Purchasing an eyeliner can feel like a gamble. You walk into your nearest Sephora, money in hand, on a mission to find a formula that doesn’t pull, tug, skip or drag. After perusing the shelves, you’ll settle on one in hopes that it won’t smudge before lunch.
The truth is, you never really know if you’ll get a return on your investment until you take it home and try it for yourself. By then, it could be too late. To make the entire experience feel less risky, experts who know a thing or two about eyeliners weigh in. Ahead, shop the 10 best eyeliners, from pencils to liquids, according to professional makeup artists. They’ll make you feel like you won the jackpot every time.
BEST GEL LINER – AMC Eyeliner Gel
“When I’m creating a bold eye, Inglot AMC Eyeliner Gel is my go-to eyeliner, as it’s available in a variety of rich high-pigmented shades,” says makeup artist Millie Morales (also a Garnier celebrity hairstylist). “The creamy formula glides on with ease, but most importantly, it boasts long-lasting wear.”
BEST SMUDGE-PROOF LIQUID – Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner
“When it comes to precision, I like to use a marker-like tip, as it gives me the freedom and flexibility to create an elegant wing or a thick dramatic look,” says Morales. “Stila’s Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner dries fast, won’t smudge and only comes off when you take it off!”
If you’re looking to try a colored eyeliner, look no further than Urban Decay’s 24/7 Eye Pencils. Makeup artist Steve Kassajikian says, “these shades are bright, pigmented, creamy, easy to blend, and glide on like a gel.” As if that’s not enough to get you on board, Kassajikian adds, “they set in 60 seconds and don’t budge throughout the day. Plus, they’re specifically made for wet surfaces like the waterline.”
Celebrity makeup artist Claudia Betancur, a L’Oréal Paris brand ambassador, is a fan of the brand’s new Flash Cat Eye Liquid Eyeliner because it “has the perfect tip to create a precise wing, and glides on super smooth. The cap has a wing stencil attached to help create the perfect cat eye,” she says.
“This micro-fine gel pencil has next level staying power,” says makeup artist and artistic director of Glamsquad, Kelli J. Bartlett. “I originally tested the Hourglass 1.5 MM Mechanical Gel Eyeliner on my hand, and it lasted through a workout and a shower, so you know it means business. I love to use it on the inner rim of the upper lash line to create a lush look as it holds up to watery eyes.”
BEST LONG-LASTING PENCIL – BADgal BANG! 24 Hour Eyeliner Pencil
Celebrity makeup artist Lisa Potter-Dixon says this liner “is a hard worker. It works wonders on the waterline and stays put due to its waterproof formula.” She adds, “it also works beautifully as a lash liner, plus the blending tool on the end means you can even use it to create a simple smokey eye.”
Makeup artist and co-founder of Shespoke Makeup, Rebecca Perkins, says it doesn’t get better than Pat McGrath Labs’ liquid liner. She says, “the pen tip is so fine, you can do super subtle details. Mother does not mess around, and her products always do what they say.”
BEST TRUE BLACK – Infallible 16HR Never-Fail Eyeliner
Finding a true black formula can be difficult. Luckily, Perkins assures that her pick is “tried and true.” She says, “L’Oréal’s carbon black shade comes in a gel pot (perfect for when I am doing someone else’s makeup) or the mechanical pencil (for when I’m doing my own makeup).” Finally, she adds, “it’s not fancy, but it works every time.”
Dell Ashley, YSL Beauté Director of Makeup Artistry, knows a thing or two about luxury beauty, but there’s one drugstore favorite he keeps in his kit. He says the NYX Matte Liquid Liner is “a great budget-friendly eyeliner because it offers rich color and has a nice, long wear.” And at $8 a pop, you can keep your makeup bag stocked with it too.
BEST VERSATILE FORMULA – TattooStudio Sharpenable Gel Pencil in Brown
Vincent Oquendo, the artist behind Hollywood’s most beautiful faces (Lily Collins, Gabrielle Union, Nina Dobrev), recommends you pick up this other drugstore option. “I use it to create my shape before I perfect it with a black liner and for subtle definition in the waterline when I’m creating a sultry look,” he says. “The combination of black and brown liners create a more natural makeup look when smudged at the lash line.”
