Tips for Smoky Eye Make-up

Wednesday, 19 November 2008 | Tags: , , , , ,

Since fashion magazines are often packed with how-to articles, we put a recent one to the test and compared it to the technique of a beauty expert. The result? A few steps were left out of the magazineís instructions, so weíve added some of our own tips and research to help you get the best smoky look.

A beauty expert from Sephora helped us with the following tips:

The Basics:

  • A few different shades of eye shadow are blended to create the smoky eye look, including a light base colour and a dark top tone.

  • Blending is key to getting the right smokiness to your look. It takes practice, however, so be prepared to try a few times in order to hone your technique.

  • Blend shadows before applying mascara and eyeliner in order to avoid a murky mess.

  • Keep the rest of your make-up very simple and neutral to avoid creating a clown-like effect.

  • Use a brush (or brushes) rather than sponges to get a richer colour since sponges can tend to wipe colour away.

    • A beveled blending brush, wide at one point and narrower at the other, works best for both blending and precision.

  • Consider using a primer to help prepare your eyelid and give the eye shadow something to adhere to. Also use an under-eye concealer to help reduce any dark circles.


  • Pair a light base colour with a dark rich colour for contrast. For example:

    • (Classic) A neutral base colour like taupe or nude with black, dark grey, or dark brown

    • A soft gold base with deep purple on top

    • A champagne base with bright blue

    • A peach base with dark emerald green

  • To make your natural eye colour stand out, try different shades rather than the classic black. For:

    • blue eyes: try warm browns, warm taupe, soft peach.

    • brown eyes: very versatile, try any shade and also play with shadows that have a bit of gold shimmer.

    • Green/hazel eyes: try gold/brown, warm taupes, deeper shades of purple, softer shades of violet and lavender.

    • Grey eyes: try charcoal grey tones and cooler shades of brown, purple.

Shadow format

  • When it comes to using eye shadows with shimmer, make sure the particles are small in order to avoid making the eye look too glittery

  • For the dark tone, a matte shadow that can be used wet or dry allows a bit of versatility and can double as an eyeliner if applied wet.

  • For eyeliner, a black pencil (or dark-toned if you’re using browns, purples, blues or greens as your top shadow) with a creamy consistency provides both precision and ease of blending.

  • For mascara, a thickening or volumizing formula (rather than lengthening) will help keep the intensity focused on your smoky lash line rather than the tips of your lashes.

In a Fall 2009 issue of Elle Canada, they featured an article that promised a classic smoky eye in just a few steps. But we tried it ourselves and got an expert opinion from professional make-up artist Meagan Marsipoint from Sephora, who says the article was a little hard to follow and left out some critical steps to achieving the perfect smoky eye look.

Meagan’s tips for achieving a professional smoky eye

You’ll need:

  • A light shadow and brush/applicator

  • A dark shadow and brush/applicator (it’s best to keep the colours separate)

  • Concealer or eye primer: for concealer, liquid is best for the eye area since cream can cause you to tug the skin too much, and can also cake.

  • Black eyeliner: liquid is recommended, but a soft creamy product will work, as will a wet/dry dark eyeshadow.

  • Black mascara: a thickening/volumizing formula rather than lengthening.

Follow these steps to achieve your look:

  • Start by priming your eyelids with a thin concealer or an eye primer. This helps even out skin tone, gives the shadow something to adhere to, and helps prevent creasing.

  • Brush your light-coloured base shadow (e.g. nude, peach, gold, champagne) over your entire eyelid, all the way up to your brow.

  • Draw a thick line of liquid eyeliner along the lash line. Neatness doesn’t count here so don’t worry about mistakes.

  • Use a short, thick brush to smudge it up your eyelid.

  • Apply your dark eyeshadow over the smudged liner and smoke it up. Blend in a circular motion until the dark colour reaches the crease. Blending is key, and make take a bit of practice.

  • Line the lower lashes and the inside eye with a black or dark pencil liner (or liquid eyeliner if you’re really good at it, but it’s a tricky product to master).

  • Then smudge a thin line of your dark shadow over the liner along your lower lash line. Keep it thin so that you avoid the raccoon look.

  • Finally, curl your eyelashes and apply a couple of coats of mascara.

Achieving this look can take a bit of practice, so don’t be discouraged if you aren’t able to perfect your application on your first try.


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