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4 Types of Eyeliner: Liquid, Pencils, Brush Tip Application

4 Types of Eyeliner

You’re at the store thinking you’re all ready to create the makeup look of your dreams till, hmm, something’s missing… eyeliner!

You forgot about eyeliner! You don’t know where to start. There are shelves, even aisles, full of them! 

Liquid or gel? Black eyeliner or colorful? 

So many different types of eyeliner can be overwhelming. Luckily, we’re here to show you how easy and fun eyeliner can be!

Table of Contents

4 Types of Eyeliner

1. Pencil Eyeliner

1. Pencil

Starting with the most classic out of the different types of eyeliner. The eye pencil or pencil eyeliners.

Care to wager what your mother, grandmother, and her sister all had in their makeup bags? Likely a pencil eyeliner.

Pencil liners are EVERYONE’S starter eye liner. They’re a staple beauty product.

They’re easy to use and forgiving for beginners who have difficulty applying eyeliner – not to mention they stay in the waterline!

Here are a couple of different types to know!

Wood Pencil Eyeliner

Your standard eye pencils. They look like colored pencils and they function in pretty much the same way, i.e. you sharpen, you pick up, and you draw.

Let’s elaborate, shall we?

Kohl Eyeliner

The pencil eyeliner has been around for centuries. As in ancient times.

Back when pyramids were the hottest new thing in architecture, people were lining their eyes with what is called a kohl pencil, then made with soot mixed with oil.

The kohl eyeliner is still around today but has been updated since its earlier forms.

Kohl is one of many popular formulas for pencil eyeliners because of its CREAMY TEXTURE and HIGHLY PIGMENTED COLOR.

If you’re going for sultry smokey eyes – kohl eyeliner is the way to go!

Kohl Kajal Liner

Kohl Kajal liner is the common formula found in most eyeliner pencils. It’s a marriage of kohl and kajal eyeliner.

It has the rich color of kohl eyeliner and the staying power of a kajal eyeliner.

This is the best bet for your waterline because it’s NOT LIKELY TO SMUDGE. As long as you sharpen your kajal liners, precision is no issue.

If you want that bold color without smudging, this is a good option for you!

Mechanical Pencil Eyeliner

Mechanical liners are eye pencils placed in modern packaging. Performance-wise, a mechanical and wood pencil work just about the same way.

The main factor is you don’t need to sharpen a mechanical liner. There are even some mechanical types of eyeliners that have built-in sharpeners – such innovation, right?!

So every time you open your eyeliner, the TIP IS SHARPENED ALREADY as if it’s brand new!

Of the different types of mechanical liners, one of the most popular is the skinny variety.

  • These pencils are perfect for creating thin lines along the top and lower lash line for softer looks that say, “yeah my lashes are naturally this thick and gorgeous.”
  • This is good for someone who doesn’t want to sharpen an eye pencil or someone who wants their liner up close into the eyelashes so that their eyes pop naturally.
  • Bonus tip: Most mechanical liners can also double as an eyebrow pencil. They’re perfect for enhancing Asian eyebrows, which are typically sparse and thin.

2. Liquid Eyeliner

2. Liquid

Moving on to liquid eyeliners! Liquid eyeliners come in either a pot or a pen packaging.

Note that liquid eyeliner isn’t the most forgiving formula especially if you don’t have a steady hand. 

It is, however, a top choice to create a super sharp cat-eye makeup and great for those who want eye makeup for sensitive eyes.

Whatever makeup style you choose to wear, you can be sure that liquid liner is going to give you an extremely precise line.

Let’s find out which of these liquid eyeliner products is best for you!


Picture the ink and quill used for writing. Liquid eyeliner pots are pretty much that concept. You DIP in your eyeliner brush to pick up some of the liquid eyeliner then APPLY it to your eyes.

The pot is a very early form of liquid eyeliner but it can still be found on the market today.

The formula is usually super black and opaque making it ideal for people who prefer a dramatic and noticeable line.


A pen-type liquid liner is exactly as it sounds. This product is super simple to use and is the PREFERRED EYELINER for a lot of makeup enthusiasts.

No worrying about the amount of product you’re using because the PEN DISPENSES IT for you. Focus on keeping a steady hand and getting your eyeliner designs as even as possible.

Pen-type liquid liners are great for more creative makeup artists.

