What’s Your Favorite Waterline Eyeliner?

Published in: Just For Fun, Makeup Tips/How To


Hi, ladies. Do you ever think about your first time?


Mine was 1988… It was fifth period lunch, and I was in the girls bathroom.

I’m talking about the first time I lined my waterline, of course. ๐Ÿ™‚ It took me 15 minutes per eye because they kept watering like crazy.

I’m 100% sure it looked awful, but I remember feeling so fly! I used purple liner to go with my outfit — a purple Esprit sweater, stretch pants, slouchy socks and shoes. Yup, good times…

My stroll down waterline memory lane was triggered by this e-mail from MBB reader Stephanie:

Hey Karen!

I’m a late bloomer in the eyeliner department! I’ve just started doing waterline eyeliner, but it doesn’t work well for me. It’s like my waterlines are *too watery.* Do you have any tips because I really like the look! Thanks a mil!


What’s up, Stephanie? When it comes to drawing attention to the eyes, nothing beats those waterlines. I’m a big fan. ๐Ÿ™‚

First things first — finding a product that’s 1) easy on the eyes and 2) stays put!

Champions of the waterline!

cargo plant love eyeliner closeup
Cargo Plant Love Liners

Here are my current waterline favorites…

  • Cargo Plant Love Liner in Black ($16): A smooth, organic, long-wear liner free of parabens, phthalates, petrochemicals, synthetic dyes and fragrances. NOTE: I just checked the Sephora website for availability, and it looks like this and most of the Cargo Plant Love makeup line are MIA online. Finding this one might take a phone call or a trip to the store.
  • Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Zero ($17): This rich, dark black liner has legions of devoted followers! It’s so soft and buttery, yet lasts long and strong once it dries.
  • MAC Fluidline in Blacktrack ($15): Of these three, I think Fluidline lasts the longest, but it also takes the most effort and requires a brush to apply (for me). Totally worth it in my book, though, and as a bonus it doubles as an eyeshadow base.

Other liners to consider

Friends on Twitter and Facebook had a few more recommendations. The girls loveรขโ‚ฌยฆ


Application tips

  • Get hot! Try warming up the tip of a pencil liner. It should soften it, making it easier to apply. I’ll remove the cap and aim a hairdryer on low at the tip for about 10 seconds. If I don’t have a dryer with me, I’ll stick the capped pencil into the back pocket of my jeans and leave it there while I do the rest of my makeup and hair. After about 10 minutes it’s warm and good to go. ๐Ÿ™‚
  • Invest in a flat eyeliner brush. If you plan to try MAC Fluidline, try to budget some money for a brush to apply it with. I really like the MAC 212 Flat Definer Brush ($21).

Hope these help! As always, hit me (or any of the other gals) up in the comments.

My liner loving ladies, got any waterline secrets up your sleeves? How about your favorite liners? Which ones do you heart and why?

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



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So far, 77 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. veronica says:

    I’ve been dying to know how to do this for the longest time, so I can’t wait to see people’s tips!
    .-= veronica’s last blog post… Come hang out with me on Facebook! =-.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Veronica,

      Have you tried it before? I think the easiest (and cheapest) way to get your feet wet is to get a soft pencil liner and give it a go. Do it on a day you’re feeling coordinated (seriously, I’ve almost poked my eye out a few times). A room with good lighting helps too.

  2. Faye says:

    Goodness, Karen. Your first time waterlining was in the girls’ bathroom? And now you like to waterline with at least three different liners? What a makeup skank you are!

    *My* first waterlining experience was in lovely Bergdorf Goodman (Guerlain counter), where the surroundings were beautifully decorated and filled with soft music, and the experience made me feel so special :).

    • Karen says:

      Hi Faye,

      I am jealous!

      The girl’s bathroom reeked of Aquanet and Exclamation perfume… Somebody stepped on my Reeboks while I was there and I almost poked my eye out. LOLOLZ…

      Good times!

  3. GirlPaint says:

    I’m with you. I love Urban Decay 24/7, but I’ve gotta try the Cargo organic liner…now where to find it. Hmmmm.

  4. Marce says:

    My first time was with a Bloom eye liner, and it was fantastic ๐Ÿ˜€
    But, I’ve changed luvvas now, and definitely recommend MAC’s Blacktrack. OMG it was awesome! Stayed put all night long. When I can’t bother, I use Korres or Urban Decay, and set with black shadow. That usually does the trick. And I have hella watery eyes – hello, contacts!
    .-= Marce’s last blog post… Look – Lydia Deetz =-.

