this thing's incredible

Drag Queens, Store Cashiers, and Passport Control Staff Ask Me Which Eyeliner I Wear

Photo: Rosie Percy

In the three years I’ve been wearing NYX liner, I’ve had housemates, colleagues, store cashiers, drag queens, and even passport control staff ask what eyeliner I use, and I’m quick to tell them: It’s £7, and it’s the only one you’ll need.

Here are my credentials: I spent the years from 2006 to 2016 searching for the perfect liquid eyeliner. Rimmel, Soap and Glory, Benefit: I tried them all, but none did the job. They were too flaky, too expensive, too messy. Then one day, I met up with an old friend who was wearing a lilac matte lipstick by a new-to-me brand called NYX. “It’s amazing, I prefer it to my MAC” she told me, “and it’s cheap.” Intrigued by the promise of professional-grade products at high-street prices, I ordered the NYX Matte Liquid Liner, and I’ve worn it every day since.

The liquid eyeliner comes in a sleek, long, black tube that’s a similar size to a standard biro. The liner has a thin, paintbrushlike applicator, making it softer on delicate skin than other felt-tip variations, which dragged across my eyelids and left uneven lines. The ultrafine paintbrush is also better for precision application: perfect for needle-sharp wings and varying thickness.

The product itself feels thick without being heavy, is darkly pigmented and dries relatively quickly, closing the time window where you absolutely cannot sneeze or else end up with still-wet black eyeliner up to your brow. Even better, the blacker-than-black liner doesn’t go grey over the course of the day, and unlike my previous Rimmel liner and some former friends, this liquid eyeliner doesn’t flake.

Once applied and dry, this eyeliner is there to stay. I wore it every day at Glastonbury Festival this year, where temperatures reached 32 degrees Celsius and I sweat-danced for 15 hours a day, and it still didn’t smudge. Despite all that, a few swipes with a micellar water-soaked cotton pad will wipe it away — but only when you want it to.

NYX’s Glitter Goals and Vivid Brights eyeliners still have the same soft brush applicator and staying power, but in shimmering metallics and pops of pastel. The highly glittered gold and cobalt-blue liners add extra drama when applied just above the black flick of a cat’s eye wing.

Some other Strategist-approved eyeliners

If you’d prefer a pen liner, three of the experts we spoke to praised the Maybelline Eye Studio Master Precise Liquid Eyeliner for its ease of use, super-inky pigment, and fine tip.

The Strategist UK is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Read about who we are and what we do here. Our editors update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.

Drag Queens and Store Cashiers Ask Me Which Eyeliner I Wear