Credit: Instagram, @kendalljenner

Despite their permanent residency status in most beauty bags, eyeliner is still one of the most mystifying makeup items to many. Whether you opt for pencil, gel, or liquid, each formula varies application and result to longevity. Below, we demystify the eyeliner equation so you get your eyes right, every time.

Credit: Instagram @hungvanngo

Housed in small pots, gel eyeliners are applied with a small brush to create cat’s eyes and graphic shapes.  Many gel eyeliners come with a small brush for application, however if not, most people find an angled brush easiest to use. The thicker formula allows for more control than a classic liquid liner, however gel formulas do tend to dry out faster, so watch the lid and don’t expect your pot to last eons.


NYX, Gel Liner and Smudger, $14.95. SHOP NOW
BOBBI BROWN, Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner, $38. SHOP NOW
L’OREAL PARIS, Super Liner Gel Eyeliner, $24.95. SHOP NOW

Credit: Instagram @patrickta

Liquid eyeliners either come in a felt-tip pen applicator, or like a skinny, mini nail polish. The fine brushes allow for super skinny application, perfect for creating winged looks or for nudging along your upper lash line to make your eyelashes appear thicker. However the runnier formula can get messy and makes bumps more obvious. Still, with their super long wear, liquid eyeliner converts tend to never go back, so don’t be intimidated – practice makes perfect!


URBAN DECAY, Perversion Waterproof Fine-Point Eye Pen, $36. SHOP NOW
TOM FORD, Eye Defining Pen, $86. SHOP NOW
MAYBELLINE, Hyper Glossy Liquid Eyeliner, $9.95. SHOP NOW

Credit: Instagram @jastookes

The easiest eyeliner to use, pencils are also the most versatile – build intensity from soft and hazy for the day, to dark and dramatic for night. Use it sharp or smoke it out, build it up on your outer corners for a lifting effect or line your upper and lower waterline for added intensity – the options are endless with pencil. The only gripe with pencils is that they don’t last as long on the skin, and get blunt quickly, so keep a sharpener handy.


CHANEL, LE CRAYON KHOL Intense Eye Pencil in Noir, $45. SHOP NOW
SEPHORA COLLECTION, 12hr Contour Eye Pencil in Black Lace, $9. SHOP NOW
NARS, Velvet Eyeliner in Black Moon, $35. SHOP NOW