KAJAL EYELINER BEST FALL TREND DIOR YSL MAYBELLINE
Theda Bara used kajal as her calling card: With movies like are The Devil’s Daughter, The Vixen, and The She-Devil, she invented the modern-day vamp, named for the dark-lidded female vampires she portrayed. This Ohio-born actress went on to play Russian villainesses, Carmen, and Cleopatra, despite doll-like features that included bow lips, a dimpled chin, and apple cheeks. It seems that lining her eyes with a swirl of black set her apart: Magazines called her “The Wickedest Woman in the World.”
Kajal is the term used in parts of India—that’s the name in Hindi—but it’s something the same like the thing called surma, kehal, khôl, or kohl in different parts of the world, and it existed for thousands of years before Bara. Ancient recipes call for the grinding of various pigments to be stored in a bottle then applied with a wand or by hand. Fortunately, today’s formulas are sleeker and simpler: Guerlain recently helped bring KAJAL EYELINER back into the makeup lexicon with its Terracotta Loose Powder Kohl Liner, sold in a golden-rimmed vial. Now, the distinctive black eyeliner form is finding even more spread appeal, with everyone from By Terry to Maybelline and L’Oréal launching cultish new iterations for fall.
With its sloping shape, a kajal-inspired pencil—which loosely resembles a lipstick bullet—is meant to be used sideways, with room for experimentation. Using the tip gets you a thin but pigment-rich line, while the wide edges can be dragged across the whole eyelid. Laura Mercier’s Kajal D’Orient in Noir Supreme has a subtle ashy shimmer and it smears to the touch—perfect for a smoky eye—while Yves Saint Laurent’s formula offers more controlled strokes in even darker and comes in a wand-like casing that calls to mind a chic fountain pen (that you can actually rest on your desk).
Kajal may seem best for after-hours, but it was primary used to help cool eyelids in the hot sun. For a daytime alternative, Dior’s twist-up pencil of opaque pigment functions more like a supercharged eye pencil, and Maybelline’s formula comes in softer shades of midnight brown or navy that could work from day to night . . . or night to day. For the wicked rest doesn’t exist.