The new black

Dark eyes are this season's most crucial make-up look. Given that my eyes are dark all on their own, I was initially pleased, thinking of the hours I'd save no longer rigorously having to apply eye cream, concealer and powder every morning. But, alas, the dark-eyed look has taken a while to perfect.

The important thing to remember is that it has to look intentional. In the same way as those with white skin should steer clear of red eyeshadow, unless they want to look as if they've been crying all night, those with dark skin need to be careful when applying kohl: too little, and there's not much point bothering; too much, and you'll look as if you've got a black eye.

"Most people, when attempting smoky eyes for the first time, want to line their eyes with a black, navy, chocolate or purple pencil, and smudge the edge," says Wende Zomnir, creative director and founder of Urban Decay. "This flattens out the dimension of the eye, and all you end up seeing is the line. And it looks harsh, no matter how well you smear the line or how nicely you apply it."

Bear in mind that the dark eyes of the moment are much softer than their 1980s equivalent. The line is thicker and the eye is elongated. First, apply a dark but neutral shade to the lid, and use this as your base. The Cowgirls range from BeneFit has a good selection of cream shadows in various shades of deep brown. For the more adventurous, Hard Candy's Loner eyeshadow in Love Child (a deep grey) is a striking base. Take a darker shade, but of a similar colour to the base, apply in the crease and blend up towards the corner of the brow. Then, using a black eye pencil with a sharp point, carefully apply the lashline on top. The silk eye pencil from Armani is gorgeous, doesn't drag and comes with its own blender. If you prefer bigger pencils, Bad Gal from BeneFit and the eye crayon from Barry M are both good bets.

Carefully smudge some of the black pencil on the base of the lower lashes (some of the smoky colour you applied should show). Then, if you can stand it, gently take the pencil and line the lower and upper inner lids. This is not as difficult as it sounds and, as Zomnir says, "this little step is the clincher".

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