Laura Mercier Cake Eyeliner

Cake eyeliner is a dry, pressed (cake of) powder. To use it correctly, you dampen your eyeshadow brush and muddle it on the cake until you achieve a mixture the consistency of shoepolish. In my mind, it’s an eyeliner that’s as precise as liquid, but easier to use. And of course, you don’t have to worry about your product drying out before you use it all: The cake dries to its original state, ready for your next dampening.

You can’t really talk about cake eyeliner without mentioning Laura Mercier’s (it’s famous)… which is why the company’s reformulation of this classic product seems rather a bold move. (Click here to see the original cake eyeliners — though Emerald Green was discontinued in 2008.)

The new product is called Tightline Cake Eyeliner, and you CAN use it with water. But Laura has also introduced a new product called Tightline Activator. Once you use Activator on the cake, it becomes sealed against penetration by water. Muddle as you will, you won’t get any real pigment from the mixture (see the first swatch).

Tightline Activator is a small bottle of fluid. In terms of packaging, it looks identical to Trish McEvoy’s Finish Line; in terms of texture, LM’s Tightline Activator feels a bit oilier. I recommend applying just one drop of Tightline Activator directly to the bristles of your brush: if your mixture is too wet, the eyeliner bleeds.
Laura Mercier, cake eyeliner, swatches, Black Ebony, Mahogany Brown, Bleu Marine, Charcoal Grey, Forest Green, Plum Riche, KarlaSugar, Karla Sugar
The new cake liners are $22; Tightline Activator is $20 for .25 oz. (7 ml).

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21 Responses to “Laura Mercier Cake Eyeliner”

  • Ann says:

    *weeps* … and I thought this was going to be a good thing … I thought they were just bringing us more colors, not essentially killing one of my favorite products.

  • Heather says:

    So, $42 for an eyeliner and one that seems like a lot of trouble. The charcoal grey is the color I’ve been looking for around 5 years now. If anyone knows of a liner that is that color grey and doesn’t need schmancy application, please pass it on!

  • Amber says:

    I wonder how this lasts with using the other product instead of water. Karla – were they hard to wash off?

  • Krissy says:

    I have been using the forest green one with Visine and it has been working fine. The Visine doesn’t soak into the cake fast like it does on my original black ebony cake but it forms a paste on top of the cake (which does eventually soak in and dry.)

    I can’t but help notice the shiny sheen on the above swatches, is that from the tightline activator? I am not too sure I am liking the sheen.

  • Meghan says:

    It looks like Laura is trying to make us buy two products for the same effect. Can you try this with Paula Dorf transformer?

  • shane says:

    I was @ Nordstrom last week and bought the Tightline Trio (turquoise, bleu marine and gray). The MUA used water to demonstrate how to use it and it worked fine using the water. The MUA did say you couldn’t use water if you used the Tightline Activator- meaning you had to use one or the other but not both once you began to use it.

  • KarlaSugar says:

    AHH. Maybe that’s the root of the problem. Perhaps all six testers had already been tried with activator.

  • Sweepstaker says:

    I’ve been looking around for charcoal gray too! :)

  • shane says:

    I really love this product. It’s not hard to use once you get used to it; actually easier and more precise than liquid or pencil eyeliners. It stays all day, doesn’t budge at all. Gives your eyes outstanding definition in a subtle but distinct way. Bleu Marine is beautiful- a dark navy blue almost black. Love it! Next for me is Plum Riche. They dry matte not shiny.

  • garnetstorm says:

    Lovely colors, too bad about the Activator. I wonder if something like Ben Nye LiquiSet would work. I use it with my other cake liners, and it’s much less expensive.

  • Tiffany says:

    I was bummed at the prospect of needing the activator until I read Shane’s comment. I think I’ll be in for the blue and green ones once my no buy is up. :)

  • Rebecca says:

    Hi Karla, have you ever tried the Metamorfix by Lise Watier? I wonder if it would work on the LM cake liner because it works fine with that of Chanel. However, they are both twenty dollars anyway…

  • shane says:

    Not to worry – it works fine with water. Nordstrom has an exclusive “Tightline Trio” – three colors for $39.50 that includes a mini tightline LM brush. They grey in the kit is darker than the swatch above. That’s a bargain.

  • JohnMUArtist says:

    I work for Mercier and they brought out the Tightline Activator because as artists, we kept asking for a product like it to use with the cake liner. Laura’s original formula was quite brilliant with water, however about 3 years ago the formula got tweaked in response to a change in available ingredients ( a key ingredient was discontinued by the manufacturer) and the liners began to be more difficult to work with, and they would flake easily throughout the day- particularly Black Ebony. Thus the Activator was born.

    Having worked with them for a couple of weeks, I have to say that I like it with water the best. The Activator is great for someone who wants a waterproof ( I mean really waterproof) eye liner. It does form a seal on the cake liner or any other shadow for that matter, so the product you use it on has to be married to the activator. But it is great for lining the inner rim of the eye. We have set up a separate pallett of cake liners for water use only at my counter, pigment is the same as you have swatched here, but for some reason the activator glazes the dried pigment with a slight sheen.

    Laura tested the new cake liners with water and concluded they maintain an 8 hour wear.

    Btw, the gray is my favorite! Haven’t seen any color like it- that intensely slate grey and beautiful on fair skintones. Darker skintones I find need a deeper color in the lashes, but this is beautiful layered on top.

  • Susan says:

    I bought the trio with gray, green and blue yesterday at Nordstrom (as well as the purple one separately). I didn’t buy the activator nor did the SA try to sell it to me which I now think is sort of interesting. I’ve been a longtime fan of the original cake liners. I tried the gray one today with water and it applied beautifully and was intense in color. I didn’t notice anything different in application really; it might be a bit thicker in consistency than the original was with water. But I took a nap this afternoon and it really smudged on one side. I don’t think that ever happened with the original version of the product, but it cleaned up easily enough. I have also been waiting for at least 5 years for Laura to come out with a grey so I’m glad its finally here. I’m glad I read the comments on your site before deciding I needed to go out and buy the activator. Think I’ll be skipping it and sticking with water. I don’t take a nap most days.

  • At first I was a little turned off by having to buy the activator too but after reading the comments I’m relieved you don’t need it. I wish I had a Nordstrom near me because I would be all over that trio!

  • shane says:

    That Trio rocks and is a great value. All the colors are beautiful. Glad you were able to get it! I have so many blacks I’ll skip Ebony and use my BB Caviar gel eyeliner, save the cash and go for the plum next or maybe the forest green. Enjoy!

  • Ann says:

    I’m really glad to read the other comments here! Thanks for the information, what a relief!

  • Renata says:

    Don’t put whatever liquid you’re using directly on the cake of eyeliner. Use (for example) a clean plastic bottle cap and put 1 drop of activator or Visine or water into it. Dip your brush in that to wet it, then stroke the brush onto the cake. There’s a lot of product in that eyeliner cake and I don’t see why you couldn’t use one side with Activator and one side with water — wouldn’t that work?

  • Bobs says:

    People have commented on not being able to use water with the cake once the activator has been used on it. With my cake eyeliners/eyeshadows, I keep 1 edge for using wet and leave the other side to use as dry. Seems to work for me.

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