Liquid Eyeliner VS Pencil Eyeliner [Full Comparison Guide & Features]

Every makeup beauty queen knows that it’s the eyes that can draw people in and can elevate your look times a hundred- if done right. But, when it comes to making a statement, which does it better; liquid eyeliner vs. pencil eyeliner?

Personally, I’m a fan of both. Because:

  1. No makeup bag is complete without liquid and pencil liner.
  2. They both bring something different and necessary to the table.

When it comes down to it, is one really better than the other? I say YES! When it comes to price, effect, pigmentation, and quality, I’m here to tell you that there is a huge difference between liquid eyeliner vs pencil.

The fact of the matter is that they both offer benefits that will take your look to the next level in very different ways. One of these is not like the other, and I’m going to prove it to you right now. When it comes to versatility and quality, there is a one-liner that rules them all.

Liquid Eyeliner VS Pencil Eyeliner Comparison Table

Liquid Eyeliner
Pencil Eyeliner
Our Rating: 5Our Rating: 5
Quick & easy to apply: NoQuick & easy to apply: Yes
Tightlining: NoTightlining: Yes
Wings & dramatic lines: NoWings & dramatic lines: Yes
Smudge-proof: YesSmudge-proof: No
Easy to remove: YesEasy to remove: Yes
Many color/texture options: NoMany color/texture options: Yes
Easy to blend: NoEasy to blend: Yes
Best defined lines: YesBest defined lines: No
Beginner-friendly: NoBeginner-friendly: Yes
Average Price: $3 - $20Average Price: $1 - $22

Liquid Eyeliner VS Pencil: The Main Difference

The main difference between them is that the pencil is efficient, versatile, and overall more user-friendly. It takes years of practice to master liquid liner, and even more, patience to create iconic looks.

What is Liquid Eyeliner?

Liquid eyeliner is a cosmetic product used to define the eyes by creating a variety of aesthetic effects. Liquid eyeliner is an opaque liquid that can come in several different colors and is usually applied with a small pointed brush tip. It’s best known for creating sharp wings from the top lash line. 

I know that looking at the chart above makes you believe that there is a clear winner here. But, don’t be fooled. While pencil liner is an obvious choice on paper, liquid liner is hands down more versatile – which is a crucial quality in the long run.

It may take longer to master, but once you do, you can literally never go back to using anything else. Not to mention that your typical liquid brushes are slowly being replaced with felt tips. This seemingly small switch has completely changed the way we use liquid liner and has made hesitant consumers more likely to explore new looks and tricks.

Liquid Eyeliner vs Pencil


Liquid eyeliner requires a skill level that simply cannot be achieved or even mimicked with a pencil liner. To even attempt to compare the two is a joke.

Liquid liner is undeniably smoother, with consistent lines and applications nearly every time you use it. The pigmentation is almost always guaranteed, so you are making a bold statement without using too much of the product. Most liquid formulas are waterproof and last longer on your lids, so you don’t have to worry about smudging or rubbing off your wings.

What Liquid Liner Is Used For

Speaking of wings… the fact that it’s impossible to make clear-cut wings with pencil liner makes liquid the undeniable winner when it comes to creative standout faces. Liquid eyeliner brushes require ultra-pointed tips, so drawing the fiercest cat eyes and wings is easy and only possible with liquid liner. It’s way easier to layer than pencil liner, and you can make your lines as thin or thick as you want.

If you’re into cosplay, recreating looks straight out of Vogue, or just playing around with different styles and effects, liquid liner is a must-have. It’s the only way to create dramatic and artistic effects without actually having to use a paintbrush. I highly recommend liquid eyeliner for anyone with an artsy or adventurous side.

The Cons of Liquid Liner

As much as I want to say that liquid liner is the perfect product – I have to be honest. It’s literally such a pain in the** to use!

