Coloring in your waterline isn’t a necessary step when wearing eyeliner, but it can have a major impact. I believe it was comedian Alice Wetterlund who once said (and we paraphrase) if you apply eyeliner along your upper lashline but you don’t line your waterline, it kind of looks like your eye is wearing a belt. That’s not universally true, of course — but it happens to be true for many an Allure staffer, so we like to give our upper waterlines a solid layer of long-lasting black or brown pencil liner to make the base of our lashes look especially dense even prior to mascara.
Also called “tightlining,” lining your waterline can make a huge difference in your finished eye-makeup look, especially along the lower waterline. It can add continuity to an intense, smoky eye or an impactful jolt of unexpected color in an otherwise low-key look. But there’s a certain finesse required for applying eyeliner inside your lash line — namely, not flinching when a somewhat pointy object comes closer to your eyeball than it otherwise would.
More importantly, formula and product design matter — especially if you’re trying to pull off a particularly graphic liner look. Water-resistant and waterproof eyeliner pencils are a must when you’re applying color to a perpetually wet part of your eye area. Whether you’re going for the Margot Tenenbaum aesthetic, the my-lashes-but-better tightline, or the crayoned-on angsty mall-goth vibe, the best eyeliners will comfortably cling to your waterline all day.
Below, dive into the 15 best waterline eyeliners with impressive staying power — as recommended by Allure editors and makeup artists from brands like Victoria Beckham Beauty, L’Oréal Paris, and more.
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