15 Best Pencil Eyeliners In 2021 For Expressive Eyes

Written by Sneha Manandhar
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In the world of makeup and beauty, pencil eyeliners are the most easy-to-spot products that are created by every other upcoming or existing company. However, it is a different story when it comes to efficiency. Since eyeliner pencils are the most sought-after items, it feels like quite the hurdle to find the best one. In the array of eyeliner pencils, finding one that offers intense pigmentation, longevity, and is smudge-proof can be a serious gamble while being heavy on your pockets.

Pencil eyeliners have been adored and utilized for decades and for various ever-evolving looks. The upsetting drawback is that most eyeliners are full of promises with little to zero fruitful outcomes. As insignificant as it may seem, the regret after purchasing an unsuitable eyeliner leads to the drainage of money as well as a product. Thus, the first few things to check in an eyeliner before buying one are its smoothness, longevity, pigmentation, and of course, any irritation or chemical reaction from the product. To ease you from the confusion, we weighed in the pros and cons to find 15 of the best pencil eyeliners in 2021.

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NYX Professional Makeup Retractable Eye Liner Pencil - Black
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L'Oreal Paris 16 HR Infallible Never Fail Eyeliner - Black
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Rimmel Scandaleyes 24 HR Wear Waterproof Kohl Kaja - Black
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REVLON ColorStay Eyeliner - Black
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COVERGIRL Perfect Blend Eyeliner Pencil - Basic Black
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Maybelline New York TattooStudio Gel Pencil - Deep Onyx
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HAUS LABORATORIES By Lady Gaga Eye-Dentify Gel Pencil - Pride
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Neutrogena Nourishing Eye Liner - Cosmic Black
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Julep When Pencil Met Gel Eyeliner - Golden Olive Shimmer
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Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil - Perversion - Matte
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15 Best Eyeliner Pencils For You To Consider In 2021

1. NYX Professional Makeup Retractable Eye Liner Pencil – Black

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Twist-up or retractable eyeliner pencils are blessings in disguise. With no need to sharpen them or have uneven nibs, these liners last a long time without any fuss. NYX’s retractable eyeliner pencil provides you much control over precision and glides smoothly on to your waterline or lids. For whatever occasion, you can definitely rely on this eyeliner as it is waterproof, richly pigmented, and lasts all day long. The liner is smudge-proof and fights sweat, rain, or tears, although it is an incredibly creamy formula. We recommend using this before applying mascara or after a coat of mascara on the waterline.

Pros:

  • Cruelty-free
  • Glides smoothly
  • Waterproof
  • Lasts all day
  • Precise application
  • Ideal for waterline or tight-lining

Cons:

  • May not be not hypoallergenic

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2. L’Oreal Paris 16 HR Infallible Never Fail Eyeliner – Black

Create a classic eye look or go bold with L’oreal’s Never Fail mechanical eyeliner. This liner is supremely pigmented and lasts for up to 16 hours. The liner is packed with candelilla wax, olive oil, and echium plantagineum seed oil that helps it glide on the skin seamlessly while providing ample moisturization and staying fade-free. Got oily eyelids? Don’t worry! This liner will stay put throughout the day, come moisturizer, sweat, or oil secretion. It also comes with a built-in sharpener to help retain the pointy tip for that perfect cat-eye look.

Pros:

  • Lasts up to 16 hours
  • Infused with candelilla wax, olive oil, and echium plantagineum seed oil
  • Smooth
  • Built-in sharpener

Cons:

  • May take time to wipe off

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3. Rimmel Scandaleyes 24 HR Wear Waterproof Kohl Kaja – Black

Gel eyeliners take the prize home when it comes to being absolutely smudge-proof, well-pigmented, long-lasting, and maintaining crisp and sharp lines. This eyeliner is Infused with coconut oil and aloe leaf extracts to keep your eyelids from drying out and lasts up to 24 hours while locking moisture and hydration. Its rich and intense pigment does not smudge, smear, or run down. With the utmost control, you can let your creativity flow and create unique lines on your eyelids.

