Beauty 101: Your Ultimate Eyeliner Cheat Sheet

Rachel Adler
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Beauty 101: Your Ultimate Eyeliner Cheat Sheet
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When it comes to being a beauty junkie, most of us are constantly on a quest for the next best thing. But, we also always want to find a product that simply makes our signature looks easy to do, and many of us constantly rely on a slick black cat eye to get ourselves through the day. Here at Beauty High we are eyeliner obsessed – we can’t remember a day that we’ve walked out the door without putting on liner first, and we will try anything (pencil, gel, color – you name it) that comes across our desks.

MORE: Lipstick Layering 101: How to Layer Lipstick Like a Pro

While that doesn’t mean we always like what we try, it certainly does mean we’ve found a few great liners in our day. And when we find something we like, we want to spread the word, because we know the pain of looking in the mirror to find smudged liner on your lid – literally 20 minutes after we’ve applied our “smudge-proof” product. After calling upon our beauty-obsessed editors and testing numerous products in every category (pencil, felt tip, gel, and innovative liners) we pulled out the best of the best. Above, you’ll find what we really thought of these liners – their pros, and even their little quirks, so you can decide what will actually work for you.

Hopefully this will finally help in the endless rat race to find that ultimate eyeliner that REALLY lasts all day (and into your fun night out) – and of course, let us know which liners absolutely love in the comments below, because we want to know!

With additional reporting by Rolando Robinson and Augusta Falletta; Illustrations by Rolando Robinson

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Find out which liners you really need to get that perfect cat eye (and then some) from our liner cheat sheet! 

The classic black pencil liner is great for lining inside your waterline, and for those who are still too hesitant to move on to liquids or gels. Plus, having a great smudge-proof pencil as a base for a cat eye is one of the oldest tricks in the book – trust us. 

This pencil liner from Estee Lauder really does stay in place all day like it promises. We tested this one out on a humid and rainy day and it didn't smudge at all! 

(Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Liner, $22, nordstrom.com)

A pencil that glides on with just a hint of glitter, this liner from Cynthia Rowley makes for the perfect eye makeup for a night out with friends. Even if you smudge it a bit for a softer look, it stays put on your lash line — never in your crease.

(Cynthia Rowley Eyeliner, $16, birchbox.com)

Urban Decay's 24/7 liner is obviously one of legends, but the legends are true. This liner stayed on through a full day of swimming in the ocean (yep!) and then some. 

(Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Liner, $20, sephora.com)

Felt tip liners are perfect for getting artistic with your cat eye – they help with graphic lines, but you don't need to have as steady of a hand as you do with a pure liquid liner. They also come in a variety of "tip" sizes, so if you prefer a thin line or thick, you can buy based on your preference – or sometimes you can buy for both!

This liner from Kat Von D. has an extremely thin tip for an accurate application every time. The waterproof liner is long-lasting and doesn't smudge, but be careful as you apply – if you want more drastic "ink" from the liner, wait a few seconds to let the liner dry, and then line over it again for a jet-black look.

(Kat Von D. Ink Liner, $18, Sephora.com)

L'Oreal's Blackbuster has the appearance of a marker (for your eyes!) and is super easy to use. You can use the sharp tip for a thin line, or tilt it on its side for a thicker, more extreme line. 

(L'Oreal Infallible Blackbuster, $7, target.com)

With a lot of felt tip eyeliners, the actual packaging is so long that by the time you make it to the end of the liquid, the application doesn't work because the liquid can't make it to the tip of the pen. With CoverGirl's Bombshell eyeliner, it's just the right size to make sure you can use it to the last drop. Plus, because it's so tiny, it fits just about anywhere, which makes it perfect for travel. Did we mention it lasts for hours on end? Yeah, it's that good. 

(CoverGirl 24 hr. Bombshell, $8.99, cvs.com)

For those makeup mavens who truly want a jet-black line, liquid liner is the way to go. It's the best way to get a slick line, but it requires a steady hand for application (which is where the pencil comes in for tracing your area before you start). These liquids are easy to use, and give off the best finish. 

Revlon's Colorstay Liquid Liner has a fine tip to help with application (less mess!) plus it dries quickly and stays put, like the name implies. Also, because of the angled shape to the cap, it rests easily in your hand for application. 

(Revlon Colorstay Liquid Liner, $7.25, drugstore.com)

Dolce & Gabbana's Glam Intense Liner's have vivid colors which is why we love them so much – ranging from your classic black to gorgeous emeralds and plums. But, aside from the shades, the application is a breeze – and they last all day!

(Dolce & Gabbana Glam Liner Intense, $34.50, sephora.com)

Once you perfect your liquid liner skills, do yourself a favor and invest in MAC's Liquidlast Liner. We've worn this through spin class, surprise rain storms, and 16-hour work days, and we can tell you with full confidence that the way your eyeliner looks when you leave in the morning will be the exact way your eyeliner looks when you come home at night. Pro tip: Keep your eyes closed for about 30 seconds once you're done with the application to let it dry perfectly. 

(MAC Liquidlast Liner, $19.50, maccosmetics.com)

Gel liners are a makeup artist favorite because of their free form; you can dip your brush in them and paint at will. If you want to get creative, gel liners could be for you, but they tend to take a bit more skill, a little bit of patience, and a steady hand. 

Laura Mercier's gel liner is rich and creamy making it easy to apply, and goes on effortlessly. You have to give it a moment to dry, and it dries matte and is super-pigmented. 

(Laura Mercier Creme Eye Liner in Noir, $23, sephora.com)

Bobbi Brown's gel liner is the perfect consistency for a gel liner application  – it goes on seamlessly, is highly pigmented and doesn't clump up. 

(Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner, $24, sephora.com)

Clinique's Brush-On liner is also really great (and comes with it's own brush for application). It has a highly-pigmented color and goes on flawlessly, both must-haves when it comes to gel. 

(Clinique Brush-On Cream Liner in True Black, $16, clinique.com)

When it comes to anything and everything in the beauty world, innovation is everywhere. Eyeliners of course are no different, and while there have been some flash-in-the-pan gimmicks, some of the most innovative liners have actually stuck with us – and are worth a shot (and the investment). 

NYX's The Curve liner may take a minute to get used to due to the way it fits in your hand (trust us, we had to adjust) but it actually really helps to give you a steady application hand for a cat eye. Plus, the liquid liner is legit – it goes on smooth and lasts for hours! 

(NYX Cosmetics the Curve Liner, $14.99, ulta.com)

Guerlain's Loose Powder Kohl Liner certainly takes some getting used to, and is only for people who are up for a challenge. But – there is payoff – the color is absolutely stunning, and having an eyeliner in a powder form allows you to use it in various ways, from just a liner to a full-on smokey eye. 

(Guerlain Terracotta Loose Powder Kohl Liner, $38, sephora.com)

The 3-Dot liner from Clarins is based off the "dot" method for lining your eye, and really does help you to get extra-close to your lash line. Plus, whether you want a thin line or a thick line, this liner can help you achieve that. 

(Clarins 3-Dot Liner, $26, nordstrom.com)

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