How they are made
Pencils can be moulded or extruded dependant upon the type of texture you wish to produce and the final component such as wood or plastic. Currently there are only 2 producers of pencils in Europe. Schwan, Germany (also produce Stabilo pens) and Swallowfield, UK as it is very specialised. China have a few suppliers but they are not particularly good. India is also entering the market. Eye pencil manufacture is quite similar to normal writing types of pencil. UK used to have 2 suppliers, and Intercos, Italy used to be a producer of pencils.
A combination of 3 or 4 waxes and a little oil eg Beeswax, Carnauba, Candelia and Shea butter – as these have are hard at room temperature but melt sharply on contact with body temperature. They are very similiar to a hard lipstick. Manufacturers will play around with how the ingredients are combined togther to get the best pay-off and best results when sharpened. 20-25% pigment loading of iron oxides are used and they are triple roll milled to make them as fine as possible. Black has to be intense, so black iron oxide (CI 77499) alone will not be sufficient. Carbon black is often used, which is an intense black used to pigment rubber. The pigments need to be able to absorbed by the oils and waxes. Sometimes oil based actives are used to make claims.
I’ve gone through my small collection of kohl pencil and tested them for pay-off and intensity. NB Most are between 5-10 years old!
1. £2.62 - Jungle Green, Rimmel Made in Italy – good pay-off and intense colour
2. Blue, Colour Trend Made in England (Constance Carroll – now closed) – not that intense
3. Charcoal Grey, Professional – can’t remember where I got this from
4. £4.00 - Shade No. 10, Barry M (newest) – my favourite colour, but not good staying power
5. Bronze, Swallowfield Made in England – best texture and payoff
6. £14.00 - Black, MAC- most expensive eyeliner and worst payoff and texture
7. £2.89 - Enjoleuse, Bourjois – Made in Czech Republic – not very good payoff
8. £8.00 - White, Body Shop – Made in Germany – very good
9. £4.99 - Black, Max Factor – Made in Italy – very good, nice intense colour
10. £10.50 - Spice, MAC – Made in Germany – good
The cheapest one, Rimmel was better than the most expensive one – MAC – in fact the MAC black eyeliner is the worst I’ve every tried, however, I like their lip liner! TOP TIP: Its always a good idea to sharpen your pencil prior to use, to reduce possible contamination.
My advise, where possible support Made in UK, we have some brilliant brands and some excellent people working in the industry, so lets keep them here!
Thank you to Abigail Jones, Swallowfield for sharing some technical information with me.