Like the LBD of your makeup wardrobe, a black pencil should be on hand for just about every occasion. “It’s the easiest for beginners because its straightforward formula and packaging is the least intimidating,” says pro makeup artist Ashleigh Ciucci. “Plus, the waxy texture allows for more control because it’s a little firmer and easier to clean up,” she adds. Drag a rich black line along the waterline and close and squint your eyes to create a natural smudge. Or, keep it simple: Draw a cat eye that extends out and upwards toward the tail of your brows.
The Perk: Waterproof
The Praise: NYC-based makeup artist Ashley Rebecca swears by this pencil: “It stays all day and doesn’t smudge. Use it to line the inner rim of your eye for the perfect smoky look!”
For the perfectionist crew, the name really says it all; if you want the most targeted application, use a tool with the words “precise” or “extreme definition” on the label. The stiffness of the tip – and fine point – makes drawing an arch over eyes a cinch.
Bonus tip: Cleaning up for neat freaks – or anyone who wants a crisp finale – takes about 20 seconds. “The finishing touch is all about the clean up! I usually go back in with eye makeup remover and a pointed Q-tip to perfect,” adds Ciucci.
The Perk: So spot on, the precision will even make amateurs look like they’ve been using liner for years.
The Praise: Perfect lines your thing? Celebrity makeup artist Melissa Walsh loves this type of liner. “It’s incredibly easy to apply,” she says, “The pen is like a tapered felt tip that is firm and not too long, so it’s easy to control.” If you tend to end up with raccoon-eyes at the end of the day, this liner will give you a “beautiful, shiny, deep black line that literally won’t budge until you take it off with eye makeup remover.”
Want to master a smoky eye? This combo is your new BFF. The soft texture allows for simple smudging before the bold layer sets it all in place. And the fact that it’s waterproof is like icing on the cake for those with hooded or oily lids, says Ciucci. “While the most effective waterproof formulas can be hard to remove (duh), look for oil-based eye makeup removers to get the job done.”
Also Try: YSL Eye Marker in Blacks
The Perks: You can ease into it with an easy-to-craft base and turn up the volume with a bolder finish.
The Praise: When it comes to creating a smoky eye, makeup artist Brandy Gomez-Duplessis uses L’Oréal Paris Super Liner Blackbuster liner for an “intoxicating flirty eye. It gives you eight hours of rock star glam.”
The all-in-one pencil delivers a soft, pliable feel for just about any look (read: a simple line, wing, or edgy crease definition). The easy-to-grip tool makes it suitable for just about every level of user.
And while it’s bendable, it’s also buildable. Take advantage of the layering capabilities and draw a sleek streak atop – and below – the lash line. Go over the outer corners for a second and even third time to build the thickness, and draw the line up and out. The bold, isolated sideways “Y” shape adds a little drama to the traditional winged swoop.
The Perk: It’s easy to smudge but sets like a powder.
The Praise: “This is such a versatile pencil,” said celebrity makeup artist Gabriel Almodovar, “It’s essentially a cream liner in a pencil form.” He raved about this pigmented pencil’s ability to glide on smoothly and stay moist long enough for him to blend and smudge if needed. The best part? It dries to a matte finish for all-day wear. Take heed, smudge queens.
Feel free to draw outside the lines with gel color (a light gel formula that’s packed into an open jar). The rounded opening makes it easy to plunk an angled or fine-tipped brush in to use the color. “Dip into the pot and dab the brush onto the back of your hand” advises Ciucci. “This will allow you to control the consistency.” Or, wet a larger shadow brush and scoop up the gel formula for allover shadow.
The Pick: NYX Gel Eyeliner & Smudger in Betty
The Perk: It never pulls on skin, or fades away, and is exceptionally fun to apply!
The Praise: Makeup artist Elle Leary raves about gel liner: “It’s not only really, really long-wearing, smudge-proof, but it’s also really easy to use. Plus, it goes on so softly.”
Often the underdog of the liner lineup since it’s a hair trickier to apply, liquid liner should not be avoided since it has the best payoff for a cat eye, urges Ciucci. “There are definitely hacks to create the perfect wing that anyone can take advantage of,” she said rattling off this as the first of ‘em: Use the natural extension of your lower lash line and up as the guideline for the angle of your wing. “If you’re nervous about the angle, apply a piece of tape from your lower lash line up to the outer edge of your brow as a stencil,” she adds. Draw the point and once dry, remove the tape.
Or, forego drawing the line along your lashes all at once. “Draw small dashes from the inside corner to the outside corner,” she explains, “then draw back over to smooth and thicken, which will allow more control.”
The Pick: Lancôme Artliner in Noir
The Perk: The smooth and fluid delivery creates an artwork-like eye, probably the reason this liner is spotted in every makeup artist’s kit at fashion week.
The Praise: If liquid liner stresses you out, listen up: “Liquid liner can be intimidating to use,” says
makeup artist Tiffany Hall-Scarmana, “but it goes on in one fluid motion, is easy to control and stays on until you’re ready to take it off.” The patent-leather finish glams up your standard cat-eye and Scarmana says it’s a must-have for any beauty lover.
Pro tip: Thin out your line to give the illusion of fuller, thicker lashes.