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Kohl eyeliner gives you the dramatic, smoky look that was all the rage during the 1920s. Kohl eyeliner resembles pencil liner – it looks like a pencil and you sharpen it – but it goes on thicker and darker and has a softer texture, which makes it easier to smudge and blend. If you’re new to Kohl eyeliner, go slow. It’s easy to overdo it.

Most Kohl eyeliner is black or a deep, smoky gray. Kohl liners are the ideal choice for creating a smoky eye look, even without eye shadow. If you want a really intense look, opt for a black Kohl pencil. If you want something a little less dramatic yet still smoky and sultry, choose a deep gray.

Step One

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Place the Kohl eyeliner at the inner corner of your eye and slowly move it toward the outside corner of your eye. Stay close to the lash line but don’t put too much energy into being precise, since you will be smudging the line out anyway.

Step Two

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Use a pencil brush to smudge out the line. Wiggle the brush back and forth over the line, dragging it upward onto your eyelid. The color should stay the most concentrated toward the lash line and become less intense and smokier as it goes up onto your eyelid.

Step Three

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Apply a thin line of Kohl eyeliner underneath your lower lash line. The key to this part of the application is to make sure the line stays very thin and as close to your lash line as possible. A thick, black line underneath your eye says “panda” more than “sexy, smoky eye.”

Step Four

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Take a thin, angled brush and smudge the thin line underneath your eye to soften the edges and create a smoked-out look.

Step Five

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Connect the upper and lower lines by making a “V” with the Kohl pencil in the outer corner of your eye. Use a pencil brush to smudge out the “V” and make sure the lines are connected.

Step Six

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Use your index finger to pull down your lower lid to expose your waterline. Apply the Kohl liner on your waterline by starting at the outer corner and working your way toward the inner corner. Make sure the liner is clean by sharpening and wiping with alcohol just before you use on the waterline.

Did You Know?

Kohl dates back to 3100 BCE when Egyptian women would don the inky cosmetic on as liner and mascara.

About the Author

Lindsay Boyers

Lindsay Boyers is a holistic nutritionist with a Bachelor's degree in food and nutrition and a certificate in holistic nutrition consulting. She has a background in functional nutrition and 8 published books, including The Everything Guide to Gut Health, The Everything Guide to the Ketogenic Diet, and The Everything Guide to Intermittent Fasting.