(Last Updated On: January 27, 2018)

Ooh ooh aah aah Sexy Eyes

I’m gonna take you to Paradise

Yeah, you can have your ball and chain singing that all day.

I want you to have that.

Which is why I spent hours reviewing dozens of products to come up with a list of top 10 best drugstore eyeliners.

All designed to give you sexy eyes without breaking the bank.

Just read on.

At A Glance: The Best Drugstore Eyeliners

e.l.f. Cream Eyeliner lives up to its full potential as a brush and pot eyeliner.

Revlon ColorStay Liquid Eyeliner has Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate which imparts a great sheen to your eyelashes.

Maybelline New York Ultra-Liner Liquid Liner is GREAT for official and semi-official events.

Revlon ColorStay Eyeliner Pencil will quickly give you the smoky design.

Maybelline New York Eyestudio Lasting Drama Waterproof Gel Eye Pencil could give you the Lupita Nyong’o look!

The Best Drugstore Eyeliner

01. e.l.f. Cream Eyeliner Review

USP: Barium Sulfate/Sulphate is a kickass ingredient…for any number of purposes.

Shade: Black.

Type of Liner: Brush and Pot.

Smudges a little. Doesn’t flake or run. It may fade a little on your waterline but that is easily overcome by applying two coats or touching it up.

It lives up to its full potential as a brush and pot eyeliner. A single glide of the brush suffices to give you a even shade without clumping.

The brush is good but you may want to use an angled brush of your own.

It has a great weightless feel on the skin courtesy of Isododecane.

You can use this as eyebrow gel as well.

The key ingredients are listed below.

Texture EnhancerIsododecane, Polyisobutene, Quarternium-18 Bentonite, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Propylene Carbonate
Thickener/EmulsifierPolyethylene, Polyisobutene, Quarternium-18 Bentonite, Tricontanyl PVP
Coloring/Brightening AgentBarium Sulfate
AbsorbentCalcium Carbonate, Silica
MoisturizerPolyethylene, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Polyglycerol-4 Isostearate, Tricontanyl PVP
SurfactantPolyglyceryl-4 Isostearate
Bulking AgentCalcium Sodium Borosilicate, Silica, Tin Oxide
Anti-Caking AgentSilica
PreservativeMethylparaben, Propylparaben


  • Dip the brush into the eyeliner cream.
  • Swirl around till the brush is saturated with color.
  • Swipe off excess product on the edge of the pot.
  • Trace a line along your top eyelash from the inner corner to the outer corner of your eye.
  • Trace a line along your bottom eyelash from the inner corner to the outer corner of your eye.
  • Use a good eye makeup remover to remove it when you’re done.

What I Liked

No ethanolamines.

Easily applied with a single brush.

Feels weightless on your skin.

You can use it as eyebrows gel.

What I Didn’t Like

Barium Sulfate sometimes reacts producing compounds which are skin irritants.

Contains a number of Parabens.

For best results you may want to get an angled brush.

The Best Drugstore Liquid Eyeliner

02. Revlon ColorStay Liquid Eyeliner Review

USP: Blackest Black shade is very dramatic.

Shades: Blackest Black and Black Brown.

Type of Liner: Felt Tip with Bottle.

May smudge and fade after a long wear. Doesn’t flake or run.

What I liked most about this is the felt tip which is great for precise lining. Specifically it’s good to get a cat eye.

Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate imparts a great sheen to your eyelashes.

Yes, there are only two shades available but they do cover a diverse range of situations.

Blackest Black is very dramatic and suitable for any official or semi-official setting.

Black Brown, reminiscent is the Instagram or Facebook Live choice.

The key ingredients are listed below.

Cleansing AgentSodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate
Texture EnhancerAcrylates Copolymer, Beeswax, Candelilla Wax, Carnauba Wax, Ozokerite, Cellulose, Xantham Gum
Thickener/EmulsifierCetyl Alcohol, Xantham Gum, Stearic Acid
Replenish and Restore your skinGlycerin, Stearic Acid
Soothe and Condition your skinAloe Vera Extract, Vit. E*, Phenyl Dimethicone
MoisturizerBeeswax, Candelilla Wax, Phenyl Dimethicone, Cetyl Alcohol, Stearic Acid
AbsorbentCarnauba Wax, Hectorite
Opacifying AgentHectorite
AntioxidantVit. E*
WaterAqua (Eau)
PreservativePhenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Butylparaben, Ethylparaben, Isobutylparaben, Propylparaben, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate
Chelating AgentDisodium EDTA
*As Tocopheryl Acetate


  • Insert the felt tip into the bottle for a while to saturate it with the liner.
  • Hold the applicator at a slight angle and apply liner close to base of your lashes.
  • A light touch will suffice for a fine line. Increase pressure for a bolder line.

