The Best Smudge-Proof Eyeliners That Can Withstand Long, Sweaty Travel Days

The only smudge we’re into is a sage cleanse. We're definitely not into eyeliner smudges, but thanks to beachy getaways, sweaty airport dashes, or just an old-fashioned case of buying the wrong product, we’ve racked up our share of smears and streaks. That’s why we’ve put in the time to find the eyeliner that will resist the urge to smudge, even in the steamiest climates or during the longest of travel days. Sick of your eyeliner straying before you've even left your hotel room? Let us introduce you to the best smudge-proof eyeliners around.

See recent posts by Rachelle Dragani

How do I keep my eyeliner from smudging? 

This is a two-parter. The first part: buy a quality smudge-proof product (our faves are below). The second: put a setting powder or eyelid primer to work. The setting powder route is a little more involved. First, using a fine pencil brush, swipe a bit of powder onto dry lids, and then do your first draft of eyeliner. On top of that, dab another hint of powder, then finish your eyeliner application and give it at least 30 seconds to dry. Top it with yet another bit of powder to finish it off. The combo of translucent powder and quality liner will lock your cat eye in place. Alternatively, apply a dab of eye primer over the edge of your lid; let dry before drawing on liner.

Pencil, potted, gel, liquid—which eyeliner is best?

Liquid is your best bet for precision or a perfect wing tip, since it goes on like a smooth paint. They’re often potted, though some come in a tube with a felt tip or a fine brush. Pencils traditionally gave a more matte line and thin consistency, though in recent years have started coming in more velvety finishes. In between the two is a gel, which goes on smooth and rich, but can either be purposely smudged for a smoky kohl eye or applied for a long-lasting and precise look. In short, the “best” eyeliner just depends on the look you’re going for.

The Best Smudge-Proof Eyeliners


Best Smudge-Proof Eyeliner Overall

MAC  Liquidlast Liner.

MAC Liquidlast Liner

Eyeliner application is an art form, and MAC’s foolproof brush and formula combo is a work of art. Effortless application, a fun range of shades (including a saucy metallic), and zero flakes or smudges make this your one-and-done option if you’re looking for a smudge-free eyeliner. Bonus: the built-in brush makes precision lines a piece of cake. This is a cat eye that will stand up to the club scene in Miami or Carnival in Rio.

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Best Smudge-Proof Eyeliner for Oily Eyelids

Kiss Me Heroine Make Smooth Liquid Eyeliner Super Keep, 03 Brown Black.

Kiss Me Heroine Make Smooth Liquid Eyeliner Super Keep

Formulated especially for oily lids, this big-in-Japan eyeliner isn’t going anywhere, especially if you close your eyes and fan it dry for a few seconds directly after application. It’s also an accessible eyeliner for oily-lidded makeup newbies—a few mistakes won’t be the end of your look, thanks to a super-thin felt tip that makes for an easy, buildable application.

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Best Waterproof Smudge-Proof Eyeliner

Stila  Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner.

Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner

Competitors are constantly trying to replicate this industry fave. Beloved by everyone from eyeliner rookies to beauty editors to celeb makeup artists, Stila’s waterproof formula is easy to draw on but tough to come off. Available in a fun set of shades, including a midnight blue with an air of mystery and a show-stopping opaque white, this is a leader in the world of smudge-free liner. 

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Best Waterproof Smudge-Proof Eyeliner for Waterline

MAKE UP FOR EVER Aqua XL Eye Pencil Waterproof Eyeliner.

Make Up For Ever Aqua XL Eye Pencil Waterproof Eyeliner

Even the wateriest of waterlines can’t wash away this creamy Make Up For Ever winner. One swipe will sit in your waterline without messing with your other eye makeup, and it comes in a fantastic variety of shades from iridescent greens to sultry matte plums. Note that some reviewers found this a little waxy or tough to apply to areas other than the waterline, so if you want to line other parts of your lids, stick to another of our faves on this list.

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Best Green Smudge-Proof Eyeliner

Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil.

Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil

You want green? You’ve got it—Urban Decay’s 24/7 eyeliner line has five beautiful shades of green, from a festival-ready glittery lime (“Freak”) to a foxy emerald in need of a holiday party (“Electric Empire”). Ultra-creamy and iridescent, these are super easy to apply, making them perfect to toss in your clutch or carry-on for a little on-the-go eye makeup fun. Make sure to let this one dry for a solid 30 seconds after you apply. After that, it’s not budging.

