I’m not going to lie, when Michelle Phan came out with her first makeup line in 2013, I didn’t use any of the products. Sure, I wrote the article on Allure.com breaking the news of the launch. I tried a few of the items when they were sent to the office, but there were just too many products, too much information, and, since I hadn’t grown up watching her YouTube tutorials, I wasn’t entirely sure what all the hype was about.
Fast-forward five years and that original collection is no longer. Phan and I are now both in our 30s (I’m pretty sure we’re the same age, 30), and we’ve both grown up. Phan took some time off from the World Wide Web, reevaluated her life and her beauty routine, and decided to take another stab at a makeup line, this time without a big corporate backer (her first collection was done with L’Oréal), without so many damn SKUs, and with an emphasis on a less-is-more aesthetic. "I wanted to keep it more timeless and elegant," Phan told me in an interview earlier this year. "I could have done the more trendy things like the highlighters and stuff, but then I was like, No, I want to focus on the things that I wear all the time and that my viewers want to wear."
Her initial launch comprises two liquid liners, a collection of liquid lipsticks, and a black gel eyeliner pencil, which may just be the best black eyeliner pencil I’ve ever used. And I’ve used a whole lot of them. Not only have I been a beauty editor for eight years, but I was also a ballet dancer in my past life, which means I’ve been wearing black eyeliner since elementary school.
It’s no surprise that Phan’s eyeliner is so good. For one, she has a background in fine art, where good quality pencils are a must. And second, while I didn’t watch a ton of her videos, I do know she can draw a mean cat eye on herself, which means she knows a thing or two about what makes a good eyeliner pencil and what doesn’t.
So what exactly makes this pencil so good? You notice it the moment you put tip to lid — the pigment literally melts onto your skin as you slide it across your lash line. It takes almost zero effort. Some makeup artists heat up the tip of their eyeliner pencil with a lighter to make it creamier. This pencil is that creamy minus the potential fire hazard.
Then there’s the pigment. It’s a deep, intense black that, while matte, doesn’t become lighter as it sets.
And finally, it literally doesn’t move. As I’ve gotten older, my lids have gotten oilier, which means my eye makeup is usually completely gone by 3 p.m. most days. My cream shadow has been broken down completely, my eyeliner is patchy and has traveled both up to the brow bones and down under my eyes, and I don’t even bother to put mascara on my bottom lids anymore because I know the mess that will ensue. But this liner stays inky and clean and exactly where I put it at 7:45 a.m. — on my top lashes — even after I've gotten home from work.
It’s now replaced all the other black eyeliners in my makeup bag, including pencils from drugstore and prestige brands and companies made specifically for makeup artists. And while I still don’t follow Michelle Phan on YouTube, she’s certainly gained a new fan thanks to her impressive pencil — and I can’t wait to see what she comes out with next.