Smouldering Smokey Eye
How to Apply Smokey Eyeshadow
When it comes to sexy, sultry makeup looks, it's hard to top the smokey eye. If you're new to makeup, though, pulling off the look can be intimidating -- it's just so easy to wind up looking like you got punched in the eye. The key to successfully applying smokey eyeshadow is choosing the right shades and knowing exactly where to apply each. With practice, you can create a perfect smokey eye in no time.
Creating a Simple Smokey Eye
Choose a dark color palette.To create a smokey eye, you will need to work with a dark palette. A traditional smokey eye uses blacks and grays, but you can use dark hues of almost any color. Browns, golds, purples, greens, and navy blues all also work well for smokey eyes. You will need a dark eyeliner, a medium-dark eyeshadow, and highlight shadow in the same color group to make your smokey eye.
- Look for colors and shades that match your skin tone. If you have very fair skin, a mid-tone shadow may be dark enough for a smokey eye with your complexion. If you have ebony skin, you’ll need to use a very deep shade to create a smokey eye.
- Think about how you want to wear your smokey eye. A lighter, more subtle look could be dressed up or down during the daytime, while a very dark, dramatic smokey eye can be a bold statement when you plan to go out for the night.
Smudge eyeliner along your lash lines.A basic smokey eye usually starts with eyeliner. Use a creamy pencil liner, and run it along your upper and lower lash lines. You should keep the liner thinner on the lower lash line, but you can go a little thicker across the upper lash line. Next, smudge the liner with a small brush, your finger, or a cotton bud to soften it.
- Using your finger to smudge the liner will give your smokey eye a messier, grungier look if you prefer that type of makeup.
Sweep a dark shade across your lid.The key to a smokey eye is using darker powder eyeshadows that give your eyes a sultry look. Use a small, flat brush to apply your chosen shade across your entire lid, even over the smudged liner. Concentrate more of the pigment on the outer corner of your eye, leaving the inner half of the lid lighter.
- If you’re worried about the dark shadow looking too harsh, use one that has a slightly shimmery finish. It will reflect light, and your eyes won’t appear quite as dark.
- If you don’t have a brush to apply the shadow, you can use the sponge-tip applicator that usually comes with eyeshadow to press the color onto your lid.
Blend the shadow up to the crease.Once your shadow is on your lid, you'll need to blend it out to get rid of any harsh lines and create that smokey effect. Use a small, fluffy crease brush to blend the eyeshadow from the lid up into the crease using a circular, buffing motion.
- Take your time blending the shadow into your crease. You don’t want any harsh lines or edges.
- If you can’t diffuse enough color into the crease from your lid by blending with a bare brush, you can tap the crease brush against the shadow to pick up some additional product. Just be sure to tap off any excess so you don’t apply too much.
Highlight the brow bone and inner corner.Once you’ve finished blending the dark shadow across your eye, you want to use a light colored shadow to brighten up under your brow bone and the inner corner of your eye near the tear duct. Depending on your skin tone, apply an ivory, cream, or beige shade with a small brush to those areas.
- While you can use any light shade that you like to highlight, it’s best to choose a shadow that doesn’t have too much shimmer or glitter unless you use a metallic shadow for the lid. A matte shade is the best bet, but a satin or slight shimmer finish can also work well.
Curl your lashes and add mascara.Because dark shadows can tend to make the eyes look smaller, you want to open them up as much as possible. Start by using an eyelash curler to curl and lift your lashes. Next, apply your favorite mascara to lengthen and thicken the look of your lashes so they can stand out against the dark eye makeup.
- You may need more than one coat of mascara to get help your lashes stand out with the darker makeup. Make sure not to apply too much, though, or lashes may start to clump.
Applying a Dramatic Smokey Eye
Use an eye primer.You always want your makeup to look fresh all day, but it’s especially important with dark eyeshadows that fade and crease more noticeably. Before you apply any shadows to your eyes, dab on an eye primer. It will form a barrier between the oils in your lid and the shadow, so it stays looking fresh. Primer can also help intensify the shadows that you layer over it.
- If you don’t have a specific eye primer on hand, apply a little concealer or foundation to your eyelids before using any eyeshadows. Next, dust the lids with translucent powder to create a smooth base.
Use a light base shade over the entire lid.To begin your smokey eye look, choose a light shade of powdered eyeshadow that flatters your skin tone, such as a white, ivory, cream, beige, or tan. Use a brush or a sponge-tip applicator to apply it over the entire eyelid, from your upper lashline to under your brow. Dab a little in the inner corner of your eyes as well.
- It’s best to use a matte shadow as your base shade.
