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If you’re anything like us, you have approximately 17 liquid liners rolling around in your makeup drawer at this very moment. Fifteen of that motley crew have been used exactly once then cast aside when they failed to conjure up the perfect cat eye. The remaining two do get used — but not because you love them, simply because they’re the best of your dismal options.
“There are a few basic qualities that any great liquid eyeliner should possess,” says editorial and celebrity makeup artist Jared Lipscomb, who pretties your favorite faces from Vanderpump Rules on the regular. “It needs to go on smooth — if it dries to quickly, tugs on the skin or is uneven, then throw it out! It also needs to be very opaque, you should only have to apply a couple of coats to get a rich and bold color, regardless if it’s a shiny or matte finish. Lastly, find a product that doesn’t smear, run or bleed around the eyes. This might mean you need a waterproof product or something fast drying, but find one that doesn’t budge.”
Ahead his six tried-and-true picks along with his favorite tips for looking like you have your own personal makeup pro at the ready.
Lancôme Grandiôse Liner
Why Lipscomb loves it: “I love this eyeliner for two key reasons: First, the tip of the applicator is such a fine, thin point that it’s perfect for micro precision (think kitten flicks), and second, the wand is BENDABLE! You can switch it to various angles or leave it straight. It’s a brilliant concept so you can adjust your application for each area of the eye.”
Pro tip: “Take advantage of the fine point and use this liner if you have hooded eyelids or just want a thin upper eye line. It will define without overpowering your lid.”
Jane Iredale Liquid Eye Liner
Why Lipscomb loves it: “I love this product for all my clients with sensitive skin. Like all of Jane Iredale’s products, this liner is formulated without chemicals, while still being perfectly pigmented and long wearing.”
Pro tip: “For an even more natural, daytime look, try using the dark brown shade as opposed to black. This is also a great idea if you have a fair complexion. You get all the definition without the harsh contrast.”
Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner
Why Lipscomb loves it: “There’s a reason this pen is a cult favorite: It really lives up to the hype. Its application is smooth, color payoff is rich, and it truly lasts the full day. The key to this pen is that it's waterproof, so if you’re prone to allergies, tears, or just an oily eyelid, this will help you rock a precise cat eye, without the smudge.”
Pro tip: “For a more intense color, apply a black kohl pencil first. This also allows you to trace the line for a more precise application and truly intensifies the boldness of the color.”
Tarte Tarteist Clay Paint Liner
Why Lipscomb loves it: “This product is one of my all-time favorites. It’s the perfect mix between a liquid and gel liner — and it’s just beautiful. It goes on smooth, dries fast and is highly pigmented. It’s in a squeezable tube that comes with a separate brush to use — but experiment with different brushes to achieve the look you desire.”
Pro tip: “Try using a small angled brush to get a quick and easy winged liner in just a couple of swipes. Use the angled side to ‘stamp’ the liner on the outer corner then fill in the rest.”
Sigma Beauty Standout Eyes Gel Eyeliner
Why Lipscomb loves it: “Although not a traditional liquid liner, gels give the same look with more control and less risk. This little pot of eyeliner comes in a variety of shades so you can go from classic to funky in no time at all. If you’re wary of liquid liners try this gel to fine tune your technique.”
Pro tip: “Get your money’s worth! Since this is a gel, you can also use this to line your lower lash line or to create a quick smoky eye. Just blend the gel across the lid and buff it out with an eyeshadow brush (or your finger, in a hurry!).”
Armani Beauty Maestro Eye Liner 1
Why Lipscomb loves it: “This luxurious pen is perfect for those getting ready in a rush. The tip isn’t as fine a point as other pens, but it goes on very controlled since the tip is sturdier than most. This allows for a very seamless application, in a few easy strokes. Since the point isn’t so fine, this is definitely ideal for a bolder eye look.”
Pro tip: “Place a piece of tape, bandaid (or business card … get creative!) where you want your cat eye to go for a sharper edge without having to clean up with concealer or makeup remover. This is a perfect way to get flawless wings on the go.”
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