Can we talk about black liquid eyeliner? It’s been a while, chiefly because I became a bit bored with the swooshy, Marilyn-style flicks over complex-shadowed lids that are near-ubiquitous on Instagram, and decided to park them for a bit, opting instead for smudgy, smoky, soft dark brown, grey or navy pencil. But a recent rewatch of A Bout De Souffle, starring pixie-cropped, gamine Jean Seberg, reminded me of how wonderfully chic and elegant black flicks can look, and compelled me to reach for the liquid liner.
Your own weapon of choice should be determined by your dexterity and skill level. Liner pens are easier to use, but they’re much quicker to run out or dry out than an old-fashioned liquid and brush (my preference), and so can prove pricey in the long term. In general, I advise novices to start with a pen, then make the switch when comfortable with technique.
The best I tried was the Stila All-Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner pen (£14.50). It has a perfectly skinny nib that doesn’t drag or snag and, crucially, it’s a true, opaque black (harder to find than it should be). It stays put very well, shifting only under a remover or cleanser.
Even more durable is Diego Dalla Palma Water Resistant Eyeliner (£14.50), which delivers on its name and then some (I put it through the shower and it was still perfect). My only complaint was that it took a fair while to dry and I usually have a train to catch.
My overall preference, though, is for a traditional liquid housed in a mascara-type tube, with a dippy-brush. They give me a true black and a sharper line. I tried some real corkers: Mac Liquidlast Liner (£16.50) and Illamasqua Precision Ink (£21) both get two enthusiastic thumbs up.
But I was delighted to find the very best was also the cheapest. Kiko’s Definition Waterproof Eyeliner (£5.50) is, by my criteria, a perfect specimen. It has a super-thin brush that makes the painting of smooth, fluid lines a breeze. It’s as black as coal and dries matte, as liquid liners should (gloss somehow seems to blunt the sharpness of the line, to my eye). Most importantly, it simply does not come off. There was no transfer on to my lids, no smudging at the flick-point. It’s now in my permanent kit.