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I Tried the Makeup Version of That Bic 4-Color Pen We All Had

There are three eyeliners and one lip liner — none of which are green.

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Clarins 4-Color All-in-One Pen
Clarins 4-Color All-in-One Pen ($30)

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At one point in elementary school, you likely had one of those Bic four-color retractable pens. In case you did not, it’s a fat, hard-to-hold pen that features four different colored inks inside, usually red, blue, black, and green. You’d click a lever to bring down the desired color, and occasionally one would get stuck, resulting in minor panic that you’ll have only the blue ink to use.

In an unexpected move, the French beauty company Clarins has released the makeup version of this. It’s called the 4-Color All-in-One Pen ($30) and it’s a limited-edition product. (It already appears to have sold out at Nordstrom’s site.) It features three eyeliners in blue, brown, and black, and one lip liner in a light brownish-pink neutral.

When I picked it up, it had that same familiar feeling as the Bic, and the mechanism clicks exactly the same way. (It felt slightly weird to then use it on my face, to be honest — sort of like a kid pretending a pen is makeup.) The click mechanism works well and didn’t stick at all, despite the fact that I played with it aggressively for ten minutes.

The first thing to note about the actual product is that the tips of the liners are not pointed. They’re flat, which means these are not precision liners. They’re also encased in a clear, hard, plastic sheath that isn’t obvious at first. So after you click it down, do not attempt to draw on your eye the way I did before turning the top of the pen to release the product past the covering, unless you want to drag hard plastic across your eyelid. Anyway, once I got it out, it went on fairly smoothly, with just a little drag. I used the brown eyeliner first as a tightliner (meaning close to my lashes) and it stayed on all day. The black was fine, too, and both smudge nicely if you’re looking for a smokier look.

The lip liner skews to the brown end of the neutral spectrum and was a bit too hard for me. I like a creamier-feeling lip liner, but it definitely didn’t budge and kept my lipstick from bleeding. I tried it as an all-over lip color, too: The finish was nicely matte, but it started cracking about an hour later because it needed a little more moisture. It looked really nice and perked up with a tiny bit of lip balm on top of it.

The outlier here is the blue eyeliner, which is almost a navy blue, not a scary ‘80s blue. But I fear that this will be the green ink of this makeup pen. You totally want to use it to write your essay, but your teacher only lets you do homework in blue or black ink. So if you consider blue a neutral and wear it a lot, this pen could be a home run. If not, maybe this isn’t worth the money.

The pen costs $30, which breaks down to $7.50 per liner — pretty darn reasonable if you use all of the colors. It’s the same conundrum you face when buying one of those eight-color eyeshadow palettes. But it’s also pretty travel-friendly.

Are there better quality liners out there? Yes, but the delightfulness of the format makes up for some of that.

The verdict: I did not mind being pandered to with this nostalgic gimmick. Fun, but unnecessary.

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