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Here’s What Happened When I Pitted Luxury and Budget Eyeliners Against Each Other

The results were truly eye-opening.

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To see me without liquid eyeliner is to have gained my utmost trust, or to be a member of the same gym as me.

I discovered the transformative power of cat-eye liner as a teen and haven't really altered my makeup since. Instead, I've focused on the quality of the products themselves to level up my makeup game.

Like many other people who are equally addicted to transforming themselves with a thick black line across one's eyelid, I am in search of the perfect liquid eyeliner. So, I tried out 8 different ones, ranging in price from £1.50 to £43, to see how much of a difference there is between liquid eyeliners available on the market.

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* Packaging (Is it pretty and portable?)

* Ease of application (How easy and convenient is it to use?)

* Depth of colour (Is it the same deep black of my soul or a just a faint grey line?)

* Smoothness (The texture of the formula; does it go crusty and flaky?)

* Durability (Does it stay put all day or start migrating across my face or simply disappear?)

* Value for money (Is it worth the money you pay for it?)

Additionally, I didn't wear any primer or eyeshadow with the eyeliners, partially because I am lazy, but mostly not to interfere with the eyeliner's own lasting power. I also didn't retouch any makeup throughout the day.

1. Eyeko Eye Do Liquid Eyeliner, £15.00

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I had big hopes for this eyeliner. It was made in collaboration with Alexa Chung, aka The Cat-Eye Queen. Alexa even shows you how to use it in this makeup tutorial with Lisa Eldridge. The Eyeko brow gel is also a godsend and a daily staple for me, so yeah, you can say I was pretty dang excited about this. I bought this from Selfridges but Eyeko have become a pretty accessible brand and their stuff can be bought on Asos, as well as Space NK and Urban Outfitters.

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Packaging: Really nice! It's very small and fits perfectly into my makeup bag, so it's really portable and convenient. It also has a pun written on the side; "That's where I draw the line." Weak pun game in the world of puns, Alexa, but puns are few and far between in the makeup world, so bonus points for that anyway.

Ease of Application: The pen is really lightweight and the shortness of it makes it really easy to use and gives good precision and control.

Depth of colour: Awful. It was so watery and required so many layers to get a nice deep colour, even after I'd used the eyeliner several times (so it wasn't simply because it was new).

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Smoothness: Really surprisingly flaky. It didn't flake off during the day but during the application. I had to draw on several layers to build up the colour, but previous layers would flake off, which was awful and the process took ages.

Durability: Very disappointing. At around lunch time I had noticed that my right eye looked like I was wearing eyeshadow where the eyeliner had imprinted itself on the eyelid crease. I don't even have particularly oily eyelids or skin, so I imagine this would be an even bigger problem for those that do.

Value for money: It's not cheap and the quality is not great, so no, not great value.

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Overall: A huge disappointment for me. I love the Eyeko eyebrow gel and use it religiously. I had such high expectations for this eyeliner and was so hyped to try it, but the smudging and lack of pigmentation means I won't be using it again.

3/10

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Packaging: I'm not a huge fan of the pot and brush vibe because it gives me unnecessary anxiety relating to eyeliner spillage, and gets eyeliner on my eyelashes.

Ease of application: I feel like I need to apologise to my eyelids. The brush is incredibly fine and made of synthetic bristles, reminiscent of those cheap paint brushes you would get with pound shop kids' watercolour paint sets. Every time I actually made an attempt to draw the line on, it felt like I was stabbing my eye area with a tiny, ineffective sword. The bristles are also too long and flexible, which meant that I didn't even have enough control to take advantage of the fineness of the brush and make a very precise line. Additionally, the product didn't just collect on the bristles but all over the brush, so that by the time I was finished, my eyelashes were coated and gloopy too.

Depth of colour: OK, it was pigmented from the first application (unlike the Eyeko one) and didn't need several layers.

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Smoothness: OK, but hindered by the potentially lethal brush.

Durability: It lasted really well. No rubbing or transfer, and just a little bit of flaking off at the corners after an 8 hour work day plus 2 hours of commuting.

Value for money: Good value if you're looking for an inexpensive way to punish your eyelids.

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Overall: This eyeliner made me regret everything and should be banished back to the circle of hell from which it emerged. Though the formula itself is good, you can definitely get eyeliners with less painful applicators and equally long lasting formulas for a similar price.

4/10

3. Tom Ford Eye Defining Pen, £43

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When I asked the Selfridges sales consultant why this eyeliner costs twice as much all the other high-end eyeliners (and a seemingly infinite amount more than highstreet eyeliners), she said "I don't know, maybe because there are two ends so it's like two eyeliners?" I was then told that if you favour one end of the eyeliner above the other, and it runs out first, your only option is to use the other end because the eyeliners are separate. Then, she asked me if I still wanted it, after all.

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Packaging: It felt sufficiently heavy and large, as well as cold to the touch. Exactly how I imagine rich people feel.

