Pencil Liner Smackdown: MUFE, Urban Decay, Maybelline, and Revlon

Monday, April 16, 2012

As you might know, I've been on the hunt for the perfect pencil eyeliner for quite some time now and have been testing out a whole bunch of different brands in my search. The point of this smackdown series (given how many I've tried, it'll probably have to be a series) is to compare them all against one another to see which is the best.

When it comes to my eyes, I'm working with a lack of crease, so any liner I wear tends to transfer to right beneath my brows, and stick-straight lashes that are difficult to curl. My perfect pencil liner: goes on smoothly and is well-pigmented, comes in a nice variety of colors*, wears nicely for long hours, does not transfer and will still be there no matter how many times I curl my lashes and won't rub off against the back of my curler.

Three guesses as to what my biggest issue is! (I hope all you other lash-curling aficionados understand).

*If an eyeliner doesn't come in purple, it's worth nothing to me.

Enough waffle! Here we go!

1. Make Up For Ever Aqua Eyes: I could hardly hunt for the best pencil liner without sampling a MUFE one! They have a terrific reputation for being long-wearing, easy to apply and waterproof, not to mention their enormous shade variety--what's not to love? This is the clear winner in terms of application as it just glides right across the lashline with very little effort. It's likely the creamiest of the group as well, but not so much so that the point melts as you use it, or that it smudges or smears. I did my customary 5 minute wait before curling my lashes to give the liner a chance to dry, but even so, I had quite a bit of transfer onto my Shu Uemura. I didn't lose much intensity of the color, but there were a few small gaps where the pigmentation of the line wasn't as strong. This might still have been my favorite, as a coat of my black Ultimate Natural mascara would help cover the patchiness, but the liner transferred onto my lids. It holds up fabulously throughout the day, though, and is great if you're looking for an eyeliner that won't move around.

2. Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On: Whenever somebody mentions their favorite pencil eyeliner, it's either MUFE or this one so I had to give a try as well. Right away as I was lining, there was a huge difference in the formula. UD is much more waxy and almost a hard pencil compared to the smooth creaminess of MUFE. As I was applying it, I honestly was in shock that anybody would call this their favorite liner--my guess would be that the formulation of the 24/7 is more suited to the waterline than the lash line. But as I was waiting my five minutes, I immediately noticed that I had no transfer! The first time in my entire experiment and my whole experience with pencil eyeliners, for that matter! But of course, a clamp of the curler lifted away to reveal huge gaps in the liner where there was no pigment at all--like I had drawn hyphens along my lashes instead of a line. The back of my curler was a mess of pigment, so I quickly grabbed the pencil to fix it and here's where it really went wrong. Something about the waxiness of the formula doesn't allow you to go over color you've already put down--it actually removes even more of it! Again, I'm really hoping this is because it's more suited to the wet and slippery waterline, because otherwise I have no idea how it has such a cult following. I'll probably sharpen this thoroughly and then pass it off to a friend or cousin who does line their waterline.

Left to right: Revlon, Maybelline, Urban Decay, Make Up For Ever

3. Maybelline Master Drama: The underdog! I didn't have particularly high hopes for this next to such renowned high end eyeliners, but this pencil is one that I reach for all the time. It's smaller in diameter than the above two, allowing for more precise application (crucial when your eyes are as small as mine) and is a twist-up which saves me the trouble of sharpening. Packaging aside, the formula is a nice sort of compromise between the above two. Master Drama goes on nicely (though not as well as MUFE) and doesn't transfer as much, though it doesn't leave my crease spick-and-span a la UD. My biggest qualm here is that the liner tends to fade throughout the day, starting from the inner corners. You can still tell I have some on by the time I'd ready to wash my face, but it's more smudgy and the color isn't as saturated. The brand does the usual color selection of black, gray, and brown, but also offers a violet and a bright blue which is surprisingly wearable.

4. Revlon ColorStay: My least favorite of the group, though it's very similar in size and packaging to the slim Master Drama. Despite having the name ColorStay, this liner doesn't wear as well and has the poorest staying power of the four. Roughly 8 hours of wear leave me with very smudgy, patchy liner that doesn't look too much like the line I drew that morning. Application-wise, the pencil is harder and drier, so it's not as comfortable to put on as MUFE, though I didn't lose quite as much to the back of my eyelash curler. Even though it transferred onto my upper eyelids, it's not exactly bad as the formula is rich in color and their shade selection includes a light brown which is uncommon for a drugstore brand--but ColorStay just can't stand up to the rest of the group.

Overall, the liner I find myself constantly reaching for is a toss-up between the Maybelline and the MUFE. Yes, the first one doesn't hold up for as long, but it doesn't transfer as badly. On the other hand, the latter is such a quick and easy application and stays put. It's really a question of what my makeup needs are for that day, though I will say that the MUFE formula is outstanding. If only it wouldn't transfer onto my "crease"!

Not sure when the second installment will be up as this type of comparison review takes longer for me to properly test. 

I know some of these liners are incredibly popular, so if you have anything to add, feel free to chime in!

Have a lovely week!


  1. Have you tried the MAC Chromographic pencils yet? Or, the Estee Lauder Kajal pencils (the skinnier ones not fat and short crayon/pencils)? I like both of those for the waterline, but I have found them to be effective for my upper lid as well. Also, I have heard great things about the Tarina Tarantino pencils, but I have yet to try them.

  2. MAC is very next on the list! I've heard good things!

    I'll check out Tarina Tarantino and Estee Lauder next time I'm in Sephora/Bloomingdales--anything with kajal in its name sounds promising.

    Thanks, Mary Beth!