What do you like about pencil eyeliner? What don't you like?

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Pencil Eyeliner

Pretty much all raves for me since it’s my go-to formula for eyeliner! I love the variety of colors, that it doesn’t dry out very quickly, and how it’s comfortable and more foolproof to apply.

— Christine


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Renee Avatar

I like liners to be rich, precise, yet not too greasy. I have a nearly new MAC liner that I just cannot get to work!! It drags! I even tried the old trick of making the liner warm and it still won’t budge. I suspect I just bought a very old one. Usually, I buy online. This was a rare exception of buying at a dept store, NOT a MAC bar/flagship store. That was a mistake.

Ana Maria Avatar

What formula of MAC liner you tried? The Powerpoint and Pro Longwear pencils are quite creamy and once sharpened mine are not dry / dragging even after 2-3 years. The classic Eye Pencil and Eye Kohl are on the dryer / stiffer side, so they usually tend to drag; they’re great for precise lining, but not for smudging.

I personally also had bad experiences with purchasing from department stores. Usually, if I get products directly from a MAC store or online, the batch code traces back at most 1 year before the current date. If I order from other stores (e.g. Macy’s) or go to MAC counters from department stores… let’s say I got batch codes 2-3 years back. And theoretically make-up is in best shape 3 year after manufacturing.
But it also depends on how the product is stored, not only the date. For example, from my experience products purchased from Sephora or Macy’s tend to be `older` and become `older` faster. If I purchase products directly from the brand, same product tends to stay `fresh` a longer time; ABH (and brow) products are the ones I see the biggest difference. In term of eye liners, the Marc Jacobs Highliner purchased from Sephora is a hit or a miss; I got ones that where creamy for 2 years, ones that dried out in 4 months; if I buy them from a duty free, they’re always `fresh`.

Seraphine Avatar

Pencils are the only kind of eyeliner I use, so it’s pretty much all raves. My go-tos are UD 24/7 and Marc Jacobs Highliners. I also sometimes use Laura Mercier Caviar Sticks on my lower lash line. They actually stay in place better than anything else, but are a bit trickier because they’re not as thin as 24/7 or Highliners.

Nancy T Avatar

Love pencil liners in various colors for my lower lashline mostly, but sometimes for my upper lashline smudged as a diffused kitten flick. My other favorite use of pencil liners is to use a super waterproof richest black to tightline my upper lashline. This step has made one of the biggest impacts on my eye makeup looks, as it gives the illusion of thicker, fuller lashes, plus it aids in holding a curl, too!

My only dislike is that after sharpening, there may be some jagged edges on the barrel. If I could find a pencil sharpener that eliminates that issue, I’d sure be a happier camper!

Wednesday Avatar

Hi Maggie: I purchased mine on Amazon. I believe it was either a L’oreal or Quo brand. I zoomed in on the blade on-line and verified after purchase it was indeed made in Germany. This was a tip I read ages ago as an anecdote from someone on Temptalia, if I recall correctly.

I also really like my Zoeva pencil sharpener which came with an LE offering.

bridget Avatar

Hey Nancy, I think it was after reading your comment somewhere that I went and bought a sephora pencil eyeliner in the color Sangria (dark plum). It’s been my every day go-to liner since. It really brings out the green in my brown-green eyes 🙂

I usually read your comments very carefully because you always end up teaching me something about makeup

Iris Avatar

I don’t look good in eyeliner, so it’s all a pass for me. I often wonder how people put up with all the product waste that comes from sharpening pencils. I guess if you like the result it’s worth it?

Ana Maria Avatar

*Note: Love that you used the 24/7 eyeliners in the picture, they’re probably the crowd favorite. 😀

My go-to formula is definitely liquid eye liner (with a felt tip). It looks better on me. But it also requires more time and attention.
What I love about pencil eyeliner is that if I make a mistake, I can just smudge it and call it a look. 😆 They’re great for traveling, because they take a tiny space, I can apply without tools (I can smudge them with my finger if I need) and they don’t count as liquid. I personally like only the `classic` pencils, not the ones that are meant to apply all over the lid.
And can we talk about the wonder of a nude eye pencil in the waterline? Instant brightness! My only rant is that finding the perfect nude is hard (didn’t find one yet), but I keep trying). And although I like a more creamy pencil on the eye lid, for the waterline I like something more… hard… but not hard to the point it’s harsh on that sensitive area.
It’s quite easy to make a good pencil eyeliner, there are plenty options, both dirty cheap and expensive. For a creamy formula, I do love the application and staying power of the Urban Decay 24/7 Glide On or Marc Jacobs Highliner; but if you don’t want to splurge, the Sephora Contour Eye Pencil is almost just as good.
Although I’m a mostly brown eye pencil girl, I do appreciate the color selection available.
Yes… some pencils do need to be sharpened, and some sharpen awfully… but sometimes that’s more a rant on the sharpener than the pencil.
I wish more brands had mini sizes for their pencils, especially the very colorful ones. I can barely finish my black and brown one, I would love to be able to purchase a dark green, blue and purple in mini.

