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Between meetings, errands, play dates, happy hours, and sweat sessions at the gym, life can get pretty hectic. You need a great eyeliner that works just as hard as you do and can stand up against all of life's chaos. Enter: the best waterproof eyeliners.
If you’re prone to watery eyes, have hooded lids, or touch your face too much (stop that), waterproof formulas are going to be your best bet. Felt tip markers and paintbrush liners are typically a go-to for sharp eyeliner looks, but liquid eyeliners can bleed if the right one isn’t used. And don’t even get us started on the disaster that is using an eyeliner pencil on the waterline, only to end up with accidental raccoon eyes.
To avoid these beauty disasters, you need an always-there, never-smear eyeliner, a.k.a. the picks on this list. The below list of editor- and makeup artist-approved waterproof liners, which boast various textures and price points, promise to outlast sweat, tears, oil, and humidity. And just to confirm: As with waterproof mascaras, we're not talking about the waterproof formulas that suck the moisture from your lids and then require a sander to buff off. The picks on this list boast silky, easy-to-wear formulas and feel like normal eyeliner, except, well, better.
What to Look For in Waterproof Eyeliner
While it may seem obvious, the first thing you will want to look for when shopping for a waterproof eyeliner is the keyword "waterproof" on the product's packaging. Some products may claim they are "water-resistant," but "waterproof" means that liner really isn't going anywhere. "Long-wearing" or "long-lasting" are other keywords you should look out for.
Waterproof liners come in every formula, from pencil and gel to liquid, so you'll have to choose the right formula for you. Really, it all boils down to preference and skill level.
- Pencil liners tend to be more user-friendly, since they're easier to hold.
- Liquid liners require a steady hand to get sharp, precise lines.
- For pro makeup artist Dani Parkes, gel eyeliners are the way to go. "When I purchase waterproof liners, I look to buy gel pot eyeliners as I find those to be the easiest to apply," she says. "The formula of the gel is also best for creating and smudging the wing so it goes into the direction you want it to go in."
You may also want to consider how a liner dries down or its "finish," as this can have an effect on the desired outcome of your liner look. For example, pro makeup artist Isabel Rosado says, "Personally, I love a satin or matte texture finish in a liner. I am not a big fan of shiny or 'patent leather' finish."
Best Waterproof Eyeliners
- Best Overall Waterproof Eyeliner: KVD Beauty Tattoo Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner
- Best Budget Waterproof Eyeliner: Covergirl Exhibitionist 24-Hour Kohl Eyeliner
- Best Splurgeworthy Waterproof Eyeliner: Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner
- Best Gel Waterproof Eyeliner: Hourglass Voyeur Waterproof Gel Eyeliner in Cave
- Best Pencil Waterproof Eyeliner: Caliray Surfproof Easy Glider Eye Definer Waterproof Eyeliner Pencil
- Best Liquid Waterproof Eyeliner: ONE/SIZE by Patrick Starrr Point Made Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner Pen
Best Overall Waterproof Eyeliner
Offered in black and brown, this liner gives "tattoo" an (almost) literal meaning. This waterproof liquid pen will not budge under any circumstances, so go ahead and put on your favorite sad movie and let the waterworks flow. One woman even wrote in a now-viral review after being involved in a car accident: "My mascara was running down my face from crying and all other products had been wiped off in the transfer to the hospital. But not my tattoo eyeliner."
Pros: Long-wearing; Highly pigmented; Vegan formula; Easy to apply.
Cons: Tip dries out over time; Over $20.
Customer review: "This eyeliner is amazing! It goes on smoothly and stays on all day without smudging. My eyes are sensitive and this product does not irritate them. Great product!" — Sephora
Best Budget Waterproof Eyeliner
In case you need reminding, there are plenty of drugstore eyeliners that work just as well (if not better!) than higher-end formulas. With Covergirl's Kohl Eyeliner pencil, I was pleasantly surprised at the results. You know when it's really cold outside and your eyes start to water in the wind? Well, this liner held up even during those tears. The brown shade is especially pigmented and the ultra-smooth formula can draw sharp lines or be blended out as you desire. It's truly not a bad option at $11.
Pros: Editor-approved; Glides on smoothly; Highly-pigmented; Long-wearing; Blendable; Available in three shades.
Cons: Difficult to sharpen.
Customer review: "Wow! This is amazing eyeliner! I've used the same Revlon one for years. This is much softer and goes on much smoother. The pigment is intense. Great color! Stays on super long! I woke up this morning and still had eyeliner on!" — Target
Best Black Waterproof Eyeliner
This one is an editor favorite for good reason. Its inky onyx pops on every skin tone, and it stays put forever. And when I say "forever," I really mean forever. When I first tried this product out, I swatched it on my hand and it impressively held up (without fading, mind you!) through the next day, even after washing my hands and showering. Trust me when I say this liner will not fade, smudge, or come off until you actually go to remove it.
