11 Best Water-Activated Eyeliners

Have you been looking for the perfect moment to release your inner Pablo Picasso or Vincent van Gogh? Water-activated eyeliners will give you the freedom to explore texture, color and shapes. 

Unlike traditional eyeliner that is typically worn as a tight line that hugs the root of the lashes, water-activated liners are often seen utilizing the entire canvas of the eye, in a unique and abstract way. The versatility is endless, but you can start off by trying these cool eyeliner looks

Can’t “makeup” your mind? Hakuna Matata! Your look can be as conventional or as amplified as you aspire. 

Here are some tips, tricks, and ways you can incorporate water-activated liners into your everyday look using these must-have products. 

What is Water-Activated Eyeliner?

A product that uses water to activate a creamy, paint-like texture. Also known as cake liners (and no, we are not baking — unless it’s our under eyes!) These are also oil-free eyeliners, which means you can use them if you have eyelash extensions

TIPS: You can use water, setting spray, or aqua seal by Makeup For Ever to transform even your basic eyeshadow powders into a paste. This will allow you to achieve a heavily pigmented, water-activated liner effect.

How do You Use Water-Activated Eyeliner?

The best way to apply these eyeliners is with a thin or fine-angle brush. Nail art brushes are a great option! 

First, add a bit of water into the cap. 

Next, swirl the brush and water together to create a creamy consistency.

Lastly, get painting! 

You can make this as sheer or as opaque as you prefer by adding or subtracting water. Are we feeling like Picasso yet?

TIPS: You may already own the perfect brush in your collection! E.l.f. Expert Liquid Liner comes with a fine tip brush that allows you to make the most precise lines. Just wash it with mild soap and water and you are now resourceful AND thrifty!

When to Wear Water-Activated Eyeliner 

Wake up and Makeup! Water-activated liner is perfect for all seasons and occasions. 

Not only are there a variety of colors available, but you can mix the liners together to create new tones. Finally! We are living for this Van Gogh moment! Still want more, wait until these water-activated eyeliners dry down and add a glitter eyeliner on top for more glamour.

This year’s 2022 Grammys was filled with graphic, innovative, eyeliner looks. Check out these photos for some design inspiration!

TIPS: Allow a few seconds for the water-activated liner to dry, and be careful not to add too many layers as some formulas can crack when overused. Use your hand to sample your mixture before applying it to the skin if you are unsure. 

11 of the Best Water-Activated Eyeliner

1. Barry M Hi Vis Water Activated Colour

Barry M Hi Vis Water Activated Colour

This product can be used on the face and body. Sold in 7 shades including 3 metallics. Cakes are sold individually. It’s easy to use and can be set with a translucent powder. If you work in construction there will be no need for your Hi-Vis shirt, as these eyeliners will be your traffic control.

2. By MELOLOPS Water Inks

By MELOLOPS Water Inks

By MELOLOPS is a Latino-owned, cruelty-free, and vegan brand. They ship worldwide and are operated out of Puerto Rico. Most of their shades come in pallets. The UV neon pigments are sold individually.

The Comic Book Set allows you to achieve pastel colors just by mixing any of the colors with white. A very versatile palette. You’ll feel like a true Superhero with these liners as they can be applied generously without risk of cracking.

3. Glamiere UV Luxe Liners

Glamiere UV Luxe Liners

Glamierre Liners is vegan and cruelty-free. They have the most stunning shades with colors ranging from neons, and pastels to UV colors and chromes. It is a super pigmented formula and once set the product will not budge. Individually sold for around less than $10. G-L-A-M-I-E-R-R-E yeah!

4. Glisten Cosmetics Wet Liners

Glisten Cosmetics Wet Liners

Glisten Wet Liners allows you to build your own palette and buy products according to size; they also offer split liners so you can get two colors for the price of one. 

Each order is sent out with a cute care card including instructions on how to take care of the product and the best way to apply them. You’ll shine bright like a diamond in these Glisten Liners!

5. Beauty Bay Aquavated Liner

Beauty Bay Aquavated Liner

Beauty Bay Aquavated Liner is a 5 shade liner palette that is vegan and cruelty-free. They dry down to a smooth finish. The colors can also be mixed with white to create pastel shades. Colors can be worn alone or layered over eyeshadow. 

6. Suva Beauty Hydra Liners

Suva Beauty Hydra Liners

Suva Beauty Hydra Liners are a lightweight formula and extremely comfortable on the eye. This product delivers a punch of highly pigmented color that is really easy to use. They are cruelty-free and vegan-friendly. 

They offer a palette of primary colors giving you the option to create secondary colors. Grab a color wheel and start mixing! The product does not transfer. 

7. Tag Body Art Palette

Tag Body Art Palette

Tag Body Art Palette comes in 10g containers with 2 paint brushes. They offer different colored palettes and can be worn on the face and the body. It’s available on Amazon Prime. Tag, you’re it! Head over to Amazon now you won’t regret this purchase!

8. Kraze FX Splash Split Cake Palette

Kraze FX Splash Split Cake Palette

Kraze FX is also available on Amazon Prime. They offer split palettes as well as individual domed cakes. This helps eliminate the waste of product over time, as brush strokes tend to carve out the center naturally. 

So what’s all the Kraze? It offers a great color payoff, and a lot of product for your dollar.

9. Maydear Water-Activated Color Eyeliner Gel

Maydear Water-Activated Color Eyeliner Gel

Maydear Water-Activated Color Eyeliner Gel comes in 2 different sets, light and dark. The formula dries quickly and is anti-sweat, so can rock the glow through any weather conditions!! Go check them out! 

We think these colors would look especially magical when used to create a butterfly eyeliner look!

10. Sheen Cosmetics Color Festival Palettes

Sheen Cosmetics Color Festival Palettes

Sheen eyeliners are available in travel-friendly compacts and come in neons, pastels, and UV colors. It’s a creamy formula that dries down to a beautiful matte opaque finish. This formula can be a bit more drying on the skin than some of the other brands but is not a red flag. So pack these on your next vacation and you’ll be looking for shade because these colors will not fade! They offer 9 pan palettes with 3G of product in each.

11. Mehron Makeup Paradise Makeup Pro Palette

Mehron Makeup Paradise Makeup Pro Palette

Mehron Paradise 30-color Pro Palette is one of the pricier items on this list, but it is well worth it. This magnetic palette allows you to refill and rearrange to customize your palette. Magnetic closures secure your product from drying out. 

It can be used on the face and body and is super rich in color. The metallics in this palette are stunning and offer the most color payoff compared to other brands. 

Overview of Water-Activated Eyeliner 

So whether you plan to create the next starry night or simply just wing it (no pun intended) you can’t go wrong with water-activated eyeliner. These pigmented liners are great for any kind of graphic eyeliner look.

As a great painter once said, all you need to paint is a few tools, a little instruction, and a vision in your mind. Let’s paint those dreams! 

"I dream my painting and I paint my dream." Vincent Van Gogh