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

Black woman wearing eyeliner
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Looking for the best eyeliner for beginners? 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.

A good eyeliner has the ability to open up, re-shape and emphasise the eyes in clever ways that other make-up products can’t do. But it doesn’t come without its challenges: whether 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 practise. 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. 

How to choose the best eyeliner for you if you're a beginner

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’s 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 what sort of look you’re trying to create. If it’s a sharp, ‘60s-esque wing that even Adele would be proud of, then it’s best to use a felt tip pen in order to get the precision required. 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 you want more of a subtle look – simply because it usually requires layering up in order to get a densely-pigmented finish. 

The best eyeliner for beginners you can buy right now

Charlotte Tilburry Rock n kohl

(Image credit: Charlotte Tilburry)

Charlotte Tilbury Rock’n’Kohl Eyeliner Pencil

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

Number of shades available:: 6
Waterproof formula:: 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
-Doesn't have a smudger to help blend-Requires sharpening frequently for best application

This is one of the most impressive formulas of kohl pencils we've ever tried. Super easy to use, it glides across lids without dragging and plants 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. It’s also available in lots of different shades, from sooty black to midnight blue and vibrant purple, but our favourite is Barberella Brown because it’s the perfect everyday shade that really helps elevate any eye look without looking too intense. 

The best budget eyeliner for beginners

Collection eyeliner

(Image credit: Collection)

Collection Fast Stroke Liquid Eye Liner

A more traditional ‘pot and ink’ style product, the fine brush helps nail precision

Number of shades available:: 4
Waterproof formula:: One out of five variants is
Claims to last:: Doesn’t say
Reasons to buy
+One of the most affordable liquid liners+Smudge-proof and 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 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.

The best premium eyeliner for beginners

SURRATT eyeliner

(Image credit: SURRATT)

Surratt Auto Graphique Liner

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

Number of shades available:: 1
Waterproof formula:: 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 is 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 for ‘60s-inspired flicks

Maybelline master precision

(Image credit: Maybelline)

Maybelline Master Precise Liquid Eyeliner

With a 0.4mm nib and continuous ink flow, all you need to add is a steady hand

Number of shades available:: 1
Waterproof formula:: 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
-Only available in two shades-May transfer if you have oily eyelids

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, which 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 for beginners scared of ‘proper’ liquid eyeliner

Bobbi Brown Long Wear Gel Eye Liner

(Image credit: Bobbi Brown )

Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner

The gel formula combined with needing a brush for application makes subtle liner easy

Number of shades available:: 8
Waterproof formula:: 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 colour if that’s what you prefer. Plus, they’re great for adding subtle definition in the outer corners of eyes.