The illustrious Sophia Loren once said, “Beauty is how you feel on the inside… and it reflects in your eyes.” Like so many things in life and fashion and beauty, this queen couldn’t be more right. And while nothing can replicate the glow of feeling internally beautiful, we can sure give it a boost. What better way to make that reflection really pop then with the best eyeliner for tightlining?
Otherwise known as invisible eye liner, tight lining subtly defines and illuminates your eyes. More than that though, it makes your lashes appear thicker and more voluminous. Tight lining can be done all on its own – for thicker lashes without mascara or any hint that you’re wearing makeup at all.
With very little effort and a fantastically subtle, no-makeup finish, tightlining is one of the best kept secrets of the makeup world. And now that it’s out, we want to share with you the best eyeliner for tight lining that you can find. But first, we’ll tell you what make a good tight lining liner formula.
WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR
Normally, eye liner is reserved for lining the skin directly above your lashes. But when you’re tight lining, your eye liner is place on the inside of the upper lash line and between the roots of your lashes. That proximity to your eye greatly increases the chance that your liner seeps into your eye and gets into your bloodstream – which means you have to be extra cautious about the eye liner you’re using.
The best eyeliner for tight lining is one that avoids toxic and potentially dangerous ingredients like carbon black, benzalkonium chloride (BAK), and p-Phenylenediamine. You should also stay away from using a liquid liner, which is too wet for this makeup technique and can easily get into your eyes.
Instead, look for a gel, cream, or pencil liner. Although the liner should be water proof – for the least risk of running or smudging – it shouldn’t be formulated with prime yellow carnauba wax. You might also look for a kohl eyeliner or one that’s specifically formulated for hold in the wetter areas of your eye.
BEST EYELINERS FOR TIGHTLINING
Even though you now know what to look for, we’ve saved you the hassle and picked out the 14 best eyeliners for tight lining. We’ll tell you more about what makes these unique and why you want to add them to your bag of tricks immediately.
Stilla Smudge Stick $22
Stila brings us the best of both worlds – that is, the worlds of blending and smudging combined with the world of waterproof hold. In fourteen vibrant and color-rich hues, these smudge sticks can be used for precision tight lining along the root of the lashes but they can also be smudged into a smoky finish before they set. Plus, it’s formulated with loads of vitamin E, for a smooth application that’s also nourishing.
Laura Mercier Tightline Cake Eye Liner $28
For something a little out of the ordinary, why not try a cake liner? And for the best results, why not try this cake liner (coming in 4 shades) that’s specially made for perfecting the Laura Mercier tight line technique? For effortless application, all you need is a little water, the right angled brush, and somewhere to debut a dramatic lash line that will last all day.
Rimmel Scandaleyes Waterproof Kohl Kajal Liner $3.37
Whether you’re sweating, rubbing, crying, or stuck in high humidity, you can trust that this kohl liner (available in 5 shades) won’t run – and even if it did, it’s ophthalmologist tested to be completely safe for even sensitive eyes. This simple and effective liner has high impact color and a smooth and creamy texture that’s welcome by any lid.
Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil $22
Specifically designed for use along your waterline and the inner rim of your lids, this rich and creamy pencil liner (coming in 35 shades) was literally made for the purpose of defining your eyes and volumizing your lashes. Formulated for 24/7 performance, the waterproof liner comes in a wide range of unique shades – none of which contain any toxic or irritating ingredients such as mineral oil, parabens, paraffins, or preservatives.
Nars Larger Than Life Long-Wear Eyeliner $14.25
A liner that doesn’t tug or pull is especially important when it’s going on such a sensitive part of your eye. Not only does NARS liner, that comes in 6 shades, glide on smoothly, it doesn’t budge once it’s there either. With this all day/all night formula, you can enjoy a cake-free and smudge-less finish for as long as 12 hours without any loss in intensity or depth.
Lancome Le Stylo Waterproof Long Lasting Eyeliner $27
A 2-in-1 liner and texture tool that allows you to blend before it sets – and set it will, for hours upon hours of intense color. In classic shades that include one black and one brown option, our favorite feature of this liner is the twist-up applicator that gives you the precision of a pencil without ever needing a sharpener around.
Maybelline Master Precise Skinny Gel Eyeliner Pencil $10.50
We love liquid liners just as much as the next person but they’re just not safe for the inside of your lids. For that, we turn to this twist-up gel pencil (available in 3 shades) that’s as close to liquid as you’ll get without any of the risks. Featuring a 1.8mm precision tip, it handles like the eyeliner of a pro and wears for up to 24 hours.
MAKE UP FOR EVER Aqua XL Eye Pencil $21
Somewhere between a cream liner and a pencil is this luxuriously smooth eyeliner that comes in 14 uniqude shades. Ultra-pigmented color that doesn’t fade over time, you can even choose from five different textured finishes, including: matte, satiny, iridescent, metallic or diamond.
blinc Eyeliner Pencil $22
Your eyeliner can serve more of a purpose than making your eyes pop. With the right ingredients, they can actually provide nourishment to your skin while they make you look great. Blinc took that idea and ran with it. Their eyeliner, available in 8 shades, is packed with antioxidants like tocopherol, bioactive ingredients such as canola glycerides, and vitamins that condition your lids and firm your skin. Not only is it safe for tight lining – it’s encouraged.
We don’t all have the steady hand of a professional makeup artist. For those of us that need a little trick up our sleeve, this 2 mm beginner-friendly pencil (coming in 4 shades) the magic you’ve been looking for. Beyond making their products accessible for the everyday person, this brand offers all the same benefits of the highest end pencils: it’s waterproof, smudge-proof, and has an ultra-pigmented finish.
Shishedo MicroLiner Ink $22
Shiseido partnered with dermatologists to bring you a formula that’s free of parabens, sulfates, phthalates, oil, talc, and fragrance without sacrificing any performance. In fact, these micro-fine liners (available in 5 shades) are not only ultra-precise, they also glide across your lid weightlessly and leave behind a luminous line that won’t smudge or fade for 24 hours.
BareMinerals Long Lasting Eyeliner $16
With a built-in sharpener and even an ergonomically angled smudging tip, this bareMinerals liner (coming in 8 colors) checks all the multi-tasking boxes we were looking for in the best eyeliners for tight lining. But they didn’t even stop there – they also infused this smear-resistant formula with a blend of nutrient-rich minerals as well as vitamin C.
Bobbi Brown Perfectly Defined Gel Eyeliner $27
With the best waxes and emollients for your lids, this gel eyeliner (that comes in 7 shades) strikes the perfect balance between creamy and smooth. It has all the precision and saturated pigment of a liquid linerwith the ease and cleanliness of a pencil. Wear it for up to 12 hours without any fear of fading.
The best eyeliner for tight lining is a combination of easy and precise application, inky pigments, nourishing ingredients, and a waterproof formula that’s safe for use on your eyes. Because achieving a richer and fuller lash line shouldn’t come at the expense of your wellbeing.