It’s rumored that luxury brands source eyeliner from Japan. Yes, it’s that good, even though it’s the same stuff sold in Japanese drugstores.
Lucky for you, you don’t have to catch a plane to purchase eye makeup in Japan. The best Japanese eyeliner is only a few clicks away when you shop online.
Choose between liquid, gel, or pencil eyeliner. Although the most popular shades are black and brown, some brands offer a rainbow of colors.
Discerning Japanese consumers demand the best from local manufacturers, so the competition is intense. You can find a product for every Japanese eyeliner style, from toned-down Seiso for the office to hyped-up Barbie doll or Gyaru.
How to choose eyeliner
It’s fun to try eyeliner. If you’re not sure where to start, let’s talk about the different types.
Pencils are the easiest for beginners, but they aren’t as thick and intense as liquid liners or gels. They may smudge easier, but that’s handy for smoky eyes. On the bright side, there is no dry time.
Gel liners are a blend between pencil and liquid. They are thicker than liquids and glide on, setting to a matte finish. Sometimes, the eyeliner is in a little jar that requires a brush for application. (You’ll see this more with Korean gel eyeliner). More often these days, it comes in a twist-up tube reminiscent of pencil eyeliner.
Liquid liner goes on quicker and more smoothly than gel. It comes in a tube with a tiny brush or a felt marker tip. It’s perfect for precision cat eyes, even if it takes longer to dry. It’s best for tracing the waterline, AKA tightlining.
How to choose eyeliner color
Black eyeliner is not the only option, although it’s the boldest. Brown is ideal for smoky and subtle effects.
A gray liner can brighten your eyes. Also, tracing your lower waterline with a white liner will make your eyes look larger.
Another trick to perk up tired eyes is to follow the lower waterline with nude eyeliner.
Plus, there are many other colors to make your eyes pop, including glitter liners.
How to apply eyeliner with minimal mess
Do you have shaky hands? If you sit down and put your elbow on the table and press your pinky finger against your cheek, it will let you control the liner better. We’ve also heard that clenching your toes also helps.
Get a cotton swab ready with makeup remover. You can quickly clean-up goofs. If you don’t have makeup remover, try Vaseline or concealer.
Next, draw dots or dashes along the eyelid. Connect the dots. For some reason, drawing short lines is more manageable than maintaining a straight line all the way across.
There are all sorts of tips about getting the perfect cat’s-eye. Some recommend using the edge of a business card to get the right angle. We’ve had luck using a spoon since its edge has the ideal curve.
Finally, eyeshadow or translucent setting powder will help keep the eyeliner in place without smudging throughout the day.
Best Japanese Eyeliner in 2021
Japanese liquid eyeliner pens are excellent for precision makeup, like tightlining along the edge of the eye.
DHC Liquid Eyeliner EX
Which brand of Japanese eyeliner is the best? It depends on what you’re looking for, but DHC is in the top ten.
Check out this liquid brush eyeliner that makes cat eyes almost easy. Shake the pen, then trace the line. You’ll see that the line is clean, and the perfect amount of pigment comes out each time.
Since it feels like working with a regular pen, it’s comfortable and straightforward to control.
Moreover, the formula is smudge-proof and water-resistant to last all day.
The only complaint we heard was that the brush gets crusty sometimes. The problem is solved if you wipe it with a warm, damp cloth.
HEROINE MAKE Smooth Liquid Eyeliner
What is the smoothest eyeliner? Some reviewers swear it’s this one.
The brush tip allows for thick and thin lines.
Not only is it a pleasure to use, but the pigment holds up without smudging, peeling, or flaking. It withstands water and oily skin to stay crisp and clear on the eyelid.
Users say it dries quickly and doesn’t irritate the eyes.
DollyWink Super Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner
Here’s another liquid liner that doesn’t budge if you sweat or cry. It has a fine brush tip for thin and thick lines.
It also meets the other demands of Japanese-style eye makeup, meaning it’s intensely black with a glossy finish. No wonder it’s a favorite of Asian beauty Instagram influencers and Redditors.
Should you prefer a matte finish, just add a touch of powder.
K-palette Real Lasting Eyeliner 24h Waterproof
What’s the best eyeliner that stays on all day? While other brands resist oil and sweat for twelve hours, this one promises a full day of wear.
How is this magic possible? Well, it’s plastic. No, seriously, the liquid liner uses polymer to lay down a pigmented film. It won’t melt or smudge.
Furthermore, it’s available in intense shades like Super Black, Brown Black, and Deep Brown.
MSH Loveliner Liquid Eyeliner
It’s not flashy, but this liquid liner has dedicated fans. Although it’s highly-pigmented and long-lasting, it’s easier to remove than similar products. Warm water will do the trick; no makeup remover needed.
Also, reviewers say one tube may last as long as a year.
D-UP Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner
Here’s a liquid liner with a teeny, tiny felt tip. It’s just one-tenth of a millimeter in size. It’s just what you need for winged eyeliner and super fine lines.
It sets to a satiny finish – not matte and not glossy. Choose from Raven Black, Brown Black, and Natural Brown.
All three are formulated with moisture-resistant polymer but wash off with warm water.
DeJavu Lasting Fine Brush Liquid Eyeliner
Get a glossy finish from this quick-dry liquid liner. It stands up to tears and sweat as well as oily skin.
Use it for tightlining as it features a lash strengthening serum. It’s designed to nourish eyelashes. What’s more, the flexible brush tip is a precision tool that can fill in spaces between lashes.
