Best eyeliner for beginners for easy application every single time

Our top picks for the best eyeliner for beginners, for liner that's super easy to apply and comfortable to wear

selection of the best eyeliner for beginners from Surratt, Sculpted by Aimee and Maybelline
(Image credit: Future/brands pictured)

Using the best eyeliner for beginners will ensure you feel confident every time you get to this crucial stage of your make-up routine.

If you love a strong eye look but haven’t quite mastered the technique yet, then these easy-to-apply products are pretty much guaranteed to make things easier.

Before you decide which liner is right for you, though, make sure you know the difference between the different types of best eyeliners. Choose between liquid, gel, pencil or felt tip liners; felt options are a standout choice for those just beginning on their eyeliner journey, while liquid liner, though trickier to master, creates that distinctive flick that you're likely after. 

Got an unsteady hand? Gel liner can be a lifesaver and might just help you gain that all-important confidence for the application process. To save you hours of heartache perfecting your winged liner, our all-important eyeliner hacks and edit of the best eyeliner for beginners below will help you on your way to becoming a master of this iconic beauty bag buy—bearing in mind that practice makes perfect, of course.

How we tested the best eyeliner for beginners

Our tester has tried dozens of eyeliners over the years, but when examining buys that both perform well and suit beginners specifically, she looked out for the following factors. 

  • Ease of application
  • Type of liner
  • Intensity of pigments
  • Longevity of wear
  • Whether it's waterproof 
  • How well it smudged, if applicable 
  • Cost

The best eyeliner for beginners reviewed by a beauty editor 

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

Best pencil eyeliner for beginners

Specifications

RRP : $29/£21
Number of shades : 6
Waterproof? : Yes
Claims to last: Up to 14 hours

Reasons to buy

+
Contains pearl powder to hydrate and stimulate collagen
+
Easily melts into skin for foolproof application
+
Nice range of shades

Reasons to avoid

-
Requires frequent sharpening for best application
-
Doesn't have a built-in smudger

This is definitely one of the most impressive kohl pencil formulas we've ever tried. Rock’n’Kohl is both super easy to use and glides across lids without dragging, leaving a perfectly pigmented line in its wake. Despite the fact it doesn’t have a built-in smudger, as some kohl pencils do, it will blend into the lash line and outwards into a soft wing if you use a small and fluffy domed eyeliner brush.  

The variety of available shades is also very impressive: these pencils are available in everything from a sooty black shade to midnight blue and vibrant purple. However, our favorite is Barbarella Brown because it’s a perfect everyday shade that really helps elevate any eye look—without looking too intense. Along with one of the best eyeshadow palettes, you'll be well equipped with these in your makeup kit. 

Collection Fast is one of the best eyeliners for beginners

(Image credit: Collection)

2. Collection Fast Stroke Liquid Eye Liner

Best affordable eyeliner for beginners who want precision

Specifications

RRP: £2.99 (UK only)
Number of shades: 4
Waterproof?: One out of five variants is
Claims to last: N/A

Reasons to buy

+
Very affordable
+
Smudge-proof  
+
Promises to be long-wearing

Reasons to avoid

-
Only one shade—black—is available in a waterproof formula 
-
Not suitable for super sensitive eyes

Taking its price tag into account, this is one of the most impressive best 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 little brush helps make creating precise lines much easier.

While the brand doesn’t specify how long the liner should last once applied, this particular liner is definitely long-lasting and doesn’t smudge or budge easily. Not only that but the product itself lasts a long time too, making the cost per use extremely minimal. Despite the fact it goes the distance in terms of staying power, it’s not difficult to remove at the end of the day; a good oil-based cleanser or remover will whisk away every last scrap. 

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

RRP : $44/£40
Number of shades : 4
Waterproof?: No
Claims to last: N/A

Reasons to buy

+
Satisfyingly smooth ink flow 
+
Fexible nib that moulds to lids
+
Luxurious

Reasons to avoid

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

Be still our beating hearts, as this is definitely one of the boujiest of the bunch. There's no getting around the fact that this calligraphy-inspired liner is expensive, but it's super easy to use and creates impressive lines without much thought or skill. That said, it's worth noting that it's neither as long-lasting as other formulas (though it did last well throughout the day), nor 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— so for that, we love it. 

Ink refills can be purchased separately, which, although on the surface seems like a pain, is still cheaper and more sustainable than having to buy a brand new product each time the ink runs out. 

Maybelline is one of the best eyeliners for beginners

(Image credit: Maybelline)

4. Maybelline Master Precise All Day Liquid Eyeliner

Best eyeliner for beginners for ‘60s-inspired liner

Specifications

RRP : $8.99/£5.99
Number of shades available: 2 (3 in the US)
Waterproof?: No
Claims to last: All day

Reasons to buy

+
Super-precise, thin tips that make sharp wings a breeze
+
Intensely pigmented formula

Reasons to avoid

-
May transfer if you have oily eyelids
-
Only comes in two or three shades

This is one for those with a steady hand, but you can work up to that, right? The ultra-fine nib (which measures at an extremely precise 0.4mm) makes this the perfect choice for any eyeliner novices who want to achieve a perfect black flick—a timeless and classic beauty look. 

