Which brown eyeliners are best?

While black eyeliner gets most of the attention, brown eyeliner is a much more versatile option. Crucial to a smoky eye and subtle enough for most looks, it is an important tool for mature skin on which black eyeliner looks too harsh. When you’re looking for a great, all-purpose brown eyeliner that goes with any look, Tarte Double Take Eyeliner is the best choice.

What to know before you buy a brown eyeliner

Waterproof vs. regular

Regular eyeliner and its waterproof counterparts each have their place, so consider your makeup habits and needs. A regular eyeliner goes on smoother and is more forgiving of an unsteady hand, easily blending if you slip. A waterproof eyeliner stays in place through a long event or a humid day but takes more effort to remove. If you’re disciplined about makeup removal, a waterproof eyeliner could be a good choice; if not, a creamy pencil may be a better way to go.

Pencil vs. gel vs. liquid

Pencil can be most forgiving and is the main form of eyeliner for a reason. Gel can go on smoother and be more versatile for applications where precision is required. Liquid gives you the most control but can be hard to get straight and match both eyes. For everyday application, you’re probably best off with a solid, reliable pencil. If you’re looking to create dramatic evening looks, liquid gives you the most versatility.

Warm vs. cool tones

Browns come in a range of colors, from warm, almost reddish hues to cooler shades leaning to taupe and gray. Matching both your skin tone as well as the eye shadow you’re looking to apply will make your look seamless.

What to look for in a quality brown eyeliner

Matte vs. shimmer

Altering your eyeliner application from matte to shiny can dramatically affect the look. Matte blends back and creates shadow, whereas an eyeliner with some shine pops and draws attention to itself.

Plays with the color wheel

If you’re looking to bring out the highlights in your eye color, a sparkly eyeliner on the opposite side of the color wheel from your eye color (a warm copper for blue eyes, for example) can really bring out their color. Brown eyeliner is often recommended for brown eyes, but the right tone can add drama to blue and green eyes as well.

Moisturizing formula

The skin around the eyes can be dry and sensitive, so if you wear makeup every day or tend toward dryness, look for a brown eyeliner with moisturizing ingredients to keep the delicate area soft and supple.

How much you can expect to spend on a brown eyeliner

A good drugstore eyeliner can be had for as little as $3. More elaborate formulations for prestige brands cost upward of $20.

Brown eyeliner FAQ

Is brown eyeliner best for brown eyes?

A. Brown eyeliner can look fantastic on brown eyes, adding warmth and depth. But by no means is it only for brown eyes. Brown is a great choice when you want to add more warmth than black provides or want to contrast your eye color, be it blue, green or hazel.

Is brown eyeliner better than black?

A. Those that proclaim “brown eyeliner is the new black” may be somewhat overstating the position. Black still has its place when you want to create eyes with drama and definition. However, there’s no denying that brown is often a better choice. It’s more blendable, softer, and adds warmth to your eyes. It’s almost always a better choice for daytime. It also looks great on mature skin on which black can look stark, particularly for those with thinner eyelashes.

Can you use brown eyeliner with eye shadow colors other than brown?

A. Absolutely. Consider it a replacement for black. It blends easily with brown and green eye shadows and more on-trend colors such as orange and pinks. It also creates a perfect blend with every shade of brown and gray.

What are the best brown eyeliners to buy?

Top brown eyeliner

Tarte Double Take Eyeliner

Tarte Double Take Eyeliner

What you need to know: Color-rich and versatile, this offering from the premium brand handles all your brown eyeliner needs.

What you’ll love: Get two liners in one with Double Take. On one end, a creamy pencil made with Amazonian clay gives you a blendable, rich color. On the other, a waterproof liquid liner lets you create looks that stay put throughout the day and night.

What you should consider: If you’re looking to create a dramatic cat-eye with the liquid portion of this eyeliner, note it tends to be translucent and may require a few passes to reach dramatic consistency.

Where to buy: Sold by Sephora and Ulta Beauty

Top brown eyeliner for the money

NYX PROFESSIONAL MAKEUP Mechanical Eyeliner Pencil, Brown

NYX PROFESSIONAL MAKEUP Mechanical Eyeliner Pencil, Brown

What you need to know: There are makeup items it’s a good idea to splurge on, but eyeliner isn’t always one. This drugstore brand creates rich, beautiful colors that really get the job done.

What you’ll love: The intense pigment of this eyeliner looks good on just about every skin tone and goes on smooth.

What you should consider: Due to its creamy consistency, it can get smudgy during long wear. Consider a setting spray with this one.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Waterproof Eyeliner Pencil in Whiskey

Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Waterproof Eyeliner Pencil in Whiskey

What you need to know: Eye makeup is where Urban Decay really shines, and this beautiful hue will soon become one of your go-tos.

What you’ll love: Surprisingly creamy for a waterproof eyeliner, it goes on smooth and stays in place all day long.

What you should consider: When they say it’s waterproof, they mean it. It may be stubborn to remove. Use a good makeup remover to get the last traces off.

Where to buy: Sold by Sephora


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Maria Andreu writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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