The Best Zero Waste Eyeliner for 2023

We may receive commissions on purchases made from our recommendation links, at no extra cost to you.

Our Picks

A truly excellent, eco-friendly liner with a nourishing kick.
Best Liquid Liner: Ilia Clean Line Liquid Liner
The easiest wings in the game.
Gwen knows how to put the pop in music AND a damn good eyeliner.
Best Waterproof Eyeliner: Clean Line Gel line by Ilia
Not a budging or smudging in sight!
A family of 8 overachievers!

If you've read any of our beauty blogs, it won't be a secret that zero-waste makeup is the apple of my eye... well, nowadays it's more of a cat-eye.

If you're confused as to how eyeliners could possibly be bad for both you and your planet, it comes down to ingredients (non-sustainable carbon and other toxins in the form of preserves, thickeners, and perfumes) as well as the common use of plastic, non-recyclable packaging which almost always makes their way into landfills or our water supplies.

I have tackled my favorite zero-waste lipsticks and makeup brushes, so it only made sense to tackle the divisive world of zero-waste eyeliners. Divisive? You might question. Well, yes, anything that requires perfect symmetry and dexterous skill is going to be as beloved as it is dreaded. Trust me, I've been on both ends.

Here are my top zero-waste eyeliner brands for wings as scrumptious as they are sustainable.

The Creamy Long Last liner from 100 Percent Pure

Best Overall

A liner that does the job WHILE enriching my skin? Yes, please! 100 Percent Pure wasn't kidding when it chose its brand name. Backed with the moisturizing power of jojoba oil, chamomile butter, and mango seed oil, the pencil-shaped liner provide a hydrated, flake-free application that I would whip out in a heartbeat.

I love that they not only had shade options but various stroke sizes too, so that you can decide on a razor-edge line or a chunkier, smudge-friendly finish. I opted for the shimmering Gleaming Pewter color option and loved the generous shine and pigment dispersion which remained put throughout my rather busy day.

While I was happy with my shimmering option, I can see why many would wish for more bright colors and variety beyond their three color options.

No matter where you are on your makeup journey, a nourishing eyeliner that enriches while more than delivering on pigment distribution, application, and staying power is an eyeliner you'll keep until its final stroke- trust me, I'm on my second one already.

Ilia Clean Line Liquid Liner

Best Liquid Liner

Liquid eyeliner is the beauty equivalent of attempting a macaroon baking session: you need all the right ingredients and to have watched AT LEAST 10 youtube tutorials beforehand. The ingredients, in this case, are 1) a good liquid liner and 2) the unshaking ability to draw on the delicate fold of your eye - what could go wrong?

Well, with the nifty, easy-to-hold, and zero-waste liquid liner from Ilia, very little.

From the first use, the pen-shaped liner stood out for being so easy to use. An easy grip and flexible, finely pointed felt tip made for smooth application that mitigated what I've come to call "The liner shakes"- a nervous quiver most people get when trying to smoothly apply liquid liner.

The fine tip, which easily distributes a jet-black charcoal-based waterproof pigment, could easily apply a razor-thin line with precision or be used to fill out a bolder cat-eye shape.

The clean, vegan liner overachieves in the endurance department too. After a very long day, my lines were still clean and precise and very much black (cue post-wine selfie session). I must say that at times I found the pigment grip a little too difficult to remove when it came to makeup removal. All I can say is that a good, reusable makeup remover will keep the dreaded panda eyes away.

I recommend this liner for both the makeup newbie and veteran who's looking for a go-to liner as bold as it is enduring and with an eco-friendly heart of gold.

GXVE Gel Pencil Eyeliner by Gwen Stefani

Best Staying Power

An eco eyeliner? Made by Gwen Stefani?

Naturally, one can expect a bold pop of color and the staying power of Gwen herself- iconic since the 90s, baby. Beyond being absolutely starstruck, this eyeliner's green credentials tick every box; vegan, cruelty-free, and sporting recyclable packaging.

When it came down to using it, consider me sold. An easy grip made the hyper-pigmented gel tip glide seamlessly across my lid without any smudging or puckering. The liner boasts 24-hour long wear, which is not only backed but hyped about by users online- you best believe I'm in bed way before that claim could be truly tested.

With options in matte black and a metallic bathwater blue, some may wish there were more color options. The rounded gel tip limits line thickness options and precision.

Makeup-lovers who love a bold line and pop of pigment (be it jet black or blue) will love this clean, easy-to-use gel pen.