Pros: Editor-approved; Long-wearing; Smudge-proof; Ultra-precise felt-tip brush; Glides on smoothly.
Cons: Not very pigmented; May be difficult to remove.
Customer review: "I've been using this liner for 7 years now, and since my first time using it, every other liner has failed to compete. The pigment is unparalleled, each stroke applies evenly, and it doesn't fade or smudge throughout the day or evening." — Sephora
Best Splurgeworthy Waterproof Eyeliner
Don't let this pot-and-brush formula intimidate you—I promise a brush is surprisingly easy to control. This pick in particular comes pro-approved. "Bobbi Brown gel pot liner was the first ever pot liner I bought for myself when learning how to do my eyeliner," says Dani Parkes. "I haven’t turned back since, it is still an all-time fave. I use this product with a miniature paintbrush to create a wing on myself as well as my clients. It is long-lasting and has the perfect amount of black pigment."
Pros: Pro-approved; High pigmentation; Long-wearing; Easy to apply; Available in four shades.
Cons: May dry out after a while; Over $25; Requires a brush to apply.
Customer review: "I swear by this eyeliner!! I’m on my third pot now and have no intention of trying any other gel eyeliner. This eyeliner is so incredibly easy to apply. It does not smudge whatsoever even throughout an 8 hour shift." — Sephora
Best User-Friendly Waterproof Eyeliner
"I wouldn't consider myself a eyeliner pro. Winged eyeliners are hard for me to master because I have slightly hooded eyes. This MAC eyeliner is so easy to use because it glides on and doesn't tug on the skin around my eye area. The result is a clean line every time. I use it for winged eyeliner looks or just across my lash-line or in the waterline. No matter where I put it, it doesn't budge for hours. 24 hours on the lid and 12 on the waterline to be exact! I use the shade Skip the Waitlist if I want a shimmery brown look or the shade Sick Tat Bro for a matte look. — Julia Marzovilla, E-Commerce Editor
Pros: Long-lasting; Editor-approved; Glides on smoothly; Available in 13 shades.
Cons: You can only blend for a few minutes before it sets; Costs over $20.
Best Pencil Waterproof Eyeliner
The waterproof makeup game is better than ever, and Caliray is proof of that. Their gel formula offers smooth application while the rounded top allows for easy design control. Its waterproof abilities are in the name—we dare you to go surfing with this liner on, and we bet it stays intact. As a reminder, keep the cap on after use to avoid any drying. Caliray also has an equally amazing waterproof mascara for full lashes to pair with their waterproof eyeliners, so go ahead, cry it out.
Pros: Glides on smoothly; Long-wearing; Highly pigmented.
Cons: Difficult to remove.
Customer review: "Fabulous! Goes on like silk. No tugging or pulling on the eyelid. Will order again. This also stays put until you remove your makeup." — Sephora
Best Colored Waterproof Eyeliner
If you're a fan of makeup, there's a good chance you've heard about the magic that is Urban Decay's 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil. Offered in just about every color you can imagine, this pencil is the perfect addition to your night-out beauty look. Some shimmery eyeshadows can cause fallout after a couple hours, but this unbudging option makes a bold, sparkly shade stay put all day and night. Take comfort in knowing that once this liner sets, you're good to go for hours on end.
Pros: Glides on smoothly; Smudge-proof; Comes in 33 colors in a variety of finishes; Long-wearing.
Cons: Difficult to sharpen; May transfer to undereyes.
Customer review: "Best waterproof eyeliner pencil ever, stayed on even through the rain. Color is super saturated, and it’s easy to use." — Sephora
Best Pro-Approved Waterproof Eyeliner
If you're a fan of Kim Kardashian's beauty looks, then you need to check out Makeup by Mario from Mario Dedivanovic, aka Kim's makeup artist. This pick is an ultra-creamy pencil that delivers high-impact, blendable color. Pro makeup artist Isabel Y Rosado counts herself a fan of this pencil and says, "It glides on perfectly and sets silky for a waterproof liner." She adds, "I love it for tightlining, winged liner, smokey smudge lines for a doe eye look or detail work."
Pros: Pro-approved; Long-wearing; Highly pigmented; Comes with smudge brush; Comes with sharpener; Easy to blend.
Cons: Over $20; Difficult to sharpen.
Customer review: "I love this eyeliner pencil. It goes on very smoothly and it is intensely pigmented. I like the brush on one end of the pencil. If you want to make a smoky eye look, the brush does it. The staying power for this pencil is excellent. A quality pencil that works beautifully." — Sephora
Best Liquid Waterproof Eyeliner
"Recently, I was looking for an eyeliner to bring on a trip abroad, as I'd forgotten my usual option at home and had found myself at the airport in need of an inexpensive replacement. I settled on this one, and it immediately exceeded my expectations. Its ultra-thin felt tip makes for easy application and precision, and it dries quickly with a matte finish. Plus, it's more eye-safe than many of its competitors, boasting a formula that's free of parabens, gluten, formaldehydes, and synthetic fragrance." — Gabrielle Ulubay, E-Commerce Writer
Pros: Editor-approved; Precise felt tip; Highly pigmented; Long-lasting; Smudge-proof; Waterproof; Vegan; Features a comfort grip.
