While I prefer subtle, natural makeup for everyday, a classic smokey eye look has long been my go-to for girls’ night out, date night, or any time I want a little more oomph. In theory, a smokey eye is simple, but nailing this classic can become elusive without a handful of tried and true guidelines that steer you toward a fresh, sultry look (not an overdone, dishevelled one).
So today I’m sharing the easy smokey eye makeup I’ve been doing for more than 10 years, plus a few tips I’ve learned for nailing it like a makeup artist. This looks beautiful with any eye color!
How to Do a Smokey Eye
Read below for my step-by-step tutorial for the perfect smokey eye, and be sure to check out my Instagram reel to see me applying it live!
1. Apply a Mid-Tone Eyeshadow All Over the Upper Lid
Start by applying a darker shade (I like matte brown and taupe for green, blue and brown eyes) that suits your skin tone from the lashlines to creases. You can use an eyeshadow base or eyeshadow primer if you want a long-wearing look.
2. Apply Black Eyeliner Along the Upper Lash Line
Apply a high-quality gel eyeliner in a thin line close to your eyelashes from the inner corner of your eyes to the outer corner. You can extend past the outer corners for a cat eye if it works with your eye shape. I use this thin-tipped brush (one of my all-time favorite makeup brushes)—it helps the liner go on precise and smooth.
3. Line the Lower Lid
Use an eyeliner pencil in dark brown (you can also use a dark shade from an eyeshadow palette) to lightly line or “sketch” beneath the lower lash line. Don’t go on the waterline unless you want a very dark effect.
4. Apply the Darker-Toned Eyeshadow Over the Liner and Along the Lower Lash Line
Using the same dark eyeshadow shade that you used on the top lid, lightly tap the shadow over the gel eyeliner on your top lid and on the brown eyeliner along your lower lashes to begin to soften any harsh lines.
5. Smudge and Blend
The key to the perfect smokey eye is blending and smudging! Use a fluffy brush or blending eyeshadow brush, blend the shadow up to the brown bone and barely beneath the lower lashes to create the smokey eye effect. Gently smudge the gel eyeliner and brown eyeliner as you go.
6. Finish with 3-4 Coats of Dark Black Mascara
Make the eyes pop with several coats of a deep black mascara (my favorite here) on the top lashes, then use what’s left on the brush to lightly tap the bottom lashes.
7. Pair with a Light Lip
Pairing a smokey eye with a dark look can make your makeup look a bit dark and vampire-esk, so I always recommend wearing a light, nude lip with a dark eye to soften this glam look. My current favorite lip color is a hydrating gloss: ‘Hella’ by Tarte.
Shop My Smokey Eye Makeup
Smoky Eye Dos and Don’ts
- Do layer the lightest concealer that works with your skin tone beneath your eyes before getting started. This is essential to help the dark tones pop and prevent the makeup from looking heavy.
- Do add a little shimmer to the cheeks with a highlighter, like this one.
- Do keep it simple. Stick to no more than three shadows—I only used one in this tutorial!
- Do use high-quality blending brushes. No matter how perfect your shadow and liner shades are, the blend is what gives it the soft, sultry look.
- Don’t pair this with a red or dark lip. It will look heavy and vampy.
- Don’t worry about being perfect! Remember, everything gets smudged out at the end.
If you’re interested in the products I used for this look, I turned to Walmart’s beauty collection to help me achieve this smokey eye. They carry many of my favorite beauty brands, including high-end, high-quality collections like Bobbi Brown, Tom Ford, Charlotte Tilbury alongside affordable collections such as Maybelline, Revlon and L’Oreal. If you’re ready to create your smokey eye at home, you can shop everything I used from Walmart in the widget above.
Thank you to Walmart and rewardStyle for sponsoring this post.