Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Cure for the Common Eye Pencil

Four eyeliners that will make you want to ditch your old pencil and never look back.

It's hard to find a good eyeliner. Period.

I'll admit it. I'm picky. First off, I generally only wear black. And I like my blacks to be VERY black so that they make my light eyes pop. I want a liner that is pigmented, will stay put all day, that goes on smooth, doesn't make a mess, doesn't burn my eyes, and that is VERSATILE. That means that I want to be able to grab my eyeliner and quickly create a light, thin, blendable line during the day. Then I want to be able to grab that same eyeliner, and architect a fancy, heavier line for a dramatic night-time look. Basically, I want it all. And I want it all in one product.

With that said, I kind of hate traditional eye pencils. You have to sharpen them...they can be messy...they get dull really quick. A lot of them are too smudgy and just plain suck.

But alternative liners can be just as frustrating. Automatic "pencils" or "crayons" are often crumbly, smudgy, and don't last long enough. Liquid liners (especially the cheap ones) tend to burn my eyes...and cheap or not, they are usually messy and hard to apply. Loose powder liners are always a get the point.

Believe me when I tell you that over the years I have tried EVERYTHING. The following four eyeliners exceed my high expectations. They are my absolute faves.

$14.00 at

I LOVE THIS EYELINER. As I mentioned before, I kind of hate traditional eye pencils. Automatic, twist-up "pencils" are a logical alternative, but since you can't typically sharpen them, the point is usually too fat and dull to maintain precision. So I began to look for an "inner-eye" liner or a super fine automatic pencil. I was ecstatic when I found the Tarte EmphasEYES™ High Definition Eye Pencil at Sephora for $18. I was relatively satisfied with my first pencil. It crumbled a few times, causing me to go through the liner pretty quickly, but I figured I just must have closed it improperly at some point. So I bought another one, and then another one, and then another one, and so on. Each and every time the damn thing broke or crumbled. I went through them sooo fast. I must have bought that stupid eyeliner a dozen times before it occurred to me that it was a dry, crumbly, crappy product and a colossal waste of my time and money. I was just really attached to the idea of a super skinny automatic pencil. But finally, I wised up and stopped buying that awful product. Then, one day I was browsing my local CVS beauty 360 and I found this glorious, AFFORDABLE Lola fineline pencil. And I've never looked back. It never breaks or crumbles. It's highly pigmented and lasts all day. I can get as close to my lashline as I want with this thing. I can even line my inner lashline. Then, when I'm getting ready for a night out, I can use it to sculpt a heavier line. No sharpening, no mess. It's amazing. The only slight downside to this product is that it's a bit hard to find. Beauty 360 never seems to have it in stock anymore. So I just order it directly from Lola's website.

$8.00 at, $8.99 at Ulta

Felt tip liners are theory. They can provide the drama and pigment of an inky liquid liner without the mess. In most cases, the concept is too good to be true. I've tried eyeliner markers that have irritated my eyes, exploded, and smeared. More commonly,
the felt tip dries out way too fast making the pen an unusable waste of cash. That's why I was pleasantly surprised to find a seemingly perfect felt tip liner when I received the Smashbox 'Limitless' Liquid Liner Pen as a gift. It was easy to use, lasted all day, and drew beautiful, fine, pigmented lines. Then, while perusing my local Ulta, I saw that NYX makes an inexpensive felt tip liner pen. I was curious to see if it could stand up to my beloved $22 Smashbox pen, so I bought it. And again, I was pleasantly surprised. This eyeliner pen works just as well, lasts all day, draws precise pigmented lines, and doesn't dry out quickly. It's a steal!

Bobbi Brown Long Wear Gel Eyeliner and Bobbi Brown Ultra Fine Eye Liner Brush 

$21.00 and $25.00 at Sephora, $22.00 and $25.00 at Nordstrom

This stuff isn't cheap, but it's the best gel liner out there. Back when I first tried it, I was a wee lass of only 16 years. I was initially intimidated by the idea of having to use a brush to apply my liner. I thought it would be a pain in the ass and that I would screw it up. But this liner goes on so smooth and is so easy to apply. It's blendable and it stays put. It quickly became my go-to liner for the duration of my high school and early college years. Since my teen years, I have tried other gel liners. None of them measure up. They smear, lack pigment, or the pot dries out too quickly. Despite the somewhat hefty price tag, this liner is great stuff. It's definitely worth owning. The Bobbi Brown Ultra Fine Eye Liner Brush is designed specifically for use with the gel liner and it works like a charm.

Chanel La Ligne De Chanel Professional Eyeliner Duo in Noir-Lame
$45 at Nordstrom

This one is really pricey, but it's pretty unique and one palette lasts an eternity, so I figured I'd include it. This is a powder-based eyeliner. You wet the little brushes it comes with, dab them in your desired color, and paint on your line. This set gives you a lot of control over your look. You can create a smudgey, smoldering look or a precise fine line. It is highly blendable. It's definitely a fun set to play with. The brushes it comes with are tiny, but they work very well.

The Bottom Line (hehe): If I had to choose just one of these fabulous liners, I would go with the Lola Fineline Eye Pencil. It's amazing. It's perfect. I love it and I'm sure you will too. But each of these liners is worth a try. They are all different and each creates a unique, sexy look worth owning.

<3 Bee