Pros:

  • Contains coconut oil and aloe leaf extract
  • Lasts up to 24 hours
  • Easy to apply
  • Dermatologist and ophthalmologist tested
  • Safe for sensitive eyes

Cons:

  • Contains talc

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4. REVLON ColorStay Eyeliner – Black

The best thing about a long-wearing eyeliner is that they stay on hours later without fading or smudging and being waterproof is just the icing on the cake. Glide on Revlon ColorStay eyeliner hassle-free that adds a bit of spice and drama to your look and lasts up to 16 hours as though applied freshly. Its waterproof and lightweight formula does not smear, fade, or budge while maintaining a clean and creaseless line on the lids. The liner is in a retractable tube preventing any breakage, the built-in sharpener helps maintain a sharp nib for each time you need a crisp wing. Attached on the other end is a smudging tip for when you need to add a subtle smokey effect.
Pros:

  • Ophthalmologist-tested
  • Lightweight
  • Waterproof eyeliner
  • Lasts up to 16 hours
  • Comes with a sharpener and smudging tip attached

Cons:

  • Some may find it slightly waxy

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5. COVERGIRL Perfect Blend Eyeliner Pencil – Basic Black


Covergirl presents their Perfect Blend Eyeliner Pencil and even in its retro packaging the pleasing twist lies in having a smudging tip attached at the opposite end. The liner allows you to create either a sharp, fine line or let the fiery, dramatic eye-trend take over. The eyeliner has a creamy texture that avoids any tugging or wrinkly, dry effect. Infused with a ton of hydrogenated oils like castor, mineral, kernel, and vegetable, the eyeliner is also water-resistant. You can now smoothen harsh lines to give just the right amount of depth and definition with the blending tip or sharpen the pencil to give you pointed wings.

Pros:

  • Cruelty-free
  • Highly pigmented
  • Smoothening tip helps blend in the color
  • Smudger included

Cons:

  • May not offer long-lasting wear

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6. Maybelline New York TattooStudio Gel Pencil – Deep Onyx


Another contender in the race of lengthening its stay on the lids is the TattooStudio Gel Pencil by Maybelline. The eyeliner promises a total no budge, smudge, or smear for a total of 36 hours. The gel formula smoothly defines the designs you wish to draw with its intensely pigmented technology. Say hello to your new best buy if you’re oily skinned as this eyeliner has your back and keeps your eye makeup stay fresh. Pair it with a nude eyeshadow or go solo with a sharp stroke, this eyeliner will stay just where you drew on.

Pros:

  • Lasts up to 36 hours
  • Waterproof, sweat resistant, smudge proof
  • Gel formulation eyeliner pencil
  • Gentle on the scalp
  • Boosts hair moisture and reduces frizz
  • Leaves hair soft and shiny upon washing

Cons:

  • May not be ideal for waterlining

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7. HAUS LABORATORIES By Lady Gaga Eye-Dentify Gel Pencil – Pride

A pop of color achieved through eyeliner not only pauses the rave around regular cult-classic black liners, but also makes you look unique. To match with the persona of Lady Gaga, her brand Haus Laboratories created Eye-dentify gel pencil, which is 100% vegan and cruelty-free. This pigment-packed eyeliner series is just the perfect call-out to your inner artist. Create fun, graphic, and bold eye looks with this eyeliner that slides on the skin giving you all the control for a neat and defined streak. Rest assured that this liner is be waterproof, smudge-proof, and transfer-proof.

Pros:

  • Vegan
  • Cruelty-free
  • Lasts up to 12 hours
  • Waterproof, smudge-proof, and transfer-proof
  • Vibrant and richly pigmented

Cons:

  • Not to be used for waterline as it could smudge

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8. Neutrogena Nourishing Eye Liner – Cosmic Black

Now if you’re on the search for a product that bridges the gap between laboratory and nature, here’s Neutrogena’s Nourishing Eye Liner. Infused with the goodness of olive oil and cupuacu seed butter, the liner is also approved and deemed safe-to-use by ophthalmologists. This eyeliner does not budge throughout the day and does not dry the skin on your eyelids! Perfected with a contoured smudger at the tip, it helps create an even outer-V shape to your look.

Pros:

  • Hypoallergenic
  • Ophthalmologist tested
  • Long-wear eyeliner
  • Has a contoured smudging tip and a built-in sharpener
  • Creamy texture glides on easy

Cons:

  • Multiple layering required for opaque color payoff

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9. Julep When Pencil Met Gel Eyeliner – Golden Olive Shimmer


What we have here is one for those who admire the subtle hints of tints. This liner from Julep promises a fresh, youthful look with its marvelous lineup of shades. Shimmery, glittery, and highly pigmented, this eyeliner will set your daytime makeup in place. This product is made with specially blended wax that helps glide on smoothly instead of being grouped with parabens and sulfates. You can also use this eyeliner as an eyeshadow to pop up your eyes or as a brow highlighter to bring forth attention.

