Friday, September 20, 2013

Eyeliner - reviews and routine

Some things (and brands) I am very loyal to.  Eyeliner products are not one of those things.  I am always on the lookout for a better, easier, more solid colored, less smudgy eyeliner.  There was a time when I tired of pencils looking kind of, well, pencil-ish - by which I mean unsaturated, jagged lines that fade and smudge and basically disappear by lunchtime.   I thought liquid eyeliner was the answer.  But while I realize there are some looks that cannot be achieved with anything else, and while I realize it looks amazing and glides easily onto some lids, I've had to embrace the fact that liquid liner is not for me.  I don't know if I just don't have a steady enough hand or if my eyes are too sensitive (flinchy), but even with short brushstrokes I couldn't get my eyes done in under 3-5 minutes which is way more than I care to spend on just lining.  I did loads of research and testing of various products and techniques.  I found the drugstore brand applicator tips just impossible.  You get what you pay for.  So I purchased the favorably reviewed Lancome Artliner and Smashbox Limitless Liquid pen and grabbed samples at every opportunity.  I ended up returning everything that wasn't a sample.  I'm not the type to hang on to a $30 eyeliner just to throw it away years later.  My favorites were the Stila Stay All Day pen and the Smashbox pen for pigment, "ease" of use, and long-wear/smudgeproofness.  So if you're into this stuff, that's what I'd recommend.

Upon giving up on liquid, I tried tightlining with gel.  Not great at first because I had the wrong brush.  I used Bobbi Brown's Ultra Fine Eyeliner Brush which is fine for over-lash lining with powder liner, but ridiculous for gel.  It just leaves a faint, too-thick, unevenly pigmented mess.  The holy grail for eyeliner brushes, particularly for gel liner that you're stamping under the lashes, is Laura Mercier's Flat Eye Liner brush. 

No joke, this thing changed my life, importantly, and probably forever.  So now, after applying a base cream shadow or tinted primer I do a pencil line above my lashes in dark brown or black.  My current pencils in both colors is  MUFE aqua eyes because I like how easily it glides on and the color choices are amazing.   But I'm not married to these pencils.  I think I'm going to try Dior next.  Then I do a tightline to my top lid in bobbi brown's gel liner in black with Laura Mercier's Magical Perfection Liner Brush (same one as above, I just renamed it).  The BB gel is the only one I've tried.  Because why mess with a good thing?  It's a long-wear formula, it goes on easy, has a super-pigmented inky black and as long as you just make a line and don't spread it on like margarine on toast it will not stamp down onto the lower lids.  I've tried the margarine approach and it does transfer a little, but very little.  It actually is a good technique if you want a very subtle smudge of color along the bottom water line. 


It only takes a minute for the whole procedure because both products are easy to apply.  And the effect is really dramatic...and yet natural.  It looks like your lashes go on forever and really defines the eyes without looking like an art project close up.  When I want to look super sexy I add a stripe of a Laura Mercier caviar stick basically right on top of my liner (because the stick is a little wider than eyeliner it extends above it a smidge making for a sultry ombre look.  I love these sticks.  I have one in Amethyst and one in Sugar Frost and would love to get them in Cocoa and one of the grays.  I have only ever used them to enhance the eyeline (and the inside corner with Sugar Frost - careful with this one it's kind of glittery) but they can be smudged into submission in the creases and corners too. 
As an aside, a lot of critiques of the MUFE aqua eyes line (and tons of pencils for that matter, high end or not) complain about staying power.  I think eye pencils, like a lot of types of makeup, are one of those categories that is "only makeup" so to speak.  Liquid foundation falls into this category too.  No matter how well intentioned the formula, the stuff will come off.  You can set pencils up to succeed by applying them on a primer- or base-covered eyelid rather than directly on oily or moisturized lids, but regardless, it is not a tatoo.  I hold gel and liquid to a slightly higher standard but in my experience, pencil is categorically failable.

Other favorite pencils:
Smashbox Limitless Eye Liner - great pigment, not as smooth as the 24/7 or aqua eyes. 
Clinique's Cream Shaper for eyes - great value, decent pigment, a little dry.  I have a hunch that they might be discontinuing this soon as it's no longer sold at Sephora and they have so many new liners on deck.   

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