Sunday, August 28, 2016

I Guess I Wear Eyeliner Now: Urban Decay 24/7 in Demolition and Kiko Intense Colour in Black

Longtime readers of my blog will know that I've struggled with eyeliner for my entire makeup-wearing career, which now spans six years. One of my first ventures into makeup involved a black Maybelline pencil eyeliner, with which I drew awkward, thick lines across my upper lashline. To my credit, I soon figured out that this looked terrible, but my second attempt wasn't much better: I spent a good three years trying on and off to perfect a cat eye with a black liquid liner, Maybelline Line Stiletto in Blackest Black. I was eventually forced to conclude that the outer folds of my eyelids would always foil my attempts to wing out my liner. Cat eyes were just not going to happen for me, no matter how many articles and YouTube tutorials swore that everyone—yes, everyonecould achieve Elizabeth-Taylor-in-Cleopatra perfection. Finally, I settled on black or dark brown eyeshadow smudged along my lashlines with a narrow brush. That gave me a bit of definition without the challenges of a pencil or a felt-tip applicator, and I resigned myself to not being an eyeliner person at all.

But the existence of bona fide eyeliner was a constant thorn in my side. Here was a whole category of makeup that, along with crop tops and empire-waist dresses, I'd decided I simply couldn't wear. Would my eyeshadow looks always seem unfinished due to my avoidance of eyeliner? Would I never know the joy of swiping on a simple black liner to set off a red lipstick? I was a beauty blogger, for fuck's sake: wasn't it was my duty to master a product as basic as eyeliner? So last November, I bought Urban Decay's 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Demolition, a cool-toned dark brown...and then avoided it for seven months, as if it were That One Guy in my graduate program whom I always pretend not to see in the local coffee shop. (There's more than one That One Guy.)

I swear I photographed Demolition when it was new, but of course I can't find the photo now. This is what happens when you wait nine months to review a product, kids. Here's Demolition today—it's about half gone after two months of frequent use (3-4 times a week):


I didn't start wearing Demolition regularly until my visit to London in June, when I came to appreciate it as a crucial component of a quick semi-smoky eye. Because the 24/7 formula is so soft, it's easy to finger-blend Demolition into a shimmery eyeshadow like Seventeen Statuesque and deepen the crease with a matte brown like Cover from the Urban Decay Naked2 Basics palette:


After coming to terms with Demolition, I found myself wanting a black liner to go with cool-toned eye looks. The cruelty-free Italian brand Kiko Milano recently opened a store in Birmingham's Bullring mall, so of course I paid it a visit. After sorting through what felt like dozens of options (Italian ladies must love their black pencil eyeliner), I settled on the Intense Colour Long Lasting Eyeliner in #16 Black:


 Demolition on the left, Black on the right—they haven't been sharpened in a few days:


Though I started out smudging these two pencils along my upper lashline, I've since worked out a technique that I think approximates tightlining. Maybe it really is tightlining? I don't know. My understanding is that tightlining involves the upper waterline and, as a contacts-wearer, I shudder at the thought of putting pigment there. Instead, I pull my mobile lid taut and draw the thinnest line possible along my lashline, making a series of little dashes and working the color into the spaces between my lashes. This was very difficult at first (unsteady hands, uncontrollable blinking), but after a month of practice, I'm getting it right almost every time. Ironically, I've returned after all these years to a refined version of the first eyeliner technique I ever tried.

Now for a couple of mini-reviews of the two liners I've been wearing almost every day since June:


Demolition ($20 at Sephora) has a very soft and pigmented formula. The texture presents challenges as well as advantages. When I smudge Demolition along my upper lashline, some color always leaps with ninja-like stealth to my lower lashline, if not immediately then in a couple of hours. I'll be congratulating myself for executing a decent eye look for once in my goddamn life, and then I'll notice that half the pigment has managed to transfer itself to the already-dark spaces below my eyes. This was the problem that forced me to work out my tightlining technique, and when I don't smudge the liner, it stays in place almost all day. But I think $20 is a high price to pay for an eyeliner that disappears as quickly as Demolition does (soft formula = more frequent sharpening), and after I use up Demolition, I might cast around for a cheaper alternative.

