Today I’m sharing a formulation I have been working on for months—a Long-Wear Cream Eyeliner. It goes on like a dream, wears beautifully, and easily holds its own when compared to products like Bobbi Brown’s Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner and KVD’s Tattoo Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner. The formulation I’m sharing today has been in development since May, meaning I tested it through some of our hottest summer days to make sure it was worthy of being released 😄
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The consistency of this Long-Wear Cream Eyeliner was heavily influenced by the best tutorial I’ve ever watched on winged liner application. It’s by Jaime French; watch it here. In it, Jaime discusses how the consistency of a lot of eyeliners is a big part of the reason eyeliner is so hard to apply crisply. We need the eyeliner to glide effortlessly over the skin so we can get crisp lines without skipping and dragging (and cursing). Thick gel eyeliners often skip across the skin (especially if you don’t have firm, smooth eye skin and a very steady hand), making it impossible to get a crisp, straight line. Liquid eyeliner is thin enough to glide effortlessly, but holy moly do I ever find liquid eyeliner stressful and unpredictable. It’s too runny for my skill level 😂
Anywho—Jaime shares a trick in her tutorial to ever-so-slightly thin out a storebought gel/cream eyeliner so it glides on like silk, and it works beautifully. But… I wanted to formulate an eyeliner that didn’t need the thinning out. I wanted an eyeliner that was perfect from the get-go, and that’s what I am sharing today. This liner is a beautiful hybrid of liquid and gel eyeliner—the precision and ease of application of gel eyeliner + the glide of liquid. Combine this liner with Jaime’s application instructions (and this awesome brush!) and you are off to the eyeliner-y races!
The base of this Long-Wear Cream Eyeliner formulation is TKB Trading’s Mousse Medium. It’s a beautifully formulated cosmetic base for creating all kinds of long-wearing creamy cosmetics. I also used it as the base for my Long-Wearing Shimmer Cream Eyeshadow, and I highly recommend you read that post to learn more about the base. I’ve had a few people ask about how to make their own base, and in the eyeshadow post, I discuss how I worked on something similar for years and eventually shelved the project. It’s definitely possible, but I have no plans to continue working on that project so you’ll have to do your own formulation work if you want to make your own base. I’m having a lot more fun working with the Mousse Medium as my starting point to create formulations that are working wonderfully 😄
My first eyeliner with Mousse Medium was really simple—70% MM, 30% black oxide. It was ok, but didn’t have the glide or wear time I wanted. Over the following month, I made over a dozen different iterations, working to get just the right glide, dry-down, and wear time. I experimented with increasing the film formers to improve wear time, adding TKB Film Fix and dissolving extra trimethylsiloxysilicate (flake resin) right into the Mousse Medium. This helped, but I started to butt up against the eyeliner feeling tight on the skin when it dried, so I decided to approach longer wear time from another angle. I went back to some of my old favourites for boosting adhesion—Magnesium Stearate and Magnesium Myristate, both of which I use heavily in my book, Make it Up: The Essential Guide to DIY Makeup and Skin Care to create long-wearing formulations. The combination of the two magnesium powders with the film-formers in the Mousse Medium and the Film Fix created a formulation that wears wonderfully and doesn’t feel too tight or dry on the eyelids.
The inclusion of some Silicone Elastomer (Dimethyl Siloxane Elastomer, Fumed Silica) grew out of my work on the Long-Wearing Shimmer Cream Eyeshadow formulation. I was looking for a way to make the formulation just a wee bit drier, thicker, and creamier. I tried Silica Dimethyl Silylate in the eyeliner first, and then the eyeshadow. It was promising, but not quite right. I switched to the elastomer with the eyeshadow and it was magic, so I carried that over to the eyeliner formulations I was working on and it was magic there, too! Better slip, better application, and better wear time.
At this point, the formulation had good wear time, but I still wanted to improve the slip for application for that gel-liquid in-between consistency. I experimented with including small amounts of cyclomethicone and/or isododecane but found that didn’t quite get me where I wanted to be. Silicone gel, however, did the trick beautifully! Not only did it improve slip, but it also gave a slight viscosity boost that was helpful for getting the viscosity I wanted. I also ended up reducing the concentration of pigment—the formulation didn’t need the 30%+ for pigment and it was literally dragging the formulation down (ha).
