Mascara is my #1 “can’t live without it” makeup product, and eyeliner is probably #2, save for some good lip balm. I love focusing on my eyes when doing makeup…probably one of my better features I’d say. I learned very early on (probably reading Seventeen magazine or other rags) that since I have close-set eyes it’s best to put liner/shadow on the outer half of my eyes to make them look farther apart. Fast forward 25+ years and I still do pretty much the same thing. Darker shadows go on the outer half of the lids and crease area and lighter shadows go in the inner corners.
My obsession (joy! love affair!) with makeup probably goes back to my childhood…remembering when my Mom would let me play around with her makeup as a kid of 4 or 5. Probably just normal girl growing up stuff. Sometimes she’d put a little lipstick on me before a ballet recital – awwww, I felt so, well, grown up I guess!
Aiiight!! So I went with a pick-up-sticks pic just for something different. As with any other makeup, my eyeliner journey is a joyful trial and error. And I love it. There are a ton of great products out there, a few clunkers and always the thrill of trying something new.
I’ve hardly ever met a black eyeliner I didn’t like so about 90% of what I have is some sort of black. Browns are no good on me unless they are a deep chocolate brown and if they need to be that dark then it might as well just be black. BLACK ROCKS. I’ve got some charcoal grey, deep plum and deep pine green in for a little variety – and even a white liner but we’ll get to that later. And yes, as with mascara I used to have tons of cobalt blue, bright purple and lime green pencil (and liquid) liners in the 80s. No more.
A good liner goes on the way you want it with minimal dragging, stays put and comes off easily when you want it. This is one reason I’m so into liquid liner, as it stays in place and washes off easily…often I don’t need that additional step of an eye makeup remover on a cotton ball. Yes, like I’ve said before, I try to avoid any extra tugging/pulling around the eye area. Liquid liner can take some practice applying it just right to control the thickness of the line but it’s so worth it.
I usually just line my upper lids and leave the lower ones bare. This is partly because I can be prone to smudging/smearing over the course of the day (no one likes that “racoon eye” look, right? And also because it can be a little too dramatic for everyday, daytime makeup, at least on me. I work in a very casual environment (jeans/t-shirts are pretty much standard) so there’s no need to go all out to impress anyone, heh. I save lining the lower lashes for nights out or just goofing around on a weekend.
Other things I’ve learned? Keep ’em sharpened. Not only does this ensure a “fresh” pencil line but it keeps the line going on clean and thin. You can always make it thicker later.
So let’s dig into the ol’ pile o’ pencils…
Makeup For Ever Aqua Eyes: these are the ones with the clear caps if you can see them in the picture. I have this in 3 colors – black (duh), black with a little shimmer, and a deep plum. These are “waterproof” so they glide on very nice but are a bitch to remove so they are not my first choice. You know how I feel about waterproof eyemakeup by now, right? At Sephora.
MAC Eye Kohl: Once again I give a shout out to MAC for rockstar makeup! LOVE these liners. These go on smoothly and don’t smudge much during the day. They’re not waterproof but they do need some makeup remover as a final step after you’re done cleansing to get every last bit off (as you should!) I’ve got these in several shades…black, deep grey, plum, pine green (do we detect a pattern here?), deep bronze…and…WHITE!
Why the hell would anyone want white liner? Listen up: it’s a GREAT eye brightener along the lower waterline. No, I’m not talking about tides or boats – I’m talking about that small area between your lashes and your eye itself. That’s called a “waterline” my friends, and a little bit of white liner in there does wonders on those mornings you’re not feeling/looking so alert. Ideally you should be able to line your waterlines without needing to pull or tug your lower eye area. It’s a little weird pointing a liner pencil there so close to your actual eye…the first time I did it was in 7th grade so I guess I conquered that squeamishness early on. Department stores or maccosmetics.com.
MAC Greasepaint Stick: Yup, the MAC ho marches on with more…I’ve got 3 of these and love, love love. They’re the cynlindrical, larger ones in the pic. MAC launched their first Greasepaint stick last year as part of their Style Black collection, when everyone was into black lipstick and all that goth stuff. A little theatrical rockin the black lips, but the greasepaint eyeliner is incredible. This goes on in a thick, smeary line but if you want a lighter, thinner look you can do it with a delicate touch. It’s thick but you can still keep the point relatively sharp with the sharpener which is very cleverly disguised in the other end of the pencil. A tiny, plastic sharpener pops out and you can whittle away. I have to admit I had NO idea about the little hidden sharpener until it came time to sharpen one of mine and I actually posted the question on a makeup forum I actively participate in. Too funny! And also a good idea, as these pencils are too big for a standard sharpener. I’ve got these in the original black as well as a deep grey and a dark greyish-brown taupe. Department stores or maccocsmetics.com.
MAC Penultimate Liquid Liner: a glorious hit from the Chill collection (winter 2008 I think). This is a liquid liner which goes on with a sharp, pointed felt tip pen-like applicator. So it can either look very thin like a sharp pencil or you can make it as thick as you want. Stays put and washes off like a breeze! YES! This one goes with me on business travel for sure. I’m on my 2nd or 3rd refill. Black only. Department stores or maccocsmetics.com.
MAC Liquid Liner: this is the cone-shaped one at bottom right center. It has a little wider tip on the felt pen applicator than the Penultimate but still, truly outstanding. And a steal at around $14 I think. Comes in black only. Why mess with a great thing? Department stores or maccocsmetics.com.
Urban Decay 24/7 Eye Pencil: I’ve got two of these and really like them. They’ve got the silver caps in the picture. Of all the pencil-type liners I’ve tried, these glide on the easiest – you hardly need to apply any pressure at all. LOVE that. And if you wanna take a shot at lining your waterline, start with one of these as they are really creamy and gentle. At Sephora.
Clunkers? Well, I gotta say Chanel’s Le Crayon Yeux was a disappointment. For $28 the only saving grace was the built-in smudger on the other side of the pencil. A very cool, dense and slanted tiny sponge. And Chanel’s Ecriture Liquid Liner was nice but overpriced at $34. For that amount of cash I’d expect it to last longer than it did. And I found the thin brush applicator tip a bit too floppy and the liner itself came out uneven – either too little or in thick globs. No thanks. This is why I prefer felt pen type applicators. [MAC’s Penultimate, in comparison, is only $16.50.]
And…I’ve heard really great things about Revlon ColorStay Liquid Liner. Great liner at a kickbutt drugstore price (about $10). I haven’t yet tried it but it’s on my wishlist. I’ll probably check it out when one of my MAC liquid liners run out.
For now, as you can see, I’ve got plenty to keep me busy!