Press a medium dark shade over the base of your eyelid.Start to add depth to your eye look by applying a medium dark tone to your eyelid with a flat shader brush or a sponge-tip applicator. Keep the shadow on the lid and crease area, so your brow bone remains brightened by the base shade.
- You may want to apply multiple layers of the medium dark shade to get it to the depth and intensity that you prefer. The pigment should be darkest near your lashes and fade gradually in the crease so that it blends seamlessly with the lighter shade.
Apply the darkest shade to the outer corner and crease.To really make your smokey eye look sultry and dramatic, you’ll want to work in an even darker shade. Use a pointed crease brush to work the shade into the outer corner of the eye. Start at the outer edge of the lash line and create a diagonal line toward the end of your brow. When you reach the crease, drag the brush inward to darken up that area. You’ll effectively create a “V” shape at the corner of your eye.
- Make sure to blend the dark shadow well, so there are no harsh lines or edges. You may want to switch to a clean, fluffy brush after you’re done applying the shadow to soften it.
- If the dark shadow isn’t as dark as you’d like, layer it until you build it up to the intensity that you prefer.
Line your upper lashline.Use a creamy eyeliner pencil in black or another dark shade to add definition to your upper lashes, moving from the outer corner to the inner corner. The color should be at least as dark as your darkest shadow, if not darker. Smudge out the liner, and then press a powder shadow in a similar color to the liner over it with a small pencil brush to darken it up further.
- You can use a brush or a cotton swab to smudge the liner. It’s best not to use your finger, though, because it can make the look seem a little messy. If you don’t have a brush or cotton swab, a sponge tip applicator can work.
Add liner to your lower lashline.With the same pencil that you used on your upper lashline, line your lower lashes. Keep the liner as close to your lashline as possible, though. Next, use a brush or cotton swab to soften the line to give it a smokier look.
- If you want a really sultry smokey eye, consider applying the dark eyeliner to your inside rim of your lower lash line, also known as the water line. Pull lightly on your lower lid to expose the area, and gently run the liner over it.
Apply mascara or false lashes.Finish off your smokey eye by defining your lashes. Use an eyelash curler to curl your lashes, and apply several coats of your favorite black mascara. If you’ve used very dark shadows or just want a bolder look, though, you may want to Apply False Eyelashes to really add drama.
- Don't forget to apply a little mascara to your lower lashes too.
Doing the Rest of Your Makeup
Apply your eye makeup first.Many people start with their face makeup, and move onto the eyes later. However, you often get fallout on your cheeks from the shadows that you’re applying to your eyes. When you’re using really dark shadows, it can be difficult to get rid of the specks on your face without ruining your foundation and concealer. That’s why it’s best to do your eye makeup first and then apply your face products.
- If you just prefer to do your face makeup first, apply a generous amount of loose translucent powder beneath your eyes before applying your shadow. The powder will catch any fallout, and you can just sweep it away with a brush when you’re finished with your eyes.
Keep the rest of your makeup subtle.When you’re wearing a bold, smokey eye, it’s usually best to tone down the rest of your look. That means wearing a bright red lip or super shimmery blush with a dramatic black smokey eye isn’t always the best choice. Instead, opt for light, neutral shades, such as a nude lip color and a matte neutral blush, so your eyes are the star of your look.
- Keep in mind that they are no rules in makeup. If you feel like wearing a bold red lip with your smokey eye, go for it. However, if you’re new to smokey eye looks, it’s best to start slow with a soft pink or nude lip.
Add color to your cheeks.While you typically don’t want to go too bold with the rest of your makeup, it’s important to add some color to your face with a smokey eye. That’s because the dark eyeshadows can make you look pale and almost sickly. Apply a rosy or peachy blush to the apples of your cheeks and blend it back toward your hairline to liven up your skin.
- If you’re not a fan of blush, swap it for your favorite bronzer. Dust it over the tops of your cheekbones to add warmth and color to your skin.
QuestionHow do you make your look super smoky?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerBuild up the layers of your shadow until it gets as dark as you want it. Next, be sure to blend extremely well, so the makeup has a soft, diffused look that is the trademark of a smoky eye.Thanks!
- To remove excess eyeshadow, dab Vaseline onto a cotton bud and gently rub onto the messy spot. Then, use the other side on the bud to wipe away the Vaseline.
- As with most makeup techniques, practice makes perfect. Keep practicing your smoky eye look until you feel more confident about your skills.
- You can purchase eyeshadow palettes that are designed specifically to create smoky looks, so you’ll have all the shades that you need in one place.
Things You'll Need
Powdered eyeshadow in light, medium-dark, and dark shades
Black or other dark-colored pencil eyeliner
Flat shader brush
Fluffy crease brush
Pointed crease brush
Sources and Citations
- Videos provided by
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