Some pens are better than other pens—as everyone learned in middle school when they happened upon their first felt tip. Because here’s the thing about felt tips—they’re just mini markers that keep your handwriting from looking extra crazy (which is what happens when you try to make any sort of serious notation with a Sharpie). So, again, say it with us: Felt tip pens, better than normal tip pens.
And now that you believe it, apply it to eyeliner. “You can distribute and control a felt tip better than any other liner,” makeup artist Carolina Dali said in the most matter-of-fact sell of a product category we've heard recently. “I find that pencil tends to wear and crease throughout the day, whereas liquid—if it’s a good one like the Tom Ford Eye Defining Liquid Liner Pen, for example—you can wear it from 8am to 8pm, and it looks exactly the same.” Points there for predictability. No one likes looking in the mirror not knowing what to expect.
Another thing felt tips are good for: stunning precision that requires a lot less in terms of makeup-artist level skill than your standard gel liner + skinny brush combo. More bluntly: “These are more friendly,” Carolina said, “like writing on your face with a pen you're already used to,” But we can tell we're getting repetitive, so we'll let Carolina elaborate sans editorialization:
'For me, I find there are two ways to utilize them. You can either do the line—like a traditional cat eye—or you can use the pen to achieve a more natural look. You can use it between your lashes by tapping the tip of your pen between your lashes to fill in your lash line. It makes you look like you’re wearing eyeliner, but without it looking very, very strong like it would when you apply it outside the lash line. Then I keep the rest of the face clean,”
A little more artistry and a little more elaboration right this way with the help of the stunning face of Stina Olsson, who made the looks feel more girly and fresh (early takeaway: these liners work well in pairs).
Kat Von D Ink Liner in Nietzsche: “The liner here is layered, so when your eyes are open, there's a double effect that's quite mesmerizing. It really attracts attention, so it's really great with lots of lashes or if you have hazel or green eyes. The other things I love about this is I think it's really nice to layer color on color for summer. With clean skin, you're really wearing the liner—it's not wearing you. You can do a wash of a fuchsia or a peachy gloss over it for something that'll really bring out your tan, too,”
Tom Ford Eye Defining Liquid Liner Pen with Nars Eyeliner Stylo in Koala: “ This one is sort of a broken cat eye with the black and gray liners blended together. I think that makes it more approachable than just black. Because of the subtlety of the gray, you can pair it with a white t-shirt, wear it during the day, and have it look great,”
Nars Eyeliner Stylo in Atlantic with Hourglass Calligraphy Liquid Eye Liner in Ebony: “This was a little trippy—I used the dark blue in the middle and the black around the eye to give it shape and finish. This one is if you're already comfortable with applying liner and want to really make a statement. Liner is just easier to distribute this way. You don’t need to limit yourself. I feel like, as women, we tend to limit ourselves a bit much with makeup and think, 'Oh, I can’t do that.' For me, the way I learned how to do liquid eyeliner is just practicing on myself when I have nothing better to do,”
Givenchy Liner Couture Precision Felt-Tip Eyeliner in Black with Smashbox Limitless Liquid Liner Pen in Dark Brown:'I'm a big fan of brown eyeliner, especially if you aren't very confident in your skills. I think it's amazing on blondes and women who are very fair. Black can be too strong, especially during the day. This look is also good for someone who wants the drama of a '60s eye, but a simpler, more Twiggy look,”
Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner in Cobalt, Periwinkle, Turquoise, and Paradise Pink with Kat Von D Ink Liner in Neruda and Bosch: “For this one, I wanted to play with layering of colors—I didn’t really go in thinking, 'OK, these are the exact colors I want to put together.' I just went in thinking, 'Which, out of all these, are my favorite colors, and how can I pair them and combine them as one?' I really love the white. I feel like, for that look, the white was really important. I used the teal in the middle between the dark green and the white. It’s fun, it’s experimental, and I feel like what people need to keep in mind about this look is that it doesn’t have to be perfect. You kind of want to make it look like you just took some markers and decided to line your eyes with them,”
Stina Olsson (New York Models) photographed by Tom Newton. Makeup by Carolina Dali (The Wall Group). Hair by Jay Braff (Spoke & Wheel). Once you've mastered liquid, go on to discover Gel Eyeliner's Endless Possibilities.