The 11 Best Eyeliners in 2023, According to Editors and Makeup Artists

Experts draw the line (get it?) on the best of the best.

Eyeliner collage Stila eyeliner, Pat McGrath eyeliner, Dior eyeliner, Urban Decay eyeliner
(Image credit: Future)

When it comes to makeup preferences, you more than likely fall into one of two categories: You love to experiment with different eyeliner looks, or you have a go-to routine. I certainly fall into the latter category—I keep my face makeup minimal with a touch of concealer and go for defined eyes with my favorite mascara. But the number-one product I absolutely cannot skip in my beauty routine is eyeliner. For as long as I’ve been wearing makeup, there have only been a handful of days when I’ve skipped out on using the best eyeliners. What started out as “raccoon eyes” in middle school (as my mom loved to call it) is now a subtle flick across my lids that I’m now quite proud of.

While I tend to stick to my cat-eye look on most days, what I love most about eyeliner is its versatility. The best eyeliners define your eyes and lashline, emphasize your eye shape, and make your eye color pop. Pencil liners can be smudged for an instant smokey eye, while gel and liquid eyeliners make a statement. Not to mention, all of the different shades available on the market right now mean your beauty look is sure to be unique. With eyeliner (and your favorite eyeshadow palette, if you really want to go for it), the fun looks are truly limitless. 

Since eyeliner is such an integral part of my routine, I set out on a mission to find the best of the best. With the help of Marie Claire editors and makeup pros Billie Gene and Shadi Malek, I’ve done just that. Below, you’ll find the best eyeliners on the market right now. Whether you prefer a pencil, liquid, or gel formula, your dream eyeliner is right this way. 

What Formula Eyeliner to Use

First and foremost: When on the hunt for your next favorite eyeliner, you have to decide which formula you want to go with. There are three main formulas to choose from: pencil, gel, and liquid, each with the ability to create a different kind of eye look. 

Celebrity makeup artist Billie Gene tells Marie Claire, “Liquid eyeliner is a great option when you want a high-intensity look when going for a bold artistic look.” Meanwhile, Gene advises that pencil eyeliner should be used in the waterline since it’s the safest liner to use in that sensitive area. Additionally, pencils can be used on the top or lower lashline if you want a soft smokey eye. Gene adds, “Gel and or cream liners are best when you want to customize the shape of your liner.”

What to Look For in the Best Eyeliner

After you’ve decided on a formula, there are a few other factors you may want to consider before landing on the best eyeliner for you. “When choosing a good eyeliner, look for a product with a shape that first feels comfortable in your hand,” says Gene. “How you hold the product will determine the precision of your liner.” The makeup artist also looks for products with long-wearing formulas to stand up against sweat, humidity, and tears.

Another important factor both Gene and pro makeup artist Shadi Malek can agree on: The eyeliner brush. “I truly believe the narrower the brush the more precision you will truly get with any eyeliner,” Malek says. Malek personally goes for synthetic brushes when using gel eyeliner, since the brush has to dip in an eyeliner pot and needs precision, but when applying liquid eyeliners she goes for felt tip brushes. “A felt tip brush doesn’t have bristles and won’t split, so you will continuously get liquid eyeliner accuracy with a felt tip,” she says. 

All in all, though, Gene recommends a durable, yet flexible brush so you can create a customized look. 

The Best Eyeliners

Meet the Experts

makeup artist
Billie Gene

Bringing his background in fashion to the foreground of beauty, Eugene “Billie-Gene” is an industry innovator with a style all his own. As he continues to make a name for himself in the makeup world, Billie-Gene’s approach to the art lends a fresh aesthetic that renews and revitalizes everything we think of beauty. Gene’s basis in beauty shines light on the importance of a proper skin care regimen, and adding shape and dimension to the face.

Using his inspiration, Billie Gene’s technique – initially curated at Aveda and Tom Ford – has evolved into a model for those around him. The idea of using fashion and art to capture and captivate one’s beauty is one that he can call his own, treating each face as a canvas on which to create the art. And his premise is simple: “Beauty is glamorous. Everyone should feel beautiful, as we all know we are.”

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
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.