The 19 Best Natural & Nontoxic Eyeliners + Why You Should Go Clean
There are three natural makeup items I get asked about the most: mascara that doesn't bleed, a creamy true red, and liner that won't smudge. All these are historically hard in the clean, natural space, as most people want staying power and rich pigment—both things that are hard to formulate without using less than ideal ingredients, like carbon black for color and preservatives in liquid liners.
But that's all in the past, because these new options are dense, rich, effective, and everything you want. Here, we gathered the very best natural options and what they are suited for.
- Best liquid: NakedPoppy Liquid Eyeliner ($18)
- Best felt tip: W3LL PEOPLE Expressionist Liquid Eyeliner ($17.99)
- Best powder: Jane Iredale Mystikol Powdered Eyeliner ($24)
- Best gel: Burt's Bees Defining Retractable Eyeliner ($9.99)
- Best pencil: Kjaer Weis Eye Pencil ($30)
- Best kohl: Jillian Dempsey Eyeliner ($20)
- Best pen: Ilia Clean Line Liquid Liner ($28)
- Best pressed powder: Alima Pure Pressed Eyeshadow ($26)
- Best cake: RMS Vintage Cake Liner ($24)
- Best cream pot: Long Stay Vegan Cream Eyeliner Pot, Omina ($24)
- Best kajal stick: Kajal Stick, Lord & Berry ($15)
- Best for precision: One Fine Micro Precision Liner, bareMinerals ($19)
- Best for a dramatic look: Rituel de Fille The Black Orb Enigmatic Eyeliner ($29)
- Best for a smudgy look: Juice Beauty Phyto-Pigments Cream Shadow Stick ($22)
- Best for a cateye: BeautyCounter Precision Liquid Liner ($28)
- Best organic: INIKA Certified Organic Eye Pencil ($22)
- Best sustainable option: Aveda Petal Essence Eye Definer ($20)
- Best for sensitive eyes: Antonym Natural Certified Natural Pencil Noir ($19)
Best liquid liner
The extra-fine-tip felt pen makes a cat-eye swoosh effortless. It also gives for a little "correction time" so you can go back and edit as needed (meaning: It doesn't stick immediately, so you can quickly wipe up any mistakes). Seriously: If you ever thought the flick just wasn't for you, this will give you second thoughts.
Liquid Eyeliner, NakedPoppy ($22)
Best felt tip
This will give you the sleekest cat-eye, thanks to the smooth formula and felt tip. (Felt tips are firmer than brushes, so they're easier to draw with, which makes them great for anyone.) And this sticks around like the best of them and is water-resistant (not waterproof, so it will wash off). The key that everyone forgets about liquid options? Let it dry for at least 10 seconds before moving, applying another coat, or topping it with mascara. Also, unless you're a pro, it's best to draw on a flick with short strokes, rather than one long go of it.
Expressionist Liquid Eyeliner, W3LL PEOPLE ($17.99)
Powder eyeliners have always been my go-to, so I'm partial to Jane Iredale's handy creamy-powder hybrid. The all-in-one set comes with a soft, dense liner pod that can do it all: a tight lash line to dramatic night look, if you are so inclined. This powder works so well because it's slightly wet already (most powders you need to wet before applying), so you can simply dab and apply. Plus, the brush is right in the cap: Pull off the narrow end of the top, and flip it around for the oval-shaped tip.
Mystikol Powdered Eyeliner, Jane Iredale ($24)
This 100% natural liner is the perfect blend of gel and creamy texture, thanks to the mix of jojoba oil and shea butter. The soft, deep brown blends in effortlessly on the lash line and is ideal for those with fair skin and light lashes.
Defining Retractable Eyeliner, Burt's Bees ($9.99)
This pencil is made with coconut oil and carnauba wax—which makes the texture thick yet smooth. We love this line, however, for the bright peach shade: You can add it into your inner corners or on the lash line, and you'll look like you've gotten a full night's sleep or just got back from vacation.
Eye Pencil, Kjaer Weis ($30)
There is nothing more classic than a kohl eyeliner pencil. It drags on dark and smooth with the most satisfyingly easy smolder. These are ideal for when you want your eyeliner to be noticeable but not overly dramatic. An old makeup artist hack for kohl pencils used to be to warm it up a bit by rubbing the capped tip between your palms—so it was softer—but this is made with jojoba and marula oils, so it needs no extra help: It's about as velvety as they come.
Eyeliner, Jillian Dempsey ($20)
This super fine and flexible eyeliner is so easy to apply—almost as easy as using a pen. (Wink, wink.) And the quick-dry formula won’t smudge, feather, or bleed throughout the day. We also love the natural pigment of charcoal powder, making this pen’s color so noticeable.
Clean Line Liquid Liner, Ilia ($28)
Best pressed powder
One of the best ways to achieve a soft focus, subtle liner is to use a pressed eye shadow (a little makeup artist hack for ya!). Lightly wet a liner brush, dip it into your eye shadow, and smudge in your liner. Because it's pressed powder shadow, it's not a densely pigmented. Another bonus: You don't have to stick to just your standard liner shades! As long as you have a clean shadow, you can turn it into an eyeliner.
