Advice on Pencil, Liquid, Creme or Gel Based Eyeliners
Pro make-up artists answer the question: how to choose (if have to) between a pencil, liquid, or creme/gel based eyeliner?
As you will see there isn’t one universal answer, rather the variety of responses will shed light on what type of eyeliner is used for what purpose under what circumstance.
The following are the “best of the best”: the most diverse, educational, informative and inspiring answers compiled from my 100 professional make-up artist interviews.
Q: In terms of eyeliner, if you had to choose between a pencil, liquid, or creme/gel based, which one would you choose? Why?
It used to be where liquid liner was best for the top eye lid and pencil was best suited for the bottom eye rim. Pencil is too thick for the top and liquid is too messy for the bottom, it just doesn’t look right. But when gel and cream eyeliners came along it was great. It can be used at the top and bottom.
These come in pots most of the time and are used with an eyeliner brush or angled brush. Don’t know how to use cream or gel? stick to pencil and liquid as stated before.
Neither. I always use a powder…. If I had to choose for myself, well that’s easy, I wear a liquid liner almost every day.
I have to rank them! For everyday, multi-purpose….I have to go with a Black Kohl liner..you can smudge, blend, define, and line the inner rims of your eyes perfectly.
Then gel liner, because you can paint it on so easily and smoothly. And liquid is perfect for precise, pin-up liner, and it stays really well, and is dark and inky.
I would choose Gel because you can have multiple uses for it… it can be a shadow, mascara etc.
Each has a different use dependent upon the look/job
Depends on the look! all forms are great, but depending on how dramatic you need the makeup that’s when you make the choice!
I’ll choose pencil anytime! Pencil, you can control, you can build, you can create, you can, you can, YOU CAN!
Pencil for under eye and a liquid for the top. i tend not to use any cream based make up products because i don’t like the way the crease.
I love liquid, just a fine line on the upper eye can be flattering even with a little flick it’s classy 50s glamour. I do use others though, it depends on what finish I am trying to achieve.
Creme/gel always… It is easier to blend and it usually stays on longer. But I always keep a pencil with me too in case I am lining the shelf of the eye.
I prefer crème based. I use MAC’s “Blacktrack” for my cat eyes and leopard spots, I feel that it’s the easiest to work with and last the longest with minimal smudging and running. Pairing it with liquid something for detail or an extra oomf is also great. Liquid liner lasts just as long and also rarely smudges or wears away.
I love pencil, cause I can use it in many different ways.. Oh wow I love liquid too and creme? How does a girl choose?
Liquid, It stays on longer, smudges less, but also requires a steady hand.
Liquid is my fav, truthfully i have not tried creme/gel base, so i don’t know if i’d like it, but pencil is so hard to work with when it comes to a clean look.
Pencil – I like the accuracy I can get and the colors are more varied.
Liquid eyeliner. Precision counts.
I always prefer pencil just because I can really play with it.
They all work differently – I’m biased on using all lightly for most. I favor a felt tip based eyeliner product most days.
I hardly ever use pencil … I like to use my brushes. I prefer cream/gel because it tends to be a bit more forgiving than liquid, however I use liquid on top to “seal” false lashes and sharpen my final lines.
The answer to this depends a lot on the eye I am working on but I will usually grab either my liquid or gel liner first, I like how easy it just glides on and gives a beautiful clean line.
Every single texture of eyeliner is for a specific look, so I would pick accordingly on a situation but to answer your question. If I had to choose, I would choose crème/gel liner because it is the most versatile. You can apply light or heavy, make a clean line or smudge it and usually lasts longer than the other forms.
Gel based because it glides on super easy and to me is the best way from professionals to amateurs to learn to apply eyeliner. For some it can be challenging so gel to me is easiest.
I would choose a gel based eyeliner as you can smudge it to look softer or apply more for a dramatic look.
I like the pencil for the waterline, and for the eyelid i like the gel based or even liquid. I like the pencil and feel its more safer to apply especially for real women without having to be extra careful. and the gel liner just glides on the lid.
Liquid….I love the opaqueness that you can achieve from the liquid liner in one swoop.
Cake as it is my preferred medium. Diamond FX brand as it the Rolls-Royce of water based face/body paint makeup for line work.
I would choose a cream liner. i find it harder for me to apply eyeliner with pencil. I dont have much control.
I like the color of liquid, it comes out very dark, but it’s hard to master. I use pencil most of the time when putting on my own make-up, but that’s just because it’s what I’m most comfortable with.
I like liquid and cream liners, they stay on longer, and tend to be darker.
I use liquid on top and pencil on bottom and to finish off the look. If I am doing a look that I want to not smear or for longer wear I go with gel (specifically for brides)
I prefer a creme/gel base. Personally, I have more control over it, and it doesn’t have as much of a tendency to run.
Pencil. It allows me more control.
I use a wet eyeliner brush and an eyeshadow ;) I always use eyeshadows with damped brushes, it looks better !
Gel Base because it stays on for 48hrs and waterproof.
Depends on if I need definition, then I would use liquid. For Smudge/smoke you need pencil.
Gel, is definitely the most versatile, but I use all of them.
Crème/gel based definitely…love the Bobbi Brown Long Wear Gel Eyeliners, they last all day! I use these on every single client.
Gel liner it goes on better then the pencil and I find it stays on better then pencil but also harder o get off.
I prefer to use powder eye shadow as a liner because I find it gives a softer blend, but otherwise a pencil is preferred.
I prefer to work with pencil for a smokey look and a creme/gel when I want a more defined look.
I feel that with liquid you get a more solid of defined line.
Cream/Gel based, hands down. It smooths on easy, is extremely blendable and is great for all types of lids from young to old.
