Face and lip products might set the stage for your makeup, but, if you ask us, the real drama plays out in the eyes. After all, with the right eyeliner in your beauty bag, you can "draw the cat eye, sharp enough to kill a man," as Taylor Swift once said.
Narrowed down from a list of hundreds of products that we put through rigorous trials, we pinpointed all of the award-worthy eye makeup on the market. Among our top Beauty Award-winning picks, you'll find a ride-or-die affordable mascara, a life-changing eyeshadow stick, a natural-looking brow tool and more beloved beauty favorites. And, of course, we've got a makeup-melting cleansing balm and double-action remover to effortlessly take it all off. For the very best looks money can buy, you won't want to miss out on any of these stellar makeup products.
From smudge-proof eyeliners to budget-friendly brow products, keep scrolling to feast your eyes on the full list of eye makeup award winners.
Shop TODAY Beauty Awards: 18 best eye makeup products of 2023
Award: Best stick eyeshadow
No surprise here, but we're constantly finding ourselves multitasking throughout our day. Thankfully, this 2-in-1 product from Laura Gellar makes it easier to apply eyeshadow and follow up with a matching powder to easily create a stunning eye look.
Reviewers love how easily a look comes together with this product. "It’s very easy to use and looks so flattering," said Today associate producer Katrina Bartocillo. "It’s buildable and blendable, and very user friendly. It’s an instant glam look in a stick."
Award: Best liquid eyeshadow
The versatility of this product helps to make it shine (no pun intended), as it can be swiped across the eyelids and upper cheeks alike for a brighter glow.
"I’ve never had such a light and iridescent color on my lids before and it gave my face a nice bright pop," said Today commerce photo editor Vivian Le. "I also think that it’s a pretty versatile product, I could lay it over other shadows and it would give it a completely new dimension. The glitter also is so fine it looks beautiful and wearable for everyday."
Award: Best cream eyeshadow
Nothing's worse than going about your day and suddenly noticing that your eyeshadow has disappeared — or is half the shade it was when you first put it on. This is exactly why the MAC paint pot is taking home the metaphorical gold for the eyeshadow that doesn’t budge and will last you all day, no matter the occasion. Our reviewers noted how much they loved the “intensity of the pigments” and “how long it lasted,” without looking cakey or too heavy.
Award: Best budget eyeshadow
For one reviewer, this product "changed her life," making her a daily eyeshadow user now, compared to never having used an eyeshadow stick beforehand.
This portable, easy-to-use product is available in four colors, including copper, rose, champagne and a mauve-like shade.
"The color and shimmer is gorgeous, the eyeshadow lasts all day and doesn’t smudge or crease," said Jillian Gonzales, commerce integrations producer. "I am obsessed!"
Award: Best liquid eyeliner
This liquid liner really lives up to its name — our reviewers can attest that it won't budge or smudge, thanks to waterproof staying power that lasts from morning 'til night. The staffers who tried it ranged from a self-proclaimed eyeliner novice to a former beauty editor (who said this has been her go-to for a decade), and all agreed that it glides on with ease.
"To use, follow the lower lash line to figure out the angle at which your liner will look best," makeup artist Tobi Henney instructs. "Follow that line upward and outward. I like to use this slowly and add bit by bit for precision.”
Award: Best cream eyeliner
This cream eyeliner is so good, it convinced one Shop TODAY staffer to ditch her old liquid and gel liners.
"I have officially converted to applying [eyeliner] with this cream pot and brush, thanks to this creme color," claims editorial assistant Shannon Garlin. "It goes on so smoothly and my wings have never been more on-point."
Other reviewers can vouch for its budge-proof formula. "Great texture and it’s totally waterproof," promises lifestyle reporter Rachel Abrahamson. "I know, because I cried when I was wearing it."
Award: Best gel pencil eyeliner
Reviewers love this eyeliner pencil because it's easy to apply and hard to budge. While it has a gel consistency, it goes on matte and stays throughout the entire day.
"The line was thin and solid with each stroke," noted Rebecca Brown, Shop TODAY's sales editor. "I never felt like I had to fill it in."
Award: Best budget eyeliner
One unique aspect of this pencil eyeliner is the included smudge brush, which reviewers used to enhance their makeup look. Even better, it comes with a built-in sharpener, helping to simplify your morning routine.
"I love that you don’t need to sharpen this eyeliner, it’s long-lasting, highly pigmented and goes on easily," said news digital editor Kelly Vaughan.
Award: Best budget mascara
This budget-friendly option impressed our reviewers with its curling, lengthening and lifting powers, sans clumps. It even replaced one TODAY staffer's ride-or-die mascara.
"I have very straight and thin eyelashes and there is only one mascara that I've always used that leaves them curled and up," says reporter and editor Liz Calvario. "However, this one did the same thing and worked wonders AND it was less clumpy. I liked the thick wand and how my lashes didn't feel clunky and messy."
"It was also easy to remove," Calvario adds. "It's a waterproof formula and didn't rip off my eyelashes as I tried to wipe off my makeup.”
Award: Best curling mascara
Associate social media editor Dani Musacchio has tried a lot of different mascaras to lengthen, curl and add volume to her "pretty straight lashes." Only one has done the trick and it's this volumizing mascara from Rare Beauty.
"When I use this mascara it tends to hold a curl really well," she said of this makeup product that doesn't clump nor flake throughout the day.
Award: Best lengthening mascara
Shop TODAY branded commerce assistant editor Lauren Witonsky has been using this product on and off since high school... noting that there's a reason why she always comes back to this product over others!
"If you want your lashes to be as long as they are voluminous, this mascara is for you," she said, adding that "it won’t smudge throughout the day, but is also easy to remove with a little face wash."
A little goes a long way with this product, as just a small amount will still curl and lift your lashes.
Award: Best tubing mascara
Reviewers swear that this formula, which coats each individual lash to create tiny, melt-proof "tubes," won't ever smudge.
"I loved how this mascara looked, so much so that I traded my go-to mascara for this one for the entire month," confesses lifestyle editor Amanda Garrity. "No flakes, no smudging, just long, black lashes that hold a curl. The skinny wand makes it easy to use, especially on the lower lashline."
Reviewers noted that the staying power comes with the trade-off of needing a little extra TLC to remove at the end of the day, so be sure to snag a great eye makeup remover from our list to go with this beauty game-changer.
Best Brow Products
Award: Best eyebrow pencil
If you’re looking for a brow pencil that'll deliver pigment and a natural finish, look no further. The brow wiz, which comes in 12 different shades, was a favorite among our reviewers.
Editorial assistant Shannon Garlin noted in her review that the product, “allows you to create hair-like strokes that let me fill in sparse areas of my over-plucked brows. The formula goes on creamy but dries nice and matte, so you don’t have to worry about it running during the day, which I found happens with other brow pencils.”
Award: Best eyebrow pen
If you fell victim to the trend of over-plucking your eyebrows years ago, you might have some sparse spots along your brows. This waterproof eyebrow pen has four points to mimic the appearance of actual hairs, which one Shop TODAY writer and the reviewers who tried it for Beauty Awards really liked.
"Because the brow pen provides multiple strokes in one, it gives a natural finish and decreases the amount of time I need to spend on my brows," explains commerce editor Vivien Moon. "It’s long-lasting, easy to apply and creates natural-looking brows."
The Shop TODAY team aren't the only fans of this brow pen — the affordable award winner is an Amazon favorite, boasting over 10,000 favorable reviews.
Best Makeup Removers
Award: Best makeup remover
If you're in search of a remover for your most stubborn makeup (yes, even waterproof), reviewers say this does the trick — without all the tugging, rubbing and triple cleansing normally involved.
"This is an oldie but goodie," proclaims executive assistant Jacqueline Agnolet. "I forgot how thoroughly this removes EVERYTHING from the eyes without any irritation or tugging. I used to always purchase this but stopped — dumb move on my part. This large bottle will last forever."
Award: Best cleansing balm
Who knew the ingredient your skin care routine was missing all along was... papaya? We turned to an expert to give us the scoop on this naturally cleansing ingredient.
"Papaya is known to have enzymes that work to digest or dissolve proteins and therefore may serve as a gentle cleanser through this mechanism," says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Macrene Alexiades. "This product also contains many oils, so it would be an appropriate choice for very dry and mature skin types."
"This balm seriously takes everything off without stripping the skin or making it feel overly dry," swears assistant partnerships editor Lauren Witonsky. "[It] feels really luxurious, from the texture of the product to the applicator it comes with. I love that it’s not considered a liquid, so I can travel with the full size."
Award: Best micellar water
Looking to steer clear of oils in your skin care? Reviewers appreciated the gentle feeling of this micellar water, which serves as a quick and easy way to take off makeup. It won't leave you with any greasy or oily residue, and reviewers noted that just a small dab on a cotton swab went a long way.
Award: Best budget makeup remover
This makeup-removing stick from Neutrogena is portable, affordable and ready whenever you are for a touch-up.
"This product worked really well and I love how compact it is," says photo editor Kara Birnbaum. "I started carrying this product whenever I knew I would need to transition my look. I often spend weekends out of my apartment at my boyfriend's house and have to lug my makeup bag, but with products like this, it makes it so much easier than clunky makeup removing pads and doesn't spill like liquid remover."
Shop TODAY is editorially independent and our team of editors and writers work hard to pick the best products to share with our readers and viewers. We may license our logo to brands or products that have been featured on Shop TODAY. Click here if you're interested in licensing your inclusion in Shop TODAY content or to learn more from our licensing partner, Wrights Media.