The all-time most popular, most-applied makeup shade isn't a classic crimson or a workaday beige. It's black, in all its chic-to-grunge glory. Long before smoky shadow and liner were as ubiquitous on the red carpet as Ryan Seacrest, Egyptian queens Nefertiti and Cleopatra elaborately decorated their lids with a homemade glossy kohl pigment-pulverized copper, iron, or lead mixed with oil and painted on with a wood, bone, or ivory stick (the first eyeliner brush). Even the Kama Sutra features a recipe for homemade mascara (a seductive combo of lamp oil and burnt crepe-ginger leaves). "There isn't a shade that works with every skin tone and eye color as well as black," says Collier Strong, a L'Oréal makeup artist. "It's the most universally flattering makeup shade-ever."
3 Ways to Wear It
shiny lidsShiny Lids: Even with advanced formulas on the market, many pros still prefer the DIY mixology long employed by Debbie Harry types in backstage bathrooms. To create model Daria Werbowy's liquid-look, onyx smoky eyes, De Mey, Lancôme's artistic director, blended a black pencil with lip balm on the back of his hand "until I got the perfect intensity of noir," then he dabbed the concoction onto lids "with a very light touch."
spiky lashesSpiky Lashes: De Mey tight-lined (makeup artist speak for a microthin application of color along the lash line) Werbowy's upper lids with black liner, then loaded them with the new Lancôme Hypnôse Doll Lashes mascara.
winged linerWinged Liner: De Mey drew a graphic Sophia Loren-inspired cat eye with precise strokes of Lancôme Artliner liquid liner. Create the shape using a gray pencil, then trace over with a slanted brush and matte black gel or liquid liner. Finish with a Q-tip dipped in Lancôme Génifique serum to clean the undereye and prep for concealer.
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