I have bought over 24 eyeliners in the past year, trying to find a good holy grail product--or two. It's been an interesting, accidental journey.
The main criteria I have for eyeliner is that it should not sting, burn, or irritate the eyes; should last a full workday; should apply in a clean line that's buildable and/or smudgeable; does not tug the delicate eye area. Can be either black, brown, or other colors.
So here's the rundown and my thoughts on each of the eyeliners I still use today in rotation:
NARS Larger than Life Long-wear Eyeliner in Via Veneto
The line is clean and buildable, as well as smudgeable. The color is perfect black--not too glossy or matte, and not sparkly. You twist the end to get more tip out, then you take out the little sharpener from the end and try to sharpen it. For me, it's impossible to sharpen. Quite expensive product.
Estee Lauder DoubleWear Stay-in-Place Eye Pencil in 02 Coffee
Perfect chocolate brown eyeliner with staying power and a smudger on the end. Soft tip allows for application without tugging of delicate eye area. Since it is quite soft, the tip becomes rounded rather than sharp.
MAC Pro Longwear Eye Liner in Black Ice
A perfect black eyeliner for smoky looks because it's diffused and buildable. Soft and creamy so no tugging and easy to sharpen. Once it applies it stays on.
MAC Pearlglide Intense Eye Liner in Black Line
This is a great black green eyeliner with a minimal amount of gold glitter. It goes on clean, can be built up, and is great when smudged. The tip is easy to sharpen with a regular sharpener. All around a great product for green eyes or someone who wants a subtle but smokey green/black look.
Rimmel ScandalEyes Waterproof Kohl Kajal in 001 Black
Precise and easy to sharpen. Not as creamy as the MAC or NARS eyeliners, but not dry, so no tugging. Well pigmented and actually quite hard to remove even with eye makeup remover. Excellent staying power for the waterline.
MAC Superslick Liquid Eye Liner in Defiantly Feline
Absolutely gorgeous bronze brown. Felt point tip which applies lightly or is buildable--beware that the product is incredibly wet and tends to feather if applied too heavily. In which case, a cotton bud is your best ally to clean up as you apply this product. One of my all time favorite liquid eyeliners.
MAC Liquid Eyeliner in Boot Black
The perfect black eyeliner. Easy to apply and build up, doesn't feather. Not too wet and dries clean.
Rimmel Exagerate Liquid Liner in 100% Black
This is the perfect, cheaper dup for MAC Liquid Eyeliner in Boot Black. The tip is not as pointy as MAC's but it's an excellent, long-lasting product that doesn't tug and applies easily.
L'Oreal Infallible Never Fail Eyeliner in Black Brown or in Carbon Black
This is an automatic eyeliner with a smudger on the end. Great chocolate brown and black that can go on simple and clean or be built up/smudged for a variety of looks. Since it's an automatic eyeliner there's no sharp point after you begin using it.
Maybelline Unstoppable Eyeliner in Onyx
My favorite automatic pencil eyeliner. Clean line that can be built up and stays for a long time. Perfect black that can be smudged to a dark grey for a variety of looks.