What I Liked

 No flaking or running.

 No ethanolamines.

 Suitable for a range of formal and informal gatherings.

 Felt tip is good for precise lining.

 Very good for cat eye designs.

What I Didn’t Like

May smudge and fade after a long wear.

Contains a number of parabens.

The Best Drugstore Waterproof Eyeliner

03. Maybelline New York Ultra-Liner Liquid Liner Review

USP: Priyanka Chopra and Jourdan Dunn cite Maybelline products as among their favorite drugstore makeup choices. Well, OK, not this eyeliner, but hey, you’re in the ball park! And, who knows, you could just get picked to be the next Alex Parrish yourself!

Shades: Black and Dark Brown.

Type of Liner: Felt Tip with Bottle.

No smudging, fading or running. It may flake a little.

I think they could probably have made the brush firmer and longer. It takes some practice to line your lower lash/waterline with it.

It does flake a bit but that can easily be remedied. Carry a soft cloth and wipe off the flakes with it; then re-touch. Or just remove with a cleanser and re-apply.

As indicated earlier (Alex Parrish reference) this liner is biased towards official and semi-official settings. You may want to select something different for an informal event like a date or something.

The key ingredients are listed below.

Film Forming AgentStyrene/Acrylate Copolymer, Acrylate Copolymer
De-Grease your skinDenatured Alcohol
Texture EnhancerButylene Glycol, Xantham Gum, Cellulose Gum
SurfactantPEG-75 Lanolin, Polysorbate 20
Slip AgentSimethicone
PreservativePhenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Sodium Dehydroacetate, Propylparaben
Chelating AgentDisodium EDTA


  • Dip the brush into the pot and saturate it with color.
  • Start at the inner corner of your eye.
  • Apply along your lash-line following the contour of the eye.
  • For a dramatic effect
    • Line heavier at the outer corners.
    • Line under lower lashes.

What I Liked

 No ethanolamines.

 Good for official settings.

 Maybelline products are a preferred drugstore choice.

 Easy to touch up and re-apply.

What I Didn’t Like

 Denatured Alcohol is fourth in the ingredient list.

Contains Methylparaben and Propylparaben.

Be careful doing your waterline with the brush.

May flake a little.

The Best Drugstore Pencil Eyeliner

04. Revlon ColorStay Eyeliner Pencil Review

USP: Makeup artist Kara Yoshimoto Bua recently revealed that the Revlon ColorStay line would be among her choices to give you that Halle Berry look you’ve always dreamed of.

Shades: 8 shades Black Brown, Black, Black Violet, Brown, Charcoal, Jade, Sapphire and Teal.

Type of Liner: Pencil with a pull-out sharpener and smudge pad.

Doesn’t flake or run. It may smudge or fade a little after long wear.

One advantage of this is that you can get a smoky look pretty easily.

However the tip is a little bit imprecise so it may be difficult to get very thin lines but great for a thicker, defined sweep.

And you can remove it easily with a cleanser.

The key ingredients are listed below.

MoisturizerCyclomethicone, Polyethylene, Trimethylsiloxysilicate, Phenyl Trimethicone, Candelilla Wax, Lecithin
Texture EnhancerOzokerite, Candelilla Wax
AntioxidantVit. C*, Vit. E**
Replenish and Restore your skinLecithin
pH adjusterCitric Acid
PreservativeSorbic Acid, Methylparaben, Propylpraben
*As Ascorbyl Palmitate.

**As Tocopherol.


  • Apply the pencil along your upper and lower lash lines starting from the inner corners of your eyes.
  • Use the pull-out sharpener when the lines start losing clarity.

What I Liked

No ethanolamines.

Doesn’t flake or run.

Great for a thicker defined line.

Great for a smoky look.

What I Didn’t Like

Contains Methylparaben and Propylparaben.

May smudge and fade after a long wear.

