The Flicks of my Trade

Eye flicks

Make-up artist Lauren Oakey knows her beauty trademark. She explains why she’ll never stray from the thick black line.


Someone once told me that “your face doesn’t look right without eyeliner”. They weren’t being mean, it just doesn’t. Since I first shelled out £1.99 of my carefully budgeted £5 Saturday shopping fund on a Boots Natural Collection black liquid eyeliner and sat cross legged in front of the mirror, drawing a wobbly line across my lid with my tongue out and nose almost touching the glass, I was hooked. After a mere 200 attempts, my face looked lifted, more awake and the mad shock of inky black across my pale skin made me feel a bit dangerous. It’s all actress Anna Karina’s fault. When she scamped across the screen in Une Femme est Une Femme, all luminous and cheekbone-y, her doe-eyes laden with heavy winged liner, it was pretty much game over. I needed that eyeliner and I needed it fast.


Having an almost daily gel-lined eye means I have to get my make-up kicks from other places. Working on a beauty counter sometimes feels like being locked in a sweet shop, only the rush I get isn’t from sugar that leaves me slumped in a corner half an hour later, foaming at the mouth. I love the transformation when some playful brights are applied to an otherwise ‘mascara and lipgloss’ face, or giving someone a heavy, sexy smoky eye that makes them feel a bit punchy, but in a good way. It’s the same with eyeliner. It transforms my face and my mood and I feel all at once more ‘done’. A friend once said to me “I can tell you’re in a good mood, your eyeliner is almost touching your hair”.


Bobbi Brown Long Wear Gel Liner in Black Ink, £17.50, is my go-to product for a proper 60s flick. I apply this with the Bobbi Brown Ultra Fine Eyeliner brush, £22, which, despite a rocky start between us, has stolen my heart. Art shop brushes for three quid are a close second, especially barely there super-fine ones for extra sharpness. The Bobbi gel liners come in loads of colours so sometimes I use Black Mauve, an icy cool gem that makes my hazel eyes stand out like a dog in a bikini, and Ivy Shimmer Ink if I’m feeling a little bit festive. For almost eternal staying power, MAC Liquidlast, £15, is your chap. It’s thick and gloopy and is quite difficult to apply on a train, but MAN ALIVE it doesn’t budge. It’s like the Bruce Forsyth of the eyeliner world. It’ll hang around forever if you let it. It’ll last you all the way through the furnace scene in Toy Story 3, as it has no time for tears, then wait patiently for you to powder your nose and chuck on some lippy before taking you out on the town.


Sometimes, when I get equal amounts of eyeliner on each eye with symmetrical flicks, I feel so excited I want to put it on my CV under ‘skills’. I can’t do a cartwheel or forwards park a car unless that space is 100 yards long but I’m nailing it at eyeliner, so I think we know who’s won.

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