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[best drugstore waterproof eyeliner]I tested 15 drugstore eyeliners to see which ones applied best and lasted the longest, and there wer

  

  Victoria Giardina/Insider

  Pros: Long-lasting, flexible tip, great pigmentation, creates a precise line, waterproof, vegan, and cruelty-free

  Cons: Limited color variety; smudged a bit; packaging doesn’t snap shut so it may dry out quickly

  Pigmentation: Bold for 10 hours

  Smudging: Slightly smudged after 5 hours, but the line remained in tact

  Irritation: None

  Ease of removal: Comes off easily with one cotton pad and eye makeup remover

  Buildable: Yes, just press down with a little more oomph for a more dramatic, eye-defining look

  When looking for the best of the best, the Maybelline Eye Studio Master Precise Liquid Eyeliner certainly delivered. Its long-lasting formula with a precise brush tip makes each stroke fluid and customizable.

  Maybelline’s liner noticeably applies a thin line, and I used two coats to cover sparse areas. It was the closest to my coveted Stila Stay All Day Liquid Liner at half the price. It’s definitely a true-black shade and especially great for smokey looks because it’s buildable.

  Maybelline’s formula is waterproof, so if you’re prone to some tearing or have watery eyes, this product is one you’ll want to add to your shopping cart. I noticed that the packaging didn’t snap shut like other liners I tested, so it may dry out quicker than other options.

  This drugstore indispensable is vegan and PETA-certified cruelty-free and formulated with no animal-derived products or by-products. Though sustainable, sharply-pigmented, and smudge-free, it doesn’t come in a wide variety of colors.

  $6.33 from Amazon

  Originally $6.99Save 9%

  $7.99 from Ulta

  $6.38 from Walmart

  $6.39 from Target

  

  Victoria Giardina/Insider

  Pros: Customizable tip, vegan- and cruelty-free

  Cons: Isn’t as precise as our Maybelline top pick, not great if you’re prone to watery-eyes

  Pigmentation: Bold for 10 hours

  Smudging: None

  Irritation: Immediately made my eyes water

  Ease of removal: Comes off easily with one cotton pad and eye makeup remover

  Buildable: Yes, and it’s suitable for more dramatic cat-eye and smokey looks, too

  If you apply our Maybelline top pick with NYX’s Professional Makeup Epic Ink Eyeliner, you won’t be able to tell much of a difference. When looking at the NYX liner with a keen eye, however, you’ll notice that the glide-on isn’t as smooth and perfected as our top pick.

  That said, it’s still a great option, and has a flexible brush tip that is fitting for many eye looks. Though it immediately made my eyes water, I was impressed with how it delivered an all-day look. It’s vegan and PETA-certified cruelty-free, too.

  $9.00 from Ulta

  $8.97 from Walmart

  $8.99 from Target

  

  Victoria Giardina/Insider

  Pros: Creamy, formula; great control when applying; dermatologist-, ophthalmologist, and allergy-tested for sensitive eyes; comes with a decent eyeliner brush

  Cons: Needed to apply multiple coats

  Pigmentation: Medium pigmentation for 10 hours, and is buildable

  Smudging: None

  Irritation: None

  Ease of removal: Comes off easily with one cotton pad and eye makeup remover

  Buildable: Yes, though it takes about two to three coats to craft a bold pigment

  I’ve always considered applying gel eyeliner to be too tedious of a task (and one I thought I would mess up when applying the product with a brush), but the the Maybelline Eye Studio Lasting Drama Gel Liner was simple to apply and is now one of my favorite liners to date. It’s a great option if you go gaga for nighttime glam looks or strive for more control when applying.

  A standout quality of this liner is its packaging, simple to fit in the palm of your hand which makes applying a breeze. I found that the gel line stood in place all day and gave my eyes a natural look without looking muted or needing a touchup.

  The creamy, oil-free formula comes in black, brown, and charcoal shades and is also dermatologist-, ophthalmologist-, and allergy-tested, making it a solid choice for more sensitive eyes and contact lens wearers.

  $7.13 from Amazon

  Originally $9.99Save 29%

  $7.79 from Target

  

  Victoria Giardina/Insider

  Pros: Easy to apply, customizable to different eye looks

  Cons: Some may find the pigmentation too light, slight smudging, may not be the best for sensitive eyes

  Pigmentation: Light for 10 hours

  Smudging: Smudged a bit on the outer corners and when swiped on my hand for our manual smudge test

  Irritation: It felt like my eyes were burning an hour later, but didn’t last for a long time

  Ease of removal: Comes off easily with one cotton pad and eye makeup remover

  Buildable: Yes (in fact, it’s encouraged)

  I was pleasantly surprised when I applied the e.l.f. Cream Eyeliner Pot to my lash line because it provided a natural, gorgeously-matte look that I haven’t run into with the other eyeliners I tested. It’s not perfect though — it was not as pigmented as I had hoped, irritated my eyes throughout the day (but it wasn’t too bad to the point where I had to completely remove it), and smudged a bit on the outer corners (though not a complete dealbreaker).