Unlike other felt tip liners, there's no need to worry about having to stop and shake the pen to get more ink out mid-drawing, because the intense black pigment supplies 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 shades (and a matte black in the US) 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

RRP: $32/£24
Number of shades : 8
Waterproof?: Yes
Claims to last: 8 hours

Reasons to buy

+
Great value for money considering the amount of product
+
Highly pigmented but layers easily for a more dramatic, intense look

Reasons to avoid

-
Doesn't come with a brush
-
Can dry out if the lid isn’t screwed on properly

Fun fact: Bobbi Brown came up with this product after she used waterproof mascara and the stick from a Q-tip to line her eyes when she'd run out of eye liner—which then stayed put all night. After checking this was actually safe to do, and learning the formula was gel based, Gel Liner was born.

Though Brown has since parted ways with her eponymous brand, if you’re looking for a precursor to a liquid felt tip this is exactly what you need. It’s applied using an ultra-fine brush, which not only means you have the ease of using an actual make-up brush, but you can also use a stop/start application method if you prefer. This makes it perfect for people who have never really used eyeliner before. Available in eight shades, which are all densely pigmented, it's perfect for a stunning colorful eyeliner look and ideal for adding subtle definition to the outer corners of the eyes. And while the price point seems more of an investment, a pot will last you ages if you keep the lid on when you're not using it. 

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

(Image credit: Pat McGrath Labs)

6. Pat McGrath Labs PermaGel Ultra Glide Eye Pencil

Best precision pencil eyeliner for beginners

Specifications

RRP: $29/£26
Number of shades : 6
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 Labs, the eponymous brand from legendary makeup artist Pat McGrath who has been responsible for countless celebrity and runway looks over the years. We're equally obsessed with this pencil liner that comes in six different shades because you probably won't find colors this rich and pigmented anywhere else—they are truly special. 

We tested out black coffee liner and it's the right side of dark brown, without being as flat as some black liners, and adds depth to your look. Very easy to use, this is one of our favorites to apply as the liner glides on like a dream, and it's both precise and smooth. 

Sculpted by Aimee Brighten & Define Eyeliner Duo

(Image credit: Sculpted by Aimee)

7. Sculpted By Aimee Brighten & Define Eyeliner Duo

Best dual-ended eyeliner for beginners

Specifications

RRP : £16 (UK only)
Number of shades: 3
Waterproof?: No
Claims to last: N/A

Reasons to buy

+
Reasonably priced
+
Two shades including one to brighten the eyes
+
Long-wearing
+
Smudges nicely 

Reasons to avoid

-
Some people will use the darker shade more quickly than the brightening shade

This pencil eyeliner from Irish brand Sculpted by Aimee, founded by makeup artist Aimee Connolly, is incredibly good value because you're essentially getting two products in one. With a creamy and pigment-rich formula it's available in three different color combinations—black, brown and rust brown—including a brightening shade which, when used on the waterline or lower lashes, is a great way to make the eyes pop fake the look of being more awake. They smudge super easily, either with a brush or your finger, and then stay put for a good amount of time—plus, the color payoff is lush. 

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

(Image credit: Victoria Beckham)

8. Victoria Beckham Satin Kajal Liner

Best smokey eyeliner for beginners

Specifications

RRP: $28/£22
Number of shades: 9
Waterproof?: Yes
Claims to last: All day

Reasons to buy

+
Glides on without tugging, creasing or transferring
+
Cheaper if you already have a sharpener and don’t need another
+
Available in both softly iridescent and matte finishes

Reasons to avoid

-
Texture is great for smudgier looks but too soft for graphic lines
-
At the pricey end of the scale

Waterproof eyeliners often require a bit of speed to smoke them out before they set and become budge-proof. But not this luxury option. The creamy texture—a balanced blend of waxes and emollients including panthenol and vitamin E—allows you to ring around your eyes effortlessly before using your ring finger or its built-in blending sponge to smudge the liner out for a speedy smoky eye.

But it’s the nine shades themselves that really impressed us. Despite being colorful —even for those who are hesitant about branching out 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, while Navy Noir is a modern, dramatic alternative to black. We did find it lends itself better to smoky looks over precise lines, but boy, is it great. 

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

Best versatile pencil eyeliner for beginners

Specifications

RRP: $22/£21
Number of shades : 5
is it waterproof: No
Claims to last: N/A

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, so there's no need for multiple eyeshadows. 

The pencil also features a sharpener and a removable cleansing stick to get rid of excess shavings and ensure the nib is even 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.

How to choose the best eyeliner for beginners to suit your needs

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. 

Types of eyeliner

As we've already touched on, there are a few different types of liner, and some are easier to master than others. Pencils are fairly easy and can usually be smudged out for a subtle wing or lived-in look, while gel formulas are very long-wearing. Felt tip pens are great for precision when it comes to a winged eye, while liquids take a little longer to master.

  • Pencil
  • Felt tip pen
  • Liquid 
  • Gel

Color choices

Who says that you have to stick to black? Yes, we know we're starting to veer into more expert territory, but swapping 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 tons of rich colors, like dark greens and navies, or even the best white eyeliner looks, all of which can elevate your eyeliner game to dizzy new heights.