Even though it should stay smudge-free for up to twenty-four hours, you can remove it with warm water.
It’s available in glossy black, glossy brown, and black-brown.
Shiseido Majolica Majorca Linehunter Eyeliner
We wanted to love Shiseido’s Linehunter, but found that it wasn’t as resistant to water and smudging as other top Japanese eyeliners.
Still, this is a premium brand with an excellent reputation. It’s possible that our sample might have been from an unfortunate batch.
FlowFushi Mote Liner
The Mote Liner is an award-winning product. It will define your eyes with saturated shades like black, brown, black-brown, and navy. The precision and control comes in part from the handmade brush.
The eyeliner dries rapidly and resists fading for hours on end. It’s also waterproof for tracing the waterline.
Happily, the irritation-free formula avoids harmful chemicals.
Flowfushi UZU Eye-Opening Liner Liquid Eyeliner
Dazzle others with thirteen different colors of eyeliner. The Flowfushi UZU comes in shades like pink, yellow, light blue, gray, white, black, brown, navy, and more.
Each color is waterproof, smudge-proof, and long-lasting. Believe us, this is not an empty claim. The liquid was developed over the course of a hundred and fifty thousand tests.
Furthermore, the applicator is a handcrafted Yamato Takumi brush with an octagonal handle. We wish every makeup tool was this comfortable and precise.
AVANCE’ Joli et Joli Liquid Eye Liner
One coat of this liner will give you a subtle look. Another layer will deepen the color to make it vivid.
The soft bristles glide over the skin as they lay down the waterproof liquid. Although it resists tears and sweat, be careful not to rub your eyes as it may smudge.
SANA Maikohan Liquid Eyeliner
How about an eyeliner that always makes a straight line? The brush here is precise enough to draw between lashes. It’s also suitable for tightlining.
The pigment is waterproof and smudge-resistant. It doesn’t migrate or flake. Consequently, you’ll want makeup remover to take it off.
Layer it for dramatic results. It’s available in a variety of shades, including red brown and black brown.
SCALP D BEAUTE Pure Free Eyeliner
If you’re in search of a subtle look, get this liquid liner. It has a natural finish with less intensity. However, you can go over the lines to deepen the color.
The soft brush tip works well for thin and thick lines.
The Rose of Versailles Lady Oscar Liquid Eyeliner
Here’s one more liquid liner for hot, sweaty days. It won’t run, fade, smudge, or give in to a rainstorm. Instead, you’ll need a makeup remover for it.
On the plus side, it’s fortified with rosewater and wild rose oil. These ingredients are nourishing to delicate skin.
Koh Gen Do Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner Pen
This liquid pencil simplifies lining the waterline. Twist up the 2mm tip to fill in the lash line. It provides superior control for tightlining and corners.
Then, the creamy pigment stays put. It’s genuinely waterproof in that you can go swimming with it. But please don’t rub your eyes while they are wet as it will flake.
Gel liner doesn’t always come in a pot– sometimes, it’s hard to tell the difference between gel and liquid eyeliner.
Cezanne Ultrafine Eyeliner
We like this gel eyeliner as it doesn’t bleed or smudge. It has an ultra-fine felt tip that we found easier to manage than some brush applicators. The texture might be a little sticky, but it doesn’t take long to dry.
The liner lasts all day, holding up well against oil, sweat, and high humidity. It requires makeup remover at night.
What’s also nice is that this is a versatile cosmetic. It’s blendable enough to be used as eyeshadow for smoky eyes. Plus, it moisturizes eyelids.
Get it in black or brown.
CANMAKE Creamy Touch Liner
It’s a gel liner with a twist-up design. But be careful – you can’t retract it. Only expose the amount you need. It’s also buttery soft and glides over the skin.
Fortunately, it has a slim tip for precise lines. Yet, it’s perfect for purposeful smudging and blending.
Once it dries, it’s waterproof and oil-proof. You can even rub your eyes, and it stays put.
Choose from deep black, medium brown, dark brown, and garnet burgundy.
Kanebo KATE Rare Fit Gel Pencil
Is it a gel or pencil? It’s both. Just like the CANMAKE liner, don’t twist up more than you’ll use. The pigment isn’t retractable. The manufacturer recommends 1 mm at a time.
The tiny diameter (1.5 mm) allows for exact cat eyes and winged lines. What’s more, the liner doesn’t smudge. It will stay crisp for hours, even overnight. Be sure to use a cleansing oil or makeup remover to take it off.
Choose from Intense Black, Dark Brown, and Bitter Brown.
The classic pencil eyeliner will never go out of style. It typically lasts longer between purchases than liquid liner.
Shiseido The Makeup Smoothing Eyeliner Pencil
We love this dual-ended eyeliner. One end is a creamy pencil tip, and the other is a rounded sponge.
Both provide intense color that’s resistant to fading and smudging. The sponge tip is perfect for smoky eyes and blending.
DeJavu Lustin Fine a Cream Pencil Eyeliner
It’s creamy with a silky texture. The pigment is not overpowering, making it perfect for subtle emphasis. Plus, the oval shape makes for thick and thin lines.
Once in place, this pencil stays put. It’s waterproof. Also, you’ll never have to sharpen it as it twists up.
The main complaint we heard is that the liner is brittle, so try not to drop it, or it may emerge in little chunks.
Is it possible to have too many eyeliners? We don’t think so.
Japanese liner is high-quality and affordable. Therefore, if you can’t choose between pencils, gels, and liquid liners, try them all. You’re destined to find your new favorite eye makeup.