Until fairly recently, gel eyeliner was one of the few products that budget lines hadn't managed to replicate. But with both Maybelline and Catrice recently launching their own versions on these shores, there's no longer a need to spend that bit more at the department store when you can pick them up for far less in Boots or your local chemist.
I did wonder how the quality would compare, though, so I picked up Maybelline's Lasting Drama Gel Liner recently to run my own little road test against Bobbi Brown's Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner.
Starting with the packaging, you wouldn't know the Maybelline liner was a cheaper option. Both products come in heavy glass jars - Bobbi Brown's with a polished black plastic lid and Maybelline's with a screw on metal cap. I can't for the life of me find any information on the Maybelline packaging to say how much product the jar contains, but it looks as though it's about the same as the Bobbi Brown (3g).
In a genius move, the Maybelline liner comes with a brush included, and a very nice brush it is too. For comparison in my highly-scientific test, I'm using a mini Bobbi Brown Fine Eyeliner brush that came with a two-pack of gel liners I picked up at the airport and I much prefer the Maybelline brush. The longer handle means it's easier to manage and the tip of the brush has a much finer shape, making it easier to draw a very thin line if that's what you prefer.
There is no apparent difference in the texture of the gel in each jar - I am comparing a Bobbi Brown liner which has been open for almost two years with a brand new Maybelline liner, but both have a nice texture - not too wet or too dry and easy to pick up with the brush.
When it comes to pigment, I must admit that I think Bobbi Brown has a slight advantage. Applied to the eyelid, the difference isn't noticeable (I did a side-by-side comparison to check), but when swatched on my arm the Bobbi Brown definitely has the priest's socks-black edge, while Maybelline has a sort of brownish undertone. The Maybelline swatch also rubs off much more easily when I wipe a tissue over it, but again, this doesn't affect wearing it on the eyelid.
Maybelline (left), Bobbi Brown (right)
So it comes down to price - the RRP for Maybelline's gel liner is €11.99 (though I picked it up for the excellent introductory price of €8.99), while Bobbi Brown's is priced at €22. The one advantage that Bobbi Brown has, of course, is the wide range of shades available. At present, the Maybelline liner is only available in black, and if I needed to buy a black gel liner again, it's the one I'd go for.