I’m not particularly fond of most liquid eyeliners, but pen liners make application oh-so-simple and quick, with an excellent color payoff to boot. In high school, I only wore Physician’s Formula pen liner. In college, I only wore Lorac pen liner. Now that I have become more bothered by the ingredients in my favorite cosmetics, these ancient formulas need to be pitched from my stash once and for all. So, which is the better bet to repurchase?
Both Lorac and Physician’s Formula have revved up their formulas over the past couple years to remove parabens (hormone disruptors), which deserves some consciousness credit. Here’s the Skindeep app synopsis:
**Sidenote: Physician’s Formula lists its pen with a felt tip, but that’s incorrect. It’s a brush tip. The old version (circa 2008) was previously made of felt and would dry out sooner.
The app did not feature a chemical analysis for Lorac liner in “Black”, but I would expect similar results to those shown above for “Brown”. When I searched on Lorac’s website for the chemical variants between modern “Brown” and “Black” shades, all that was available was the out-of-date, paraben-laden ingredient list from their old formula.
Clearly, Physician’s Formula is in the lead, though I strongly advise using the app to double check when you pick up a box of Physician’s Formula liner because a slightly older formula is a 3/10 rather than a 2/10, and the only ways to distinguish if you have the less toxic version in your hands is to compare the barcode via app OR visually scan the ingredients to be sure the low hazard ingredients called “ferric ammonium ferrocyanide” and “iron oxides” are not listed.
Now, the physical comparison:
These products are nearly identical in look and function. Both feature flexible, soft paint brushes for heads. The best part is that both last all day long. Once they’re dried, they don’t budge, which is ideal for eye liner, and because they’re liquid, they won’t run into (read: sting) your eyes as you go about your day. Drawing thinner lines requires little pressure, and for thicker lines, tilt the brush sideways and draw like you would with any other marker. Easy as can be.
Here’s a close-up of the swatches I painted on my wrist, and I dare you to try to guess whose is whose. That’s how confident I am that, once applied, the two are indistinguishable to the naked eye.
I wholeheartedly agree with Christina at acasualbeauty about having zero interest in the lash serum claim Physician’s Formula makes. (Judging by the photos on the side of the box, it’s bogus, anyway.) In the end, it really just comes down to price. Lorac will run you about $23 before tax, and Physician’s Formula comes closer to $11. At a 12 buck difference, replacement pens add up quickly. Luckily, with light daily use (2-3 strokes per eye), you might take a whole year to use up the ink in either of these. Mine typically last about a full year.
Personally, I’m back to Physician’s Formula for good. Cheaper price is a huge perk, but it’s the better chemical composition that wins me over in the end.