black eyeliner
A model is photographed backstage during Milan Fashion Week.

It feels fair to say that black eyeliner is a touchy subject for many. I am among those makeup-lovers who feel naked without inky wings but positively fearful about trying my hand at a smudged look, à la Meghan Markle’s signature above-the-neck glam. Perhaps my anxiety about sooty liner stems from my middle school days in the early aughts, when my peers and I had a one-step beauty routine that I now cringe at: pressing dark pigment into our waterlines and calling it a day. As I grew up and my makeup bag expanded from a single pencil to an entire regimen, I abandoned kohl entirely. But now, per the Fall-Winter 2021 runways, black eyeliner is back and bound to reclaim a space in my beauty routine all over again.

That’s not to say, though, that every high-fashion black eyeliner moment looked the same during the FW21 presentations and live-streamed shows. At Marine Serre and Victoria Beckham, makeup artists ever so slightly smudged dark pigment on models’ upper and lower lash lines for a subtle, eye-opening effect. In contrast, dramatic kohl-rimmed liner at Sandy Liang and Christian Cowan gave the designers’ head-turning ensembles a run for their money. For further proof just look to Chanel’s just-released collection, as seen below, for which Lucia Pica accented slick-straight hair with intense hand-drawn etchings—no two alike.

Ahead, shop the best black eyeliner pencils—from a classic kohl option to an easy-to-apply gel formula—to experiment with at home.

the classic Kohl pencil…

kohl-rimmed eyeliner
LE CRAYON KHÔL INTENSE EYE PENCIL, $30 VIA CHANEL. SHOP NOW

the eyeliner with a built-in smudger…

black eyeliner
VICTORIA BECKHAM BEAUTY SATIN KAJAL EYELINER IN BLACK, $26 VIA VICTORIA BECKHAM BEAUTY. SHOP NOW

the waterproof formula…

black eyeliner
YSL BEAUTY DESSIN DU REGARD WATERPROOF EYELINER PENCIL IN BLACK, $30 VIA YSL BEAUTY. SHOP NOW

the four-in-one BLACK EYEliner…

black eyeliner
SHISEIDO KAJAL INK ARTIST SHADOW, LINER, BROW IN BLACK, $25 VIA SEPHORA. SHOP NOW

the crayon with intense pigment payoff…

black eyeliner
MARC JACOBS HIGHLINER GEL EYE CRAYON IN BLACK, $26 VIA MARC JACOBS. SHOP NOW

All products featured on GRAZIA are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, Grazia may earn an affiliate commission.

thoughts?