Liquid vs. Gel Eyeliner

If I had to choose one makeup product that makes the most significant difference in appearance, I would hands-down choose eyeliner. When it is applied correctly, eyeliner can make your eyes pop, and can even make them seem a little flirty (like when using the winged eyeliner technique). However, things can go badly if you’re not using the right products or techniques.

If you like a more precise liner like I do, the best products to use are either the liquid or the gel eyeliner. Here are the differences between the two:


Liquid Eyeliner: I know many people are intimidated by liquid liners because it calls for a steady hand, but don’t be! Yes, it may take a little practice at first, but a liquid liner will produce the most precise and intense effect that you can get, so it’s well worth learning! Start by taking the wand (or rather, the built in ultra-fine brush) out, and gently scrape the excess paint off the top, so you don’t have it clumping where you don’t want it. Then, follow the brush slowly on your eyelash line. You can build on the thin line to make a thicker line, for whatever is your desired end result. Liquid liner dries very quickly, so if you mess up, rub your finger on it immediately to take off the paint, otherwise you will have to use eye makeup remover to take it off.

I love liquid liner for the intense and bold effect it gives, but it is pretty difficult (and not very sanitary, I haven’t found any good disposable liquid liner brushes yet) to apply on others, so I rarely use it on clients.

Liquid liner

Gel Eyeliner: If liquid eyeliner sounds like a little much, and you need a little wiggle room as you haven’t mastered keeping your hand perfectly still, gel eyeliner is a perfect option! It still can produce a clean, precise look, but the gel doesn’t dry quickly like the liquid paint, so you can easily repair any smudges or mistakes. The key to using gel eyeliner is having a great ultra-fine synthetic-haired brush. My favorite to use for gel liner is this bent liner brush from Sephora. I like this a lot more than other brands and brush styles I’ve used because it is both fine-enough for me, and it has firm bristles so I can wield it where I want it to go without it moving all over my eyelid. Like the liquid liner, it may take a little practice to get used to, but it’s much more forgiving. To apply, just dip your brush in the gel and follow your eyelash line with the brush. You can also add for a thicker line if you like, or “wing” the ends of your eyes.

Gel Liner

If you’d like a less precise look, gel liner is also great for smudging to create a smokey effect. Grab MAC’s 219 Pencil Brush with a dark-colored eyeshadow and swirl it and brush up from the gel immediately after applying it to the lash line.

Smudged Liner


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