They go by many different names: gel eyeliner, cream eyeliner, fluid liner, etc.
But they’re all the same basic concept: eyeliner in a jar that is applied with a separate eyeliner brush. These–I’ll call them gel liners for today–offer the best staying power and precision in the world of eyeliners. And almost all cosmetic companies have their own version.
As with all makeup, my key question usually is:
Which brand’s product has the best staying power?
The look gel eyeliners give is wonderfully dramatic, but this drama is just a tease if it only lasts less than 2 hours of the day.
So, over the last few days, I’ve kept an eyeliner diary of the popular gel liners out there: MAC, Smashbox, Bobbi Brown, and Clinique:
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Each day I wore a different liner–no primer, no eyeshadow–to see how each liner held up on their own and how they compared to each other. Here’s how each liner looked at the end of the day:
MAC Fluidline is one of the most popular gel liners out there. Lots of people swear by it and it has a huge following. It definitely earns it.
Application: The liner was highly pigmented. It didn’t require too going back over the same area too often.
Wear: This picture was taken after 8 hours. During those 8 hours, it never transferred or smudged to my upper or lower lids. The color did fade a little, but the main downside to this liner is that in began to crease near the inner corner of my eye, as you can see in the picture.
[Photo not available–could hardly get it out of the pan!]
This liner is the most expensive out of the 4, and it was by far the most disappointing.
Application: It was difficult to get out of the pan and was very dry for a gel liner. It would require a lot of going over the same area to get any color payoff, which prevents the nice clean lines that gel liners are known for.
Bobbi Brown is known to make quality cosmetics, but this was not one of them.
Application: Application took a bit of time. The liner was not as dry as Smashbox’s Cream Liner, but it was not very pigmented. It required tracing over the same area multiple times to get the desired darkness.
Wear: After only 6 hours, my eyeliner faded to almost non-existence. It never smudged or transferred to my lower or upper lids (so I’m not sure where it went! Into my eyelashes?) but it faded severely.
Clinique was my favorite liner of the 4.
Application: The application was so effortless. It’s nice and pigmented while still managing to be very “wet”, so you can get the precision you want and don’t have to trace back over any of your lines. If only its packaging were as nice as the others..
Wear: This picture was taken after 12 hours, and still no smudging or transferring to my lower lids, and minimal fading! This liner has amazing staying power and it still comes off easily with makeup remover.
I definitely wasn’t expecting such a huge range of performance. It turns out that eyeliners are really not all created equally. After trying these liners out, I’ve really come to appreciate my Clinique Brush-On Cream Liner even more!
If you’ve been having trouble picking out a gel liner, I hope you found this helpful!
Merry Christmas Eve and Happy Holidays!