“I woke up like this” isn’t just a mantra bestowed onto us by a certain Queen Bey. It’s also a lifestyle. Pulling off an aesthetic that looks as though it requires literally no effort and is somehow still camera-ready does, in fact, require effort. Your outfit—or that thing you “just threw together”—probably combines the comfort of sweatpants, the chicness of a power suit, and the classic vibe of a denim jacket. Your hairstyle—or the “bedhead” you woke up with—is a carefully put-together messy bun or ponytail. And your makeup is probably “no-makeup makeup,” otherwise known as very light coverage, a few layers of mascara, lip balm, and the ultimate secret weapon for convincing everyone that you actually got eight hours of sleep: eye brightener makeup.
It’s not eyeshadow, and it’s not exactly eyeliner either, but it deserves the spotlight just the same. Eye brightener is a niche product—a translucent, nude-like powder or pencil that makes your eyes look as if they’re straight out of a makeup ad: bright, wide, and full of dimension. In other words, effortless. Still, you don’t necessarily need concealer or other eye products to reap the benefits of a brightening pencil. Read on for our top tips.
How To Use An Eye Brightening Pencil
Eye brightener should be applied the same way you would an eyeliner: just under or directly onto the lower lash line, depending on your level of sensitivity. If you want to draw less attention to that area, use a small angled brush to blend out and diffuse the line, which will add more dimension and blend seamlessly into your overall complexion. If your end goal is a bolder makeup look, eye brightener also makes an excellent primer for eyeliner by enhancing the top color. To top it all off, eye brightener can also double as a brow illuminator when you want to lift and define your arches. Simply outline the bottom end of your brow and use a brush to blend it out for a natural-looking highlight.
If you want to add an eye brightener to your routine for the first time, you probably aren’t sure where to start your search. Lucky for you, we’ve gathered the best eye brightener pencils out there, keeping price and user-friendliness at top of mind.
How We Found The Best Eye Brightening Pencils
As always, we compiled this list by consulting our ultra-smart and unbiased algorithm, a proprietary tool that picks products by analyzing a range of data like editor reviews, expert recommendations, and social media buzz. Brighter days are ahead—literally. Keep scrolling for the must-know details on these top-rated pencils.
Next up, check out the 10 Best Eyeliners. Opening image: @thrivecausemetics
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Trish McEvoy Shell Eye Brightener Highlighter Pencil
WHY IT MADE THE LIST: This portable jumbo pencil has a creamy consistency that smooths onto the skin and can be used in a number of ways. Apply it to the inner corners of the eyes, along the lashline, or onto the brow bone for added brightness.
ADDITIONAL THINGS TO KNOW: This highlighter pencil is super gentle, making it a must-try for those with sensitive skin.
Make Up For Ever Artist Color Pencil In All Around White
WHY IT MADE THE LIST: The only thing better than a twofer? A threefer. MUFE’s Eye, Lip, And Brow Pencil is the ultimate multitasker that can be used as an eyeliner, blended out as a blush, and in this white shade, used along the lash line as an eye-opener.
ADDITIONAL THINGS TO KNOW: The entire range includes 39 intense shades.
Makeup By Mario Master Mattes Brightening Eye Pencil
WHY IT MADE THE LIST: Makeup by Mario, the namesake line of celebrity makeup artist Mario Dedivanovic, is responsible for this multiuse pencil that is suitable for all skin tones and reduces redness around the eyes. In addition to applying near the tear ducts and along the lash line, it can also be used as a brow highlighter.
ADDITIONAL THINGS TO KNOW: If you want to add some sparkle to your “effortless” glow, pair the Brightening Eye Pencil with the Soft Glow Highlighter.
NYX Professional Makeup Epic Wear Liner Stick Long Lasting Eyeliner Pencil In Pure White
WHY IT MADE THE LIST: If you’re looking for something with intense brightening payoff at a drugstore price, feast your eyes upon this range of longwear waterproof (!) eyeliners that provide up to 36 hours of coverage.
ADDITIONAL THINGS TO KNOW: In addition to the ultra-brightening “Pure White” shade are dozens of others with metallic and matte finishes.
Tarte Fake Awake Eyeliner
WHY IT MADE THE LIST: This eye-opener comes in the most beautiful, universally flattering shade of nude meant to be worn on the lower rim and inner corners of the eyes. The formula is also infused with aloe and antioxidants for added moisture and protection.
ADDITIONAL THINGS TO KNOW: The built-in smudger can be used to blend out your lines for a diffused finish.
Fenty Beauty By Rihanna Flypencil Longwear Pencil Eyeliner In Bad Bride
WHY IT MADE THE LIST: It should come as no surprise that a Rihanna-approved product made this list. Her award-winning eyeliner comes in a range of matte and metallic shades, including this unique white with hints of silver glitter.
ADDITIONAL THINGS TO KNOW: Make this your top pick for hot summer days or long nights out—the formula is waterproof and longwearing.
Charlotte Tilbury Rock 'N' Kohl Eyeliner Pencil In Eye Cheat
WHY IT MADE THE LIST Nothing beats the color payoff of kohl eyeliner, especially if it’s waterproof like this one. The Rock ‘N’ Kohl Eyeliner provides the silky precision of a liquid liner and promises to stay put for up to 14 hours.
ADDITIONAL THINGS TO KNOW: Crushed pearl powder is also included in the formula to help boost natural collagen production in the skin.
Thrive Causemetics Brilliant Eye Brightener
WHY IT MADE THE LIST: The Brilliant Eye Brightener goes on like a cream liner but dries down to a powder consistency that gives the eyes an instant lift. The pencil is also boosted by the brand’s proprietary Ring Light Technology, which features “light-reflecting smart pigments” that turn the dial down on imperfections around the eyes.
ADDITIONAL THINGS TO KNOW: A slew of skin-loving oils provides nourishment with each application—think macadamia seed oil, sunflower seed oil, and vitamin E.
Anastasia Beverly Hills Highlighting Duo Pencil
WHY IT MADE THE LIST: Take your makeup from day to night with this dual-ended brow highlighter that can also be used around the eyes for brightening. One end is a matte highlighter for creating soft daytime looks, and the other is a shimmery highlighter for a metallic, nighttime finish.
ADDITIONAL THINGS TO KNOW: The Duo Pencil is formulated with vitamin E for moisture, and the shimmer side is enriched with other nourishing ingredients like castor seed oil and aloe leaf extract.
NYX Professional Makeup Jumbo Eye Pencil In Milk
WHY IT MADE THE LIST: Minimalists and makeup artists alike will adore the versatility and price point of this affordable multitasker. An eyeliner and eyeshadow in one, it can be used to line, prime, fill in, or highlight, depending on your mood and skill level. Plus, the jumbo applicator and silky-smooth formula ensure easy application and blending.
USER REVIEW: “This is so easy to blend out and gives the perfect pop of color to any eye look! I bought multiple colors and use them almost daily! These have definitely become some of my new makeup staples!”