There are several different types of eyeliner on the market, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Types of eyeliner include pencil, liquid, and gel varieties. Cake and powder eyeliners are also available. Pencil varieties, in particular, can be very diverse in size, formulation, and application method. Many users of eyeliner often own several types, because the formula can often determine how it actually looks when used on the eyes. Some individuals have gone so far as to undergo a permanent eyeliner treatment, in which their eyelids are tattooed with pigment, creating the appearance of always wearing the makeup.
An individual typically uses different types of eyeliner to enhance his or her eyes. This makeup also usually has the property of making eyelashes appear thicker and fuller. Cake eyeliner was an early form of eyeliner that required users to add water to a cake of eyeliner pigment, which then could be painted around the eye using a small brush. As using cake eyeliner can be messy and complicated, many users have switched to the liquid kind. Unlike cake eyeliner, the liquid variety is pre-mixed and can be applied around the eye without having to add water. Gel eyeliner is a semi-solid form that can provide a more subtle look than liquid or cake eyeliners, but may be applied in the same way as cake eyeliner. The user dabs a brush into a pot of gel eyeliner and then applies it to the eyelids.
Powder varieties are often formulated as highly pigmented eyeliners. The user can apply powder eyeliner with a small brush to the area around the eyes. These types are often sold in little pots or compacts along with a small, stiff brush for application. Some cosmetics experts advocate the use of powder liner over other types, as the use of powder and a brush does not pull at or damage eyelid skin.
Pencil eyeliner is perhaps the most popular of all types of eyeliner, as the pencil applicator is both easy to use and to carry. This type of eyeliner may be made out of wood and thus need to be sharpened as does any other type of pencil, or it may be automatic. An automatic pencil eyeliner is typically made from plastic, and it has a separate stick of eyeliner inside it that can emerge at tip of the pencil when the user twists the applicator in a prescribed direction. Many people feel that pencil eyeliner is easy to control during application and looks more natural than liquid. Eyeliner pens are also available and incorporate a liquid eyeliner in what looks like a felt-tipped pen.