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Whenever I look back at photos from my last two years of college, I always have the few same thoughts. Most of them happy memories, some are self-critical, of course (why so much dry shampoo?!), but one of them always is, frankly, how did my eyeliner always look so good?

It’s not like sitting at a desk now should cause my eyeliner to smear any more than a busy college lifestyle, so I’m not sure why I have never given more thought as to the difference between then and now. All I know is, it always looked so precise, yet soft, and always perfectly even, in photos.

That is, until recently, when I made a mad dash to Target before a trip to pickup some eyeliner, and spotted my old favorite from that time, the Maybelline “Lasting Drama” Gel Eyeliner. I took it home, and twisted it open, and it instantly took me back to my extremely specific primping routine from years ago. (It’s quite unnerving to realize my beauty routine was much more thoughtful then, when I was a 20-year-old living on peanut butter crackers and coffee, than it is now.)

I tried it on, and it was so velvety, and the perfect kind of bold; it’s dark, but still soft, and goes on totally even and smooth. The best part? (I’ve noticed a lot of ink formulas are too thin and can appear streaky—yikes.) Drawing the perfect subtle wing is unbelievably easy with this formula. I’m back on the gel eyeliner train, and this time I’m not getting off.

But here’s the catch: Ditch the brush it came with. It’s fine, but if you can get an angled eyeliner brush with a thinner tip, you’ll have so much more control. I use the Sonia Kashuk Angled Eyeliner Brush, which is $11 at Target.

WATCH: The Most Natural Way to Wear Black Eyeliner

 

Two more tips? 1. Don’t be intimidated by the pot + brush combo. I think it’s even easier than the liquid pens, which can get everywhere, quickly, and don’t stay put as well. 2. Clean off the brush every time. You’ll get a perfect, even, clean line.