Eyeliner is tricky. It’s tricky to apply, and even more tricky to keep it where you want it to be. The eye area is very warm, with a lot of blood supply, and eyeliners tend to melt and smudge easily. If you have especially moist or oily eyes it’s even worse.
Whether you like pencils, pens or gel liners in pots, there are eyeliner universals that can get you through this minefield. No one likes panda eyes. Except for my brother’s girlfriend. We’ve had to have conversations about this, where she looks at me like I am crazy for caring so much. She’s not wrong…
Regardless of your application technique, if you have the right formula, it will last longer.
In order to avoid looking like a slightly sweaty raccoon, look at the ingredient listing when buying an eyeliner. There are particular ingredients, called volatiles, which allow the formula to glide onto the skin smoothly and creamily, but which evaporate quickly, leaving only the pigment, and little fluid or emolliency to smudge the pigment. They work exceptionally well. If a product claims to be “long-wearing” or “waterproof”, it will almost definitely have one or some of these ingredients. The principle ingredients to look out for are Isododecane, and Cyclopentasiloxane. There are lots of others, but those are the most common. If you find something else, just leave a comment and I’ll let you know whether it is a volatile or not.
I find that the pen eyeliners are the most volatile, and thus the most longlasting. Their more fluid texture means that they will contain less wax, and more of these volatiles, so that they really do just leave pigment on the skin, which stays and stays. The Maquillage pen (which I mentioned here) really is like painting a line onto the skin, which can only get removed with an oil-based makeup remover. But this one from Stila is also good.
For pencil eyeliners, the Estee Lauder one (which I also mentioned here) is great, as it really doesn’t smudge but is also quite soft on application, but the Chanel and Urban Decay liners are also worth mentioning.
Between different gel liners in pots, there is usually little difference in formulas, as long as they contain volatiles. Formulas with a little bit of glitter, or pearl, in them usually last a little longer (same thing goes for longlasting cream eyeshadows in pots, which will contain volatiles as well). The Bobbi Brown gel liner is fantastic, since it has terrific pigment saturation, so you don’t have to go back over. And if you have a gel liner in a pot that is a little dried up, just put a little bit of oil-based makeup remover (those ones with a double layer in the bottle, which you have to shake) in the pot, and stir it around a bit, to refresh the formula.