Ease of application: I was sceptical about the two brush ends and annoyed that the product was in two separate compartments for each end. Turns out it's actually a really good idea! I used the thicker end to draw the long initial line along my eyelid and fill in between my eyelashes, and the thinner end to make the flick and the shape (i.e. where more control and a precise line is needed). Also, the brushes themselves are a lot like calligraphy brushes rather than felt-tips, which really makes a difference in terms of control and precision. I should never have doubted you, Mr. Ford.

Depth of colour: Black as my soul, as the depths of hell, as nothingness. Perfect. I love it.

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Durability: Survived a not-especially-cheeky Nando's and two after work gin and tonics. No flaking, and it looked almost the same in the evening as it did when it was first applied - though it didn't quite manage to survive in the inner corner of my eyes. For £43 I'd expect an eyeliner to look exactly the same in the evening as it did in the morning.

Smoothness: It's such a pleasure to put on. When I swatched it on my hand, the liquid ran into the creases of my skin, so I thought maybe it wouldn't be very pigmented. But on the eyelid itself, I think the runniness worked to its advantage because it made to easier to fill in the gaps between my eyelashes. So yes, good.

Value for money: I mean, no. If you want value for money, don't go to Tom Ford. Part of me is trying to justify the fact that this costs double than what most other luxury eyeliners cost by saying that it's essentially just two eyeliners. But honestly, value is definitely not the point of the Tom Ford brand. The point of the Tom Ford brand is to make you feel like Homer Simpson when he plated himself in solid gold.

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Overall: I love it. It doesn't give me superpowers, therefore I find it difficult to justify the price point and I doubt I will repurchase an eyeliner that costs as much as a return flight to Frankfurt. But, if you are literally made of gold then go ahead and treat yourself..

9/10

Lynzy Billing / BuzzFeed

Packaging: Cute and inoffensive.

Ease of application: Good – immediately well-pigmented with no need to shake it or wait for the flow to get thicker. The felt tip was a good length and easy to use, and allowed plenty of control. However, I do have a sneaking suspicion that the felt of the pen will become splayed out quite quickly and lose precision as it isn't very sturdy.

Depth of colour: Not as dark and beautiful as the Tom Ford liner, but is anything? It's still well pigmented and not matte and chalky like many cheaper eyeliners.

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Smoothness: It dried very quickly, so it wasn't super easy to build up the line. However, it didn't actually budge when applied so once it was all on, it still looked even.

Durability: Throughout the day, it lasted really well, even in the corner of my eye where most eyeliner is doomed to become weird gross eye-gunk. It did smudge in the evening, but this is purely due to a walk in an unexpected rain storm. In fact, I was impressed by how much of it did survive the London weather.

Value for money: It's £1.50 and a decent eyeliner. You're going to struggle to find a better deal.

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Overall: This is a good eyeliner, and it even survived a storm. A good eyeliner not just for the pricepoint, but in general. Good job, Primark.

7/10

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Packaging: I don't really like light-coloured packaging because it means it has about a week of being in your makeup bag before bits of other makeup stick to it and make it look dirty. So, not a huge fan.

Ease of application: I was sceptical about how long and tapered the tip of the pen was and assumed it would give me zero control like the Rimmel eyeliner. However, the effect was the complete opposite – it was perfect for drawing a very fine, precise line. But it was also difficult to build up the line and make it thicker towards the end. I couldn't just press down harder, I had to draw several lines to make the flick, like drawing with a biro instead of a paint brush. This is not necessarily bad – I think this eyeliner would be ideal for people that prefer a very fine line or small flick. But I am not one of those people.

Depth of colour: Good, very dark and with a nice glossy sheen.

Lynzy Billing / BuzzFeed

Durability: I tried this eyeliner out on the weekend, on a day I spent doing nothing but cleaning and eating. Even so, I was not impressed. By 4 p.m. a lot of the eyeliner had migrated down my face and the flicks were mere apparitions. I don't think this eyeliner would have fared well on the tube and an eight hour work day.

Smoothness: It dried very quickly which made building it up even harder.

Value for money: It's a pretty good price, but it definitely doesn't exceed my expectations either – for the price point, and just in general.

Overall: This is an OK eyeliner. Definitely not for me and I wouldn't repurchase, but I think what does set it apart form other eyeliners is how fine a line it can produce. If that is what you're looking for, then maybe this is the eyeliner for you. However, the lack of durability is a let down for me.

5/10

6. Seventeen High Drama Liquid Eyeliner, £3.99

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I DREADED this eyeliner. When I swatched it on my hand and let it dry, then ran my finger across it, it smudged like kohl. Maybe this eyeliner's ability to turn the wearer into a panda throughout the day is what made it so ~dramatic~?

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Packaging: Pot and brush eyeliner, my natural enemy. Once again, gloopy eyelashes from the brush.

