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  • Melissa


Updated: Aug 14, 2021

Ah, eyeliner. So great and so terrifying all at the same time.

Eyeliner was one of the first makeup products I used in high school. Or maybe middle school. Side note: I should totally do a post about how I used to do my makeup when I was younger because TRUST ME it will be entertaining. I used to buy the cheapest NYC brand retractable black eyeliner and that was my beauty staple. The problem was that I used to wear eyeliner on my top and bottom lashlines and no mascara. THE HORROR. Now if I'm leaving the house with minimal makeup, I'll do just the opposite- mascara on top and bottom lashes with no eyeliner. It looks more natural and helps my eyes appear bigger and more open.

Eyeliner is great because it makes your lashes appear thicker. Imagine having so many lashes that no one could see the skin on your lashline. That's essentially the effect eyeliner has, along with defining your eyes to make them stand out on your face. It can also make your eyes appear larger or smaller depending on the color and thickness of your application. Black and other dark colors will close off the eye and make it appear smaller while light shades like white and skin-toned shades make the eye appear more open.

There are several different types of eyeliner, the main ones being pencil, liquid, and gel. Pencil can either be a typical pencil that you sharpen or the retractable kind that twist up and down (for us lazy people out here). Liquid can come in a brush tip pen, felt tip marker, or what I like to call the inkwell style where the bottom of the product holds the liquid and you can remove the top of it to reveal a small brush to apply the liner with (see the picture above if that didn't make any sense). Gel liner usually comes in a small pot that you dip your eyeliner brush into. It has a thicker, creamier consistency than liquid liners.

I personally love liquid liner for lining my top lashline ONLY. Whether I'm drawing a thin line in the natural shape of my lashline or doing a winged liner look, I find liquid to last the longest, look the best, and be the easiest to apply on myself.

I find gel liner easier to use on clients, especially when doing winged liner. It's easier to be hygienic with (for clients), and I have more control with a liner brush than the flimsy liquid liner applicators. You can use liquid or gel on your lower lashline but I don't like to. If anything, I'll try gel but never liquid because I feel like I would just get it in my eye. My only gripe is how fast gel liners dry up!

I use pencil liner on my lower lashline and to tightline both my upper and lower waterlines. (Tightlining is when you apply eyeliner to that thin section of skin that is right next to your eye versus the skin under your eye underneath your lashes). I highly recommend waterproof pencils if you want to prevent smudging but honestly, every pencil I've tried smudges on me a little. Kohl pencils are great for creating smudgy, smokey looks. In my opinion, pigmentation is the most important part of pencil eyeliners because you don't want to be applying a ton of pressure on the delicate skin around your eyes. If the pencil is pigmented and glides on, you won't have that problem.

While black is probably the most popular eyeliner color, there are tons of different colors to use. Brown is a nice alternative if you want a little bit of a softer look but still want a deeper shade to thicken your lashline. I love a nude liner in my bottom waterline to make my eyes look more open. There are colorful liners, metallic liners, glitter liners, and other more creative options. I also have a beautiful blue liquid eyeliner that I love to use for fun winged liner looks. I don't even have to wear eyeshadow with it- it makes its own statement!

Since I've been wearing liner for so long, I've tried quite a few over the years. Here's my thoughts on them:

BH Cosmetics Gel Liner, Onyx ($4.49): Nice texture and stayed well.

Essence Gel Liner, Midnight in Paris ($3.99): Nice texture and stayed well.

Essence Long Lasting Eye Pencils, Black Fever & Hot Chocolate ($2.49): Minimal smudging, stay in place, good pigmentation.

Essence Waterproof Eyeliner Pen ($2.99): Not a fan. I just don't like stiff, felt tip liners.

Jordana 12HR Made To Last Liquid Eyeliner Pencil, Aqua Stone ($2.79): Poor color payoff but the color sure was pretty.

Jordana Easyliner For Eyes ($2.39): These required a little more pressure to get a good color payoff which is a deal breaker for me since there are so many super pigmented liners out there.

Kat Von D Ink! Liner ($20): I guess it's good for what it is but I don't like stiff, felt tip liners.

L.A. Girl Glide Gel Liner ($3.99): Glides on nicely with good pigment, stays well but will smudge a little (as all eyeliners do on me)

Lancôme Artliner ($30.50): Very similar to Maybelline Line Stiletto in that it has a nice, long, flexible felt tip applicator that was nice for putting a thin line on my upper lashline. I got it in a Sephora Favorites set but would never spend the money on it.

L'Oréal Paris Infallible Gel Lacquer Liner, Blackest Black ($9.99): Nice at first, but dried out pretty quickly like most gel liners.

L'Oréal Silkissime Eyeliners ($9.49): Awesome formula! So creamy but they stay put. The metallic colors are stunning!

L'Oréal Voluminous Smoldering Eyeliner ($9.99): I used this more as a black base for smokey eyes because it is such a large, thick pencil. Worn as liner with lighter eyeshadows, it transferred to my lid and smudged on the lower lashline.

MAC Powerpoint Eye Pencil, Industry ($17.50): Glides on with little pressure. A little smudging but good overall.

MAC Eye Kohl, Smolder ($17.50): A good smudgy kohl but don't put it on the top lashline because it tends to transfer to the lid.

