Proof that quality eye makeup doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
stock_colors/Getty Images

Few types of makeup are as intimidating as liquid eyeliner. A shaky hand or one wrong flick of the wrist could instantly ruin your look, and force you to grab the makeup remover and start all over again. However, if you’ve mastered the art of applying liquid liner with ease, you already know how powerful and fierce expertly wielding the delicate applicator can make you feel.

Whether you’re a beginner or a veritable pro, there are tons of different eyeliners to try, even if you’re not quite looking to spend the big bucks on your next makeup purchase. Rather than drop $50 on a luxury makeup brand, stick to the basics and experiment with one of the best drugstore liquid eyeliners available now.

Online reviews prove that cheap liquid eyeliners can work just as well as the more expensive stuff, and there are just as many kinds to try. From waterproof and smudge-resistant to colorful and contact-safe liners, there’s something for everyone. 

Keep reading to shop 11 of the best drugstore liquid eyeliners, all for $12 or less.

Best Overall: NYX Professional Makeup Epic Ink Liner

Amazon

The number one best-selling eyeliner on Amazon, this waterproof product from NYX Professional Makeup promises a long-lasting eye makeup look. It features a sharp tip applicator designed with precision in mind so you can create delicate or bold lines by simply adjusting how you press down the tool. Through sweat and tears, it won’t smudge or transfer, according to reviewers. “It’s affordable, extremely black, opaque, easy to use, waterproof, stays on for a long time, and the tip is quite thin so you can get wings as sharp as a sword,” one shopper said.

Buy It: $5 (orig. $6); amazon.com

Best Waterproof: Maybelline New York Waterproof Ultra-Liner Liquid Liner

Amazon

When it comes to waterproof liquid eyeliner, you need a product that really works, and according to hundreds of positive Amazon reviews, this one gets the job done. A precision brush helps you create defined, glossy lines that are meant to last through just about anything. You can trust the eye makeup will stay put whether you’re swimming, sweating, or shedding a few tears, reviewers—many of which claim to have used the product for years—said.

Buy It: $5; amazon.com

Best for Beginners: Wet n Wild ProLine Felt Tip Eyeliner

Walmart

If you consider yourself a liquid eyeliner novice, you may want to get started with this felt tip eyeliner that’s practically foolproof to use. It’s compact and quick drying for an effortlessly glamorous look. Customers love how quickly the formula dries and many say it’s such a great product, they bought it in both black and brown colors to suit any occasion.

Buy It: $3; walmart.com

Best Smudge Proof: Revlon ColorStay Exactify Liquid Liner

Ulta

For bold eyeliner that refuses to smudge, turn to Revlon ColorStay Exactify Liquid Liner. Unlike most liquid eyeliners, this one comes with a wheel tip applicator paired with an ergonomic handle to help you keep a comfortable, steady hand as you create your desired look. Plus, the formula won’t smudge or smear for up to 24 hours, no matter where your day or night takes you. According to the reviews, it really is long-lasting and easy to apply.

Buy It: $12; ulta.com

Best for Cat Eyes: Maybelline New York Curvitude Liner

Walmart

In order to achieve the perfect cat eye, try your hand at this liquid eyeliner from Maybelline New York. The unique design features a curved handle so you have total control, especially when it comes to creating that coveted winged look that can be notoriously challenging to replicate. Users appreciate the curved design of the handle and found it easier to use than most traditional liners. 

Buy It: $8; walmart.com

Best for Fine Lines: Revlon ColorStay Skinny Liquid Eyeliner

Amazon

This jet black liquid eyeliner features a long-lasting color stay formula designed to withstand smudging, smearing, and fading for all-day wear. Tested by ophthalmologists, the makeup comes with a super skinny applicator for defined lines, perfect for creating a more natural look. Although you could certainly use it to draw on a thick cat eye, it just might take a bit longer than other wing-tipped options. Amazon reviewers swear by it for a subtle, natural style. “This is the only eyeliner brush that can run a pin-thin line right along your lashes with no gap,” one shopper wrote.

Buy It: $5; amazon.com

Best Color Liner: L’Oreal Paris Infallible Paints Eyeliner

walmart.com

Whether you’re headed out to a costume party or feel like changing up your usual makeup routine, sometimes a colorful eye makeup look is in order, and this bold eyeliner is here to help. It comes in a variety of playful colorways like electric blue, viva aqua, intrepid teal, wild green, and white party, so you can choose which shade fits your mood. 

Buy It: from $5; walmart.com

Best for Sensitive Eyes: Maybelline Eyestudio Master Precise All Day Liquid Eyeliner

amazon.com

For those with sensitive eyes, this liquid liner is fragrance-free and has been tested by ophthalmologists and dermatologists. Not only is it ideal for those who wear contacts or otherwise struggle with sensitivity, but it’s also waterproof and smudge proof so you can create a sleek, defined look. “This product works like a charm,” one customer wrote. “It is smooth, very pigmented, and once down it does not budge.”

Buy It: $6; amazon.com

Best Brown Liner: L’Oreal Infallible Super Slim Liquid Eyeliner

Ulta

When a bold, black eyeliner feels a bit too extreme for the look you’re going for, you can always turn to a brown liner for a softer, smokey style. Based on the reviews, the L’Oreal Infallible Super Slim Liquid Eyeliner is one of the best drugstore eyeliners you can find, and it comes in a natural brown shade. The product offers a fine felt tip to apply the quick drying formula designed to last for up to 12 hours. It’s also available in black and grey hues.

Buy It: $7 (orig. $9); ulta.com

Best for Bold Lines: New York Color Liquid Eyeliner

Amazon

Amazon shoppers can’t get enough of the bold, strong color this drugstore eyeliner creates. The double-ended liner features a precision applicator with a colorful liner on one side and a traditional black liner on the other so you can play around with your look depending on your mood or the occasion. “This is one of the best drugstore eyeliners ever,” according to one reviewer.

Buy It: $10 for a pack of 2; amazon.com

Best Matte: NYX Professional Makeup Matte Liquid Liner

walmart.com

If glossy eyeliner isn’t for you, give this matte liquid liner from NYX Professional Makeup a try. The customer-loved drugstore brand offers a modern matte finish made with a vegan, cruelty-free formula. Use the precision brush tip to easily draw on a thin line or creative cat eye that won’t fade. 

Buy It: $5 (orig. $7); walmart.com

Advertisement