Clean Line Gel line by Ilia

Best Waterproof Eyeliner

Ilia really knows how to walk the line between being environmentally conscious and professionally groundbreaking. And it's a crisp line at that. The eco-focused brand believes makeup should be skin-powered (that is to say: nourishing and not detrimental to your skin), and their gel eyeliner is no exception.

The cleanly-formulated liner omits Carbon and Cyclomethicone to create a product that gets two thumbs one up (one for the environment and the other for our precious skin biome).

As for use and wear, the gel tip glides easily across the skin, evenly spreading the bold pigment without crumbs or fading. Its waterproof composition has incredible staying power boasting the precision that comes with its pencil shape and the staying power of a pigmented gel. If you're into smudging, it's best to do so immediately after application as this bad is stubborn as heck once it's set (a good thing).

While it performs as expected, what really stood out for me was the gel's hydration. I loved this, but my research found that people with naturally oily skin found experienced some smudging.

If you're looking for a fuss-free, high-performing liner and have dry to normal skin, this eyeliner is for you. I have both the brown and black one in my handbag at any given time, which is a testament to its failsafe rescue when my eyes need a little sprucing.

Swipe-on Essential Eyeliner by Au Naturale Cosmetics

Most Color Variety

Au Naturale knows how to put the vibe in vibrant thanks to their almost silly amount of color options and amazing staying power.

With a heart of gold, well... green, and a commitment to high-quality, toxin-free beauty products, Au Naturale has a reputation for trail-blazing in the eco-beauty world. Their Swipe-on Essential Eyeliner offerings are testament to this.

With a whopping color selection and an application that more than earns its name, it was hard not to dart off to my computer and make sure all 8 colors were soon mine. A quick look online quickly confirmed that I wasn't the only one who felt this way- with a 5-star average rating and rave reviews.

While I attribute the eyeliner's accuracy to its firm nib, I see some users hoped for a little more softness to make application easier- I think this is much of a muchness and more of a personal preference issue. I've found that softer nibs easily break or create crumby applications.

If you're looking for a pencil-based eyeliner with color variations and an easy-breezy application, Au Naturale's Swipe on Essential Eyeliner is a sure winner.

My path to zero waste makeup brands

The emergence and growth of the cruelty-free beauty market has rewritten my stance on not only makeup but the act of beautifying. What was previously stigmatized as unethical, unsustainable, and wrought with unrealistic and Eurocentric beauty standards and labor misconduct is being reclaimed and reimagined by planet-loving, socially-conscious makeup brands.

I now see an opportunity for beauty to be rewritten as a space for people to celebrate diversity and innovate at no expense to the planet- if that's not true beauty, I don't know what is.

Just like greenifying my home, purifying my beauty routine was a step-by-step process whereby I started with the biggest part of my routine, which was, and will be in most cases, skincare.

It was easy to replace things like cotton rounds, rethink skincare ingredients, and even get a little DIY where I could. When tackling the makeup side of things, I first and foremost did my research on who the leading zero waste makeup brands were.

From there, I did a makeup overhaul, getting rid of cosmetics that were toxic for both me and the planet and slowly rebuilding with a more informed stance. I've come to understand that brand ethos and means of production, ingredients, and packaging ALL contribute to whether a product is zero-waste or not.


How are drug store eyeliners toxic?

Many commercial eyeliners found in drugstores are mindless with their packaging choices, not to mention their inclusion of toxic, unsustainable ingredients that are either harmful upon application for your skin or for the planet upon being thrown away.

What makes eyeliners zero-waste?

A zero-waste eyeliner is characterized by the use of sustainable, eco-friendly materials and non-toxic ingredients. Since zero-waste is as much a movement as it is a category, these products often have the bonus features of being zero-waste and nourishing.

Final thoughts

Whether you're opting for Whinehouse-level wings or a subtle framing of the lid, a good liner is only made better by being zero-waste.

When starting to branch out with greener eyeliner options, it was obvious that 100 Percent Pure was a must. With an eco stance on business, the brand strives to provide cruelty-free beauty products, and their Creamy Long Last Liner delivered across the board.

The second heart stealer was Ilia's Clean Liquid Liner. As someone who's been put through the ringer when it comes to liquid liner, I can vouch for this absolute gem's easy application and ride-or-die staying power. Lastly, I was won over head, heart, and lids by the ever-colorful Swipe-on Essential Eyeliner by Au Naturale Cosmetics. I jokingly mentioned seeing to all 8 of their easy-to-apply and long-lasting color options mine, but they are locked and loaded in my shopping cart ready to go next payday.

As it is with buying any product that goes on your skin, take time to research its brand ethos, packaging, ingredients, and reviews and make sure it's likely to be a worthy fit for you and your lovely orbs.

You might also like
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram