I blame the cat-eye-industrial complex for not becoming an “eyeliner person” sooner. You can’t buy a liquid liner without reading the words “easy” and “cat eye” on the packaging — it takes only one flick of the pointy tip, they insist rather menacingly, but I don’t have the coordination for that. Or skip a couple of steps with a wing-shaped stamp you can color in, but just one shaky stroke can ruin the outline. Using the beauty-guru-backed connect-the-dots method didn’t work for me, either — a poke to the eye resulted in mascaraed tears running down my cheeks. I wasted so much time in front of a mirror trying to get cat-eye curves right that I finally decided that I wouldn’t line my eyes with anything at all.
That lost, liner-less era didn’t stop me from wanting to, though. It was a few years back that a cheery Chanel makeup consultant introduced me to applying eyeliner to my waterline, smudging the color to be ever so slightly reminiscent of the lower lash line of David Bowie’s “Life on Mars” look. As she spun my chair around to inspect her work, I forgot about cat eyes altogether. I didn’t need to know how to do a wing anymore — my under-eye area was now my canvas, and I was eager to find the right paintbrush. A flair for the dramatic led me to create my own technique of coating the skin underneath my eyes with a thick band of liner. This heavy, half-moon shape — part R.O. Kwon, part whatever Julia Fox is doing — became my signature.
And the best eyeliner I’ve found for it is ColourPop’s Crème Gel Liner.
Though these eyeliners cost just $7 a tube, ColourPop’s creamy consistency rivals even the most high-end eyeliners. The formula effortlessly glides across the puff of my under-eye. There’s never any smearing when I draw on my preferred semicircle shape, and once it’s time to shade it in, I don’t have to take out a brush to even out the intensity of the hues. (Pro tip: a pinkie’s worth of cream gives you an even slicker surface to color in faster). ColourPop is incredibly buildable, with colors getting richer with every layer. Blues brighten. Pinks pop. Purples deepen.
In fact, the liners are so pigmented, their intensity doesn’t temper even after hours of wear — including through crying sessions and sweaty night workouts (if, say, I’ve forgotten to wash the day off my face before hitting the elliptical). This is true of the most vivid of primary colors, or the palest of pastels. Yet one drop of the right makeup remover (Caudalie’s cleansing oil is a personal favorite) is all it takes to wipe the liners away. I do look like a melting clown as the colors slip right off my eyes, but a slap of water quickly rinses them off.
This incredible performance combined with economics are probably why I’ve now lost count of the number of ColourPop liners I own. Fittingly, my obsession started with the brand’s Colour Me Obsessed! Vault. Coming in at $38, the 12-eyeliner set is only $2 more than a single Gucci Stylo stick and $4 more than a similar product from Chanel (both are currently at the bottom of my beauty bag). ColourPop’s liners are also cheaper than Sephora’s slightly too streaky gel pencils. The math briefly made me wonder if they were too good to be true, but the first few swipes of the “catsuit” shade, a bold Kelly green, erased that worry.
Picking out which shade to wear in the morning is now the greatest and most fun part of my makeup routine. I don’t believe in the “don’t match your outfit to your eyes” theory, so I coordinate my colors to the eyeliner I want to wear that day. It’s very crayon chic.
It’s also my most-asked-about makeup question — usually, once I reveal it’s ColourPop, I get an incredulous scoff because the liners are so cheap. But now that I’ve found them, I know I’ll never feel like I’m missing out on doing a cat eye again.
I recently expanded my growing collection with this 20-piece set that comes in shades like “punch,” a canary yellow; “fast lane,” described as a “blackened teal”; and “get paid,” the sparkliest rose gold.
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