Which gel eyeliner is the best?

Although you’re a fan of pencils or liquid eyeliners, these aren’t the only formulas worth including in your makeup collection. Gel eyeliners have rich, creamy consistencies and buildable formulas that let you create countless looks, from razor-sharp wings to ultra-fine lower lash lines.

Several varieties of gel liner are available, ranging from paint pots to mechanical pencils. If you’re looking for a versatile formula, KVD Beauty Super Pomade Vegan Eyeliner can even be used as an eyebrow color or eye shadow.

What to know before buying gel eyeliner

What is gel eyeliner?

Gel eyeliners have rich, creamy consistencies that glide on lids without tugging or skipping. They dry out much less than traditional crayons and are more forgiving than liquid crayons. Most formulas are long lasting because they are water resistant or waterproof, making them suitable for everyday eyeliner or for special occasions.

Types of gel eyeliners

Many gel eyeliners come in jars and are applied with tapered eyeliner brushes. Others offer traditional or mechanical pencils that offer quick and easy applications. A handful of liquid gel coatings have brush or felt tip applicators. They have slightly thicker and smoother consistencies than regular liquid liners.

Tips for applying gel eyeliner

If you’re new to using gel eyeliner, there are a few tips to keep in mind to get the most out of your application.

  • Use an eyeshadow base with a gel liner to prevent formulas from smudging or migrating.
  • Invest in a professional-grade liner brush for precise application. Some people prefer flat angled brushes, while others prefer curved or tapered brushes.
  • To prevent the gel eyeliner from drying out, always make sure the jar or pencil is well covered with the lid or cap.

What to look for in a quality gel eyeliner

Common ingredients

Because gel eyeliners share the same consistency, it’s no surprise that they contain similar ingredients. Many formulas contain common ingredients like cyclopentasiloxane, silica, talc, isododecane, dimethicone, kaolin, and polyethylene. Some gel eyeliners are vegan or cruelty-free, while others may include plant-based ingredients. Gel liners suitable for sensitive skin are often formulated without artificial fragrances, parabens, sulfites, phthalates, or gluten.

Long-lasting formulas

Almost all gel eyeliners have long-wearing formulas that can last between eight and 24 hours. Some formulas are water resistant and can repel light amounts of moisture. Others are waterproof and repel more intense moisture exposure, such as raindrops, snow, high humidity conditions, or tears. A few gel liners are advertised as “stain resistant,” meaning they are less likely to migrate on their own or if lightly rubbed.

To finish

Most gel eyeliners have a glossy, light-reflecting finish, making them a popular choice for dramatic looks. Some gel liners, however, have more subdued gloss finishes. While they still deliver drama, they have less of an “in-the-face” finish. As a result, some people prefer gel liners with these understated finishes for daytime looks.

shade variety

Black remains the most popular gel eyeliner color, followed by dark brown. Some makeup brands only offer gel eyeliner in these two colors, while others, like MAC, KVD Beauty and Inglot, offer up to a dozen or more shades. Along with other popular hues like navy blue and charcoal, their collections include bolder colors like burgundy, pink, light blue, green, or white.

How much you can expect to spend on gel eyeliner

Drugstore gel eyeliners start at $5, and if you spend closer to $8, you’ll find several popular formulas from top brands. Gel eyeliners from high-end beauty brands cost between $18 and $30, and a few outliers can approach $35.

Gel Eyeliner FAQs

Do all gel eyeliner pots come with liner brushes?

A. No. While many drugstore formulas sell jars with mini brushes, it’s less common to see similar sets from high-end beauty brands. Most often they sell pots and brushes separately. That said, some high-end beauty brands sell brushes specifically designed to apply their gel liner.

Can I use gel eyeliner if I have oily skin?

A. Many people with oily skin use gel liner, only they help set it with eyeshadow primers and makeup setting sprays. However, some people with oily skin may find that some gel formulas may be too oily for their skin. In some cases, gel liners can contribute to excessive oil production around the eyes.

What are the best gel eyeliners to buy?

Top gel eyeliner

KVD Beauty Vegan Super Pomade Eyeliner

What do you want to know: This vegan eyeliner, a perennial favorite, has a smooth, creamy consistency perfect for creating wings.

What you will love: The waterproof liner has a bold, opaque pigment that lasts all day without flaking or migrating. You can also use it as eyebrow color and eye shadow. The liner is available in over 16 shades, far more than most gel liners. It is also cruelty-free and vegan.

What you should consider: The gel eyeliner jar does not come with a brush, and the jar may dry out before you use it.

Or buy: Sold by Ulta

Top gel eyeliner for the money

L'Oreal Paris Infallible Lacquer Gel Eyeliner

L’Oreal Paris Infallible Lacquer Gel Eyeliner

What do you want to know: If you are looking for an introductory gel line, this L’Oreal variety is ideal as it comes with a brush.

What you will love: The liner has a glossy lacquer finish that photographs well. It is a 24-hour formula that holds up well to moisture and humidity. The set comes with a tapered brush that makes ultra-fine lines and razor-sharp wings.

What you should consider: The eyeliner is a little drying, which isn’t ideal if you already have dry skin.

Or buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Bobbi Brown Perfectly Defined Gel Eyeliner

Bobbi Brown Perfectly Defined Gel Eyeliner

What do you want to know: Bobbi Brown Gel Liner offers the best of both worlds with pencil-like application and a rich gel consistency.

What you will love: This mechanical gel liner is easy to sharpen with just a few twists. The long-wearing formula lasts up to 12 hours without fading. Because its texture is creamy and silky, it is appreciated by dry or mature skin.

What you should consider: When applied to the lower lash line, it may smudge or migrate throughout the day.

Or buy: Sold by Ulta, Sephora and Macy’s

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Sian Babish writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their buying decisions, saving them time and money.

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