Get Gorgeous/ Cosmetics
Kristin Booker • April 23, 2012

The Quest For The Best: 5 Eyeliners That Are Safe For Contact Lenses

I am someone who loves – LOVES – black eyeliner. Actually, scratch that. I love eyeliner in any color it comes in. Heavily-lined eyes makes me feel much more rocker sexy than the kewpie doll look that typically comes from my features: extremely large, round eyes and bubble-like features. I’m possibly scarred for life from multiple relatives pinching my cheeks like Gary Coleman from Diff’rent Strokes at a kid.

Whatever. It’s nothing that a few trips to the therapist can’t cure, I guess.

I am also a person who loves her contact lenses. I am brand loyal – ACUVUE TruEye Daily Lenses, the Holy Grail of contacts– and I love them more than life itself. Why won’t I get LASIK surgery, you ask? Because I AM SCARED of sharp objects. If it took me two decades to get comfortable putting a plastic lens in my eye, you can imagine the terror and heavy medication it would take for me to let someone put a SCALPEL and a laser near my eye. That’s a negative, Ghost Rider. Permission to approach the tower is denied. The pattern is full.

Unlike Reese’s Cups, these two things do not always go well together. I have notoriously flat eyelids and if there’s a glimmer of slip to the liner, it makes its way into my eye and blinds me within an hour of application. It doesn’t matter WHERE I put eyeliner, it just slides up or down into my eye. Give it up? No ma’am. I’ve just done the leg work and ruined a good few boxes of lenses so that I can tell you which eyeliners don’t mess with your ability to give good lens. This will also be relief for those of you with sensitive eyes or who just need good stay-put eyeliners. Here are the best of the best:

SEPHORA COLLECTION Retractable Waterproof Eyeliner – I purchase these liners three at a time. They are a million dollar creation at a fraction of the cost. Apply, smudge quickly and then worry no more. I have YET to have these liners run, crack, fall or otherwise migrate into my eye, even when applying on the waterline. Behold the love, contact wearers.

Benefit Cosmetics BADgal Liner Waterproof – Another gold standard and an amazing product. It doesn’t smudge, and it won’t ruin your lenses or temporarily blind you. It also creates a STUPID GOOD smoky eye. The smudge tip is perfection. Then again, has Benefit ever made a product that isn’t Hall of Fame-worthy?

Make Up For Ever Aqua Eyes Eyeliner – It doesn’t have to say waterproof, because the Aqua Eyes liners are everything they promise to be: waterproof, smudge-proof and fade-proof. These Little Pencils of Wonder go on, blend beautifully and stay put. The name says it all: creator Dany Sanz created the liners for performers of water ballet.

Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner – If you’re going for a cat eye, this is the ultimate tool in my opinion. It also won’t run, fade, smudge or blind you. The pen tip makes application a dream come true and the formula is gentle enough for waterline action. Meow, baby.

Lancome Design Calligraphy Long Wear Gel Eyeliner – This is truly the Pot of Gold at the end of the beauty rainbow. The formula is applied with a makeup brush (or a very steady finger if you’re Rembrandt) and can create a multitude of looks from a cat eye to a rocker glam kind of look. It is also smudge-proof and waterproof once it dries. Give it 10 seconds to set after working it to perfection and worry no more.

Go forth, sensitive eye mavens, contact lens fans and lovers of all things liner! Your worries are no more!


22 Responses to The Quest For The Best: 5 Eyeliners That Are Safe For Contact Lenses

  1. Jess says:

    I love this post! Smudgey eyeliner is seriously my number one beauty problem.

  2. Laura says:

    I completley agree, I love the eye liner pen. I cannot live without it! Also I am an avid contact wearer! Great post!!

  3. john martin says:

    Getting Started with Silverlight development
    I am posting here just to let you know that you are doing a good job by keeping us posted about this. Please keep on posting such quality articles as this is a rare thing to find these days. I am always searching online for articles that can help me. Looking forward to another great blog. Good luck to the author! all the best!

  4. Lisa Brown says:

    LOL. I don’t blame you, Kristin, for not wanting LASIK, I am frightened of it as well. I, too, love eye liner pens. So easy to use and you get the exact line you want. I have not tried Stila’s, though. I will put that on my wish list. 🙂

  5. Joy says:

    I’m a contacts lens wearer and this post indeed helped me to find the best eyeliner! Thanks!

  6. Angela says:

    Just smudged another pair of my contacts today and I have had it!!!! I’m taking your advice and am excited to have found this post! Thanks Kristen for paving the way for contact wearers & eyeliner lovers everywhere!!!!

    • Kristin Booker says:

      You’re welcome. Isn’t that the WORST?!? I hate screwing up a pair of lenses. Let me know which one you love!

  7. Jen says:

    This may be a silly question but are these also sweat proof?

    • Kristin Booker says:

      They should be sweatproof as well, yes! But if you’re going in for a serious session (think marathon or Bikram), I’m always a huge fan of removing makeup just to be safe. It won’t melt, but you’re wiping your face like a crazy person and eventually that will make its way into your eye by accident. 🙂

  8. Mila says:

    Thank you very much for the post. I have extremely sensitive eyes, wear contact lenses and like to use the eyeliner on the waterfront. Can you please recommend an eye pencil/liner that hopefully wont get my eyes red? Thanks!

