Black eyeliner has a special meaning for me. When I was in middle school in the 80’s, black eyeliner suddenly became THE THING TO HAVE. Remember what it was like back then? If you didn’t have what was popular, you felt as if you might want to die. Not only did I not have any black eyeliner, but I was forbidden to wear it.

I KNOW, RIGHT?!

Oh, I tried to use everyone else’s black eyeliner, but I would somehow get caught. Probably because we liked to wear it on the waterline, and it would always goop up in the corners. Getting caught didn’t stop me, though, I kept on through the years that I was in middle school and just got better at hiding it. I’t was really traumatizing though, so when I finally got older/ran away/moved elsewhere, I made sure I had black eyeliner on every single day. I don’t think there is a picture of me in high school sans black eyeliner.

It wasn’t until I was in my 20’s that I even considered another color, and even then it was darkest brown (because it was the 90s, and we were really in to brown makeup). In my 30’s I finally let loose and played with all the colors, and while I enjoy the look, I tend to fall back on my black eyeliner. So I take this Makeup Wars episode very seriously.

Are you ready? Let’s get into it:

best black eyeliner makeup wars

Okay, from the top:

  • L’Oreal Smoldering Eyeliner: This is the ultimate liner for a thick, smoky eye. The pencil is large enough to give you a big fat line of drama, but it’s soft enough to blend out for all that smoke.
  • MAC Kohl Power in Feline: Softest of the soft. It felt great going on, no tugging, and blended like a dream. My one thing was that it was so soft that it would sometimes break off the point. I’m sure it was user error. But, soft.
  • Physicians Formula Kohl Kajal: You have to buy these in a set of three, but for $7, there isn’t much to complain about. Great kajal-style that still has a bit of a powdery feel, so you can layer easier. Perfect for when you want something a little less than a thick black line, but still smoky.
  • Urban Decay Zero: When they say glide on 24-7, Urban Decay means it. This is my ultimate, my favorite, my most reliable black eyeliner. Sharpen it for a super thin line, leave it dull for a thicker one, and blend (or not!) to your heart’s content.The formula is soft enough so that there isn’t any pulling, but the pigment lies down like a dream. This is my holy grail of black eyeliners.
  • L’Oreal HiP Kohl Eyeliner: This one isn’t around anymore, and I still haven’t gotten over it. It was my first powder eyeliner, and the applicator was hard, rather than being a pencil or brush. Very dramatic, but the fallout made it a little tricky to get used to. Guerlain still has a (very expensive) version of this kind of eyeliner, I believe.
  • MAC Rapidblack Penultimate: My first liquid eyeliner. Solid black pigment in a workable liquid. It has a thin tipped felt marker style that makes it easy to get used to, and it lasts for hours upon hours. Perfect for that cat eye you’re still trying to master.
  • NARS Ubangi Eye Paint: I’m counting this as black, because it’s mostly black with some cobalt blue mica in it. It is SO dramatic, and is perfect on cobalt blue smoky eyes (which are kind of my favorite). It’s a gel formula, and I have used a thin bent liner brush and a flat liner brush, but my favorite way to use it is with an angled brush. Slightly stiff, so you can smoke it out. Either way, a tight line or a thick one, this will be beautiful and unique.

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