Not suitable for a thin line.

The Best Drugstore Eyeliner For Waterline

05. Maybelline New York Eyestudio Lasting Drama Waterproof Gel Pencil Review

USP: You can combine the Cashmere White and the Lustrous Sapphire to get the Lupita Nyong’o look.

Shades: 10 shades – Sleek Onyx, Cashmere White, Glazed Toffee, Glossy Emerald, Lustrous Sapphire, Polished Amethyst, Silken Turquoise, Smooth Charcoal, Soft Nude, Striking Copper.

Type of Liner: Pencil.

It does not run. But it tends to get smudged and flake after 6-8 hours. May fade a bit too.

The beauty of this lies in the subtlety, especially the Smooth Charcoal. It’s lush enough to accentuate your brows but doesn’t look like some cheap knock-off.

And the Soft Nude shade is among the top 10 available.

The key ingredients are listed below.

Texture EnhancerIsododecane, Nylon-12
SurfactantPEG/PPG-19/19 Dimethicone
Soothe and Condition your skinC20-40 Alcohols, Perfluorononyl Dimethicone
Bulking AgentPolyethylene, Silica, Tin Oxide, Synthetic Fluorphlogopite, Calcium Aluminum Borosilicate, Calcium Sodium Borosilicate
AntioxidantVit. E*
*As Tocopherol.


  • Apply the pencil along your upper lash line.
  • For a dramatic effect apply the pencil along your lower lash line.
  • Sharpen the pencil when the line starts to lose clarity.

Warning: It’s flammable till it’s dry. So you should NOT use this near fire or heat.

What I Liked

 Easy to get a smoky/smudged look.

 No ethanolamines.

 No parabens.

 Subtle shades great for burnishing your eyes.

 Soft Nude shade is excellent.

What I Didn’t Like

 The pencil is creamy so it may be difficult to get a sharp line.

 May smudge and flake after 6-8 hours.

06. L’Oréal Paris Voluminous Smoldering Eyeliner Review

USP: You can smudge it easily to get a great smoky look. That could be a good base for your Aria Montgomery Look.

Shades: Black, Brown and Grey.

Type of Liner: Fat Pencil with sharpener.

Smudges and fades a little after a long wear. Doesn’t flake. However it may run along your waterline.

The pencil is soft but very precise. You can do a svelte Glenn Close or go heavy-definition Kirsten Stewart. It may not be possible to go Goth with this however.

The pencil is fat but it’s not difficult to line your waterline with it.

A base of eye shadow goes great with this.

The key ingredients are listed below

MoisturizerHydrogenated Palm Kernel Glycerides, Hydrogenated Palm Glycerides, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride
AntioxidantHydrogenated Palm Glycerides
Replenish and Restore your skinHydrogenated Palm Glycerides
Texture EnhancerCaprylic/Capric Triglyceride,
Bulking AgentPolyethylene
AntioxidantVit. E*, Vit. C**
*As Tocopherol.

**As Ascorbyl Palmitate.


  • Apply along upper and lower lash lines for a basic eyeline.
  • For a greater dramatic effect, use the side of the pencil to define the basic line.

What I Liked

 It can be smudged easily for a smoky look.

 No parabens.

 No ethanolamines.

 The fat pencil makes it easy to amplify your eyelines.

What I Didn’t Like

 It could smudge and give you racoon eyes.

The Best Drugstore Felt Tip Eyeliner

07. Celavi Waterproof Precision Liquid Felt Tip Eyeliner Pen Review

USP: Practically smudge-proof.

Shade: Black.

Type of Liner: Felt-tipped Pen.

Doesn’t smudge or flake. May run a bit in hot conditions. No fading.

It’s no surprise Celavi’s Eyeliner Pen is practically smudge-free. Carnauba Wax is known for its toughness.

What I liked a lot in this product is how it glides onto your skin smoothly without leaving clumps.

It’s available in one shade only – black. However it’s J.A.R. – Just About Right – to highlight your eyes. Not so dark you look dolled up but not too light either.

One problem is that it may not give you the best shade on your waterline.

The key ingredients are listed below.

