There’s one quintessential thing that most—not all, but most—of our forever-favorite eye makeup looks have in common: eyeliner. Whether it’s a whimsical stroke (or three) of pretty pastel, a precisely angled, jet-black wing, or just an extra hit of smoky definition à la a creamy gel or kohl pencil, eyeliner is our go-to secret ingredient for saucing up any kind of aesthetic.
That said, anyone who has tried their hand with the stuff knows it can be a tricky product to execute sans mess. And, what we envision being a red carpet level application can all too quickly veer deranged kindergartner at the craft table. Just us? Practice definitely makes perfect and your technique is important, but the actual vehicle you choose—aka the specific eyeliner you pick up during your next beauty run—also holds a lot of influence where your end results are concerned. We’re here to help as much as we can on that front, so we crafted a master list of 16 best-of-the-best eyeliners, from gels to pencils to liquids and more, that will make the job a little easier and significantly less intimidating. Keep scrolling for the best options in every category.