Black is Black is Black?
Black Eyeliner Comparisons
Are there shades of black? Indeed there are! Not every black eyeliner is the same. There are soft blacks, medium blacks, and deep blacks (and of course, variations within those categories). To try and make some sense of it all, I’m going to assign numerical ratings based on how black each liner is, with 10 being deep, dark black, 1 meaning so light that it’s almost no longer black, and 5 meaning a medium black.
- Shiseido Black Noir (BK 901) Smoothing Eyeliner Pencil has an amazing creaminess to it, and it is almost a true, deep black. (Review) 9
- MAC Black Black Chromagraphic Pencil some creaminess but has some hardness (but not in a bad way–it’s not rough on eyes at all), and it is a true dark black — leans on the warm side. (Review) 10
- MAC Feline Kohl Power is a rich, deep dark black that’s easy to smudge. It is a limited edition product, so it’s not currently available but is often repromoted. (Review) 10
- Urban Decay Perversion 24/7 Liner is a rich, deep dark black–creamy without being runny. (Review) 10
- Urban Decay Zero 24/7 Liner is a softened, medium black. It is a slightly warmer black on me. (Review) 4
- MAC Engraved Powerpoint Eye Pencil is a darkened medium black. 6
- MAC Smolder Eye Kohl is a dark black with cool leanings. 8
- MAC Graphblack Technakohl is a medium black. 5
- Milani Black Liquif’Eye Liner is a dark black with a cool pull. (Review) 8
- Stila Stingray Smudge Stick is a dark black with neutral to cool undertones. (Review) 8
- YSL #1 Eye Pencil is a rich black, almost ultra black, with a very matte finish. (Review) 9
- Bobbi Brown Black Kohl Eye Liner is a rich, glossy black. The glossiness makes it look less inky, though. (Review) 8
- Benefit BADgal Liner is a creamy, dark black with warm leanings. (Review) 8
I included review links when I had them to share, but I had some wear issues with YSL’s #1 Eyeliner, Bobbi Brown’s Black Kohl Eyeliner, and Benefit’s BADgal.
The darkest: MAC Black Black Chromagraphic Pencil, MAC Feline Kohl Power, Urban Decay Perversion 24/7 Liner
Dark: Shiseido Black Noir Smoothing Eyeliner Pencil, YSL #1 Eye Pencil
Medium-dark: MAC Smolder Eye Kohl, Milani Black Liquif’Eye Liner, Stila Stingray Smudge Stick, Bobbi Brown Black Kohl Eye Liner, Benefit BADgal Liner
Medium: MAC Engraved Powerpoint Eye Pencil, MAC Graphblack Technakohl
The lightest: Urban Decay Zero 24/7 Liner
Bobbi Brown Black Velvet Kohl Eyeliners: Black Plum, Black Chocolate, Black
When the River Runs Black Velvet
Bobbi Brown Kohl Eye Liners ($22.00 for 0.04 oz.) are a new and limited edition eyeliner from the fall Black Velvet Collection. It comes in three shades: Black Plum, Black Chocolate, Black. Bobbi Brown describes them as a “silky-smooth formula [that] delivers dense, even and blendable pigment.”
- Black Plum is a rich, earthy plum with subtle red undertones. I love that it’s really quite plum and doesn’t lean burgundy.
- Black Chocolate is a deep dark chocolate brown.
- Black is a blue-based rich black.
At first application, I loved the smoothness of the formula, softness of the pencil, and rich color achieved without a lot of a layering. Unfortunately, that rich color doesn’t last past lunch for me. If lunch was 20 minutes away. I tried wearing these in several ways – on the waterline, on the lower lash line, both. I thought perhaps they weren’t cut out for the waterline and by putting it there was causing the rest of it to migrate, too, so I tried just the lower lash line, staying away from the waterline entirely.
The results were the same–barely there color within an hour or two, but it was already noticeably migrating and disappearing within fifteen minutes. What seems to happen is the liner fades away except right at the base of the lashes, so it’s a very thin line of color that lasts.
I was so particularly frustrated, because the liner looked so amazing as part of the look I did for the day, but by the time I finished my foundation and slicked my lip color on… I could already tell there was something wrong. It’s like when you do laundry and there’s always a sock that’s gone missing–you don’t know where it went but yet it’s gone. I know I put a nice line of kohl on my lower lash line, but by the time I take photos to show you all, it’s half gone!
I’m so frustrated by the lack of staying power, because these have such a lovely texture/finish. They’re so rich and opaque and don’t require a lot of building to get there. They have a harder edge than many other pencil eyeliners, but it doesn’t feel harsh on the lash line; it almost melts against the skin as you apply the color. And I so, so dig the color of Black Plum.
Like any product that has a tendency to crease on its own, setting with a powder (like an eyeshadow) will help greatly, but it can also alter the color. You could also try a sealing product like Benefit’s She-Laq. Not that you should have to do that with the right eye liner, but nevertheless, sometimes we can’t let a color go and insist on discovering ways to Make. It. Work.
These are a brand new product, and I haven’t seen any other reviews for these yet, so I am incredibly curious to see what others experience. Maybe I’m just the unfortunate minority here that yearns to love these but can’t!
They’re not as bad as NARS’ Eye Pencils were on me, which didn’t just fade away, but took on a new life by smudging and migrating everywhere (and somehow, even getting on my lid from my lower lash line!). I’m torn on rating these, because on one hand, they feel and look amazing, but then they don’t last well on me at all. At least these just disappear and don’t give me raccoon eyes!
Have you tried these yet?
If you want to know more about how products are evaluated, read out Rating System FAQ!
- Product: 19/30
- Value: 7/10
- Ease of Use: 4/5
- Packaging: 4/5
RECOMMENDATION: Is it bad that I really just hope it’s me that can’t get these to stay put? I want these to work for someone! I can’t personally recommend the new kohl eyeliners based on my experience. If you purchase from a store with a health return policy and don’t mind being a guinea pig, I did really enjoy the texture and consistency of the kohl.
AVAILABILITY: Bobbi Brown