- Eyeliner pencils are one of the most versatile items you can have in your makeup collection.
- They’re ideal for creating a diffused smokey eye, sharp wing, or tightlining the waterline for added drama.
- Our top pick is the Urban Decay 27/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil, a creamy formula that lives up to its name and comes in a range of interesting colors.
I’m not a liquid eyeliner kind of person, though I really admire the look. There’s just not enough margin for error, and it’s easy to mess up. I prefer pencil liners most of the time; they tend to be more easily smudged and smoked out for more of an undone vibe, ideal for my shaky hands!
Pencil liners simply have more versatility and are more forgiving than liquids. You can use them to create defined winged liner, do a messy smokey eye, or to tightline around the inner part of your eyelid for additional drama. Some pencil liners are even creamy and blendable enough to use all over the lid as shadow.
The best pencil eyeliners are formulated with hydrating ingredients that help them glide onto the lid with minimal tugging or skipping, which is better for the thin skin on and around the eyes, as well as for the finished product of your makeup. Add a tiny dash of color to the lash line or create an artistic, graphic look with these five top picks.
Here are the best pencil eyeliners you can buy in 2019:
- Best eyeliner pencil overall: Marc Jacobs Highliner Gel Eye Crayon Eyeliner
- Best metallic eyeliner pencil: Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil
- Best unique colors: Glossier Colorslide Technogel Eye Pencil
- Best microliner: Hourglass 1.5 mm Mechanical Gel Eye Liner
- Best drugstore eyeliner pencil: NYX Retractable Eye Liner
Keep scrolling to check out our top picks.
The best overall
Marc Jacobs Highliner Gel Eye Crayon Eyeliner is the creamiest, most pigmented and blendable pencil eyeliner you will ever use, and it’s available in a ton of colors and finishes.
I thought I was done discovering favorite eyeliners until the Marc Jacobs Highliner Gel Eye Crayon Eyeliner hit my desk. I’m notoriously shaky-handed, and therefore struggle with getting a smooth line, but this formula is so creamy that it’s almost foolproof.
Described as "a gel pot eyeliner in a crayon," the Highliner contains vitamin E and rosehip seed oil, both of which contribute to the glide-on application. My jaw actually dropped the first time I applied one of these and saw how seamlessly the color went onto my lid without leaving awkward gaps between my lashes.
As I get older, I become increasingly attentive about caring for the skin around my eyes, and it’s nice to know I can get gorgeous color payoff without tugging and pulling. Highliner comes in more than 40 shades and three finishes: shimmer, matte, and glitter. Each one is waterproof and boasts 12-hour, smudge-proof wear.
Elle UK says the finish is "so vivid and vinyl-esque, it’s easy to mistake it for a liquid." Other publications that recommend Highliner include Allure, InStyle, Refinery29, PopSugar, Rank & Style, Marie Claire UK, and Cosmopolitan. The formula has over 4,000 reviews on Sephora and a 4.3 star rating.
Pros: Super creamy, tons of color options, twist-up packaging
The best budget
The NYX Retractable Eye Liner is an under-$6 option that performs as well as some of its high-end counterparts.
There’s affordable and then there’s cheap. At $5.49, NYX Retractable Eye Liner is definitely in the latter category. But don’t the price tag fool you — the formula does not skimp on quality.
This is a tiny pencil that easily fits in the waterline or between lashes. It’s highly pigmented and easy to apply, with the twist-up applicator that doesn’t require sharpening. I used the color Aqua Green often on nights out in college for a fun pop of color, and even though I’ve tried many higher end formulas since, this remains one of my favorites.
NYX Retractable Eye Liner has a 4.6 rating on Target, based on 101 reviews. "I bought the Aqua Green liner to wear at work, usually on 10-11 hour shifts, and this liner stays put fantastically!" writes one shopper.
Pros: super affordable, no sharpening, creamy formula
Cons: pretty small color selection
The best metallic pencil
Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil comes in a billion easy-to-blend shades for every style of makeup.
The first eyeliners I ever really loved were the Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencils. I started using them when I was 16-years-old and they remain one of my favorite formulas to this day. The formula is smooth, both easy to apply and to build up to an intense pigment.
Most of the shades are metallic — not completely matte but not glittery — which makes the range a bit less versatile (though there is a matte black called Perversion). One of my favorite shades is Smog, a lighter brown described by the brand as "copper shimmer."
Formulated with hydrating jojoba oil, cottonseed oil, and vitamin E, they are a breeze to slide across the upper or lower lashline. The shade range is constantly evolving; currently, there are 27 colors in stock on the Sephora website, leaning heavily on variations of purple, brown, and blue.
Reviews.com considers this the absolute best pencil eyeliner on the market, thanks to easy application and long-lasting wear. Writers at Elle UK, Refinery29, InStyle, StyleCraze, Rank & Style, and PopSugar are also big fans, and the product has over 10,000 5-star reviews on Sephora.
Pros: Wide color range, creamy and moisturizing formula, easy to blend, long-lasting, cruelty-free
Cons: Expensive, few matte shades
- The best hyaluronic acid serum you can buy
- The best hanging shelves for closets you can buy
- The best moisturizers you can buy