  5. noodle says:

    I love love love blacktrack, but even with primer it sort of transfers itself to my brow bone/line?

    Its depressing.
    .-= noodle’s last blog post… Merry Xmas …. Pass it on please! =-.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Noodle,

      It sounds like a few gals like to set it with eyeshadow. I’ve never tried it myself, but it might be worth a go. Maybe it’ll help your Blacktrack stay on for longer.

  6. Solรƒยฉ says:

    My first time waterlining was also around the late eighties, and it involved a Wet n’ Wild black kohl liner and a lighter. Memories of this this may be why I won’t revisit the practice unless I’m using white to make my eyes look bigger. I like those little Sephora brand liners ($5!).

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sole,

      I need to revisit the white liner on the waterline one of these days…

      Have you ever used MAC Power Surge Kohl on the waterline? It’s a bronzy gold pencil. It opens up the eyes, methinks, without looking too stark.

  7. amy says:

    I think I only started wearing liner on my waterline just recently about 1-2 years ago because I never really had a product that stayed on my waterline in terms of intensity and lasting power. My favourites are U/D 24/7 Glide on liners for all weather situations. Lately, I like MAC Kohl in Feline and MAC Softsparkle in Night Sky because they stay intensely dark but I only use these when the weather is dry or not too rainy. MAC Blacktrack is nice but I find that it is more effective on my upper lash lines because I always have trouble with it on my lower lash line/waterline.
    .-= amy’s last blog post… NOTD OPI Suede Nail Lacquer Lincoln Park After Dark =-.

  8. i love GOSH velvet touch eye pencils & bobbi brown gel liners.
    .-= ines + cha cha’s last blog post… Product Review – Crabtree & Evelyn Hand Therapy Mini-Haul =-.

  9. Lana says:

    I knew I was a late bloomer… I just didn’t think I was that late! I first lined my waterline about a year ago. Hello, I am 28. I think I just used any old liner I had at the time, though now I do like Gosh liners. They have a huge assortment of colors and they apply pretty nicely.

  10. Lana says:

    Oh, PS. How did the squash turn out?

  11. shontay says:

    Makeup Forever Aqua Eyes eyeliner. I also like the urban Decay 24/7 pencils.

  12. Shivotra says:

    best is UD 24.7 in zero. Also like Guerlin’s kohl liner but it can be a little messy otherwise it gives a very sexy look to the eyes.

  13. Madeleine says:

    I was going to suggest Urban Decay’s 24/7, too. I was hoping to stumble upon a new discovery that really stays put, since I always have to reapply.
    .-= Madeleine’s last blog post… Illamasqua =-.

  14. Vixxan says:

    I use MAC Fluidline in Blacktrack but I’m not really happy with it. I am trying to find the perfect liner for my waterline. No luck so far.

  15. triner says:

    I’ve tried Aqua Black from MuFE and the UD 24/7 liners and MAC’s Feline. Every single one of them melts off my waterline in 2 hours. For those who set with eyeshadow, do you actually put shadow on your waterline?

  16. Christine says:

    I use MAC’s Eye Khol and I carefully pat eyeshadow on it to set it. And it lasts all day! ๐Ÿ™‚
    .-= Christine’s last blog post… Look of the Day: 01 October 2009 =-.

  17. Marisol says:

    I have tried the gel liners from MAC, Bobbi Brown & Stila and those don’t work for me. Only the MUFE gel liner. As far as a pencil liner, MAC’s Feline works pretty well and so does Zero from UD. But I prefer the finish of MUFE.
    .-= Marisol’s last blog post… Catching up =-.

  18. lauren says:

    I’m not a fan of the lined waterline look, i feel like it makes my eyes look smaller, also i can’t get the traumatic image out of my head of 16 year old girls in juicy sweatsuits, ugg boots, and headbands with only black liner in their waterlines. they were like boring-makeup clones! lol
    .-= lauren’s last blog post… Holiday gift guideรขโ‚ฌยฆor not =-.

  19. Rae says:

    I pretty much went from “no makeup gal” to “total makeup junkie” in no time flat, so I started waterlining within a month or so of when I started lining my eyes ๐Ÿ˜› Three tips for you!

    1) Go over your waterline with an oil-free eye makeup remover, then let the area dry (or pat dry with a q-tip)
    2) Use a creamy liner, like a Fluidline gel or a 24/7 pencil, as Karen recommended! L’Oreal HiP creme liners are actually my favourite for this — the black is SUPER black.
    3) Set with shadow. Correspond with the creme liner if you’d like, or try mixing it up! I love putting a high-pigment shimmery violet over black… it’s stunning.