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Best Black Smudge-Proof Eyeliner

Eyeko Black Magic Liquid Eyeliner, Carbon Black.

Eyeko Black Magic Eyeliner

The name says it all: this really is black magic. With a tip inspired by calligraphy brushes, a tripeptide boost engineered to keep lashes healthy, and a carbon-black formula the company calls their darkest yet, this long-wearing liquid liner is your far and away best bet for serving a super-jet-black glare. 

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Best Brown Smudge-Proof Eyeliner

Tarte  Tarteist Double Take Eyeliner.

Tarte Tarteist Double Take Eyeliner

Brown eyeliner can work wonders by making blue eyes seem even bluer, or bringing a warmth to the eye area when you’re not feeling a harsh black line. And there’s no better smudge-proof option than Tarte’s vegan, double-duty pen. One side is a liquid designed to define, while the other is a gel pencil that can turn your look into a smoky eye show; both have mineral pigments and Amazonian clay that guarantee a smooth, smear-free look.

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Best Metallic Smudge-Proof Eyeliner

FENTY BEAUTY by Rihanna Flypencil Longwear Pencil Eyeliner.

Fenty Beauty By Rihanna Flypencil Longwear Pencil Eyeliner

Let 2020 forever be known as the year Rihanna gave us the metallic eyeliner we deserve. Traditionally, metallic formulas bring the drama for an hour, then reduce to shiny tears. But Fenty Beauty’s January launch masters a smooth, pigmented consistency that stays put. Dancing till 6:30 a.m. in a former power plant in Berlin? Rest assured that even if the tears fall, they’ll be crystal clear. 

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Best Smudge-Proof Gel Eyeliner

it Cosmetics No-tug Waterproof Gel Eyeliner (Black).

IT Cosmetics No-Tug Waterproof Gel Eyeliner

Makeup and skincare aren’t always the best of bedfellows, but they pair marvelously in this rich gel eyeliner. Along with its ability to stay locked on your lids, this liner is especially great for sensitive or mature skin, since it delivers collagen, vitamins C and E, and proteins to help your no-smudge eyes look a smidge younger. 

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Best Status Smudge-Proof Eyeliner


Chanel Stylo Yeux Waterproof Long-Lasting Eyeliner

You know Chanel isn’t going to stand by smudges. Their long-lasting liner is more gentle than many all-day formulas, making it a good option for sensitive eyes. Available in a purple that makes green or hazel eyes smolder and a white that delivers a red carpet-worthy look, this is one smooth operator you can wear worry-free for hours—even on summer strolls through Paris or beachside dinner and drinks in Turks and Caicos

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Best Liquid Smudge-Proof Eyeliner

Maybelline  Eye Studio Master Precise Liquid Eyeliner.

Maybelline Eye Studio Master Precise Liquid Eyeliner

Less than ten bucks for an eyeliner that won’t budge and a super-fine felt tip that makes precision lines a cinch? Sign us all the way up. The formula works equally for subtle everyday lines or a makeup tutorial-worthy designs, making this is a great go-to liquid liner for day and night. 

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Best Twist-Up Smudge-Proof Eyeliner

Marc Jacobs Beauty Highliner Gel Eye Crayon Eyeliner.

Marc Jacobs Beauty Highliner Gel Eye Crayon Eyeliner

Not only does this slim little pencil come with a twist-up for even more product, that feature also includes a tiny sharpener so you know you’re always getting the finest point. Combine that with a velvety formula that works for a range of eyeliner looks and an impressive variety of brilliant shades, and you’ve got an all-around smudge-proof winner. This is one to throw in your makeup bag for that big trip to Asia or that bachelorette weekend in Nashville.

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Best Potted Smudge-Proof Eyeliner

Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner.

Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner

A classic jet black matte liner, this is the trusty friend you always come back to when flashy new liners let you down. The fluid gel consistency, heavy pigmentation, and a great brush make it glide on easily, helping even shaky hands master a cat eye that lasts all day and night. 

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Your Eyeliner Tool Kit

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