Smokey eyes have always been a staple in makeup trends throughout the years. It’s a classic look that is extremely versatile, so it’s no wonder that it has made it through the ages. Luckily, it’s a very easy look to achieve with minimal products needed. Once you nail the technique, you’re pretty much set to give yourself either a very bold and dramatic look or one that is more subtle for every day.
What you will need:
- A blending brush. It is one of the key elements needed to achieve the smokey effect. I recommend either the MAC 217 brush, which is the best all-around brush you should have in your arsenal (in my opinion), the Sigma E40, which is more fluffy and is great for really blending out the edges of your shadow, or the blending brush from the EcoTools Eye Enhancing Duo set, which is a more affordable option. Any fluffy blending brush will do!
- A shader brush. This is needed to apply the lid shade. You can find a very inexpensive one at any drug store.
- At least two shadows: the first one being your transition shade, which is also another key element needed to make your smokey eye look well blended, and the second shade being the one you want on your lid. The transition shade is typically several shades lighter than the lid shade, and picking within the same colour family will make blending out your smokey eye a lot easier. For example, if you want a black smokey eye, you can choose either a brown or a grey shade as the transition shade. However, if you want a blue and orange smokey eye (which would look hella cool), it will probably be more difficult to blend those shadows to give a seamless look. Using more shadows will help your smokey eye look more blended out and will give a smoother gradient, however it is not absolutely necessary.
- An eye primer. Using an eye primer will ensure that your shadows appear more vibrant and will make them last a hell of a lot longer. Using one will also prevent your eyes from looking racoon-like at the end of the night, so unless that’s the look you’re going for, feel free to use one. I highly recommend the Urban Decay Primer Potion for individuals with oily lids or the MAC Paint Pots (some popular shades are Soft Ochre and Painterly) for people with normal lids.
- Optional: A black base. Depending on how dark or vibrant you want your smokey eye to look, using a black base could be very beneficial. Sometimes shadows aren’t very pigmented on their own, so using a black base can make them either appear very dark (if using a very dark shade), or can make them appear more true to colour (if using a vibrant, metallic shade). You can either use a black pencil liner or a black gel liner; basically anything that can be smudged out.
- First, start with priming your lids with whatever primer you choose to use and set it with any sort of powder (either a flesh-toned shadow or any face powder). Before you start applying any makeup on, you should note that if you’re aiming for a darker smokey eye, you should probably do your eye makeup first. That way if there’s any shadow fall out or if you make a mistake, you can easily correct it without messing up the rest of your makeup.
2. Next, apply your transition shade (I applied MUG – Petal Pusher) in your crease using a blending brush. I used the Sigma E40 for this step. If you have hooded eyes, find the crease in your eye (where the eye socket begins) and apply the shadow looking straight ahead into a mirror. You may have to blend the transition shade slightly higher than your actual crease to make the shadow visible. Keep blending until the shadow is nicely diffused in your crease.
3. This step is optional, but since I’m using 3 shadows, I’m going to apply a slightly darker shadow (MUG – Vintage) focusing more in my crease using a blending brush to give the look more depth. I used the MAC 217 brush for this step since it’s more tapered than the Sigma E40, however it’s entirely possible to use only one blending brush to achieve this look. Just make sure you’re wiping the brush clean using a tissue or a clean dry cloth between each shadow application. Using a clean brush to blend out the shadows between each step prevents the look from looking too muddy.
4. Next, I applied a black base to my lids making sure to keep it below my crease, then I blended it out using a flat synthetic brush (you can use your fingers for this step). I used the NYX Jumbo Pencil in Black Bean.
5. Next, I applied my lid shade (MUG – Time Travel) over the black base with a flat brush just up to the edge of the black base, still keeping it below my crease. After I was satisfied with the intensity of my lid shade, I took my MAC 217 brush (any blending brush) and a tiny bit of Vintage (a transition shade) and started blending the lid shadow to the crease. This process takes some time and patience. It will also look very messy, so don’t be discouraged if you think it looks like shit throughout the process. It will all come together in the end! The key is to blend, blend, and blend. It’s also a good idea to clean your blending brush every so often on a tissue or dry cloth (if you only have one) and blend out the edges of the shadow to make the look more seamless. After all that blending, it should look something like this:
6. Next, I went ahead and applied some mascara and lashes, but the look is still not complete. Lashes are 100% optional, however I was going for a more dramatic look and decided to throw some on. You could also apply some liner if you want to, however this look was already quite dark and I felt like applying some liner would be overkill.
7. I went ahead and did the rest of my face before returning to my eyes. Then, I started on my bottom lash line. I applied a black eyeliner to my waterline and applied the lid shade (MUG – Time Travel) very close to my lash line using a smudge brush. Using the edge of a shader brush could also work. If you don’t want your lower lash line to be very dramatic, you can just apply some liner and mascara and call it a day.
8. Since I wanted a very smokey look, I took some of the transition shade (MUG – Petal Pusher) on a pencil brush and started smudging the shadow on the lower lash line. I took it down a little lower to make it more dramatic.
9. Next, I applied some mascara to my bottom lashes.
10. I decided I wanted my inner corners to pop a little more and added Shimma Shimma by Makeup Geek to the inner corners of my eyes and on my brow bone. And that’s it!
This is the final completed look:
What are your favourite colour combinations for smokey eyes? Let me know in the comments below!