  I’ll definitely grab the Maybelline pot because it’s the complete opposite in terms of performance, but if you’re looking for an easy swipe for extra definition, e.l.f. is an ultra-affordable pick that is arguably comparable to our tried-and-favorite Maybelline.

  $4.00 from e.l.f.

  

  Victoria Giardina/Insider

  Pros: Created the most precise line I tested, long-lasting

  Cons: More difficult to remove than other liners tested, may not last for more than a few months

  Pigmentation: Medium pigmentation for 10 hours

  Smudging: None

  Irritation: None

  Ease of removal: Wasn’t completely removed with one swipe, but simple to remove with two cotton pads

  Buildable: Yes, just twist to dispense more product

  Though I gravitate more toward liquid eyeliner — I’d rather not resort to sharpeners — the Neutrogena Nourishing Eye Liner sold me with its strikingly natural yet pigmented application.

  As a waterproof liner, the formula won’t streak its color-intense pigment. I cater to more natural eye looks, so this is the one I would reach to the most, based on preference. The only downside to this product is that the pencil tip became less sharp when applied once, so it may not last in your makeup bag as long as other liners if worn often. This beauty staple is a double win with a built-in smudger and sharpener that works automatically when twisting.

  Because it’s a pencil and doesn’t have that super flexible brush tip, it doesn’t give the most precise line, yet its ability to be a multitasker when going about your makeup routine makes it the best pencil we’ve tested. And, it comes in a variety of color options to switch up the rote rhythm of reaching for black.

  $5.69 from Amazon

  Originally $7.99Save 29%

  

  Victoria Giardina/Insider

  Pros: Retractable, waterproof, opthamologist-tested for sensitive eyes

  Cons: Extremely stubborn to remove, may not last as long as our other picks

  Pigmentation: Bold for 10 hours

  Smudging: None

  Irritation: None

  Ease of removal: Difficult (residue left after showering, cleansing, and even some present the next morning)

  Buildable: Yes

  I tried a Wet N Wild eyeshadow trio in middle school that irritated my eyes so badly, it essentially closed the door on drugstore makeup for good. So naturally, I didn’t have high hopes for Wet N Wild’s MegaLast Retractable Gel Eyeliner, but I was proved wrong because achieving a bold, taut line was oh-so-simple with this petite pencil.

  I’m not a big fan of retractable eyeliners because the tip doesn’t remain as precise as ones you would typically sharpen, but it does the job. Compared to other eyeliners tested, this product won’t last me long before I have to swap it because it uses a larger-than-usual amount of product for one medium line. Though it doesn’t quite measure up to our top Neutrogena pencil, it’s a solid option for a quick drugstore grab.

  $2.59 from Amazon

  

  Victoria Giardina/Insider

  Pros: Creamy, beautifully compliments shimmery eyeshadow, easy to apply

  Cons: Delicate tip, so it may break easily; the line didn’t stay completely in tact

  Pigmentation: Medium pigmentation for 10 hours and is buildable, depending on the color

  Smudging: None

  Irritation: Slight irritation after two hours of applying, but nothing dramatic driving me to remove it

  Ease of removal: Left a trace of liner residue on my lower lash line after removing with one cotton pad, but just took an additional swipe to remove

  Buildable: Yes, depending on the color (more essential for lighter shades, like bronze)

  Since I’m drawn to natural looks, black isn’t my go-to hue every day. For more casual, daily wear, I like to apply a bronze liner to make my hazel/light brown eyes pop, and the Pixi Beauty Endless Silky Waterproof Pencil Eyeliner, specifically in the shade RoseGlow, perfectly achieved my vision. I also tested BlackNoir and VeryBerry shades, which provided a consistent formulation to experiment with different colors.

  I was pleasantly surprised this eyeliner was an almost-exact dupe of Urban Decay’s 24/7 “Smog” Glide-On Eye Pencil that I once owned, though this shade leans more rose gold than copper and has a creamier, easier application.

  We didn’t include a runner-up to Pixi’s catalog of colorful eyeliners because of the low availability of vivid colors offered at drugstores. For other colorful eyeliners that didn’t make runner-up quality, check out our section on what else we tested below.

