The 13 Best Brown Eyeliners, According to Experts and Editors

Chocolates, cocoas, and espressos, oh my!

model wearing brown eyeliner and a straw hat
(Image credit: Getty)

Black eyeliner will always be a makeup staple, but I’m here to make a case for its more subtle counterpart: brown eyeliner. For me, it's simply the best eyeliner there is and my love for the shade goes all the way back to when I was a beauty newbie. As a preteen trying out eyeliner for the first time, my mom was quick to call me out for having "raccoon eyes," so I promptly switched sides to brown and never looked back. I’ve found that a rich chocolate shade adds just the right amount of “oomph” to my eyes without looking too harsh like black eyeliner tends to do. So if you’re like me and want to avoid too intense a liner look, the best brown eyeliners are going to be your new bestie. 

But don’t just take it from me—even the pros love to use brown liners from time to time. Pro makeup artist Isabel Y Rosado tells Marie Claire that she tends to reach for a brown liner when she’s going after a softer eye look. “I'll also gravitate to a brown if I have a client that isn't used to liner but wants to try it out,” she adds. “I will typically suggest a brown option as it mimics a shadow but will still define without feeling stark.” Meanwhile, pro makeup artist Dani Parkes reaches for brown shades when she’s working on clients with blue, green, and especially brown eyes. She explains that brown eyeliner “will make the color pop more and almost change the way we see their eye color.” 

If you still need convincing on the magical color, consider this list of the best brown eyeliners on the market right now. From deep chocolate, cocoa, and cinnamon, these beautiful shades will add subtle sexiness to your makeup look. Whether you enjoy the versatility of pencil eyeliners or like the intensity of liquid liners, we’ve got options for you. Keep scrolling to learn from the pros on how to choose a brown liner, then shop our expert-approved favorites. 

What to Look For in Brown Eyeliner

When on the hunt for your new favorite brown eyeliner, pigmentation is key, says Parkes. “I generally look at the pigmentation to see how well the liner will show up on the person's eye,” she says. If you’re wanting a more subtle effect, pencil liners can be smudged or smoked out into a softer look. Meanwhile, liquid liners typically have high-impact pigmentation, which is great for those wanting a more intense look. 

Parkes also likes to consider texture when choosing an eyeliner. Some liners (like gel formulas) have a creamier texture than others and can glide more seamlessly across the lid. Parkes particularly prefers to use gel liners as they have “easy movement” and can easily be removed. 

The Best Brown Eyeliners

Meet the Experts

Portrait of Dani Parkes, pro makeup artist
Dani Parkes

Self-taught makeup artist Dani Parkes, also known as Faces by Danii, started doing makeup at the age of 8. At 18 years old she moved to New York knowing no one and started to build her network. Dani is passionate about all things makeup. Her goal is to highlight and extenuate the natural features on one's face, rather than completely changing the way they look. She creates new ideas and draws inspiration from a lot of artists based in the UK and Europe. Their effortless glam and technique is what has shaped Dani’s makeup style. She continues to grow as an artist and hopes to continue to build her network of clients. Dani has glammed up some of your favorite influencers and celebrities including Natalie Noel, Lea Michelle, Emily Lind, and Lauren Wolfe. 

Portrait of Isabel Y Rosado
Isabel Y Rosado

Isabel is a pro makeup artist born and based in New York City. She's worked with brands and publications such as Yves Saint Laurent, Hill House, Moda Operandi, Teen Vogue, Elle Mexico, Glossier, Levi's, Office Magazine, and more. Her work has graced the red carpet with the likes of Sarah Hoover, Michelle Hellman, and Mollie Acquavella. Isabel is also a member of the Latinx Creatives Collective. 

Brooke Knappenberger
Associate Commerce Editor

Brooke Knappenberger is the Associate Commerce Editor at Marie Claire, where she writes across the board from fashion and beauty to books and celebrities. As a pop culture junkie, Brooke obsessively consumes and writes about the latest movie releases, streaming TV shows, and celebrity scandals. She has over three years of experience writing on fashion, beauty, and entertainment and her work has appeared on Looper, NickiSwift, The Sun US, and Vox Magazine of Columbia, Missouri. Brooke obtained her Bachelor's Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism with an emphasis on Magazine Editing and has a minor in Textile and Apparel Management.