Here’s Something I Like (Not that Anyone Asked): The Original Benefit BADgal Eyeliner

Hi, I’m Mary, and this is my column no one asked for about things I like!


Me wearing eyeliner

There was a time (high school and college) when I wore what can only be described as a fuckton of eyeshadow. I would spend half an hour painting my eyelids with shimmery powders, trying but always failing to make the mosaics around my eyes even. I’m not sure why I was so obsessed with eyeshadow, but it probably had something to do with the fact that I spent most of my free time reading Glamour Magazine while working out on the elliptical at the local college gym. Like the models in that magazine, I wanted my eyes to be surrounded by dark, glittery orbs that in theory would make them “pop!” but in reality made them look like they were sinking into two deep, sparkly pits that had somehow appeared in the middle of my otherwise naked face. That’s right — not only did I wear a fuckton of eyeshadow, I wore only a fuckton of eyeshadow, accompanied by nothing but a thin swipe of Maybelline Great Lash Mascara.

I looked, to be perfectly blunt, fucking crazy. I looked like a raccoon whose wish to become an awkward teenage girl bored out of her mind in rural Western Massachusetts had been granted only to realize I’d really rather just be a raccoon. Raccoons, after all, get to eat trash and don’t have to worry about whether or not they’re going to get into AP English (for the record, I never got in).

It took a long time for me to realize dark metallic and/or light blue metallic eyeshadow wasn’t my look. When I did finally realize it, it was as if I was being snapped out of a trance. Once I looked in the mirror and saw my raccoon eyes, I couldn’t unsee them, and I swore off eyeshadow once and for all.

Instead, I decided I’d get really into eyeliner. This huge life change occurred while I was in college, I think, as evidenced by the photo below, taken during my junior year abroad in Spain.


Me wearing eyeliner

Note that my drunk eyes are rimmed in purple eyeliner, which perfectly matches my necklace, which is so strange and hideous no self-disrespecting Real Housewife would wear it to hide her aging neck. Also note that I appear to be wearing some very sheer eyeshadow on my brow bone and in the corners of my eyes, so I guess I didn’t give it up completely. Also note that purple monstrosity actually isn’t a necklace, it’s a pair of gigantic earrings, which is even worse. Also note that underneath my neon blazer, I’m wearing a swim-style halter top I bought from J. Crew in high school, got really excited about, then never wore, except, apparently, for this one time in Spain.

So I stopped wearing eyeshadow (for the most part) and started wearing colored eyeliner, which was just as bad. I would like to point out that colored eyeliner was a trend during this time period, and that you can still find eyeliner in every possible shade at Sephora to this day. I was not alone, but that certainly didn’t make it any better.

At some point, I started combining my neon turquoise eyeliner with a base of black eyeliner to really make sure people could tell where my eyes ended and my eyelids began. Shortly after college, my sister introduced me (or I introduced her? Does it matter?) to a very special eyeliner from Benefit called BADgal. It was a big, fat pencil that you were supposed to stick in your eye in order to perfectly rim it in black kohl. OK — maybe you weren’t supposed to apply it that way, but my sister and I did and it worked. like. MAGIC.



It’s the best eyeliner I’ve ever used, and I’ve tried them all, in every shade (or at least it feels that way). What’s so amazing about it? It does the one important thing every eyeliner should do but few actually do: it doesn’t smudge. For years, I’d just stick it in my eye, swipe, wipe off any that got on my waterline, put on mascara and walk out the door.

A couple of years ago, however, my big, beloved eye pencil was discontinued. I recently found the tiny nub of my last BADgal liner and started using it again which, even though what was left was years old and worn down to the wood, only confirmed its superiority. Now, Benefit has replaced it with some regular, skinny eye pencil and had the audacity to give it the same name even though everyone knows a real BADgal is thick.


I’ve tried this new but not improved BADgal liner and it’s not great. It’s just like every other thin black eyeliner and completely lacks the magic of the old, fat pencil. Now, I use MAC eyeliner and it’s fine. I can achieve almost the same look with MAC that I could with my BADgal, but the MAC smudges more. Since I wear very little eyeliner these days (it’s been a journey, from no makeup to lots of makeup to no makeup makeup), the smudging isn’t a big problem, I just have to be careful to wipe my lower eyelid once in a while, especially in the summer when sweat pours down my face and takes my makeup with it, like a mascara mudslide.

Maybe one day Benefit will wise up and bring back the best eyeliner ever made, but for now I have to learn to let go. As my spin instructor says whenever she announces a sub will be teaching her next class, “Different is good. It may not be what you’re used to and it may not be what you want, but different is beautiful if you’re willing to embrace it.” She’s technically talking about the incredibly handsome and fit man who usually teaches when she needs a break, but if you think about it, she’s also talking about eyeliner. And I (eye?), for one, am listening.

As always, I’d like to clarify that this is NOT a sponsored post. I received nothing for it and am pretty sure no one cares about my eye makeup journey. Still, if anyone is reading and ever wants to give me literally anything for free, eyeliner or not, I WILL TAKE IT!!!!!!

Anyway, I hope this was helpful. I’ll be back with more unsolicited recommendations soon!

One comment

  1. I read this post hoping you found a great alternative. Alas, we are both adrift in a sea of useless eye pencils. Besides Badgal, I used Loreal Voluminous smoldering eyeliner pencil. It was short, fat and came in brown, grey and black. I have scoured the internet for hours looking for the very last one. I have poured over liquidation boxes, gone overseas and poised as a wholesale buyer just to see what was there. I even found they made one in a beautiful green but it was only sold in Guam. Undeterred, I determined I would order. It was sold out. I found the last box of 24 wholesale ones in brown. It was sold out. Ebay has one for $39.00. Ouch. However, there may be hope for you. You see, that type of pencil comes in black and you wear black. You can find it lots of places, even a few in Walmart and drugstores. Good luck on your journey!!


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