
Available at £3.00 from Superdrug.com
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Barry M Liquid Eyeliner
This is another vegan and cruelty-free option if you want a glam look to add a bit of drama and colour to your eyes. It is available in metallic, vibrant shades to make the eyes pop.
The waterproof formula in deposits highly pigmented, even colour that dries quickly. Additionally, the eyeliner is combined with a superfine, pointed soft brush for an easy and accurate application. Along with the ‘paint-pot’ style being perfect to travel with and easy to hold and draw with.
Available from Boots.com at £4.79
Revlon Colorstay Liquid Eyeliner
This eyeliner is the best option for contact lens wearers as it is fragrance-free and doesn’t irritate the eyes. Furthermore, it’s great for everyday use as it stays put all day and has a tapered brush tip so you can create soft or dramatic looks.
The brush is solid and applies more like a pen making it a good option for those who are not used to the brush style applicator. Additionally, for a much sharper look, you can use the very tip of the brush to draw a less bumpy line to get dramatic colour in a single wipe.
Available at £7.99 from Superdrug.
Sleek Makeup Dip It Eyeliner
If you have greasy eyes, this is the eyeliner for you as this eyeliner dries down to a clean matte finish. Furthermore, this cruelty-free and smudge-free formula sits put all day without flaking, cracking or smudging.
Its thin, fine applicator has a sturdy and slim felt tip that glides smoothly, without tugging on the lids. This allows you to create both thin and thick lines easily, so it can be used on either the lash line or waterline.
The eyeliner is available in black and black glitter shades.
Available at £4.99 from Boots.com
E.L.F Expert Liquid Eyeliner
This vegan and cruelty-free eyeliner seamlessly glides on, so that it stays in place all day once you’ve put it on. However, the applicator can be tricky to use so it’s not the best for beginners.
The soft, flexible, thin applicator makes it good for fine details, but it is stiff enough to make a precision line and get really close to the lashes.
This eyeliner is available in four dark shades.
Available at £3.00 from Superdrug.
Roller Wheel Nib
Revlon ColorStay Exactify Liquid Eyeliner
This is the only affordable, drugstore option with this nib! Furthermore, the comfortable-control handle ensures easy application.
Simply roll the wheel along your lash line for a smooth, seamless line. Additionally, this waterproof and smudge-proof comes in 4 shades. They include sparkling black, mulberry and mermaid blue and lasts up to 24 hours.
Available at £8.99 from Superdrug.
To learn more about how to define the eyes, click here to read our article on How to Wear Bright Eyeshadow With Confidence.