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The smoky eye is the most classic eye makeup look out there. Equal amounts flattering and seductive, the smoky eye looks good on everyone regardless of skin tone, eye shape, or anything else. The general premise of the smoky eye—darker colored eye shadows closer to your lash line with a gradient that gets lighter the further you get from the eye—is easy to understand. But smoky eyes can be kind of hard to recreate if you’re not a whiz with eye makeup—especially if you’re going for a super dark or metallic eye look. So, we’re here to present you with a number of tips that will ensure your eye makeup is perfectly smoky. Read on to get the scoop!
As with any bold eyeshadow look, a primer is extremely important if you want your makeup to last all day. Because your eye is constantly opening and closing, the makeup moves, falls into the creases of your lids, or wears off faster than anywhere else on your face. To solve this problem before you encounter it, apply a primer prior to your eyeshadow.
Before you move on to applying eye shadow, brighten your base. Apply a highlighter to your brow bone and the inner corner of your eye to instantly open the eye, prepping it for the darker colors that are about to follow.
Product pick: L’Oréal Paris True Match Lumi Glow Nude Highlighter Palette
This is a great trick if you want a really intense smoky eye. Using a black pencil eyeliner, smudge the pencil all over the lid. Then, blend it with an eyeshadow brush. This will create a dark base for your smoky eye. This step is optional, since a dramatic smoky eye isn’t appropriate for all occasions.
Product pick: L’Oréal Paris Infallible Never Fail Eyeliner in Carbon Black
Time to apply your eyeshadow! Start by brushing the lightest color of your smoky eye all over your lid. Next, choose a slightly darker, shimmery color and apply it in your crease. Then, take the darkest color and apply it on your lid and in your outer crease. Finally, blend, blend, blend! It doesn’t matter what your color palette is, following this application order will create a seamless blend between your chosen shades.
Product pick: L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche La Palette Nude
Like we said before, your smoky eye doesn’t have to be shades of grey and black. For a more natural look, try shades of brown. Start with a light taupe, followed by another neutral tone, and finish it off with a chocolate brown. For a look that’s still wearable but will make any eye color pop, try shades in the purple family. Start with a lavender, followed by a mauve, and complete the look with violet eyeliner. Whatever colors you choose, the same instructions and tips can be applied.
Product pick: L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Pocket Palette Eye Shadow in Violet Amour
Adding warmth gives any smoky eye more dimension. To do so, line underneath your eyes with a black pencil. Then, using a small shadow brush, put brown shadow over the pencil. Blend the two shades to create a rich color that perfectly complements the shadows on your lid.
Product pick: L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Monos in Eyeshadow in Matte it Up
Smoky eyes should be applied carefully, but it shouldn’t look like they were applied carefully—if that makes sense. The art of smudging is key: Swipe a crease brush along your lids to blend out the eye shadow, creating the signature smoky look you're after. Just don’t forget to blend the color beneath your eyes too.
With an eye makeup look as strong as the smoky eye, you can’t slack on the rest of your makeup. A smoky eye goes with a lot of looks: for a statement, pair it with a red lip. For a night out, some killer contouring will elevate a little black dress immediately. And if it’s daytime, let your eyes take center stage by rounding out the look with a neutral peach blush and a shiny lip gloss.
Next: 3 Color Combos to Update a Classic Smoky Eye