Makeup: the best bargain liquid eyeliner

Here’s something that will come as no surprise to anyone: I love makeup. Barely a day goes past where I’m not wearing it (basically I have to be at death’s door not to) and my cosmetic collection (ok, lipsticks particularly) is on the vast side. But I’m not a snob about brands and I’m always ecstatic when I find a high-street/drugstore product that works – and I thought it was about time I paid tribute to some of these makeup greats, starting with this one (anyone who read my interview with Chronically Vintage will remember I mentioned a post of this nature was coming soon!). And this is one of those I start writing wondering if I’m about to alienate all of my readers outside of the UK with what is probably (?) a very British brand… but here goes nothing!
Collection 2000 Fast Stroke Liquid Eyeliner review
There was nowhere else I could have started but here: Collection’s Fast Stroke Liquid Eyeliner. I’ve been wearing this eyeliner pretty much daily for over a decade. I’ve dabbled with more expensive brands and different consistencies, including gel, and I always, always come back to this one. It’s barely increased in price since the first day I bought it and not only is it my longest-used makeup product, it’s also probably the best value for money.
Collection 2000 Fast Stroke Liquid Eyeliner review
Why is this eyeliner great? 
  1. It doesn’t smudge or flake and it stays on all the live-long day as long as you don’t rub your eyes (albeit it can fade a little and I will touch it up if I’m going out in the evening)
  2. The wand – if you’re a thick line lover like me, the shape of this wand is so easy to use to create a great big catseye wing. It’s still precise enough to get a nice point too
  3. It dries pretty darn quickly so none of this waiting for it to set before you can do your mascara malarkey
  4. Did I mention it’s cheap?! £2.99 to be precise!
  5. One little bottle will last you a while – with daily use for thick lines I can get about 4 months out of these (but see a couple of comments below on what might make you want to replace it sooner)
Those reasons alone mean that despite some of its flaws (which I’m getting to), it’s always going to be one of my favourite products. Because, here’s the thing, it does everything I need an eyeliner to do. So why would I upgrade it to a more expensive model?
Collection 2000 Fast Stroke Liquid Eyeliner review
However, like I say, it’s not perfect. I actually don’t find myself that bothered by its ‘quirks’ these days as most of them come from having a well-used bottle and for the price I’ll just buy a new one, but to give it a fair review…
What’s not so good
  1. While with daily heavy use (which I consider mine to be!) this takes months to run out, at about month two you will notice something: the bristles will start to come out. They’re easy to spot when this happens and I tend to just pull them out, wipe the product off my fingers and carry on. It’s cheap, so whatever…
  2. At about month three or four the liquid might get a little bit more ‘gloopy’ – this doesn’t seem to happen with all of my bottles so perhaps it depends on how long it’s been sitting on the shop floor, but I do notice it with some. When it happens, though, I just wipe the excess off on the bottle top and continue – and it’s fine
  3. As I mentioned above, it does sometimes wear off a little during the day and if you have any issues with your eyes running this probably isn’t going to be the eyeliner for you. It’s not waterproof, but you wouldn’t expect it to be!
  4. The waterproof version actually sucks, which is such a shame. It applies just as well but it flakes. I HATE flaking eyeliner. A whole chunk of your beautifully-drawn line just randomly disappearing during the day is not a good look
So there you go… that’s my favourite steal beauty product (and actually, I’ve got another from this brand I might share in future too). However, I’m still half-heartedly looking for a decent gel eyeliner too for a softer look, so do give me any recommendations? I should probably try Collection’s, to be fair! And don’t recommend that awful Benefit push-up pen – the worst smudging of an eyeliner I’ve ever experienced!


