Eyeliner: Gel, liquid or pencil?

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I remember purchasing my first ever makeup product at the age of 11. Yup you guessed it, it was an eyeliner, more specifically a black kohl pencil from Boots. I remember even more vividly the first time I put it on. Excitement quickly turned to disappointment when the world’s smudgiest pair of panda eyes stared back at me in the mirror. I like to think that my makeup techniques have improved by leaps and bounds since then, but eyeliner remains one of my favourite makeup products to date.

So, the age old dilemma – which kind of eyeliner do I use? Amidst the wild and wacky trends that have emerged on the catwalk over time, three main types predominate – gel, liquid and pencil. I will be discussing the pros and cons of all three in this post, as well as my personal experiences and struggles with eyeliner (besides panda eyes).

Gel/liquid: Sharp, precise, clean.

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Those are the words that spring to mind when I think of gel/liquid eyeliner. A perfect flick on the top lid with zero smudge. This is ideal for a bold look that is both sassy and modern. Don’t limit it to strictly nights-out-only though, it can look just as good as a daytime/work look. Just keep the wing shorter and thinner, and pair with a nude lip. Personally, I started experimenting with liquid liner fairly late. It does take time and practice to master, but acts like a red lipstick for the eyes – it’s that one product that instantly pulls the face together.

“What is the difference between gel and liquid eyeliner?”, I hear you cry. The gel formula is simply thicker and more viscous than liquid. It usually comes in a pot whilst liquid comes in a pen. Gel tends to apply more smoothly with less drag on the lid and is more forgiving than liquid in this aspect, which is why I tend to lean towards gel eyeliners if I have to use anything other than pencil (yes, I am biased). People do have different preferences, and it really is a trial and error process of finding out what works best for you. For both types, a good technique is to rest your elbow on a stable surface and the base of your palm against your cheek whilst applying.  This was my key to creating a reasonably straight line on my top lid rather than looking like I’d tried to do my makeup with a Sharpie after 5 glasses of wine.

 Pencil: Soft, warm, come-hither eyes.

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This is not to say that gel/liquid eyeliners can’t give you come-hither eyes. Personally, pencil eyeliners are my favourite and definitely my go-to when I am running late but need to look presentable.  I find pencil much easier to work with in the way that it is so blendable, and creates a more natural, shadowy look. For a night out, I am a huge fan of the smokey eye look, which can be created very easily with a pencil liner. For everyday purposes, I tend to smudge a little on my top lid and the outer 2/3 of my bottom lid. The key here is to keep the liner right on the lash line. Putting it too close to the waterline can make the eye appear smaller by drawing the outline of the eye higher up and into the eye. Dot the liner between the bottom lashes in short, outward strokes. The goal here is to create the illusion of fuller bottom lashes, which frames the eye better, rather than a solid line. This gives a more natural, wearable look that enhances your natural eye shape and features.

Now it’s all down to you. Go forth and line those eyes. Let me know in the comments if you have any favourite products or tips and tricks that we can all learn from. You go girl.

– J

J’s Eyeliner Picks

Urban Decay 24/7 Glide On Eye Pencil. Said to be the stuff of legends for the waterline.
Clinique’s Quickliner Eye Pencil. Twist-up is always a good idea if you’re clumsier like me and you’d easily smush the pencil against the edge of the lid in a hurry. Not gonna lie, the smudger at the other end does it for me.
Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner. A beauty classic – every modern woman needs a bit of Stila in her handbag.
Maybelline Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner. Get yourself an angled eyeliner brush and you’re good to go. Maybelline is up there when it comes to trusty eye makeup.

8 Comments on “Eyeliner: Gel, liquid or pencil?”

  1. To be honest I am not very good with gel eyeliner and I don’t know why because I am doing ok with the liquid one – so the second will stay my favourite. Thanks for sharing

    1. Haha I’m the complete opposite, pencil is so much less stressful for me! And thank you my lovely, that’s so kind of you and you’ve literally just made my day. Heading over to your blog right now xx

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