The Sample: Make Up For Ever Aqua Black Waterproof Cream Eye Shadow (Review, Swatches & Photos)

20 Apr

Anyone with small eyes/lids will know that it can sometimes be a real pain in the you-know-what trying to find an eyeliner that will won’t crease on you. Well, take that and add oily lids into the mix and you’re in for a real treat. I’ve never been able to line my upper lids all the way from my inner corner to my outer corner, just because my lid folds over at the inner corner–so no matter what eyeliner I am wearing (waterproof, smudge-proof, gel, pencil…),  it’s only a matter of time before that eyeliner transfers to my fold and creases everywhere. This is why I tightline my eyes. If you are unsure what tightlining is, check out this helpful post from Makeup for Life.

I had been using Shiseido’s Cream Eyeliner for a while to tightline because I like the consistency. A cream, for me, is ideal for tightlining because it’s easier for me to pick up the product with my brush and easier to control because it’s a bit firmer. But Shiseido’s Cream liner sadly does not last on my eyeliner-resistant eyes. So I’ve been on the hunt for a new one–which leads me to Make Up For Ever’s Aqua Black Waterproof Cream Eye Shadow.

Yes, I am aware that it is not technically an eyeliner–but I figured if it’s waterproof and pigmented and has a cream-consistency and has the added benefit of containing almost double the amount of product than Make Up For Ever’s actual Aqua Cream eyeliner has for only $2 more–why not?! This product has a very emollient, creamy consistency, gliding easily on my eyelids like butter. I think this is by far my favorite texture of any of the gel-cream/cream liners I’ve tried.

When I want an eyeliner pencil that won’t smudge and migrate all day long, I look to Make Up For Ever Aqua Eyes liners. So it was a natural choice for me to go to the brand when it came time for me to repurchase another cream liner. According to Make Up For Ever, the product’s “rich black pigment creates the ultimate defining line and its creamy texture creates a sultry, smudgy effect.” I find this to be very true. This stuff is super pigmented! I only need to slightly lay the edge of my flat eyeliner brush on top of the cream to get enough product on my brush to line one eye–no digging, swiping, and/or pressure needed! It’s so easy to create a thin opaque line with this–you can very easily smudge it out and somehow, it looks perfect every time (in that perfect undone, I-slept-in-my-makeup-and-just-happened-to-wake-up-looking-this-good kinda way). But beware, any smudging or blending needs to be done before this stuff sets, otherwise it’s not going anywhere.

Aqua Black dries down to a deep, matte black. Its finish once dry is not at all like other cream shadows (MAC Paint Pot, Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Cream Shadow, etc.) where it either feels slightly powdery or slightly creamy. Aqua Black feels just a tiny bit rough and dry.

The small, sleek plastic container has a plastic insert covering the product to keep it from drying out. Don’t throw this away!! Because this product is so pigmented, only a little is needed to line both eyes. So, you end up using less–therefore, this pot will last you forever. That is IF it doesn’t dry out–so do everything you can to keep this is a cool, dry place, tightly sealed, and with the plastic insert over top.

I tested this liner on my waterline, tightline, and upper lash line and it never failed to impress. The liner wore all day (12 hours) with nary a smudge to be seen. I even splashed water on my face (didn’t move) and rubbed my eyes (didn’t smudge). I swear to you, it is that good. I stopped tightlining my eyes for a while because I couldn’t handle the smudging that came with it–but since I started using the Make Up For Ever Aqua Black, I can tightline like a pro and it doesn’t look obvious. It just looks like I have super full, super black lashes. Score!

*update: I accidentally fell asleep without removing my eyeliner last night and when I woke up this morning, my eyeliner was still perfect. I am not kidding you!

A few swatches of Aqua Black. The one all the way on the right was swatched heavily and then blended out with my finger towards the right

This photo was taken after I rubbed my arm vigorously back and forth. You can see where the product has obviously cracked and flaked off, but there was absolutely no movement of the color itself. Be aware though that these were VERY thick, heavy swatches and of the 3 swatches, the thin line (which is about as much product as you would use to apply your eyeliner normally) faired the best. In other words, if you use Aqua Black as an eyeliner and not a cream eyeshadow, you should experience little to no flaking (unless you rub your eyes)


…However, there is a “but”. This cream is phenominal as an eyeliner, but it does tend to flake on you if you rub your eyes or disturb the product in any way once it has set–especially if you apply too thick a layer of product. If you happen to get some product on your lashes while lining your eyes and then go to apply mascara after, you may experience some flaking of the product off your lashes and onto your cheeks. This goes without saying that if you do intend to use this as an eyeshadow, you’ll want to avoid caking on the product and be sure to blend well to avoid this problem.

