11 best eyeliners that are foolproof and won’t budge

11 best eyeliners that are foolproof and won’t budge
Create definition in your make-up look with the best eyeliners, beskikbaar by John Lewis, Stewels, Superdrug and more

From soft feline flicks to high-impact cat eyes, whichever way you prefer your eyeliner to look there’s a formula perfect for expressing your style and drawing attention to your eyes.

With so many formulations to choose from, the key to finding the best eyeliner for you is knowing the look you want to create. Pencils are the easiest to use, so great for those new to eyeliner. Try kohl (or kajal) for a tight line or a softer smudged out or smokey effect.

Oft for a gel formulation for an easy to control formula. “They’re the most versatile and give you more playtime,” says senior make-up artist for Benefit, Laurretta Power. While a liquid liner creates dramatic, long-lasting sharp lines but is also the trickiest to use.

Your second task is mastering how to apply. Always start resting your elbow on a table for a steady hand. Use small strokes with a pencil, kohl or gel if you’re not a regular eyeliner user and with practice, you’ll master a fluid line in no time. If it’s a liquid style you want to nail, a top trick is to “start with a kohl pencil to trace out the shape as these are removed easily without disturbing the rest of your make-up,” says Laurretta. “Once it’s how you want it to look, simply pop a liquid over the top.”

We put the latest eyeliners to the test to find the perfect match for your style. Our tester doesn’t leave the house without a smooth line, so knows a dud from a decent in a flash, but to make the edit they also had to go the extra beauty mile. Our winners all glide on easily with no tugging or pulling and stay in place the whole day without smearing or smudging. Here there’s a line of beauty for all…

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The best eyeliners for 2021 is:

  • Beste oor die algemeen – Victoria Beckham Beauty satin kajal liner: £ 20, Net-a-porter.com
  • Best for eye-brightening – Charlotte Tilbury exagger-eyes liner duo in black: £ 21, Krul jou
  • Best 3-in-1 – Chanel stylo ombre et contour: £ 28, Johnlewis.com
  • Best multi-tasker - 19/99 precision colour pencils: £19.99, Cultbeauty.co.uk
  • Best for colour selection – Urban Decay 27/7 glide-on eye pencil: £16, Boots.com
  • Best for easy application – Marc Jacobs highliner matte gel eye crayon: £ 15, Harveynichols.com
  • Best for a winged look – KVD tattoo liner: £18, Boots.com
  • Best all-rounder – Benefit badgal bang 24 hour eye pencil: £15.70, Krul jou
  • Best waterproof – Stila all day smudge stick waterproof eye liner: £16, Marksandspencer.com
  • Best for evening wear – Guerlain mad eyes intense liquid liner: £33, Johnlewis.com
  • Best on a budget – Rimmel wonder’Ink liquid eyeliner: £ 6,99, Superdrug.com

Victoria Beckham Beauty satin kajal liner

Beste: Algehele

Chic and elegant, just like VB herself, this next-generation kohl pencil is the perfect all-rounder. Super smooth and creamy, this glides over the lash line in one quick and fluid motion, creating a sharp bold line with a matte finish. It’s soft and malleable, whether you want to use the smudger brush for a more lived-in look or create a sultry smokey finish.

Once in place, this stays put all day. It’s even long-lasting in the waterline. We can confirm it’s water-resistant too, withstanding an hour in a swimming pool – perfect for the summer months ahead. As a bonus, it’s even infused with skincare benefits including calming chamomile extract and skin-protecting vitamin E for the delicate area. All this, plus it’s vegan. A winning formula.

Charlotte Tilbury exagger-eyes liner duo in black

Beste: For eye-brightening

Make-up artists apply nude eyeliner to the inner lash line as a trick to open up eyes, making them look bigger, brighter and more awake, and that’s the idea behind this double-ended eye-opener. The gel-like champagne colour creates the same illusion and goes a step further when applied to the inner corner playing with light and boosting brightness. Flip the pencil over and there’s a soft, matte black that makes easy work of a sharp line. A must-have for smaller eyes.

Chanel stylo ombre et contour

Beste: 3-in-1

Create different looks with this shadow, eyeliner and kohl in one. It makes light work of defining the eye contour with a beautifully straight and thick line on both the upper and lower lash lines thanks to the silky formula and the fat tip. It’s easily workable if you want to create a smokey effect, and it also makes a lovely eyeshadow, when you glide the flat edge over the lid and blend. We were super impressed with the colour intensity and that it stayed as fresh-looking until the end of the day.

19/99 precision colour pencils

Beste: Multi-tasker

The age-neutral ethos behind this new brand is something we can all get behind, inspiring everyone to experiment with make-up no matter what skin type, colour or age – whether 19 of 99. The soft and creamy pencils are designed to be used on cheeks, lips or lids, as a multi-purpose product. Take the bold pink (rozsa) in the capsule collection. It makes a statement liner when used on the upper and lower lash lines or as a bold eyeshadow when blended, but you can equally use it as a lip liner or an all over lipstick.

