How to Apply Liquid Liner Like a Makeup Artist (Yes, It's Easier Than You Think)

Fact: I have always been (and always will be) passionate about liquid eyeliners. To me, no makeup look is truly complete without it. For as long as I can remember, I've received countless compliments on my steady hand and sharp wings from friends, co-workers, and a stranger or two every once in a while. For me, achieving the perfect liquid-eyeliner look has always been a combination of practice, skill, and the best formulas money can buy.

So where did I start? I'll admit it's taken me years of trial and error accompanied by too many makeup-remover wipes than I could count. Sure, the YouTube and TikTok tutorials definitely helped me see how it was done, but it took practice in my spare time to perfect it. Now that I've been at this for a while, I think it's about time that I share some secrets of the trade along with the liquid eyeliners I swear by. Trust me—you'll want to reserve a spot in your makeup bag for these before everyone catches on.

The Best Liquid Eyeliners, According to a Beauty Editor



Finding the Best Liquid Eyeliner

As a beauty editor, one of the determining factors that go into a hunt for liquid eyeliner is comfort. Can I move the product around in my hand to achieve the angles and defined lines I desire? Is there any pulling or tugging of the skin as the brush moves against it? When shopping in-store, I'll quickly swipe the product on the back of my hand and allow it to dry, taking note of how it feels, how it appears, and the color payoff.

Paying special attention to a liquid eyeliner's formulation and applicator can make a difference in what you end up paying for. Because I love a snatched wing that's sharp yet natural-looking, I tend to choose liquid eyeliners using a slim marker applicator. It allows for maximum manipulation, lending to defined lines that can be as minimal or bold as my heart desires on any given day. 

Application Made Easy

One of the best things makeup beginners can do to level up their makeup skills is to simplify their method of application. A flawless freehanded wing comes with time and experience. If you ask any makeup artist or editor, one of the biggest tips you'll here is to forget the wrist. Use your pinky for stabilization and let your applicator glide smoothly and steadily across the skin to avoid shaky application or rogue pen marks. If you've ever had the experience of attempting literally anything in a time crunch, then you know how complicated simple tasks can feel.

Approach applying liquid eyeliner the same way and make it as easy as possible for yourself. If you make a mistake, no worries! Have some makeup remover on hand and try again. Making mistakes will always be part of the process of learning something new, so why should using liquid eyeliner be any different? If you can't get that perfect flick on the end of your wing, simply dip a flat makeup brush into some oil-based makeup remover and gently remove your little oops.

Alternately, if you have on a full face and are worried about completely decimating your base makeup, try camouflaging your mistake with concealer for a quick and painless clean-up. It will save you from having to remove all your makeup and start from scratch. If you're struggling to get the brush saturated with ink, consider storing your eyeliner with the brush facing downward.



The Best Liquid Eyeliners

Best Overall: Clinique High Impact Easy Liquid Eyeliner

Clinique's best-selling mistake-proof liquid eyeliner creates defined, clean lines in one steady sweep with an ultra-fine, precise brush, so I add it to my shopping cart whenever I have the chance.

Customer review: "I searched and searched for an eyeliner that would apply easily and smoothly to my mature eyes and this is it! This is my 3rd purchase of this eyeliner and I still love it. A true black with little shine. Please don't ever change it."

Pro: Tapered, ultra-fine brush

Con: None

Best for Beginners

This liquid eyeliner uses a thin, marker-like tip for easy and precise application without skipping, smudging, or pulling the skin.

Customer review: "My absolute favorite liquid eyeliner! The thin tip makes it easier to get crisp lines and the color is really deep and stunning. Even if you accidentally rub your eye, the eyeliner doesn’t smudge. At the same time, it is not incredibly difficult to remove either."

Pro: Does not smudge, feather, or run

Con: Limited amount of product

Best Brown

If you want to achieve a natural-looking eye look, consider opting for a brown liquid eyeliner like Dior's Diorshow On Stage Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner.

Customer review: "This eyeliner glides smoothly for perfect lines every time and its smudge-proof formula is long-lasting. I have made it an essential addition to my daily makeup routine for a dramatic eye."

Pro: Glides on smoothly and easily

Con: High price point

Best Black

Pull off an eye-catching cat eye with the help of this ultra-precise eyeliner by Lancôme that offers major color pigment and control.

Customer review: "There is no better Liquid eyeliner on the market. The pigment is dark and rich. It shapes my eyes wonderfully. It's easy to apply and if you make a mistake It's easily removable. It provides that dramatic look I'm looking for."

Pro: Offers intense pigment

Con: None

Best White

One of my best makeup tips is using white eyeliner to brighten and bring attention to the eyes. Stila's Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner in Snow is one of my go-tos.

Customer review: "I have these in several shades because this eyeliner is so easy to use. You can create a very thin line to a cat's eye easily and it stays put all day."

Pro: Ideal for oily skin

Con: Limited wear time

Best Waterproof Formula

I swear by KVD's Tattoo Liner to deliver defined eyeliner looks that last all day, rain or shine, without smudging, feathering, or budging.

Customer review: "The title says it all! This weekend I went to the lake and decided to test just how waterproof this product really is. I was not disappointed! After many hours in the sun, being splashed while tubing, and jumping in the water multiple times, my eyeliner stayed perfect."

Pro: Easy to remove

Con: Dries out quickly

Best Eyeliner Pen

Whether you're new to the world of makeup or an industry veteran, a trustworthy eyeliner pen like this one by Sigma Beauty belongs in your makeup collection.

Customer review: "I once had an amazing felt tip eyeliner that I loved but haven't been able to find again. I read some reviews and decided to try this one. I was not disappointed. Definitely plan on buying again when I need to replace!"

Pro: Applies smoothly and evenly

Con: Not long-lasting

Best Drugstore Option

Wet n Wild's liquid eyeliner offers major color payoff, precise application, and a flake-proof formula without breaking the bank or disappearing throughout the day.

Customer review: "I was looking for a softer less intense black liner for a more natural daytime wear. So glad I found the WNW black liner. It doesn’t smear too and isn't too soft that once I touch my skin it leaves a big blob of color, so offers more control. So happy. Thank you."

Pro: Features an ultra-fine tip

Con: Smudges easily