Smokey eye makeup looks beautiful on the runway, but can you really do it yourself? Won’t adding dark eyeshadow under your eyes make you look racoon-ish – or worse, tired? The truth is that you can do it yourself. And with the right smokey eye tutorial, it’s easier than you think.
Why Apply Smokey Eye Makeup?
A smokey eye makeup look consists of layers of brown or black eyeliner and dark eyeshadow blended around the eye for dramatic effect. It’s a sultry, dramatic look that’s often saved for a special night out. If you choose a lighter color palette, this look becomes surprisingly versatile.
Here are some occasions where you may want to try out this look:
- Date night
- A formal wedding
- Holiday party
- Corporate event
- Any time you want to add a sophisticated element to your makeup look
Smokey Eye Makeup Tips To Know Before You Get Started
Before you attempt to tackle the smoky eye look, here are some makeup artist-approved tips for success.
- Embrace the “perfectly imperfect” look. This look is defined by its imperfect, sultry look. Don’t worry about being perfect. You’ll be blending and smudging all of the eye shadow anyway.
- Use the right tool for the job. If you typically use your finger as an eyeshadow brush, you’ll want to use an actual brush for this makeup tutorial. A fluffy brush can help give you the soft, ethereal look that is essential to a smoky eye.
- Feel free to deviate from classic black. A classic black smokey eye calls for black eyeliner, black mascara, and deep charcoal or black eyeshadow. Feel free to adapt this look to suit your skin tone, eye colour, and mood. Consider a gold smokey eye or even a coloured smokey eye with shades like dusty mauve, emerald green, or chocolate brown.
- Choose blendable products. This look depends on a smooth transition between colours, which means you’ll need to blend, blend, blend to get rid of harsh lines. For this reason, a soft eye pencil works better than liquid or gel eyeliner. You’ll also want to choose cream or powder eyeshadows that are easy to blend.1
How To Create The Smokey Eye Look At Home, Step By Step
Gather Your Tools
- Primer or foundation
- Black mascara
- Fluffy eyeshadow brush for covering the lid
- Stubby brush or sponge for blending
- An eyeshadow palette or three colors of your choice. You’ll need a light, medium, and black or dark shade.2
Pick Your Eyeshadow Colors
For this smokey eye tutorial, you’ll want to work with a light, medium, and dark shade. Each shade plays a different role in the overall look.
- Light colors highlight.
- Medium colors act as an eyeshadow base.
- Dark colors define and add drama.3
The classic smokey eye is typically made with a shimmery white shade, silver eyeshadow, and black. Here are a few alternatives you could also consider:
- White, shimmery eyeshadow with gold and dark brown
- Champagne, bronze eyeshadow, deep emerald green
- Taupe, medium matte brown, and burgundy eyeshadow4
Smokey Eye Tutorial
Step 1: Prep Your Skin And Brows
Before you pick up an eyeshadow brush, you’ll want to do a bit of prep to ensure you’re starting with a clean base.
- Cleanse your face
- Groom your brows5
Step 2: Prime Each Eyelid
When you’re rocking this iconic makeup look, the last thing you want is unintentional smudges or creases. A primer may help your eye shadow stay put. A dedicated primer works well for this, or you can use your everyday concealer or foundation. Swipe it over your entire eyelid.
Step 3: Cover Your Upper Lid With Your Middle Shade
Dab a soft brush in your middle toned shade. Cover both lids with it, from lashlines to creases. For more intensity, layer the shadow until your lid is covered with deep color. For a more natural look, use light layers instead.6
Step 4: Apply Liner Along Your Lower And Upper Lash Lines
Apply black liner (or the color of your choice) along your upper and lower lash line. Try to get as close to your lash roots as possible, so there is no gap between the eyeliner and your lashes.
Step 5: Apply Dark Eyeshadow To Your Lashlines, Creases, And Corners
Now, take your darker eyeshadow shade and apply it along the line you just created with your eyeliner, above and below your eye. A small, angled brush can help with precision.7
For a more dramatic look, you can apply that same dark shade along your crease and the outer corner of your eye. Create a sideways “V” when you reach the outer corner, and connect it to your eyeliner.8
Step 6: Blend And Smudge
It’s time to blend. This is where the “smokey” of the smokey eye comes in. Blend the shadow and liner with a stubby brush to erase any harsh lines and give a soft, hazy finish.
Step 7: Use Your Light Tone To Add Highlights
Take a clean brush and dip it in your lightest color. A light, shimmery shade works well for this. Swipe it on the center of your lids, the inner corners of your eyes, and under your brow bone.9
Step 8: Coat Your Lashes In Mascara
To finish your look, curl your eyelashes and apply several coats of mascara.
Step 9: Finish The Rest Of Your Makeup
Complete the rest of your makeup. Keep in mind that a dramatic smokey eye pairs well with minimal makeup on the rest of your face. Try natural cheeks and lips in a muted, neutral shade.10
Smokey Eye Makeup FAQ
How To Perfect The Smokey Eye Makeup For All Eye Colours?
Answer: Classic brown, gray, and black go well with all eye colors. If you want to play up your eyes, consider incorporating one bold colour to bring out the color of your eyes. Here are some ideas for different eye colors:
- Green eyes: green, purple, brown
- Blue eyes: peach, coral, champagne
- Gray eyes: gray or silvery blue
- Brown eyes: bronze, salmon
- Dark brown eyes: violet, silver, warm brown
- Hazel eyes: gold, dusty pink11
How Do You Do A Smokey Eye In The Daytime?
Answer: For a more daytime-friendly look, lean away from blacks and metallics and reach for neutral shades with a light shimmer instead. Think peach, taupe, gold, or pink eyeshadow paired with brown eyeliner. Use a lighter hand when applying, and be sure to blend well.12
Do Smokey Eyes Make The Eyes Look Bigger?
Answer: Some people shy away from smokey eyes because they worry it will make their eyes look smaller. This doesn’t have to be the case.
Here’s how to use smokey eye to make your eyes look bigger instead:
- Define your crease with your darker shade.
- Use a light color on the center of your eyelid as a shimmery highlight to make your eyes pop.
- Try white eyeliner on the lower rim of your eye.
- Apply several coats of mascara, or consider applying false lashes.13
Would You Try The Smokey Eye?
If you’re interested in this makeup look, try out this smokey eye tutorial for yourself, and see how it goes. Start practicing at home, and you’ll be smokey eye-ready the next time you have a formal event. Or better yet, try it out now and wear it anytime you please.
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