While Make Up For Ever calls this a cream eyeshadow, this wouldn’t be my first pick for a shadow–but that’s just me. I guess if you wanted to do a super black, kinda obvious looking smokey eye, then you could definitely use this. But I definitely wouldn’t apply a wash of this and go about my business during the day. Which brings me to my next gripe: this cream shadow has been out for years now, and Make Up For Ever still hasn’t thought to add more colors to their cream eyeshadow line? I know, I know they have the Aqua Creams, but still.

Before the rub test–L to R: Azure over dried Aqua Black, Azure over wet Aqua Black, Azure over bare skin, Azure over Nars Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base

After the rub test–L to R: Azure over dried Aqua Black, Azure over wet Aqua Black, Azure over bare skin, Azure over Nars Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base


I tested this as a base under Stila’s Azure eyeshadow. From left to right in the photos above, you have Azure over Aqua Black once it had already set (swatch #1), Azure over a still slightly wet Aqua Black (swatch #2), Azure over bare skin (swatch #3), and Azure over Nars Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base. After an exuberant rub test, you’ll see that both swatches #1 and #2 held up just fine. There was some transference of shadow to the finger that was doing the rubbing, but the swatch itself remained vibrant and there was no real smearing, smudging or fading. Not bad at all! They both did an outstanding job, but swatch #2 was more vibrant than #1–though only slightly. Either way, Aqua Black makes a great shadow base! Be aware that if you do use this as a base for another shadow, it may alter or darken the color. That may not necessarily be a bad thing though–as you can see, the black base made Azure much more bold and vibrant.

The Azure applied over my current favorite primer, Nars Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base, faired pretty well also. You can see from the picture that the Nars base was slightly less vibrant after the test, while both swatches applied over Aqua Black were still bright and blue. It proves that Aqua Black works well as an eyeshadow primer–but I will still stick with my Nars base. It’s just a better everyday primer in my opinion, and it’s a lot silkier and smoother to apply and blend out on the skin than the Aqua Black. The Nars base spreads out to a thin, even layer that maintains its smoothness while Aqua Black feels a little grittier on the skin once dry. It is nice to have another option out there, though. Aqua Black is great for creating the perfect dramatic, sweat-proof smokey-eye for all you clubbers out there!

I don’t think there’s much else I can really say about this stuff–I freaking love this cream eyeliner/eyeshadow! It works well, goes above and beyond its long-wearing, waterproof, and smudge-proof claims, it’s easy to work with, and it’s extremely pigmented. This cream shadow really performs at top level. I always thought Bobbi Brown’s Gel liners were the best of the best–and while I don’t think anyone can say that they suck, I actually prefer the texture of Aqua Black much more. While I like to use Aqua Black as a liner, it does perform magnificently as a cream shadow and/or base for a powder shadow.

Pros: very pigmented; matte; easy to apply; multi-purpose; easy to pick up product with any kind of eyeliner brush; easy to blend; extremely long-wearing; waterproof; smudge-proof; sweat-proof; fade-proof; contains double the amount of product than Make Up For Ever’s actual gel-cream liners for $2 more;

Cons: product flakes if disturbed after it has dried; Make Up For Ever currently only has one color offering for their Waterproof Cream Eye Shadow (strange, considering there is such a wide selection of color for all their other products)

»»Pricing: $22/0.24 oz.

»»Availability: Sephora (the exclusive retailer for this product)

»»Recommended for: anyone!; those with small eyes and/or oily eyelids; those looking for durable clubbing makeup or stage makeup that won’t melt under the heat of the lights

»»Overall Rating: A-

2 Responses to “The Sample: Make Up For Ever Aqua Black Waterproof Cream Eye Shadow (Review, Swatches & Photos)”

  1. Perilously Pale May 26, 2012 at 11:16 am #

    I just picked this up not that long ago for use as a liner as well. I love it! I never would have considered it if they hadn’t been raving about it at a Make Up For Ever event I was at.

    • becca May 26, 2012 at 11:13 pm #

      Isn’t it a fantastic product? Do you experience any flaking with it? I do just a bit when tightlining because some of the product with get on my lashes, dry, then flake off into my eyes. I have to say though, it’s STILL worth it to me to not have to worry about it smudging underneath my eyes. :)

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