If you’re all about budge-proof eye makeup, stocking your kit with the right eyeliner can make a huge difference. When it comes to finding the best long-wear eyeliners, look for waterproof formulas that are also marketed as smudge-proof or fade-resistant. Typically, waterproof liquid liners provide the longest lasting color, but you can find long-wear pencils and gel liners, too.
Since the eyeliners featured here are so long-lasting, you’ll want to make sure you have a heavy-duty makeup remover on hand to get every last trace of pigment off. Use a cleansing oil or micellar water as a first step, then follow up with a water-based cleanser to ensure you’re giving your skin a really deep, thorough clean.
Keep in mind that no makeup should be kept forever, and eye makeup in particular needs to be tossed frequently to avoid eye infections and other potential issues with bacteria. Get rid of gel and liquid products after three months, while eye makeup made without water (such as pencils and powders) can be used for six months up to a year.
With those tips in mind, scroll on to shop five of the best waterproof eyeliners, from pencils and pots to liquids and gels.
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1. Best Liquid Liner
This $5, semi-permanent eyeliner from Milani promises up to 24 hours of smudge-free wear. Designed with a thin, pointed felt tip, the liner forms an elastic film over your skin (kind of like how tubing mascaras form a film over your lashes), which is why it’s so good at preventing smears. As a bonus, this liner is vegan and cruelty-free, like all Milani products.
Relevant review: "I’m a competitive swimmer and have applied this eyeliner on days with swim meets and practices, with it never smudging. This liner […] is for the person who wants to just apply their liner in the morning and not worry about it again. It’s for wanting to look great even when trekking up a mountain or going for a swim in a lake. I take it with me traveling because it’s the only liner that will prevail through all weather."
2. Best Liquid Pen
Here’s another great (albeit more expensive) liquid liner to consider: stila’s cult-favorite Stay All Day waterproof liquid eyeliner. While the Milani liner featured above has a separate body and brush, this is a classic pen, so it’s super easy to work with. The pointed felt tip allows for super precise lines, and the liquid formula is waterproof and intense. Choose from nine colors.
Relevant review: "The absolute best liquid eyeliner I have ever tried. It doesn’t fade, or crack and stays on through sleeping, or tears. Very very smudge proof and it does not flake AT ALL. […] It’s also easy to clean off at the end of the day. No hard scrubbing to get it off, makeup wipes will take it off easily."
3. Best Pencil
Prefer pencils? Then go with this one from Rimmel. Like all the eyeliners featured here, the Exaggerate Eye Definer is waterproof, but note that, as a general rule, pencils tend to have less staying power than liquids or gels. With this pencil, you can expect up to 10 hours of wear, according to the brand, while the built-in smudger and sharpener offer lots of convenience. The formula is creamy and dries matte with a slight metallic finish, and the pencil is retractable. Choose from six colors, including Blackest Black, Early Grey, and Rich Brown.
Relevant review: "I have been wearing this same eyeliner for over eight years now. It is the only pencil eyeliner with smudger combo that I have ever had that wears like a true waterproof eyeliner. I have an eye that does not have a tear duct system so it constantly waters, and this is the only eyeliner that I have ever had that lasts throughout the day!!!"
4. Best Gel Pot
Another eyeliner option for your consideration: this potted gel liner, which comes with its own flat-tipped brush for easy application. Available in black, brown, and charcoal, it provides an intense, glossy color, is safe for contact lens wearers, and is very buildable, so you get lots of flexibility with this one. Waterproof, smudge-proof, and oil-free, it claims to deliver up to 24 hours of wear.
Relevant review: "This eyeliner gel is absolutely amazing. It is the only one I’ve come across […] that actually lives up to [its] claim of being waterproof and smudge proof. Also, it works PERFECTLY for my highly SENSITIVE eyes. […] Since this product claimed to be safe for sensitive eyes I gave it a try and it worked beautifully."
5. Best Shade Range
Shout out to HAUS LABORATORIES, Lady Gaga’s beauty brand, for their Eye-Dentify Gel Pencil Eyeliner, which comes in 20 gorgeous shades in shimmering, metallic, and matte finishes. The creamy gel pencil delivers intense color with just one stroke, and it’s waterproof-and smudge-resistant (the brand says it’ll last for up to 12 hours). Choose from a pretty light pink for your waterline, several gorgeous metallics (including bright gold, an orange-y copper, and a burnt rose gold), or compliment your eye color with one of the stunning shades of blue, green, and purple.
Relevant review: "It has been 10 hours, and this eyeliner looks the same as it did when I put it on. I am nearly blind without my glasses, and that plus lack of experience typically makes putting eyeliner on a stressful process for me. This went on so smoothly, no skipping … and my eyes didn’t water or burn."
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