Overwhelmed by which pens to buy for back-to-school season? That’s understandable, considering that there are many types of pens, not to mention hundreds of different brands and designs within these types. Consider the gel pen, which offers a pleasurable and user-friendly writing experience—perfect for students of all ages. Like ballpoint and rollerball pens, they feature a small revolving ball at the tip that deposits ink from the pen’s reservoir to the paper. The difference is while ballpoint pens use thick, oil-based inks, and rollerballs use a free-flowing, water- and dye-based ink, gel pens use ink made of pigment in a water-based gel made from xanthan gum and polyacrylate thickeners. What you get are particularly vibrant lines that flow smoothly so you can apply less pressure as you write. They are also generally the best pick for signing documents because of their pigment load. The ink does tend to take a bit longer to dry, however, which can be a problem for lefties. Dive into some of our favorites in this family, below.
How we pick each product:
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Our mission is to recommend the most appropriate artists’ tool or supply for your needs. Whether you are looking for top-of-the line equipment or beginners’ basics, we’ll make sure that you get good value for your money by doing the research for you. We scour the Internet for information on how art supplies are used and read customer reviews by real users; we ask experts for their advice; and of course, we rely on our own accumulated expertise as artists, teachers, and craftspeople.