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The blacker-than-black smoky eye is back: Here are four ways to wear it

04 July 2021 - 00:02 By Nokubonga Thusi
The black smoky eye - as seen at the Chanel Cruise show - is this year's big makeup trend.
The black smoky eye - as seen at the Chanel Cruise show - is this year's big makeup trend.
Image: Chanel Makeup/Cruise 2021/22 Collection

It's official. The black smoky eye is being dubbed a huge makeup trend for this year — so grab the blackest liner you have and go for it.

Black liner is certainly nothing new in the beauty world — it's quite ancient really, and was clearly a staple in Cleopatra's day. But the recent runways resurrected this empowering makeup trend in a major way as we saw an array of black eyeliner looks featured in almost every show.

From its use in the 1920s and later in the punk era, black liner has always had a connection to our emotional state and has been a way of making women feel empowered. The comeback of the grungy staple now serves as a source of comfort and empowerment after a rather soul-shattering 2020.

The runways have dived head first into the industry's obsession with black liner with various ways to wear it — whether you prefer a subtle suggestion of black or want to give people all the smoke.



At Libertine and the Chanel Cruise show (pictured above), the liner was bold, graphic and unapologetic as models wore their eyes rimmed with thick black kohl reminiscent of ancient Egyptian makeup.

For precise placement, use a short angled brush and a waterproof gel liner or felt tip liquid liner to create graphic shapes and lines.

Don't be afraid to pair a black graphic eye with a stamp of statement lipstick to punctuate the whole look. But if that is too much for you, opt for adding to the graphic element by only applying spikey false lashes on the top and bottom lash lines of the eye.


The Alice + Olivia, Chanel and Dior runways gave new meaning to "blacker than black" as models wore heavy liner that resembled soot — or like they may have partied all night — smudged along the entire eyelid and lower lash line.

Add to the intensity of the black by layering on the blackest eyeshadow you have and really pack it on — don't be shy.

Alice + Olivia.
Alice + Olivia.
Image: Anna Webber/Getty Images for Alice + Olivia
Image: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

To prevent the eyes looking flat, use a black eyeshadow with a slight shimmery undertone to give the eyelids some emollient dimension. A bit of feathering and colour bleed around the edges is always welcome with this look.


Black liner was flipped on its head (literally) at Ulla Johnson when makeup artist Romy Soleimani created a winged-out liner on the models but concentrated the placement only on the lower lash line. To create balance in the eyes, the black liner was brought up to the upper lash line by way of tight lining the lash line to give definition.

WATCH | Makeup artist Romy Soleimani takes use backstage at the Ulla Johnson show

Adopt the black liner buzz while staying true to your minimal take on makeup by only applying black liner to the lower lash line and with the tight-lining technique (applying liner on the waterline of the eyes).

Want to know how to finish off the look? Take your cue from the Ulla Johnson show and add a generous slick of clear gloss to the lips.


The Victoria Beckham show added a posh spin to the black smoky look by opting for an eye that looked slightly lived-in and diffused.

To soften up a rather tough beauty staple by steering away from a heavy, grungy application, the liner is applied tightly along the top and bottom lash lines, working it into the lashes and lightly smudged out to create a soft, smoky effect.

To give even more softness to this look, mix a black eyeliner pencil with a dark brown pencil and smudge them out together — making eyes look less heavy and panda-like and rendering a subtle refinement.


Image: Supplied

1. Pretty By Flormar Vinyl Dip Liner in Black, R100, from Foschini.
2. Bobbi Brown Longwear Eye Base in Medium, R530, from Arc Store.
3. Catrice Clean ID Eye Pencil in 010 Truly Black, R63, from Dischem
4. Chanel Stylo Yeux Waterproof Long-lasting Eyeliner in Noir Intense, R535, from Woolworths
5. Lottie London Precision Felt Eyeliner in Black, R110, from Arc Store.
6. WBeauty Retractable Eyeliner in Brown, R129, from Woolworths
7. Playgirl Beauty In The Mood For Nude Eyeshadow Palette in True Nude, R80, from Clicks