The Best Drugstore Eyeliners That Cost Under $12, According to Beauty Gurus

A woman with long brown hair applies eyeliner as she looks in her mirror at home.
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There’s absolutely no reason to spend a fortune on eyeliner when some of the best, boldest and smudge-free products are available at your local drugstore for less than $12

There’s everything from shimmery to matte in just about every color imaginable . . . lining your drugstore shelves. (See what we did there?)

Note: Prices are accurate as of Sept. 23, 2020.

8 Best Drugstore Eyeliners That Cost Less Than $12

Revlon ColorStay Liquid Liner

Cost: $5.39 at Target

Best for: Liquid liner that doesn’t smudge

Why we like it: The brush allows for precise application, which is key when using liquid liner. The colors are pigmented and last all day without flaking or smudging, yet are still easy to remove with makeup remover, says Jarry Lee, a New York-based beauty influencer and professional model.

Cruelty free? No

Pixi by Petra Endless Silky Waterproof Pencil Eyeliner

Cost: $12 at Target

Best for: Waterproof eyeliner

Why we like it: Pixi makes a quality liner that glides on easily, doesn’t smudge and offers beautiful color selections ranging from soft mattes to bold metallics, says Tam Lamarre, an aesthetic nurse.

It should be noted that the pencil has a hard cover that makes sharpening difficult, which has inspired some complaints. However, if you can figure out how to do it, you may end up loving this liner for life.

Cruelty free? Yes

CoverGirl Get In Line LIquid Eyeliner

Cost: $11.49 at CVS

Best for: A dramatic eye

Why we like it: This is a quick-drying, long-lasting liner that completes any look ranging from simple to dramatic, says Kay Elle, a beauty influencer.

“If you are like me and don’t have a steady hand, don’t worry because this product has an easy contour grip-handle to help with precision,” Elle says.

It lasts all day, and is easy to apply.

Cruelty free? Yes

Maybelline Define-A-Line Eyeliner

Cost: $4.66 at Amazon

Best for: For a perfect, simple wing

Why we like it: It goes on milky smooth, and creates the perfect wing-liner, says Jasmine Lewis, founder of Vie Beauty in Atlanta.

The applicator is a soft pencil, and the eyeliner is designed to smudge easily for blending and softening hard lines. A sponge on the bottom tip can be used to create shadow lines and shading.

Cruelty free? No

Rimmel Scandal Eyes Waterproof Kohl Kajal Liner

Cost: $3.99 at Target

Best for: An “awake” eye look

Why we like it: Joanna Williams, a beauty and style content creator in New York, says she loves the “nude” shade of this drugstore eyeliner, as it brightens her eyes without being as stark as a white eyeliner.  

To get a smoky look, Williams smudges a darker shade of eyeshadow below her water line. “But the light shade of my actual eyeliner keeps my eyes wide and bright,” Williams said. “Having it in the nude color is the perfect hack to help eyes look more awake, no matter what I choose to do with the rest of my eye makeup.”

Cruelty free? No

e.l.f. Cream Eyeliner

Cost: $8.36 at Walmart

Best for: A multi-tasking eyeliner

Why we like it: “I have yet to find another gel eyeliner that comes with this much product, doesn’t dry up or get crusty, is pitch black and has the same amount of staying power that I can always rely on,” Williams said.

She uses it daily on her upper lid with a small angled brush to give it a bit of a flick at the end before throwing on false lashes. “I’ve worn this product to school, work, brand events, red carpets, magazine parties, you name it,” Williams said.

Cruelty free? Yes

L’Oreal Paris Infallible Super Slim Liner

Cost: $6.99 at

Best for: Precision

Why we like it: This provides a seamless, buildable line with its coveted felt tip, says Andrea Claire, a Canadian hair and makeup artist based in Singapore. You can choose a thin line for definition or a thicker line that angles out to a precise wing-tip.

“Multiple looks with one multi-tasking liner: perfection,” Claire said.

Cruelty free? No

Milani Fruit Fetish Stay Put Bright Eyeliner

Cost: $8 at

Best for: A bold look

Why we like it: It’s a powerful pigment to pair with sunkissed skin, Claire says.

This liner lets you experiment with vibrant colors, whether you’re doing a simple winged eye or a lace-inspired pattern that can glamorously peek out over your mask.

Cruelty free? Yes

Danielle Braff is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.