The ancient secret of the smokey eye

by Marlies Dekkers
From Cleopatra to Kate Moss, the smokey eye never goes out of style. In India I learned the original way to create this seriously sexy look.

The Egyptians believed that, beside being crazily seductive, kohl-darkened eyes scared away the ‘evil eye’. The kohl also offered protection from the glare of the sun, pretty much in the same manner that the ‘eye black’ on the faces of baseball- and American Football players does. Queen Hatshepsut –my favorite pharao!- would even grind charred frankincense into her kohl for extra healing power.

When I came of age, during the post-punk period in the early eighties, we attributed a similar kind of magic to the dark rimmed eye. It was the epitomy of cool, worn by rock goddesses such as Chrissie Hynde and Siouxie Sioux and even men, especially during the New Wave period that followed. (I secretely still have a thing for Billy Idol and Adam Ant) It was the beginning of my love affair with the smokey eye.

I’ve always been very handy with a make up brush, but it wasn’t until I visited India that I learned how to apply powdered kohl to my eyes the way people of the deserts have been doing for thousands of years. In Southern India many women still prepare their own kohl (kajal in Hindi) with ingredients like sandalwood, castor oil and ghee, all believed to have medicinal properties.

If you buy kohl in your local Indian or Middle Eastern grocery store, make sure sure the powder is very finely and consistently ground. You can also play it safe, and buy Guerlain’s Terracotta Loose Powder Kohl Liner; that little jewel tube with the Moorish-style golden seal is one of my favorite make up classics!

Okay, here’s how you get that authentic smokey eye:
Dip the wand into the vial, about an inch. Lay the applicator wand across your lid as close as possible to your lash line. The product will deposit a distinct line across your lid. Dip it again into the vial to pick up a little more product and with just the tip of the wand finish drawing the line down both corners of your eye and then sweep upward for that Cleopatra touch.

Now, starting at the inner point of the eye, run the wand between the eyelids. Your eyes will be closed, but you will actually be gently swiping the inner rims of the upper and lower lids. If you’re a novice, this might seem a little scary, but I promise it won’t hurt! After all, people have been doing it for thousands of years!

– I you are a contact lense wearer, apply the kohl before you put in your lenses so as not to damage them with the wand.
-Also, I like to put on my foundation after I finished doing my eys, so I can fix mistakes and brush away flakes without having to re-apply all my foundation.
-Looking a bit run-down? Try blue kohl powder (Guerlain has a gorgeous one) for an instant pick-me-up!

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