Pressed Eyeshadow, Alima Pure ($26)
Ah, the original eyeliners: cake slabs. This is a chic, modernized version. Wet a liner brush to turn the cake into a paste-like texture, and apply to your lids as desired. Unlike the pressed shadow mentioned above, or the gel liner pot, this is an opaque, matte option. Read: It's a liner for serious users. Be warned, however, it does tend to smudge with oily lids.
Vintage Cake Liner, RMS ($24)
Best cream pot
This jet black liner will give you a look that ranges from barely there to thick, thick, thick. Because it's in a pot, you have more control of the outcome: Simply find a liner brush that suits your needs, and sweep this on eyes. For a sharp line, use a thin, small brush with precision. Or use a wider brush, press it in, and blend it as needed (make sure to do it before the formula dries.)
Long Stay Vegan Cream Eyeliner Pot, Omina ($24)
Kajal is a longtime Indian beauty standby and is for those who want serious liner. The stick is decadently black and goes on lavishly: For those who want that '60s rebellious, rimmed look. (Clean beauty fans like dramatic statements, too!)
Kajal Stick, Lord & Berry ($15)
Best for precision
There are times that call for nothing more than glowing skin, hydrated lips, and a coat of mascara. On those days, the fastest way to look put-together, without looking "done," is a matte black etching of liner across the lash line. It adds a nice thickening base for your mascara but doesn't look like you are wearing anything at all. This ultrafine cream pencil gives you just that—no hassle, no fuss.
One Fine Micro Precision Liner, bareMinerals ($19)
Best for a dramatic look
Rituel de Fille is clean makeup for serious makeup fans. Just browse through their website and you’ll be swimming in dense, pigmented hues. This richer-than-rich onyx hue will help you achieve any bold look your heart desires: From midnight smoky eyes to wings that practically take flight.
The Black Orb Enigmatic Eyeliner, Rituel de Fille ($29)
Best for a smudgy look
Another eye shadow, technically, but shadow sticks make for great liners in a pinch or if you're going for that hazy liner effect. This comes in plenty of hues, from rose gold to deep slate, so you can create a totally unique look for you. Plus, the subtle, subtle shimmer will add a little sparkle to your eye.
Phyto-Pigments Cream Shadow Stick, Juice Beauty ($22)
Best for a cateye
A dense, matte black formula, this dries down quickly. Why is that so essential for a liquid liner? It won't transfer to the top lids—upon application and then throughout the day, too. Fans of the liner note how easily it goes from thin to thick, just by applying a bit more pressure.
Precision Liquid Liner, BeautyCounter ($28)
Best for sustainability
This ophthalmologist-tested pencil is ideal for the sustainability-minded among us. The casing is responsibly sourced wood (certified in accordance with the Forest Stewardship Council). Users love it because it won't tug and pull at the delicate skin around the eye, which is a common problem for pencil liners.
Petal Essence Eye Definer, Aveda ($20)
This organic option is also delightful for it's look at-me colors: This dazzling emerald shade is sophisticated and playful. It's a little less daring than a cobalt blue and yet still so eye-catching. But fans of this pencil collection rave for its long-lasting wearability: This won't disappear or melt as the day goes on, which makes it perfect for everyday use.
Certified Organic Eye Pencil, INIKA ($22)
Best for sensitive eyes
For those with sensitive skin and eyes, liners are challenging or off-limits altogether. This classic black pencil, made with candelilla and carnauba, is dermatologist-approved for those with sensitivities as well as for the water line (generally a no-no for a lot of liners).
Natural Certified Natural Pencil Noir, Antonym ($19)
Why you should switch to a cleaner eyeliner.
People often assume lipstick or foundation is the most important product when in search of clean: The former because it's by the mouth and foundation because it covers a wide area of skin. Personally, I always assumed because liners or mascaras covered such a small surface area, it couldn't be that bad.
However, research has shown that of the beauty categories that are important to switch over to clean versions, eye makeup might be the most important, as the eye area has been shown to absorb the chemicals it comes into contact with, according to research from reproductive epidemiologist Kim Harley, Ph.D., a researcher at the University of California–Berkeley. The good news is that after research participants switched to clean personal care products, the presence of chemicals like parabens and phthalates decreased by up to 45% in three days.
How to find one that's right for you.
Eyeliners, however, have another issue: application. I don't think many would argue with me saying that it is the hardest cosmetic to apply. To start, there are so many types of eyeliners, and each one has a different technique and finish. Then there's the fact that liner takes a precision that things like blush and foundation just don't. And, finally, for many people, it's not an everyday product, making practice inconsistent at best.
So if you are in the need of a liner, here's what you can do. Decide what sort of "eye look" you want: This will all depend on how intense and sharp the final result should be. A clean flick? You'll need something jet black, fine-tipped, and inky. A subtle smudge to create a base for mascara? A less harsh gray or brown soft pencil will do the trick. Want something that's versatile? A nice cake or pot option with a brush can achieve anything from winged to fine-tipped to smoky.
Finding a clean, natural, or organic liner is a worthy endeavor—as not only do traditional options contain less than ideal ingredients, but because your eyes take in tons of product. Well, we did the hard work for you—and gathered the 19 best out there.
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