In August, Lauren Conrad launched her beauty line, Lauren Conrad Beauty, with just five products. A month later, she’s introducing 26 more products in the makeup, skin-care, and body-care categories. Allure chatted with the entrepreneur to learn more. Welcome to Artist Spotlight #21 series on my blog.
You’d be forgiven if you think of Lauren Conrad, the businesswoman, mother, and former reality star, as a Fashion Person. She runs a clothing line, a shoe line, and a kids’ line, to name a few, and longtime fans may remember her televised internship in the Teen Vogue fashion closet. But along the way, Conrad has cultivated her own signature beauty look, which consists of easy breezy makeup and a consistent cat-eye. This summer, she surprised us by channeling that energy into the launch of Lauren Conrad Beauty. She began with five products, released direct-to-consumer from her own website — including a lip gloss formula that’s already won over Allure editors. As of October 9, she’ll expand into Kohl’s with a much longer list of products, including skin care, body care, and color cosmetics.
Conrad has wanted to start her own beauty line for some time, encountering plenty of false starts along the way. “I started the process a couple of times, but I wanted to wait until I could check all my boxes of formulas, packaging, and affordable price point,” she tells Allure. “I’ve worked on this line for two-and-a-half years, but I’ve tried for many years to make it happen.”
One of her priorities, and my personal favorite feature of the line, was the sustainability factor. The packaging is completely recycled and made from post-consumer goods, and the packaging can be recycled whole after use. That sounds like it should be the norm, but so much beauty packaging is made up of mixed materials (say, metal and plastic) that it can be impossible to recycle. But once you finish a tube of LC’s The Lipstick, it can go straight into the recycle bin.
If you stock up on the full line, that recycle bin will eventually be stacked up all the way to the top. The drop includes a whopping 26 products that can take you through an entire beauty and makeup routine. The long product list includes multiple types of facial cleanser, a vitamin C oil, two types of body moisturizers, and much, much more. But when I asked Conrad to narrow it down to her favorite, must-have product, the answer comes quickly: The Liquid Eyeliner (yes, that’s the actual product name — no needlessly florid naming conventions here.)
“Going into this process, I thought the one thing I especially had to get right was the liquid eyeliner,” she says. “It’s one of those products that I’m always seeking out, and I’ve had so much trouble finding the right one over the years, so I really wanted to nail it.”
Out of all the products, the eyeliner took the longest to create, and she only landed on it after much back-and-forth with the lab. “Fortunately, it was a product that we started really early on, so we had a lot of time to play with it.”
If liquid eyeliner isn’t your thing, the range also has The Eyeliner Pencil (in rich black onyx, for $18). Then, you can finish up your eye look with one of two The Eye Shadow Palettes (six bronze-hued shades each, for $29), The Eyebrow Pencil (a double-sided pigmented pencil and spoolie, in four shades, for $22), and The Mascara (in black only, $20). You can then wipe it all away with The Makeup Remover Balm, which is designed to double-cleanse skin in conjunction with The Facial Cleanser (both $20).
The makeup drop also includes powder brush and bronzer, liquid highlighter, a delicate lip and cheek tint that’s perfect for a quick pre-Zoom meeting pop, and the aforementioned Allure favorite lip gloss. There are eight shades of classic lipstick tubes; my favorite is the orange-red Poppy.
The best part of such a wide selection is that it leave the choice up to you. Prefer body cream to body lotion? Conrad’s got you covered. Need a powder blush instead of a creamy cheek tint? Don’t worry, she has both.
“My approach has always been ‘wear the makeup you really love that makes you feel like you’ and ‘use products that you feel good about,'” she says. With a line this comprehensive, we have a feeling there’s something for everyone that meets those criteria with flying colors.
A selection of Lauren Conrad Beauty products is available now on her own site and at Kohl’s.
It’s been 20 years since celebrity makeup artist Mario Dedivanovic entered the scene, forever contouring the shape of the beauty world with highlights, shimmers, and perfectly winged liner that launched an army of copycats on social media.
Now, Dedivanovic, whom the New Yorker recently heralded as “The Makeup Artist at Ground Zero of Internet Beauty Culture,” has taken his years of expertise, massive internet fame, and a few personal checks to labs across the world to create his dream: a self-funded line of products titled Makeup by Mario.
