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How to use black eye make-up

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Amy Winehouse
Tone it down some during the day and amp it up at night
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Carefully apply black eye make-up so you don't end up looking like a hot mess

Women have been applying black make-up to their eyes since the time of Cleopatra -- maybe even before then. Kohl was the eye make-up of choice during Cleopatraís era and it created a very exotic, over-the-top look.

Black eye make-up can be stunning, or it can be a hot mess if itís applied incorrectly or too heavily. So how do you know how to use black eye make-up?

Here's how: With a steady hand, the ability to rein yourself in, to not overdo it and an idea in mind of the precise look you hope to achieve. 

Sometimes less is more, again, depending on the wearerís style and effect that are to be produced. The wearer needs to be the ultimate judge. However, if family and friends gasp in horror, itís time to reconsider.

Of course, there is make-up remover so you can readily un-do any mistakes that are made. If the makeup appears excessive, tone it down by removing some of it with the remover.

Black eye make-up can turn unremarkable eyes into dazzling, mysterious, sensual orbs. However, if the applier gets carried away the outcome can be Morticia of the Addams Family. Black eye shadow, coupled with thick, black mascara on the eyes is dramatic and exotic looking but it can be overpowering. Determine if it is flattering and appropriate or if it looks like costume paint. If the latter is true, wash it off and start all over again. Use a lighter, more subtle color and shade. Brown is a great alternative. Itís obvious but not as obvious as black. 

You can wear black eye makeup during the day. Just use a lighter touch when applying it than you would at night.

When the eyes and eyebrows are bold, the lips don't have to be. Use a neutral gloss or lipstick. Pair black lined eyes with soft brown or gray eye shadow. Or, go all out and use shimmery, bright eye shadow. Know that this is going to be a lot of make-up and may be too much for one face.

Take note of the eyes, their shape and color, the lashes, the lids, the hair color and complexion to see if black is a good choice. Strong black eye make-up may not be the best choice if you are fair. Kat Von D. wears it well, but sheís also an unconventional woman and the brash black eye make-up suits her look, her occupation (tattoo artist) and lifestyle quite well. However, Nicole Kidman would look ridiculous if stark black eye make-up were applied to her eyes. She is a porcelain-skinned red head.

Black eyeliner comes in liquid-, soft pencil-, Kohl-, gel- and powdered forms. Depending on the shape of your eye and the look you are hoping to achieve select (after experimenting) the option that works best on your eyes. Some liners can be smeared to look softer and give that smoky look.

Black eye make-up can be discreet. A narrow dash of eyeliner placed right above the eye and a dash of black mascara and thatís enough coverage, and it isnít too drastic. One doesnít look like sheís into Goth or channeling Marilyn Manson in the eye make-up department. Itís a classic look. (Audrey Hepburn.) Some women choose to line the inside rims of their eyes, and this is a very interesting look.

The eyeliner can be applied in a narrow or thick line, extended beyond the outside corner of the eye or only cover a portion of the upper, outer eye. It is the choice of the woman who is applying it and this choice depends on the eye shape.

A shy, young thing would look out of place in haltingly bold, look-at-me black eye make-up whereas a mature, confident woman who has a lot of attitude and wants to be noticed can pull off heavy black eye make-up with ease. 

Make-up styles and trends come and go but a lot of women will not part with their black eye liner and mascara no matter what the style du jour is. Black eye make-up is here to stay although some women opt for more subtle colors. As women age, the tendency is to back off on heavy black eyeliner and mascara because it can be aging and too stark. Realize that a heavy dose of black eye make-up can make small eyes look smaller, which may not be the goal. Severe black lines if overdone can look dated and can date the wearer. What looked good on a person in 1960 might not look as great in 2011.

Experiment and see if bold, noir (black) eye make-up is the right color for you. 

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