FACE OFF : Liner Stylos, Round One

FACE OFF

Who doesn’t love a great pen-style eyeliner? No one, that’s who. But I have a hard time finding ones I consider “great,” because I prefer matte, I need opacity, I demand long wear, and I have sensitive eye skin that gets irritated at an ingredient in a lot of them. Today, two more episodes of cosmetic risk-taking! LET’S SEE WHAT HAPPENS.

THE CONTENDERS : 

TARTE SEX KITTEN : $20 /.047oz at Ulta. This one has the advantage of a rather adorable package with a KITTY HEAD on the cap, ooooo. It’s also twenty bucks, which is a lot of scratch (heh) for an eyeliner pen of unknown length of usability. I just got this so it’ll be many weeks or (hopefully) months before I know how long it lasts before drying out. I will say that the cap requires a pretty forceful pull to remove, so that bodes well.

WET N WILD PRO LINE : $3.99 / .017oz at Ulta. This one has the advantage of being unusually petite — with a slim girth and a length just a shade over four inches (versus over five and a quarter for the Tarte, and 5 for NYX Epic Ink), you’re much more likely to be able to jam this one into your purse-makeup bag / tiny clutch / zippy wallet for overnights or touch-ups. On the other hand, it contains just a little over a third the amount of actual product as the Tarte (also compare to Epic Ink’s .03oz).

HOT TIPS, LOL : 

Both of these have a nicely pointed felt tip. If you’re inclined to do very, verrrry thin lines and often have trouble with achieving both “skinny” and “neat”? Sex Kitten might be worth your consideration, as its point is fine as hell. If you tend to do fat lines and big wings, note that this will require additional “coloring-in” time. 

HOW BLACK ARE THEY THO?

Both of these have a slight sheen, though I think Sex Kitten is a bit shinier, or at least the Wet N Wild reads a tiny bit more “black” to my eye when applied over my normal makeup. Definitely worth noting : Sex Kitten does tend to be a little sheer, and/or it picks up bits of anything you apply it over. Are you wearing light shimmery blue eyeshadow? Apply Sex Kitten over the top of it and your line with have a faint light blue shimmer. Even going over the line a second time (which, who wants to do that every damn day?) doesn’t necessarily yield an opaque black. You can also see in the wider streaks of the hand swatch macro shot below that Sex Kitten looks a bit more “watery” in places :

Sex Kitten on top (lol) (SORRY), ProLine on the bottom. Note how the Tarte Liner takes on some of the color and sheen of the shadow beneath it.
Tarte Sex Kitten liquid liner
Tarte Sex Kitten squiggles, bare skin.
Wet N Wild ProLine
Wet N Wild ProLine squiggles, bare skin.

Okay first, both of these apply and behave much better over primer than on bare skin or just foundation. They both have a tendency to feather a bit into the lines and creases of your skin when used without primer — the Wet N Wild is worse here, which somewhat negates its better score on the opacity front. Applied over eye primer and shadow, though, both yielded a pretty neat crisp line and a clean point. The shimmer in the shadow below was patted over AFTERWARDS — the liner was applied over plain ol’ matte taupe, which minimizes the Sex Kitten’s tendency to look less opaque or like it’s picked up sparkles.

Tarte Sex Kitten liquid liner
Sex Kitten, just applied
Tarte Sex Kitten liquid liner
Tarte Sex Kitten, about nine hours later.
Wet N Wild ProLine
Wet N Wild ProLine, just applied.
Wet N Wild ProLine
Wet N Wild ProLine, about nine hours later.

WOW THOSE WORE PRETTY WELL!

Yes they did! Granted, this was just indoors, cool temp, low humidity. I did try these side-by-side on another occasion, just over bare skin (no pix of this, sorry). Sex Kitten lasted okay, only crumbling at the crease at the outer corner of my eyelid. WetNWild ProLine, however, nearly DISINTEGRATED. Also of note : when I went to wash my face after the wear-test photographed above, I noted one undereye looked a bit darker — here’s the q-tip cleanup from each side :

Left : Sex Kitten. Right : ProLine.

I didn’t have mascara on, and I had the exact same makeup on both eyes, except for the liner. So apparently, even over primer, the Wet N Wild ProLine has a tendency to smudge or drop dust, even though the line itself still looks fine. :(

Additionally, you can see Sex Kitten’s longevity versus ProLine when I went to remove my test-squiggles with just water and hand soap — ProLine washed off quickly, easily, and almost completely; Sex Kitten, on the other hand, only partially comes off with soap or my normal face cleansers, and almost always requires an additional swipe of actual makeup remover.

Above, Sex Kitten; below, ProLine

THE VERDICT : Both of these are pretty good, but neither is “omg perfection.” Sex Kitten is not as opaquely-black as I’d want a twenty-dollar liner to be; Wet N Wild is honestly better than expected, but I probably won’t use it for “normal” makeup wear when I’m going to be out for more than a couple hours — I don’t like its tendency to smudge under my eyes. However, it IS tiny and cheap, so likely this one’s going to get tossed in my purse’s makeup bag for Emergency Touchups. (And btw, NYX Liquid Matte is still my favorite so far — it’s a tube’n’brush setup rather than the more convenient stylo format, but it’s black as hell and the wear is A+.)

Tried either of these? Love/hate? TELL ME.