A Cultural History


A dazzling exploration of the global intersections of beauty and power

'Fascinating' NIGELLA LAWSON
'Awe-inspiring' FUNMI FETTO
'A treat to read' KASSIA ST CLAIR

A Sunday Times Style Barometer and New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice

For centuries, humans have been drawn to lining our eyes. The aesthetic trademark of icons from Nefertiti to Amy Winehouse, eyeliner is one of our most enduring cosmetic tools: ancient royals and Gen Z influencers alike have harnessed its power.

Through Zahra Hankir’s kohl-lined eyes, this ubiquitous product becomes proof of the stunning variety among cultures across time and space. By way of intimate conversations – with Chadian nomads, Japanese geisha, Indian dancers, New York’s drag queens and more – Eyeliner embraces the profound significance of its namesake, especially among communities of colour.

Eyeliner is a delightful and unexpectedly moving journey through streets and stages around the world, and a stirring reclamation of a key piece of our collective history.

‘A smoky-eye lover’s paradise’ NEW YORK TIMES

Hankir delves into the political contexts that inform our make-up choices’ DAZED

‘A beautifully written deep dive’ GLAMOUR

Featuring stunning portrait illustrations by Mercedes deBellard


  • Cosmetic, tool of rebellion, status signifier: Eyeliner has been all these and more. Moving through millenniums and across civilizations, Hankir gives the makeup its eye-opening due
    New York Times Book Review

About the author

Zahra Hankir

Zahra Hankir, a Lebanese British journalist and the editor of Our Women on the Ground, writes about the intersection of politics, culture and society. Her work has appeared in publications including Condé Nast Traveller, the Observer, Times Literary Supplement, BBC News, Al Jazeera English, Bloomberg Businessweek, the Los Angeles Times, and The Rumpus. She was awarded a Jack R. Howard Fellowship in International Journalism to attend the Columbia Journalism School and holds degrees in politics and Middle Eastern studies.
@zahrahankir, zahrahankir.com
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