Eyeliner, like pizza, doesn't need to be high-end or expensive to be good. For proof of this, go to Bleecker Street Pizza. Then log onto this website, choose any five Top Shelves at random, and CTRL + F "eyeliner." If the cumulative price is above $25, then bill the pizza to ITG.
There is a special time and place for the Laura Mercier Kajals of the world—sometimes, a luxury experience is what you're looking for, and a luxury experience you deserve—but when it comes to eyeliner, kohl is kohl, more or less. That's good news, because it means that the best eyeliners in the game are all conveniently located in the same drugstore aisle. And what better time than late November to round them all up? 'Tis the season to overspend on eyeshadow, anyway.
The Kohliest: Soap and Glory Smoulder Kohl
A smoky eye in a pencil. The formula includes jojoba oil (!) which indicates how soft the payoff is. Line and smudge with abandon—it won't move for anything.
The Cattiest Eye: Maybelline Line Stiletto Ultimate Precision
Quick-drying, long-lasting, scrupulously-applying. Everything you're looking for in a liquid liner. Meow!
The Most Dramatic: L'Oréal Infallible Black Velvet
For those who eschew eye liners for eye markers—this is the product for you. The plushy pen is easy to wield and deposits a LOT of ink, so use with caution. Subtlety is, unfortunately, not an option here. High glamour or keep moving.
The Best Color Range: Covergirl Perfect Point Plus
Bad news first—this one is prone to smudge, so if you're looking for something ultra-precise, we'd defer to the above Maybelline. But all is forgiven, because its shade range is the perfect color wardrobe. Charcoal stands out as the perfect everyday not-quite-black (good for smoky eyes, too) but Hunter Green and Midnight are the ideal shades of adventurous, too.
The Everything: NYX Two Timer
Take Tom Ford's Eye Defining Pen, but switch out the brush side for a kohl pencil, subtract $50, and you have NYX's Two Timer. On one end, you've got a reliable matte-black kohl; the other, a precise felt-tip liquid pen. If you can't decide which one suits you best (or you oscillate freely between the two), it's the only eye product you need. Win-win-win. (The third win is for your holiday party eye.)
Photographed by Tom Newton.