I’ve been using makeup for well over ten years, so sometimes I forget just how hard it is to use liquid liner. As a beginner, I spent hours practicing my wings and Googling tips for getting my points perfect. *hint: I practiced by putting a small piece of tape on the outside of the corner of my eye to get straight lines*

The good thing about practicing with liquid liner is that it’s really easy to take off. If your left eye came out defined and fabulous, but your right eye looks like a rabid raccoon’s, then you can easily wipe away the liner or use a q-tip to clean up the edges.

Liquid Eyeliner Pros
  • Easy to apply and remove
  • Comes in various colors
  • Good pigmentation
  • Best for dramatic looks
  • Can create really thin and thick lines
  • Best for upper lids
Liquid Eyeliner Cons
  • High skill level required
  • Not recommended for beginners
  • Can’t use on waterlines or lower lids
  • Can be messy if not used carefully


What is Pencil Eyeliner?

As much as I love a good liquid liner, I have to admit that a pencil liner is just as important. But, in a completely different way.

Pencil liner is the best solution for anyone who is a beginner with makeup or doesn’t typically apply eye makeup on a regular basis. Pencil liners are typically made with waxes, oils, and silicones; which makes the solid liner easier to apply than a loose/ fluid liquid liner.

While it’s easy to say that pencil liner is a simple and effective tool, it can take your look to the next level with a little bit of creativity.

Liquid Eyeliner vs Pencil


Pencil liners are made to create a clean and natural-looking definition on your eyes, mostly on or below the waterlines. However, with practice, they can be smudged much more easily than liquid liners to deliver smokey and sexy eyes.

Pencil eyeliner is versatile in that it can be used to make your look softer or more natural or to go in the complete opposite direction for a dramatic sultry look.

Pencil eyeliner is a timeless classic and a must-have for your beauty bag.

What Pencil Liner Is Used For

The biggest reason why I love pencil eyeliner is that you can get a stick in every color of the rainbow. There are literally hundreds of different shades, and different textures to match: pearl, matte, sparkly, and metallic.

Using a white pencil liner on your lower waterline? Ugh! I’m obsessed!  It’s one of the biggest trends to ever hit the Japanese and Korean markets and I wholeheartedly believe that the United States and every other country should follow suit. Using a white pencil liner makes your eyes look bigger, younger, and more energized. It’s a unique look that can’t be copied with a liquid liner.

The Cons of Pencil Liner

Thankfully, the makeup industry is developing almost as fast as smartphone technology, so the cons are very limited when it comes to pencil liner.

The biggest downside used to be that you would have to sharpen your pencil liner when the tip became too dull or broke. And with cheaper brands, the core of the pencil would often crumble or fall off until you had no choice but to throw it out. Now, there are mechanical and gel liners that almost completely solve this problem.

Most pencil liners have a sharpener and blending tool to match. And, the formulas have been readjusted to prevent crumbling. However, pencil liners simply don’t last as long as liquid liners. You can apply, blend, and prime all you want, but you’re still going to have to touch up your waterlines at some point during the day. Not to mention the fact that pencil liners mean messy raccoon eyes if you don’t take a minute every now and then to clean up the edges.

Pencil Eyeliner Pros
  • Perfect for beginners
  • Quick & easy to apply
  • Comes in a variety of colors and textures
  • Classic and elegant looks
  • Minimal skill-level required
Pencil Eyeliner Cons
  • Requires a sharpener
  • Won’t last all day
  • Leaves residue is not cleaned up properly
  • Difficult to remove


The Final Verdict: Which Eyeliner is Best?

Liquid Eyeliner vs Pencil

Which eyeliner is best, liquid or pencil? I say “why not both?” Trying to compare liquid eyeliner vs pencil is like comparing apples to oranges. Sure, they are both fruit, but they are also completely different and practically incomparable.

Liquid and pencil eyeliners are used for completely different purposes and have completely different qualities – which is the point of using both. Pencil liners simply cannot do what liquid can, and vice versa.

When it comes down to what is better, liquid or pencil eyeliner, I’m the kind of girl who likes to have her cake and eat it too. What can I say? I love getting what I want and not having to compromise. I reserve the right to serve face with every color, brush-type, wing design, and texture (so long as the quality is good). And there’s no reason why you shouldn’t too.

Leave a Reply