  9. Amita says:

    There’s 5 choices, now which one is the best? I wear freshlook contacts all day, everyday. Which is the best for the waterline? (I’m skeptical because I always thought, the ones that come with the smudger, obviously smudge) Help. Please. (I’ve tried the Urban Decay 24/7 glide on pencil. Bothers my contacts)

  10. Angela says:

    I love the Sephora retractable waterproof, but unfortunately looking for a replacement for this is what brought me to your article! I keep ruining lenses with it. I’ll try some of your other suggestions – thanks!

  11. Valerie says:

    Thank you for your insight, Kristin. You write & express yourself quite well which, in and of itself, is a breath of fresh air. I’ve been wearing contacts for most of my life (more than 20 years). I’ve been feeling alone when it comes to the hardship that eyeliner creates on we who opt for contacts in lieu of glasses. I feel I’m in good company now! To add to your list, I have to say (after trying at least 40 different liners, incl. every single one mentioned above), my go-to liner is Mally. Her retractable liners truly are highly pigmented, glide on easily and stay put – through sweat, tears, and waterline/sensitivity issues. She has a super array of colors from which to choose & the prices are buyer-friendly & competitive. I did not care for the MUFE Aqua liner, it disappeared soon after applying it to my waterline after blinking a few times. Stila liners have been the absolute worst IMO, foggy up my lenses so badly I’ve had remove them (and waste a pair). I’ll give Sephora’s retractable liner a try because I feel the Sephora Brand Products are generally under-rated & often suprior to higher priced options. Try a Mally liner, I’m confident you’d add it to your list of favorites and was surprised to see it’s not already on it! 🙂

  12. amanie says:

    Hey Ladies !

    I just started to wear contacts and I always wore black eyeliner in my waterline but today I was told that I shouldn’t wear eyeliner in my waterline with contacts .. but I hate how my eyes look without it 🙁 so what brand would you guy recommend? 🙂

    • Kristin Booker says:

      I’ll tell you what, ladies: I’m going to go to a couple of the celebrity makeup artists here to get some additional information on which liners they use on the waterline for some of their clients and come back with the answers, as well as ask one of our big optometrists up here for some additional info. There’s a follow-up post coming soon!

  13. Jaymee says:

    I know this is an older post, but it came up on my google search and helped me a lot! I was also struggling with finding an eyeliner that worked with the TrueEye contacts but this post saved me from wrecking more and more lenses! I purchased the sephora one and it works like a charm, thanks so much!!

  14. April says:

    I have found that the Estee Lauder Double Wear eyeliner in Onyx does not fog up my contacts. It has decent staying power, although I would like it to last longer. But I’m thinking I can just keep dreaming because I don’t think any product will last all day on the waterline. I have a box full of black eyeliners and I’m so sick of wasting money on these things! I bought a travel size of the Estee Lauder one on Ebay just to try it out. So maybe you can find one on there and not have to spend an arm and a leg on a full size that doesn’t end up working out for you.

  15. Julie says:

    Thanks for this post! I just bought a waterproof Chanel liner that I LOVED at first, until the 30th time I had to clean my contacts within a few hour time span. I’ve read that waterproof liners tend to do this MORE than other types because of the oil they use in the waterproofing, but maybe it’s only the ones I’ve tried?? The only eyeliner I’ve found so far that doesn’t cause a problem for me is actually the Special Eyes liner from Rimmel. Go figure its the cheap one that works best haha. I’ve been wearing it for years but had gotten kind of tired of it so I wanted to branch out, but then just got frustrated because of the horrible smudgy hazy film layer that the Chanel one put over my lenses. I had to have my friend drive me home because I literally couldn’t see! I will definitely give some of these a shot and hope for the best. Thanks!

  16. Mary says:

    Well Kristin, you are my favorite person at the moment. I found this post yesterday, picked up Benefit’s Bad Gal, and I am so happy with it. Why didn’t I find you sooner?!
    I’ve been using Marc Jacobs blacquer in my waterline, which works just great, but I burn through one of those pens way too fast. It’s a retractable, so I’m guessing it doesn’t have as much product in it as I would hope. I’ve gone through several of them, and it’s always an unpleasant surprise when it runs out without warning in the midst of my makeup routine!
    I will try the rest of your list! Thank you, lovely!

  17. Mary says:

    I forgot to mention that I wear contacts, and that blinding eyeliner film is something that drives me absolutely insane. Words don’t express how frustrating that is. I have contact solution and eye drops in my purse, at home, and at work for such emergencies. So. Sick. And tired. Of it.

  18. ML says:

    I was so relieved when I saw this post b/c I’ve been having so much trouble with make up fogging up my TruEye lenses. Alas, I’ve had the same problem with the Stila and the Make Up Forever eyeliners. I’ll try some of the others from your post and also from the comments.
    But, maybe my eyeliner isn’t the problem… Do you recommend any eye shadows and mascaras?

  19. Erin says:

    waterproof is actually not supposed to be good for contact lenses wearers because of the oil in them. the oil is the culprit to the foggy lenses. I’ve been on the same hunt as all of you, and decided to call my optometrist because I was tired of wasting contact lenses, as you all know they’re not the cheapest.

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