7 best liquid eyeliners

Whether you prefer sharp lines or Sixties-style flicks, accentuate your eyes with our favourite staple cosmetic

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The Independent Online

We’ve been wearing liquid eyeliner almost every day – to varying degrees of success – since about the age of 13, so have tried pretty much every one going in the quest for the holy eyeliner grail. Here we’ve compiled our favourites – some trusted go-tos and some new discoveries – based on brush shape, depth of colour, if they smudge, how long they last and how easy it is to achieve a neat finish without dragging or wobbles.

1. Rimmel Exaggerate Eye Liner: £5.29, Boots 

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We have come back to this liner again and again over the years. It gives a reliably good, flake-free, matte-black finish for a quarter of the price of other similar liners. The plastic packaging is no-frills, but the results are excellent.

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2. YSL Couture Eye Marker: £23.50, YSL Beauty

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This is essentially a posh felt-tip – and we love it. Far chunkier than the others we tested, this is a great choice for bold, 60s-style lines. Use the flat side of the wand for simple one-width lines and the narrower tip to line the inner corner and achieve a flick.

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3. Tom Ford Eye Defining Pen: £43, John Lewis

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This is one of those products that’s expensive for eyeliner so we really didn’t want to like it, but we do. In fact, it has now become our go-to for a perfect line every time. It’s double ended, with a wider, longer brush tip on one end and a shorter, thinner felt tip on the other for more precise work. The packaging is luxe and satisfyingly weighty, and the formula lasts all day, with no smudging.

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4. Suqqu Eyeliner Liquid Pen Duo: £28, Selfridges

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One of our favourites from Japanese brand Suqqu’s Christmas collection, this clever liner is excellent value for money, as it’s actually two liners in one. It’s the same brush at both ends, but black on one and brown on the other. The brush tips are long, thin and flexible – perfect for the classic thin swish and flick style.

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5. DHC Liquid Eyeliner EX: £16, Escentual

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Another Japanese brand, DHC’s applicator is effective and no-frills, but makes it into our list simply on the strength of its formula. It stands above the rest for the smoothest application and deepest black we tried. 

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6. Clinique Pretty Easy Liquid Eyelining Pen: £19, Clinique 

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Our tester found this one lived up to its name, being super easy to apply for those who are often a little heavy-handed with the eyeliner. The tiny tip is really precise and the formula doesn’t smudge at all, even in high humidity. This brown eyeliner is perfect for daytime wear.

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7. Lancôme Grandiose Eyeliner: £23, Lancôme 

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Lancôme’s latest offering is a bit gimmicky, but sometimes gimmicks work. Our tester found that the bendable wand made it far easier to achieve flicks and the finish was matte and opaque with just one layer. This felt tip liner is very fine and flexible, fiving you a neat line.

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The Verdict: Liquid eyeliner

Our favourites are at two price extremes. For ultimate value for money and a no-frills great finish, Rimmel can’t be beaten. If your budget will stretch to it, Tom Ford’s double-ended pen is a joy to use and covers every style you can think of.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing

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