How to be beautiful: Shades of black

 

Even a beauty junkie might question whether they need a set of nail varnishes in 10 shades of black in their life. The rest of us might wonder whether 10 varieties of the non-colour even exist and, in fairness, the Dickensian Volume – as high-minded US brand StrangeBeautiful refers to its latest palette – includes lighter tones that we simple-minded folk would probably call grey.

While proving that gothy nails are still the sophisticate's choice, the collection invites a reassessment of other products in our make-up bags. Though black is a default for many staples, the variations of the Dickensian Volume are a reminder that playing with texture, intensity and finish can significantly alter the effect.

Eye make-up is the obvious site of experimentation. Cream shadows and liners, subtly shot with metallics, are a short-cut to a more modern smoky eye than powders tend to create. Conversely, swapping liquid liner for a powder version gives a softer, ultra-matte look. And, though anathema for achromatic purists, very dark blue or plum can make for an infinitely more flattering effect.

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