Pros:

  • Long-wear eyeliner up to 10 hours
  • Free from parabens and SLS
  • Cruelty-free
  • Long-lasting formula
  • Waterproof

Cons:

  • May not suit all skin tones

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10. Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil – Perversion – Matte

When it comes to standing out of the ordinary, Urban Decay cosmetics proudly wins the prize. The 24/7 Glide-on Eye Pencil too is a cult-favourite. It is infused with vitamin E, jojoba oil, and cottonseed oil — healthy ingredients that aim to nourish and moisturize the eye area. Apart from that, this liner also comes in many shades and textures. The liner is also cruelty-free and vegan. All you need is a sharpener to sharpen the tips of these liners in order to provide you with absolute precision and control.

Pros:

  • Free from parabens, SLS, and phthalates
  • Cruelty-free
  • Available in many shades
  • Intense color payoff

Cons:

  • It may tug at mature skin with fine lines and wrinkles

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11. l.f. Satin Eyeliner Pencil – Black


Dry skinned people often tend to find it difficult to find an eyeliner that delivers a creamy and butter-esque sensation. e.l.f’s satin eyeliner pencil is here to convince you that their blend of wax, castor, and mineral oils is all they claim to serve — which is a satin finish by the end of the application. Its color payoff and texture are a no-joke. Ideal to be applied along the lashlines, a gentle stroke can go a long way in providing you a well-hydrated eye look.

Pros:

  • Cruelty-free
  • Vegan
  • Satin finish
  • Does not contain parabens or phthalates
  • In-built sharpener

Cons:

  • May not be as long-lasting

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12. Palladio Eyeliner Pencil – Midnight Blue

We all love a good makeup product that contains a bit of nature’s touch in the formulation, it makes the whole experience all the more alluring. Palladio’s Eyeliner pencil is enriched with rosemary extracts and sunflower seed oil — both that prevent any irritation or clogging of pores. For extra hydration and suppleness, the liner is formulated with hydrogenated coconut and palm kernel. It is built like a classic eyeliner pencil and you would need to sharpen it, however, the lasting ability of this product is highly commendable. The shade Midnight Blue is a beautiful shade to spruce up your daily eyeliner routine that instantly makes your eyes look more awake and vibrant!

Pros:

  • Free from parabens
  • Not tested on animals
  • Available in many shades
  • Moisturizing

Cons:

  • May not be the best choice for waterlining

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13. Artisan L’uxe Bio-Beauty Velvet Jumbo Eyeliner Pencil – Shameless

With its subtle glow and high pigment, you can use this jumbo liner to create sultry or bold eye looks. Infused with hyaluronic acid and ceramides that help retain moisture in the skin, this eyeliner is ideal for those aging beautifully. However, this eyeliner can be used by most people because of its inclusion of natural extracts and oils that maintain the nourishment of the skin. The pencil comes with an in-built sharpener and a smudging tip for when you need to turn the simple stroke of line into a lovely eyeshadow shade.

Pros:

  • Cruelty-free
  • Easy to use
  • Water-resistant
  • Smudge-proof

Cons:

  • Not meant for prolonged usage, might fade

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14. Pure Ziva Pencil Eyeliner – Navy Sailor Blue

Blue eyeliner has never looked this pretty! Get your hands on this natural ingredient-infused eyeliner that is packed with intense pigmentation. Pure Ziva brings to you a smudge-proof, water-resistant, and long-lasting eyeliner meant for both the waterline and the lash line. Create mystical, bold drawings on your eyelids and forget about having them faded away. Those with sensitive eyes can now relax and deck up their eyes as this liner is hypoallergenic and tested and approved by dermatologists and ophthalmologists.

Pros:

  • Cruelty-free
  • Smudge-proof eyeliner
  • Long-lasting eyeliner
  • Dermatologist and ophthalmologist tested
  • Contains natural plant extracts

Cons:

  • Formula may dry up quickly when not stored properly

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15. LA. Colors Eyeliner/ Brow Pencil- Black

Our last contender of this article is L.A. Colors with their double offer of an eyeliner and brow pencil. This eyeliner glides smoothly and offers deep pigmentation. Easy to use and portable, the eyeliner is definitely worth the hype. It will not budge and is best for tightlining and also waterline areas. An absolute challenger to high-end brands, this liner can also be used to create a bold smokey eye.

