On Trial: The Perfect Gel Eyeliner

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One of my favorite memories from seeking out the be-all and end-all of mascara wands—yes, that’s something I’ve done—was playing around with cult fave Benefit’s They’re Real mascara at Bloomingdales a few years ago. It was the first time I played with Benefit cosmetics. Who could resist their colorful, kitschy packaging? Behind the counter was a striking multiracial (Pakistani and American) woman named Ameena who had the biggest, fluffiest lashes I had ever seen in a department store—and they weren’t fake. They had the length and volume that you see in overtly photoshopped ads—but in real life. Ameena graciously shared her makeup hack for true lash-by-lash separation: Wiggle the staggered bristles throughout the lashes in a zigzag manner and you’ll get a fully fanned look without flakes. Being an obsessive fan of fluttery lashes, I was sold on the spot.

I thought of Ameena recently when I tried to perfect the cat eye with Benefit’s newest launch, They’re Real! Push-Up Liner ($24). Everything this fall seems to be about the winged tip look, so a good liner is in order. What makes this waterproof gel version easier to use than potted ones (that require a separate brush) is its softly chiseled AccuFlex tip, which is custom-angled to help with drawing an easy line and pushing wispy lashes aside so the matte black liner applies close to the upper lash line and give natural-looking definition.

As with any pen liner, practice makes the art perfect but it certainly doesn’t hurt that the formula is super black, wet, and flake-free even after an eight-hour wear. It’s really idiot-proof; once you master the clean line, you can get it as thin as you’d like for a minimalist look, or thicker for a throwback ‘60s cat eye flick, or even thicker for a punk inflected, ‘80s graphic eye. When paired with the mascara, your dramatic line won’t smudge a bit. To my surprise, taking the produce off was easy with a specially made gel remover, which was easy to rinse and didn’t leave my contact lenses blurry.

I decided to wear a double-winged tip with full lashes and nude lips, which, for me, is a bit edgy. Wherever you are, Ameena, you’d be proud.


A native Angeleno, Navdeep Mundi is a Leo, hates cilantro, and has studied beauty products for more than 18 years. She spends her days directing media and strategy and her nights sniffing out slightly quirky yet impeccably pretty things along with her German Shepherd, Le Tigre.

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