Ease of application: The nib of the brush itself was good actually, and my eyelashes weren't that gloopy. Not as bad as Rimmel, at least.

Depth of colour: As good as a matte finish can get. Not awfully ashy like the Collection liner (which I review later on). Quite good, really.

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Smoothness: The eyeliner did move a little bit underneath when I applied more layers (this is visible in the first picture). However, nowhere near as problematic as with Eyeko.

Durability: Despite first impressions, really good! I was so surprised. Nothing spectacular, but nothing bad either.

Value for money: A decent eyeliner at a really good price point.

I think this is actually a good eyeliner, for the price. If you prefer a matte finish, and pot and brush type eyeliners, this is the best of the lot.

7/10

7. Charlotte Tilbury The Feline Flick Eyeliner Pen, £22.00

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I have heard so much good stuff about Charlotte Tilbury's products, no less from the woman herself on her Youtube channel. I asked the Selfridges sales consultant what made this eyeliner special, etc, whilst still holding onto the newly-purchased Tom Ford pen. Not wanting her to think I was some sort of weird high-end liner hoarder, I put it into my pocket. She saw this and obviously thought I was some sort high-end liner thief instead, which is a lot worse, really.

Anyway, her sales pitch didn't mention anything particularly unique when it comes to eyeliner benefits; it's supposedly long-lasting and easy to use, etc. I suppose there are only so many things that can make an eyeliner good.

Lynzy Billing / BuzzFeed

Packaging: Do you think the boards of all the high-end makeup brands met up one day and decided that burgundy was more luxe than black for packaging? It's nice, but I was a little disappointed that it felt quite light and plasticy, rather than cold and heavy with wealth and opulence like the Tom Ford liner.

Ease of application: Really easy to use and the felt tip is the perfect size and length to give full control.

Depth of colour: Really good, maybe even as pretty as the Tom Ford liner!

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Smoothness: It was so pleasant to apply and immediately pigmented. It didn't flake during the day.

Durability: Honestly, not that great. There was some smudging on the flicks and considering the price, I wasn't impressed.

Value for money: It was really nice to apply and looked really beautiful on, but ultimately the lasting power just isn't that great. Therefore, you don't really get everything you pay for.

This was super nice to apply and in the morning, I thought this could be my favourite. However, by the evening, with smudgy eyes, I was really rather disappointed. If you are someone that wears liquid eyeliner in the evenings and only for special events, this is for you, but for every day – it just isn't long-lasting enough.

6/10

Lynzy Billing / BuzzFeed

Packaging: Again, not a big fan of pot and brush.

Ease of application: The reason I am not a fan of pot and brush packaging is because when you dip your brush into the pot, it goes all over the dang brush and leaves your eyelashes in a big gloopy mess when you apply it. The brush itself is a good size and shape otherwise.

Depth of colour: It's well pigmented but I HATE how matte this is. A matte eyeliner is so unflattering and ashy.

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Smoothness: Yes, good. It didn't dry too quickly so despite it's matte finish, it was smooth to actually apply.

Durability: It was good except for the liner between my eyelashes/on the top waterline. This stuff flaked off and stuck to my contact lenses, which is absolute hell. But the stuff on my actual eyelid was completely intact.

Value for money: It's super cheap and you get a lot of product which will last you a long time, so I think it's pretty good value for an OK eyeliner.

The Verdict.

I remembered why I stopped wearing this: Although much of the eyeliner stays put throughout the day, any of it between my eyelashes would flake off and float into my eyeball, then stick to my contacts. Consequently I'd spend the day in pain and convinced I had cataracts. Also, I feel that the matte finish looks really dated now. I definitely won't repurchase but I do think it's easy to apply, very long lasting and generally pain-free, if you don't wear contacts. It served me well throughout my teens, so I feel like it's a good liner to start off with when you're just learning.

6.5/10

So, basically, either buy from the very top end or the very bottom, I guess. If money was no object, I would use nothing but the Tom Ford liner. It's so lovely to apply and the two brush ends are ingenious. However, as I don't have a swimming pool full of gold coins, I just can't justify the price. My second favourite was actually the Primark eyeliner – it was easy to apply and a good overall liner. I also did really enjoy the Charlotte Tilbury liner, and I'm sure some primer would make it last much longer.

The biggest disappointment for me was Eyeko. The product has a loyal legion of fans and I do wonder if perhaps there is something wrong with me, not the eyeliner. However, since first trying it I've used it several more times, and I've just been disappointed each time. It isn't easy to apply, not pigmented enough and nowhere near long-lasting enough.

The main thing I learnt is that unlike with many other makeup products, such as foundation or eyeshadow, it isn't just the formula and the quality of the ingredients that make it good. It also depends on the brush and the applicator it comes with and your own personal way of applying liner. What's most important is know what kind of line you like and look for an eyeliner based on that preference. Expensive brands can be great, but if you know what you're looking for, you can find the right product on the cheap shelves too.

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