Liquid Vs Gel Eyeliner: Which Is Best For You?

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With so many cosmetic products to choose from to enhance your overall look, makeup professionals swear by the instant glamour an eyeliner creates.

A bottle of liquid eyeliner with a black lid.

Eyeliner is among every woman’s beauty arsenal that can transform plain-looking eyes like magic. 

This is applied along the rim of the eye, which can make your eyes look more awake and your lashes fuller. Also, this comes in different forms such as liquid and gel. 

Between gel vs liquid eyeliner formulations, most women have already made up their minds as to which type better addresses their needs.  

However, if you are a beginner to the eyeliner game and still can’t figure out which eyeliner is YOUR eyeliner, we’re here to guide you to the right path.

To save you from buying the wrong ones, we got all the information you need to help you figure out the better choice between liquid vs gel eyeliner. Read on to find out more!

Liquid vs Gel Eyeliner: Similarities And Differences

An infographic featuring liquid eyeliner, gel eyeliner, and its similarities for the liquid vs gel eyeliner

Whether it’s liquid or gel eyeliner, both offer different advantages and effects. That’s why it’s best to learn about both before buying one! 

Trust us on this, we don’t want you to end up regretting that purchase!

Before we deep dive into the gel eyeliner vs liquid eyeliner topic, here’s a quick reference for you on both products’ similarities and differences:


  • Both enable precise application
  • Both can create “cat-eye” and winged eyeliner looks
  • Both require trial and error for beginners because both are tricky to be applied
  • Reapplication is easy because of their portability
  • Both have color and waterproof variations
  • Both are available at affordable prices
  • Both last around 2 to 3 months


Liquid EyelinerGel Eyeliner
Better at creating thin and precise linesIdeal for thicker, bolder streaks
Easy application because it has built in applicatorCan do a smudged and defined look
May have a shiny finishTexture is blendable, customizable, and allows room for mistakes
Sets faster and doesn’t allow much room for errorsMay need a separate applicator brush depending on the look you’re aiming for
Best applied on upper lash line because it may sting your eye if used for tightliningA popular choice for tighlining the waterline

About Liquid Eyeliner

Although liquid eyeliners are a bit infamous for their high learning curve, they can create a perfect, well-defined line giving you your desired dramatic, sultry look.  

Small bottles of liquid eyeliners on a pink background

This type of liner comes in the form of an opaque liquid. It could be bought in a small container or bottle with a removable tip applicator or as a marker or pen-like tool. 

With this design, losing the applicator is the least of your worries! Just don’t lose the eyeliner itself or the cap. 

Also, take note that this formula sets faster than the rest, so expect that it doesn’t allow much room for errors. 

We strongly recommend going for liquid eyeliners with nontoxic and natural ingredients such as minerals, fruits, and natural waxes like beeswax. The Honest Beauty Liquid Eyeliner would be a great choice!

Types of Liquid Eyeliner Applicators

Liquid eyeliners typically come in two tip types: brush tip and felt tip

Brush Tips

Brush tips are made fine and flexible allowing control to create thick to thin lines depending on one’s preference. This type of applicator requires steady hands to create a straight line, hence it proves to be not quite friendly for beginners. 

Felt Tips

On the other hand, felt tips are designed with a marker-like tip that has a darker color deposit and glides on smoothly on the lash line. 

Unlike brush tips, this applicator type is recommended for beginners who don’t wish to grumble over smudging and wonky lines to nail the coveted eyeliner trick. 

How to Apply Liquid Eyeliner

If you are new to the eyeliner game, here’s a step-by-step guide that can help you master applying your liquid eyeliner:

Step 1: Prep Your Tools

Make sure to prepare your clean mirror, as well as your liquid eyeliner by giving it a few good shakes. 

Doing this will help the product escape the felt tip more easily, thus avoiding a streaky application, or preventing the liquid that’s stored in the bottle from being clumpy.

Step 2: Mark Little Dots or Dashes 

In order to create a well-defined line along your lashline, start by marking little dots or dashes on areas where you want your start and end points to be. 

Step 3: Apply Liner and Connect

After marking your guides, apply your liquid eyeliner on the outermost corner of your eye up to the point where you want your “cat eye” to end.

If you don’t want a winged eyeliner for the day, you can start applying from the inner corner of the eye and work your way to the outer corner. Whether this is through small strokes or one long application, it’s completely up to you!

Step 4: Be Patient and Let it Dry

Patience is a virtue, especially when applying eyeliner. Why? Because the last thing you want to happen is to mess up your hard work! 

Make sure to look down and wait for about a minute to let it dry before you do the same with the other eye. 

After the same process has been done, you may now proceed with the other steps of your makeup routine.

