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Tears, tantrums, triumph - the black eyeliner that won't budge

woman wearing black eyeliner

There is nothing quite like black eyeliner for making a dramatic style statement. It instantly draws attention to the eyes, ensuring they take centre stage. It lifts and widens them and, if used correctly, can knock years off your face. It’s beautiful, bold and, right now, relevant to makeup trends. But, if you use the wrong product or struggle with your application method, it can ruin an entire look - and, possibly, your entire day.

Unintentionally smudged eyeliner, black in particular, can turn a red hot look into a runny mess. I’ve been there too many times to forget the horror. I've looked like Fester Addams more times than actor Christopher Lloyd! It is probably why I suffer from Panda Eye Phobia. And it is the sole reason why I forced myself to shop around for a product that stays put.

I don’t want to look like I’ve got a black eye after building up the slightest sweat at work. When I cry, I want to be able to regain my composure and look like I never lost it in the first place. I want something that is swim-proof, tantrum proof and made to last. Yes, I want to hold a look - no matter what life throws at me.

In my quest to find the perfect product, I’ve tried trendy gel pens and liquids, not to mention every type of pencil. I have even experimented with lighter shades, all to no avail - until I cycled back through brands and found one I’d overlooked.

It delivers the intensity of colour I like, true jet black, lasts all day and, best of all, is cheaper than chips. It’s versatile too, being equally suitable for waterline and cat eye looks.

Who makes this pencil? Rimmel London!

Woman in her late 20s sporting a cat eye look created with black eyeliner

No smudge or no budge black eyeliner?

Quite a few brands are currently pushing long-wear eyeliner. They include e.l.f., Prime Prometics and Julep. The performance of any black eyeliner, however, doesn’t just come down to the formula. Everyone’s skin and lifestyle is individual to them, for a start. And how we apply a product can make a huge difference as well.

What I have discovered is that true ‘no budge’ eyeliners are waterproof. That’s the key. And while pencils that can be sharpened may be considered old hat, they are the real deal when it comes to getting the nib the exact right size for your best level of precision.

Self-sharpening pencils can be worse than useless if you are stuck with a nib that is too big and lacks definition. They are a classic example of modern convenience not topping traditional. If you’ve ever drawn a line that is overly thick, you will know what I mean. When I apply black eyeliner I want to keep it flush to the waterline with no seeping. If it is already straying into territory below that, I know I am going to be in trouble. Especially now I’ve got fine lines!

Another ‘must’ for me is that my eyeliner has to be soft and suitable for using along the top lash line. I generally sweep the liner along the lash base, unless I’m looking for a more bold look.

The Rimmel London pencil I’ve had the most success with cost me just £3.90 - a lot less than some of the fancy-sounding, expensive ones I pinned my hopes on last year. 

It is from the brand’s Scandal’eyes collection and the formula comprises waterproof kohl. The product is also smudge-proof. Rimmel London says it can stay in place for up to a whopping 24 hours, and it is available in 10 colours.

But, to ensure it does last as long as you want it to, you need to follow a few steps. You will also need a very good makeup remover to clean it off at the end of the day. They are not joking when they says it is long-wearing!

Rimmel London's Scandal'eyes black eyeliner pencil

Black eyeliner - using the Scandal'eyes pencil

This product came with a nib that was sharpened to perfection. It was the exact right size for my needs. However, with daily use, it wasn’t long before the tip was blunt and bulky.

Remember to sharpen your pencil regularly to preserve precision, because that will go a long way towards keeping your makeup intact. Only apply to clean, dry skin. A really good idea is to use a magnifying mirror when applying black eyeliner - it will ensure you place the product where you need it in the first place. I currently use a 10x magnification one but aim to invest in a 20x mirror for an even more precise finish.

Removing the product will require more than a splash of water. I would recommend a product specifically designed to clean off eye makeup or a good brand of micellar water. Whatever you use has to be capable of removing wax and silicones commonly found in liners, along with high concentrations of pigment.

Double cleansing with gentle products is the best way to tackle long-wearing makeup. If you want to learn more about this skincare trend, you will find an article all about it here

There is no beauty in makeup if we are worrying about it all day. That is why it pays to invest in products you can trust not to let you down. For me, eyeliner has to perform to the same standard as my deodorant. If it doesn’t, I just end up a sorry-looking mess.

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