I actually enjoy using all 3, depending on the occasion. Pencil can be used for everyday and also for smudging. Liquid adds more depth and darkens the eye area more. And creme, gel can be used for a long day.
If I could just choose one I would probably choose pencil. Because you can use a little and smudge it for more natural look or apply more for more dramatic. You can also use it to line the waterline as well.
All, depending on the look. I love liner and I love versatility. What can I say? I am a woman and want it ALL!
Pencil for blending and fading, Liquid for sharp lines.
I love technakohl from MAC it is water proof and really makes the eye look smoky in the water line.
I think that depends on the eye itself. If you have a large eye go for the liquid, if you have a small eye or heavy lid I would go for the pencil so you don’t get any transfer. But you can do so much with pencil liners so if I had to pick one or the other I would go with pencil….Kohl of course.
I love gel eyeliners, however if I could only pick one, I would have to say pencil as it is the most versatile. You can have a thin or thick line, defined or smudged. Press some eyeshadow into it and it can deepen the color to look like a liquid liner or change the color completely. And you can wear it under the lashline which you can’t do with gels or liquids.
I love them all but I’d go for a creamy pencil I think it’s so versatile, I can contour a whole eye with it (with the pencil technique), use it as a base, smoke it out and any wet eyeshadow will do a liquid liner if I needed one. I have actually got black, gray and brown in all formats (gel, liquid, cake and pencil) in my kit but will do blue and all other colors from wet eyeshadow.
I love cream, it is fresh and simple but a pencil is easier for some women. Liquids are messy.
For myself I love the Liquid. Only for the top lid, never underneath, much too harsh. Most woman look best in pencil, can be applied soft and natural or more dark and dramatic.
Creme/ Gel Based. I personally just like it a lot more & find it is easier to work with & stays on way better, for a more flawless look.
I use an eye liner cake with a pencil.
Cream/gel based because I find that it is easier to apply and looks a lot smoother.
I like pencil because you can make it look more natural or you can also put it on more intensely to make it look like you are wearing liquid eyeliner and capture that more dramatic look.
A khol pencil because it is very versatile.
I would probably choose creme or gel – great colors, very versatile and long lasting, can be subtle or dramatic. Gel liner can be soft or layered to add emphasis.
Liquid because it provides a clean sharp look that I love. And also a creme liner for the waterline, its more gentle and will stay longer.
Liquid eyeliner BABY! Works better and you gets you noticed.
Omg it’s impossible to choose because the all work differently when achieving a look. Pencil is good for smudging, liner is good for precision, and creme/gel can do a little of both.
I buy them all, because, frankly, I have a problem haha. But I love liquid for the top lash line, and coastal scents have fantastic gel liners. And many times, I’ve used a dark eyeshadow with a wet eyeliner brush to line the bottom lash line.
Cream gel. then liquid (actually I use them all plus eyeshadows too!)
I love love love liquid liner…it is so retro.
Liquid! its glamorous! old Hollywood.
I use a variety of eyeliners. I like gel because it is usually highly pigmented and glides on smoothly. Liquid is great for added drama and pencil is great for lining the lower eye.
Gel based. I use a gel eyeliner on bottom and top lashes.
I like to go with a crème/gel base because it tends to work best for all eyes. Liquid liners can smudge and smear too easily. Pencils can pull at the eyes.
It’s a matter of opinion. I like the cream/gel based. I use a fine art brush to create a fine line with cat tail. I can then smudge it to create a soft smoky eye. its faster as well.
I have to say, my favorite is liquid. I love the felt tip ones, because when you’re rushing through a shoot to get many women done on time, it’s the easiest to use and gives great definition. Gel based is fantastic as well, since it goes on so smoothly. I use pencil for the inner rims of the eyes. It gives a sharp intense eye.
I must say I don’t like eyeliner very much even if I sometimes use it. I prefer a good pencil which gives color to the eyes and makes them natural.
I use all for different things, but for clients recommend a gel/ cream based eyeliner. These formulas are usually very long wearing, but mainly because they are so versatile for a “smokey”, smudged, soft, or liquid look. You get a little more bang for your buck.
I am not a fan of liquid liners – they look to hard. I only love the longer lasting eyeliners, and gels … who has time to be touching up eyeliner all day?!
Pencil, because you can create a soft natural look, or a dark dramatic look with a pencil, and it’s not as messy.
I would choose all of them, because it depends on what kind of style I’m looking to achieve.
Depends. I use certain ones for different things. Pencil for the inside rim of the eye. liquid or cream/gel on top.
THE creame/gel! Its water resistant. Easy to apply, and its the pencil and liquid combined!. Goes on like the liquid, but gives you the soft look. Its a lil dramatic like the liquid but not so LOUD! just perfect for any occasion! you will not catch me dead with out it!
Creme/Gel eyeliner because they are more versatile. You can soften it before it sets or you can create sharp lines with the right brush.
I would choose them all. They all have a different texture to achieve different looks.
To each their own. I use the makeup I do because I know how to use it and it works well for me.
Creme/gel for sure. Pencil pulls too much on the delicate skin around the eyes. Liquid is not too user friendly especially if you are on the go and can look too heavy for daytime. Creme/Gel can be nice and understated or beefed u depending on mood or event.
Cream/gel hands down. You get the fluidity and depth of liquid, the staying power of powder and its smoother then pencil and doesn’t rub off or move with body heat like pencil does.
Well, I use all forms of liner depending on the situation, but if I have to choose just one I would probably use a pencil because it is versatile and can be used to create a smooth line or smudged for a smoky effect.
These are all good, however, right now I am using MAC’s fluidline gel in black track.
I use black eyeshadow as eyeliner a lot because it stays on forever and is great to smudge.
Gel, it’s easier to apply and always looks great.
Pencil if I want a soft line – you can blend it out with a brush. Liquid for sharp precision.