tarte EmphasEYES Aqua-Gel Eyeliners review

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase.

tarte EmphasEYES Aqua-Gel Eyeliners with different shadesphotos: we heart this

When I was little, I loved my 64 count box of Crayola crayons, the one with the little sharpener in the bottom of the box. I would carefully take them all out of the box and organize them by color, so I could always find exactly the crayon I wanted. And I loved the names of the colors: Purple Mountain’s Majesty, Cerulean, Macaroni and Cheese, Robin’s Egg Blue… When the 128 count box came out, I thought I would explode with excitement! I neeeeeeded to have every shade possible. I pleaded and pleaded with my mom to get it for me, but to no avail. She said it was too expensive and that I didn’t need that many colors.

In denying me that 128 count box of crayons, I’d been left with a void that could only be filled with color. Eventually, that void was filled…with eyeliner. Yes, eyeliner became my new, grown-up “crayons.” The colors, shape and enticing names just make my inner child shriek with joy. So of course I was thrilled when I received the new tarte EmphasEYES Aqua-Gel Eyeliner in Bronze.

Although the product is called “aqua-gel eyeliner,” it is actually an automatic eyeliner pencil that claims to combine the pigmentation and staying power of a gel eyeliner with the ease of application that comes from an automatic eyeliner pencil. I’m a huge fan of gel and cream eyeliners for those very reasons, so I was curious to see how this pencil would stack up.

With eight sleek shades, tarte has a while to go to match the choices of my box of crayons, but the colors offered deliver the deep and rich pigment they promise. A mixture of dark neutrals (Black, Brown, Charcoal) and vibrant pops (check out the Teal!) means there should be a Aqua-Gel Eyeliner for everyone.

tarte EmphasEYES Aqua-Gel Eyeliners Swatches from top: bronze, teal, brown, green, navy

The first plus of this liner is the pen application – if you lack the steady hands and/or time to use a pot and brush, this tarte invention may be your answer. The pen shape makes it so much easier to apply. The tip is on the medium to thick side, so if you want a very fine line this may not achieve that.

tarte EmphasEYES Aqua-Gel Eyeliners Swatches (I’m loving the sparkle in the navy one! ~Stef)

With this formula, tarte truly turned a gel into a liquid – it’s super smooth and slick and leaves a cooling tingle on the skin. When I first applied it, I loved how it just glided onto my eyelid. And that Bronze color was gorgeous – highly pigmented with a hint of shimmer. And the cooling sensation (where I’d used the liner) was surprisingly pleasant. So far, so good!

But an hour later, I was less enthusiastic about it. As I was walking from the car to my workplace, my eyes began to water a bit from the cold. After I dabbed at the corner of my eye, I noticed that the eyeliner had come off. I was a little disappointed, because gel eyeliners can usually withstand a bit of tearing up. Fortunately, I didn’t have many problems with it in subsequent trials. But it not sticking, stuck with me.

The tarte EmphasEYES Aqua-Gel Eyeliner retails for $18 for 0.003 oz, (which is the same price as many other automatic pencil eyeliners, but for about a third of the product.) The pen applicator, colors and smooth, cooling formula are big pluses, but I would like to see a bit more staying power.

we heartsters and testers, how do you feel about tarte’s EmphasEYES Aqua-Gel Eyeliner? Did it fulfill your crayon fantasies?

Marilyn is a makeup maniac and slow but stubborn runner. She loves color coding her day planner, reading celebrity gossip and drinking good wine. Marilyn blogs about makeup and fitness over at her blog, Lipgloss and Spandex.

Disclosure: This review includes products that were provided by the manufacturer/PR firm for our consideration. It also contains an affiliate link, a link that gives us a small commission if you purchase the item. For more info, or any questions, please see our disclosure policy.


  • Marilyn

    Marilyn is a makeup maniac and slow but stubborn runner. She loves color coding her day planner, reading celebrity gossip and drinking good wine. skin tone: NC25 Skin type: oily, acne-prone Favorite beauty product: eyeshadow

    View all posts


  1. I like the aqua gel eyeliners a lot! Happily, I didn’t have any disappearing acts like @lipglossandspandex did. I thought mine was rather long lasting. They really are a gel liner in pen form. No brush to mess with! And you get the same lush, opaque look that you get with gel liners. But also like gel liners, they don’t blend super well. They’re more like a liquid liner than a pencil liner in that respect. So it’s a little bit of a mind-bender! I picked up my smudge brush that I normally use to smoke out liners, and went “oh right, it’s a gel/liquid liner” when it didn’t move.

    I took the Green, a sparkling khaki that’s very, very pretty. But I tell you, that Teal (that doesn’t look like teal at all, right? That’s blue if I ever saw a blue!) is looking like something I REALLY need to pick up…And the dark shimmer in the Navy is driving me a bit batty with lust too.

    I’d like to see them branch out with colors, and maybe drop the price just a tad. $18 for an eyeliner causes me to pause just a tad. But 4 solid stars from me!

  2. That’s a shame about the staying power and the price, I love all things tarte and I’d normally be on this in a heartbeat! I think I’ll stick to my normal eyeliner and gel liners. Though that bronze looks yummy!

  3. I have terrible allergies. Normally, when I try new eye products I kind of hold my breath to prepare for the fact, I could plunge into a huge sneezing frenzy which causes my eyes to water. In my case, my sensitive eyes had no problem with this product.

    I got to try this eyeliner in NAVY. This was the first time I had worn navy eyeliner since early high school. I was so discombobulated consulted with @lipglossandspandex on what shadow to wear navy eyeliner with. (She is my color mentor because she truly does use every color in the crayon box.) She suggested gray/silver shadows with a navy crease. HELLO PERFECTION!!! It looked great. The eyeliner really popped and held steady in numerous stressful 12 hour work days. What a work horse!

    For everyone out there who has forgotten about the color navy in eyeliner, I want to strongly encourage you to consider getting reacquainted. It is long lasting, non irritating and made in the USA. I am so glad I stepped away from my circle of regular colors and tried something new.

    5 stars for me!

  4. Ooh, I literally just bought a navy sweater and now must have the navy liner! Great tip to pair in with a silver gray shadow…can’t wait to try that!

  5. @hao9703, awww, you are too kind!

    While the color choices for the tarte Aqua-Gel eyeliners are absolutely DIVINE, and they apply fabulously, and feel great… I’m going to have to stick with my gel liners because of the price, and staying power. However, if you’re a die-hard pencil fan, and are willing to shell out some extra bucks, give these a try. I’m giving them three stars.

    I’m personally going to try the new tarte Amazonian clay waterproof eyeliner when it’s back in stock! I’m hoping for a better value.

  6. I also received one of the liners in brown. And I loved it. I am not a typical eyeliner wearer. But liner like this makes me rethink my lazy ways. It is so smooth-like butter! It is not a difficult liner to apply-which is good news for eyeliner novices. I think that the ease of application comes from the slanted and well defined tip. And the brown is surprisingly vivid. I also found it to be pretty long lasting. I have a lot of allergies and at times my eyes can get pretty watery. But luckily I did not notice any smudging. Yay! Like @stef I will go 4 stars on this liner only because of the somewhat high price and the fact that it doesn’t come in more colors(like U.D.) But overall, this is a great eyeliner!

  7. A good eyeliner…I got the Aqua color..great little pup on the lower rim wiht a neutral eye!!

  8. I don’t want to try to predict the future but I have a good feeling these might not work for me. BUT they sound very lovely to smudge onto my lower lash line. I love the shades they offer – they all look like everyday colors even if they aren’t brown or black. I do love Stila so I would definitely give these a try.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *