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

Our top picks for the best eyeliner for beginners that are easy to apply and comfortable to wear

Image of template with three top eyeliners for beginners
(Image credit: Future/Canva)

With the best eyeliner for beginners, you can feel confident every time you get to this crucial stage of your make-up. If you love the strong eye look but haven’t quite mastered your technique, then allow these easy-to-apply products to make your life easier. 

Before you decide which liner is right for you, be sure of the difference between each type of the best eyeliners out there. Choose between liquid, gel, pencil or felt top liners, with felt liners emerging as a standout option for those just beginning on their eyeliner journey. Alternatively, liquid liner is trickier to master but creates that distinctive flick that you’re likely aiming for.

If you struggle with an unsteady hand, then gel liner might just be your lifesaver and help you gain that all-important confidence with the application process. To save you hours of stress perfecting your winged liner, then shop the best eyeliners for beginners below and be sure to read our all-important eyeliner hacks, bearing in mind that practice makes perfect. 

The best eyeliner for beginners: tried and tested

Charlotte Tilbury Rock n Kohl is one of the best eyeliners for beginners

(Image credit: Charlotte Tilbury)

1. Charlotte Tilbury Rock’n’Kohl Eyeliner Pencil

The best pencil eyeliner for beginners—idiot-proof you might say...

Specifications

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
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Doesn't have a smudger to help blend

This is definitely 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, even after using one of the best eyeshadow palettes, leaving a perfectly pigmented line in its wake. 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 Barbarella Brown because it’s the perfect everyday shade that really helps elevate any eye look without looking too intense. 

Collection Fast is one of the best eyeliners for beginners

(Image credit: Collection)

2. Collection Fast Stroke Liquid Eye Liner

The best budget eyeliner for beginners who want precision

Specifications

Number of shades available: 4
Is it waterproof: One out of five variants is
Claims to last: Doesn’t say

Reasons to buy

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One of the most affordable liquid liners
+
Smudge-proof  
+
Promises to be long-wearing

Reasons to avoid

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There is only one shade—black—that’s available in a waterproof formula 
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Not suitable for super sensitive eyes

When you take price into consideration, 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. 

Like with the best foundations, although the brand doesn’t quantify how long the liner will last once applied, this particular liner is 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.

Surratt is one of the best eyeliners for beginners

(Image credit: Surratt)

3. Surratt Auto Graphique Liner

Best eyeliner for beginners who want bold lines

Specifications

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

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Is expensive, plus ink refills have to be bought separately 
-
Doesn’t claim to be long lasting or long wearing

Be still our beating hearts, this is definitely one of 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's worth noting that it isn’t as long-lasting as some formulas if you're looking for face-covering friendly makeup—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 compliment inducing flicks ever—and so for that, we love it. 

You can buy the ink refills 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. 

Maybelline is one of the best eyeliners for beginners

(Image credit: Maybelline)

4. Maybelline Master Precise Liquid Eyeliner

Best eyeliner for beginners for fine ‘60s-inspired flicks

Specifications

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
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Only comes in two shades

This is one for those with a steady hand—you can work up to that, right? 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. 

There's no need to worry about the constant need to stop and shake the pen to get more ink out when you're mid-drawing because the intense black pigment applies with a continuous flow for a perfectly smooth line, every time.

As well as being long-lasting and smudge-proof, it’s also available in black and brown, and if you're prone to having sensitive skin and eyes, you'll be glad to hear it's ophthalmologist-tested, too.  

Bobbi Brown Longwear eyeliner is one of the best eyeliners for beginners

(Image credit: Bobbi Brown)

5. Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner

Best eyeliner for beginners with an unsteady hand

Specifications

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

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Application brush needs to be bought separately 
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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. 

The Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner is available in eight shades, which are all densely pigmented, making it perfect for a stunning colorful eyeliner look. Plus, they’re great for adding subtle definition in the outer corners of the eyes. 

Pat McGrath Labs Permagel is one of the best eyeliners for beginners

(Image credit: Pat McGrath Labs)

6. Pat McGrath permagel ultra glide eye pencil

The best precision pencil eyeliner for beginners

Specifications

Number of shades available: 6
Is it waterproof: Yes
Claims to last: All day

Reasons to buy

+
Super impressive pigment that can be tailored for whatever look you're after
+
You won't find colors like this anywhere else

Reasons to avoid

-
Can be expensive

When it comes to makeup it doesn't get much better than those from Pat McGrath. We're obsessed with this liner that comes in 6 different shades. You won't find colors this rich and pigmented anywhere else—they are truly special. 

We tried the black coffee liner and it's the right side of dark brown, it's not as flat as some black liners and adds depth to your look. Easy to use, this is one of our favorite applicators, liner glides on like a dream, and is precise and smooth. 

Illamasqua illustrators pen is one of the best eyeliners for beginners on the market

(Image credit: Illamasqua)

7. Illamasqua Illustrator Pen

The best beginner's eyeliner for perfecting flicks

Specifications

Number of shades available: 1—Black
is it waterproof: Yes
Claims to last: All day

Reasons to buy

+
Precision tip makes application a breeze
+
Quick drying

Reasons to avoid

-
Pigment can appear lighter than other true black colors

You can feel that this is from a luxury beauty brand—the packaging is on point! We found the precision tip made the application really easy, especially when matched with our favorite winged eyeliner hack, and we loved how you can build up the color and amp up the intensity for your preferred look. However, we would love to see it available in more colors in the future. 

Victoria Beckham Satin Kajal Liner is one of the best eyeliner for beginners

(Image credit: Victoria Beckham)

8. Victoria Beckham Satin Kajal Liner

The best smokey eyeliner for beginners

Specifications

Number of shades available: 7
is it waterproof: Yes
Claims to last: All day

Reasons to buy

+
Glides on without tugging, creasing or transferring
+
Comes at a discounted price if you already have a sharpener and don’t need another
+
Available in both softly iridescent and matte formulas

Reasons to avoid

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Whilst the texture makes it great for smudgier looks, it's too soft for graphic lines
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On the pricey end of the scale

Waterproof eyeliners often require speed to smoke them out before they set and become budge-proof. Not this luxury option. The creamy texture—a balanced blend of waxes and emollients including panthenol and vitamin E—allows you to ring effortlessly around your eyes then use your ring finger or the blending sponge on the opposite end to smudge the liner out for a two-minute smoky.

But it’s the seven shades themselves that really impressed us. Despite being colorful hues, they are muted rather than vibrant, making them highly wearable, even for those who are hesitant about upgrading from traditional brown or black. Switch from a soft bronze shimmer to Cocoa, one of the most natural-looking daytime browns we’ve come across, and Navy Noir for a modern, dramatic alternative to black.

Makeup by Mario Master Pigment Pro Pencil is one of the best eyeliners for beginners

(Image credit: Makup by Mario Master)

9. Makeup by Mario Master Pigment Pro Pencil

The best versatile pencil eyeliner for beginners

Specifications

Number of shades available: 5
is it waterproof: No
Claims to last: No claims made

Reasons to buy

+
Dual-ended with a built-in brush to smudge and blend
+
Sharpener comes with a removable cleaning stick

Reasons to avoid

-
Isn't waterproof

The pencils themselves are velvety with a gel-like glide that makes even flicks easy to master in one swift stroke without any ‘skipping’ on the skin. But the standout here is that each pencil also comes with a built-in brush for smudging the liner into a smoky eye look like celebrities on the red carpet do, which makes using multiple eyeshadows seem archaic. 

There’s also a sharpener and a removable cleansing stick to remove excess shavings and ensure the nib is evenly sharpened and pin sharp for creating graphic lines. Versatility is the buzzword here and this pencil’s ergonomically fitted added extras makes for a more streamlined makeup bag, too.

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How to choose the best beginners' eyeliner for you

Yes, we know there are lots of different types. But, we promise it really doesn't have to be a taxing decision trying to work out which to go for. It all comes down to what sort of look you're trying to create. 

Eyeliner types

Here's a quick recap on the various types of eyeliners: 

Color choices

Who says that you have to stick to black? Yes, we know we're starting to veer out of novice territory but substituting your black eyeliner for a swoosh of color across the eye can really work wonders. We're not saying you need to grab a neon yellow for your next look (unless you want to of course) but there are tonnes of rich dark colors, like dark greens, navy, or the best white eyeliner looks that can elevate your eyeliner game to no ends. 

Lucy Partington
Lucy Partington

Lucy Partington has been a beauty journalist for eight years, writing for titles including Stylist and Cosmopolitan. She’s a true skincare nerd who’s on a lifelong quest for a glowing complexion and loves nothing more than learning about new ingredients and products. She’s obsessed with having perfect eyebrows and collecting eyeshadow palettes she’ll probably never use.