So several moons ago, the lovely ladies from Peach and Lily, an America-based e-shop stocking some more unusual brands from Korea and Japan, sent me a parcel full of Clio products to try. Their professionalism, attention to detail, niche stock and lightning-fast shipping [they will be rolling out international shipping soon] recalls the early days of zuneta, and the beautiful (pahrpal!) wrapping and handwritten note added to the boutique experience. If you go play on their site, you'll also find thoughtful editorials and ingredients lists(!!! -- take note every other retailer and brandsite ever) as well.
The unpurpled contents (minus a generous stack of Korean skincare samples):
CLIO Professional is a mid-range Korean brand which features several cult eye products -- their liners in particular are as popular as those by La Rose de Versailles or K-Palette in Japan. The brand's image is a little edgier than the usual cute, office-safe or my-face-but-better offerings and pigmentation across these products are consequently stronger than you might expect of an Asian brand. Clio also markets itself as international: many of these products are manufactured in Germany or Italy (both producers of awesome liners), and others bear striking resemblances to popular Japanese formulas.
1. Eye Guard Waterproof Liner
After a week in Hong Kong with 30ºC+ and 90%+ humidity, I can report that despite taking about ten seconds to apply, it lasts through even the sweatiest, rainiest, Asian-long-hoursiest workday without issue. All that, and it removes easily with my regular Fancl cleansing oil, leaving no stain behind (as some of the most tenacious Japanese liquids can).
And, ashamed as I am to admit it, the ridiculous packaging is extremely ergonomic.
Made in Germany. Ingredients.
The Clio is the softest and most malleable (but not at all floppy) felt-tip I've ever tried, almost more like a very dense, precise sponge. It has a second taper right at the end which allows for extremely fine dotting in between lashes used at a 90º angle, making it in practice just as efficient at precise lining as the Hourglass Script Precision liner, which feels like you're tattooing your lashline with each incredibly painful stab. The Kiko Super Colour liquid liner felt-tip is exactly the same as those found on Stila, MUFE, MAC Liquidlasts and a plethora of others.
2. Waterproof Brush Liner Kill Black
One of Clio's cult products, this liquid liner pen came in a set with an O'Tank Volume mascara mini (reviewed below no. 4).
As with the Eye Guard liner, this applies smoothly as a rich saturated black liquid in an impressively water- and smudge-proof formula which is non-staining and a breeze to remove at the end of the day. Its formula is very slightly wetter and glossier than the felt-tip's, so you have a little more time to smoke edges, add layers or correct any hiccups. Though the traditional brush is faster for big wings like wot they show on the box, I still prefer the Eye Guard liner for sheer versatility and wackiness, but that's not to denigrate this one in any way -- it is very similar to and every bit as good as the very best Japanese liquid liner pens I've tried in the past (KATE Super Sharp and La Rose de Versailles being my favourites).
Perhaps unsurprisingly then, this is formulated in Japan although made in Korea. Ingredients.
The Clio WP Brush tip is most similar to the latest incarnation of KATE Super Sharp (S) in shape, though marginally pointier and with a longer length closer to that of La Rose de Versailles' Oscar liner. There isn't really much to choose from between the four Japan-formulated pens on the right -- clearly I have very specific brush liner tastes. (I hasten to add that the other three are all ones I've finished and kept around for blog pic purposes.) The Clio Twisturn brush is noticeably thicker and softer -- of which more below in #3.
3. Waterproof Twisturn Liner 6 Night Purple and 7 Club Black
As shown in the comparison pic above, these sparkly liquid liners come with a thicker, loftier and softer brush than your average plain black pen liner, and the formula is also runnier, a light liquid that borders on gel. Unlike the automatic Brush Liner or Eye Guard Liner, you twist the bottom of these pens to dispense the amount of pigment required -- one click for a delicate wash with sparse shimmer; two or three for an opaque glitter-packed line in a darker, richer version of the colour. These do layer excellently, over themselves or other gel/liquid liners laid down as base, so building up to a graphic wing doesn't result in flaking or balling up; it just takes a bit more time. Personally, I find the combination of high-slip formula and bendy brush a bit overwhelming on my small eyes, and tend to reach for a more precise brush to pick up product from the clicked-up blob, dab off any excess on the back of my hand, and apply separately.
Single line swatches:
Even when built up, Night Purple has more of a pearlised finish with pink and blue microshimmer, while Club Black is darkest gunmetal with silver glitter of various sizes and a finer rainbow of microshimmer scattered through. Of the two, I prefer Club Black -- its base is texturally lighter and so doesn't set to the more solid-looking film of Night Purple, and scattered sparkle tends to be more flattering on my skin. Both however, are tubing liners, which means they form a film as they set and remove (with cleansing oil) in little clumps or balls like the waterproof glitter liquid liners from Stila, MUFE etc.
Night Purple with Kiko Super Colour Eyeliner in 110 Pearly Regal Purple, Pixi Black Tulip and THREE Eye Belong.
Club Black with THREE Eye Rock, Clio Gelspresso Liner Golden Black (see below #4) and RBR Long-Lasting Pencil Calypso.
Overall, the Twisturn liners are very similar to the Japanese cult favourite Majolica Majorca Perfect Automatic Liners, but are made in Korea. Ingredients.
4. Gelspresso Waterproof Pencil Gel Liner 3 Golden Khaki and 7 Golden Black
This was the one Clio product I had heard of before Peach and Lily wrote to me, shimmery gel pencils famed for bold pigment and lasting power even on the oiliest hooded lids in humid East Asian summers. My lids produce zero oil :( but while not the creamiest these have enough slip not to drag, and since arriving in Hong Kong I can testify that they remain pristine through a drenching by tropical rainstorm and some aggressive sleep-deprived watery-eye-rubbing.