    Hope that helps! (Also, Karen — I can’t believe you were a slouchy-socks girl! How far you’ve come :P)
    .-= Rae’s last blog post… The five most expensive makeup items on Sephora.com =-.

  20. shontay says:

    hey, Karen. I’ve been really good. I haven’t posted much, but I check in daily. ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. veronica says:


    I’ve only tried once, and it ended up everywhere. I’m good with lining the top half (I use Buxom gel liner) but I’ll have to practice a little more with a good pencil at some point!
    .-= veronica’s last blog post… Come hang out with me on Facebook! =-.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Veronica,

      A few practice sessions should help. ๐Ÿ™‚ Maybe try it at night… since you have to wash your face anyway, it’s a good time to experiment.

  22. meghan says:

    My waterline tip: pack a matching eyeshadow on top of the liner before it has set for extra staying power. ๐Ÿ™‚
    .-= meghan’s last blog post… Urban Decay 24/7 Swatches =-.

  23. Music_Is_Freedom says:

    My first time trying liner on the waterline was unexpected. I was clothes shopping with my mom, and while she was talking with a sales clerk, I went over to a wall mirror, took out a navy eye pencil, and started lining my eyes just to give myself something to do. I ended up lining the waterline (not realizing at the time), but it didn’t bother my eyes too much and they looked good. And I’m still doing it.

  24. shontay says:

    I set my Feline pencil by mac with MUFE’s black diamond eyeshadow. That keeps it on longer and it’s pretty.

  25. Lyn says:

    I love MUFE 0L for waterlining; it’s incredibly soft, doesn’t irritate my contact-wearer eyes, and won’t budge for hours, but comes off without scrubbing when I use an oil-based eye makeup remover. Also, I haven’t tried it personally, but I hear Shu Uemura’s painting gel liners are pretty amazing overall? They might be good for waterlining as well.

  26. Christy says:

    OMG, Exclamation perfume! My cousins and I must have gone through 6 bottles of that stuff. :p Ah, the memories.

    I use Feline, but my eyes don’t get very watery most of the time. I had seasonal allergies before (they made my eyes watery), but I don’t tend to get them anymore.

    My 1st experience lining my waterline was when I was 14/15. I used a black Bonne Bell eyeliner I had lying around. I wasn’t aiming to do my waterline, but lower lash line. I liked it and do it as the look calls for it.
    .-= Christy’s last blog post… FOTD: Chanel Noirs Obscurs Les Folies Noirs & L’oreal Shady HIP Racy Concentrated Shadow Duo =-.

  27. Christina says:

    I think I also posted on Facebook…but just had memories for Maybelline eyeliner and using a lighter to burn it…and then applying it on my waterline. Now that’s old skool. Karen, we must be around the same age…I loved ESPRIT!!! Loved that outlet in San Francisco! Does it still exist?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Christina,

      I had friends who did that… so old school!

      Last time I checked the line was going out of business. As far as I know the outlet isn’t there anymore. I went a few times when I was in middle school, LOL! Did you often back in the day?

  28. amy says:

    Hi Karen for the Fluidline line I usually use the 109 from MAC, but I would take a look at the 212. I don’t recall seeing that one from MAC at all. Thanks for the tip!
    .-= amy’s last blog post… NOTD OPI Suede Nail Lacquer Lincoln Park After Dark =-.

  29. Solรƒยฉ says:

    Hi Karen,

    Now you’ve got me willing to give this waterlining thing another shot. I tend to not revisit things I did in the 80s, but I could stand to be more flexible. ๐Ÿ™‚ I don’t have MAC Power Surge, but I have a few gold and bronzy liners that I could experiment with. I’ll let you know how it goes.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sole,

      Try it! I will try the white on the liner too and let you know too. ๐Ÿ™‚ Hopefully I can find my liner. I have one around here somewhere, hmm…

  30. Patty says:

    When my eyes are feeling extra weepy (happens to the best of us), I take the edge/corner of a tissue and rest it on my waterline. It sucks up any excess moisture that would otherwise wash away whatever I put there.

  31. shontay says:

    Hey karen, I use an angle brush by sephora.

  32. Nadine says:

    A tip I learned from http://www.youtube.com/momof2angels2 is to dip a pencil liner in a gel liner (e.g. MAC Fluidline) and use that to line. It’s a such a genius idea!

  33. Isa says:

    Hi.. I am new here but find your articles fun and interesting.

    I have a makeup/image consulting business so I do have some experience in products.