About Gel Eyeliner

Going for a formulation that offers versatility and ease? Gel eyeliner is a great pick. 

This type of eyeliner is in a creamy or soft-gel formula and is often regarded to be a hybrid between a pencil eyeliner and a liquid eyeliner. It is sold in a little pot and is applied using a separate applicator. 

Is gel eyeliner good? 

A person is dipping a brush into a jar of liquid eyeliner.

Absolutely! In fact, many people find the gel liner formulation more convenient for beginners because it glides on without tugging, creates smooth lines with different thickness, spreads easily, and has an intense color payoff that lasts long.

Gel eyeliners help you achieve that traditional winged eyeliner look. The best part? Its formulation also allows you to create a dramatic, smokey eye look because it’s easily blendable. See what we mean by versatility and ease?

Looking for a gel eyeliner that’s waterproof and stays on for long hours? Try the Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner that offers such qualities plus gives a subtle, dramatic effect!

Types of Gel Eyeliner Brushes

Unlike liquid eyeliners which are usually designed with built-in applicators, there are a lot of eyeliner brushes that are available now in the market that can help you apply potted gel eyeliners. Check these out:

Simple Eyeliner Brush

This slim and sparse-tipped brush is meant to draw fine, thin lines and effectively fills in the little gaps across your eyelid. 

However, this type of gel eyeliner brush isn’t very helpful in creating a winged look because this is meant to create a fine line and not layers. The Sigma E11 Eyeliner Brush would be a great buy if you’re looking for a simple eyeliner brush!

Angled Bent Eyeliner Brush

If you’re going for a subtle or a “no-eyeliner look,” use the angled bent eyeliner brush. 

This type of eyeliner brush is meant to create a precise thin line along the lash line. Its bent side also makes it easier to draw a curved line and wing. If you’re planning to own one, try this beginner-friendly eyeliner brush, the Bdellium Angled Bent Makeup Brush.

Dome-Shaped Semi Flat Brush

Is gel eyeliner easy to apply? Definitely! Thanks to the help of a dome-shaped semi-flat brush.

This type of brush is generally used by those with gel eyeliners because it is moderately dense, making it easier to create thick layered lines and achieve the coveted winged eye look. 

Flat Angled Tip Brush

Often called the “cat-eye” brush, this type of eyeliner brush comes with an angled-shaped pack hair in different sizes, effective for drawing slant lines or tight lines to add drama to your eye look. 

We recommend trying the ENERGY Winged Liner Brush, which offers ultra-thin slanted flat angled bristles.

Flat Tip Brush

This type of eyeliner brush is flat and densely packed, enabling easy hold of the product to draw a fine, straight line on the eyelid. 

In particular, the flat-tip eyeliner brush makes it extremely easy to recreate a soft and natural look while enabling the right blend of eyeshadow over the lids. 

How to Apply Gel Eyeliner

Like applying liquid eyeliners, there are also steps to follow in order to ace the technique of applying gel eyeliners. Here’s our step-by-step guide:

Step 1: Visualize the Look and Choose the Right Brush

When trying to create a look with eyeliner, it’s wise to visualize first the type of look you want to achieve. This way, it will help save you from erasing and reapplying the product.

Use a thicker brush for a smokey, smudgy look, or use a brush with a finer tip when going for a more precise, thin line. 

Step 2: Dip and Only Get Enough

In order to coat the brush’s bristles, dip it into the gel pot. To remove excess product, wipe them on the pot’s rim. 

Remember to start less than more. Removing excess on your skin is more difficult than adding more product. Also, applying too much eyeliner can surely lead to undesirable smudging and smearing. 

Step 3: Apply the Eyeliner

Just a friendly tip, start by placing your other hand on your face between the temple and the eye. Then gently pull the skin taut to your temple. Doing this will make your eyeliner crease-free. 

Squint your eye and start applying eyeliner on your top lid from the outer corner if you want a wing or from the inner corner for a simple look. Try to do this in a single stroke so the line is well-defined, and keep the eyeliner close to the lash line so there are no gaps. 

Step 4: Make It Bolder (If you’re into the dramatic look)

Retrace the line you’ve previously created with a thicker line to create a more dramatic eyeliner look. 

Remember to line the whole way across the eyelid or lash line to make the eye look bigger and more defined.

Once done, repeat the same routine for your other eye. 

Liquid vs Gel Eyeliner: Purchasing Considerations

Not that we’ve clearly defined the liquid and gel eyeliner formulations, but we would like you to keep in mind some details when choosing gel eyeliner or liquid. 

Although all eyeliners can add a glamorous effect to your eyes, some products may still have qualities that make them more suitable for you. 