Each twist-up pencil includes a sharpener in the base -- helpfully, because while not as buttery as the Pixi or THREE liners I adore, these are after all gels and do blunt quickly, so if you want a very neat-edged shape, you'll have to sharpen the tip often, use a separate brush, or prepare to clean up. Or, of course, you can go with the grunginess of a blunt tip and scribble these on before blending/smoking out with a pencil brush. On my dry lids, I get about 10 seconds of blending time before the unbudgeable setting; most people will have a bit longer to work with -- from what I've read, around 30 seconds seems average and should suffice for a great smokey eye.
One stroke swatches on top, built-up scribbles below -- there isn't too much difference in either precision or opacity. I particularly like that both these shades marry a cooler, ashier base with neutral-to-warm gold shimmer -- it makes for balanced, versatile colours that complement a wide range of shadows.
Golden Khaki with Kiko Super Colour Eye Liner 113 Olive Green and THREE Eye Doll.
See above in section #3 for Golden Black comparisons.
I found these most comparable to the Rouge Bunny Rouge twist-up Long-Lasting Eye Pencils, which I also like very much. Formulated in Italy, made in China. Ingredients.
5. Friday Glow Liquid Eyeshadow 2 Sheer Beige and 5 Deepen Brown
I adore non-powder formulas but am consequently extremely picky about them; my record with liquid eyeshadows has been rocky -- Rouge Bunny Rouge's elegant demi-matte neutrals are staples, but various formula niggles prevent me from truly loving those from Ellis Faas, Paul&Joe and Addiction. These Clio Friday Glow Liquid Eyeshadows have made the utter love list. Ridiculously silkily blendable with that dry silicone slip, wearable as a gossamer veil or easily layered to make a opaque washes packed with multi-toned, multi-sized sparkle, these dimensional neutrals have stayed in my weekly rotation for months.
In complexity of sparkle, ease of use, lasting power, and zero fallout, they rival the Sonia Rykiel mousse eyeshadows which are some of the most dazzling I've ever encountered.
Sheer Beige with the peach from Suqqu 01 Kakitsubata, the peach from Visee x Smacky Glam BR-7 Bitter Brown, Sonia Rykiel Mousse Eyeshadow 05, beige side from Paul&Joe Eye Gloss Duo 05 Bourgeoisie, Chanel Illusion D'Ombre Convoitise, RBR Sleeping Underneath a Mandarin Tree pigment, gold from Suqqu 06 Ginbudou, Fyrinnae Nijiro.
Close-up with fuzz of Clio Sheer Beige, Sonia Rykiel 05, Paul&Joe Bourgeoisie and Chanel Convoitise -- this gives a truer idea of the complexity of texture irl.
Deepen Brown with the darker side of P&J Eye Gloss Duo in Bourgeoisie, Kiko Long-Lasting Stick Eyeshadow 04 Golden Chocolate, RBR Long-Lasting Eye Pencil Lola, darkest shade from Visee x Smacky Glam BR-7 Bitter Brown.
Close-up of P&J Bourgeoisie, Clio Deepen Brown and Kiko Golden Chocolate (most texturally accurate):
Made in Germany. Ingredients.
6. Mascaras: Twistup Long Lash and Curling, O'Tank Volume
I am even pickier about mascaras than I am about most other things, so let's get the positives out of the way first. Both of these formulas are true black, neither too wet nor too dry, unscented, are waterproof but not too crispy, and easily removed with cleansing oil, don't smudge or flake throughout the day, and the bristle brushes are of reasonable size, with a slight curve to fit around the eye and well designed, so that you don't end up with globs of formula or have to resort to scraping out the inside of the tube to try and get something onto the brush.
Maybelline Rocket Volum'Express WP, Fasio Full Dynamic Volume, Clio O'Tank Volume, Clio Twistup Long Lash and Curling, Majolica Majorca Lash Expander Edge Meister.
Now for the dealbreakers. Twistup Long Lash is a very thin, dry, fibre formula, which adds length but no volume. For my reasonably long but very thin lashes, that just results in anemic splindliness. Those with straight but naturally thicker lashes might find this a good everyday no-mascara mascara; the brush is dainty and fits wonderfully around every contour and would work as a lower-lash brush too. If only it was fibre-free, this would've made a good replacement for my discontinued HG defining mascara, Shu Mascara Basic.
The O'Tank Volume dealbreaker is simply that it wilts my curl. This is a scant five minute after application:
O'Tank's thicker bristles and formula can also make it start to clump after a few strokes (as you can spot on my outer lower lashline); it leaves lashes soft enough that the clumps are easily brushed through, but I am too lazy to bother doing that with a lacklustre formula.
In conclusion (pause for gusty sighs of relief from the two people still reading), this is the first Korean brand with this impressive a hit-rate for me. The standouts for me are the Eye Guard Liquid Liner (#1) and Friday Glow Liquid Eyeshadows (#5) but I would also heartily recommend the Waterproof Brush Liner (#2) and Gelspresso Liners (#4), especially to those who tend to experience smudging with eyeliners. Twisturn Liners (#3) are worth a try if you're after easy-to-use sparkly liquids and dislike felt-tip applicators, but for me Kiko Super Colour are still the winners.
Both mascaras were fails for me, but if your lash issues are opposite to mine (i.e. thick, shorter lashes) and have small eyes Twistup Long Lash, with its delicate lengthening waterproof formula and dainty brush, might prove a winner. O'Tank would be a decent volumising formula for the naturally curly-lashed, but isn't so exceptional that it's worth going out of your way to track down.