Be imaginative with freehand graphic lines and shapes for different eyeliner styles in a million different colors on the eyes or face!

We have two options here: brush tip and felt tip!

Felt Tip

If you’ve ever held one of those skinny Sharpie pens – you’ve held a felt tip liquid liner.

The felt tip looks the same as any whiteboard or permanent marker tip you’ve likely seen but it’s tinyyyy.

It also works the same as a marker – meaning you take it, open the cap, and draw.

This product gives a super easy, nearly foolproof way to get a clean and precise cat eye effect or winged eyeliner.

Brush Tip

A brush tip liquid liner uses a finely tipped brush that allows for a super smooth thin line and EASY APPLICATION on the outer corner for that razor-sharp winged liner.

Most online beauty creators will say the brush tip is the best eyeliner for getting a CLEAN LINE on your own.

A brush allows for more FLEXIBILITY AND MOVEMENT than a felt tip or other eyeliners so you can easily change the size and shape of your eyeliner. And yes, you can also achieve a cat eye.

With it, you can create tiny details that complement your eye shadow and make your eyes pop! Use it in the inner corner to create the trendy fox eye shape!

3. Cream Eyeliner

3. Cream

Hello, smokey eyes! If you’re looking to smudge your liner and smudge it some more – look no further!

Of all types of eyeliners, cream eyeliners were MADE for smudging.

The creamy formula is similar to that of pencil eyeliners except it’s in a pot. You need a separate eyeliner brush, like an angled brush, for a more precise line and more control.

Cream eyeliners are perfect for a HEAVY UPPER LASH LINE. Lining your upper lash line will give a lot of drama and effect to your eye makeup.

If you like to wear thick Hollywood glam eyeliner styles – go for a cream eyeliner!

Pro tip: cream eyeliner is also an excellent eyeshadow base or even substitute cream eye shadow!

4. Gel Eyeliner

4. Gel

Professional makeup artists swear by gel eyeliner – and we can see why. There’s just something about gel liners that other eyeliners don’t have.

A gel liner has the flexibility of a cream or eye pencil liner with the staying power of liquid eyeliner.

Gel liner works for a cat eye, wing liner, a fox eye, a cut-crease, a mod look, and even a puppy eye. Plus they are also comfortable in the waterline!

Yes, we’ll admit pencils can actually do the same things as gel eyeliner – in fact, a HYBRID GEL EYELINER PENCIL eyeliner does exist! No need to use a separate q-tip to make sure you’ve traced your eye properly.

But the control in the amount of product and using a brush to maneuver lines onto the face make gel eyeliner highly versatile.

Gel eyeliner works for nearly any eyeliner style, especially the cat eye look, but there’s a bit of a learning curve especially since these are pot eyeliners.

How Do I Apply Eyeliner?

How Do I Apply

Since you’ve got the “Whats” down let’s get onto the “Hows” of an eyeliner technique!

Choose whichever liner you prefer, they all work for a classic dramatic wing:

  1. Start on the OUTSIDE of the eye, moving in toward the lashes.
  2. Stop when you get to the inside, TAPERING THE LINE along the way.
  3. Fill in your upper and lower waterline for a bolder look. If you have small eyes, only do half the waterline. Close off your eyes to make them look smaller.
  4. Finish off your lashes with a COAT OF MASCARA and you’re done! You can also opt for your favorite type of eyelash extension to add more drama.

Keep practicing your lines and in no time, you’ll master the flick!


Eyeliner is one of our favorite beauty products. No matter how thick or thin, a makeup look is not complete without eyeliner.

They’re versatile and convenient and it doesn’t matter what your skin tone is because an expressive liner looks good on everyone!

Now go on and start practicing those lines! You can easily enjoy those cat eyes with less stress!


September 6, 2021 – Updated article formatting and content

August 13, 2021 – Updated article content

July 19, 2021 – Reviewed and updated article links

Paola Diaz
Paola Diaz

Hi, I'm Paola! A skin care enthusiast and nature lover. Creating content that promotes proper skin treatment and keeping a healthy glow is my way of sharing with the world how healthy skin can go a long way. I’m a firm believer of natural beauty that radiates inside all of us. All we need is the right kind of nourishment that inspires our wellness from inside out. So it’s really not about physical beauty alone – it’s the beautiful life we can create for ourselves when we connect with our own nature and see there is beauty that shines from every one of us.