    If you like MAC Fluidline to waterline, you can use your regular Kohl pencil and dip into the Fluidline and line easily with this — brushes make me sneeze!

    A really good and cheap pencil to waterline with which I have found no adverse effects is Jordana Extend wear — in black or chocolate.

    Oh and for those that feel that black waterlining is too severe, you can use any color for waterlining. Princess Di was known for her Teal blue waterline — and I noted on the runways for Spring 2010 a preponderance of white waterlines.. these can be done with a white kohl pencil or in my preference a waterproof white liner (Lancome makes a great one).

    The great thing about cosmetics is that it’s all removable:)

  34. Isa says:

    oh, also all the Stila 24-7 pencils are great for waterlining!

  35. Isa says:

    yikes! it’s UD’s 24-7!

  36. Toni says:

    I used to line my water line in college and grad school, but stopped doing it when the kids came along for some reason. Anyway, I have started doing it again and I am loving MAC’s Feline kohl pencil. I think it’s limited edition, so I am going to get a couple of back up’s. I tried using a Revlon eyeliner and it made my eyes water. The Tarte emphaEYES did OK, but I like the MAC better.

  37. MissRhosie says:

    Sole! Me too! I remember I was in the 5th or 6th grade and my neighbor taught me how to use a lighter to get the liner pencil nice and smudgy.
    I have huge eyes and only apply liner to my waterline as opposed to the usual all around the eye. So it works for me.
    .-= MissRhosie’s last blog post… Cold Process Soap =-.

  38. Trixie.in.Dixie says:

    I must be the oldest one here! I started lining my inner rims in the 70s, – back before the word “waterline” had even been thought up – and my favorite pencil is still the good old Wet’n’Wild “Deep Blue” (#657). It has just the right consistency – soft enough to lay down a good coating of color, waxy enough to stay. Can’t say the same for all of their colors, but something about this shade has always worked for me!

  39. Christy says:

    Heheh, yes I remember Debbie Gibson’s Electric Youth! I always smelled it at the drugstore, saving my pennies for a bottle, yet never ended up getting a bottle.

    I also recall backcombing my bangs out a la Janet Jackson Control. Hahha, all the memories of the 80’s & 90’s. :p
    .-= Christy’s last blog post… FOTD: Chanel Noirs Obscurs Les Folies Noirs & L’oreal Shady HIP Racy Concentrated Shadow Duo =-.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Christy,

      Ha! I ended up just “borrowing” spritzes from friends. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Speaking of Miss Jackson if Ya Nasty, did you ever wear a single key in one of your hoop earrings? I’m guilty of that one.

  40. Vanessa H says:

    Stila Eye Kajal in Onyx…soooo soft and lasts for days, it’s uber pigmented too!

  41. Rebecca says:

    I’ve had good experiences with Boxom Lashliner, but I have to admit I’m still on the lookout for a decent pencil eyeliner that lasts on my waterline.
    .-= Rebecca’s last blog post… Lumene vs. Garnier Nutritioniste Cleansing Wipes =-.

  42. Christy says:

    *raises hand & nods head* Yeah, I did. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I still have them in my jewelry box somewhere. They weren’t some random key though, but actually designed that way. Yeah, I fell for it.

    Then there were the giant hoop earrings! I had pink, gold and silver pairs. I never got into the Salt n Peppa style ones. They’re in again, but I can’t go there again. Oh and remember the MC Hammer pants??? ๐Ÿ˜‰
    .-= Christy’s last blog post… FOTD: Chanel Noirs Obscurs Les Folies Noirs & L’oreal Shady HIP Racy Concentrated Shadow Duo =-.

  43. 2espresso says:

    I love Coastal Scents Gelliner in Silk White, I think I can totally not wear any darker color on my lower waterlines, it makes me look weird and evil ๐Ÿ˜ก lol I also can’t put on tons of mascara an my lower lashes as it’s the same there.
    The CS Liner lasts really long and is quite easily applied with elf’s small concealer brush I find.

    What I do however like is to line my upper waterline in black when I wear false lashes which I usually do, for that I use MAC Blacktrack or a drugstore liner, essence Blackmania, which doesn’t last just as long but is super creamy. <3

    Have a great weekend!

  44. Alexis says:

    I love Mally’s Evercolor Starlight Waterproof Liner in Midnight. Glides on so smooth and a true black. I wear contacts so my eyes are super sensitive! This eyeliner doesn’t bother my eyes and plus it last my whole school day!

  45. Elizabeth says:

    Just started following your blog! Love your personality in your writing.

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