Welcome to Artist Spotlight #19 series on my blog.
For Dedivanovic, this moment is huge. He begins to tear up on a Zoom call as he discusses the project he began working on three years ago. “I’m just so excited for October 1st”—the launch date, Dedivanovic’s birthday, and the date he began working on the Sephora floor many years ago—“because it almost still doesn’t feel real to me,” he says.
The artist comes fully loaded with all the bonafides to make a bestselling beauty line. He’s most famous for his work on one of the 21st century’s most famous canvases, Kim Kardashian-West, and helped launch her KKW Beauty line. He’s also had brand partnerships with Laura Mercier and hosts a mega-popular Masterclass. This is the last box to check on his way to beauty moguldom.
For Dedivanovic, the Sephora gondola, the display for all a brand’s beauty products inside the store, is the ultimate symbol of his success. “I used to manifest into those Sephora bottles when I was cleaning them, that I would one day have that, knowing very well that I had to work very hard and it probably wouldn’t be 20-plus years until I did that,” he explains. “I’ve been dreaming about this moment for a long time.”
His dreams are finally a reality. The new line includes 21 products and tools, including eyeshadow palettes, brushes, and highlighters created to flatter any and all skin tones. “When I work, I tend to like products that I can use on all skin tones,” he says.
Below, a few beauty tips from the seasoned vet, plus a peek at the products in his collection.
He knows you’re bad at winged eyeliner.
A standout product in the line is the Master Pigment Pro Pencils, inspired by his older sister Vicky, a relatable queen with an inability to work with eyeliner.
“I think it’s hard even for an artist to really do a beautiful wing,” Dedivanovic says. “I know that a lot of people want to do wings, but it’s challenging and can be intimidating. With this pencil and brush shape, you take the pencil and draw a line from there [the center of your eyelid] to the corner. You stop at the corner and flip the brush over and up and lift. [The brush] literally does the flip for you. I wanted to make this technique very, very easy.”
Dedivanovic added that he will provide new content that inspired tools like the eyeliner and tutorials around how to use it on his social media platforms.
He likes both contoured and natural makeup.
“I know I’m [known] as the contour king, but I think there was a little misconception,” he says. “I’m not the type of artist that typically will do the heavy stripes and all those types of things. I like makeup to look as if one were born with it in terms of the colors and finishes on the skin. I like it to enhance a woman’s face, not to have it feel unnatural or that they have a ton of makeup on. My goal at the end is that when you are up close, in person, you do makeup to make it look beautiful there. But for me, that’s not enough. I want it to look beautiful for the person as well. Bot in the sense, Oh, wow, your makeup is beautiful. More in the sense of, Wow, you look beautiful.
The brand is for novices and beauty experts alike.
While the line is infused with years of experience from Dedivanovic, he wanted to create something that was easy for the most green of makeup appliers to use.
Here’s his tip for the Master Metallics palette:
“This is a very creamy formula that’s a blend of powders and creams, so it’s very easy to use with just a swipe of a finger on your lid for a quick application. I wanted to separate my products by texture because as an artist, I was always trained from the very beginning that you always separated your mattes [from] your metallics. That’s the way you packed your bag as well.”
The packaging is the future of beauty.
Dedivanovic was inspired by the iPhone and how easily it can fit into your hand. He wanted the tools to feel accessible and comfortable while you apply your makeup. Think 2001: A Space Odyssey meets BTS’s “On” music video: The full, nearly all-white kit comes in what looks like a briefcase from a space-age population that cracked the code on product design. “It felt like the future of makeup in a sense,” he says. “I hadn’t seen something like this when it was presented. Also, it felt pure.”
The Master Prep and Set
Available in three different tones—light, medium, and deep—each set comes with six shades to be used as an eye primer. Dedivanovicoriginally tried to get this product in the palettes but couldn’t configure it correctly and inclusion would make the palettes gigantic. Thus, it evolved into its own separate product.
The Master Mattes were the first product Dedivanovic began working on in 2017. “The Master Matte palette is inspired by human skin tones,” he explains. “It’s inspired by the technique I have done for many years, in which I shape and contour the eyes using typically different, varying shades of foundation and/or concealer to shape and contour the eyes before I apply eyeshadow.”
