Monday, April 22, 2013

In Search of Smudge:
My Quest For the Perfect Eye Liner!

Is there no longer such a things as a smudge-then-set eyeliner pencil? 150 years ago (or perhaps somewhat more recently) my holy-grail eyeliner, a Victoria's Secret shade called Black Berry, was reformulated. Ever since then, I've been on the hunt for a replacement- to no good avail.

The list of attributes that I require for success on this mission:

  • The Correct Color. Black Berry was the *perfect* shade. Definitely a plum-not-brown, but earthy enough that it doesn't quite read as "purple". Leans red, so it brings out the green in my eyes, but it's not so red that it made my eyes look tired or bloodshot. Deep enough for good definition. Just. Perfect.
  • Smudgeable. It is essential to me that a pencil liner be smudgeable. Softening the harsh lines of a pencil is great for more natural looks, but it also lends a hand in creating dramatic, sultry, smokey eyes. A diffused line is also friendlier to those of us that have small or hooded lids- a thick, heavy line weighs the eye down and makes it appear closed and small. Not to mention, a little smudgery can virtually erase the flaws of a hastily drawn (and perhaps not quite, exactly, perfect) line. 
  • Non-transferrable. As previously mentioned, I have hooded lids. That means that when my eye is open, my top lash line touches my upper lid. Too many liners stamp their imprint, leaving an arc of color just above my crease, where the two parts of my lid touch. Not sexy.
  • Decent Wear. Does anyone out there touch up their eyeliner mid-day? I know I'm not going to. Just stay on there, eyeliner. 
So, really, I'm not asking for much (or am I?) Yet the perfect replacement for my old-faithful has eluded me for years now. Here are just a few I've come across in my search, and why they won't be taking that place of honor in my makeup kit.

From top left to bottom right:
  1. Victoria's Secret Eyeliner in Black Berry (Discontinued): If they still made it, I'd wear it every day. I adore the color, and, as I believe the above swatches prove, the superior smudgeability. All of these strokes began as a 1/4 inch mark in the center of the swatch, which I then smudged out on both sides with my trusty Lancome #10. You can actually see that the original 1/4 inch on some refused to blend out, leaving an unsightly "line of origin", but not my Black Berry. It smudges out evenly, without disappearing, skipping over creases, or flaking. And this sample was taken with a stub that's (I'm guessing) 7 years old. 
  2. Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in 1999 (Discontinued): This has been my go-to lately, but it's far from my favorite. The color isn't bad, but the shimmer tends to migrate when you smudge the liner. That is, *if* you can smudge it. There is a very small window of opportunity with 24/7 pencils: try too soon and you'll wipe it all away, too late and it won't budge (as evidenced by the blotch of unblended color in the center of the swatch). Oh, and when I went to add the link to this, I found out this shade has been discontinued, so I guess it's good that I didn't love it! 
  3. Tarte skinny smolderEYES™ Amazonian Clay Waterproof Liner in Golden Tiger's Eye: This is one of my newest acquisitions. The color is a little less vibrant/more brown than I like (which may have prevented my purchase, if the Ulta I visited had had a tester available). Of course, this isn't a strike against the pencil itself, it's just my personal preference. The liner itself smudges fairly well- evenly spreading the color without sheering out too much. My biggest gripe about this pencil is how damn soft it is. The tip broke off the first time I used it, and even after sharpening and reapplying with very little pressure, the lead was still smushed in to one side. Not totally a deal-breaker, but it definitely takes some adjusting.
  4. NYX Retractable Eye Liner in Deep Purple: as you can see, this doesn't smudge at all, it simply wipes away. Color wise, I liked it, and the price is definitely nice, but if it fails the smudge test, it's not my holy grail.
  5. Make Up For Ever Aqua Eyes in Matte Black: This one is obviously not in my desired color range, but I felt it deserved comparison as such a coveted and well-known product. It's definitely intense pigmentation wise, and smudges relatively well. I recently ordered two of the plummier shades in the line, Shimmering Plum (4L) and Burgundy (18L), and I'm excited to see how they stack up!
  6. Stila Smudge Stick Waterproof Eye Liner in Lionfish: Again, the shade isn't at all close to what I'm looking for, nor is there really one any closer in the range. But, since this is actually called SMUDGE stick, I had to try it. As you can see from the swatch above, the name is a bit of a fib. Yes, the pencil smudges, but not at all evenly- the original line will stay in place, and blending can get flaky and patchy where color pulls away from the skin completely. Boo.
So, that's it for now. Of course, I have others that I've tried, but these were the notables. I will definitely post an update when I get my new Make Up For Ever liners, and my internet search has told tale of a Cover Girl liner that may fit the bill- that's going on my list too!

What's your favorite pencil liner? Is smudgeability a factor for you, or is something else your make-it-or-break-it trait?


Anat13 said...

Hello! That sounds like it would be my perfect eyeliner as well--I have had my eyes on the MUFE one's you've picked out. I love plum shades for my eyes! Is there a way to follow you via email (where I'd get an email every time you post a blog entry?)

Unknown said...


I have an update on the plum MUFE shades coming soon, including swatches, so keep an eye out! I have another contender on its way to my house as we speak, so, fingers crossed :)

I also added a "follow by email" button in the right hand column, thanks for the suggestion!

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