Marc Jacobs Highliner Gel Eye Crayon, Blacquer ($25 for full size): A good formula that glides on easily and stays put. Very comparable to NYX Tres Jolie (so save yourself the money).

Maybelline Eye Studio Gel Liner, Blackest Black ($9.99): Nice texture and staying power.

Maybelline Line Stiletto ($7.99): It has a long, flexible felt tip that makes it easy to line the top lashline and I used to use it for everyday "no makeup" looks by putting a thin line on my upper lashline.

Milani Supreme Kohl Kajal Eyeliner ($6.99): This is a really good kohl pencil because it is pigmented, goes on easy and it's retractable! Just a reminder that kohl pencils are basically meant for smudging so this will stay on well but it will smudge a little too.

NYC Liquid Liner (discontinued?): The best liquid liner in this style because it's so cheap but stays all day and dries nice and matte.

NYX Cake That! Powder Eyeliner (discontinued): Very pigmented and nice for a smokey liner look

NYX Epic Black Mousse Liner ($10): This has a slightly creamier, whipped texture than a gel liner. Glides on easily, very black. Didn't fade and stayed well.

NYX Epic Ink Liner ($8): The best liquid liner in a pen style for sure! A short, flexible brush tip (versus a felt tip) that applies liner easily and with good pigment. It's waterproof so it stays put and dries quickly so it doesn't transfer. The product itself does not dry out for months, unlike a lot of felt tip liners. I think I got at least 6 months out of mine.

NYX Faux Black Eyeliners ($8): Really good pigment and staying power. The idea is to replace your black liner with a dark color so it will have the same effect as a dark liner but add a pop of color (see Slide On picture below for this pencil in the shade Oxblood).

NYX Glam Liner Aqua Luxe Collection (discontinued): So beautiful! They're waterproof so they won't budge but they have a beautiful color with glitter mixed in instead of being just glitter.

NYX Holographic Halo Cream Eyeliner, Palisade Paradise ($11): I was not super impressed with this. The color is very pretty but it didn't show up as much as I wanted. I tried it all over the lid and it didn't crease or anything, but it didn't look amazing either.

NYX Jumbo Eye Pencils ($4.50): I use these more for eye bases than eyeliners but they work well as either. I did find that they crease on their own so I always set them with a shadow. Whenever I use the white one as a base, I always set with a white shadow and then add the other shadows on top.

NYX Liquid Crystal Body Liner, Crystal Hip (discontinued): These are straight up glitter in comparison to the Glam Aqua Luxe Liners. I actually bought this to add on top of eyeshadow on my lid for a subtle glittery look. They're okay, but if I'm going for glitter I prefer to REALLY go for it.

NYX Matte Liquid Liner ($7): Dries completely matte, lasts all day, and has a nice tiny brush for application.

NYX Slide On Glide On Eye Liners ($8): Love this formula! Creamy and pigmented to apply but stays put once it's on. So many gorgeous shades. Very similar to L'Oréal Silkissime. (Last shade in this picture is a NYX Faux Blacks Pencil).

NYX Tres Jolie Gel Pencil Liner, Pitch Black ($12): I've been in love with this for a couple years now. It stays put so well! No smudging or transferring in my experience. It's super creamy and pigmented which makes the application a breeze but it also stays all day. The only issue is that it is a gel formula in a pencil, so it tends to dry out quicker than regular pencils. When it gets dried out, it's harder to get the color to apply strongly and smoothly. I still think it's worth it!

NYX Vivid Brights Colored Liquid Liner, Vivid Sapphire ($7): If you're going to try one color in this line, let it be this one. The best blue out there! The formula is great too. I haven't experienced it cracking or looking weird. It stays on me all day.

NYX Wonder Pencil, Light Medium & Deep (discontinued): I love this for the bottom waterline and although it is not waterproof, it stays really well. You can also use it as concealer or a "reverse lip liner" to clean up smudgy lipstick or define the lips. I do wish it had the slightest bit more pigmentation because I do have to go over my waterline a couple times versus one swipe.

Revlon Colorstay Eyeliner ($8.99): A great pencil. Stayed put with minimal smudging and no transferring on my lid

Revlon Colorstay Skinny Liquid Liner ($5.99): I remember not liking this one. I think the applicator was a little messy and the formula wasn't as black and opaque as I wanted.

Rimmel Scandaleyes Waterproof Kohl Kajal Eyeliners, Black and Nude ($3.99): Staying power is good, but smudges a little bit.

Rimmel Soft Kohl Kajal Eye Pencil ($3.49): smudgy and transfers a little but it is a kohl so if you want a smoked out look, limit it to the bottom lashline

Wet n Wild Breakup Proof Waterproof Retractable Eyeliner, Blackest Black and Black Brown ($2.99): Wow these are good and so so cheap! I think these might stay better than any other eyeliner I've tried. They're even a little hard to get off at night. Definitely worth a try.

Wet n Wild Megalast Liquid Eyeliner ($2.99): I only tried limited edition shades of this, not the regular black one but I didn't like them. They weren't very pigmented so they ended up looking a little streaky.

Here's a comparison shot, mostly so you can see how rich and black NYX Tres Jolie is compared to most eyeliners:

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