If you think it doesn’t matter what eyeliner you grab when you want to make an impact with your peepers, think again sis. Celebrity makeup artist Nick Barose, the man behind Lupita Nyong’o’s head-turning 2020 awards season looks has many tools in his glam arsenal.
And he’s been working with the Lancôme ambassador long enough to understand which ones take her beauty look to the next level. He shared his expertise with ESSENCE on all things eyeliner, and specifically how to make eyeliner pop on dark skin tones.
What do you mean when you say not all black liners are created equal?
When it comes to black eyeliner, they’re not all going to define your eyes. It depends on your skin tone. Some black can turn a little blue or some black can turn a little gray, which is fine. Sometimes when it’s so black it can be tiring and it can be aging. But when you use black that’s not rich enough it’s going to turn a little gray. On darker skin, especially deep dark skin, black that turns a little bit gray is not going to define your eye from a distance.
Is there a difference between liquid and pencil? Is one better than the other?
I think it depends on the formula. Liquid liner is such a makeup staple because sometimes you don’t even need eyeshadow if you do your eyeliner in a certain way. If you wing it out it lifts your eye, if you make it thicker it gives dramatic, rock star cat eyes, or if you use it really close to the lash line then it makes your lashes look thicker. When it comes to pencil, I don’t like them too soft because it always breaks off. But I don’t like them too hard either because you really have to press it hard against your eyes. And I don’t really like to use one that I have to sharpen because I feel like you end up wasting it. I like the automatic pencil like the Lancôme Le Stylo Waterproof Eyeliner.
Is there something that women with darker skin tones should be looking for when they want a liner to really emphasize their eyes?
Look for black eyeliner that’s creamy and when you put it on, it doesn’t turn with green undertones. Some of them can turn a little bit green or gray, not black. [That means ] it’s not rich enough.
Is there a quick test that women can do when trying liners to see what their undertones are if they’re not sure?
Sometimes people have dark skin and then they want to use brown liner so it should be brown that has black in it. Just put it on your hand and see if it really pops. If it blends in too much then it’s not going to define your eyes. When it comes to [bright] shades anything goes really. That’s the great thing about having dark skin is that any color will pop against it. If you want to make a statement and you want to pick fun colors then just go for it.
And I’m sure you’ve used so many brands. How can you tell if you’ve got a quality product?
Sometimes when I get a new eyeliner, I would check it on my hand and just leave it. Then I would walk around and I would wash it and if I could still see it that means it’s not going to smudge. You can’t really fix an eyeliner that’s going to keep on smudging. For liquid, you want to look for one that stays on but doesn’t lift, because when it smudges it tends to lift and be filmy and crummy. You can take recommendations from people but you also have to try on yourself because everybody has different chemistry.
Any unique looks that you think sisters can try this Valentine’s day besides a winged line or a smokey eye?
I think play with different colors too. Burgundy or red can look so gorgeous on dark skin because they turn kind of coppery. So you can play with pencil liner in a burgundy tone or metallic plumy tone, something that’s more red but not too bright. It translates really beautiful with your melanin.