Post updated for 2020
I am a total liquid eyeliner snob. To be quite honest, for several years before writing this post, I only ever used and recommended a single drugstore liquid eyeliner. Determined to find more suggestions, I recently challenged myself to try a handful of the highest rated liquid liner options— what some might call the best drugstore liquid eyeliners available.
Keep scrolling to discover why these are the most popular drugstore liquid eyeliners and how I rank them. Watch the video at the top of the page to see how they perform side-by-side throughout the day.
Tied for #3: NYX Matte Liquid Liner & L’Oreal Flash Cat Eye Liner
These two liners are incredibly similar, with pros and cons to each that don’t necessarily outweigh the other.
The NYX Matte Liquid Liner ($7.50) was my reigning favorite before testing the others in this post. It has a very fine brush tip that I think is the best for graphic liner and winged liner. It creates crisp thin lines and is easy to stamp on or flick into a point. I really love the flat matte finish of this liner, which makes the black shade look even richer. However, this is not a waterproof formula and so may break down (as was my experience) with tears or sweat.
The L’Oreal Flash Cat Eye Liner ($7.57) had the closest finish to my NYX favorite, if you also prefer a matte liner look. This waterproof formula lasts a very long time— in fact, a swatch I had on the back of my hand withstood hand washing several times before finally coming off. The liner comes with a winged eye stencil, as well, but in general I believe the brush tip is precise and easy enough to use by itself. My one complaint with this liner is that the product doesn’t flow as freely through the bristles as the other pens on this list, and I don’t feel like I get enough product on one swipe for a smooth and dark line. However, a few shakes can help loosen it up and it layers really nicely.
#2: wet n wild Breakup Proof Liquid Eyeliner
For the price, the Breakup Proof eyeliner ($4.99) puts in work. It applies incredibly smoothly with no tugging, and stays pigmented and defined all day. I only experienced fading when I accidentally rubbed at the corner of my eye, and really only a little bit of liner came off with absolutely no smearing or smudging at all. It does have a slightly shiny finish though not distractingly so. My one complaint is that the tip tends to be a little leaky if you shake the pen, which is actually recommended on the packaging to get the product flowing. To avoid spurts and stains, shake the pen prior to use while the cap is still on.
#1: Maybelline Hyper Easy Liquid Liner
I was blown away by how… well… easy the Hyper Easy Liquid Liner ($8.99) was to use for creating incredibly precise lines. It has a long lasting formula, with a brush tip that dispenses just the right amount of liner in one swipe, and is so easy to control. It actually has a hexagonal shape which helps with gripping and maneuvering the pen. The finish is only slightly shiny compared to the NYX and L’Oreal liners, but it’s really not too noticeable. Something important to note, though, is that the bristles needed to be loosened up first before getting a smooth application. Just swatch it a few times on the back of your hand first and you’ll be good to go.
As someone who wears liquid eyeliner in the majority of my looks, I consider these to be the best drugstore liquid eyeliners— which one you choose will just come down to personal preference of brush shape, finish, and waterproofness.
Do you have any other favorite drugstore liquid eyeliners? Share them in the comments!