Black eyeliner is a product that most makeup junkies always have in their makeup bag. It’s simultaneously one of the most boring makeup products out there and one of the most essential for many of us. Seriously, who else has groaned after receiving yet another black eyeliner in a subscription bag? I sure as hell have. It’s not an exciting product, yet we’ve all got that motivation to find out which one is the very best. Today I’m sharing 3 of the best black eyeliner pencils I’ve ever tried (including one from the drugstore!). Shoutout to everyone who voted in my Instagram poll letting me know you wanted to see this!
Disclosure: This post is not sponsored. This post does not contain affiliate links. I purchased all of these products myself with my own money.
If you had asked me what my favorite black eyeliner pencil was a few weeks ago, I probably would’ve rattled off all three of these and told you they were all virtually identical, give or take a few minor details, and that you’d probably be happy with any one of them. In the process of putting together this blog post I realized that there are actually a few important differences between these liners that could definitely impact your purchasing decisions. To make it easier to spot the differences, I’m going to be comparing them across a few different categories: price, format (sharpen or twist up), finish, ease of application (does it glide across the skin, can it make a sharp line), pigmentation, longevity, and water resistance. But before we get into that, I want to start off by giving you a bit of background info.
I have very sensitive eyes, so any eyeliner that drags when I try to apply it is a no-go because it will make my eyes start to water and ruin my makeup. My eyes are also pretty watery in general, partially due to allergies, but it also happens when it’s too bright out, or if the AC is running in the car. (summer is so fun for me hahaha /sarcasm). As a result, these are all pretty water resistant eyeliners. I typically use pencil eyeliners to line my waterline, or I’ll use a small angled brush to darken my lash line. If I’m doing a wing, I typically opt for a liquid eyeliner instead. That should give you a pretty good idea of what I look for in an eyeliner, hopefully that’s helpful in understanding why I like what I like.
Now on to the eyeliners themselves. The ones I’m reviewing today are Marc Jacobs Highliner in Blacquer, Make Up For Ever Aqua XL in M-10, and Rimmel ScandalEyes Waterproof Kohl Kajal. For each category (except price, format, and finish), I’ll be using a scale of 1-5, 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest.
Rimmel ScandalEyes Waterproof Kohl Kajal $3.99
Make Up For Ever Aqua XL in M-10 $21
Marc Jacobs Highliner in Blacquer $25
Rimmel ScandalEyes Waterproof Kohl Kajal: sharpen
Make Up For Ever Aqua XL in M-10: sharpen
Marc Jacobs Highliner in Blacquer: twist up (the full size has a detachable sharpener in the cap that you can use to get a finer tip, however the mini versions don’t have this feature)
I don’t have much of a preference when it comes to pencils. I like not having to worry about digging out a sharpener, but at the same time I like being able to sharpen the pencil to get a finer point. However, I know many people strongly prefer one or the other.
Rimmel ScandalEyes Waterproof Kohl Kajal – Matte
Make Up For Ever Aqua XL in M-10 – Matte
Marc Jacobs Highliner in Blacquer – Satin
Ease of Application
Rimmel ScandalEyes Waterproof Kohl Kajal – 3.5
For some odd reason, this applies much better on the water line than it does on the eyelid. On the eyelid, needs to be built up more to achieve opacity and can look and feel a bit dry. Not a fan of this for the eyelid, but I love it for the waterline. On the waterline it glides easily and doesn’t need to be built up. Since it’s kind of dry, I struggle to create a crisp line with this even though it can be sharpened to a fine tip.
Make Up For Ever Aqua XL in M-10 – 5
This glides on easily and doesn’t need to be built up at all whether it’s applied to the waterline or to the eyelid. It also applies well with a brush. If it’s freshly sharpened I can easily create a crisp line or a wing. This is the clear winner for ease of application.
Marc Jacobs Highliner in Blacquer – 4
This eyeliner is the opposite of the Rimmel eyeliner in the sense that it applies better to the eyelid than it does to the waterline. On the waterline, I need to go over it a few times to get it to be opaque. However, it glides on smoother because of the gel formula, which is why I’m giving it half a point more than the Rimmel eyeliner. It also applies better with a brush than the Rimmel eyeliner does. This eyeliner loses points for needing to be built up on the waterline and because it can be difficult to create a sharp line with it. Unless you’re using a brush to drag the pencil out and create a soft wing, this really isn’t the ideal liner for creating a wing.
Rimmel ScandalEyes Waterproof Kohl Kajal – 4.5
Make Up For Ever Aqua XL in M-10 – 5
Marc Jacobs Highliner in Blacquer – 4.5
The Make Up For Ever pencil is very clearly the most opaque and the darkest black of these eyeliners. The Rimmel and Marc Jacobs liners are about equal, the same is true when they’re built up.
Rimmel ScandalEyes Waterproof Kohl Kajal – 3.8
Make Up For Ever Aqua XL in M-10 – 4.9
Marc Jacobs Highliner in Blacquer – 3
These are all about equal in wear time when I use them on my eyelid, but they do differ on the waterline, so that’s what I’ve based the scores on. When I tested these in my waterline, the Marc Jacobs Highliner faded the fastest, followed by the Rimmel ScandalEyes. The Make Up For Ever eyeliner stuck around the longest.
If you’re only planning on applying them to the eyelid, I would consider them all a 4.9. The wear time on these is really good in comparison to many of the other eyeliners I’ve tried. They last longer than anything else I have in my collection. I’m still reserving that perfect ‘5’ for something that blows my mind.
Rimmel ScandalEyes Waterproof Kohl Kajal – 2.8
Make Up For Ever Aqua XL in M-10 – 4
Marc Jacobs Highliner in Blacquer – 4.8
For this test, I splashed water over the swatches three times, then dragged my hand over them applying medium pressure to simulate the kind of wear and tear the eyeliner would go through during daily wear, crying, and/or rubbing your eyes. I repeated the test by applying water again and using strong pressure when I dragged my hand over the swatches (lol wow my science degree is showing so hard right now, someone get me a lab coat).
Following the first test, Rimmel ScandalEyes showed the most fading and deterioration. The MUFE showed very minimal fading with no noticeable deterioration, while the Marc Jacobs showed virtually no signs of fading or deterioration. After the second test, Rimmel ScandalEyes was noticeably faded. The Marc Jacobs eyeliner looks virtually untouched, and the MUFE liner had started to fade and deteriorate in patches.
Remember how I was talking about how annoying it is to get black eyeliner in a subscription box at the beginning of this post? Well, the funny thing is, my top pick is actually, wait for it, a black eyeliner I got in a subscription box.
The Make Up For Ever Aqua XL eyeliner is the winner for me, but depending on your preferences you might be drawn to the Rimmel ScandalEyes eyeliner or the Marc Jacobs Highliner. They’re all great options that I use on a regular basis, but the MUFE liner is the blackest and most opaque, it applies well to the lid or the waterline, and it performs well when faced with my watery eyes.
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If you enjoyed this post, you might also like my review of the Urban Decay Naked Heat Palette
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