As we age, we get to update our beauty routines to match the new textures on our bodies. The moisturizer you loved for years suddenly may not impart enough hydration. Your go-to shampoo becomes too stripping. A foundation for mature skin swiftly took the spot of your favorite drugstore foundation. That’s when you know it’s time to try something new and upgrade your products.

When it comes to eyeliner, “most older women have had years of practice to perfect the shape that suits them,” says makeup artist Natalia Thomas. We also are firm believers that you shouldn’t let your age dictate how you do your makeup. Still, “as we age and evolve, so do our faces and features,” explains Ghodstinat. What an older woman might look for in an eyeliner is texture, opting for one that glides on easily and blends well, so it won’t crease as it wears on the face. Also consider an eyeliner with staying power that doesn’t smudge and irritate the eyes, which can get more sensitive with age. Ahead, we found our favorite picks with enriched formulas for an smooth application.

Best Overall

Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil


What We Love: It’s hard to beat the shade options offered by this range — you have your choice of nearly 40 hues.

What We Don’t Love: The very smooth finish on the component itself makes it hard to grip when sharpening, especially when you’re reaching the end of the pencil.

This now-iconic pencil is actually the best selling eyeliner in the United States, and we’re not at all surprised. We’ve been using it since it launched over a decade ago, and it remains the eyeliner we come back to time and time again — and our moms love it, too. 

The creamy pencil is available in dozens of shades and finishes, ranging from matte blackest black to metallic white and everything in between. It glides across lids of all textures and can last up to 16 hours, though we occasionally get smudging on the lower outer corners after a long or sweaty day. Unless you’re sharpening to a perfect point every time you use it — which you probably won’t, if you’re going for a softer line as suggested by our pros — the long pencil will last for months (we’re just finally finishing one after about a year). If you’re new to the range, check out Demolition, a matte deep brown, Whiskey, a matte mid-toned reddish brown, and Mushroom, a shimmery taupe brown.

Type: Pencil|Number of Colors: 38|Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Budget

NYX Professional Makeup Slim Eye Pencil Long-Lasting Eyeliner


What We Love: For such a wallet-friendly option, this formula comes in a pleasantly surprising number of shades.

What We Don’t Love: The tip of this pencil can be so soft that it snaps off easily when sketching it on or sharpening it.

If you’re eyeing the shade range of Urban Decay’s pencils but are trying to cut costs, this product from NYX may scratch that itch with one of its 21 colors. There are many iterations of brown (eight!) to suit a wide range of skin tones as well as a handful of blues and greens. You’ll also find a white pearlescent shade, which is a handy hue to have to create the illusion of a more awake-looking eye. 

The pencil also glides onto mature lids easily thanks to coconut oil. While we can all appreciate a smooth application, the soft quality of the crayon can necessitate frequent sharpening — whether that’s due to the tip dulling quickly or breaking off when using it.

Type: Pencil|Number of Colors: 21|Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Splurge

Guide Beauty Guide Eyeliner Duo

Guide Beauty

What We Love: The products in this line, including this eyeliner duo, are designed for those who may have issues applying makeup, whether that’s due to being a novice or having challenges with movement or strength.

What We Don’t Love: The formula is currently only available in two shades.

Yes, the price is steep, but if you have mobility issues or have just never been great at applying a straight line with a liquid eyeliner, this cream eyeliner and applicator duo is a worthy investment and comes highly recommended by Thomas. Guide Beauty was founded by celebrity makeup artist Terri Bryant, who began experiencing dexterity issues with her hand when she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s.

This formula is a soft, blendable cream that picks up easily with the silicone tip of the applicator (you’ll get two replacement tips with your purchase). After you glide the tip across the surface of the pot, use the notch in the applicator to steady your hand against your face, then sketch the product onto your lid. It dries down quickly and won’t budge until you take it off.

Type: Cream|Number of Colors: Two|Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Automatic

L’Oréal Infallible Grip Gel Mechanical Liner


What We Love: This affordable formula features one of the longest wear claims we’ve ever seen from an eyeliner — 36 hours.

What We Don’t Love: The intensity of the pigment seems to vary from batch to batch.

For a drugstore liner, this one from L’Oréal offers a lot of bells and whistles, including an easy-to-use automatic pencil, sponge tip, a hidden sharpener, and some unexpected shades (a vibrant green and punchy turquoise among them, plus soft brown and taupe gray, nice options for aging eyes). It also claims 36 hours of wear, though we wouldn’t recommend testing that yourself; always take your makeup off before bed! 

Some fans of this formula find that the pigment payoff can be inconsistent, though, sometimes requiring several passes of the pencil to build to the desired intensity. However, if you’re going for a softer look, this may not bug you much.

Type: Automatic pencil|Number of Colors: Six|Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Drugstore

Almay All-Day Intense Gel Eyeliner


What We Love: The pigment is beautiful, as is the formula — it applies easily without dragging or skipping.

What We Don’t Love: This pencil is wrapped in a plastic material and it can be a struggle to sharpen.