AbsorbentCarnauba Wax
Texture EnhancerCarnauba Wax, Beeswax. Polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP)
Binding AgentPolyacrylic Acid
Viscosity Increasing AgentPolyacrylic Acid
pH adjuster/BufferTriethanolamine
Emulsion StabilizerTriethanolamine
MoisturizerStearic Acid, Beeswax
Replenish and Restore your skinStearic Acid, Glycerin
ThickenerSorbitan Sesquioleate
WaterDistilled Water
PreservativeMethylparaben, Propylparaben, Phenoxyethanol


  • Apply the felt tip on your lash lines starting from the inner corners of your eyes.

What I Liked

 Good shade.

 Glides smoothly onto your skin.

 Doesn’t smudge or flake.

What I Didn’t Like

 Contains Methylparaben and Propylparaben.

 Contains Triethanolamine.

 May not give you the best shade on your waterline.

The Best Drugstore Pen Eyeliner

08. Kiki Precise Liquid Eyeliner Pen Review

USP: Perfect for cat eyes and wing designs.

Shade: Black.

Type of Liner: Felt-tipped Pen.

May smudge and flake. Doesn’t run or fade too much.

It is black and very deeply so. Some users may feel it’s too black for them.

The applicator has a very fine tip making it great for doing designs like cat eyes and wings. It’s especially good for monolids.

It’s very easy to remove with bathroom remover. In case it doesn’t rub off with remover, apply some lukewarm coconut oil and use a cotton pad to gently scrub it off.

If you can’t make the lines smooth, apply eye shadow first and then apply Kiki eyeliner on it. It works very well on primer.

One problem is that if you have sensitive skin, this eyeliner may not be the best drugstore eyeliner for you. It may irritate your skin.

The liner may dry at the tip of the pen, which would stop it from working. If you face such a problem just dislodge the dry liner at the tip.

What I Liked

 Doesn’t fade or run.

 It’s great for drawing cat eyes and wings.

 Works very well on eye shadow and primer.

What I Didn’t Like

 May smudge and flake.

 May be too black for some users.

 May be unsuitable for people with sensitive skin.

09. Physicians Formula Shimmer Strips Custom Eye Enhancing Eyeliner Trio Review

USP: 3 shades in one pack gives you the chance to experiment with one buy.

Shades: 3 shades Natural Champagne, Playful Pewter, Dramatic Black in one pack.

Type of Liner: Pencil with in-built sharpener.

Doesn’t smudge, flake, fade or run.

It’s well-pigmented and easy to apply.

One thing I liked about this drugstore eyeliner is it packs 3 different shades in one pack. You can experiment with various shades and get a great smudged look with a single buy.

What makes it even better is that the ‘shimmer’ is not garish which gives you a subtle gloss/shade makeover while avoiding the stripclub glitter look.

You can apply this to your waterline without experiencing tearing or irritation.

The key ingredients are listed below.

MoisturizerCyclopentasiloxane, Trimethylsiloxysilicate, Synthetic Beeswax, Octyldodecanol, Lecithin
Slip AgentTrimethylsiloxysilicate
Bulking AgentPolyethylene
Texture EnhancerOzokerite, Octyldodecanol, Propylene Carbonate
Skin-Softening AgentLauroyl Lysine
ThickenerSynthetic Beeswax
AntioxidantVit. C*, Vit. E**
pH adjuster/BufferCitric Acid
*As Ascorbyl Palmitate.

**As Tocopherol.


  • Apply the pencil to the base of your upper and lower lash lines.
  • It’s a 3-in-one pack giving you the chance to create different styles with a single buy. For example you could use the black along your lower lash lines to accentuate your eyes and the champagne and pewter on the upper lash lines to create a refreshed look.
  • Use the inbuilt sharpener (at the bottom of each pencil) when you feel the lines are losing clarity.

What I Liked

 No parabens.

 No ethanolamines.

 3 shades in one.

 Subtle shimmer.

 No irritation on your waterline.

What I Didn’t Like

 The shades could be better. In particular, pewter looks like a darker champagne.

 Some users may not like the shimmer.

10. L’Oréal Paris Pencil Perfect Self-Advancing Eyeliner Review

USP: The Cocoa and Expresso shades are good for your waterline.

Shades: 5 shades Carbon Black, Cocoa, Ebony, Expresso and Paris Blue.

Type of Liner: Self-sharpening Pencil.

Doesn’t flake or fade. However it does tend to smudge and run a little bit.

I especially liked the Expresso shade which is richly reminiscent of coffee. Great for Instagram pics.

