Before you yell at me for working out with makeup on, I know, I know, I shouldn’t do it. But I’m busy, okay, and usually am running—damn near breathless—to my evening sessions with seconds to spare before the doors close on me, because I’m a working woman. And my work, blessedly, is all about beauty. My desk might as well be a mini beauty closet. It’s overflowing with beauty products I’ve filed under “need to try ASAP” and “need you next to me at all times"—and the latter category always includes a trusty waterproof eyeliner.
There’s always something going on with our eyes, and if you’re prone to watery eyes, have hooded lids, or touch your face too much (stop that), then a waterproof eyeliner is key for a long-lasting wing. Felt tip markers and paintbrush liners are usually a go-to for a sharp cat eye, but the liquid formula can bleed if the right one isn’t used. And don’t even get us started on the disaster that is using a kohl pencil on the waterline, only to end up with accidental raccoon eyes.
Your collection is probably collecting, but you can never have too many always-there, never-smear eyeliners. So I've included a list of beauty editor-approved waterproof eyeliners at various textures and price points that will outlast anything. And no, not the waterproof formulas that suck the moisture from your lids and then require a sander to buff off, but silky, easy-to-wear formulas that feel like normal eyeliner, except, well, better.
For A True Black
Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner
This one is an editor favorite for good reason. Its inky onyx pops on every skin tone, and it stays put forever. Okay, not forever, but pretty damn close.
For Line Control
Thrive Causemetics Infinity Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner
When it comes to line control, a thin paintbrush/marker tip is ideal for effortless wings and lines that don’t have to worry about any smearing. While this liner needs at least 30 seconds to set, the long-lasting effect and dark pigment are worth the wait.
For Maximum Staying Power
KVD Beauty Tattoo Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner
This liner takes tattoo to a literal meaning. Let us remind you of Shelby (@coffeecatsandcusswrds), who after getting in a car accident proved via Instagram in 2017 that this liquid eyeliner really does hold up through it all.
For Grown-Up Glitter
Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Woodstock
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.
For An Ideal Point
Rare Beauty by Selena Gomez Perfect Strokes Matte Liquid Liner
Give this liner a good shake before applying for a streak-free application that gets even the trickiest corners because of its thin bristles and point. No matter how long your cat eye is, the pigment payoff lasts without needing to go back and fill in bare spots.
For A Pigmented Two-In-One
about-face Shadowstick in Oxide Matte White.
While not a traditional eyeliner, the about-face shadow sticks DO. NOT. BUDGE. Perfect for waterline highlights, or a jeweled tone lower lash, the vegan formula won’t cause irritation or any flaky color. Pigmented colors are available in pearlescent and matte formulas, both made to resist sweat, water, and even oily skin.
For An Easy Glide
Caliray Surfproof Easy Glider Eye Definer Waterproof Eyeliner Pencil
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. 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.
For A Cat Eye
Benefit Cosmetics Roller Liner Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner
If you're going for a Mad Men vibe on Saturday night, reach for this inky option. It's jet black, precise, and won't budge no matter how much dancing you do.
For A Soft Look
Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner
Yes, the whole pot-and-brush combo can feel like a feat reserved only for makeup artists and the Kardashians. But trust me when I say a brush is surprisingly easier to control than a stiff pencil tip if a minimal look is what you're going for. Plus, this formula is incredibly pigmented, meaning even the thinnest of lines will read like a statement.
Smashbox Always Sharp Waterproof Kohl Liner in French Navy
A twist-up top and built-in liner makes this product a look in a tube. If you're feeling bold, try a floating line. This formula isn't going anywhere, no matter how oily your lids.
Charlotte Tilbury Feline Flick V2 Eyeliner
The tip on this liquid option makes application almost too easy. Tightline right up against the lashes for imperceptible definition, or wing it out for some drama.
For A Bold Wing
PAT McGRATH LABS Perma Precision Liquid Eyeliner
Filling in a major cat eye can often reveal patchy coverage, but this inky fluid is blacker than black and its payoff is the best in the biz.
For A Natural Look
ILIA Clean Line Gel Liner in Dusk
A simple defining smudge of brown into the waterline can change the game when it comes to no makeup-makeup days, and this one's gel texture makes it glide on like butter.
For Intense Color
Maybelline New York Eye Studio Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner
This formula has highly concentrated pigments suspended in a clear gel base, which makes the color crazy intense and durable. You're going to need to double cleanse this one off, and we mean that as high praise.
Danessa Myricks Waterproof Cushion Color
Technically this is a multi-use product, but this pot contains super-pigmented formula that can create sharp lines and pretty smudges with a few strokes.
Diorshow On Stage Liquid Eyeliner in Matte Pop Green
If you don't think you can pull off liner this bright, I'm here to tell you you can. Use the precision tip to make baby wing (this fluid flows really easily, in the best way) and you've got a runway-ready makeup situation on your hands.
For 24-Hour Wear
Make Up For Ever Aqua Resist Color Pencil Eyeliner
You can get a lot done in 24 hours, all while wearing this bad boy, because that's how long this formula lasts. Plus, its built-in sharpener makes it easy to bring on-the-go.
Tarte Tarteist Double Take 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. Regardless of the side you choose, you’ll get budge-proof lines for 12 hours straight.
Taylore Glynn is the Beauty and Health Editor at Marie Claire, covering skincare, makeup, fragrance, wellness, and more. If you need her, she’s probably roasting a chicken, flying solo at the movies, or drinking a bad Negroni at JFK.
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