If we’re keeping it real, we have to disclose that we’ve definitely been known to splurge on a super expensive eyeliner every now and again—but the venture almost always ends in disappointment. It’s not that luxury liners don’t perform, it’s just that the best drugstore eyeliners perform just as well. Without costing as much as our electric bill. OK, that’s probably an exaggeration, but our faves all cost less than $10—which makes the more expensive versions feel like they cost a million bucks.
Because we know how long it takes to make sure your liner wings are exactly even and there’s no point in wasting your $50 liner on “practice lines,” we’re bringing you the 10 best drugstore eyeliner pen and pencils that won’t break the bank.
Originally published December 2016. Updated October 2017.
Almay Liquid Eyeliner
Almay's Liquid Eyeliner wins top snaps for having a super smooth inky formula that stays put literally all day. Go ahead—re-watch "The Notebook," we dare you to test it. Your cat-eye will still be just as sharp. We can't speak to your mascara though.
Almay Liquid Eyeliner, $6.79 at Target
Essence Super Fine Eyeliner Pen
For making the finest of lines or perfecting your tightlining, this Essence Super Fine Eyeliner Pen is the skinniest liquid liner you'll find in your local beauty aisle. You could probably use it as an emergency pen too, but then you'd waste this magnificent waterproof formula.
Essence Super Fine Eyeliner Pen, $2.99 at Ulta
L'Oreal Voluminous Smoldering Eyeliner
When you want to go full-on smoky eye, this chunky liner from L'Oreal Paris goes on like butter and blends just as well. You don't even have to fumble with messy powders, so you can keep this one in your makeup bag for a day-to-night switch.
L'Oreal Voluminous Smoldering Eyeliner, $8.95 at L'Oreal Paris
L'Oreal Lineur Intense Felt Tip Liquid Eyeliner
If you're aiming more for a fatter cat-eye, L'Oreal's Carbon Black Lineur Intense is dead-easy to draw with, since it combines the best of a felt-tip liner with the dip-able formula in the bottom half.
L'Oreal Lineur Intense Felt Tip Liquid Eyeliner, $9.99 at Ulta
Maybelline Eye Studio Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner
This gel liner from Maybelline makes doing a precise cat-eye or a smudgy rocker eye super easy with an easily blendable formula that goes on as opaquely as it appears in the pot. You really can't mess up with this one.
Maybelline Eye Studio Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner, $9.99 at Maybelline
Milani Eye Tech Extreme Liquid Eye Liner
A blogger favorite, Milani's Eye Tech Extreme is your basic felt-tipped liquid liner—what makes it awesome is how it sticks to your eyelids all day (even oily ones!) and has a stellar ink flow, which we all know is a common complaint with liquid liners.
Milani Eye Tech Extreme Liquid Eye Liner, $7.49 at Target
NYX Two Timer Eye Liner
For those who just can't decide, your prayers are answered... or at least compacted into this dual-ended pencil and liquid liner from NYX. You get their high-performance formulas in a handy two-fer that will downsize your makeup bulk.
NYX Two Timer Eye Liner, $10 at NYX
Palladio Glitter Eye Liner
Not every liner has to be black (or brown, for that matter). Sometimes you want to kick it up with a bit of glitter—that's when Palladio's Glitter Eyeliner comes in. It's pretty much the impulse purchase you'll forever be glad you made. At this price you can buy all the colors.
Palladio Glitter Eye Liner, $7.67 at Walmart
Revlon ColorStay Eyeliner
Revlon's ColorStay liner is a staple. It has all the qualities you wish your significant other had—dependable formula, great feel, and it sticks around when the tears flow.
Revlon ColorStay Eyeliner, $5.89 at Target
Rimmel Soft Kohl Kajal Eye Liner Pencil
Rimmel has the kohl liner game on lock—this gives us that perfectly blurred smoky eye that can get as dramatic as we can on a Saturday night. Or as demure as Sunday morning. Seriously, this one's a multi-tasker.
Rimmel Soft Kohl Kajal Eye Liner Pencil, $3.99 at Target