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SOS: Liquid Liner for the Perfect Winged Look

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I love a lightly winged eyeliner.  Just a little kick out at the end to open the eye and create contrast.  The trouble is, you can’t achieve this look with anything but liquid eyeliner.  A pencil just won’t stay sharp enough to give you the thin, clean line you need.  (Unless, of course, you want to sharpen all the money you spent into the trash can.)  For this Splurge or Save, we have to liquid liners that promise to give you precise control, while providing two different widths so that you can create more dramatic winged looks.

Tom Ford Beauty Eye Defining Pen ($55).  Paying $55 for eyeliner was not high on my to-do list when I strolled into the Neiman Marcus to try this pen on for size.  But once I saw how effortlessly the product glided onto the lids, how easily the different width could be used to create different looks and seeing how I could precisely position the perfect line on my eyelid, I decided to use a holiday gift card that I’ve been saving in to take this baby home.

I’m not usually a sucker for brand names or fancy wrapping, but the luxe packaging and the sleek design has me thinking twice.  The metal tubing and the quality of the brush and ink (no smudges, no streaks, no flaking) quickly tell you that this isn’t your regular drugstore eye-liner.

The next day, I was strolling through Walgreen’s when I spotted Maybelline’s Eye Studio Master Duo Liner ($7).  Unlike the Ford liner that has two different brushes, this drugstore version has one brush that you rotate to widen or narrow the line.  It’s a rather ingenious little device.

The trouble I had with the liner resulted from the odd packaging.  With the Ford, I can grip the liner like a pencil, giving me greater control and precision.  The rather bulky container on the Maybelline makes it a bit more difficult to keep things steady.  I also wasn’t crazy about the formula, which seemed a little runny and viscous to me.  The Maybelline liner also flaked off after a couple of hours.

Verdict: Skip ’em both.  The Maybelline formula isn’t up to snuff, and while the brush does its job well, it’s all for nothing if you can’t grip the applicator well enough to achieve a precise application.  And as for the Ford, great formula, luxe metal packaging and an easy-to-control double-sided brush are superior in every way.  But $55?  Do I look like I am made of money?

Instead of either of these products, let’s split the difference and go back to one of my favorite products: Stila All-Day Liquid Liner ($20).  Sure, the mid-price is a bit more than a “steal” usually costs, but this product is worth it.  The tube lasts forever and the product goes on dark black without running or flaking.  I also like the control of the pencil shape and the softer tip applicator.

If you need a lesson in achieving the perfect winged look, grab the Stila liner and head to Pinterest.  I found this easy tutorial from The Beauty Dept. for every-day winged liner.  I also found this how-to guide for a bolder winged look that utilizes gel eyeliner and a flat brush.

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    11 comments

  1. Jessica says:

    I got the Eyeko Skinny Liquid Eyeliner ($16) in my BirchBox last December. I recently rediscovered in, and fell it love. Easy to use for the ‘less talented’ eye liner applicators out there…

    October 3, 2013/Reply
    • M says:

      I’m obsessed with Eyeko eyeliner, its amazing. The mascara, however; I do not like. Waaaayyyyy too hard to remove!

      October 3, 2013/Reply
    • A.J. says:

      I was just coming over here to say this! I bought the full-size Eyeko Skinny after getting it my bbox, too.

      My only problem is that I can ROCK my left winged eye, but my right eye is never as good. (I’m a righty, so I think that cross-over motion makes the left eye better.)

      October 3, 2013/Reply
      • E says:

        I also endorse Eyeko!! Excellent results and I’ve been using it for a year. They usually last me 3-4 months since I wear liquid every day. Highly recommend – looks just like the Stila pencil.

        October 3, 2013/Reply
  2. Diana says:

    I just bought the L’Oreal Super Slim and it’s awesome. I wish you had tried it in your post.

    October 3, 2013/Reply
  3. J says:

    I’ve using the Milani liquid eye pencil. It’s a pencil so it’s easy to handle but it gives you the look of liquid. And it’s cheap, like $5-6 at CVS.

    October 3, 2013/Reply
  4. Lindsay says:

    I totally need an eyeliner 101 guide. I did theater makeup in high school and college, so whenever I do eyeliner for myself, it’s way, way heavy and off. Thanks for the recommendation of Stila.

    October 3, 2013/Reply
  5. Rachel says:

    L’Oreal Lineur Intense has been and will always be the only liquid eyeliner I ever use. It goes on smooth and stays put all day. I prefer the felt tip, but they make a good brush tip, too.

    October 3, 2013/Reply
  6. Carrie says:

    I love Stila’s liner!! I recently started wearing eye liner and Stila is by far the best. Glad you found it too

    October 3, 2013/Reply
  7. Brittney says:

    I have recently fell in love with Kat Von D’s tattoo liner – so good. Stays on for a very long time and the pen I bought has lasted since late December.

    March 24, 2014/Reply
  8. Jessica says:

    I second the Kat Von D Tatoo liner – I LOVE it and the new Mad Max Brown version makes me so happy because now I have a brown liquid liner I like as well

    August 28, 2015/Reply