That’s the story of why everything that’s in the base is in it—now all that’s left is stirring it together and getting it on our faces! Cost-wise, this formulation is far cheaper than shop-bought alternatives. A 3g batch of this costs about $0.85USD to make (round up to around $1 to include packaging). Bobbi Brown’s is $28USD for 3g. Inglot’s is cheaper—$21USD for 5.5g (a DIY would cost $1.55USD for 5.5g). I know the key ingredients for this formulation are only available from TKB Trading, but if you love long-wearing cream & gel eyeliners, it’s definitely worth placing an order, even if it is international. You can also use these ingredients to make all kinds of other awesome things, like Long-Wearing Shimmer Cream Eyeshadow!
Relevant links & further reading
- TKB Mousse Medium in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- TKB Film Fix in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Silicone Elastomer (Dimethyl Siloxane Elastomer, Fumed Silica) in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Magnesium Stearate in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Magnesium Myristate in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Silicone gel (Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer) in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Iron Oxides in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Precision scale in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Micro mini mixer in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Disposable Mini Mixing Cups in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Make it Up: The Essential Guide to DIY Makeup and Skin Care (my book!)
- Other makeup formulations:
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Long-Wear Cream Eyeliner
5.7g | 57% TKB Mousse Medium
1.26g | 12.6% TKB Film Fix
0.075g | 0.75% silicone elastomer
0.19g | 1.9% Magnesium Stearate (USA / Canada)
0.19g | 1.9% Magnesium Myristate (USA / Canada)
0.785g | 7.85% silicone gel
1.8g | 18% iron oxide
Using a precise scale, weigh all the ingredients for the base into a small disposable mixing cup or tiny beaker. Stir thoroughly to combine. I stirred by hand, but you may find an electric mini mixer helpful (especially if you’re making a larger batch). The scale I used in the video was only accurate to 0.01g, so I wasn’t able to get the amounts of the silicone elastomer or silicone gel absolutely perfect, but it still worked out just fine.
Once you have your base, you are ready to make some eyeliner! I highly recommend dividing up the base and the oxides to make a few different colours as 10g of a single eyeliner will take years to use up.
To make two 5g eyeliners, divide the base into two 4.1g portions, and add 0.9g iron oxide to each.
To make four 2.5g eyeliners, divide the base into four 2.05g portions and add 0.45g iron oxide to each.
Stir very thoroughly to combine.
Once the eyeliner is uniform, that’s it! Transfer to an airtight package and you are done.
I used 1.5mL microcentrifuge tubes for my early 1–2g batches, and those worked well. In the video, I use a screw-top 5g jar for the two 5g batches I made. You can also purchase eyeliner tubes that have a wee brush attached. Whatever you choose, make sure it is airtight and that it suits your application method. I use a Princeton Petite Monogram 20/0 brush to apply my eyeliner (a huge thank you to Jaime French for her video tutorial that uses this brush—highly recommended viewing!)
To use: use as you’d use any brush-applied eyeliner. I cannot recommend this tutorial enough if applying eyeliner with a brush is something you’d like to be better at 🙂
Shelf Life & Storage
This formulation should last for approximately one year. The base is formulated to allow for additions of up to 50%, and is preserved with that in mind.
As always, be aware that making substitutions will change the final product. While these swaps won’t break the recipe, you will get a different final product than I did.
- As I’ve provided this formulation in percentages as well as grams you can easily calculate it to any size using a simple spreadsheet as I’ve explained in this post. As written in grams this recipe will make 10g of cream eyeliner, which is a massive amount of cream eyeliner.
- To learn more about the ingredients used in this formulation, including why they’re included and what you can substitute them with, please visit the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia. It doesn’t have everything in it yet, but there’s lots of good information there! If I have not given a specific substitution suggestion in this list please look up the ingredient in the encyclopedia before asking.
- Please don’t change anything in the base formulation. If you do, you will be firmly in re-development territory.
- You can learn more about working with Mousse Medium by clicking here.
- You can use whatever blend of eye-safe oxides/pigments to create all kinds of colours!
- I do not recommend using dyes as they will dye the skin and take 12+ hours to fully come off (I tried it 😂)