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5 People Test a Mysterious New Japanese Liquid Liner

Photo: Unframe the Beauty

During Fashion Week, I received no less than five Instagram DMs from makeup artists asking me if I heard about this “new liner from Japan.” I had no idea what they were talking about. Then I started seeing ads on Instagram and papered on walls for something called “Unframe the Beauty.” The ads were confusing … and intriguing.

It turns out that Unframe the Beauty is a new Japanese company with a history of perfecting eyeliners (the owners previously produced Mote liner, a bestseller in Japanese drugstores). Real money is behind the venture: Major fashion photography team Mert and Marcus shot the campaign, which stars supermodel Sasha Pivovarova.

The brand launched with a liner collection of 13 shades, including yellow (described as “electrifying and daring”) and white (most recently used at 3.1 Phillip Lim’s show). Five Cut staffers tested them below.

Erica Smith, Beauty Writer

This liner made the easy eyeliner trend even easier than I thought it would be. I went with light blue, which the (extremely easy to open!) packaging described as “classy but daring,” and good for creating a “cheerful look.”

The whole application process did make me pretty cheerful. The octagon shape has a good grip. The tip is extremely flexible — I was afraid it’d be too floppy, but it’s so thin and precise that it was easy to get close to my lash line without going back to fill in any gaps, and to create a nice wing without doing math equations. I had to apply a few layers to get an opaque finish but the color builds nicely without getting crusty or flaking off. You can keep going brighter and brighter and brighter.

My lids are prone to creasing, but even though I forgot to prime them, there was zero product movement by midnight. Last but not least, this was easy to remove – it came off with two swipes of micellar water, no smearing. Can’t wait to try “Mysterious and Confident” Purple next.

Andrew Nguyen, Editorial Assistant

Photo: Copyright 2019. All rights reserved.

My look was inspired by @honeydon.t using three spring-appropriate colors: yellow, light blue, and pink. I’ll start off with the bad news and say that the yellow was disappointing; the applicator got dry and the pigment started pilling. However, the light blue and pink were really vivid and applied super-smoothly, although I did have to use two or three coats to make it look vibrant. (I’m sure if I used a white concealer on my eyes to prime, this wouldn’t have been an issue). It also dried quickly; when I accidentally blinked with my hooded eyes, the liquid didn’t transfer at all.

I fell asleep with the liner on, and when I woke up later, the pink and light blue had not budged. I was surprised by how easy the calligraphy-pen-like brush tip was to use (I normally just use black liquid liner from the drugstore). I’ll try every color next, please!

Callie Beusman, News Editor

I recently started going on an eye shadow journey, by which I mean I watch a lot of YouTube tutorials and wear club makeup to work with startling regularity now, so I jumped at the opportunity to try this. In order for an eye product to appeal to me, it has to meet one of two criteria: Does this make me look like an anime character? or Does this make me look like a Bratz doll? This liner, being eye-opening, falls in the former category, and I think it performs well — my eyes look open as hell. I tried the yellow shade to be experimental, and I honestly don’t know if I will wear it again. It’s a little too light to notice unless you are fairly close up.

That said, I think this is a really, really good liquid eyeliner. It was super-precise and easy to apply, and it lasted a really long time. (I did a few practice strokes on my wrist a few days ago and they only just came off.) The packaging is also really pretty! I’ll probably order it in black and maybe a darker colorful option, like burgundy or purple.

Brock Colyar, Editorial Assistant

Perhaps because of my steady diet of caffeine and nicotine, I have incredibly shaky hands, which means I have a poor relationship with liquid eyeliner. It’s rare if I don’t end up with a bulky, uneven line that makes me look like Avril Lavigne. This eyeliner, however, comes with a brush that makes it super-easy to apply an even, clean line, or get creative with a cat-eye or a floating line.

I loved the khaki and light-blue colors (one for work, one for play). I wore the light blue for several hours in a disturbingly sweaty bar and it stayed on the whole night. I applied it rather heavily, and it washed off super easily, so a normal application might not mean a lasting look. I had minor trouble with eyeliner’s brush fraying, and another color I tried dried quickly after the lid wasn’t completely closed. Nevertheless, I’ll definitely grab a few more of the many colors; I want to be a chameleon.

Kathleen Hou, Beauty Director

Japanese drugstores offer really high-quality products, among them liquid liners that dry quickly and don’t budge. These liners are supposed to be extra special — they’re made by artisans in the Kumano region of Japan (known as the luxury makeup-brush-making capital of the world). They’re also allegedly waterproof.

The liners are pretty good, although not perfect. I tried the light blue, and I liked how bright the color was and how smoothly the product flowed from the calligraphy tip (it’s a very malleable, so maybe not the best for those who prefer a sturdy tip for their eyeliner). The pen seems to deposit color by leaving a slight film, rather than an ink, so there isn’t any smudging. The formula also has the slightest hint of tackiness. I didn’t like how the tip started to feather over time.

I did appreciate the fun colors, though, and how they really popped and became more and more vibrant with layers. Among the shades, the light blue, brown, and pink were my favorite. The burgundy had the unfortunate texture and feel of dried blood. Put through the extreme stress test of workouts, the eyeliners endured somewhat well. I didn’t sweat droplets of bright blue or pink, but I did notice post workout that about 25 percent of the color faded off. But since we live in a blessed time when your liner doesn’t have to be perfect, that’s totally fine.

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5 People Test a Mysterious New Japanese Liquid Liner