I Cried My Way Through My Engagement and This $8 Liquid Liner Didn’t Budge

My now-fiancè—weird!—has many marriageable attributes, but a capacity for sneakiness isn’t among them. So when this past Valentine’s Day (also the three-year anniversary of the day we met) rolled around, I figured I should look hotter than usual. You know, just in case anything important came up. I didn’t not get a blowout, and I definitely didn’t not tap manicurist Julie Kandelec to transform my bare, stubby nails into red claws the night before Fairy Godmother-style. I figured it was money well-spent either way—if nothing of note arose, I’d just look extra chic while downing tartare and Beaujolais at our favorite French place.

I also knew I wanted to play the hits makeup-wise: a cool-nude lip, party lashes, and a bold, black wing. I laid down a smooth canvas with a little Glo Skin primer and Dior foundation, then toned down some redness with concealer. I chiseled my cheekbones with Westman Atelier’s contour stick, Gucci bronzer, and a wash of Violette_Fr blush. I raked Anastasia Beverly Hill’s curiously strong brow gel through my arches, tapped Chanel’s subtly glossy Glow Stick in a half-moon on my cheekbones, and shellacking my lips with Charlotte Tilbury’s satin-y new lipstick. At that point, I was ready to paint on my eyeliner and go, but my go-tos were nowhere to be found. After searching every purse and tote in my room, I gave in and desperately rummaged through The Archives, a.k.a. my makeshift beauty closet that’s more chaotic than cohesive. I grabbed the first one I could find, a tiny white tube that ended up being the hero of the night: af94 Backline Liquid Liner in Eyes Wide Shut.

As a former beauty editor who considers a ‘60s-style wing something of a signature, I’ve tried hundreds of pens, pots, and pencils in pursuit of the perfect cat-eye. Testing a new product on a potentially photo-heavy evening wasn’t ideal—even with a steady hand and a trusted formula, a wing can go awry. But I’m a frequent user of Halsey’s first beauty brand, About-Face, so I figured I could trust their sophomore makeup line, too.

Thankfully, it was love at first dip: I pulled the point-tipped brush from its teeny pot and saw the liquid was that inky, deep-space black I crave in an eyeliner. The pencil-like shape of the brush’s handle gave me all the dexterity I needed to keep my hand steady, and as I dragged the formula across my lids and out towards my temples, there was no skipping or bleeding in sight. The thin brush-tip made it easy to sculpt and sharpen the edge of my wing, and I could touch-up the spots I missed on my waterline with precision. It also pulled off a rare feat for the liquid formula world: it gave me plenty of play-time to fix any missteps, but once it dried, it was there to stay.

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