Different types of Eyeliner: Gel, liquid, pencil (#1 Complete Guide)

different types of eyeliner: gel eyelinerm, pencil eyeliner, liquid eyeliner

Eyeliner is an essential part of the makeup routine and is a fan favorite for makeup lovers who love a bold and bright eye.

But, if you have dipped your toe in the eyeliner world, you know that there are A LOT of different options. 

There are three different types of eyeliner: liquid, pencil, and gel liner.

But, there are also different eyeliners within these three types, which means there are a lot of eyeliners to choose from. 

If you have no idea which eyeliner will be the best fit for you, then look no further.

Today I am going through all of the different types of eyeliner, (and the sub-types, and sub-sub-types) and what makes each one unique.

By the end of this article, you should have a clear idea of exactly what type of eyeliner is the best fit for you.

eye of a woman wearing liquid eyeliner and different types of eyeliner text overlay

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Liquid Eyeliner

Liquid eyeliner is the first type of eyeliner that we will be focusing on, why it is unique, and who it is the best fit for. But before we dive into any of that, I want us to look at the three different tips of liquid liners.

Different Tips

Felt Tip: This is the perfect tip if you are a beginner in the liquid eyeliner world. The felt tip is great because it dispenses product automatically, and it is much sturdier than the other tips.

This is also what the tip of an eyeliner pen is, which I will talk about more below. Felt tips also dry really easily, so be sure to keep this type of eyeliner sealed shut when you aren’t using it. 

My absolute favorite felt-tip eyeliner is this one by Haus laboratories.

Brush Tip: These tips are arguably the most difficult to use out of the three, and it may take a few tries to get the look you want. But, you can create very fine lines with this tip. 

The brush tip is not for beginners. If you don’t have experience with eyeliner, brush tips could be difficult to manage because it’s not as precise as felt tips!

However, this type of eyeliner is amazing for makeup intermediates that want to play with the eyeliner game.

My favorite is this one by NYX

Sponge Tip: Sponge tips are a whole other ball game when it comes to applying liner.

This tip is extremely flexible, and is great for more creative eyeliner looks, particularly cat eyes and winged eyeliner looks. But, one downside to sponge tips is that they often dry out quickly, so you might need to dip it a couple of times to complete your look. 

A perfect example is this stamp eyeliner here.

Pen Eyeliner

Not only is there liquid eyeliner, but there are also eyeliner pens.

This technically fits into the liquid eyeliner category, so I want to devote a little time to spotlight them.

Eyeliner pens are great if you want liquid eyeliner, but you are a beginner. And a great pen eyeliner to start when you are a beginner is this one here.

As I mentioned earlier, this type of eyeliner typically uses a felt tip, which is perfect for even distribution of product.

Pens are easy to hold and easy to use!

However, pens will make dark lines, so if you want a more natural look, an eyeliner pen might not be the best fit for you. 

Who Liquid Eyeliner is a Good Fit For

Liquid eyeliner might be the best fit for you if you fit into one or more of these categories:

✔️An Experienced Eyeliner: Liquid eyeliner can get very messy, which is why I recommend this type of liner for someone who is a bit more experienced and comfortable with applying eyeliner. If you have never used eyeliner before, or don’t have a steady hand, keep reading to find the best fit for you!

✔️Bold Looks: I mentioned that eyeliner pens create darker lines, and this is the case for liquid eyeliner as a whole. Many liquid eyeliners create thicker, darker lines, so it is a bit more difficult (but not impossible) to create a softer look. 

Pencil Eyeliner 

So many people love pencil eyeliners because they are so easy to use.

They are much more forgiving than other types of eyeliners, and there are a wide variety of different pencil bases, and different colors and textures.

First, let’s take a look at the three different types of pencil bases, and what makes each of them unique. 

Related: Best Matte Eyeshadow Palettes for your eye color!

Pencil Eyeliner Bases

Wax-Based: These types of eyeliner pencils are great if you want something that glides on smooth and easy. You are less likely to have tugging or pulling when you use a wax-based eyeliner pencil. 

Powder-Based: A powder-based eyeliner is most often found in a kohl (charcoal) pencil. This powder-based formula creates an intense black liner look and is perfect if you love a dramatic eye. 

Gel-Based: Sometimes, eyeliner types overlap, which is the case for gel-based pencils. This pencil formula combines the creaminess of gel eyeliner with the stability of a pencil. These pencils are great if you want a creamy formula without the precision that a gel eyeliner requires.

Pencil eyeliner also comes in waterproof, matte, or satin finishes!

I highly recommend everyone to have at least ONE creamy black pencil MATTE eyeliner that at the same time is waterproof once it is dry.