Here's a quick look from last week's trip to LA: Seventeen eyeshadow in Statuesque, an unsmudged line of Demolition, Illamasqua Zygomatic blush, ColourPop Lunch Money highlighter, MAC Antique Velvet lipstick, and a seatbelt because sitting in a car is a huge part of any visit to LA and you might as well take selfies while stuck in the inevitable traffic (and no, I still can't drive):


Black ($8 on the Kiko website) is similarly pigmented but less soft, despite coming with a sponge tip meant for smudging the pigment:


I was excited about this nifty little feature until the first time I used it, at which point I realized that the sponge is too firm and rough to do more than chafe my eyelid and remove the product that's already there. Sometimes I smudge the liner with my finger, but more often I just draw a thin line and go on my way. Here's a swatch of Black smudged with the sponge, to give you a sense of how ineffective it is (and this is on my arm, a much firmer surface than my eyelid):


Here's an unsmudged line of Black with theBalm Selfish, the taupe in the Nude 'tude palette:



Full face, with Sleek Life's a Peach blush and Revlon Fire and Ice lipstick (I'd just seen Hitchcock's To Catch a Thief and was captivated by Grace Kelly's taupe and coral makeup). As you can see, Black doesn't read as EYELINER! here so much as a bit of extra definition. Since my eyes are large and quite deep-set, too much definition can throw off the balance of my face.


Black has a more impressive wear time than Demolition: I wore it to the gym on a very hot afternoon two days ago, and though some color had transferred below my eye by the end of my workout, my upper lashline was as dark as ever. Below, I've used a cotton pad to rub my swatches of Black (top) and Demolition a few times; the difference is obvious:


I can remove Demolition with my usual cleanser, Lush 9 to 5, but I need bigger guns for Kiko: namely, Vaseline on a tissue. Forget micellar water, coconut oil, whatever you kids are using these days: there's no more effective eye-makeup remover than plain old petroleum jelly (I don't even buy the name brand).

And there you have my adventures in eyeliner for the last nine months or so. I'm still a bit sad that cat eyes continue to elude me, but I'm glad to have found an eyeliner method that works for my eye shape and aesthetic preferences and doesn't slow me down when I have somewhere to go. What are your favorite pencil eyeliners?

18 comments:

  1. I'm all about the Urban Decay pencil liners - in fact, I feel like I have Demolition but I'm currently too lazy to get up and check. I managed to buy the Ocho Loco 2 set from Sephora Canada for $30 a couple years ago, which was the most amazing beauty steal ever.

    I also like the Sephora Contour liners. They're half the price of the UD liners and come in a similarly wonderful range of colours.

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    1. I certainly don't dislike the UD liners; in fact, I'd consider repurchasing Demolition. I just think the price is kind of insane for what you get. $30 for eight eyeliners is an AMAZING deal. So jealous.

      I'll check out those Sephora liners! I've never actually bought any makeup from the Sephora house brand, but I've heard good things about it.

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  2. Hahahaha at “That One Guy”. He is universal.

    I don't usually do pencil liner - I find it just always smudges on me, even if it's supposed to be waterproof. I generally only use it for tightlining. I have a Clarins one that I got as gratis from work which I use most days, but I'm liking the MJ one that came in the Sephora birthday gift too. Usually when I have to buy my own I go with the Rimmel twist-up ones because a) cheap, b) no sharpening required. The Kiko liner seems really nice! I'm hoping Kiko becomes more readily available in North America soon.

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    1. I fully accept that I may be That One Guy for at least a couple of people.

      I'm excited to try the Marc Jacobs one in the birthday gift! Too bad I'll have to wait another two months for that. MJ's pencil eyeliners (at least the ones I've swatched) seem really good.

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  3. I never bother with eyeliner, though I do really like the idea of it. I also have historically had issues finding a shape/technique that works for my eyes. Honestly, I feel like eye shadow, eyeliner, and mascara behind my bright blue glasses is a bit much for me (and I prefer bright/bold lip colors anyway...) I also rarely bother with mascara either, but that's mostly because I hate spending the day checking to make sure it hasn't migrated. I might hit up Kiko while I'm still on vacation, check out that eyeliner. I definitely have not spent as much on makeup as I expected to by this point so....