It’s very suitable for applying at your waterline. It glides right on to your skin and you don’t have to push like other pencils.

The Ebony and Carbon Black shades are very good for green or blue eyes.

The key ingredients are listed below.

Texture EnhancerParaffin, Ozokerite, Octyldodecanol, Beeswax
Soothe and Condition your skinIsostearyl Neopentanoate, Coco-Caprylate/Caprate
MoisturizerLanolin Alcohol, Octyldodecanol, Mineral Oil, Beeswax
Replenish and Restore your skinLanolin Alcohol
Bulking AgentPolyethylene
AntioxidantVit. E*, Vit. C**
PreservativeMethylparaben, Propylparaben
*As Tocopherol.

**As Ascorbyl Palmitate.


  • Apply the pencil along the lash line starting from the inner core.
  • To ‘sharpen’, twist the pencil to the right while holding it with your left hand.

What I Liked

 No ethanolamines.

 Expresso shade is good for highlighting your eyes.

 You can easily apply this at your waterline.

What I Didn’t Like

 Contains Methylparaben and Propylparaben.

What did I look for in selecting Drugstore Eyeliners?

Well, first and foremost I looked at the shades.

Then I looked at the kind of eyeliner.

  • A pencil or a pen eyeliner may flake and/or smudge after a long wear but it’s also the easiest to apply.
  • A felt-tipped eyeliner may be a bit more difficult to apply depending on how tough the tip is.
  • A brush-tipped eyeliner is easier to apply than a felt-tipped eyeliner.

And then of course come the properties of the ingredients.

Ingredients that are moisturizers, replenish or soothe your skin are there to protect your skin from dryness and keep it lustrous.

Texture Enhancersare used to turn basic pigments into finished products.

Ethanolamines, used as surfactants and/or buffers, are skin and eye irritants. Though permitted for use in certain concentrations and forms in the USA and the EU, it may be better to avoid ethanolamines.

Parabens have estrogen-mimicking properties so they’re better avoided. There is research suggesting they may not be that bad….but better safe than sorry!

Binding Agents hold or draw other chemicals together mechanically, chemically or as an adhesive.

Bulking Agents are non-reactive, solid ingredients that are used to dilute other solids, or to increase the volume of a product.

Slip Agents help other substances literally ‘slip’, flow more easily.

Preservatives…well, duh!

What’s the deal with denatured alcohol?

Denatured Alcohol is a volatile alcohol that does give your skin a quick matte (de-greased) look.

However that comes at a cost. Denatured Alcohol may dry your skin and reduce its ability to replenish itself.

In short be careful while using products with denatured alcohol high up on the list of ingredients (indicating higher percentage).

Well that was a looong list

Yes it was….and as usual, I have a clear winning Drugstore Eyeliner for you.

Maybelline New York Eyestudio Lasting Drama Waterproof Gel Eye Pencil

It’s a pencil eyeliner, so easy to use.

It won’t run but it may smudge, flake and fade a little…but, no biggie! Simply remove it with a cleanser, whip out your pencil and apply a fresh coat!

There are ten gorgeous shades to choose from. Tell you what….

Do a basic smoky eye with one of the darker eyeliners and perhaps some eye shadow and then follow up with the turquoise shade.

What is that, you may well ask

That is…shall we say the Drugstore Eyeliner Version of Cara Delevingne’s Cat Eyes.

Now…I’m not saying any of these eyeliners are in danger of drying out but if they do, here’s a quick primer on how to revive them.

One Final Word Of Warning

You’re sure gonna have fun with the drugstore eyeliner of your choice…but make sure to remember the Golden Rules

  1. Some eyeliners may be flammable. So do NOT use them near fire or heat.
  2. Avoid getting them into your eyes or scratching your eyes with them. You may go blind. If you do get your eyes scratched, consult an opthalmologist immediately.
  3. Do NOT apply eye makeup in moving cars.
  4. Do NOT share your eyeliner (or any other eye makeup) with anyone else.
  5. Do NOT fall asleep with your eyeliner on.
    • Joel Schlessinger M.D. says that it can cause redness, dryness and irritation.
    • It may also clog your lash follicles, giving you eye pimples.

That’s about it. If you feel I’ve missed something…or your new Drugstore Eyeliner got you your first Sexy Eyes compliment, feel free to tell me!

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