I Finally Found Drugstore Eyeliners That Don't Feel Like I'm Using #2 Pencils

I've generally stayed away from drugstore eye pencils because of a few that were extremely sharp and dry.
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I've generally stayed away from drugstore eye pencils because of a few that were extremely sharp and dry.

As indispensable as liquid eyeliner is for creating the perfect cat-eye, more often than not I tend to reach for an eye pencil. For my everyday makeup, it's a lot easier to add some quick definition to my eyes with a slightly smudged pencil eyeliner (and I love how soft and sexy it looks). 

Unfortunately, I recently ran my favorite pencil eyeliner, Urban Decay 24/7 Glide On Eye Pencil, down to a stub. I don't feel like forking over the money to replace it, so I decided to check out a few drugstore options for the first time in years. 

I generally stay away from drugstore pencil eyeliners because of a few bad experiences involving extremely sharp, dry pencils that made it feel like I was using a literal #2 pencil on my poor eyelids. However, Marci mentioned that a certain Maybelline pencil eyeliner was amazing, so I picked that one up along with a couple others and put them all to the test. 

budget eyeliner pencils.jpg

e.l.f. Brightening Eye Liner

For $1, how could I not give this one a try? 

The e.l.f. liner in action.

The e.l.f. liner in action.

This one is the most pencil-like of the three, and its pointy tip definitely scared me. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it didn't hurt at all, however. In fact, it glided gently along my skin with nary a snag or poke. Its ultra-sharp tip really lets you get a thin, precise line, although it's not super dark. 

It's easy to smudge, too — perhaps a little too easy, but I like smudgy eyeliner, so I'm OK with that. 

It's available in three colors (I tested the black) and I highly recommend picking up all of them. Oh, and as an added bonus, it comes with its own sharpener. 

Flower Forever Wear Long-Wear Eyeliner

This $7 liner is available in five colors; I tried Sapphire. 

The Flower liner in action. 

The Flower liner in action. 

I think this is a really gorgeous shade and a really nice eyeliner as well. The packaging is quite nice. But does it count as a pencil when it's a twist-up? For the purposes of this article, we'll say yes; it's just more of a mechanical pencil I suppose. 

It's very creamy so it glides on smoothly and smudges easily if you want it to, but it also stays put when you're done. I definitely want one of these in every color. 

Maybelline Eyestudio Lasting Drama Waterproof Gel Pencil

This is the darkest and creamiest of the three liners, which is great if you want a really dramatic, highly pigmented line. 

The Maybelline liner in action. 

The Maybelline liner in action. 

It's also the thickest, which isn't my favorite feature. I don't have a lot of visible lid space, so it only takes one swipe of this liner to cover most of it. However, that's fine for when I want a dramatic look. 

Since this liner is so creamy, I recommend caution if you like to smudge your liner with your finger — things get messy. Better to use a smudging brush with this liner. Once it dries, however, it's fairly smudge-resistant and lasts all night. It's goes for about $7 and is available in six colors. 

L-R: e.l.f. Liner, Flower Liner, and Maybelline Liner

L-R: e.l.f. Liner, Flower Liner, and Maybelline Liner

For both the Flower and Maybelline liners, I found it was essential to use a good eyelid primer to avoid having them transfer to my crease. The e.l.f. liner wasn't as creamy, so it wasn't as much of an issue. 

I think if you're interested in the Urban Decay liner or the new Make Up For Ever Aqua XL liners that I reviewed, the Flower or Maybelline liners could be a good budget-friendly alternative, especially since they have some fun colors as well. They're not quite as smudge-proof, but with a good primer, you'll probably be fine. 

  • What's your favorite drugstore eye pencil? 
  • Did you ever have an experience that turned you off a certain kind of beauty product?