Cons: Takes longer to dry.
Customer review: "So good and easy to put on, I used it when I went to see fall out boy, and it went on so easily and stayed put all day, I wore it for maybe 11-12 hours and it stayed so gorgeous on my eye even after sweating all day." — Sephora
Best Nourishing Waterproof Eyeliner
Great things can come with small price tags. Case in point: e.l.f. Cosmetics' H20 Proof Eyeliner Pen. For just $7, you get a liquid liner that holds its own against the higher-end options on this list. Reviewers are impressed with how pigmented this pick is, plus they love how thin and pointy the tip is. Whether you're going for a statement look or a subtle flick, this liner can do it all thanks to its precision tip. It's also formulated with vitamin E as an added nourishing bonus.
Pros: Under $10; Long-wearing; Highly pigmented; Precise felt tip; Vegan.
Cons: May dry out quickly.
Customer review: Love this eyeliner! It's very easy to use and has great color payoff. And it is waterproof and dries down jet black. The price was very cheap with great quality product. Definitely recommend. — Ulta
Best Waterproof Eyeliner for Waterline
You can get a lot done in 24 hours—all while wearing this bad boy, because that's how long this formula lasts. Available in 10 pretty shades in two different finishes, the shade Sand is especially great to use in the waterline and inner corners to make your eyes pop from a mile away. But if colorful shades aren't your thing, there's black, brown, and navy, too. Plus, its built-in sharpener makes it easy to bring on the go.
Pros: Long-wearing; Ophthalmologist-tested; Available in 10 shades; Comes with built-in sharpener.
Cons: Over $20.
Customer review: "I have found my perfect black liner for tight lining. No transfer to my lower lid, is comfortable to put on, best of all, no irritation to my eyes - even after a long day staring at a computer screen." — Sephora
Best Gel Waterproof Eyeliner
"If you want an eyeliner with a creamy formula that lasts all day but is still blendable, check this one from out from Hourglass. The tip stays pointed for a while as you use it, making it great for winged eyeliner looks. The vegan, cruelty-free, and paraben-free formula is so easy to use but it lasts all day—even when you use it in the waterline. This is one of the eyeliners I turn to when I go out at night because it's an all-purpose winner. The shade Cave is great if you want a true brown that doesn't look black. Plus, it's easy to remove despite the fact that it's waterproof" — Julia Marzovilla, E-Commerce Editor
Pros: Editor-approved; Long-lasting; Formula is vegan; Formula is cruelty-free; Formula is paraben-free.
Cons: Costs over $20.
Customer review: "This gel eyeliner is everything I have been looking for. It is incredibly pigmented, so creamy, it doesn’t break while using it which sometimes happens with creamy eyeliner‘s, it’s very smudgeable and lastly it truly sets down! — Sephora
Best 2-in-1 Waterproof Eyeliner
Meet the best of both worlds: This dual-ended eyeliner has a clay-based pencil tip on one end for a smudgy, softer look, and a satin-finish felt tip on the other end for a cleaner, more precise finish. We especially love how both sides are doctor-tested and vegan. Regardless of the side you choose, you’ll get budge-proof lines for 12 hours straight. For even extra staying power, layer the liquid over the gel for a look that won't budge or bleed.
Pros: Comes with two formulas; Good value; Highly pigmented; Vegan formulas; Ophthalmologist and dermatologist tested.
Cons: Only available in two shades; May be difficult to remove.
Customer review: "I really like both liners. They glide on effortlessly and stays put. I am so happy with my purchase, I just bought another one. You get best of both worlds, depending on what makeup you want to wear for the day/night. Great product!" — Ulta
Best Longwearing Waterproof Eyeliner
Sure, a day at the pool is a great test for waterproof eyeliner but I'd argue an even better test is watching a sad movie. I (accidentally) put this liner to the test when I went to see The Whale with a full face of makeup on. While I can't say the same about my mascara, but my eyeliner stayed flawless through my big, fat tears. That was all the proof I needed that this eyeliner is a real winner. It doesn't hurt that it's highly pigmented, easy to apply, and under $10.
Pros: Under $10; Editor-approved; Long-wearing; Highly pigmented; Precise tip; Ophthalmologist-tested.
Cons: Product may become clumpy after awhile.
Customer review: "I have been using this eyeliner since middle school! The brush is very easy to use, applies smooth, smudge proof and the bottle lasts a very long time." — Ulta
Meet the Experts
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.
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.
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Brooke Knappenberger is Contributing Writer 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.
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