Loving Liner

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If you have been visiting my blog for a long time, you will see that I love me some liquid liner.  I love the crisp black line, I love how it makes my brown eyes have more impact, makes my average lashes look lush, love how liquid is less likely to smear when I rub my allergy-prone eyes and it's less likely to run or flake and irritate my contacts-wearing eyes.

I also like it because I can actually do it.

I haven't worn pencil liner since my freshman year of college, and back then I used to take a Maybelline kohl linerir?t=whaevewomneei 20&l=btl&camp=213689&creative=392969&o=1&a=B001126Z1E in black and run it along the inner rims of my eyes – top and bottom.  If it got smeary, that's fine.  Then I would gob on the Max Factor 2000 Calorieir?t=whaevewomneei 20&l=btl&camp=213689&creative=392969&o=1&a=B001DNE590, add some Revlon Coffee Bean lipstickir?t=whaevewomneei 20&l=btl&camp=213689&creative=392969&o=1&a=B001G7PMKE and call it a day.  But then, I had half my head shaved, wore Doc Martens 99% of the time and when you're 18 you can get away with a heck of a lot more.

Allie Black Liner
Sorority Bid Day, Angst-ridden Winona-wannabe High Schooler, High School Senior Year Yearbook Photo.  All with various intensities of black kohl liner

I don't wear pencil liner because I can't get it to look good.  I always look as though I applied it drunk while riding on a school bus down a rural road.  I try a sharp point, warming the pencil, making dots and then connecting them, starting from the outer corners, using a Q-tip and every other tip they have in Allure magazine.  I always look a mess.

I started trying liquid liner in college.  My sophomore year roomate used it and she always looked so polished.  I bought some L'Oreal liner and found it surprisingly easy.  It worked like a Sharpie for me – close that one eye, draw, done.  I remember practicing in my mirror – try holding the lid taut, try dotting it on, maybe a swoop at the edges for a cat eye effect… I did a lot of practice knowing how much pressure to use to get a nice line.

The L'Oreal liner was eventually discontinued and I switched to Maybelline's UltraLinerir?t=whaevewomneei 20&l=btl&camp=213689&creative=392969&o=1&a=B000052WYNMaybelline's UltraLinerir?t=whaevewomneei 20&l=btl&camp=213689&creative=392969&o=1&a=B000TNOUUO gave me a great shiny, solid black line.  A nice clean, polished look that I loved to wear with glossy pale lips and my Rachel hair-do.  I liked a thicker line, and a look that would work through a double shift and a night at a bar and UltraLinerir?t=whaevewomneei 20&l=btl&camp=213689&creative=392969&o=1&a=B000052WYN got the job done.

I got a makeover at the Trish McEvoy counter like a decade ago and they taught me how I can use dark shadow and a stiff brush and use that combo to line my eyes.  After that I never again tried classic pencil eye liners.  I was a huge fan of this, trying different colors and types of brushes for the right effect.  I would even wet the brush to get a darker line, similar to a liquid liner but not as harsh.

For the past decade, I have switched between a subtle smokey eye of various hues with using eye shadows as liner, contour and color; and liquid liner with a pretty neutral lid.  And I have pretty much stuck with Maybelline UltraLinerir?t=whaevewomneei 20&l=btl&camp=213689&creative=392969&o=1&a=B000052WYN.  I found other liquid liners to not be as thick of a formula and would end up making uneven lines, thin translucent lines, would get caught in thin skin and make a mistake.  The felt-tip style pens always seemed rough on my lids, I preferred the brush styles because they would glide.  UltraLinerir?t=whaevewomneei 20&l=btl&camp=213689&creative=392969&o=1&a=B000TNOUUO is thick like paint so it didn't dribble and I could get the look I desired with one stroke.

Bare Escentuals Buxom Liner Leatherette

Lately I have been wanting to use products that aren't as chemical-laden as before.  Wanting a “healthy” liquid liner is hard.  I was trying to make do with a wet brush and black shadow, but found that when I had itchy eyes or teared up at a Kodak commercial I ended up looking like Tammy Faye.  I had tried cream or gel liners before (some department store brands, L'Oreal H.I.Pir?t=whaevewomneei 20&l=btl&camp=213689&creative=392969&o=1&a=B001H99YZ0) and always found them messy.   I decided to try  Bare Escentuals' Buxom Linerir?t=whaevewomneei 20&l=btl&camp=213689&creative=392969&o=1&a=B002HM5CKW because I like the brand, and I know theyir?t=whaevewomneei 20&l=btl&camp=213689&creative=392969&o=1&a=B002HM5CKW don't use quite as many scary chemicals as other brands.  Might as well try…

I tried a liner brush I once got free in a Sephora brush kitir?t=whaevewomneei 20&l=btl&camp=213689&creative=392969&o=1&a=B000K73CNK and it made a total mess and I hated the product.  Switched to an old lip liner brush from Garden Botanika (tres old – I worked there for the 1995 Christmas season!) and found love.  The stiffer brush helped me get a straight line with first swipe.

I apply my shadow, and then curl and coat my lashes with mascara.  By curling my lashes and applying mascara, my lashes are pulled away from my lid so I have a bit of a ridge between lashes and lid where the liner can fit.  I tap the brush into the potir?t=whaevewomneei 20&l=btl&camp=213689&creative=392969&o=1&a=B002HM5CKW, then wipe it along the rim so that the brush has a good coating, but is pressed thin and flat.  I close my lid and follow the lash line.  I start in the center of the lid and work to the outer corner.  Then I come back and make a thin line near the inner corner (though not quite that deep) and graduate to match the medium sized line in the center of the eye.  I always do better on my right eye because I am right handed.  I do the right eye first so I can look at it for reference and inspiration.  The left eye is a bit more dotting and filling in the dots and then smoothing with the brush to have it match the right eye.  Right eye I could do without a mirror, left eye there's no way in heck I could.

So anyway, there's the history of my love affair with liner!  Hope it helps and let me know if I can add any more details!

A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. I tried the Maybelline Ultraliner and couldn’t get it to work for me. I like my pencil liners but sometimes would like to have the look of liquid liner. I have a smashbox pot but couldn’t get the stiff square brush to work for me – maybe I’ll get it back out and try again with a lipliner brush! If you get time a pictorial would be awesome!

  2. Thank you, thank you! I use the smashbox version of this sort of eyeliner, and the eyeliner brush simply is difficult for me (because it’s long enough for error). The lip style brush would work so much easier for me, since I use that style to paint small details on canvas all the time! You rock!

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