Best eyeliner for beginners: 5 tried and tested picks anyone can use

Looking for the best eyeliner for beginners? From liquid to kohl and gel, these are our top picks if you’re just starting your eyeliner journey

Woman applying one of the Best eyeliner for beginners
(Image credit: Getty Images / Caroline Tompkins)

If you're looking for the best eyeliner for beginners then you've come to the right place. The best eyeliners come in many different forms—liquid, gel, pencil, felt tip—and that in itself can be overwhelming, especially if you're just starting out. 

The best eyeliners have the ability to open up, re-shape and really emphasize the eyes in clever ways that other make-up products can’t do. But it doesn’t come without its challenges. Whether you're just starting to get into eyeliner hacks or you find it an impossible task to make sure each eye looks even, or if it smudges throughout the day, or maybe you struggle with getting a sharp enough wing, there’s no doubt that the perfect eyeliner application takes plenty of patience and requires a whole lot of practice. 

So, if you’re a beginner, we found the very best eyeliners for beginners liners that we promise will suit your individual needs and wants—and your skill level. 

Best eyeliner for beginners: how to choose the right one for you

Eyeliner comes in many forms: from old-school liquid in a pot and gel that’s designed to be applied with a sharp-angled brush, through to felt-tip style pens, and don’t forget about the traditional pencil—or kohl—liner that’s best for creating a smudgy, smoky eye. 

Despite the fact there are so many different types of eyeliner to choose from, figuring out which one is best for you isn’t actually as hard, or as confusing, as it might seem. It all really depends on what sort of look you’re trying to create.

For styles that require precision—like a '60s-esque wing that even Adele would be proud of—then a felt tip pen is best. However, if it’s more of a lived-in look you’re after, try kohl liner. It doesn’t have to be applied too neatly and most pencils tend to come with a smudger on one end that’ll help you do just that: smudge. 

If it’s a thicker line across your lid that you’re after, liquid eyeliner in a pot is probably the best choice, while gel liner is best if subtlety is your thing—simply because it usually requires layering up in order to get a densely pigmented finish. 

The My Imperfect Life edit

The best eyeliner for beginners you can buy right now

Best eyeliner for beginners. Charlotte Tilbury rock n kohl

(Image credit: Charlotte Tilbury)

1. Charlotte Tilbury Rock’n’Kohl Eyeliner Pencil

Easy to use, this kohl pencil is entirely idiot-proof

Number of shades available: 6
is this waterproof: Yes
Claims to last: Up to 14h
Reasons to buy
+Formula contains pearl powder to stimulate collagen and hydrate skin+Easily melts into skin for foolproof application
Reasons to avoid
-Requires sharpening frequently for best application-Doesn't have a smudger to help blend

Arguably one of the most impressive formulas of kohl pencils we've ever tried. The Rock’n’Kohl is super easy to use and it glides across lids without dragging, planting a perfectly pigmented line. Despite the fact it doesn’t have a smudging tool as some kohl pencils do, this blends and smudges into the lash line and outwards into a soft wing if you use a small, fluffy domed eyeliner brush.  The variety of available shades is impressive: it’s available in everything from sooty black to midnight blue and vibrant purple. Our favorite is Barberella Brown because it’s the perfect everyday shade that really helps elevate any eye look without looking too intense. 

Best eyeliner for beginners, Collection fast stroke eyeliner

(Image credit: Collection Fast)

2. Collection Fast Stroke Liquid Eye Liner

The best budget eyeliner for beginners. A more traditional ‘pot and ink’ style product, the fine brush helps nail precision

Number of shades available: 4
Is it waterproof: One out of five variants is
Claims to last: Doesn’t say
Reasons to buy
+One of the most affordable liquid liners+Smudge-proof  +Promises to be long-wearing
Reasons to avoid
-There is only one shade—black—that’s available in a waterproof formula -Not suitable for super sensitive eyes

For the price you pay, this is one of the most impressive liquid liners on the market. It has a cult following for a reason, and that’s because it dries down quickly to a matte finish, has an intense pigment (better than you’d expect for the price) and the included brush helps make precise lines much easier to achieve. Although the brand doesn’t quantify how long the liner will last once applied, it’s definitely long-lasting too, and doesn’t smudge or budge easily. Plus, one tiny pot lasts a long time too—which makes the cost per use extremely minimal. Despite the fact it does go the distance in terms of staying power, it’s not difficult to cleanse off at the end of the day and any oil-based remover will melt it away.

Best eyeliner for beginners, Surratt

(Image credit: Surratt)

3. Surratt Auto Graphique Liner

Just like a calligraphy pen, this liner comes with ink re-fills and flows smoothly

Number of shades available: 1
is it waterproof: No
Claims to last: Not stated
Reasons to buy
+Has a satisfyingly smooth ink flow +The flexible nib moulds to lids
Reasons to avoid
-Is expensive, plus ink refills have to be bought separately -Doesn’t claim to be long lasting or long wearing

Definitely the boujiest of the bunch, this liner can be expensive but it's super easy to use and creates impressive lines without much thought required. However, it isn’t as long-lasting as some formulas—although it did last well throughout the day —and neither is it waterproof. But those issues aside, it’s an absolute pleasure to use and it helped us create some of the smoothest, most impressive flicks ever—and so for that, we love it. It’s also worth noting that the ink refills are available to buy separately, and although on the surface that seems like a pain, it’s actually cheaper and more sustainable than having to buy a whole new product every time the ink runs out. 

Best eyeliner for beginners, Maybelline

(Image credit: Maybelline)

4. Maybelline Master Precise Liquid Eyeliner

Best eyeliner for beginners for ‘60s-inspired flicks. With a 0.4mm nib and continuous ink flow, all you need to add is a steady hand

Number of shades available: 1
Is it waterproof: No
Claims to last: All day
Reasons to buy
+Super-precise, thin tips makes achieving sharp wings a breeze+Intensely pigmented formula
Reasons to avoid
-May transfer if you have oily eyelids-Only comes in two shades

The ultra-fine nib (that measures an extremely precise 0.4mm) makes this the perfect choice for any eyeliner novices who’re hoping to achieve a perfect black flick—which is undoubtedly a real timeless and classic make-up look. The intense black pigment applies with a continuous flow for a perfectly smooth line every time. This means there’s no need to worry about a constant need to stop and shake the pen to get more ink out while you’re mid-drawing. As well as being long-lasting and smudge-proof, it’s also available in black and brown, is suitable for sensitive eyes, and is ophthalmologist-tested, too.  

Best eyeliner for beginners, Bobbi Brown Long Wear Gel eyeliner

(Image credit: Bobbi Brown)

5. Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner

Perfect for beginners scared of ‘proper’ liquid eyeliner. The gel formula combined with needing a brush for application makes subtle liner easy

Number of shades available: 8
Is it waterproof: Yes
Claims to last: 8 hours
Reasons to buy
+It’s good value for money considering how much product you get in each jar+It’s highly pigmented but layers easily for a more dramatic, intense look
Reasons to avoid
-Application brush needs to be bought separately -Might dry out if the lid isn’t screwed on properly

If you’re looking for the precursor to a liquid felt tip liner then consider this little gel-based formula exactly what you need. It’s applied using an ultra-fine liner brush, which not only means you have the ease of using an actual make-up brush, but it also means you can use a stop/start application method if you prefer—which makes it perfect for people who’ve truly never used any sort of eyeliner before. Available in eight shades, each one is densely pigmented but they can be built up for a more intense color if that’s what you prefer. Plus, they’re great for adding subtle definition in the outer corners of the eyes.