By Tiffany Luning
Allow me to regale you with the tale of my first liquid eyeliner experience. One upon a time, circa 1995, I decided to get my goth on and try my hand at some black liquid eyeliner. I pulled out a recently purchased drugstore brand felt-tip style marker. Despite it being billed as “black,” it was mostly decidedly “blue and watery”. But, I persevered, layering it on until it became an unfortunate muddy navy blue. Eyeliner poorly applied, I went for a walk to the bank. Little did I know it was raining. Therefore, little did I know that my crappy so-called black eyeliner would commence running down my face in blue rivulets. I looked like the unholy spawn of a distraught Tammy Faye and an insane clown. Trust me, it was not a good look.
The point of this story is this: People, I know bad eyeliners. Luckily for you, I’ve spent the last decade honing the craft of choosing liners for my eyes and lips, since honestly, I also lack the ability to put on lipstick without using pencil first. I’ve got stories about that, too, but let’s save it for another day. Right now, let’s talk about some eye and lip liners.
There are a few makeup lines one can go to for no-fail cosmetics. You know, the ones that always come through for you whether you’re looking for a good foundation or bright orange eye shadow. One of those lines is NARS. NARS’ Eyeliner Pencils are deeply pigmented and available in a variety of shades, ranging from black to teal to gold. The texture is creamy, so it’s ideal for blending into the lash line. I particularly dug this pencil in Bamako, a plummy aubergine, and Kalisté, a deep teal. As for my own area of expertise, the liquid eyeliners, I was impressed with NARS’ unique color selection. Not only is it available in classic black, but also shades like Ghost (deep amethyst), Silkwood (metallic brown), and Showgirl (gold lamé). I am so intrigued by Sri Lanka (black with green shimmer) that I may have to bum rush the nearest Sephora during my lunch hour. The large vial of liquid liner comes with its own tiny brush, which is easy to use despite its diminutive size.
NARS Lip Pencils are, in one word, amazing. They go on smoothly, blend easily, and stay true to color for hours. They come in a whopping 20 shades, and are compatible with NARS’ existing line of lipsticks (in fact, the brick red of Amazon is a perfect match with one of my favorite lipsticks, Fire Down Below). You can purchase NARS products online or find a local outlet at www.narscosmetics.com.
One of the world’s most tried-and-true eye makeup-artistry techniques is to apply white liner to the inner lower lash line. You’re wondering about that one, aren’t you? Allow me to enlighten, Grasshopper. Lining the inner rim of the lower lashline gives the illusion that your eyes are bigger than they really are by “extending” the white of the eye. A little bit of white pencil and BAM! Big ol’ pretty doe eyes. Great idea, but who wants to tote around an extra eye liner? Not I! Brilliantly, Bourjois has unleashed a 2-in-1 Eye Pencil to cut down on all the crap we need to carry in our cosmetics bags. The pencils are available in Noir/Blanc and the new Café/Crème (that’s Black/White and Brown/Cream to my fellow non-French speakers out there). This pencil has found its way into my heart, and most definitely into my purse.
Bourjois’ Levres Countour, AKA Lip Pencils, are available in 16 shades, none of which I can pronounce. They are, however, quite beautiful and run the gamut of soft nude neutrals (Universelle) to intense stop-light reds (Demoniaque), and will match up with every Bourjois lipstick. Check out www.bourjois.com to find your closest Sephora location (like you don’t already totally know where that is, I’m sure), or visit www.sephora.com to purchase online.
Remember Urban Decay‘s old tagline “Does pink make you puke?” I know I do, and I loved their gritty, metropolitan colors. Years after their discontinuation, I still have hidden caches of the old Frostbite lipsticks and Meltdown nail polishes. Despite the fact they seem to have wholeheartedly integrated pink girliness into their product line and discontinued everything I liked, I still have love for the line. Their 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencils are pretty spectacular, and ultra-smooth in texture. This new formula stays soft for about 30 seconds for blending purposes, and then dries to a long-lasting finish. When Urban Decay says waterproof, they really mean it. I actually needed makeup remover to get this eyeliner off, which is pretty unheard of (come on – we all know waterproof usually doesn’t mean ‘proof’…it’s usually more like, ‘resistant’). This pencil is available in 8 shades of brilliant tropicals and bold metallics, my favorite of which is the bright purple Lust.
Urban Decay’s Lip Pencils once existed in a rainbow of colors, but most of those are now extinct. It’s a shame, because their lip pencil in Gash was really one of the all-time greats. Their pencil line is now pared down to the basics: Fur (medium brown), Illegal (neutral pink), Midnight Cowboy (nude), and Roach (red-brown). One of the great things about the UD lip liners is the length of the pencil – there is so much color inside that you can use it for ages without running out. You can purchase your very own Urban Decay wonders at Sephora, Nordstroms, and other department stores, as well as www.urbandecay.com.
Hard Candy‘s Super Slim Eye Pencils are, well, super-slim. According to my tape measure, it clocks in at just under 6 millimeters wide; for comparative purposes, a pencil “liberated” from the Mondrian Hotel is 9 mm wide. The benefit of the ultra-thinness of this pencil is its ability to create precise lines, the likes of which I have never seen in a pencil liner. Not only that, but the fine point of the pencils are soft and intensely pigmented (I had expected to find a hard point to such a thin pencil, but no!). The pencils are available in 4 shades: Tarpit (black), Sushi (deep green), Frigid (bright blue), and Vibe (lavender). Check www.hardcandy.com to purchase these Super Slims or find a local retail outlet.
LORAC‘s popular Eye Shadow/Liner Sparkle Pencil ($16) has added 3 new colors for spring: 24K Gold, Pink Diamond, and Blue Topaz. These shades are in addition to the classics Midnight Sparkle (black) and Paparazzi (brown). This pencil is glittery as all get-out – really, really beautiful! The formula glides on very easily and blends superbly, but I found that the thickness of the pencil made it a bit difficult to use strictly as a liner. You can find LORAC retailers at www.loraccosmetics.com or 1-800-845-0705.
The Parisian-inspired Fleur‘s cosmetics contain a unique botanical potpourri of rose, lily and lotus extracts that nourish and calm the skin. Ahhhh. The line brings us a blacker-than-black liquid liner, packaged in a hefty ceramic-looking bottle. This liner comes with a tiny brush applicator in the cap, which is a bit more difficult to use than the felt-tip style, so you might not want to try this for the first time before a job interview or a particularly hot date. Practice makes perfect, however, and with colors such as Tamaris (deep plum-brown) and Frene Dore (beautiful, shimmering copper) Fleur’s eye pencils offer you a break from the norm.
Fleur’s cosmetics are available nationwide at luxury spas, or you can call 1-877-FLEURS-7 to find a retail location.
The mineral cosmetics line from Jane Iredale gives us an amazing set of cream-to-powder eyeliners called Jewel Box. The colors in this set are bright metallic shades: burgundy, violet, sapphire and olive. Get yourself a stiff angled brush and try these eye-catching colors, they’re a great alternative to black or brown! Honestly, won’t your summer tan look even better with an iridescent gold-tinged green liner? Of course it will! Trust me, I know these things. Jane Iredale cosmetics can be found at www.janeiredale.com or by calling 800-817-5665.
Well, what are you waiting for? Run to your nearest makeup shop or click your way into eyeliner nirvana with the online purchase links above and start sampling the array of colors and different types of liners these brands have to offer. Remember, practice makes perfect, and (as I hoped you learned from my story) always remember to carry an umbrella when it rains!