Best Eyeliner: The 2023 Glam Beauty Awards

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Eyeliner is a product many of us can't live without, with some dedicated fans even opting to wear it as permanent makeup. Few cosmetics can change your look as quickly or dramatically as eyeliner, whether you opt for a hint of color or Cleopatra-worthy wings. You don't need to be an expert at application to appreciate it, either — even messy, slept-in eyeliner has its appeal. Today, pigmented graphic liners are available in an array of colors, but it's hard to deny the allure of classic black. The signature shade of choice for countless icons, from Ronnie Spector to Robert Smith, black eyeliner is seductive, timeless, and universally flattering.


If you're an eyeliner lover, you're likely familiar with the blissful feeling of finding the perfect product. Swiping a crisp, velvety line on your lids or waterline is like makeup nirvana — and it's even better if it's got serious staying power. On the other hand, being met with a grainy, chalky liner can ruin your entire day (or night).

Virtually every cosmetic line carries its own version of the quintessential black liner, but still, it can be hard to find "the one" without some degree of trial and error. Worse, it's an all-too-common experience to find your holy grail liner has been discontinued or reformulated. So what's a beauty lover to do when the search for perfect black eyeliner begins to feel fruitless? Relax. We tested several popular black eyeliners for you, with only the most impressive products making the final cut of the 2023 Glam Beauty Awards.


Read more about the 2023 Glam Beauty Awards methodology and all the top picks here.

Best Overall: Benefit Cosmetics Roller Liner Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner

After years of experimenting with liquid eyeliners, it isn't often that a product leaves us speechless at the first flick. We applied the Benefit Roller Liner to our bare eyelids and were amazed at its intensity and opacity. If you're the type to roll your eyes at product packaging that reads "jet black," having been let down by such claims in the past, let us assure you — Roller Liner is a true jet black eyeliner. This liquid liner is highly pigmented and inky, making it the perfect accompaniment to any number of trendy eyeshadow looks. Of course, it's striking enough that it can be worn on its own for everyday styles.


Yet our love for Benefit Roller Liner doesn't stop at its incredible pigmentation. It's also remarkably easy to apply, providing super crisp, sharp lines in an instant with no dragging or skipping along the lash line. Eyeliner newbies and veterans alike can look forward to creating delicate cat eye wings effortlessly, and it's easy to build up a thicker line for a more dramatic result. If that wasn't enough to sway us toward crowning the Roller Liner our overall favorite, it also dries quickly and stays put for hours.

We inadvertently rubbed our eyes several times while wearing the Roller Liner without any primer or setting spray, and it didn't smudge whatsoever. Plus, those with sensitive skin can breathe easily: Benefit's Roller Liner formula doesn't irritate the eyes and melts away in seconds with just a touch of makeup remover. The only downside? Once you try it, you'll feel a twinge of regret for not having discovered it sooner.


Purchase Benefit Cosmetics Roller Liner Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner in Black from Sephora for $22.

Best Kajal Eyeliner: Juvia's Place Nubian Eyeliner

Juvia's Place is a Black-owned beauty brand with a stellar reputation among beauty fans for everything from its super-pigmented eyeshadow palettes to cult-favorite lipglosses. But how about its eyeliner? The brand's Nubian Eyeliner is unique, being the only product we tried that boasted Kajal-like richness. For the unfamiliar, Kajal eyeliner refers to a traditional style of liner popular in Southeast Asia, known for its luxuriously smoky finish. We were excited to try this mechanical eyeliner pencil, and we're glad we did.


At first glance, we were impressed by the dainty, tapered point of the Nubian Eyeliner. Our hearts were aflutter when we realized it truly lived up to its kajal namesake. The Nubian Eyeliner's bold color payoff and silky application are nothing short of sexy — this is the ideal pencil liner for smoky eyes, standalone tightlining, or grungy eyeliner looks.

To test its staying power, we tried the Nubian Eyeliner on bare skin and while wearing dried-down Shiseido Anessa Sunscreen applied near the eyes. We found that it did transfer ever-so-slightly onto the upper eyelid when paired with sunscreen, but it didn't lose any pigmentation along the lash line or waterline. Of course, this problem is easily remedied by using a good eyeshadow primer. Overall, the Nubian Eyeliner won us over in several categories, from its gorgeous color (and purple packaging) to its ease of use and longevity. This could be your next go-to if you're looking for a new holy grail black pencil eyeliner.