  1. April 14, 2015 / 12:36 pm

    Bobbi Brown's gel eyeliner is excellent, but I did find having to use a brush (and clean it!) a bit of a faff. I loved Kat Von D's eyeliner pen, but it's just run out so I recently tried Mac's liquid eyeliner, and it sucks – it's so runny that it bleeds, giving me a fuzzy line not a sleek one! I can't go back to Kat Von D because it's hard to get in the UK and hence incredibly expensive, so if you have any pen eyeliner recommendations I'd love to hear them!! Sounds like this Collection one is a good choice if you like liquid ones, I'm tempted to try it for that price! Hope you're having a good week xx

    • April 14, 2015 / 12:50 pm

      I hate having to use a separate brush… that's mostly why I haven't ventured to much into the gel game. I'm inherently deeply lazy! Kat Von D – never tried any of it but seems like Lime Crime in terms of being really expensive and hard to get hold of here… The only pen eyeliner I've ever liked that I've tried is the Soap & Glory Supercat one. It's pretty good in all respects apart from it's not BLACK black – it's paler than my beloved Collection liquid… but sometimes that's nice, so it could be worth a try if you don't mind that? xx

    • April 14, 2015 / 1:40 pm

      Oo might try that Soap & Glory one – I think darkest black doesn't look quite right on me with my hair colour and skin tone, seems a bit dramatic! Thanks x

    • April 14, 2015 / 6:58 pm

      I want to try a gel, I think Maybeline ( or someone does like that) does one that I keep eyeing up

  2. April 14, 2015 / 12:46 pm

    Okay, if/when I finally make it to the UK, I am going to bring an empty makeup bag just to try and stock up on this fabulous sounding liquid liner. I have a budget-friendly brand that I use and like a fair bit, but the point (of the felt marker style tip) could be firmer and more precise and the colour colour could be a richer black, so I haven't sworn my undying love to it and it alone for all of time by any means.

    Great post, dear gal – and thank you ever so much for mentioning our lovely interview in it. That was really sweet of you to do.

    Big hugs,
    ♥ Jessica

    • April 14, 2015 / 12:52 pm

      And also their amazing concealer, which is the item I'm hinting at that I might cover in future 😉 I find felt markers hard to get a really deep black, so I definitely know what you mean by that. I guess on that front liquids can't be beaten…

      And no problem, it occurs to me I probably haven't mentioned our interview enough, actually! x

  3. April 14, 2015 / 4:12 pm

    I think my liquid eyeliner is Collection as well, not that I use it super often. I had a gel eyeliner from W7 which was cheap and pretty reasonable quality for the price, so that might be worth a try if you can find it (I've just had a look on the website and it doesn't seem to be there). It wasn't the blackest eyeliner ever, but otherwise I liked it.

    • April 15, 2015 / 12:22 pm

      I've not ever heard of W7 and I'm baffled, because I thought I was one of the biggest makeup junkies out there! Have to check it out now…

  4. April 14, 2015 / 5:31 pm

    This is a fabulous post, as the right liquid eyeliner is a pressing consideration! Even though I don't wear much make-up on an everyday basis, eyeliner is one of the few things I like to put on. Like you I've tried different brands over the years, with varying levels of success. My favourite was the Ruby and Millie i-Writer pen which unfortunately disappeared from Boots. But since then, I've discovered Bourjois liquid eyeliner, which also gives a precise point and good line.

    Anyway, it's great to read your thoughts on the best liquid eyeliner, as you always seem to achieve that lovely cat eye flick which can be quite a challenge!

    Saba x

    • April 15, 2015 / 12:23 pm

      Eyeliner has always been one of my staples – it has so much power to transform a face! Ruby and Millie seem to have disappeared generally, which is such a shame as they had some great lipsticks… Bourjois is one of the few I haven't tried in terms of liquid eyeliner, but I know I'd only end up going back to this one anyway 😉 x

  5. April 14, 2015 / 9:08 pm

    I like this one too, although lately I've been using a Max Factor one which is also pretty cheap, and seems to have exactly the right kind of brush for me. It does tend to dry up pretty fast, though, so I might have to re-purchase some of this stuff – I seem to remember the last one I had being in my makeup stash for WAY longer than it really should have been!

