The difference between gel and liquid liner

The difference between gel and liquid liner

So you’re ready to tackle that winged liner look, are you? Good for you. It’s a look that’s equal parts sultry and edgy (and let’s admit it, a little tricky to achieve at first).

But which product do you use – a gel or a liquid liner? They both seem to do the same job and achieve similar results, but they’re still different enough to cause a little confusion.

So allow me to break it down for you.

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Gel liner usually comes packaged in a little pot and is a thicker, creamier consistency. You need a small brush to apply the liner to your lids and create your winged line.
According to Revlon’s National Trainer Susan Vargas, gel liners are often easier to use for first timers. She says, “They allow more imperfection and often move better with the delicate skin around the eye.”
It’s also easier to build up your line with a gel liner and you have a lot more control of the outcome. “You can choose the size of brush, the intensity of the colour, and the thickness of the line,” says L’Óreal Australian Make-Up Director, Elsa Morgan.

Application tips:

– Laura Mercier Founder, Laura Mercier, recommends using an eyeliner brush that “is neither too thick or too thin, but very point.”
– Elsa Morgan suggest resting the inside of your wrist on your cheek (or lower down if you need more room) to keep your hand steady as you draw your line from your inner corner out. Her last words of wisdom? “Never leave any bit of skin showing between the eye and the liner.”

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  1. L’Oreal Paris SuperLiner Gel Liner
  2. Revlon ColorStay™ Créme Gel Liner
  3. Laura Mercier Tightline Cake Eye Liner, $35, 02 9663 4277.
  4. Rimmel London Waterproof Gel Liner


Liquid liners usually look like pens and work almost like a texta. However, some liquid liners will be packaged with a small brush in the lid, which is what you use to create the line. Regardless, the formulation of a liquid liner is usually more watery than a gel liner and isn’t as creamy upon application.

Susan Vargas says of them, “Liquid eyeliner is very precise- which is great for creating the perfect line and a very defined look. Liquid eyeliner can make a real statement and create a dramatic look.” She also warns that liquid liners are not as buildable as gel liners, and attempting to layer the line may leave your liner looking a little streaky.

Elsa Morgan says that, although a liquid liner is easier to apply than a gel liner, you need to be a bit steadier to use them.

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Application tips:

Elsa Morgan’s top tips for using liquid liner:

  • If you have close set eyes, you’ll want to concentrate the intensity of your liner on the outside of your eye, as it will draw the eyes out.
  • If you have wide set eyes, take the liner right towards the inner corner towards the ridge of the nose to bring everything together.
  • Asian eyes should just follow that beautiful, lovely long shape of an eye then just extend it up.
  • If you have what is known as a vanishing lid, just stay close to the lash line all the way along and then a little pull out right at the end.
  • With a hooded eye, I tend to go a little more daring, and grab a chunky liner to create a long line from the inner edge of the eye and out. Keep it relatively straight so that you can see the liner. Be sure to stay true to the lash line at the outer corner and finish off with a gorgeous flick.

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  1. L’Oreal Paris SuperLiner Blackbuster Eyeliner
  2. Revlon ColorStay™ Liquid Liner
  3. Max Factor Glide & Define Liquid Eyeliner
  4. Rimmel London GlamEyes Professional Liquid Eye Liner


Laura Mercier has some great tips for making the process as easy as possible – regardless of which kind of liner you use.

  •  For an easy way to apply your liner, start with a sharpened eye pencil and sketch in the shape you want (as you can erase mistakes more easily this way.) Then apply liner directly over the sketched in colour.
  • The general idea is to follow the shape of the eyes. According to your eye shape and the desired look you can thicken the liner, stretch it far out, wing it in an upward motion or just keep it short for an accent above your lashes.

Do you prefer to use a liquid or gel liner? Do you have any tips or tricks for applying them?

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