Eyeliner is a staple in every girl’s makeup bag, and though there’s nothing wrong with the time-tested pencil liner, the liquid and gel varieties are a great way to step up your liner game. Gel and liquid are both great alternatives to the pencil, and can be used for different purposes. It might seem like one liner is as good as another, but each kind has their own distinct pros and cons!
If you’re looking to have your liner to really stand-out, opt for liquid over gel. Liquid will give you a crisper line for a sharper look that will really make it pop. It’s perfect for super straight precision lines and a no-nonsense severity that you just don’t get from a gel—that’s what makes liquid liner the best choice for the cat-eye look. On the other hand, gel allows you to smudge creatively, making it the much better option if you want something that blends well with your shadow. Whereas if you try and smudge with a liquid liner, you’ve just got a big mess on your hands! The smoothness of gel is what makes it the much better option if you’re going for something more daring like a smoky eye. I also think it’s this distinction though that makes color work best with liquid liner. The wetness and sharpness of the liquid allows for more vivid brightness, while a gel liner will give you a much softer touch of color.
Application-wise, gel liners require a brush, which has both its pros and its cons. For that reason, liquid liner is more convenient for travel—you can just throw it in your purse without worrying about a brush that might get dirty. However, I find that the brush allows you to get closer to the lash line, and makes it easier to apply. The brush also allows for a deeper application, getting a solid color on your very first swipe. With gel, you don’t have to touch up or do multiple swipes to get the impact you want. The brush also allows you more freedom in choosing how thick you want your liner to be, and is so much easier to get a subtle, thin line. It’s easier to find a fine tip brush than the perfect fine-tip liquid liner, and changing the width of the line is as simple as grabbing a new brush instead of painting on the perfect width.
Both gel and liquid liner are a great addition to any cosmetics collection, especially if you’re always changing up your look. Having both will allow you to play around and really nail the look you’re going for, as they each offer their own benefits.