Seven best eyeliners for 2021 – from pencil and kohl to liquid and waterproof

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With wearing masks now common practice, the eyes are taking centre stage in our make-up routines – and there’s no better way to make them stand out than with a flattering flick of eyeliner.

But it’s important to choose the right one for your preferred look. Like a smudgy, rock and roll effect? Go for a blendable crayon. Favour a sharp, feline line? Pick a liquid eyeliner pen. A hay fever sufferer? You’ll want something waterproof.

Fortunately whatever your needs, there’s an eyeliner for everyone, from the latest launches to celebrity favourites. OK!’s beauty editor Laura Mulley puts them to the test…

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Eyeko Black Magic Liquid Eyeliner, £16 here

Laura says: “An absolute classic, this is a liquid liner I’ll always go back to – I love how its flexible nib makes it easy to draw a smooth line in one single stroke, and it’s easy to get right in close to the lash line.”

It usually costs £16, but you can get your hands on it for as little as £11.55* when you buy the OK! Beauty Edit box , which this month has been curated by I’m A Celeb star Jessica Plummer.

“This liner is lovely. It’s perfect for creating a cat eye,” says Jess, who added a full-size pen into her limited-edition box along with five of her other beauty favourites.

Membership to the OK! Beauty Edit normally starts from £16.50, but for a limited time only you can save an extra 30 per cent when you use the code TREAT30.

Buy the OK! Beauty Edit by Jess box here from just £11.55*.

NYX Professional Makeup Epic Wear Liner Stick in Pink Spirit, £7 here

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Laura says: “This is really easy to apply, feeling buttery on the skin yet not too messy, and can be blended out to almost nothing before it sets. In the name of research, I selected this bold, slightly sparkly fuschia – yet no matter how many times I try, I just cannot avoid pink eye make-up making me look as if I’m suffering from an acute bout of hay fever. I’ll be sticking to the more wearable black, brown and grey from the range.”

Marc Jacobs Beauty Highliner Matte Gel Eye Crayon in Blacquer Emerald, £21 here

Laura says: “I’ve used these Marc Jacobs liners before and love them, and I understand why they sell one every minute – they’re highly pigmented and stay put all day (you’ll need a specific make-up remover to budge it), yet are so easy to work with. I’ve been drawn to eyeliners in ‘off-black’ shades recently, and I love this deep teal as an alternative to black.”

Gucci Stylo Contour Des Yeux in Amethyste, £24 here

Laura says: “Purple eye make-up is having a moment; I first tried lilac liner last year, and was surprised by how much I liked it – if I ever want to do a flash of colour on my eyes now, I’d choose purple. I’d recommend giving it a try! This kohl is slightly metallic and gives a glam, light-reflective effect to the lash line. The packaging is as chic as you’d expect from Gucci, with a gold cap, twist-up nib and secret sharpener in the base.”

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Ruby Hammer Precision Liquid Eyeliner, £19 here

Laura says: “Created by professional make-up artist Ruby, this is a really nice precise felt-tip pen with a flexible, spongy tip, so you can get right into the lashes. You can also press lightly for a fine line, or apply more pressure for more of a statement swish with ease and control. It lasted brilliantly – I even slept in it and it didn't shift.”

Too Faced Killer Liner 36 Hour Waterproof Eyeliner in Killer Camo, £16 here


Laura says: “The creamy texture of these pencils blends easily then locks in place; I cannot confirm their 36-hour claim, but it certainly stayed put all day – and took some scrubbing off the back of my hand where I first swiped it. It’s a typical pencil style that requires a sharpener to keep it fresh, which is a little messy but does allow for a sharp point. I wasn’t sold on this muted green shade, but I reckon it’d look great on people with brown eyes.”

Daniel Sandler Long Lasting Waterproof Eyeliner in Aqua Velvet, £9.95 here


Laura says: “This has a very waxy texture and a soft-matte finish, and while I didn’t test how waterproof it is by dunking my face in water, it didn’t smudge throughout the day (and I’m an eye-rubber). I was dubious initially but I actually rather liked this bold shade (one of six), which brought out the blue in my eyes. The twist-up function is handy, but it does create quite a blunt nib, so best avoided if you’re after a precise line.”

*when you sign up to a six-month subscription and use the discount code TREAT30.

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