Black Eyeliner Swatches, Comparisons, Wear Test

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Black Eyeliner Comparison

eyeliner overload!

I’ve done black eyeliner swatches before, and even did a post with a wear test way back when my blog was new, but I have different eyeliners now and I wanted to see how they compared.

Instead of trying to keep track of which swatch was which, I wrote an abbreviation for the brand on my arm. The follow table has the abbreviation, name of the eyeliner, and type of eyeliner.

As Swatched Eyeliner Type
Pi Pixi Silky Eye Pen – Black Noir Pencil
MJ Marc Jacobs Highliner – Blacquer Pencil – automatic
Mi Milani Liquif’eye – Black Pencil
Ri Rimmel Scandaleyes – Black Pencil
Go Gorgeous Cosmetics iINK Pencil – Carbon Black Pencil
LM Laura Mercier – Black Ebony (w/ Tightline Activator) Cake
Pr Prestige Total Intensity – Deepest Black Pencil
UD (left) Urban Decay 24/7 Liner – Perversion Pencil
UD (right) Urban Decay 24/7 Liner – Zero Pencil
An Anastasia Covet Liner – Noir Pencil
Top line Milani Shadow Eyez – Black Ink Gel
Middle line L’oreal Infallible gel liner – Black Gel
Bottom Line Stila Smudge Pot – Black Cake
PF Physician’s Formula Eye Booster – Ultra Black Pen
DW Dollywink Pen– Deep Black Pen
NYC NYC High Definition Liquid Eyeliner – Black Pen
MUA Make Up Academy Contour Pen – Black Pencil – automatic
Star decoration Eyeko Skinny Liquid Eyeliner – Purple & Olive Pen


– As indicated, the Laura Mercier cake eyeliner was swatched with LM’s Tightline Activator, which I know from previous testing helps it last longer than using water.
– The MUA liner is quite bad; I included it only for comparison purposes.
– The Eyeko liners obviously aren’t black. I do have a black one, but had misplaced it at the time I did the swatches – luckily it has been found! So, I added the colored ones just for fun.
– I clearly have too many black eyeliners! I also realized that I forgot to swatch my NYX “The Curve” liner, which is fantastic.

The swatches – you can click to enlarge.

Black Eyeliner Comparison Swatches

freshly swatched!

Initially, most swatches are fairly similar.  The Pixi liner (other shades previously reviewed) is fantastic – very dark and smooth.  The Marc Jacobs – which I have really been loving lately – is good, but not as evenly dark.  My longtime favorite Prestige Total Intensity (swatches) is somewhere in the middle.

Urban Decay Zero is one of the least black; I sometimes use it when I want a softer look. The MUA is unsurprisingly the lightest shade.

Of the liquid liners, the NYC is darker than the Dolly Wink or Physician’s formula, which surprised me; however, despite how dark it is, I don’t like the nib so it won’t be replacing those as my go-to black liners.

After giving all the swatches plenty of time to set, I rinsed my arm under water and patted it dry with a paper towel. Apparently all of the liners are waterproof, because everything except the MUA liner (which was faded) looked pretty much the same as before – so no picture.  I then rubbed my arm with my hand. The result:

Black Eyeliner Comparison Swatches-2

after being rubbed with hand – click to enlarge

At this point, the best of the pencils are the clearly Pixi and the Marc Jacobs – They’re both very dark and there is little smudging.  The Gorgeous Cosmetics liner also looks very good, but is a little smudged. Urban Decay Zero, while lighter than the other shades, is very similar to the original swatch. The worst is of course the MUA liner; however, Rimmel Scandal Eyes is also quite faded and has smudged the most.

The Milani Shadow Eyez and both gel liners look great; I actually wonder if I wasn’t careful to rub that area of my arm, since all the swatches look so good! The Eyeko colored liner look fantastic, but they aren’t really part of the test.

Then, I took a few drops of jojoba oil (which I believe is similar to our skin’s natural oils), and rubbed it over my arm. The result:

Black Eyeliner Comparison Swatches-3

after being rubbed with oil – click to enlarge

Very significant fading at this point, clearly. The best of the pencils (darkest with no smudging) is the Pixi liner.  The Marc Jacobs and both Urban Decay liners also held up well with little to no smudging.  Once again, the Rimmel is the most smudged and the MUA is the lightest – it’s almost gone.

Milani Shadow Eyez, both gel liners, and the Eyeko liners look great (in comparison). I may need to go back to using gels more often than pencils!

Somewhat related – while looking up the Pixi eyeliner to link, I found this set on which has five mini Pixi liners ( Black Noir, Deep Plum, Black Cocoa, Sage Gold, Oyster Glow) plus a sharpener for $25. Given that each full size liner is $12, it’s an great deal, especially if you rarely finish liners. I would definitely buy it if I didn’t already own three of the shades – and I’m still tempted even though I do!

What’s your favorite black eyeliner?

*The Anastasia and Gorgeous Cosmetics eyeliners were press samples. I purchased all other products featured in this post.  This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy for more information.

  • Liz

    Fantastic! My hunt for good black liners are never ending (though there are long tired breaks between hunts) – so this post is super helpful. I’m going to see about those Pixi liners now, and I did think the MJ had good lasting power so it’s nice to have that confirmed.
    I believe the blackest UD liner is Perversion, which is unbelievably black.

    • Glad it’s helpful! I definitely recommend the Pixi as the best option for quality + low price.

  • Oh wow, this is THE black eyeliner post! I really haven’t tried that many compared to you! I like the formula of Pixi a lot. There are many that are very pigmented and stay very well on my lash line, but I still haven’t found anything that will stay on my lower waterline without triggering a bad reaction! Most of the time I just use a gel liner though. That’s just easier for me!

    • Waterline is definitely the hardest – I have several eyeliners that work well on it when applied, but end up migrating under my eyes throughout the day.

  • What a fun way to to swatch liners! I’m super tempted by the Pixi and Marc Jacobs option- and UD Perversion looks nice and pigmented too 🙂

    • I would definitely recommend any of those – probably the Pixi is the best option, because of the price.