When purchasing liquid eyeliner or gel eyeliner, make sure to remember these important factors:

1. Your Skin Type

You should identify your skin type first before buying an eyeliner. 

If you have sensitive eyes, it’s best to look for eyeliner formulas that don’t irritate your skin, especially when tightlining your waterline

If your eyes are prone to oiling up or smudging, then go for smudge-proof eyeliner products. 

However, if you have an existing eye infection, we recommend taking the time to recuperate before applying eyeliner on your lids as this may worsen the situation.

2. Ingredients Used

We strongly emphasize double-checking the ingredients used in your eyeliner products. For example, when buying a liquid or gel eyeliner, keep in mind to avoid the following ingredients:

  • Petrochemicals — While these improve the length of wear and texture, they have been linked with skin inflammation and free radical damage.
  • Synthetic fragrances — These give your eyeliner a lovely scent, but they contribute to skin irritation and have allergens, carcinogens, hormonal disruptors, and neurotoxic substances.
  • Parabens — Although this type of ingredient enables longer shelf-life and prevents bacterial growth, studies have found that this causes hormonal dysfunction.

3. Application

A woman is applying eyeliner with a brush.

If you are a pro at applying eyeliner, best to use liquid eyeliners because they are easier to use due to their built-in applicator or pen-like tool. Unlike gel eyeliners, they dry faster so they’re less messy when applied.

If you are a beginner and don’t have super steady hands, gel eyeliners may be your best bet. Its creamy formulation allows you more room for errors and can be easily blended. 

However, some gel liner products would require you to buy a separate brush, prompting another challenge of choosing the right gel eyeliner applicator brush to create your desired look.

4. Longevity

Whether that be liquid or gel eyeliner, we recommend going for products that are waterproof and smudge-proof so they stay on all day. Also, applying an eye primer will help in your eyeliner’s staying power. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it Okay to Use Both Liquid and Gel Eyeliners?

Yes, you can use both gel and liquid eyeliner in your makeup routine. 

Gel eyeliners tend to be creamier and smoother than their liquid counterparts, so they are easier to apply if you are not used to using liner. 

On the other hand, liquid eyeliners give you more control over how much product is applied, allowing for greater accuracy when applying skinny lines or detailed designs. 

Depending on your desired look, you can utilize both types of liner together by using the gel as a base for your design and then adding fine details with the liquid eyeliner.

What’s the Longest-Wearing Eyeliner Formula?

Both types have long-wearing variants.

If you’re looking for an eyeliner with a long-lasting finish, seek out one with a waterproof or smudge-proof formula that won’t fade or transfer throughout the day. They usually advertise it on the packaging.

Additionally, look for highly pigmented formulas. This will ensure maximum color payoff.

Finally, be sure to prepare your eyes for eyeliner application; use an eye primer beforehand to ensure greater longevity of your desired look!

How Do I Remove Eyeliner?

A good way to start is by washing your face with micellar water, a gentle cleanser, and warm water. This will help break down the oils in your skin, which could be preventing the eyeliner from coming off easily. 

After this, use either a cotton pad or soft washcloth soaked in toner and gently rub in circular motions over your eyes until all of the eyeliner has been removed. 

Finally, never forget to moisturize after removing eyeliner so that your skin stays hydrated!

If you still see some residue, petroleum jelly can do the trick.

Liquid vs Gel Eyeliner: It’s Up To You!

When deciding on whether to use a gel or liquid eyeliner, the choice is totally up to you! 

Depending on the look you are trying to achieve, either option will give you gorgeous results. 

For a softer and more subtle look, use a liquid liner to easily draw thin lines that will enhance your eye shape. Gel liner is also an excellent choice when it comes to creating attractive looks as it provides lasting color and a creamy texture that allows easy blending. 

So no matter what kind of look you’re aiming for — be it trendy or subdued — you can find the perfect medium in between with gel or liquid eyeliner!

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  • Janille Gultiano

    Jan, a distinguished freelance makeup artist, also boasts a BA in Mass Communication, laying the foundation for her diverse talents. For over four years, she's carved a niche as a captivating content writer, with her articles resonating in various spheres. Beyond writing, her expertise extends to crafting robust Public Relations and Corporate Communications strategies. Each endeavor reflects Jan's unique blend of creativity and precision

  • Kelly Goforth

    With ten years in the beauty industry, Kelly Goforth has mastered the art of hair and makeup. Trained at The Redken Exchange in NYC and mentored by industry legends like Sam Villa and Lauren Hagan, she's a sought-after bridal specialist in Colorado Springs. From managing a Denver salon to now offering bridal hair, makeup, and airbrush spray tans, Kelly's expertise shines.

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