Alexis Avatar

I can’t agree more! I use black as my everyday go-to but I would love to get some mini eyeliner pencils in fun colors like pink, blue, orange and green

Mariella Avatar

I much prefer it to gel or other more liquid forms because of the softer, more “smudgy/smoky” look I get. What I don’t like is either sharpening (so much waste, so hard to get a good point) or the tiny amount of product that you get with a twist up pencil.

Jess Avatar

I like it but the only one that never smeared on me was Avon Glimmer sticks. Every other one I’ve ever tried just smeared and disappeared, even ones marketed as waterproof. The joys of having oily skin.

AJ Avatar

Rave: Everything Christine said for raves! I’ll also add that a pencil liner in a fun color is just a really easy way to add an extra OOMPH to a look.

Rant: I don’t like when a pencil has a really stiff formula and is difficult to apply. I don’t like it when a product looks like a pencil but it actually has a twist-up bottom and then there’s no easy way to sharpen the point, you have to kind of rub it against something to get a nice point, and that’s annoying and time consuming.

Jill Avatar

Everything you said, Christine, same for me. I like that I can smoke out a liner or leave it as a line, it’s a lot more forgiving of texture in my eyelids and the fact that I stink at applying liquid liner. The only drawbacks: some fade too fast, some aren’t transfer resistant even though they always say that they are, and some are really expensive–but at least I get my money’s worth because unlike a lot of other makeup I own they never go to waste.

Anne Avatar

I’m not that fond of them. I’ve found a few exceptions over the years, but generally they pull (I have sensitive eyes), dry out, require too much sharpening and can be really expensive for what you get. Ahh, but every now and then, I gotta buy that perfect purple pencil — when I can find it.

Susan Nevling Avatar

I only use pencil and gel eyeliner. My hands aren’t steady enough to use liquid due to nerve damage.
The only brands I use are UD and Marc Jacobs Hiliners. Love them both.
Someone mentioned a problem with sharpening. I use the Grinder from UD and empty it frequently. They last a long time for me.

Amy Avatar

Pencil eyeliner is my favorite makeup. I have many colors – everything but black – and use all of them depending on whim and the day’s outfit. I love UD 24/7; it’s pretty much the only cosmetic I routinely use up (in certain colors) though I have a few others I like as well. I prefer pencils you have to sharpen like the 24/7’s because they are softer and go on better, are smudgeable and can be sharpened to a nice point; the convenience of a retractable pencil is not worth the hardness. (NB I am not a young woman and am quite fair with very blond lashes and brows – no black for me.)

Genevieve Avatar

If I were seriously into eyeliner (and I would be if I didn’t have hooded eyes), then pencils would be the way to go. Like you Christine, I love all the colours and there are so many good brands to choose from too. I think the UD 24/7 series was one of the best, with Sephora’s own line pretty good. And I always loved it when you wore the MJ Peridot shade. The Laura Mercier Caviar sticks are gorgeous as well.

bibi Avatar

I love pencil eyeliners! They are so minimum effort with maximum results.
I am heartbroken that Elizabeth Arden changed their Smokey Eyes Powder Eye Pencil from the original easy to apply & smudgeable but longlasting formula to a hard, waxy mess.
My biggest complaint is with pencil sharpeners – either unexpectedly opening and spewing pencil shavings and color product everywhere or leaving jagged edges on the pencil – OUCH!

Alexis Avatar

I to love a good pencil eyeliner. Definitely have to agree that UD 24/7 is one of the best out there. I just remembered that I have a sample of MJ Highlighner that I really want to try. I recently bought the Kylie Cosmetics Pencil “Kyliner.” It was great for a few days and after I sharpened it For the first time, it completely dried out! I cut off the entire tip and re-sharpened and it was still dry. I love UD staying power and ease of application. It’s really good for beginners and advanced application comfort levels

She Avatar

I only like Urban Decay (when on sale) and NYX. I like the super glidey ones with a wood pencil. UD and NYX last forever and never dry out. I won’t buy the plastic kind you sharpen. Many dry out which makes it unpleasant to work with. I don’t mind sharpening unless the wood is very brittle then brakes and likely catches/scratches my skin/eye. I got the yellow Colourpop liner because I saw someone else use it and it looked super pigmented. But mine isn’t at all pigmented- it’s like sheer yellow. So, no pigment, no purchase.

Kuávsui Avatar

I prefer pencil formulas over any other! They come in so many different colours and finishes, there’s so many good formulas at all price points and they are so versatile on the eyes. The only thing I hate is sharpening, and tend to go for retractable versions 🙂

Nyxx Avatar

I gave up on pencil liners a while ago. they always seem to smear on me. Now I use eye shadow in the waterline and to smoke it out under the waterline as well. If I am doing a cat eye I will use a liquid liner on the upper lash line.

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