Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Smashbox + Donald Robertson Photo Angle Pure Pigment Liner

I really love winged liner. It took me quite a long time to really master applying it, though. While drawing a wing can be a difficult task for anyone who is trying it for the first time, it's especially hard for those of us who have hooded lids. When my eyes are open, my eyelid sort of folds over itself which causes liner to regularly transfer onto my upper eyelid if I don't use a really long-wearing one. 
On top of that, those of us with hooded lids have another challenge: getting the wing to look right. Since my lids fold onto themselves, I could draw a perfect wing and then relax my eye only to see it looks lopsided or completely disappears under the fold of skin. I wish I was a makeup artist so I could explain to you hooded-lid ladies how I actually apply my wings, but my only advice to you is to practice over and over. It's amazing how much wider and more awake your eyes look with a perfectly applied wing!

To make your liner look it's best, you really need to find the right type for you. Some people prefer pencils, others like liquid or gel liners. The liner I'm reviewing today however, is a gel pigment, which is completely different from anything else I've tried before.

Smashbox recently teamed up with artist Donald Robertson to create some limited edition products and I kept hearing buzz about the pigment gel liner. I wasn't entirely sure what made it different from other liners, but I decided to read a bit about it and see if it was worth picking up. 

The Photo Angle Pure Pigment Liner comes in a wide variety of shades, however for the purpose of this review I decided to stick with black since it's the color most people would choose to wear for everyday use. I trotted out to Sephora, went right for the liner and made a beeline to the register. I cannot allow myself to actually shop or I will empty my bank account in there!
 Once I did reach the Smashbox section though, I noticed that all the tester liners they had were dried out or the packaging was broken. That was a bit of a red flag for me because my local Sephora is pretty good at keeping fresh testers out. When I brought the liner to the register, I asked the girl working if she had heard any feedback on it. She mentioned that a few customers are obsessed with it, although many people have returned it due to the packaging breaking and the product not twisting up etc. I figured I'd bring it home and see for myself how it worked over time. At the time of writing this, I've had the liner for a little over 2 weeks now, so I think I'm pretty confident in my findings!

Claims and Info
Nothing makes a picture pop like some serious color. Smashbox developed a spectrum of high-impact, richly-pigmented hues from powerful purples to bold blues. It’s all about playtime with this Photo Angle Pure Pigment Gel Liner, which combines the boldness of a gel with the originality of a marker—no brush required. The unique flexible tip features a versatile, angled shape that lets you create any line from thin to thick. Plus, the creamy formula glides on for a smooth line every time. With up to 36 hours of non-stop wear, you never have to worry about smudging, flaking, or fading. This waterproof formula dries instantly for a head-turning look that lasts. 

I can totally get behind a liner that will wear for 36 hours, won't smudge, flake or fade. Sounds a little too good to be true, though!
 The box is covered in a sleeve that has artwork done by Donald Robertson. Not exactly my cup of tea, but I suppose it's an interesting departure from the usual Smashbox packaging!
 Once the sleeve is removed, the regular Smashbox packaging is revealed. You can see their very clear "36 Hour Wear" claim right there on the box, so you bet your butt I made sure to test that out!
 Inside is the liner tube. It's about the thickness of a Nyx Eye or Lip Crayon. The one thing I want to mention here is the cap screws on and off, which is something I wasn't aware of in the store. Apparently customers (myself included) were trying to yank the caps off and breaking the tubes, so if you do happen to run out and pick this up, remember to twist the cap off rather than pull it!
In order to get the pigment into the tip of the liner pen, you must twist from the bottom. It makes a "clicking" sound, and according to Smashbox you only need "1 click" for each eye. However when you first get the product it's going to take 10+ clicks to get the pigment to start flowing. Take your time with this- you don't want to twist it too much too quickly and waste product!
The tip of this liner pen is actually made of a flexible rubber and is packaged with a red stopper to keep the pigment from coming out in transit. You can see it has a decent sized hole for the pigment to be released, and an angled edge to make applying a wing easier. 
I also twisted the pigment up a bit to show you what it looks like right out of the tube. It's weird, guys. It's like nothing I've ever used before, honestly. The best way I can describe the consistency is like a thick, pasty, matte gel. It almost looks like plastic when it comes out. So weird.

You definitely don't need as much as you see in my photo though- one click is enough, like Smashbox suggests. The photo above shows about 3 clicks.

Below are some swatches I did on my skin before I applied it to my eyes. The top left photo is just two simple swatches. 
The top right photo is how many swatches I could do with about 2 clicks worth of gel before it started to wear out.
The bottom left photo is what the swatches look like when I rubbed them extremely vigorously with my fingers. Some of the swatches faded a bit, but you can see the original 2 swatches I did were still pretty intact. 
The final photo in the bottom left area is what the liner looks like when I used a cleansing wipe. I have to say it took some elbow grease to get them to come off. I had to use a stronger makeup remover to get the rest of the residue off.

