Waterproof eyeliner: it kind of sounds too good to be true.There are many sooty black liners on the market that claim not to smudge come hell or high humidity, but do they really work? And, along those lines, will they come off at the end of the day when we need them to…or will we scrub in vain, only to wake up with raccoon eyes the next day?
Looking to get some answers, we tapped three staffers to give a few new formulas a quick spin. To see if the sticks really stand the test, we sprayed their pretty mugs with five spritzes of water from a small spray bottle, and then had them squeeze their eyes shut (they loved it! Just kidding). Which liners stayed put, and which went haywire? Scroll through to find out!
Who: Jessica Teves, managing editor
The Contender: Sephora 12 Hour Wear Waterproof Contour Eye Pencil in Black Lace
“This liner was fairly easy to apply, but I found it to be almost too creamy — I can see how someone could easily over-apply. That said, the consistency did make it feel ultra-moisturizing and I thoroughly appreciated the old-school pencil design. (For some reason, I enjoy the act of sharpening a pencil. None of this twisty nonsense for me.) Also, I should mention, I have really sensitive eyes that are easily prone to allergies, and this particular brand did not affect them at all.
“The shade was very black! Almost too dark for my taste, but after a few hours, I came to sort of appreciate the dramatic look. Maybe, just maybe, I could get used to it.”
“When I was sprayed with water, the eyeliner did smudge quite a bit. In fact, I felt like it was all over my face, and not just near my eyes. Not sure how that even happened, but I felt like a hot mess.”
“Removing this stuff was a process! I think it literally took 10 minutes to remove all remnants of this liner — and then, when I awoke in the morning, I still had some on my eyes. So, not cool, but let’s just leave it at this: This liner has serious staying power.”
$9, available at Sephora.
Who: Sharon Yi, assistant managing editor
The Contender: Jane Cosmetics Eyeliner
“When I skip my eye makeup, I look one of two things: deathly ill, or 19 years old — neither of which I’m going for. So, even if I skip everything else, I dutifully go through my lengthy eye makeup process. I absolutely have to use Too Faced Shadow Insurance to combat my oily lids, otherwise my eyeliner ends up all over my face in minutes — seriously. Then, I do a slight wash of light brown shadow.”
“I have monolids, which only bother me when it comes to applying eyeliner, because you can’t see the first centimeter of the liner when I’m smiling, so I have to draw it on really thick. That’s why I usually go for a black winged tip, using Maybelline Eye Studio Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner, followed by a lash curler and mascara.”
“I’m familiar with Jane cosmetics, but I’ve never tried it up until now. Unlike many other cheapie eye pencils, this eyeliner went on smoothly, and was surprisingly pigmented! I never stray from black when it comes to liners, since I need all the definition I can get. With this, I only needed to go over the line once to get the jet black color I love.
“Friends, I can’t believe I’ve found a water-resistant makeup product that’s actually water-resistant! After the water spritz, it didn’t smudge in the slightest, It’s water-resistant, super-pigmented, and has a smooth application. Did I mention it’s a mechanical pencil with a swivel-up applicator — all for less than $7? I think I found my new go-to.”
$6.99, available at Jane Cosmetics.
Who: Amanda Saviñón, photo assistant
The Contender: Kat Von D Autograph Waterproof Pencil in True Amor
“I wear eyeliner occasionally, mainly when I don’t have enough energy or time to do my makeup. I use Essence liquid eyeliner because it really does not come off until you want it to! This eyeliner was not as easy for me to apply, mainly because it was too messy. When I began to apply it, by mistake I’d lightly bump my eyelid, and it would smudge. I’m also not used to pencil eyeliners, so that might be why I had such a difficult time. The shade was grayish, but it did seem to have the potential of getting darker, had I spent more time applying it.”
“Thankfully, the eyeliner did not smudge when I was sprayed with water; it stayed right in place, and did not run into my eye creases.”
“At the end of the day, I was relieved when I washed my face, because the eyeliner came right off. I am very careful when washing around my eyes, and this eyeliner did not give me a problem.”
$10, available at Sephora.
Photographed by Alexandra R. Gavillet,
Illustrated by Ammiel Mendoza
Click HERE to read more from Refinery29.