Gel or liquid eyeliner? We make the case for each of them

Taryn Davies
Published: April 15, 2018

Eyeliner may be an extra step in your makeup routine, but it can make a big difference to your overall look – but which product to go for – gel or liquid eyeliner?

Just a hint of eyeliner smudged on the lash line, or a clean, defined line swept across can glam up your look, add more definition and make your lashes look thicker. If you’ve not perfected your liner look, it’s time to start practising and we think a gel or liquid liner is the perfect starting point – but which one is for you? Here’s our roundup of the gel and liquid liners, so you can make the decision on what’s best for you.

Which type of eyeliner is best for you?

Gel eyeliner

A gel eyeliner is easy to use, gives you a little more play time and blendability, so it is great for people who are newer to applying liner. It can also be used to create different effects; from a Smoky eye to a crisp, clean liner.

You'll usually get your gel liner in a small pot, the product is thicker and creamier. Applying it with a small brush is the way to do it, and you can create all manners of looks with this product too.

Gel liners can often be an easier product to use, compared with liquid ones, simply becuase you have more control over the desired look. You choose how much product you want on the brush, you choose the type of brush you use, and you choose what thickness and design you want.

Is a gel eyeliner the best product for you?


Large range of colours, can be suitable for waterline, long-lasting and they’re often waterproof, can create a range of eyeliner styles, can also be used as an eyeshadow, matte finish, fantastic pigmentation, suitable tightlining


Needs a specific brush, can dry up fast in the jar

Liquid eyeliner

Liquid eyeliners are probably the most difficult to work when compared to pencil or gel eyeliners, especially if you don't have a steady hand. Usually when you apply liquid liners it'll dry instantly, so there's not a lot you can do for fixing the product other than wiping it clean and starting again.

However, once you've got the trick down to application this look is simply beautiful. It creates a gorgeously defined look that can make a big statement.

The application with liquid is a lot smoother, typically, than gel liners, but your hand will need to be a lot steadier when you apply them.

Make sure that you start off small and build up bit by bit to get your desired flick and line.

Which type of eyeliner is best for you?


Available in countless colours, different tips so you can get the perfect tool for you, long-lasting, precise in creating thin, intense lines, great for dramatic looks


Needs steady hands, not to be used on the waterline, can be harder to remove

Bottom Line

Gel- gel eyeliner is great if you want long lasting definition. It's easy to get a clean, thin line. It's also smoother, and it gives you that dramatic feel, you can also create winged eyeliner. However it can be harder to apply because the brush is harder to handle, but like with anything, practice makes perfect.

Liquid- liquid liner is similar to gel liner, but it has a more watery feel, this is good when you want to create long wings, or precise lines. The brush can be easier to control, and quicker to apply. If you don't choose a waterproof one, it's likely to smudge, fade or run.

Which type of eyeliner is best for you?

Pick of the best gel and liquid eyeliners

Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner

An award-winning, water-resistant liner that gives the look of liquid liner, but feels like a gel liner - and is as easy to use. You need to work fast with this one though, once dry it doesn't budge or smudge at all. And is available in a whopping 14 shades.

MAC Fluidline

Long-wearing, smudge-proof and ultra smooth, this glides on like a liquid liner and stays put. The pigment is intense so you don't need very much at all -  a little goes a long way and the pot will last for ages. MAC products are always a firm favourite in our collection, whether it's foundation, lipstick or powders.

L’Oreal Paris Infallible Lacquer Liner

This drugstore must-have is just as good as the prestige brands. The price is right for the user-friendly option and it has a glossy, lacquer-like finish for a dramatic eye-defining effect.

Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner

Liquid liners can be unforgiving if they don't have a long, thin brush applicator, but this tapered style works just as well and does exactly what it claims: stays all day while being waterproof.

Guerlain Liquid Eyeliner

Guerlain's luxe liquid liner comes in a beautiful frosted glass bottle and was designed like a calligraphy pen for a luxurious feel. The best part, though, is how opaque the formula is and the artist brush feel of it. You can go for a simple flick and easily build upon it for a daring look.

Lancome Artliner

The Lancome Artliner is easy to work with, thanks to the soft foam tip, that's precise and smooth. The liquid is highly pigmented, and it doesn't budge throughout the day either.

Makeup tips for applying perfect eyeliner

From Michael Brown, Beauty Expert and Celebrity Make-up Artist

  • Apply a freshly sharpened kohl pencil line very thinly across the eyelid first as a stencil, I am very comfortable using these and it’s a great guide for beginners. Once you have your stencil apply the Gel/Liquid eyeliner over the top for a really crisp line.
  • For a thinner line, apply only the brush tip horizontally, letting your hand naturally move as you apply.
  • For a thicker line, use the side, or the angle part of the brush and apply allowing your hand to naturally curve (slightly diagonally) towards your face.
  • When you get a little more confident in your eye liner application, try mixing the two brush angles together for a natural thin to thick application – this gives the outer lashes more thickness.