Cream/Gel Eyeliner: The Best of the Best

Cream/Gel Eyeliner Breakdown

Cream/gel eyeliners are usually thick creams (the consistency of a cream, but the thickness of more like a paste… or a lipstick, for a better beauty reference!). They usually require a brush to apply it, and most use these on the upper lash line (they can be irritating on the lower lash line, particularly for those with more sensitive eyes). They’re a very, very popular item with numerous brands having their own take on the cream/gel eyeliner product type.

At the end of the day, they’re all quality cream/gel eyeliners and none are not worth paying for. As with many cosmetic products, some will work better on others–we’re not all going to fall in love with the same formula–but I do think these are all good picks. Personally, I tend to choose by the color/shade rather than the brand! If I had to give you a top three (in alphabetical order), they would be: Bobbi Brown, MAC, and shu uemura.

Here’s a comparison across eight different brands and their cream/gel eyeliners…

Stila Smudge Pot ($20.00 for 0.14 oz.) are richly pigmented, fairly creamy, and have a good variety in color selection. It is available in seven shades: Black, Bronze, Brown, Cobalt, Grey, Jade, and Kitten. Stila also regularly releases limited edition shades throughout the year.

  • Texture: Creamy, thick
  • Finish: Matte, metallic, shimmer
  • Wear: Smudge-proof, budge-proof, doesn’t crease
  • Price per Ounce: $142.86/oz.
  • Comments: Smudge Pots can take a little longer to dry down than other cream/gel liners. They’re very creamy and can easily be used an eyeshadow base as well. The mattes are more pigmented and opaque than the shimmers, which can require layering to build up intensity (particularly if used as a base).
  • Related Posts: Holiday Smudge Pots (Review), Cobalt Clutch & Purple Pumps Smudge Pots (Review), Kitten & Black Cat Smudge Pots (Review)

Smashbox Jet Set Waterproof Eye Liner ($22.00 for 0.10 oz.) is lightweight, thick (and just a bit creamy–has a very gel-ish texture) gel eyeliner. It is available in five shades: Bronze, Dark Brown, Midnight Black, Midnight Purple, and Navy Blue.

  • Texture: Gel, thick
  • Finish: Matte, metallic, shimmer
  • Wear: Smudge-proof, budge-proof, waterproof — not creamy enough to use as a base as easily as other cream/gel liners
  • Price per Ounce: $220.00/oz.
  • Comments: The packaging is no-nonsense; very compact and travel-friendly. The texture is thick and kind of “sticks” so it’s best used as an eyeliner.
  • Related Posts: Navy Blue (Review)

Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner ($21.00 for 0.10 oz.) is a creamy, richly pigmented long-wearing gel eyeliner. It’s surprisingly thin, lightweight, and creamy–but still has the pigmentation you’d expect from a gel eyeliner. Bobbi offers an amazing shade range compared to other brands. It is available in sixteen shades (!): Black Ink, Black Mauve Shimmer Ink, Black Plum Ink, Bronze Shimmer, Caviar Ink, Chocolate Shimmer Ink, Cobalt Ink, Espresso Ink, Forest Shimmer Ink, Granite Ink, Graphite Shimmer Ink, Hunter Ink, Indigo Ink, Ivy Shimmer Ink, Sepia Ink, and Violet Ink.

  • Texture: Creamy, thin, smudgeable
  • Finish: Matte, metallic, shimmer
  • Wear: Smudge-proof, budge-proof, crease-resistant
  • Price per Ounce: $210.00/oz.
  • Comments: It’s thin and creamy, yet it doesn’t take long to dry, and they work easily as bases or as eyeliners. You should work fast, but you don’t have to work too fast–it’s kind of the “just right” in terms of timing. The variation in shades offered is excellent, as well.
  • Related Posts: Forest Ink Gel Eyeliner (Review)

shu uemura Painting Liner Eye Liner ($24.00 for 0.098 oz.) is a thick, gel eyeliner with a creamy texture that comes in a good variety of shades. It is available in thirteen shades: Black, Brown, Citrine, Gold, Green, Metallic Black, Metallic Brown, Night Blue, Purple, Silver, Turquoise, Vivid Blue, White.

