Like most beauty lovers, I
love me some new makeup. From silky foundation, to bold lip color, unwrapping a
new goodie feels like Christmas morning every time. The unfortunate reality,
however, is that I spend much more time browsing high-end beauty counters than
I do making purchases. Because — much like many of my fellow beauty aficionados
— this girl’s paycheck wouldn’t be able to support a Sephora addiction for very
Fortunately, you don’t always
have to splurge to get quality makeup. In fact, the makeup aisle at your
neighborhood CVS is full of totally worthy, budget-friendly products,
especially when it comes to eyeliner. But with so many options, how do you know
how to separate the treasures from the, well, not so good stuff? I tapped three
makeup gurus to get their take on what drugstore eyeliners we all need in our
makeup bags right now.
Wet ‘n Wild H20 Proof Liquid

When it comes to waterproof
liner, celebrity makeup artist Monica Cook, who’s worked with beauties like
country star Jennifer Nettles and Aja Naomi King of ABC’s How to Get Away with
Murder, says this one is her go-to. “Wet ‘n Wild H20 Proof Liquid Eyeliner
is DA BOMB,” Cook told me in an interview. “This eyeliner comes in
several colors but I tend to purchase the black. It doesn’t skip when applied.
The color is extremely dark and shiny. It is long lasting and waterproof.”
Cook also says she loves that
this eyeliner is easy-to-use because unlike a traditional liner brush, it has a
precision tip applicator. A major plus for eyeliner novices like myself.
“The applicator is shaped like a triangle and is bendable,” she told
me. “I generally start with the pointed tip closer to the inner corner of
a client’s’ eye and gradually lay it sideways so the liner becomes fuller
towards the edge.”
If you want a bold eyeliner
that’s going to last you through your entire night out, Cook definitely says to
go with this one. “The black color never fades so they have an intense
liner until [the client] takes it off,” she said. “We have to use a
cleanser to remove it since the formula seriously does not budge!
L’Oréal Infallible Lacquer

While she certainly has love
for other brands, all drugstore eyeliner isn’t created equal for Cook. In fact,
she calls L’Oréal Infallible Lacquer Liner the “Holy Grail” of cream
liners — and, trust her, she’s tried all the other high-end brands, including
MAC, Bobbi Brown, and others. “You name it, I’ve purchased or used
it,” she says.
So how did she fall in love
with this $10 drugstore eyeliner? “During theatre season we are given a
fairly limited budget for makeup updates so I must shop accordingly,” she
explained. “I came across this at a CVS and figured I’d give it a shot.
Cook loved that this liner is
so dark, creamy, and shiny. “Now, I purchase this over the high end brands
every time. The formula never dries out in the jar, whereas some of the
higher-end brands dry out only after a few applications,” she said.
“This eyeliner does the trick every time.”
Scandal Eyes Waterproof Eyeliner

This inexpensive waterproof
liner is also on Cook’s must-have list. A big pro: the pencil has a gel core
that is waterproof once applied. The color goes on very smooth, according to
Cook, and there’s a smudger on the brush that allows for great depth and
smokiness. “I’ve used this several times as a base to powder eye shadows
because it blends so softly,” she told me. “I love to use this in my
or my clients’ waterline as well. It simply glides on the skin without pulling
or tugging.”
And Cook says that once this
stuff dries, it’s locked into place. “I consistently use this on both
upscale clients and bridal clients because I know that both studio lights and
wedding dresses send women into overheat.”
But how does this under-$5
eyeliner stack up against high-end brands? “It is a fabulous alternative
to more expensive gel pencils,” said Cook. “I couldn’t tell a
difference in the performance of the Rimmel Scandal Eyes liner and the
alternative brands. It’s a total winner.”
L’Oréal infallible Silkissime
When she wants to add some fun
color to her look, makeup artist Mindy Green of MG Beauty also looks to L’Oréal
Infallible. “I am a huge fan of a few drugstore brands,” she told me
in an interview. “I really like the L’Oréal infallible Silkissime in True
Teal. It’s a pop of color for the eyes, and glides on smooth. It also comes in
a few different shades.” Green also likes the fact that this liner is easy
to smudge if you want to create a softer effect.
Lasting Drama Waterproof Gel

When she needs a long-lasting
eyeliner, Green told me she’s a fan of Maybelline.”I like the Lasting
Drama Waterproof Pencil in black and lustrous sapphire,” she told me.
“It’s a gel-based formula that applies easily and the sleek onyx gives
blacker-than-black color. The sapphire is a bright royal blue. It’s great for
people who feel like their liner doesn’t stay in place.” 
For those who like the pop of
color, Green says this pencil also comes in a few more shades like teal and
purple. Yes, please!
Black Opal Color Splurge
Precision Eyeliner

If you’re looking for a liner
that’s easy to apply, Green says, “I like Black Opal Color Splurge
Precision Eyeliner. They only have a few shades, but the pencil is soft enough
to go on without tugging, but stiff enough to stay in place.” Her favorite
color: “I like the Black Jade.”
And for about $6 per pencil,
this is an easy addition to your makeup arsenal.
NYX Professional Makeup Matte
Liquid Liner

When makeup artist and beauty
blogger Hillary Kline is perusing the drug store aisles for makeup, she told me
that NYX Professional Makeup Matte Liquid Liner is often one of her go-tos.
“What I love most about this one, is that it is perfect for creating a
seamless cat eye,” she said. “I am always inspired by Adele so this
one is straight up my alley.”

And at just $7, the price is
definitely up my alley, too.
Rimmel Exaggerate Eye Definer

For everything from smokey
eyes, to quick touch ups, Kline is also a fan of Rimmel Exaggerate Eye Definer.
Its retractable tip with built-in smudger makes it easy to add a little drama,
while the convenient built-in sharpener helps you get smooth, clean lines every
“I love this waterproof
eyeliner and [it] comes in handy when I am in a pinch,” said Kline.
“I have used the liner to line my lower lash line and also use it to line
the top of my lashes.”
A playground for beauty lovers

Whether you want to create a
colorful retro look or a classic cat eye, there is certainly no shortage of
amazing eyeliners that won’t break the bank. In fact, your neighborhood
drugstore also stocks amazing products to remove your liner, too. “I could
not live without eye makeup remover pads from Almay,” said Kline. “I
have been using these pads since I was in middle school and they are my Holy
Grail. They are great when I travel, in my gym bag, and for daily use.”
For Green, it’s Maybelline’s
Expert Eyes Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover. “I have been using it for years.
It’s gentle and doesn’t irritate sensitive eyes or interfere with contact
Now it’s time to add a few
more items to my CVS shopping list.
Kayode Ojo
Kayode Emmanuel Ojo is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at SHEFFA Limited. He is presently studying Computer Science at the National Open University, Victoria Island, Lagos.