I tried 6 of the most popular liquid eyeliners out there — and there’s clearly one winner

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Sophie Ross is an In The Know shopping contributor. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter for more.

As a cat-eye enthusiast, I’m constantly on the search for the best liquid eyeliner makeup brands have to offer. My non-negotiables are that it must be long-lasting and relatively easy to apply. The problem is that it can be overwhelming to make a decision with the sheer magnitude of options and recommendations on the market. 

I chose six of the most popular, highly-reviewed liquid eyeliners out there to see which one really is the best. (While I’m always down for pricey makeup and skin care, liquid eyeliner is something I typically don’t feel the need to splurge on. So, all of the below options are under $30.)

All of these eyeliners are best sellers for a reason, and all withstood separate days in the elements (aka, the New York City subway and miscellaneous errands) — but only one came out on top. Read on to find out which one.

Shop: Revlon ColorStay Liquid Eyeliner, $8.49

Credit: Revlon

As far as drugstore makeup goes, Revlon is probably one of the safest bets. Forgot your makeup bag in the airport bathroom on your way to vacation and need to recoup your losses at CVS when you land? There’s Revlon for that. (In fact, I’ve sworn by the Ultra HD Lipcolor in “Crush” for about eight years now, and consistently choose it over luxury lipsticks.) 

Revlon’s ColorStay Liquid Eyeliner, similarly, is a longtime fan favorite for the brand, with thousands of five-star reviews. I can confirm the formula doesn’t disappoint — it’s pigmented and long-lasting, and the brush tip is on-point as far as precision goes.

My one complaint: I’m not a huge fan of “dip bottle” packaging because I find the “liner” end more difficult to grip, and the formula is a little thick for my liking. (Sorry, that was two complaints.)

Shop: Eyeko Skinny Liquid Eyeliner, $22

Credit: Eyeko

Eyeko is the blueprint for good liquid eyeliner. The brand exclusively makes eye makeup products, if you can’t tell by the name. Clearly, they are the experts. 

The best thing about Eyeko’s cult-favorite Skinny Liquid Eyeliner is how easy it is to apply — with an ergonomically friendly pen shape and a precise tip, I get the flick I want with absolute ease. The finish is saturated and barely fades throughout the day, if at all. 

My one complaint: It doesn’t immediately dry, so you have to be careful following application to avoid smudges.

Shop: Fenty Beauty Flyliner Longwear Liquid Eyeliner, $22

Credit: Fenty Beauty

I’ve said before that I don’t trust celebrity beauty brands, but I don’t consider Fenty Beauty a celebrity beauty brand — in my eyes, it’s just a beauty brand. Rihanna’s eponymous makeup and skin care line Fenty Beauty has received universal praise and rave reviews since its 2017 launch. And that’s only for high-quality, luxurious formulas, but also for its commitment to inclusive shade ranges too. Basically, Queen Rihanna knows what she’s doing. 

And the brand’s water-resistant liquid eyeliner is no exception, with a sleek, easy-to-grip design and a saturated color payoff that dries quickly and rarely fades or smudges. Plus, I just love how cool the bottle looks on my vanity. 

My one complaint: The felt tip drags slightly and doesn’t glide on as smoothly as I would’ve hoped. (I’m sorry, Ri Ri. But I would absolutely still buy it again!)

Shop: NYX Matte Liquid Liner, $7.50

Credit: NYX

Like I mentioned, I’m not a huge fan of dip bottle packaging, but NYX (another one of my drugstore favorites) gets it right with its Matte Liquid Liner. The formula and brush stay intact — rather than clump — for smooth, effortless application and precision, and I love the matte-black finish after the formula dries. 

My one complaint: I sometimes need to “dip” back in and apply more than one coat, as it can go on slightly sheer.

Shop: Charlotte Tilbury The Feline Flick, $30

Credit: Charlotte Tilbury

Charlotte Tilbury is easily one of my favorite makeup brands. I always appreciate a high-quality formula and chic, vintage-inspired packaging. (I’m a longtime fan of both the Hollywood Flawless Filter and Magic Cream.) Of course I wasn’t surprised when I finally tried the brand’s famous Feline Flick liner, and it didn’t disappoint. It’s easy to use, with a soft felt tip that glides on effortlessly. And, most of all, I love the ultra-matte black, saturated finish. 

My one complaint: The tip gets a little dry after you’ve used it several times.

Shop: Stila Stay All Day Liquid Eyeliner, $22

Credit: Stila Cosmetics

This was the first liquid eyeliner I’ve ever used after buying it on one of my very first trips to Sephora. (Ah, memories.) Nearly fourteen years later, and the formula remains tried and true — genuinely waterproof, smudge-resistant and precise. The best part is that it’s easy to grip with a tip that glides on smoothly — aka, it’s ultra-quick and easy to apply, which I love as someone who’s always on the go. (Don’t believe me? Just read one of the 13,000 five-star reviews for the product on Amazon.) 

My one complaint: I… don’t have any, for once in my life. While I might be a little biased, sometimes you just know

It looks like we have a winner! Although, every single eyeliner on this list is one I will happily purchase and use again, depending on my budget and makeup-bag whereabouts.

If you enjoyed this story, check out Sophie Ross’ spotlight on the one celebrity beauty brand that she actually likes.

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