Black Eyeliners

If I have to choose one makeup staple, this is it (…… ok this and something for my sparse brows).
I look more awake, my eyes more defined and if you tightline as I do, your lashes look fuller.

There are lots of formulas on the market now, but I’ve more or less stopped paying attention to their evolution since gel liners became available. I have oily lids and am prone to smudging and smearing so this was a godsend.

I did a swatch of all the black eyeliners I can find at home for this post. I don’t have that many really, but more than enough. I have done a liner swatch previously for the July favourites post (a review of the SANA pencil) but here is everything, including the gel liners. These are what you will find:

The Shimmering blacks:
1. Clinique cream shaper for eyes in #101 black diamond
2. Chanel Illusion d’Ombre in #85 Mirifique (I put this in because I use this as a liner more than a shadow)
3. Guerlain loose kohl

The matte blacks, in pencil:
4. sorry the brush represents a NARS black eyeshadow I used, the black shadow from Pandora duo.
5. Giorgio Armani waterproof smooth silk eye pencil in #1 (I wrote a blurb of this pencil here)
6. NARS Larger than Life Long-wear Eyeliner in Via Veneto
7. KOJI Linequeen eyeliner in Rich Black
8. SANA Super Quick Gel Pencilliner EX (check the July favourites post for review)

In gel liners:
9. Clinique brush-on cream liner in #02 true black
10. Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner in #1 Black Ink

In liquid:
11. shu uemura liquid eye linerThe swatches:


Sorry if this looks confusing. The numbers correspond to the ones on the product picture. ‘a’ and ‘b’ just means one is swatched heavier than the other. Otherwise they are swatched as I would when I apply them to my eyes – with a gliding movement and not forcing the nibs down.

As you can see the most intense, rich looking blacks are #5 (Armani waterproof) and #9 (Clinique gel). These two also happen to be the easiest and creamiest to apply in their category. I’ve written about how much I love the Armani pencil before so I won’t repeat myself. If you’ve missed it while it was on limited release, you can now breathe a sigh of relief. I can’t remember where I read it from (I think temptalia?) but Armani is finally releasing this pencil as a permanent item later this year.

The thinnest lines were achieved with the gel liners and the liquid liner.

A closer look at the swatches:


We’ll start with the gel liners.

The Clinique gel liner is creamier and the black is richer. It is probably the creamiest gel liner I’ve used. When freshly applied the Clinique is almost glossy, but dries down matte. I only wished they made their pot opening wider, or filled the pot up higher. There’s a 1cm gap between the opening and the product. I can’t get my flat push brush (MAC 212) in properly and have to scrape the gel to the side of the pot so I would load my brush up on the edge. It’s a bit messy.

The Bobbi Brown maybe a tad bit easier to control because it’s not as wet. I like them both. Clinique’s is 5g and you get a small brush with it, Bobbi Brown’s is 3g.

* A note about the thick line: I used the same 212 brush for these. With Clinique, I did the line almost in one go, just went back to touch up the corners. The BB however I had to go back for more pigment multiple times and fill the block up little by little. You can still see the paler area in the middle of the shape. At first I thought this was because the pot was drying up. So I tried it with my new Graphite ink. Same thing, and same again with my two MAC fluidlines.
I guess the point of all this is to say the texture of the Clinique is really different from BB or MAC (both rather similar).


The 3 lines on the right are made with the shu uemura liquid liner. It’s not my favourite format but at the time of purchase this was the best one I found. You click on the end of the pen and it releases the ink into the brush. It is refillable and you simply buy cartriges when your pen has run out of ink. The lid is screwed on, very secure and you don’t have to worry about it drying out.

The brush is stiff enough to create a line of any thickness you want without sacrificing control or precision. The point holds its shape and has never splayed. You may need to wait a while after clicking it for the ink to flow into the brush, which in retrospect I should have done when swatching…..

And because I’m not happy with that, here’s another picture I just took:

Top 2 lines are NARS, the rest is shu uemura
Just for fun that’s the absolute thinnest line I can get with the brush, which is as thin as a hair. The colour is not far from NARS Larger Than Life pencil when it is used lightly/’normally’ (second from top). I really pressed down with the first line, and that would be the intensity to expect if you go over your line a few times with the pencil.
The shu uemura liquid dries quickly and stays put. It also makes the most beautiful flick/wing. The only thing I don’t like is I can’t really tightline with this. Otherwise this is a very solid liner of the best quality that I do recommend.
L: nib of a typical pencil liner. R: shu uemura brush

Onto the pencils:


Just to clarify, thin = applied normally, as if I’m lining my eyes. Heavy = I ran the pencil over at least once, or I pressed down harder.

These are four long-wearing, waterproof pencils.

GA was butter smooth, no effort at all to get that black. The NARS can come close to that intensity if you apply heavier or go over more than once. I haven’t reviewed the Linequeen yet, but it’s similar to the SANA except it has a normal size nib. SANA’s diameter is 2mm, the thinnest liner in pencil form I own.
You use a regular pencil sharpener with the Armani. The other three has a twist-up mechanism. The two Japanese liners require no sharpening, although sometimes I wish I could with the Linequeen. NARS’ has a tiny plastic that they call a sharpener included at the end – I hate it. They don’t work very well but the worst part is cleaning it. The lead is soft and it gets all wedged and compacted in that tiny cone space. And you have to clean every time after you sharpen (or every time before you use it) because the ‘sharpener’ gets blocked with the lead after one use. For this reason alone I would go for the Armani.

But then you already know which is my favourite amongst these pencils!

The shimmers, from left to right:
Clinique black diamond, Chanel Mirifique heavy, Chanel Mirifique light, Guerlain loose kohl.

The Clinique cream shaper is the surprise here. It may not be as shimmery as the Chanel but it’s quite resistant to smudging and gives a subtle light-reflecting eyeline. It’s still very pretty.
If you want something more obvious for a night out, you cannot go wrong with Mirifque. It is the queen of shimmery eye shadow/liner. With other products I’ve tried the shimmer often doesn’t show up when lined (hello MAC Blitz and Glitz) or the shimmer doesn’t stick properly. This never happened with Mirifique.

The Guerlain loose kohl I have is a deep black with tiny shimmer particles. It used to be a LE item. I’m not sure if the ones they have at the counters now have shimmers as well or not. Anyway, if you master the eastern application technique you can get the most intense and sultry looking line faster and easier than with using a pencil. One stroke and you have your upper and lower eyes tightly lined. It can get messy though. Personally I get a lot of fallout on my cheeks. It probably takes me 30 seconds to do both eyes but the time I gained I then use for cleaning up. I will try keeping my head lowered next time and yes, more practice is needed. Otherwise, this is nice if you aren’t squeamish about sticking an applicator between your eyelids.

The powder shadow:

Can be found in NARS Pandora duo. I sometimes use this to go over a gel or liquid liner. Or you can use this wet and line with it.
So, there you have it, all my black eyeliners!

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