  $12.00 from Ulta

  Makeup artists Lindsey Trop and Trina Albus dive into what makes each kind unique and how to effectively apply them to your eyes:

  Gel: Gel liners offer rich pigment like liquid, but actually easier to use and manipulate like pencils. “You can smudge it for a beautiful smokey look and you can make a very sharp, crisp line,” Trop recommends. “Really, the sky’s the limit with gel liner.”

  Liquid: “Liquid liners are meant to do something crisp as opposed to being smudged,” says Trop. “It would give a more defined line on the skin and can be used on all skin types — mature skin, youthful skin — anyone can enjoy this product.”

  Pencil: “You can’t go wrong with pencil,” Albus notes. Pencil eyeliner is the traditional bread and butter of the eyeliner game, offering an artist-like application with a linear stroke on the eye. It’s the ultimate beauty tool for beginners.

  Colorful: “I think people perceive colors differently, so it’s really fun to experiment with color because you never know which ones are going to pop or look good with your eyes, and it’s fun to have different colors in your collection,” said Albus. Hair and eye color, as well as your skin tone, play a role in which colors make your eyes pop, too, Trop adds. I found bronze compliments my light brown eyes well, while seafoam and aqua colors tend to look beautiful on blue eyes. When I tested a maroon shade, I felt it would look better on darker skin tones than my fair complexion.

  After more than a month of testing, we determined the best liquid, gel, pencil, and colorful eyeliners to snag at your local retailer. And, I was pleasantly surprised that a $5 liner was just as good as my $30 go-to choice in my makeup bag.

  Here are the four experiments I conducted in determining the best drugstore eyeliners you can buy:

  Pigmentation test: I tested each eyeliner for at least 10 hours a day and looked in the mirror each hour to assess pigmentation levels. Once applied, I classified the hue as either light, medium, or bold, taking note if it faded throughout the day.

  Smudge test: This was another hour-by-hour assessment. I looked at my inner and outer corner, as well as my lower lash line, to find any noticeable traces of smudging. Keep in mind that for certain looks (like a smokey eye), this may be preferred and not considered a flaw. I also manually smudged each liner on my hand for a standalone test.

  Irritation test: I jotted down whenever I noticed my eyes watering or becoming irritated throughout the day. I have astigmatism in each of my eyes, so given that my eyes are sensitive, this test was essential.

  Ease of removal test: I removed each eyeliner with the same makeup remover each evening and took note of how many cotton pads were needed for complete removal, as well as if there was any remaining residue after showering, cleansing, and even waking up the next morning.

  

  Ulta; Amazon; Target; Insider

  e.l.f. Expert Liquid Liner: This product may have been the most pigmented one I tested, but it’s a bit flimsy to apply with its super-fine brush, and it tended to smudge in and slightly irritate my inner corner throughout the day. This was also one of the eyeliners that smudged when applied to my hand and swiped with my finger.Wet N Wild MegaLast Breakup-Proof Liquid Eyeliner: This product has an easy pen applicator and, while the line lasted the entire day, the original bold color faded into a medium line and then an even lighter one at the end of the 10-hour test.Essence Extreme Lasting Eye Pencil: This was a low performer compared to other ones I tested because of its immediate smudging on the outer corners of my eyes and excessive residue left over after removal. Though it took multiple tries to achieve a precise, dark line, it was a creamy, glide-on liner that still looked nice on my eyes.Revlon ColorStay Exactify Liquid Liner: When you twist this eyeliner open, the base that stores the liquid looks like a sink drain, and the pizza cutter applicator comes out of it. The packaging was quite flimsy and even though its unique design boasts an exact line, it took me more tries than expected to achieve one. It definitely takes some time to get used to and an eye makeup remover will remove all the product, but you have to press harder to pick all of it up.NYX Jumbo Eye Pencil: The NYX Jumbo line comes in a beautiful array of colors and is known for its crayon-like design. The pencil tip was way too oversized to achieve a precise line, yet it can be ideal for smokey looks. Aside from “Black Bean,” I also tested “Milk” and “Yogurt,” both of which can be used as an eyeshadow primer and base as well — a multipurpose product to brighten the eyes. This was one of the eyeliners that smudged when applied to my hand and swiped with my finger.NYX Professional Makeup Epic Mousse Pot: I tested the Berry shade in hopes of finding a new colorful eyeshadow to add to my favorite makeup products list, but the gel formula was not true to color. It didn’t look like I was wearing any eyeliner at all and completely faded after 5 hours.

  

  Anna Efetova/Getty Images

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