High-End vs. Low-End: Liquid Liner Pen Edition

What’s the cost of the perfect cat eye?
Publish date:
August 28, 2015
mac, cat eyes, liquid liners, Stila, maybelline, winged eyeliner, jordana, lorac

The cat eye is my favorite eyeliner style and the look I go for the most on a day-to-day basis. I love the way liquid liner looks in this capacity and find that a pen format is the easiest way for me to achieve the perfect wings.

For a long time, I’ve been loyal to the Jordana FabuLiner Liquid Liner pen, but I decided to give some other brands a try as well.

This one has been the OG for me for a minute now, but I have noticed that recently it hasn't been performing as well as it used to.

It goes on pretty black, which I like, but you do have to be quick about getting your liner the way you want it because it dries very fast. I've also noticed that after more than a couple of passes, it seems to create a weird crust. For it only being three bucks though, it does serve its purpose.

I also like that the tip itself is long enough that I can see what I'm doing and it's not so stiff that it's dragging across my lid.

Overall score: 3 winks

Maybelline Eye Studio Master Precise Ink Pen Eyeliner, $7.99

Of the all of the black liquid liner pens that I have tried, this is actually the darkest. The formula is also the wettest, so it takes a little bit of time to set, but the wetness of it allows for a little bit more play time in terms of getting your wing just right. I didn't find that I had issues with crustiness with this either.

My only complaint is that it's not as budge-proof as I would expect it to be. It's such a nice inky black, but I find that when my eyes water it fades a little along the underside of my wing.

Overall score: 4.5 winks

MAC Penultimate Eye Liner, $21

I am a big MAC fan, but this pen wasn't entirely what I was hoping for. It took me a couple of passes to get it to a inky black, but it wasn't super-dry either, so that's nice.

This definitely had some major staying power, though. I wore it through a workout (I didn't have time to wash my face before hitting the gym) and while everything else slid off my face, this remained bulletproof.

The tip is what made me not like this pen as much because it was so short that I couldn't see what I was doing when I was doing my left eye (I'm right-handed).

Overall score: 3 winks

Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Liner, $22

This liner seems to be a fan favorite around here, so I definitely had to give it a shot. The first couple of uses were great; a nice, consistent black, smooth application, and bulletproof staying power. However, I noticed after about three uses, my pen seemed to get a bit drier. I double-checked to make sure the cap was completely closed, and I can’t call it operator error.

It is still workable and definitely still strong in the stay-put department, but it’s definitely not my favorite in terms of application.

Overall score: 4 winks

LORAC Front Of the Line Pro Liquid Eyeliner, $23

I couldn’t get my hands on Black, but I tried it in Charcoal, and man, is it good! The formula is not too wet, not too dry. Application is super-smooth and it doesn’t get chunky if you add more too it.

Most importantly, it does not budge! I had to bust out the coconut oil to get it off my eyes as my normal remover was not doing the trick. This liner would have gotten 5 winks if I had been able to try it in black and could vouch for the shade itself.

Overall score: 4.5 winks

Here's a swatch of what they all look like stacked up next to each other:

What I've gathered from my brief experiment here is that there is really not a huge difference overall between high-end and low-end liquid liners (at least in the case of the ones I tried). Each has their pros and their cons—you just have to make the decision as to what's most important to you.

Since I wear liquid liner on the regular I would probably pick the Maybelline overall because it is the best in all categories besides longevity (and I can deal with a little minimal fading).

Did your favorite make the list? Do you prefer high end or drugstore liquid liner pens?