Hollywood’s biggest stars and fans of their style can’t get enough of smokey eye makeup.
On the red carpet, celebrities from golden-haired Katherine Heigl to dark-haired Eva Longoria, skinny Keira Knightley to voluptuous Scarlett Johansson, and cute Jessica Alba to elegant Natalie Portman pull it off, no matter what their look.
It even works with glasses, as Jennifer Aniston has proven.
The sexy, smokey eyed look is one of the most versatile and timeless ways to quickly glam up.
You still need to know what you’re doing, though. Without the right tools, touches and direction, it’s a thin line between sexy smokey eye makeup and hand-made dark, under-eye circles.
Smokey eye makeup materials
You don’t need too many high-quality makeup materials for your smoky eyeshadow look — a couple of brushes, eyeshadow primer, three shades of eyeshadow going from dark to light in whatever color you choose (brown in this case), black eyeliner pencil made of very soft kohl (it needs to be soft so that you can effectively smudge it), and plenty of cotton swabs.
You’ll need a few good tools, too:
- An eyeshadow brush: Choose a slender model with a rounded brush tip like the one by The Body Shop. This tool makes it easy for you to work eyeshadow into the creases of your eyelid.
- A smokey eye brush: Sephora makes an inexpensive double-ended smokey eye makeup brush — one with a rounded tip (to smudge your shadow and eyeliner with) and an angled, sharper-cut tip (to help you apply a precise eyeshadow line under the lashes on your lower lid). Plenty of other vendors sell identical brushes for much less, though.
- A line softener: The Body Shop and many other makeup sellers offer a tall, thin-handled brush with a rounded tip. It helps create gentle, smokey lines out of the shadow that you apply.
gloMinerals do a great great smokey eye makeup tutorial kit if you’re just getting started.
The basic smokey eye makeup steps
There’s a huge range of creativity that you can apply to the basic smokey-eyed idea. If this is your first time, though, you should start out with a simple but beautifully effective method.
Start with an eyeshadow primer: Primer is easy to apply, and is your first step to beautiful smokey eye makeup. It provides a great base to hold the rest of your makeup in place for hours with no smearing. Every makeup maker from MAC to Sephora and Urban Decay makes special primers just for smokey eye makeup.
Use a rounded smokey eye brush: Apply a soft blending brush to apply middling brown shadow over your eyelids going right up above the crease (the part of your eyelid where it dips at the top of your eyeballs). There are all kinds of ways to address the crease. Blend the shadow so that you get the same shade all through, from your lashes to your eyebrows.
Build up color: Lightly apply a darker shade around the area of the crease. Use a rounded brush, and work on each eyelid from the outer edge to the inner one.
Break out a darker shade still: A shimmering darker shade of brown over the outer half of each eyelid comes next. The idea is to create a gentle gradient of shading with no harsh edges. Work on it with a soft brush to make the color gently grow darker on its way to the outer edges. Have it extend to a point just short of where your eyebrows end.
Dramatize your shadow with gold: While this step is not strictly needed, it can add dramatic effect. A tiny amount of gold eyeshadow around the area where your lids meet the bridge of your nose can make people think that they see gold all over.
Take it higher: Use a soft brush to add a lighter shade to the brow bone. This can help to frame your smokey eyes to great effect.
Use black pencil liner: Draw along your upper lash line with black pencil liner. You don’t need to be particularly neat — your next step is to use a small, soft brush to smudge the liner out to create a soft, gradient.
Create more areas of shade: Use matte black eyeshadow on the outer portion of the black pencil liner smudge, and gently work it outwards to create a gentle tail end.
Move to your lower lid: Your lower lids have an important part to play in the overall effect that you’re working towards. There’s a lot less labor involved here, though. All you need to do is to apply liner to the waterline (the lash line of your lower lid), and gently smudge it out. Then, you should bring a little definition to the waterline with a stroke of black liner.
Smokey eye makeup possibilities
That’s about it for this tutorial on how to do smokey eye makeup — your smokey eye look is done. You need to remember, though, that you should start with as little makeup as possible. Once you get the hang of it, you can use greater intensity with confidence.
As you gain more confidence creating smokey eyes, there’s so much more that you can do. Try experimenting with different shades, textures and shapes.