Gel eyeliner vs Liquid eyeliner: beauty experts spill on their favourites

There has long been a debate in the beauty world over gel eyeliner vs liquid eyeliner. Some prefer the build-ability of the Gel liner while others love the sharp line that the Liquid liner makes. Instead of giving you our divided opinion (or a rant about how you use both for different), we decided to ask the beauty experts what they use each one for!

Angelique Hogan, NSW Education Executive, Clinique Australia

What is the difference between gel and liquid eye liners?

The differences would differ from one brand to the next. Clinique’s Brush On Cream liner is a gel liner that is long wearing, and non- smudging for precise application with a specific brush. It is layerable, buildable and can be used for defined or Smokey eyeliner looks.

Clinique’s Eye Defining liquid liner is classified as a liquid liner (also long-wearing) and contains a fine sponge tip applicator in the wand of the product – making it quicker and easier to use. Liquid liners are not as buildable as gel liners so you need to get liquid liners right the first time! Often when you try to layer liquid liners you can end up taking the product off.

Do you prefer liquid or gel eyeliner?

I use both. For clients that want something quick and easy I recommend the liquid liner – for no mess, no fuss applications. When I want precision; intensity; versatility; or I want to create a serious line and build up the shape of the liner I go for a gel liner like Brush On Cream Liner. For a defined or traditional 50s 60s flick either product can be used. Alternatively, if you want a Smokey smudged liner with staying power use the gel Brush on Cream Liner.

Nicole Thompson, MAC Cosmetics Senior Artist:

Nicole Thompson, MAC Cosmetics Do you prefer liquid or gel eyeliner?

I like both for very different reasons!

A gel eye liner is easy to use, gives you a little more play time and blendability, so it is great for people who are newer to applying liner. It can also be used to create different effects; from a Smoky eye to a crisp, clean liner.

A liquid eye liner looks like just that – liquid. I love using a liquid when I want to create the most perfect, clean defined liner – along the lash line, and also with a flick. Black liquid liner would be my preference as it’s intense and achieves a classic look eye. My favourite trick is to use liquid liner to paint over the roots of false eyelashes to hide/help disguise them!

What are your favourite looks to create with gel and/or liquid eyeliner?

I love to create a dirty, lived-in sexy smoky eye (as seen at the Iceberg Spring/Summer 2012 show) with gel eye liner (try MAC Blacktrack Fluidline RRP: $32.00 AUD). I use a soft fluffy brush to smudge into the lashline and out to the crease, keeping the edges soft. The trick to this one is to dab a small amount of Gloss, MAC Gloss Texture into the centre of the lids to help it move around and give some shine!

At Jonathan Saunders Spring/Summer 2012 show, black flick eyeliners defined and elongated the eyes, set against super dewy skin and stayed perfectly crisp. It was created with Boot Black Liquid Liner (RRP $32.00 AUD).

Gel Eyeliner

Our top picks: Gel Eyeliner

(from left to right)

Clinique Brush On Cream liner (Shop AU / US / UK)

I was immediately happy when I opened the box – the product comes with with its own mini brush! So handy for those who don’t have a stash of eyeliner brushes lying around and this is their first ever gel eye liner pot. Brush-excitement aside, we loved the almost liquid-liner-like texture of this cream liner it has amazing hold and pigmentation. Like most of Clinique’s amazing range of products, it is also ophthalmologist tested.

Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner (Shop: AU / US / UK)

This little pot of gel eyeliner has won an award or two for being kind of awesome and we can see why. It’s fast becoming a personal favourite with it’s smooth application and crease-free wear. It’s probably the thickest consistency of these three eyeliners, great if you really want to build a nice smokey eye.

MAC Fluidline (Shop: AU / US / UK)

When we posted a teaser to this post on Instagram and Facebook, the comments kind of went nuts over this product in particular. It’s a fan favourite for sure and we totally understand why. It’s less cream-like out of these three gel liners, but it went on the smoothest with a lovely soft finish. Smudge-proof and available in a range of colours, this may just be our pick of the bunch.

Liquid Eyeliner

Our top picks: Liquid Eyeliner

(from left to right)

Make Up Forever Color Liner

I picked this up one time in Sephora when I was on the hunt for a new liquid eyeliner, the colour pigment was amazing and the brush is amazingly fine so you can create the thinnest line you want. The consistency is a little runny which I’m not a huge fan of but you can’t beat the colour availability in this product line.

Editor’s Note: This product has since been discontinued, Check out Make Up Forever’s Aqua Liner or Ink Liner.

Illamasqua Precision Ink (Shop Worldwide)

This was a spur of the moment purchase at Beauty Expo last year and it has fast become one of my favourite liquid eyeliners. The liquid has a lovely creamy consistency which lets the brush apply a smooth line around your eye. It has a decent wear time too for a non-waterproof liquid eyeliner.

MAC Cosmetics Liquid Eye Liner (Shop AU / US / UK)

Honestly I don’t know why I ever stray from MAC Cosmetics’ eye liner products, they make some of the best around eye liners around and their liquid liner combines great formulation with amazing pigmentation. Need I say more?

For eye liners that do not budge:

When you’re trying to impress the boys at the beach while battling the salt water, sweat and sun, you may need a eye liner that does not budge. My go to is MAC’s Liquid Line eyeliner. I’ve worn it swimming, for 30+ hours and reccommended it friends who’s lines of work require their makeup to stay put. And it hasn’t failed either time. You can only get it off with a oil based eye make up remover, or do as I do and put a few drops of Rosehip Oil on a cotton pad and wipe it off. Works a dream and it shouldn’t irritate your eye.


Tips for applying perfect eyeliner

From Michael Brown, Beauty Expert and Celebrity Make-up Artist

  • Apply a freshly sharpened kohl pencil line very thinly across the eyelid first as a stencil, I am very comfortable using these and it’s a great guide for beginners. Once you have your stencil apply the Gel/Liquid eyeliner over the top for a really crisp line.
  • For a thinner line, apply only the brush tip horizontally, letting your hand naturally move as you apply.
  • For a thicker line, use the side, or the angle part of the brush and apply allowing your hand to naturally curve (slightly diagonally) towards your face.
  • When you get a little more confident in your eye liner application, try mixing the two brush angles together for a natural thin to thick application – this gives the outer lashes more thickness.

All product was given to us for editorial consideration except for the Make Up Forever Color Liner,  Illamasqua Precision Ink and MAC Cosmetics Liquid Last.

1 Comment

  • Susan says:

    I love my Maybelline liquid liner, it’s kinda like a pen so it’s heaps easy to hold and create a sharp cat eye. I have Clinique’s cream liner too which i use when i’m creating a darker smokier, more dramatic effect.

    Hate the fact that MAC is testing on animals, i really wish they’d change their stance on that.

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