Q & A | Choosing the Right Eyeliner Product for You


Q: What type of eyeliner is best for me? i.e. liquid or pencil? cake or gel? Help!
A: What’s best for you is really based on personal preference – this varies with how much time you have in your day for make-up and your comfort/skill level with different eyeliner types (i.e. pencil versus the more difficult liquid type). Never fret though – make-up is all about options, and both eye-lining beginners and experts have ample choice. Here are some benefits and disadvantages of different types of eyeliners to help you decide what suits you best:

Eyeliner pencils come in all different types and colours by most of the major cosmetic brands. For eyeliner pencils, I usually prefer to pick up one from a prestige line, as I need something that lasts as long as possible. One of the better ones I’ve come across is from Make-up Forever’s Aqua Eyes waterproof line – it’s among one of my fave products and a kit essential. (You can view my blurb on it here).

  • is the easiest eyeliner to work with – recommended for beginners and veterans
  • range of eye make-up looks from subtle and natural to dramatic and smoky
  • everyday wear (work, school) and convenience (easy to touch up!)

  • can fade and smudge (look for a waterproof type for maximal lasting throughout the day)
  • does not last as long as other eyeliner types

Ok, now manual sharpen type or automatic roll-up type of pencil eyeliner??
Again, personal preference. I prefer the manual sharpen type as it gives you more option and control over how the eyeliner is applied. The automatic roll-up style although easy to use is more difficult to use when you’re attempting to draw precise and straight-edge lines. With the manual sharpen pencil type, if you prefer to go thick and smudgy for a smoky eye, you can always dull the pencil point to achieve the desired look.

Tip for the roll-up pencils: Be careful not to roll up too much of the eyeliner; exposing too much of the stick will make it more prone to breaking off and going to waste!



Liquid is always my first choice for eyeliner applications and is the best choice for women who want their eyeliner to last all day. Liquid is also great for women who prefer stronger eyeliner definition. Liquid goes on like a marker: the line can appear too harsh for those who prefer a more natural look, but can appear ‘defined’ to someone who wants a stronger eye look.

  • lasts all day with minimal touch-up required
  • great for dramatic eye looks (best for the cat-eye look!)
  • great for women who prefer no-fuss make-up


  • not recommended for beginners
  • can get very messy when it goes wrong
  • does not come off easily (eye make-up remover required, but you should always use that to remove eye make-up anyway!)

Ok now, felt-tipped liquid liner or brush-tipped liquid liner?
Felt tip liquid eyeliner usually looks like a marker. You shake the container to replenish the liquid liner at the tip. Brush tip liquid eyeliner usually looks like a fine-tip brush that can be twisted and removed from the container of liquid liner. Using a thin-tipped brush allows you to have more precision and helps in achieving a thin, tightly-lined eye.
Note: Brush tip eyeliner is not recommended for the eyeliner novice.

Tip for liquid liner:
Starting off with liquid eye liner can be discouraging to an eye liner beginner. If you’re using liquid for one of the first times and find that you’re having problems, use pencil eyeliner first and draw along your lashline of where you want the liquid to go.


(+ eyeliner brush):
Dip the tip of your brush into a bit of water and glide across the cake eyeliner (usually a highly pigmented eyeshadow, almost creamy-like in texture). Tap the brush twice to get rid of excess cakeliner bits (to prevent them from falling on your face and smearing). Apply accordingly.

  • ideal for those who prefer more of a natural look similar to what eyeliner pencil gives
  • cake formula is longer lasting than a pencil (but still not as long as liquid liner)
  • fairly easy to use with an angled brush


  • stray flakes can become messy and lead to smears on the face
  • two part process – need a brush for application


(+ eyeliner brush):
Apply in a manner similar to applying cake eyeliner (minus the dipping brush into water part). With gel eyeliner, you can create a line that is more defined than pencil eyeliner, but not as harsh as the line you would get when using liquid liner. Lasting power of gel eyeliner is also longer than pencil eyeliner, but less than the durability of liquid liner.

  • ideal for all applications from natural to dramatic
  • can build up intensity
  • less messy than cake eyeliner when things go wrong


  • two part application process requiring a brush
  • not as widely available as pencil eyeliners


(+ brush):
Yes, eyeshadow has multiple uses! Use it as an eyeliner by applying it either wet/dry with an eyeliner brush. Use a wet brush for a more intense look; a dry brush for a softer look. Swipe the brush across the eyeshadow and tap it twice to rid the brush of any excess flakes. Line the eyes, staying close to the lashline always.

  • good for beginners to experts
  • no need to buy another product – less to carry in your kit
  • good for natural or intense looks – change it up by applying it dry or wet


  • similar to cake eyeliner, can get messy when eyeshadow flakes stray on other parts of the face
  • not as long lasting as other eyeliner types
  • usually requires a brush for application


With eyeliner, always remember that you won’t always get it straight (literally) the first time, but that it takes practice to achieve perfection. Once you get a firm handle on applications with pencils, with daily practice (and patience), you’ll soon enough become an expert with gel liners and liquids! Have fun!


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