So at the beginning while it is still wet you can play and place it exactly where you want it but after it drys the eyeliner won’t smudge.

This pencil eyeliner here works perfectly for that.

Black Pencil Eyeliner

Black eyeliner pencils are the most common in the makeup world and are perfect for a standard, everyday eyeliner look.

Since black goes with anything, you can use this liner as the base for any bold eye look. If you want a bold look, I recommend using a black liner and a brighter eyeshadow. 

White Pencil Eyeliner

One of the reasons why I love pencil eyeliners is because you can purchase one in nearly any shade. Colored pencil eyeliners are a ton of fun, and I think everyone should have at least one in their makeup bag.

While this might not fit into the “Natural makeup” category, wearing a bright blue or electric pink liner for a night out is a must! 

Who Pencil Eyeliner is a Good Fit For

✔️Eyeliner Newbie: If you are brand new to the world of eyeliner, an eyeliner pencil is a perfect place to start. It is much easier to control

✔️Waterline Lover: It is definitely easiest to use a pencil liner if you want to line your waterline. Liquid or gel liners have a greater likelihood to run into your eye and could cause an infection. Because pencil liners are more stable, you can highlight your waterline as well!

✔️Smudgers: If you like the smudged eyeliner look, then you definitely want to try a pencil liner. These liners have the ability to smudge and play with your liner. But, this also means that if you don’t like smudging, this type of liner might not be the best fit. Out of the three, these are the most likely to smudge. 

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Liquid Eyeliner vs Pencil Eyeliner

Now that we have looked at two different types of eyeliner, I want to briefly review the differences between liquid and pencil liners.

➡️Experience: While beginners can try their hand at both liquid and pencil liners, I typically recommend pencil liners for eyeliner newbies, as they are much more stable and easier to hold. But, if you are an eyeliner professional, trying a liquid liner is a must. 

➡️Stability: Another major difference between the two types of eyeliner is the stability required to apply. With a pencil liner, you do not need a steady hand, and it is much more forgiving when you apply. But, a liquid eyeliner requires a bit more precision to achieve the perfect wings. 

➡️Time: Another difference between the two is the time it takes to use them. Pencil eyeliners take significantly less time than liquid liners, so they are perfect for on-the-go looks!

Related post: The 10 Best Eyeliners for Beginners (Reviewed by a MUA)

Gel Eyeliner

Gel Eyeliners are a bit different from either of the liners we have looked at.

They typically come in a pot and you will most likely have to purchase a separate brush.

They are much creamier than the other types of liners we have looked at, so they do not dry out during application.

My all-time favorite gel eyeliner is this one here. It’s just the best eyeliner ever! the blackest black and super easy to manage.

Find out if gel eyeliner is a good fit for you by reading on!

Who Gel Eyeliner is a Good Fit For

✔️ Creative Makeup Lovers: Gel eyeliner is the easiest out of the three to create versatile shapes. So if you are ready to get a bit more creative and start experimenting with different designs, try a gel liner!

✔️ Particular Brush Lovers: If you can’t stand the tips that come with liquid eyeliner, and are tired of sharpening an eyeliner pencil, investing in a quality brush and going the gel eyeliner route is definitely the best fit for you. 

Gel Eyeliner vs Liquid Eyeliner

Gel eyeliner and liquid eyeliner often get compared to one another, so let’s review what makes each of them unique. 

➡️ Brushes: One of the biggest differences between these two types of eyeliner is the brush that is used. Liquid eyeliner uses three different tips, while gel eyeliner typically requires you to purchase a brush separately. 

➡️ Dryness: Liquid eyeliners tend to dry a lot faster than gel eyeliners, so you are limited on the different shapes you can do. But, gel eyeliners are creamy, so they take longer to dry and allow for more flexibility when it comes to design. 

Conclusion on the Different Types of Eyeliner

It is undeniable that there are a lot of eyeliners to choose from.

But, I hope this list provides a bit more clarity on the three types of eyeliner (liquid, pencil, and gel) and which is the best fit for you.

Whether you are an eyeliner newbie or a seasoned professional, there are plenty of eyeliner options to choose from!

Am I missing something? Comment below. I’d love to hear from you.



What’s next? Related Eyeliner Posts you might like

How to finally STOP your eyeliner from SMUDGING (on upper and bottom lid)

Top 15 Best Affordable Waterproof Eyeliners (gel, pencil, and liquid)

How to Apply Eyeliner (Pro tips + Step by step Tutorial)

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The Best Eyeshadow Palettes for the Everyday Makeup

Different types of Eyeliner: Gel, liquid, pencil (#1 Complete Guide)

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