Application and Wear
So the application is anything but easy, I have to say right off the bat. The tip is flexible rubber, however it doesn't really form to the shape of your eyes. You really have to be careful applying this because once it's on your eye, it's on there for good. There's not a lot of room for error with this product at all. Smashbox suggests starting at the middle of your eye and going out, then going back and finishing the rest of your eye. I say just do whatever is most comfortable for you!
These pictures are completely unedited so you can see exactly what it looks like. This was my first time using this liner, and while I apply a wing almost every day, I do have to admit it was a bit tricky for me to use this. I just didn't feel like I had total control with it. Having said that, it created a really nice looking, matte black wing that I was quite happy with!

Long Term Results
Here's where things got a little hairy. Not only do I have hooded lids, but they're also quite oily. I have a very hard time finding liner that stays put for me for longer than an hour. This liner claims a 36 hour wear time, however I didn't find that to be the case in the slightest. 
I found the liner on my actual lid stayed in place throughout the entire day, which I was pleased with, however the bottom of the wing closest to the outer corner of my eye began to smudge and wipe away within a couple of hours of wear. This wasn't a huge deal to me because I'm used to every liner doing that (damn oily lids) but considering this is touted as such a long-wearing product I was hoping for a miracle...or at least hoping that it would do what it claimed.

Another issue I found with this liner is that the gel tends to kind of get thicker and almost dry and flaky over time. After I used this liner for about a week, I noticed that when I began to apply, it started coming out a bit dry and balled up on my eye. I'm truly not sure if this is the liner itself or perhaps I didn't close the lid completely and allowed it to dry out. I've read conflicting reviews where people have had the same issues as me and others who haven't had a single problem with the gel getting dried out. It's possible there's a packaging issue more so than a formulation issue here, but it's something I can't say for sure.
Overall Thoughts
I'm really on the fence with this one. On one hand, I really think the formula is something new and interesting, and perhaps on someone without hooded, oily lids, this would be very long-wearing. I really liked the finished look with this, and while it didn't wear as long as I would have liked it to, I'm happy that it didn't transfer on the upper part of my eyelid and it seemed to stay for longer than most of the current liners in my collection.
My only worry is how quickly this liner dried out for me. I feel like a liner that costs over $20 should last me longer than 2 weeks of casual use (2-3 times a week.) I almost want to bring this back to Sephora and see if I can exchange it for a different one to see if it happens again. Makeup science experiments, people!

Overall, I probably would recommend this to anyone who is already pretty good at creating wings with their liner and does not have hooded lids. This isn't a beginner-friendly product by any means. It does apply a really pigmented, matte black line that will last much longer than your regular liner, although I think how long will vary from person to person. 

If you're interested in this liner, you can grab one for $24 at Sephora!

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All thoughts and opinions in this blog post are genuine and belong to Harlot Beauty. Monetary compensation was received and goods have been provided and accepted for purpose of review. Post does not contain affiliate or referral links.


  1. love your liner look - you should do a youtube tutorial on how you do it! I agree, a liquid liner should last more than 2 weeks and I would get either a refund or exchange it. I wonder if smashbox is aware of this as well - maybe it is a defect in a certain batch. Very nice review!

    1. Thanks Michele! I'm too shy for youtube although I might get up the guts someday! haha ;) I did speak to other customers and read quite a few reviews and it seems like it's a gamble on whether or not the product dries out or not...doesn't seem consistent with anyone so it's still a mystery!

  2. Isn't this sort of similar to the Benefit gel liner that came out a while ago and everyone hated? (I never tried it.) The consistency of this liner looks like it would be good to apply with a regular brush, but I don't see how any person ever could make a really precise line with that type of rubber applicator.

    1. I've been told it's very similar in the way it looks packaging and application-wise, although I never tried the Benefit one either because no one seemed to like it haha. I think that this liner would work a bit better with a brush, you're right. The rubber applicator makes it insanely difficult unless you can apply your wings in your sleep like I can haha... and even for me I realllly had to take my time as to not make a mistake or get a smudge somewhere.

  3. I have super oily eyelids too. Can never find something to make eye makeup stay on. Have you had any luck with primers?? I have tried most of them and they might work for a short time but they just don't last. Because of this I don't even bother with eyeliner.

    1. I think the primer I've had the best luck with is the Lorac Behind the Scenes Eye Primer. It has a creamy consistency with a powdery finish, and it doesn't dry out my lids, which is important since the dryer formulas tend to make our skin work to over-produce oil. The Lorac one tends to keep my makeup in place for most of the day, although I haven't found one that will keep my winged liner in place for very long. Gel liners that completely dry on my lid tend to work the best for me in terms of staying power, although they can be a pain in the butt to apply!