Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Guerlain Terracotta Kohl Liner (Bleu 03, Mirage 06)

If there was one thing to learn from the celebrities' makeup at the Costume Institute Gala last week, it was that heavy eyeliner is the hottest look for evening. Most of us don't walk the red carpet too often and should probably avoid any exaggerated look, but going a little bolder with our eyeliner is quite flattering. Especially if we keep it sophisticated and use colors other than black.

Guerlain Terracotta Kohl, a loose powder eyeliner/eye shadow, is considered by many to be one of the scariest makeup products around. It's the wand, you see. We tend to have that fear of stabbing ourselves in the eye. But once you get acquainted with this kohl it can become a true love very quickly, thanks to beautiful pigments and the soft texture of the powdered pigment.

There are several schools of thoughts regarding wand usage. I've heard about swiping, closing your eyes over the wand while holding it on the water line, applying only to the upper lid/lash line and allowing the fallout to reach the bottom lashes and there are probably more ideas out there. Then there's the question of inside (the water line) vs. all around the eye. According to Pamela Morgan, Guerlain's national makeup artist, no matter what you choose, the only thing not to do with the kohl and its wand is holding it like a pencil. It simply doesn't work this way. The secret is to swipe it quickly and lightly, which is a lot easier than you think. I'm a royal klutz and still find it very easy to do, despite my mortal fear of getting anything inside my eyes. Pamela also suggest you try using a regular eyeliner brush, flat or pointed, for a more traditional application, above and under the lash line. This is a great technique for a dramatic smoky or goth-inspired look.

The powder is richly pigmented and has a light iridescence. Bleu (03) is a tad shinier while Mirage (06, the newest color in the series) is muted. Bleu is not glittery at all, despite the appearance in the packaging. The texture is very soft and pliable, so with little practice you can create many looks. While black can appear a bit harsh on many of us, the neutral taupish brown of Mirage is very flattering and versatile. Bleu is a gorgeous teal. I love it combined with sand and bronze- it's summer perfection.

The one big issue with Terracotta Kohl is the fallout. I haven't found a way to avoid this, and there's quite  bit of it even when Pamela did my makeup. My advice would be to apply the kohl before you do anything else, including face primer and foundation. Cleanup is easy enough- a fluffy brush and a makeup removing wipe is all you need. The latter also works on cat paws, as I discovered (not before I got blue paw prints all over my dressing room. See Giselle in the last photo). A minor annoyance is the shape of the bottle/tube. It's beautiful, of course, but obviously can't stand on its own, so I either hold it in my left hand while applying or leave it lying on its side and hope it doesn't roll away (with or without feline help).

The thing I like best about Guerlain's kohl is the formula- it manages to be very gentle and never irritates my eyes, even when I use quite a bit on the water line. Still, the color remains vibrant and doesn't fade for 6-8 hours. When used on the lid over a good eye primer it stays put like any liner or shadow and Bleu maintains the soft glow. Any regular eye makeup remover works fine with it, so no rubbing needed.

Bottom line: Love. A great choice for a summer night.

Guerlain Terracotta Kohl Liner ($35 each) is available from most decent department stores and Sephora (Mirage is an online exclusive, for some reason). I received mine from the company's PR department.

All photos are mine (and Giselle's).


  1. Can you believe I used to fearlessly do my eyes with real khol and the little wooden stick? I even had a little silver khol bottle for a while and used the metallic stick on that. Actually, as you say, it's not hard to master the technique and I'm happy to report there were no incidents (you've seen me and can vouch for both my eyes).
    I've been curious to try this as well as the kajal. I may give it a swing.

  2. I have this in black, and got so frustrated with the wand and the tube, I transferred it into a small plastic jar. I use an e/l brush to apply, even on the waterline. I love it!

  3. Wow! I have been so intimidated by this product but now want to try the taupe-y brown more than ever! I'm way too fair for the black and the blue would not suit me...I think I just need to practice. I will take the plunge! Have always admired the lovely packaging as well.

    My concern is longevity. I am oily and things seem to melt on me.

  4. D., I can most certainly vouch for both your eyes ;) I have a feeling you're one of the few who can easily pull off some serious black kohl all around the eyes.
    I'm pretty sure you will like this liner. It's beautifully made and you already have the technique mastered.

  5. Trish, I certainly agree about the tube- maybe a different design could have made the wand easier to handle.

  6. Jane, black often looks too much even for me, especially under the eye. My dark circles don't need any extra help.
    As for longevity, try testing with a good primer and see if it helps. Since this is a dry powder it might actually last longer on you.

  7. Hi,
    I've been reading your blog for a while, but I'm not sure if I've ever commented before. I just wanted to say that I love these eyeliners, and that they're actually one of the only eyeliners I can use on my waterline without getting irritation!

  8. Hi Gaia - So glad you profiled these liners!
    I bought the black one recently at Bergdorf's and gave up on the wand after the 1st try. My inner eye rims looked liked a huge black mess! However, with gentle and persistent e/l brush application, I just love how it fills in the gaps at the roots of my sparsely inadequate lashes and give my eyes the definition they've never had.

  9. Giselle obviously has the kohl eye technique down pat. Never have I seen such beautiful smokey eyes! So, moving on to the next trend . . . blue paws anyone? Priceless :-)

  10. This is a product I love to look at and dream of using but I walk away out of sheer fear. I really want to try out the mirage liner for that sexy summer nighttime goddess look - or something remotely resembling that phrase. I guess my best bet is to have a Guerlain MA show me how to apply it. Since I have dark brn hair/dark skin I could probably get away with the bleu shade as well. I step at a time...

  11. I'm not usually very adventurous with makeup and I'm not very proficient either (red lipstick scares the beejezus out of me), but I actually found this product really easy to use. I've got the teal version and it is an incredibly flattering colour that brought out the green in my hazel eyes, but would work with any colour.

  12. Ohh I love these Kohl eyeliners! I've used the Brun Dore #3 and black for over a year now. Question, is the new brown more of a neutral taupe? (Brun D is a burgundy brown with gold flake)

    The blue/teal is very intriguing-any ideas on what eye shadows to pair it with? I'm a fan of using green eyeliners with neutral beige or taupe eye shadows, and of course blend very well too....

    My tip regarding application, I tap the applicator tip down onto a kleenex a couple of times, that removes the excess, then I place a kleenex under the lower eye to catch fallout and swipe. It works pretty well for me, I usually have very little under eye fallout.

  13. Elizabeth, I usually do what you suggest and simply pair it with a highlighting beige/sand colour and a sweep of white under the eyebrow. I used to have a teal/kingfisher kohl pencil that was slightly lighter in colour than the Guerlain I paired with a mid-purplely/pink eyeshadow on my eyelid, but I think a pearl or maybe even a hint of silver would work.

  14. Fifi-Thanks! I was thinking perhaps a champagne shimmer would be very nice. :)

  15. Ooh, I'm so happy you covered this product. I've loved the texture in the store, but never got what that little wand was for! Do you think it's contact-safe?

  16. It sounds interesting, though, from my personal experience, Guerlain products are not as good as their tag prices. I used to have Divinora eyeliner in brown, and was seriously disappointed with this product, it was drying before you managed to apply it. And why Guerlain are not doing grey? Grey is much more flattering and universal than brown or Blue...


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