We found these pencils encouraged us to be more playful with our make-up again, perfect for those stuck in a bit of the same beauty routine rut. The versatility of the champagne-metallic shade (lustro) makes it a new beauty staple for us. We loved using it all over the lids for a satin-shimmer eyeshadow or in the waterline to make our eyes look bigger and brighter. It equally makes a brilliant highlighter on the brow bone, or in the inner corner of the eyes. A true multi-tasker.

Stedelike verval 27/7 glide-on eye pencil

Beste: For colour selection

Met 50 shades to choose from, there’s a colour for every want, taste and need from Urban Decay. For some summer fun turn to the tropical shades; use instead of eyeshadow as a statement line on one or both lash lines. For an alternative to black, try upgrading your play safe shade to a metallic finish. And for a natural look, we also recommend turning to this brand for their extensive collection of brown shades. A great option for beginners too, as the bold pigment combines with a smooth and creamy formulation that makes light work of applying. It also boasts a vegan, waterproof formula that doesn’t budge. It’s a beauty icon we turn back to again and again.

Marc Jacobs highliner matte gel eye crayon

Beste: For easy application

For a quick and easy to use pencil, turn to these smooth operators that come in an array of shades in pops of colour or earthy naturals. The silky gel texture slides along so effortlessly to create a bold line with a matte finish on either lash lines, as well as working well in the waterline (the inner rim). It’s quick-drying, but it gives you enough time to smudge it out for a smokey effect or a more lived-in look. It’s truly smudge-proof, and water-resistant. We loved the hidden sharpener at the end of the pencil too, helping it to always stays on point for ultra-precision. Make this your go-to if you’ve struggled with eyeliner in the past.

KVD tattoo liner

Beste: For a winged-look

Reach for this pen if you like to get creative with your eyeliner, from slick wings to more complex cat eyes. This draws everything from ultra-thin lines to bold and dramatic looks, the more pressure you apply. It’s made for layering which is why it works so well for more graphic looks, but we found the key to it staying smudge-free is to give it a minute or two to dry. Once set this is going nowhere, so you need an oil-based make-up remover on stand-by to take it off with ease.

Benefit badgal bang 24 hour eye pencil

Beste: All-rounder

For a brilliant do-it-all with budge-proof staying power, look to this retractable pencil. The rich pigment combined with the easy to apply creamy formula makes this a go-to for beginners and seasoned pros alike. It glides on the upper lash line effortlessly for a day look, works well for a quick and easy smokey eye with the built-in smudger brush and it even stays put in the waterline, aka the lower inner rim. We found the midnight blue and dark purple a brilliant way to add subtle colour to the lash line too.

Stila all day smudge stick waterproof eye liner

Beste: Waterproof

If you’re looking for something to withstand the summer heat, or more likely a wet summer if May is anything to go by, this propel pencil can withstand rain or shine. We put this through the swimming pool test, and it doesn’t budge, smudge or smear in the water. Twist and swipe on for a smooth line or blend with fingers or a brush for a softer look. Don’t be put off by a waterproof formula for fear of tugging and pulling the delicate area when removing, all you need is an oil-based make-up remover or cleanser and you can easily remove.

Guerlain mad eyes intense liquid liner

Beste: For evening wear

Just look at the bottle, it oozes glamour and so does the pigment-rich glossy line it draws. You can tell it’s inspired by a calligraphic brush and inkpot for a vintage feel that’s Instagram worthy. This isn’t for novice liquid liner users, but those that have mastered a steady hand, as it can draw every look from the thinnest, sharpest inky line to a Bardot-inspired wing thanks to the fine flexible brush. We’re keeping this on stand-by when the occasion calls for putting on the glitz.

Rimmel wonder’Ink liquid eyeliner

Beste: On a budget

If you’re a novice with liquid liner, reach for this easy-to-apply felt-tip. You can’t go wrong with its precise point and the dot-to-dot technique, where you apply small points to the lash line and then join them up. It leaves a sharp line with bold pigment at just one stroke which isn’t always so with high street formulas. Expect it to stay put throughout the day with not a smudge or smear in sight. Forget the price, this performs up there with the best of them.

Die uitspraak: Eyeliners

Our winning liner has to be the Victoria Beckham Beauty satin kajal liner for its silky formulation that glides on, creating chic lines for daywear or easy smokeys for when the occasion calls for glam. For some summer colour or a range of earthy tones for a more natural look, you can’t beat the Stedelike verval 27/7 glide-on eye pencil reliable formulations and shade range.

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