Reviews: Eye liners

Eye liner features heavily in Arabic make-up, and it’s the one cosmetic that nearly every belly dancer I know uses, even if they don’t use anything else. There’s loads of them in the market, at vastly different prices and styles. I often get complimented on my make up for performance, so I thought it would be a good idea to review a few of the items I’ve got or use.

I tend to have a very magpie approach to cosmetics and particularly make-up, and if I like it, I will generally give it at least a try. This means I can use vastly different brands, and have been known to use several different eye liners on a single make-up style. I tend to use winged style darker liner on the upper lid, a faint slightly smudged line done with eye shadow and a slanted brush on my lower lid, a “brightening” liner on the inside, and sometimes white liner on the lower waterline and black on the upper waterline. Why, yes, I *did* say I liked things complicated.

For some things (like waterlines) I prefer using the traditional style crayons/pencils, as they are the only ones suitable for this. I use L’óreal Studio Liner in white, for instance, and MAC’s Greasepaint for waterlines, and although I have picked up the product from the Greasepaint stick with a liner brush and used this as a standard liner before, I do not like the efffect I get with them, mainly because they are quite thick. I am big on careful application so they just don’t work well for me on that front.

Having said that, I want to focus on liquid eye liners, as these are the ones that tend to get everybody going “oooh” and “aaah” whenever I pull them out. So first, let’s start with a photo:

Eyeliners Swatches

Eye liners Swatches

From left to right:

  • Illamasqua Precision Ink Glister
  • Barry M Metallic #4 (silver)
  • Illamasqua Precision Ink Alchemy
  • MUA Glitter Shade 2
  • Illamasqua Precision Ink Havoc
  • Gosh Liner Pen 006 Black Brass
  • Gosh Liner Pen 004 Grey
  • Gosh Intense Eye Liner Pen 05 Purple
  • Sana Kyoto Geisha Maiko-han

Illamasqua Precision Ink in Glister is ideal if you are looking for a “barely there” delicate liner. There are some strong light-reflective prismatic pigments in it that add silver, gold and blue when the light hits it right, so it’s also ideal to add a hint of illumination without hitting the white or silver. Barry M released a pink metallic colour that has a similar feel to this, except that the pigments are mostly silverly, and the colour is *very* pink.

Barry M Metallic #4 (silver) is part of Barry M’s metallic line. The colour is nice, but the application is very difficult to do precisely. I’ve found that it also needs very short strokes reloading the brush with colour to get proper coverage. Love the colour, but I’m just not too keen on the formula.

Illamasqua Precision Ink in Alchemy is by far the best metallic liner I’ve used. The colour stays on and just shines, and it does feel like you’ve gilded your eyes, and the pigment is lovely. Illamasqua has now added an antique gold variant, I just wish they did a silver, as gold does not work that well with my skin.

MUA Glitter Shade 2 was picked at Superdrug for £1. The pigments are a bit more scarce, you can clearly see this on the swatch above, so you do need to go over the line several times. However, the colour is quite nice for those of us that don’t wear the warmer shades of gold that well. For the price, really you can’t complain.

Illamasqua Precision Ink in Havoc is, by far, my favourite liner. It’s a very unusual aubergine/dark brown that is dark enough to add an edge but soft enough to work a treat as a day liner. The formula is similar to those of Glister and Alchemy, so very easy to work with, with superb staying power.

Gosh Liner Pen 006 Black Brass is a metallic black with some hints of gold. The applicator on this line is not a pen as suggested by the name, but a pointed spongy brush, very similar to the Illamasqua ones, and, as Illamasqua, is also made in Germany. The formula is *slightly* less pigmented, and the applicator a hint thicker, which means you will not be able to do such fine work, but the difference is minimal. The colour is great for that extra shine and gets double points for being a slightly more unusual shade.

Gosh Liner Pen 004 Grey is similar in application and formula to Black Brass. The colour is a lovely shiny pewter, which, again, works really well for day make-up too, and adds that extra glitter for the evening. My one complain with these Gosh Liner Pens is that removing them requires a bit of extra rubbing to get rid of it all. There are other colours in this line, including metallic Black, metallic Turoquoise, and Brown, which is particularly nice and a much lighter and softer tone that most browns are normally.

Gosh Intense Eye Liner Pen 05 Purple is a proper “pen” with a little felt-tip point at the end. As is quite clear from the photograph, the liner ends quite sheer unless you go over it several times, and smudges like nobody’s business. It just won’t stay put on my skin, and after several hours it had migrated from a well-delineated line on my upper eyelid to my lower eyelid and turned the wing on the outside of my eye into a smudge. You also have to be careful that you don’t accidentally loose the cap in your make-up box or bag, as it will be a goner. Takes ages to remove fully, even with specialised remover. I would not buy again.

Sana Kyoto Geisha Maiko-han is japanese, from a whole line of make-up inspired by geishas. Unlike nearly every other “pen” style liner, this one has proper bristles in the brush, and therefore gives you superb control, allowing very thin lines without risking poking your eye out. It also stays put, but the dissadvantages are that it also takes a while to remove, and the color is not that intense unless you go over it several times. It’s also very difficult to find, some surface on eBay every now and then. They do it in black and red, but I haven’t been able to find the red anywhere, and the person who bought it for me in Hong Kong couldn’t find it either, sadly.

Overall, the Illamasqua liners win hands down, and they are the ones that I reach for again and again, whether it’s for day, night or performance. They can withstand a sprinkling of water, sweat, or even some light rain without running or turning me into a demented raccoon, and therefore are ideal for performance, but unlike others that have staying power, they wash away very easily with make-up remover without needing to scrub the delicate skin of the eyelids. Having said that, “you get what you paid for” is doubly true in this case, and Illamasqua’s products, brilliant as they are, can be pricey. They do run deeply discounted sales a couple of times a year, though, so if you wait for the right time you might be able to pick up what you want without paying that much.

Legal Disclosure: I was not paid for writing this review, nor I received any free service or product.

%d bloggers like this: