Hair & Makeup

7 of the best eyeliners for every makeup look

It may have a reputation as an innocuous part of our makeup kit, but the humble eyeliner is mightier than you may think. With the ability to brighten, elongate, dramatize and define eyes of all shapes and shades, it’s time liner stepped into the spotlight, says GEORGIA DAY

Sofia Loren models a striking ’60s eyeliner look in the 1966 film Arabesque

THE BEST ALL-DAY EYELINER Nars High-Pigment Longwear Eyeliner in Park Avenue

With the ability to withstand humid climes, eye-wateringly cold days and even 12 hours of Zoom calls, this virtually impenetrable eyeliner should be a mainstay of every makeup bag – thanks to its ability to accentuate eyes without budging. Made with ease of use in mind, it glides on like a gel but with the precision of a pencil, while the navy-blue shade makes a welcome change from the severity of black and suits all skin tones and eye colors. It’s particularly flattering on blue eyes, as the deep sapphire shade provides just enough contrast to make paler blues pop.

THE BEST EYELINER FOR BRIGHTENING EYES Surratt Beauty Inner Light Baton in Mousseux

Using a pale liner on the waterline (the line of skin between your bottom lashes and your eye) is a tried-and-tested makeup artist’s trick that everyone should try. One simple swipe of color in this underused area can have the same brightening, eye-opening effect as the best mascara in the world – but without the bore of painting on endless layers. One caveat, though: ensure you steer clear of bright white pencils and instead choose a warm beige or taupe shade – it will look softer and less stark than its cooler counterpart.

THE BEST EYELINER FOR EASY WINGS Chantecaille Le Stylo Ultra Slim Liquid Eyeliner in Black

Every eye shape can benefit from the elongating effect of a well-placed flick – and there’s no better tool with which to achieve it than a good liquid liner. Aside from the precision tip, it’s the constant flow of inky pigment that makes this such a reliable and foolproof option. The size and placement of the flick is a purely personal choice, but round eyes may benefit from extending the liner straight outwards towards the end of the brow, while almond-shaped eyes can get away with a wing that curves upwards. To elongate monolid eyes (an eyelid shape that doesn’t have a crease), draw a thin flick outwards from your lash line, then create a small triangle at the outer corner of the eye and fill in.

THE BEST ALTERNATIVE TO BLACK EYELINER Pat McGrath Labs Permagel Ultra Glide Eye Pencil in BLK Coffee

While there’s no denying the statement-making ability of jet-black liner, the innate drama of the shade means it’s not the easiest color to wear. For a more failsafe option that suits every skin tone, from very pale to very dark, opt for this smooth pencil in a rich cocoa shade instead. It offers the same anchoring depth as black, but allows you to accentuate eyes in a softer, more subtle way. Plus, it’s a more versatile choice when it comes to pairing with bold lipstick colors.

THE BEST EYELINER FOR SMUDGING Victoria Beckham Beauty Satin Kajal Liner in Black

In addition to having a skin-soothing formula that includes chamomile extract and vitamin E, this creamy pencil is excellent if you’re looking for something to create lived-in smoky eyes. Like all good kajals, it’s most effective if you work quickly, so, to achieve optimum smudge, abandon any precision and scribble on a thick line as close to your lashes as possible. Using either your ring finger or the handy sponge tip, simply blend out and up gently until you have your desired sootiness.

THE BEST PARTY EYELINER Marc Jacobs Beauty Highliner Gel Eye Crayon in Top Brass

Even virtual parties require a little glimmer and gold. To keep your look on the chic side of sparkle, swap out your regular black liner for something altogether more interesting, like this gel-based brass-colored crayon. The formula skims gently across lids – or the waterline, if you want to really dazzle – and stays put as long as you want it to. The deep bronze shade is also universally flattering on all skin tones and is a warmer, more jewel-like option than cold gold.

THE BEST EYELINER FOR THICKER LASHES Charlotte Tilbury Rock ’n’ Kohl Liquid Eye Pencil in Bedroom Black

For days when the routine of mascara feels too much, create the illusion of thicker, darker lashes with a little well-placed liner instead. Start by choosing a formula with guaranteed glide that won’t tug skin, like this pencil/liquid hybrid. To apply, gently pull up your top lashes and place the tip of the pencil on the upper waterline, or underneath the top rim of your eye. Trace along, pushing the pencil up as you go, so the pigment creates a blur at the base of the lashes and they appear more dense.

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