Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Tarte Smoldereyes Liners--An Amazing Deal, but Worth It?

I was thrilled when the Tarte Smoldereyes liner set came back into stock at Sephora; $39 for six liners than normally retail for $25 each. Now, I love me some Tarte, but that is an insane price for an eyeliner. The set works out to just over $6/pencil, though, which is a steal.

Left to right, the liners come in Golden Beige (champagne with shimmer), Moss (olive green with shimmer), Violet (purple sparkle), Espresso (medium brown with shimmer), Silver Black (black with glitter), and Smoke (metallic silver with shimmer). The kit also comes with a basic sharpener, which is a good thing because these babies are far thicker than any other eyeliner that I've ever seen. They're more the size of an eye pencil intended for use as a shadow than as a liner.  Each pencil also comes with its own smudging sponge, which works remarkably well to smoke out the colors.

First impressions:

Silver Black:

Silver Black was the first pencil I tried. I'd been warned about the huge chunks of glitter in it ahead I'd time, but was still surprised at how much glitter I saw when I started applying it. Most of it ended up tangled in my lashes, and proceeded to fall into my eyes for the next 30 minutes. Still, the color payoff was excellent, the formula was pleasantly soft and easy to work with, and it was fully opaque after one pass. Personally I don't really mind the glitter overall since I already have enough black liners that are work-appropriate and have been looking for a special occasion one, but if you're in the market for an everyday liner you should look elsewhere. 

Wear time in the upper lash line: 10+ hours
Wear time on the waterline: I am so not even going to try this given how much glitter this pencil has. Beauty is pain and all of that, but I'd need to be a masochist to put this that close to my eyeball.


Smoke was my second liner, and thankfully there was no glitter in this shade. It's a lovely medium metallic silver--very similar to Urban Decay's Gunmetal, but with more shimmer. Like Silver Black it's a soft, creamy pencil with excellent pigmentation. I almost think it's too soft as I kept having to comb little pieces of it out of my lashes as I applied it. You can even see in the top swatch that there's a small chunk of liner that came off onto my hand when I applied a line of color.

This one isn't dark enough to be worn alone on the upper lid, but looks nice when used over a line of darker liner. It smudges particularly nicely using the attached sponge.

Wear time on the upper lash line: 12+ hours
Wear time on the waterline: 4+ hours


I tried Espresso next, and like Smoke it felt very, very soft. A good liner needs to be soft to apply properly, but again, you shouldn't have to pick bits out of your lashes. I'll be honest, I wasn't thrilled with how Espresso applied or wore on the waterline. Pigmentation was far less impressive than Smoke in the same area, and wear time was much less. Application on the upper lash was unusually tricky with Espresso, as the pencil was so soft that I couldn't keep a point on it to save my life. I'll experiment a bit with this one (it's occurring g to me as I type to stick it in the fridge for a few hours before sharpening/applying again) but as of this writing I'm not a big fan.

Wear time on the upper lash line: 12+ hours
Wear time on the waterline: under 3 hours

Golden Beige:

Golden Beige was next on the docket, and much like Silver Black it is chock full of big flecks of glitter. Pigmentation-wise this is a very light champagne color, probably best worn as either a highlight shade or above a darker liner right at the lash line. The color is totally overwhelmed by glitter, though, and it was really hard to tell where I was seeing pigment versus glitter at times.  If it wasn't for the sparkle factor this would become my everyday highlight color, though, because it really is a lovely golden champagne color.

Wear time on the upper lash line: No idea. Try as I might, I could not get this to show up well enough on my pale skin to gauge wear time. I'm going to guess that it's the same as the others, in which case it's an all-day affair.
Wear time on the waterline: 3 hours


Moss applied beautifully, and like Smoke and Violet is shimmery without being glittery. The shimmer in all three shades is muted enough to be work appropriate (unless your workplace is extremely conservative). Like Golden Beige, Moss is light enough to need a bit of help from a darker shade on the upper lash line. It's a gorgeous golden green, and provides a not-insignificant amount of brightening, especially above the lashline.

Wear time on the upper lash line: 12+ hours
Wear time on the waterline: 3 hours


Violet is bright purple, and walks the line between the set's shimmery colors and its glittery ones.  It sparkles, but doesn't have the huge chunks of glitter that make Silver Black and Golden Beige problematic.  The color is intense, and I actually had to remove my first application and re-apply because it was too much for the look I'd already created.  The intense pigmentation also helped it last longer on the waterline than the others I tried, which was nice.  This pencil definitely had the softness issues that I discussed above, but wasn't quite as hard to work with as Espresso.

Wear time on the upper lash line: 12+ hours
Wear time on the waterline: 4 hours

Bottom line:  this set is absolutely worth the money IF you're looking for liners to create smokey looks rather than precision lines.  These pencils are too thick and too soft for detail work, though one could probably deduce as much from the "smolder"part of the product name.

The single best thing about the Smoldereyes liners is their longevity.  Wear time for every one was incredible--I wore each for at least 12 hours before removing it, and still had to scrub a bit to get the last vestiges of liner off after removing the rest of my makeup.  They have far more staying power than Urban Decay's 24/7 liners, though you do have to trade off precision for longevity when you go with Tarte.  Given my penchant for 14+ hour days, this is a set I will definitely use until the last stub of pencil is gone.

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