I Bought Several Eyeliners So You Don’t Have To


Remember when I spent a lot of money on lipstick? Well, I didn’t stop there! Now it is time to review EYELINER! Fortunately, I didn’t have to buy a million to find ones that worked. Unfortunately, I had to drop billz to get what I was looking for.

I’d like to preface my reviews by noting that there are a lot of misconceptions about liquid eyeliner. The first is that liquid eyeliner is only for Advanced Placement cosmetics users. This is only true if you live in an alternate universe where you aren’t allowed to dip a q-tip in makeup remover and fix your mistakes. The second is that it is a “dramatic” look. This is only true if you opt to draw on your face with the liquid eyeliner in some kind of effort to look like an Anime character named Cleopatra Cat. If you use liquid eyeliner to line your eyes it can be just as subtle as pencil liner, but it will look better and last longer. Don’t fear liquid eyeliner, it is your friend.

That being said, liquid eyeliner + tears usually results in a streaky black mess over your entire face. Cheap waterproof liquid eyeliners have a disturbing tendency to flake off, leaving you with black-brown eye dandruff and a dotted line across your eyelid. So for my wedding I set out to find an A-list eyeliner that would avoid both of these problems. Here’s what I tried along the way:

Maybelline Ultra Liner Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner
Price: ~$8
Application: Ridiculously easy. The brush is wide and flat and puts a neat line on your lid even with a shaky hand. It’s like magic!
Look: BUT that super-easy-to-draw line is a bit thicker than I normally apply my eyeliner. That said, if you need to put on eyeliner in .3 seconds for… I don’t know… a game show or something… this is your liner.
Lasts: It lasts a long time and IS waterproof, but it is the classic example of the flake-off problem. Seriously, at the end of the day your eyelids will look like Billy from The Family Circus walked on them. So I really don’t recommend this for anyone except people who are afraid of liquid eyeliner and need to be reassured that they can apply it. It’s your liquid eyeliner training wheels.

Maybelline New York Eye Studio Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner
Price: $8
Application: The best thing about this eyeliner is that it comes with its own brush, which is cheap and synthetic but gets the job done. This eyeliner doesn’t glide on easily like I’d been told gel eyeliners do, you more have to smudge the product across your lid. This is kind of annoying, but it lets you build up as much or as little liner as you want.
Look: Variable, but unless you really pile on the product it looks very subtle, like you used a shadow as a liner, which makes the name of this product incredibly misleading.
Lasts: Less than all day. If you don’t set it with powder it is gone in a few hours. It fades neatly, though, and gone eyeliner is better than smeared-all-over-your-face eyeliner.

Smashbox Jet Set Waterproof Eyeliner
Price: $22
Application: Time-consuming but not difficult. It’s very easy to draw on without making a mess, you just have to do it slowly and carefully to get enough on your eyelid for it to look like anything. I use the eyeliner brush that came with the Maybelline gel eyeliner.
Look: Sort of in between the intensity of a pencil eyeliner and a liquid eyeliner, which is I think what gel eyeliner was made for in the first place! Well done!
Lasts: Ten hours or so, or however long it takes you to get really sweaty. It will wash off with regular soap, but I use makeup remover for ease.


MAC Superslick Liquid Eyeliner
Application: Easy but risky. The extremely fine-point brush lets you draw very close to your lash line, which is wonderful, but it also shows even the tiniest of tremor in your hand. Like, a butterfly could flap its wings across town and you’d end up with a bump in your line.
Look: The finish on this eyeliner is almost shiny, so it’s not really a natural look. It’s great for that dramatic Audrey Hepburn thing, though. For the wedding/everyday “I spent 45 minutes making it look like I roll out of bed this lovely” look, I use a tiny bit of this on top of the Smashbox gel eyeliner, just on the outer corner of my upper lash line, which is pretty well illustrated in the photo below.
Lasts: FOR-EV-ER. It is like a tattoo that comes off with makeup remover. Seriously, this eyeliner can survive hot yoga. It can definitely survive your wedding.

So yeah, bad news, kids: the two most expensive products I tried are the winners, and IN CONJUNCTION. Which means my wedding eyeliner look cost about $40 to achieve. Oof. But it was pretty:

Photo by, you guessed it, Louis Stein.


  1. Thanks for this! The lipstick one was so helpful to me before my wedding, would have loved to have had this too, though I was happy w what I wound up with. I used the BlackTrack gel eyeliner from MAC, which also stays on forever. Like, if I’m feeling particularly lazy, I can apply it one morning and have that also be my eyeliner for THE NEXT DAY. After a shower and everything. No judging.

    I am terrible at makeup but got the hang of applying it with a little practice. The MAC people advised me to buy this very thin slanty brush, but now I wonder if that little nubbin brush like the Maybelline brush would be better. The way I do it is to just dab so that it’s like a series of connected dashes on my lash line, rather than try to draw with an unsteady hand.

  2. Between your makeup reviews and Mouse’s reviews, I’m hoping that I can avoid buying eight gagillion products to find the one or two that (a) I’m not allergic to and (b) stay put (c) without making me look like a cakey mess.

  3. Oh my god, that Family Circus reference is the funniest damn thing I have read all day! Baaaahahahahaha!

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  5. Hi guys …..i have used this eyeliner and found that it stayed on my eyelids for a pretty long time despite the fact that I got very oily eyelids. The other good thing about this product is the packaging I loved it and it’s very

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