This is a go-to of makeup artist and founder of Kimiko Beauty, Dani Kimiko Vincent due to its affordability and creamy consistency, a must for eyelids with skin laxity; if the formula sketches on nicely, it’ll create a straight line despite uneven texture. “The pencil glides on smoothly and lasts — and they offer great black and gray options,” she says. 

The range also includes navy, green, plum, and a chestnut brown. We do want to flag that this pencil is like several on the market in that it is wrapped in a plastic coating. Not only does this make it look like the product is an automatic pencil (it isn’t). Don’t worry — you can absolutely sharpen this pencil with a typical eyeliner sharpener, it should just be very sharp, and you’ll need to be patient as you go.

Type: Pencil|Number of Colors: Six|Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Color

Victoria Beckham Satin Kajal Liner

Victoria Beckham

What We Love: The shades in this formula are beautiful and unique — and somehow toe the line between trendy and timeless.

What We Don’t Love: The pencil is very soft, which makes it fantastic for blending, but also means it gets used up more quickly, which may be frustrating if you’re on a budget considering the product’s price.

Thomas is a big fan of this formula: “It glides on like a dream, blends easily, lasts all day and, as an added bonus, comes with a smudging tool on the other end for on-the-go application,” she gushes. We’re personally in love with the gorgeous shades it comes in — shimmering emerald, matte teal, and an unexpectedly elegant bordeaux shade that looks outstanding with all eye colors and on all skin tones. While those colors may sound edgy, trust us when we say they are more sophisticated than anything else! 

The pigment is quite buttery due to being infused with nourishing vitamin E, which means it glides on easily, but to maintain a firm point, you’ll end up sharpening quite frequently. 

Type: Pencil|Number of Colors: 15|Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Pencil

Pat McGrath Labs PermaGel Ultra Glide Eye Pencil

Pat McGrath

What We Love: Developed by legendary makeup artist Pat McGrath, these pencils boast serious pigment payoff.

What We Don’t Love: The texture is so soft, it can crumble if you don’t sharpen carefully.

The intensity of these liners is not to be underestimated — you’ll get rich, saturated color with every stroke. You don’t have too many shade options (there are five), but you will find a mid-toned taupe, a harder shade that our experts love for fair skin tones. The creamy formula blends beautifully, making it easier to create a softer line, and once it sets, it won’t move all day, promises Thomas.

Type: Pencil|Number of Colors: Five|Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Waterproof

Stila Stay All Day Smudge Stick Waterproof Eye Liner


What We Love: The silky formula doubles nicely as an eyeshadow.

What We Don’t Love: Waterproof formulas tend to dry out more quickly, this one included, so take great care when replacing the cap on this product.

Thomas names this a favorite due to its large array of colors, lasting wear, and the easy automatic style. We’ve long recommended this formula in Vivid Labradorite, a creamy gray, to those with mature skin looking for a black alternative as it provides comparable definition without a harsh look, but we truly love most of the shades. Those who prefer brown will enjoy this collection — there are five different iterations of the hue to choose from — as will those who are looking for deep shades in “pop” colors that still look subdued, like eggplant, emerald, and sapphire. 

However, be sure to keep the pencil’s cap on securely when tossing it back into your makeup bag. Because of its waterproof nature, the formula dries out on the faster side, and a loose cap will hasten that process.

Type: Automatic pencil|Number of Colors: 13|Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for Beginners

1999 Precision Colour Pencil


What We Love: These multifunctional pencils can be used on eyes, lips, or cheeks, making them perfect for someone new to makeup or who doesn’t want to fuss with a many-step routine.

What We Don’t Love: The color range is a bit limited as it includes more lip-friendly shades like orange and red, which makeup newbies may not feel comfortable applying to the eyes.

This age-inclusive brand features an edited collection of apply where you want, when you want essentials, including these highly blendable pencils that glide on with ease. They’re super pigmented, but sheer out easily, so you can create looks that range from subtle to dramatic. 

We’re partial to four shades of this formula for eyes: chocolatey Barna, burgundy Bor, navy Notte, and cerulean Wasser, which reminds us of the vibrant blue liner that Princess Diana used to wear. We love these pencils for their versatility, but those who are looking for more shade options from the line may feel a bit intimidated — coral and hot pink are not many makeup first-timers’ go-to eye colors.

Type: Pencil|Number of Colors: Nine|Cruelty-Free: Yes

Inglot AMC Eyeliner Gel


What We Love: This ultra-pigmented waterproof, smudge-proof, and crease-proof formula won’t budge on mature lids.

What We Don’t Love: The long-wearing formula is so durable, it’s hard to remove; the gel will dry out quickly if you’re not careful when securing the lid.

Many makeup artists, including Vincent, love this hardy gel eyeliner formula from Inglot, who keeps Black (77) and Brown (69) in her kit at all times. “I mix the two depending on the level of intensity desired,” she says. “I apply these with a really fine eyeliner brush and it can give a more bold liquid liner effect, but the creaminess of the gel means it won’t feather into fine lines.” 

