I have to be honest here, I hate putting on eye makeup. Do I love how I look when I'm wearing eye makeup? Yes, of course. There is nothing better than a dramatic smokey eye, or just effortlessly lined eyes to make my peepers really pop. But do I love the process of applying eyeliner and shadow? Nope, would rather be doing anything else.
I only dread it because I truly believe I'm not good at it. I don't know how many of my friends and colleagues have become skilled at applying eyeliner, or when they picked up this skill, but I must have been doing something else that day. I chalk it up to one of my greatest weaknesses in life: impatience. I'm not one to practice a cat-eye look in the mirror in my free time. And when it comes time to do my makeup for a night out, I never leave enough time to perfect my eyeliner. There is a lot of cursing and Q-tips that get tossed around during those moments—trust me. Because of all of this, I resigned myself to just having "okay" eye makeup for the rest of my life. There are worse things to have, I suppose.
All of that changed, though, a few months ago when I was shopping around for a new eyeliner and decided on a whim to try gel eyeliner. Firstly, the word "gel" always sounds good to me. Secondly, I read all the reviews on a particular Marc Jacobs gel eye crayon and was convinced it would make lining my eyes easier.
I was right. I didn't realize how game-changing gel eyeliner would be. It glides so easily onto my lash line. And because it's so smooth, it's easier to be precise. In fact, when I first tried the eyeliner I think I used 1.5 Q-tips versus the five I usually used with other liners. It also doesn't smudge and is long-lasting, so even after a full day of work or a long night, I don't look like a total wreck.
If we lived in a perfect world I would say that I line my eyes every day with my new holy-grail eyeliner and I'm now a genius at it. Well, the world is far from perfect, but I will say that the eyeliner doesn't make me dread putting on eye makeup anymore, and I get a little excited to use it when I do decide to go all out. I no longer consider myself "bad" at eye makeup, more like adequate (and honestly that's okay for me). Plus, it cuts my feelings of impatience and frustration in half (maybe even three-quarters, but I AM human).
All of this is to say I've found the product that actually makes my makeup routine a little more joyful, so thank you, gel eyeliner. I don't think I'll ever go back. And if my long treatise on the subject has left you intrigued, I've rounded up some more gel eyeliner picks below:
Bobbi Brown's popular gel eyeliner is resistant to sweat and tears for up to eight hours. It comes in four different colors.
This super pigmented eyeliner from Pat McGrath glides on smoothly and has staying powder. It comes in matte and shimmer finishes.
It Cosmetics's eyeliner is creamy and doesn't smudge. Reviewers say it sets pretty quickly, too.
This drugstore option from Maybelline is a twist-up pencil with a micro-tip so you can line your eyes precisely, without having to fix anything. And it will last you all day long.
Formulated for active lifestyles, you can wear Eyeko's waterproof eyeliner to the beach, pool, or even to the gym if that's your thing.The vegan product contains coconut oil to help it glide on easily. It has a built-in brush and sharpener, too.
If you're looking for a dramatic eye, then Tarte's ultra-black gel eyeliner will do the trick. The waterproof and smudge-proof product applies easily, so you can get close to the lashline.
Three eyeliners for $12? This is a total steal. Each comes with a different finish: shimmer, satin, and matte. Plus, they are formulated with a lash boosting complex to strengthen and enhance your eyelashes.
This eyeliner has a 1.55 mm tip so it's super thin to get that your eyes lined just so. It comes in five different colors: bronze, navy, brown, ultra black, and gray.
This eyeliner may be dirt cheap, but that doesn't mean it's not as good as the more expensive ones. The pencil glides on smoothly—reviewers say it doesn't tug and smudge.
Ilia's gel liner is free of ingredients like sulfates, parabens, phtahlates, and formaldehydes. It's easy to blend and when it sets, won't budge.
This matte eyeliner works so well with its rich color and long-lasting formula, but you can also use the product as a creamy shadow. Consider it a two-for-one!
You can safely wear this eyeliner for 12 hours without having to worry about smudging, flaking, or fading. The creamy formula leaves a lightweight finish.
NYX's pot eyeliner gives bold, saturated color, so you can try any kind of eye makeup look, whether it's a winged design or a smokey eye. Use an angled brush to apply.
You get the best of both worlds with Benefit's liner—it's a gel formula in pen form so you can get SO close to the lash line. It's waterproof and last for up to 24 hours.
Apply this pigment-rich, waterproof liner easily without tugging or pulling. Reviewers rave about its staying power—it lasts for up to 24 hours.
You can get that intense eye makeup look with Maybelline's pot gel liner. It's safe for sensitive eyes and contact lenses, and last for 24 hours. It also comes with a handy brush for application.
This double-ended eyeliner makes it easy to experiment with different colors. It's formulated with emollient oils and natural waxes for a gel-like application.
The slim tip on this eyeliner helps if you want to try your hand at tightlining. Reviewers say it's easy to use (great for makeup novices!), stays on all day, and goes on smoothly.