The 9 Best Eyeliners for Waterline, According to Makeup Artists and Editors

No raccoon eyes here.

A model wearing waterline eyeliner poses backstage ahead of the White Sands show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia Spring/Summer 2013/14 at Carriageworks on April 8, 2013 in Sydney, Australia.
(Image credit: Rosdiana Ciaravolo/Getty Images)

Of all of the makeup products in the world, eyeliner may take the cake for versatility—there are just so many ways to use it. The best eyeliners can make your eyes pop from a mile away with a single swipe across the lids. If playful, bold shapes are your forte, liquid liners are your best friend. Or maybe you like a subtle smokey look, in which case pencil liners are there for you. And if you love to experiment with fun shades, there are even colored eyeliners out there. But allow me to let you in on another magic use for eyeliner: waterlining. 

Waterlining is a makeup technique in which you apply eyeliner to the wet, fleshy part of your lower inner eyelids. It can change the look of your entire face, says pro makeup artist Jaleesa Jaikaran. “Using a white or neutral liner in the waterline can make you look more awake and take away any look of redness in the eyes,” she says. “On the other hand, using brighter colors that are complementary to your skin tone can emphasize your eyes and make your complexion a bit brighter.” Additionally, you can line your upper inner eyelid, a.k.a. tightlining, to make your lashes appear more lush and full. 

If you’re hoping to achieve bigger-looking eyes and fuller lashes, look no further than the best waterline eyeliners. But bear in mind that eyeliner in the waterline can cause dryness for some. "It occludes the openings of the meibomian glands,” says board-certified ophthalmologist, Dr. Diane Hilal-Campo. “This prevents the oils from being released into the tear film. This will cause the patients' eyes to be dry.” 

We at Marie Claire have compiled this list of the very best eyeliners for the waterline—all of which are long-wearing, waterproof, highly pigmented, and, most importantly, have silky smooth textures to prevent irritation in the sensitive area. Read on for expert shopping tips from beauty pros Jaikaran and Ehlie Luna, and to shop our favorites. 

What to Look For in Waterline Eyeliners

You can’t just be throwing any eyeliner in your waterline willy-nilly. The waterline is an especially sensitive area, so any tugging or skipping may cause irritation and damage. If you’re looking for an eyeliner specifically to use in your waterline, pro makeup artist Ehlie Luna says silicone-based and waterproof eyeliner formulas are your best bet. “To spot them you might see words like cyclopentasiloxane or trimethylsiloxysilicate listed in the ingredients.” But she gave another pro tip: “You don't have to memorize these words but notice ingredient names with ‘-sil’ buried in them among the first five ingredients. Often they will mention 'waterproof' on the package somewhere.” 

Another quality to look out for? Texture. “The best liner for the waterline is a pencil liner that has a creamy payoff yet is long-lasting,” says Jaikaran. A creamy-textured pencil (like Maybelline’s TattooStudio pencil, below) won’t tug or skip across your waterline, meaning there will be less chance for irritation. Luna also notes that kohl and kajal formulas are often used in the waterline because they are especially creamy. 

The Best Eyeliners for the Waterline

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 Dr. Diane Hilal-Campo
Dr. Diane Hilal-Campo

Dr. Diane Hilal-Campo is a Board Certified General Ophthalmologist who is highly skilled in both medical and surgical eyecare. Dr. Hilal-Campo has been practicing in Oakland, New Jersey for more than 23 years. She is a graduate of Columbia University, and was in the first class that accepted women at Columbia College in 1987. Dr. Hilal-Campo then went on to receive her medical degree from Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons. She completed her internship in internal medicine at Columbia and then went on to complete her residency at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. Dr. Hilal-Campo is an active member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and an active member of the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons. She is also a founding member of a group for female Ophthalmologists in New Jersey. After spending decades treating female patients struggling with dry eye and other painful conditions caused by makeup and beauty treatments, she developed her own brand of eye-friendly formulas, twenty/twenty beauty.

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.