Purchase Juvia's Place Nubian Eyeliner in Kajal from Ulta for $12.

Best Drugstore Liquid Liner: NYX Professional Makeup Epic Ink Waterproof Eyeliner

It's no secret in the beauty community that NYX products often deliver department store quality at drugstore prices. The Los Angeles-based brand has delighted cosmetics fans for over two decades with beloved products like Butter Gloss and glitter pigments. Therefore, it shouldn't be surprising that their Professional Epic Ink Waterproof Eyeliner took first place in the drugstore liquid liner category.


First thing's first: unless you have innate eyeliner application skills, this isn't our top pick for makeup novices. NYX's liquid eyeliner formula is thick, heavy, and glossy — and it's not exactly easy to remove once it's set. If you aren't comfortable applying liquid eyeliner, you may struggle to achieve a clean line with its weighty consistency and dainty brush tip. This isn't a flaw for experienced eyeliner users, however. This type of eyeliner is precisely what you want if you're looking for a bold line that doesn't budge and plays well over heavy eyeshadow. In other words, it's a fantastic choice for theatrical or Halloween makeup looks.

The Epic Ink liner may require a careful hand and a bit of patience, but we love its distinctive finish and how well it shows up in photos. To ease into using it, apply a liner with a lighter consistency first and trace over it with Epic Ink to darken the line. Lastly, Epic Ink is seriously budge-proof and waterproof, so we suggest using an oil-based makeup remover followed by double cleansing to gently remove it from your lids.


Purchase NYX Professional Makeup Epic Ink Waterproof Eyeliner in Black from Target for $10.

Best Drugstore Pencil Liner: Revlon ColorStay Pencil Eyeliner

We've all been there: late for an interview or a date, sans eyeliner, and left with nowhere but the drugstore to procure the most critical component of our makeup bag. Choosing a winning product from the pharmacy beauty aisles can be a gamble, even when you aren't pressed for time. That said, we must admit we've got a special place in our hearts for Revlon ColorStay Eyeliner. After all, it was the eyeliner that carried us through our tear-stained scene phase in high school.


Upon applying Revlon ColorStay, we were reminded why we love this trusty mechanical pencil liner. It applies evenly to the lash line and waterline, with a clean, flat-edged tip that doesn't drag. For a softer effect, you can even use the handy sponge tip at the base of the tube to smoke out your lines.

Although the ColorStay liner is somewhat lacking in terms of pigmentation, we found its standout quality to be its longevity. Applied to bare lids with no primer, it's true to its name, lasting nearly 12 hours with only minimal transfer. Furthermore, we pushed it to the limit by using it alongside Missha BB Cream, a dewy-finish tinted sunscreen. Even as ColorStay came into contact with the cream, little to no raccoon eye effect was observed after several hours of wear. All in all, we've got to hand it to Revlon ColorStay — without a doubt, it's the best drugstore pencil eyeliner of the many we tested.


Purchase Revlon ColorStay Pencil Eyeliner in Black from Amazon for $7.

Best Waterproof Liquid Liner: Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner

Nothing is more deflating than getting caught in rainy weather after applying the perfect cat eye. Fortunately, you'll never have to worry about such perils again with Stila's Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner.


Right off the bat, we loved Stay All Day's ergonomic grip and stamp-like precision. The liner's brush tip is slender and flexible, making it a cinch to craft even the thinnest lines. It comfortably hugs the lash line without skipping a beat, even on crepey eyelids, and its consistency is fluid without ever being messy or drippy. Although we tried Stay All Day in "Intense Black," the formula is available in several shades, from "Snow" white to "Midnight" blue.

Although it's not quite as pigmented as the other liquid liners in our ranking, Stay All Day makes up for this with its water-resistant formula. We waited an hour after the application to allow it to fully set and submerged our faces in water to test its claims. The verdict? It's true — this liquid liner doesn't run, smudge, or budge even after repeated exposure to H2O. We took things one step further and patted our eyes with a damp cloth to see whether the product might fade with friction. While areas with two coats stayed put, the tail end of our soft cat eye look suffered some transfer. Thus, we recommend applying two or more coats of Stay All Day to ensure you get the best performance this eyeliner has to offer.


Purchase Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner in Intense Black from Target for $12.