    • April 15, 2015 / 12:24 pm

      I think the right brush is a big part of it – and I find this Collection one is ideal for the thick lines I like, while still being able to create a nice point. But I also suspect I've honed that skill after using it for so long too! I imagine if you didn't use as much eyeliner as I did a day this stuff would last over 6 months! And it doesn't dry-up, which does surprise me a bit as it's a pretty quick-dry formula when it's on. Not complaining though!

  6. April 15, 2015 / 10:29 am

    I always hear good things about this brand and it kills me that it's all the way in the UK! I guess it's just another reason to go back when I can afford it!

    • April 15, 2015 / 12:25 pm

      I'm sorry! If you ever get over here you have to get your hands on this and also their fab concealer, which I'll post about in the future…

  7. April 15, 2015 / 7:54 pm

    What a great post! I guess you were right about it being UK-familiar-only because I've never heard of it.. (or is it just me?). Anyway, liquid non waterproof eyeliner are not for me, because I have recently had a laser eye surgery and have to constantly use eye drops. Before the surgery I used L'oreal's felt tip eyeliner, and now I switched to Bobbi Brown gel eyeliner, which is a bit expansive but lasts long and I love it! The only thing is you have to clean the brush…

    (from A Golden Picnic)

    • April 16, 2015 / 12:15 pm

      I don't think it's just you! That's interesting about your laser eye surgery – I've often wondered about having this and wouldn't have even thought it would affect what makeup you can wear! I always hear good things about Bobbi Brown but I can't justify the price… And there's little I hate more than cleaning brushes caked in makeup 😉

  8. April 15, 2015 / 9:15 pm

    I used to love e.l.f's liquid eyeliner because it was much like you described this one — lasting, good for the price, included a brush — but I think they changed up their recipe because now it's flaky and terrible. So, so sad. The old formula used to be so good! I've switched to pencil liner, which I like because it can be used for a line OR to smudge. But I'm still on the lookout for a good liquid to use those days when I want a super crisp line.

    • April 16, 2015 / 12:17 pm

      Oh no, that's so gutting! Estée Lauder did that with my all-time favourite foundation and I was heartbroken – the new formula was bright orange and really thin and completely useless. Why do brands do this?! Good luck in your quest to find a new eyeliner!

  9. April 17, 2015 / 6:25 pm

    I don't think they have that brand here in the US, but my go to liquid liner is similarly cheap, from a brand called ELF. The bristles get a little funny on this one too, but it's a real brush, not a felt tip (no matter how often people tell me felt tip is better, I feel like they always dry out in a matter of weeks, no matter how careful I am), and it doesn't budge for anything.
    I actually only just discovered a trick for getting my liquid liner even – I use white eyeliner to draw a line under my eye, extending it out past the outer corner, and then use that line as a template for my flick. It's so simple, I couldn't believe how much that helped.

    • April 21, 2015 / 6:08 am

      Kristina mentions that one above, funnily enough – but she's saying the formula changed… I hope Collection never ever change my liner!! I don't get on with the felt tip ones either – they're just too unpredictable for the colour pay off. That's a neat trick! I've never had a big problem with flicks but I've literally drawn one every day since I was about 16/17 so that might have something to do with it!

  10. April 20, 2015 / 12:28 pm

    I've always wanted to wear a "cat eye" but literally have no skills when it comes to allying liquid eyeliner. It always comes out looking uneven and just wrong. I tried the scotch tape trick which did help but now I suppose practice makes perfect. I think I'm gonna try again this super. That is a bummer the water proof version isn't all that great. Whats a Mermaid to do?

    • April 21, 2015 / 6:09 am

      I've just had way too many years of daily practice! I'm pretty sure the first few years were rather sketchy 😉 I think tutorials are helpful to a point but I've never found one that's helped me create the line that works for my face and eye shape. My hunt continues for a good waterproof eyeliner… xx

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