To find the right human skin tones for the palette, he researched the different pigments that make up our skin tones. The shades also have a bit of translucency because he prefers subtle to extremely pigmented eyeshadow.
The all-metallic formula is a creamy blend of both powders and creams, making it very easy to use with a single swipe of your finger onto your lids. Dedivanovic, a self-proclaimed geek, researched the inside of our bodies for the pink, brown, and cream hues. “This is sort of representative of the shades that are within all our bodies on a cellular level,” he explains. “What’s really interesting is when you swatch all these colors together, it’s the epitome of my dream color palette when it comes to shimmery shades.”
If you’re looking for the easiest-to-use product in the collection, this palette is your go-to. But, if you’re looking for more of a high-intensity pigment, Dedivanovic created the Master Metals and Master Metals Manipulator to create your very own dream eye looks. “The idea is that the artist could scrape several shades and mix their own metal shades,” he says. “What happens when you use the Master Metal Manipulator is it turns it into a molten liquid metal. You can do liquid liners with it, you can do a quick all-over eyeshadow shade, or just the inner corner.
Bonus points: The Master Metal Manipulator also turns them into a completely waterproof product.
Mario’s Master Metal™ Manipulator™ is the ultimate mixing agent for metallic pigments. It instantly transforms loose or pressed metallic pigments into a liquid, creating a gorgeous metal foil. When mixed with pigment, it provides intense grip, lasting power, and locks the formula in place.
The Master Crystal Reflectors come in three shades: quartz, citrine, and bronzite. The reflectors are a few of his favorites because of their sheer finish that “sparkles while dancing on the eyelid.”
The product also reflects light beautifully and gives a bit of reflection and dimension to the eyelid, but can be worn all over the face. “It’s a global exclusive formula, so no one can ever have this formula,” he adds. “I’m very excited about that.”
“For years, I liked to use a highlighter on the cheek or on the eye that is a completely sheer emollient glow,” he says. “I envisioned this even for the girl who really doesn’t wear any makeup. I do clients that have a very natural look and I like natural looks as well. This product really fits both of those.”
For the collection, Dedivanovic created four pencils and four eyeshadow brushes. According to him, “Pencils are one of the most transformative aspects of makeup, especially when it comes to the eyes.” He incorporated his signature liner techniques into crafting them.
Mario’s dual-ended liner has all you need to create a precise line. The velvety gel-based formula delivers a full-coverage finish in a single swipe. It has incredible grip after it sets but still allows time to blend, layer, and define. For a soft, symmetrical line, use the brush to smudge and blend.
This liquid liner is extremely pigmented and features a super sharp, flexible felt tip for ultimate control. The bulletproof formula grips the lid and is completely smudge-proof for bold and lasting definition.
The brushes are inspired by the eyeshadow brushes he usually works with from Japan. They’re designed to work with the other formulas in the collection like the Master Mattes to make for an easy blend and application.
This brush has fluffy, soft, flexible hairs that are ideal for blending and softening on the eyes and face. It’s also perfect for applying and blending matte shadows. All Makeup By Mario brushes are cruelty-free, made with a custom blend of synthetic and vegan fibers, and 100% FSC-certified birchwood handles.
This brush has fluffy, soft hairs and a wide, tapered shape. It’s perfect for effortless eyeshadow application and an easy sweep of color across the lid. All Makeup By Mario brushes are cruelty-free, made with a custom blend of synthetic and vegan fibers, and 100% FSC-certified birchwood handles.
This brush features a denser, rounded head with flat hairs and works well with cream and powder formulas. All Makeup By Mario brushes are cruelty-free, made with a custom blend of synthetic and vegan fibers, and 100% FSC-certified birchwood handles.
This brush’s small, tapered head makes it the perfect detail brush. Use it to apply shadows wet or dry or to blend and smoke out eyeliner with control and ease. All Makeup By Mario brushes are cruelty-free and are made with a custom blend of synthetic and vegan fibers, and 100% FSC-certified birchwood handles.
Last but not least, he created gentle makeup remover wipes. “When I work, I’m very particular with wipes,” he says. “I use them to gently exfoliate the skin right before I go on with skincare.” He wanted to move away from traditional oily formulas so he created something without fragrance or the normal oily residue. “These are made with 100 percent natural, pure cucumber water, and they don’t leave any oiliness.”