Essence Gel Eyeliner in 01 Midnight In Paris – Review

Eyeliner is a particular passion of mine. Black lipstick aside, heavy black eyeliner was middle-school EA’s go-to-look. I think there’s still a little goth in me because I still LOVE a good black eyeliner; though probably not caked on as thick. I had been saving up for the infamous MAC fluidline, but my little trip to Ulta resulted in a purchase of this beautifully cheap pot of gel and I’m so glad it happened.

Generic Information:

Essence is well known to makeup wearing gals across the pond, but in the United States I’ve only ever seen it at Ulta Cosmetic stores. According to the US website, Essence cosmetics can also be purchased at H-E-B and Fred Meyer.

I feel this gel liner was a steal at $3.49 USD. Compare this to Maybelline’s Eye Studio® Lasting Drama™ Gel Eyeliner for $6-8 bucks or MAC’s Fluidline for $15 and you’ve got yourself one hell of a bargain. It doesn’t come with a brush, but those are easily purchased. The lady at Ulta said essence’s own gel eyeliner brush was too soft for use and so for now I’m using a stiff smudging brush from ELF. (Any suggestions on a good eyeliner brush? I don’t care for ELF’s.)

I purchased 01, Midnight in Paris. A matte true black. There are also shades London Baby (taupe brown with shimmer), Berlin Rocks (metallic deep purple) and I Love NYC (shimmery forest green.) In addition to the regular colors, I’ve heard about a limited edition series of 2 colors called Denim Wanted.


Something I really like about this product is how unbelievably SOFT it is. It makes it a real breeze to pick up the product on the softest of brushes. The smoothness of it allows for a clean line, it goes on perfectly. With a decent brush I can’t see you mis-applying this. The only problem is that you have to clean up stray lines ASAP. Failure to do so will result in having to dot around with makeup remover and a q-tip because once it’s dry it’s DRY.

See how nice and smooth it is? (Ignore the failed attempt at a wing!)


This is exactly what a gel liner should be IMO. It’s a matte, richly pigmented black. It doesn’t fade or lose color. The pigmentation is some of the best I’ve ever seen.

Drying Time:

Drying times all depend on your skin, the air circulation and the temperature. I tested this product out in a room with little air circulation, on my hand (which is relatively dry and not oily) and in 75 degree (Fahrenheit) weather.

Freshly Applied

30 Seconds Later

1 Minute Later

2 Minutes Later

3 Minutes Later

It looked fairly dry at 3 minutes and while the majority was – the outer edges where the brush placed the most product were not. Those sections took about 5 minutes and some gentle dabbing to dry. That’s honestly more than the usual amount of time i’m willing to wait for an everyday eyeliner, but I’d make the sacrifice for the days when I need an eyeliner that lasts. But more on that later.

Smudge Proof:

I could only bring myself to wait the 3 minutes before my smudge test. I feel this was more than enough time for a gel eyeliner to set properly. Now, keep in mind this wasn’t put on with primer or set with powder. As I discussed above, it was still a little wet:

Smudged At 3 Minutes

The eyeliner hadn’t fully dried at that point, but the only parts that smudged were the parts that were still a bit wet. If you give it time (5+ minutes in my experience) to dry out properly there will be no fear of smudging. If you’re impatient like me – it still takes quite a bit of force to smudge.


You know how some eye-items will say “waterproof” but what they really mean is “please don’t test out this claim because our product totally won’t stand up to the test?” This product does about what I expect from my waterproof makeup. Did it fade a little? Yes. But this isn’t going to come off if your face gets splashed with water or you burst into tears.

After Rubbing With Water Only

The areas of fade you do see are where the eyeliner had been smudged. This is what made me crack and buy makeup remover towelettes. It took the use of an oil-based lotion to finally get this off my hand when I first swatched it (aforementioned makeup remover towelettes had not yet been purchased. Plain ole dove and water didn’t do the trick.

After using soap and water.

It requires a strong cleanser and eye-safe makeup remover to get it off even when I’m showering. This is despite the fact that I don’t set my liquid/gel eyeliners with powder, the sweltering heat that I’ve been dying through lately and my oily eyelids.


The magic of finding a beloved product where you never expected it is here. I don’t even WANT to try MAC fluidline after finding this little baby. I can’t see where it would reasonably be improved upon. I’ll definitely be re-purchasing.

Cost: $3.49USD

Available At: Ulta Cosmetics Stores and Online

Application: 9/10

Pigmentation: 10/10

Drying Time: 6/10

Smudge Proof: 7/10

Waterproof: 9/10

Overall: 8/10

What’s your preference when it comes to eyeliners? I still stick by my Wet n Wild kohl pencil for every day but this product makes me want to try other formulas!

<3 EA

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8 Responses to Essence Gel Eyeliner in 01 Midnight In Paris – Review

  1. Meredith says:

    I only started using gel liners recently and I won’t go back! What a difference in application. Makes it so so so much easier.

  2. Dang great pigmentation! Thanks for all the different pics! Love the name of the color.:) Lol I also sometimes sported black ls in HS. >_< Those were the days!

  3. oh wow! I’ve never seen gel liners! Maybe I should go more often to cosmetics shops ;) I like liners but they tend to smudge so fast.. so maybe this is the right one for me :)

  4. yessypea says:

    hmm i might have to try this out! although you’re gonna have to drag me away kicking and screaming from my mac fluidline lol

  5. Seems nice! Disappointed it’s not smudge proof though :)

    Great review

  6. Sara.H says:

    would give it a try. Thank you for your great review :)

  7. FFFFF- cheap gel liner???! That IS miraculous. Haha.

    And it’s such a nice black, too. Not some super-dark brown. <33 I really like how smoothly it went on. o.o

    P.S. Dude… the amount of lenses I've been tossing this past month… I could've opened up a 2nd hand lens store. xD

  8. Lowela says:

    Totally into it, I mean I also love eyeliner since I have a pair of tiny and Chinese like eyes. I use eyeliner to emphasize my eyes but the sad part of it is, if use a non liquid one it will eventually fade away but for a liquid eyeliner you just have to wait for a few minutes which I think is a time consuming and probably not applicable if you are in a hurry.
    Lowela recently posted..provillus reviews

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