Saturday, June 22, 2024
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Waterproof Eyeliner vs Regular Eyeliner

The wonderful world of eyeliner! Seriously though, what would we do without it? If you are anything like me, you have been playing around with it since your elementary days (sorry mom!), graduated into being “allowed” to wear it in junior high, then really started applying it like an adult in high school (maybe). In college, our sorority sisters showed me all the tips and tricks (holy liquid game is ON!), and ever since it’s been a staple of the daily beauty routine.

So many colors, so many textures, so many ways to apply it. The eyeliner of today isn’t our mom’s eyeliner. In fact, most of us probably updated our moms with the newer formulas at some point during our eyeliner journey. And, at some point, we have probably messed with a waterproof liner. Or maybe you haven’t! OR maybe you are one of our new eyeliner novices who we are welcoming into this magical, eye-defining world (and if this is you, boy are you in for a treat!).

The skinny on waterproof is that, regardless of tears, rain, sweat, swimming, etc. It tends to hang on for dear life. But that also means it requires some labor to remove. With regular liners, you can rely on the look but you’ll have to be awfully careful if you encounter any moisture at all, because boy will it run.

But I digress. It isn’t just as simple as to what is better, waterproof or regular eyeliner. That’s because “regular” doesn’t exist anymore. There are a bevvy of options when it comes to the world of eyeliners. So rather than pair it down to a boxing match, let’s examine the different types and what makes them great, or not so great.

Kohl Eyeliner

Want to smolder in seconds? Want to apply to your waterline (the area between your lashes and your actual eye) without running or streaking? Kohl liner is a traditional favorite because it’s versatile. You can smudge it into smokey-eyed perfection, or just leave a clean line as you please. 

This is an intense liner with a color payoff and dates all the way back to Cleopatra. Now, kohl liners are much softer and won’t tug at your skin, but the wear time is short and you are going to need a good sharpener. And I mean NEED a good sharpener. It just doesn’t go on right without a perfectly sharpened tip. But drama? Oh yes.

Gel Pencil Eyeliner

It might sound crazy, but it ain’t no lie. The gel comes primarily in a pencil form these days. Gel liner applies in a neat and swift fashion and is almost always waterproof. It has a plastic-coated appearance, so it too needs to be sharpened. And while it’s perfect for your waterline, it doesn’t go on quite as smooth on your upper lid. Yes, think tugging. 

Also, gel liners are a bit drab in color. It won’t give you the distinguished pop you are looking for, but it is easy to travel with! Some gel liners can give you 24-hour wear, which is a testament to eyeliner.

Brush Tip Liquid Liner

There are actually a few different types of liners when it comes to liquid. And despite the fact it glides on in a liquid form, these liners come in both waterproof and non-waterproof. These are usually great for sharp, thin lines and typically produce a matte finish (although not always). 

The great thing about this type of eyeliner is that it is easy peasy to remove. What you may not like is that it requires a VERY steady hand, so application time requires a bit of commitment and it needs time to dry. Some of these formulas can flake easily, so do your research if you want to try this option. Once you master the technique, it becomes quite easy.

The Felt Tip Pen Eyeliner

Felt tips are like brush tips in that the formula is liquid and offers great precision, but not all liquids are alike. Felt tips usually produce a much thicker line, but these are easier to control than (ahem my personal favorite) the brush tip. 

The felt tips require a bit more pressure when applying and this can lead to bleeding into your eye (have some cotton swabs at the ready – even the pros have this problem). What’s preferable about felt tips is that they are buildable or require layers -so you can control the intensity. These too come in waterproof or non-waterproof formulas but either way, it’s harder to remove.

The Gel Pot Eyeliner

When you think of gel, perhaps this is more of what you had in mind. It’s glossy and glide-y yet stays put all day. This liner is a bit high maintenance though as you will need a brush for application. It doesn’t really require a drying time as the liquids do, yet you get a similar feeling of a liquid. If you really want to smoke out your eyes, this is what the masters use. 

The key is mastering the brush, keeping it clean, and not losing it. Because if you lose your brush, the gel pot is worthless. Despite being called “gel” this may tug at your eyelid skin too, so apply with patience and caution. Another downfall is that it can be a bit drying and look cakey at times. But it definitely has a distinguished look which is why so many people like it. There are both waterproof and non-waterproof options.

Shadow Eye Liner

Much like it sounds, this is similar to eyeshadow in that it’s a powder. It’s super easy to apply, but not really precise. If you are wanting a quick smokey eye, this is probably your best bet. And you’ll be hard-pressed to find a waterproof version with this type of liner. It’s a bit messy, so you need to take your time and tap off the excess from your brush prior to application, otherwise, it ends up all over your face. And I mean ALL over your face. 

And if you are anything like me and use eyeliner like the icing on a cake, you won’t love the fact you have to remove it off your beautifully primed and foundation perfected skin. Also, it requires a GOOD brush.


While you were probably looking for more basic information when it comes to waterproof versus non-waterproof eyeliner, it just isn’t that simple. There are so many different types and all produce a slightly different finish. 

It really depends on your lifestyle as to what to choose. If you live in a lot of rain, are prone to tears, or find yourself swimming a lot, waterproof is the way to go. If you want a gorgeous look and can manage to be careful, you don’t have to spend a ridiculous amount of time taking a regular liner off. Does that help? Hope so!

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