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3 Easy Black Eye Makeup Looks: Step-by-Step Guide

Because some things never go out of style.

<p>SuperflyImages/Getty Images</p>

SuperflyImages/Getty Images

When it comes to makeup, there are certain staples that defy the trend cycle. They’re the little black dresses of makeup—always in style whether they’ve made it into the TikTok aesthetic du jour or not. Think a healthy flush of color on the cheeks, flawless base, and bold red lip.

And black eye makeup is a bonafide beauty hall of famer. From a smudged-out smokey eye to a sharp, well-defined wing, there truly is something for everyone, regardless of skin tone, eye color, or eye shape. This fall, we’re leaning into the classics and pulling out our best shadows and liners for black eye makeup looks as impressive as they are timeless. Read on for three go-to black eye looks we’re bringing back with a quintessential 2023 spin on them.

Crisp Winged Liner

Black winged liner is a classic for a reason—it’s pretty much universally flattering and there are endless ways to make the look your own. And it’s a go-to for celebrity makeup artist Vincent Oquendo, who’s created a slew of iconic red carpet looks like this four-winged liner look for Gabrielle Union.


“In my eyes the best way to create winged eyeliner, whether it’s one wing or four, is to start off with a kohl pencil first,” Oquendo explains. “Use that to create your shapes and then you can trace over it using an ink liner to lock in your shape after you are happy with it.”

The technique is far more forgiving than trying to nail the shape and inky color in one fell swoop—easily fix mistakes or even out your flicks with a cotton swab dipped in micellar water. Plus, Oquendo says it helps create depth on the eye.

The last, but most important, step, according to Oquendo, is using an undereye concealer to clean up and help the liner pop. Using a flat liner brush and a creamy concealer like the TULA Radiant Skin Brightening Concealer ($32), trace along the outer edge of your wing to perfect your lines and create contrast.

Waterline and Tightline

There’s no denying the resurgence of the early aughts when it comes to beauty inspiration, and fully rimmed eyes are back in a big way—think Billie Eilish soft goth. Not only does it create a sharp contrast to the irises that pulls attention to the eyes, but it also gives the appearance of thicker lashes, which is never a bad thing. Plus, the technique gives some extra drama to any look.

Best of all, it’s ridiculously easy to achieve. All you’ll need is a waterproof kohl black eye pencil—we’ve been loving the Makeup For Ever Aqua Resist Color Pencil Eyeliner in 01 Graphite ($24). Holding down your bottom lid, use short strokes (or one long stroke, whatever you prefer) to create a line along the bottom rim of your waterline. Then repeat to line the upper rim, gently holding your lid with a few fingers. Retrace the lines as needed until you’re happy with the depth of color, and voila! Your look just got ten times cooler.

Pro tip: The secret to long-wearing waterline liner is setting the pencil with a shadow. Simply dip a liner brush in a black eyeshadow and stamp it over the liner to set the color and keep it in place.

Sparkling Smokey Eye

A great smokey eye is always in style, and the perfect black smokey eye is an automatic winner in our books—it’s equal parts sexy, alluring, and downright cool. We love adding a hint of sparkle for an even more nuanced look, and a hint of girliness to an otherwise grunge eye.

To recreate, start with an eyeshadow primer like the About-Face Shadow Fix Eye Primer ($13) to keep your look vibrant, crease-proof, and smooth all day. Then sweep a black shadow across the lids and above the crease and blend (and we really mean blend!). Smudge some shadow along the lower lash line and finish with a dab of a shimmer topper, focusing it on the center of the li8d—we love the Makeup by Mario Master Crystal Reflector ($26).

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