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This is a guest post by WTC intern Rebecca Robinson

I was curious about making my own eyeliner, but when I looked into homemade eyeliner recipes, most were just “put some activated charcoal on a wet brush and apply.” I began to look at how companies produced pencil eyeliners and how that could be recreated at home. I realized early on that this was no simple task! After much research, I discovered these basic things about homemade eyeliners: You need a base for your eyeliner, you need something to help the pigment go onto skin, you need something that helps that pigment stay on your skin, and you need some fillers and oil.

There are four categories of ingredients. Film formers are ingredients that allow for the pigment to be deposited onto the eyelid. Beeswax and carnauba wax are examples of film formers. Thickening agents help stabilize the eyeliner and make it stay on the skin. These are generally waxes, gums, and clays such as carnauba wax or candelilla wax. Preservatives help extend the shelf life of the product. Natural preservatives include sugar, salt, vitamin E, citric acid, and oils like jojoba. Lastly, there are pigments. For my eyeliner, I only used black pigments, and found that black oxide works best. An alternative to iron oxide would be activated charcoal, but I tried this for one batch, and it resulted in a slightly grainy and hard-to-apply substance.

The first recipe I started with was very simple. Since I didn’t have a recipe, just knowledge of the ingredients, it was a bit of guessing game for amounts:

2 tsp beeswax
1 tsp (light) coconut wax
1 tsp (light) shea butter
1/8 tsp jojoba oil
1 tsp (light) kaolin clay
¼ tsp almond oil
3 tsp black oxide

Directions: Over low heat, melt the beeswax, then add the coconut wax and shea butter until melted. Next add the jojoba oil, kaolin clay and almond oil. Lastly, stir in the black oxide until thoroughly mixed. You will have a thin black liquid that you can pour into pots or a mold, and let cool until it solidifies. Eyeliner in a pot can be applied using a brush, or you can use a long, thin mold to make a stick.

Until I find a better method for creating an actual pencil with a tip that can be sharpened, I’ve been making do with the stick method. The eyeliner itself goes on well and has minimal smearing. It will smear slightly more than store-bought eyeliner, and of course it isn’t waterproof, but I feel like the peace of mind I have knowing it’s safe makes up for any shortcomings!