The 10 Best Drugstore Eyeliners, According to Makeup Artists and Editors

Make a quick pit stop in the makeup aisle for one of these expert-approved picks.

Models are seen backstage wearing eyeliner at the Philipp Plein fashion show on February 22, 2020 in Milan, Italy.
(Image credit: Rosdiana Ciaravolo/Getty Images)

Sometimes, the best things in life come from unexpected places. You may not imagine the best pizza comes from the $1 slice shop across the street, but you’d be surprised. I’m here to tell you that the same adage rings true when it comes to beauty products. The next time you pick up your prescriptions at the drugstore, make a beeline for the makeup aisle and you’ll see what I mean. Right next to some incredible drugstore mascaras, you’ll likely find a few of the best eyeliners on the market—which, in case you didn’t know, are an MVP product that should be in every beauty lover’s arsenal. 

Not only do the best eyeliners make your eyes pop in an instant, but they can basically do any makeup look your little heart desires—it all just depends on the formula. Liquid liners can make any graphic liner shape with killer sharp accuracy, while pencil eyeliners can create a smokey eye in seconds. I personally love to use Pixi’s Nude Endless Silky Eye Pen (opens in new tab) as a waterline eyeliner to fake an “I just slept for eight hours” look (more of that pick down below). I’m also happy to report that it’s not just me who loves cheap eyeliner—pro makeup artist Jaleesa Jaikaran is also a fan. “I absolutely adore drugstore liners and have used them since the beginning of my career,” she tells Marie Claire. “They work perfectly fine and they’re easy to replenish.” 

There are plenty of eyeliners out there that won’t cost you more than $15, but not every drugstore eyeliner is made equal. To save you the trouble, we beauty lovers at Marie Claire did the work for you to bring you this list of our favorites, enlisting help from the pros along the way. While the drugstore eyeliners on this list range in formula (i.e. gel, liquid, or pencil), each one is super pigmented, long-wearing, and budget-friendly.

What to Look For in Drugstore Eyeliner

Before rushing off to your local drugstore and grabbing eyeliners left and right, it’s important to figure out what formula works best for you, says pro makeup artist Ehlie Luna. For example, if holding a pencil feels more natural in your hand than a pot-and-brush gel eyeliner, then you should opt for the pencil. “Whichever option gives you the most control while also being the most comfortable is ideal,” says Luna. “The drugstore is a great place to start exploring textures.” Jaikaran also agrees that your skill level should be taken into account when choosing an eyeliner. “Determining what liner is best for you really depends on your comfort level,” she says. “Eyeliner application can be tricky but those with a felt tip are sometimes easier to use.”

Both pros recommend looking for a drugstore eyeliner with a high color payoff. “Pigmentation is also key when it comes to liner,” notes Luna. “I work on a diverse range of skin tones and I'm always looking for options that will work on everyone.” Jaikaran recommends looking at online reviews and swatches before deciding on an eyeliner, since samples aren’t typically available at the drugstore.

The Best Drugstore Eyeliners

Meet the Experts

Portrait of Jaleesa Jaikaran
Jaleesa Jaikaran

Growing up in Trinidad, Jaleesa moved to New York City to pursue her dream of makeup. She started assisting industry greats like Kabuki, Pat McGrath, and Diane Kendal on sets and fashion weeks in New York, Milan, and Paris. Jaleesa began to develop her eye for color and strengthened her focus on the perfection of skin tones of all shades, which has led to her work being published in publications including Elle, Glamour, Teen Vogue, Essence, L’Officiel, Vogue Italia and Refinery29. As a content creator, Jaleesa strives to make content that teaches, inspires, and makes makeup achievable, and is known for her insider tips and signature skin. Jaleesa also runs The Life Of a Makeup Artist podcast, and regularly posts to her Tiktok account. In 2022, she was named one of LinkedIn's Top Voice in Fashion & Beauty. 

Ehlie Luna
Ehlie Luna

Ehlie Luna is a pro makeup artist whose experience goes from key makeup artist for the New York City Ballet to freelance commercial work in 2020 allowing her to move deeper into content creation. Her work has been featured in music videos and has graced the red carpet and catwalks of New York Fashion Week. She’s also worked with brands such as Daily Paper, Mac Cosmetics, Pattern Beauty, Beautyblender, r.e.m. beauty, UOMA Beauty, Macy’s, and more. Luna shares her expert tips and injects her unique personality into the beauty space through her TikTok page @EhlieLuna

Portrait of Ashlee glazer makeup artist
Ashlee Glazer

Ashlee has been a lover of beauty for as long as she can remember, working in every corner of the industry from the counter to the red carpet. Her clientele includes brides and celebrities including Christy Turlington, Rachel Zoe, Nikki and Brie Bella, and Georgina Chapman. Ashlee has made several TV appearances lending her expertise to shows such as TODAY, The Wendy Williams Show, Nick Cannon, and The Rachael Ray Show. 

Portrait of Shadi Malek
Shadi Malek

With just under a decade of experience in the makeup industry, Shadi Malek's extensive list of clients goes far and wide. From brides and models to your favorite celebs and social media stars, Shadi tailors her glam to match every client's unique visage. She first started honing her craft in Vancouver, Canada, and is now based in Los Angeles, one of the world's largest makeup hubs. Shadi often lends her expertise to publications such as WhoWhatWear, Bustle, Byrdie, Popsugar, and more. 

Brooke Knappenberger
Editorial Fellow

Brooke Knappenberger is the Editorial Fellow 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.