  • Texture: Thick, gel, smooth
  • Finish: Matte, metallic
  • Wear: Smudge-proof, budge-proof, waterproof
  • Price per Ounce: $244.90/oz.
  • Comments: The shimmery shades tend to have more drag and may require layering for a solid look, but the matte shades are a little creamier and more opaque from the get-go. They give you a good window for working – they don’t dry too fast, but they don’t stay wet. Painting Liner is very much a true-to-form gel eyeliner. It’s thick and has a smooth consistency.
  • Related Posts: Citrine & Turquoise (Review)

Make Up For Ever Aqua Black Waterproof Cream Eye Shadow ($22.00 for 0.24 oz.) is listed as a cream eyeshadow, but it feels and acts like a cream eyeliner. It’s also curious that there aren’t more shades available, if it truly is a cream eyeshadow (lots of shades to be offered/created). Anyway, Make Up For Ever also has Aqua Creamliner ($20.00 for 0.14 oz.) and is available in six shades: Matte Black, Matte Brown, Matte Light Brown, Matte Turquoise, Matte Purple, and Matte Green. I haven’t tried them, though, so I can’t give you any insight on how they compare or differ.

  • Texture: Smooth, thick
  • Finish: Matte
  • Wear: Smudge-proof, budge-proof, waterproof
  • Price per Ounce: $91.67/oz.
  • Comments: I found this to be very comparable to MAC’s Fluidline, except it’s creamier and takes a little longer to dry than most cream/gels. It does, however, hold up very well–it lasts all day without fading, smudging, or migrating elsewhere. You get a fair amount of product (funny enough, since it’s an “eyeshadow” you get 0.24 oz., but if you purchase Make Up For Ever’s actual Creamliner, you only get 0.14 oz.!), but this is not that good — more product to go bad faster. If you use it on the daily, you may find it gets drier and drier as less product sits in the larger jar. It’s not a big deal, but since gel eyeliner should be regularly replaced (since it is an eye product and you’re often double-dipping), more is not always the best thing.
  • Related PostsLooks using Aqua Black

MAC Fluidline ($15.00 for 0.10 oz.) is a gel-based eyeliner that comes in a heavy glass pot with a smooth texture. Fluidlines used to be available in a lot more shades, but currently is only available in six shades: Blacktrack, Blitz & Glitz, Dipdown, Macroviolet, Rich Ground, and Waveline. MAC used to regularly release new fluidline shades, but they’ve slowed down quite a bit in the past year.

  • Texture: Smooth, creamy, blendable
  • Finish: Matte, metallic, shimmer
  • Wear: Smudge-proof, budge-proof, long-wearing
  • Price per Ounce: $150.00/oz.
  • Comments: It’s creamy enough to be able to draw a tight line and not worry about drag or fading–it’ll be opaque and you won’t have to fuss with it much. It dries down fast enough not to smudge once you’ve finished applying but slow enough to give you time to work with it as well.
  • Related Posts: Looks using Blacktrack Fluidline

Lancome Ink Artliner Gel Eyeliner ($23.50 for oz.) is a creamy, gel-based liner. It is available in four shades: Brun Elegance, Noir Magnificence, Brun Mystere, and Plum Tease. However, availability depends, because it’s difficult to determine if any of the shades are permanent. (Lancome’s website only lists Brun Elegance and Plum Tease; Nordstrom has the most–four.) There have also been limited edition shades (e.g. Indigo Charm).

  • Texture: Smooth, creamy, blendable
  • Finish: Metallic, shimmer
  • Wear: Smudge-proof, budge-proof, long-wearing
  • Price per Ounce: $167.86/oz.
  • Comments: The liner is pretty, but it can have a tendency to drag when you’re using a more shimmery shade–you may have to go over it again to get the pigmentation you want. It dries down in a reasonable time (not too fast, not too slow), and it does wear well. Lancome just started rolling out Ink Artliner this past year, so it’s still not clear what shades (if any) are permanent.
  • Related Posts: Plum Tease (Review), Indigo Charm (Review)

Sonia Kashuk Dramatically Defining Long Wear Gel Eyeliner ($8.99 for 0.18 oz.) is a large-sized, creamy gel-based eyeliner. It is available in three shades: Cocoa, Ebony, and Indigo. They’re impossible to track down online and often sold out in-stores (carried primarily at Target).

  • Texture: Creamy, smooth, pigmented
  • Finish: Matte, metallic, shimmer
  • Wear: Smudge-proof, budge-proof, long-wearing
  • Price per Ounce: $49.94/oz.
  • Comments: The biggest drawback I encountered with these is they have a tendency to dry out faster than other cream/gel eyeliners I own. When you get a good, tightly-screwed on pot, it’s a very smooth, creamy product. If it dries out, it definitely gets a lot harder to work with.
  • Related Posts: Review

Stila Black Smudge Pot, Smashbox Navy Blue Jet Set Eyeliner, Bobbi Brown Forest Ink Gel Eyeliner, shu uemura Purple Painting Liner, Make Up For Ever Aqua Black Cream Eyeshadow

Make Up For Ever Aqua Black Cream Eyeshadow, MAC Blacktrack Fluidline, Lancome Indigo Charm Ink Artliner, Sonia Kashuk Indigo Gel Eyeliner