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Makeup

Introducing roller eyeliners: is the wheel the answer to flawless liquid liner?

January 26th 2018 / Judy Johnson Google+ Judy Johnson / 0 comment

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‘Roller’ or wheel eyeliners are the beauty industry’s latest design innovation to make lining lids easier than ever. Judy Johnson finds out if you still need stabilisers to draw a perfect flick

There are over 4 million results if you Google ‘how to apply liquid eyeliner’, and as someone who has definitely typed that into a search bar in my time, who has watched all the tutorials on getting the perfect Adele-style wing (oh, to have her makeup artist) and tried almost every liquid eyeliner going, I can safely say that even though I draw on my lids daily I have not quite nailed it.

Every day is different, be it a shaky hand or a slightly dry felt tip, an untimely sneeze - thanks hayfever - or just a case of uneven wings. Nowadays for a quick, almost foolproof application I tend to favour silky-nibbed felt tips such as Eyeko’s Black Magic pen - but any true stationery addict (*waves*) knows that a pen that leaves a fluid, smooth line of ink can be hard to find, never mind in the eyeliner world, and that’s before you add unsteady hands to the mix. So what if the classic pen or pot-and-ink style of our eyeliners is what’s been holding us back from perfecting the art of a feline flick?

Reinventing the wheel

Last year we saw the arrival of stamp eyeliners, which so long as you can get your angles right absolutely answers the problem of unshapely wings, as well as offering the chance to have fun with stars and shapes should you wish. But if even lining along the lid is a tricky feat, what’s smoother than a wheel?

So thought the brains behind the beauty brands, I assume, who have now introduced wheel-applicator liquid eyeliners - a real innovation in makeup packaging. But does it guarantee a smoother line or do we makeup workwomen need to stop blaming our tools?

It all started in 2017 when MAC released their limited edition RollerWheel Liquid Eyeliner, showcasing it at New York Fashion Week and impressing the beauty crowd, including our own designer last summer (read her MAC RollerWheel review here). Other brands have now followed suit, with Guerlain, Nudestix and Revlon all creating liners on wheels.

On the outside, roller liners look like a typical pot-and-ink style product, only instead of the usual nib there is a tiny, thin plastic wheel that picks up the product. They’ve been described as looking like pizza cutters, though the idea of something slicing along the eyelid is not a pretty one - I prefer to think of them as mini versions of those trundle wheels we used at school to measure the field.

The idea is that you no longer need to draw your eyeliner on bit by bit - simply roll the inky wheel along your lash line et voila, a smooth, seamless line that even Adele would approve of.

A post shared by Judy Johnson (@judyjourno) on

Lining without stabilisers

Or so you’d hope. In theory, and on paper - literally, see video above - the liners work brilliantly. A smoother, straighter line has never been drawn with a liquid eyeliner, I’m sure.

But eyes are not straight, and nor are they flat, and my first few attempts with my new tools left me disappointed. The plastic wheels are super fine, which is great for drawing a tight line along the lashes but only as long as you can position your wheel at the correct angle to your lid, which I struggled to do the whole way through - plus, going back to the pizza cutter idea (ouch) it feels counterintuitive to press too hard with something so harsh on something as fragile as your eye, yet without pressure you have less control. I’d love to see a new iteration with a rubbery or silicone wheel and see how that differs.

The slightness of the wheel makes it oddly ticklish, too - this may only be me, but it meant drawing one fluid line without stops and starts was near impossible. However, with a bit of practice and more confidence I found it easier, and found I could draw a much finer line than I would attempt with my usual liner. The slim line does make your flicks a little sharper than they would be with a pen, too - you just still need to be a dab hand at getting your wings even.

Therein lies the rub; in my experience of all things liquid eyeliner, it all comes down to a steady hand and a confident application (the more hesitant you are the wonkier it will be - a quick poll of your liner-wearing GTG team proved we’re all in agreement on this). Unfortunately not even a clever wheel can change that…

Where to buy

If your hands are anything but shaky and you want a more precise line, these are the new roller wheel eyeliners to look out for. Be warned, they all last incredibly well, so arm yourself with a good eye makeup remover before you buy…

Guerlain Roll’Ink Liner

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£24, out in February 2018

Available in black, this wheel liner has a waterproof formula and really does not budge.


Nudestix Rock n Roller Easy Eyeliner Ink

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£20, buy online

Available in three shades - a black, a beautiful metallic bronze and a rose gold - it also has super staying power and can be built up for a more intense line.


Revlon ColorStay Exactify™ Liquid Liner

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£8.99, out in April 2018 at Boots and Superdrug

You’ll have to wait for this one, but Revlon’s take on the wheel liner trend is the first to mass market and is a definite dupe for the Guerlain and MAC creations which means it gets my vote given the difference in price; waterproof, smudge proof and available in an intense black shade.

Have you used a wheel eyeliner? What did you think? Let us know in the comments

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