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The Beauty Memo

The smoky eye just got a major update for 2021

Thought heavy liner and smoky eyes were over? Think again. This runway look will take you back to black, says GEORGIA DAY


If you had asked us just a few weeks ago whether the smoky eye was still a ‘thing’ we would have said absolutely not. After all, why would you wear a severe black eye when you can opt for something softer and more universally flattering, like a smudgy brown sketched into the roots of your lashes? Then we saw this look at Chanel’s latest Cruise collection and we did a 180. This look is graphic to the extreme, but when worn against bare skin it looks incredible. And just like that, we’re in love with black-lined smoky eyes all over again. We’re of the mind that runway makeup is there to inspire not replicate, as it’s often too dramatic for real women in real life, but this look is proving to be the exception. This is gorgeous, grown-up makeup that every woman can (and will want to) wear. Here’s how to do it…

Create your shape

The beauty of this bold look lies in the intensely graphic shape, so try to emulate the same thick lines and sharp edges as best you can for your own eye. Position yourself in front of a mirror with your elbow resting on an even surface and your pinkie finger on the side of your cheek. This stability should make tracing on the inky lines easier, but if you do go a little astray keep a bamboo cotton bud or fine-tip makeup brush dipped in eye cream at the ready to neaten up your edges.

Adjust to suit your eye shape

If you have hooded eyes, or you’re lacking the lid space to accommodate such a chunky upper line, make the look work for you by adjusting the thickness of your flick. Instead of keeping it the same width from the inner corner to the outer edge, start thick and then gently start to taper once you hit the middle of your eye. Likewise, if your eyes turn downward, the slanting lower line might draw attention to the slope. If that’s the case, make both flicks more pronounced and upturned by ensuring they tilt up and out towards your brow, instead of down towards your cheekbones.

Pick your color

The jet-black pigment is arguably what gives this look its drama, but if it’s a step too far, soften things by switching up the shade. Instead of sooty black, some blondes may find chocolate-brown shades more flattering, while darker skin tones can dazzle in jewel colors like emerald and garnet. If you want a fuss-free, works-every-time alternative, consider rich hues like eggplant and plum, too – purple is surprisingly flattering on all skin tones and is a soft-but-dramatic cousin of black.

Keep your skin bare

A look this striking doesn’t need much else, so keep the rest of your face simple. Instead of applying your usual layer of foundation, resist the temptation to cover up and only apply concealer where it’s really needed – for most, that’s around the nose and mouth, under the eyes and on any blemishes or broken capillaries. If you usually use powder, steer clear of heavy mattifying formulas and opt for a translucent, second-skin finish instead. A little shine might sound scary, but it stops things looking too heavy. Finish with mascara, brushed-up and filled-in brows, a flush of natural warmth on the cheeks – and a slick of colorless lip balm to keep things clean and fresh.


The model featured in this story is not associated with NET-A-PORTER and does not endorse it or the products shown