She adds that it works well in the waterline, too. It comes in an impressive 26 shades, including softer taupes that more mature women may prefer as opposed to black, which can read as harsh on some, and vibrant, bold shades like chartreuse. If you have very sensitive eyes, though, proceed with caution: Because the formula is made to last, that makes it hard to take off, so you’ll want to invest in a very powerful oil-based makeup remover, then work slowly and gently during the removal process.

Type: Gel|Number of Colors: 26|Cruelty-Free: Yes

What to Keep in Mind

  • Liner Type: There are many different eyeliner formats on the market, including gel, liquid, cream, and pencil eyeliners. What you select can make a big difference on a more mature lid. “Try pencils and shadows instead of liquid,” suggests Sasha Ghodstinat, brand trainer for Code8. “A liquid can sometimes look too harsh if you overdo it.” When selecting a liner, take a look at the texture and formula. “Longer-wearing pencils that set quickly are my go-to formulas,” says Nick Lujan, Director of Artistry & Education at Kevyn Aucoin. “Sometimes liquids, gels, and creams take too long to set and transfer.” Lujan advises against using greasier, softer formulas like kohl, as they tend to move throughout the day. Thomas likes waterproof formulas. “Look for products that have longwear claims and are waterproof so that the liner stays where you apply it until it’s time to take it off,” she says. 
  • Ingredients: “Our eye area is the most sensitive and delicate area of the face, especially as we age, and is the most common area to pick up any bacteria and experience irritation,” says Ghodstinat. “You want to ensure the ingredients are non-toxic and more natural—what you do not want are ingredients like parabens, phthalates, sulfates, artificial synthetic fragrances, and mineral oil.”
  • Color: The color you select is entirely dependent on what you like and what you think looks good on you. We encourage you to experiment with new hues—including bold pops of color. How you wear your eyeliner is up to you, so long as it makes you feel your best. “I don’t feel there should be rules to makeup—it’s about whatever makes you feel sexy, capable, and cool,” says Thomas. “Wear the liner how and where you choose with pride.”

Your Questions, Answered

How should an older woman wear eyeliner?

Lujan recommends sketching a longwear pencil along the waterline. It’s easy to do, frames the eye, and makes lashes look fuller and longer. “I love any liner look that enhances a lift in the outer corner,” Lujan adds. “To add a lift, spill the color over the upper lashes in the outer corners.” He suggests using a firm smudge brush to soften the line into a smoky outer corner, smudging outward, upward, and close to the eye. “Like a small, smokey winged look,” says Lujan. It is critical to do this with a firm tool and while your eyes are open, looking straight on into the mirror. Do not stretch the lid with a fingertip, close your eyes, or look down into a mirror, as you will not achieve the same outcome.

Vincent has a different method: in addition to keeping her liner application tight to the lashes, she lifts the outer corners, but only drawing her line until just before the lowest point of the Iashline, meaning she stops ahead of the last few lashes. “This way, you’re not tracing the liner downwards,” she explains. “You can go a step further and add a flick to the outer corners to lift the eye and elongate it.” For those who wear liner on the bottom, she advises against connecting the top and bottom liner at the outer corners. “That can make eyes appear smaller,” says Vincent. Instead, follow the same trick you just did on the top — apply along the lash line and stop a few lashes short on the inner and outer corners. “This will create the illusion of a more open eye,” she says, adding that you should always blend your liner after application. “Blend or smudge with the side of your finger or a pencil-shaped brush until the edges of the liner are soft and diffused.” Clearly, softer lines (without creating too much of a blurred and broad smokey effect) are key.

What eyeliner colors are best for older women?

The eyeliner color you select will not only depend on personal preference, but your skin tone. “For fair skin, I generally recommend a taupe or dark brown as black tends to read more harshly,” says Thomas, who suggests a shade of espresso on medium and deeper complexions, as well as deep charcoal and black. Lujan agrees. “Matte black, brown, and grey will be the most useful and defining [shades].” Additionally, if you’re prone to redness on the lower waterline, Lujan recommends using a flesh-toned pencil on that area. “For a little fun, try a dark navy-black or plum-black as great alternatives to a true black,” recommends Vincent.

Why Shop With Us

Emily Orofino is a freelance writer, editor, and consultant with over a decade of experience in the beauty industry. The makeup category was her first love within beauty and she has tried thousands of products throughout her lifetime. After wearing black liquid liner almost exclusively throughout her twenties, she determined it looked too harsh and switched to dark brown pencil in her thirties. For this piece, she interviewed Sasha Ghodstinat, brand trainer for Code8, Natalia Thomas, who has worked with stars like Zazie Beetz and Karlie Kloss, Dani Kamiko Vincent, celebrity makeup and brow artist as well as the founder of Kimiko, and Nick Lujan, Director of Artistry & Education at Kevyn Aucoin, who has worked with Beyoncé and Kim Petras, among others.