Pros:

  • Smooth formula
  • Affordable
  • Comes in 15 shades
  • Does not break or fall off

Cons:

  • May not offer long-lasting wear

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As mentioned before, eyeliners are possibly the easiest to find in the market since every brand out there has one or two of its own with a few tweaks here and there in the ingredients list or create an entirely new product with newer elements. Since everyone’s needs differ, read further to know a few things that you should keep in mind before buying an eyeliner.

How To Choose The Best Eyeliner Pencil

  • Read the ingredients list

A full ingredients list is always a bonus for a consumer. Search up the following items on the product packaging or description and avoid the products that contain them: DMDM hydantoin, formaldehydes, caparabens, Bak, carbon black, and sometimes carnauba wax.

  • Test out the softness

If possible, swatch the products before buying. The more soft an eyeliner is, the less harsh and painless it will be to line your eyes as they are the most sensitive areas.

  • Color

Break the monotony, experiment with different shades and colors! Opt for colorful eyeliners and decide on what looks best on you. Those with brown eyes can get away with any color but will also do well to choose colors like deep browns or golden. For hazel eyes, a brown or a green shade will work wonders. Those with gray eyes should look for green, brown, and blue whereas those with blue eyes should try taupes and earthy tones.

How To Apply An Eyeliner Pencil?

  • With eyeliner pencils, you have the freedom to draw on your lids the way you desire. However, basic tips on applying eyeliner dictates firstly drawing on the lid, closest to the lashline. Then, to tight-line, pull up the eyelid taut to spot the flakey areas where the eyeliner didn’t reach and carefully fill them in. Be aware not to accidentally poke your eyes.
  • Never use a blunt eyeliner, make sure you are using a cosmetic grade sharpener before you use an eyeliner pencil. Oftentimes, if your pencil tends to be wooden, the wood chips may tug or irritate the eyes.

Eyeliners are absolute gems of innovation where you can create, bring life, and express with just a streak or more. Using vivid and unique colors can also jazz up your whole look. Makeup is art, and eyeliners are just the pencils that you use on the canvas like empty eyelids. In addition to that, let’s also not forget that the skin around the eyes are the most sensitive areas, therefore, you must be aware of the things you put around or on them. We hope our list of the 15 best pencil eyeliners of 2021 has helped you decide which one you want to pick for yourself.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is gel or pencil eyeliner better?

Both kinds of eyeliners can do the job. However, a gel liner has a thicker consistency and provides more staying power and control of how you want to draw on your liner. Gel liners are also great for tightlining

Can you use an eyeliner pencil on your top lid?

Yes, you can use an eyeliner pencil on your top lid, given you do plan to layer it over with another round. Eyeliner pencils — when sharp — can also be used to create fantastic cat eyes.

Is eyeliner pencil better than liquid eyeliner?

This depends on the type of eye makeup you wish to create. Liquid eyeliners are usually more pigmented and help give you a sharp winged look. However, you can also achieve the same using a pencil eyeliner but the longevity of the two products could differ.

How long does eyeliner pencil last?

When you buy an eyeliner pencil, make sure to check for longevity claims like 12 hours or 16 hours. If they’re not provided, a simple eyeliner could last between 5 to 8 hours depending on your skin type and also what ingredients go into the making of the product.

Does eyeliner pencil expire?

Yes, like every cosmetic item, eyeliner pencils have a shelf life of about 2 years.

How can you sharpen an eyeliner pencil?

Just how you would sharpen a regular pencil only with the exception of using a cosmetic sharpener. Clean the sharpener and slowly yet carefully turn the pencil in a clockwise motion.

Is it safe to use eyeliner on the lash line or waterline?

The eyes are probably one of the most sensitive parts of the human body, and yes, your worries about using them on the waterline or on the inner lash line or even on the top eyelid are valid. To put your mind at ease, yes, it is absolutely safe to use eyeliner as most companies who manufacture them take into consideration the basic things to prevent any negative outcomes. Though, that’s not to say that you should not be wary of the ingredients that work well or don’t with you. If in the event should you feel any sort of reaction to an eyeliner, we strongly suggest you wash your eyes immediately.

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Sneha Manandhar holds a Master’s degree in English from the University of Pune. She has previously worked with media and publication houses in varied capacities as a lifestyle writer, an editor, a copywriter, and a translator. She reviews beauty, skin care, and wellness products from specialized curated lists. She believes that SEO-driven content is the present and the future and keeps herself busy by dabbling in SEO-related tools and honing her editing skills.