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    1. It took me a long time to figure out that elongated looks don't work well for my round eyes, and that a cat eye is a flattering shape for many people but certainly not all. Because of my love for bold lips, I'm not a huge fan of elaborate eye looks myself, but I'm liking the simplicity of liner + lipstick without a ton of eyeshadow.

      I usually don't wear my glasses (which have dark red frames) during the day, but when I do, I treat them as eye makeup in themselves and just go with mascara.

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  4. You look great with that style of eyeliner! Very classic. Eyeliner is something that I used to wear all the time, but I've got out of the habit recently. I should try to add it back in, since I have so many of them.

    It's my understanding that a lot/most eyeliners are made in the same couple of factories and just labeled with different brands, so if you find things labeled "Made in Italy" or "Made in Germany" they're likely to be similar in quality regardless of price. That's certainly been my experience.

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    1. Ah yes, the Kiko eyeliners are made in Italy, so I wouldn't be surprised if they share a factory with other brands! I wish I knew more about which brands share which factories, since it's absurd how much some brands mark up their products.

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    2. Have you guys read this? --> http://beautyandthebullshit.com/2011/01/11/pencil-pornication/
      VERY interesting stuff... And yet I would *still* rather buy a Chanel lip pencil rather than a NYX one (if I could afford it). Oh well, I guess I'm just brainwashed beyond repair. :)

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    3. Ah yes, I think I remember coming across that post at one point! Thanks for reminding me of the existence of that great blog. For what it's worth, I don't think preferring Chanel over NYX is just brainwashing at work: packaging and aesthetics can really affect how you experience a product. I used to have a couple of Wet n Wild lipsticks, and though the formula was perfectly good, the packaging was so ugly and difficult to work with that I had to get rid of both lipsticks.

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  5. I can't do cat eyes either. My eyes are too deep set and there's no room for the wing. I sometimes use liquid liner (the Kat Von D one is my favorite) and draw the finest of lines as close to my lashes as I can and just end it with a sad little downward tail. Wah-wah. Mostly I use a pencil liner and smudge it with a small pointy pencil brush from the outer corners about three quarters of the way in on my upper lash line. Without it I do feel eyeshadows look unfinished. Arghh eyeliner struggles.

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    1. Arghh indeed! I never noticed how odd my eyelids were until I tried to do a cat eye (though if extra eyelid folds are my worst problem...). I've tried the downward wing, but I find that it makes my eyes look droopy because they're quite round and sleepy-looking already. And thanks for reminding me about the trick of applying liner with a brush! I've done that a few times in the past and liked how much control it gave me.

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  6. I think the Ulta brand gel eyeliners and the Colourpop ones are the beauty world's best kept secrets. So many colors and so creamy and nice. The Colourpop ones are insanely longwearing/smudgeproof. The Ulta ones are also nearly always buy-one-get-one + coupon...

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    1. Ooh, thanks! I'll check both of those out. I was thinking of making a Colourpop order in the next month or two (though the highlighter I wanted is sold out, sob). You mean the pencil and not the gel liner in the little pot, right?

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    2. I love those Ulta ones too! I have a bunch of them.

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  7. Yes, the ones that twist up. If you do try them, a word of caution, they break off easily so keep them as minimally wound up as possible. But there's no other cons!

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  8. I think I probably exhausted myself with eyeliner in my youth, and it seems so time-consuming. Yet it's supposed to be the opposite, somehow?? I have a grand total of two eyeliners currently, both gel pots (this is probably why I think of eyeliner as bothersome), and they rarely, rarely see use. Even in my darkest days I was more on a quest for a really good black eyeshadow than a really good black eyeliner, though.

    I ordered some eyeshadow sticks from Kiko before my wallet curled up and died, I'm excited to try the brand! I'm hoping they're as good as I've been led to believe - either way, I'll definitely review them.

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    1. I'll never stop wishing I had a youth full of makeup mistakes, instead of making all those mistakes in my early/mid-20s in grad school. Did you ever find a really good black eyeshadow, by any chance? I recently acquired the NYX jumbo pencil in Black Bean (my mom bought it for herself but never used it, so it's mine now), and I'm curious to see how it will work as a primer for powder shadows.

      I love one of my Kiko eyeshadow sticks and find the other one very hard to work with, but the range is great overall! Looking forward to your review.

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