How to Get Smoky Eyes With Makeup

Four Methods:Getting StartedCreating a Classic Smoky EyeCreating a Dramatic Smoky EyeSmoky Eye Chart

Whether you've got a big concert or a fancy gala to attend, creating a smoky eye can add a bit of sophisticated drama to your look. Perfecting the smoky eye is not limited to makeup fiends and artists alike, but to anyone with the correct tools and a little know-how. Learn to apply both a classic and dramatic smoky eye with these fast and easy steps.

Method 1
Getting Started

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    Choose your colors. Any color can be used to create a smoky eye, although you will need at least three shades of a similar hue. The classic smoky eye is created with black or gray, but bronze and brown are also commonly used.
    • Green eyes look particularly good with a gray and plum smoky eye, while blue eyes pop with gold or copper and brown eyes go great with shades of navy and gray .
    • You should choose three shades of each color: a light, creamy color, a medium base color, and a dark smoky color.
    • Avoid choosing colors that are too bright, or if you have very fair skin too dark. You want your smoky eye to accentuate your pretty face, not to distract from it.
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    Use the right supplies. Although it may be quick and easy to choose the first three complementary shades of eyeshadow you find with a sponge applicator, the perfect smoky eye is created using the right supplies.
    • Using loose powders gives you the best blending ability, which is necessary for creating a great smoky eye. You have the ability to use pressed powders and cream shadows as well, but for the best look find loose eyeshadow.
    • Use pitch-black eyeliner to accentuate your smoky eye. You have the option of using a pencil, cream, or liquid eyeliner, and any will work just fine. Cream and liquid eyeliners give a very smooth finish, while a pencil eyeliner gives a softer blended look.
    • Be sure to use good quality makeup brushes. Using dirty, old, or sponge brushes will create a smeared look that doesn’t blend. The best makeup brush for a smoky eye is a domed eyeshadow brush, which is rounded at the top. You can find these at many beauty supply stores.
    • Be sure have a concealer and eyeshadow primer to prep your lids before applying the smoky eye. Use a concealer brush to apply both.
    • Have a large fluffy brush, makeup remover and q-tips on hand to fix any mistakes or loose shadow on your cheeks.
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    Apply your face makeup. Before you put on your smoky eye, you should create your neutral palette. Apply concealer under your eyes and on any dark or red spots, and then apply a powder foundation over the top to set it.
    • You have the option of applying blush or bronzer to add dimension to your face. For a bronzer, sweep it into the hollows of your cheeks with a large fluffy brush. To apply a blush, blend it into the apples of your cheeks. Remember to apply both lightly, for the most natural look.
    • Make sure your eyebrows are well-shaped and colored, as the smoky eye will draw attention to them. Having brows that are too thin or light will make your smoky eye look too dark and unnatural.

Method 2
Creating a Classic Smoky Eye

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    Apply your highlighter. Your highlighter is the lightest of your three eyeshadow shades. Using your eyeshadow brush, dab it on the inside corner of your eyelid on both your upper and lower lids. Sweep it directly under your eyebrows as well, from the beginning to the end of your brows.
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    Put on your medium shade. Take your middle eyeshadow shade and sweep it over your entire eyelid. Be sure to blend it at the inside corners with your highlighter, so that there isn’t a harsh divide between the two colors. Apply it upwards only to the natural crease on your lid, not all the way to the highlighter underneath your brows.
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    Begin adding your darkest color. Begin at the outside corner of your eyes, and sweep in a ‘C’ shape from the about halfway inwards (from the outside of your face) on the lash line, back up and around to about halfway inwards on the crease of your eyelid.
    • The darkest part should always be the point at the upper edge of your lash line. Whenever you need to apply more of your dark shadow, start at this point and work inwards or upwards.
    • Don’t apply the shadow too far in. You want the inside ⅓-½ of your eyelid to not have any dark shadow. This will help your eyes to look open and bright.
    • To add a dramatic look to your classic smoky eye, sweep your dark eyeshadow to a point (more of a “<” shape than a “C” shape) towards the end of your eyebrow. Make sure that the darkest point still remains at the outside corner of your lash line.
    • Sweep a little of your dark shadow under your eye onto your lower lid. Again, start at the outside corner and bring it only about halfway in. This will help to balance the darkness out on the top of your eyes.
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    Blend your shadows. Clean your eyeshadow brush with makeup brush cleaner or face soap/shampoo and water. Dry your brush on a clean towel or rag by sweeping it quickly back and forth across the fabric. Then, use your brush to blend the colors together.
    • Start by blending the lightest colors. Make sure that your medium (lid) color does not have a harsh divide with your dark (crease) color. Gently move your brush in a “C” shape at the meeting of these two colors to help them to form a smooth ombre effect.
    • Blend the dark crease shadow outwards towards your browbone. It should fade softly into your skin, and should not significantly overlap your highlighter that has been placed under your eyebrows.
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    Add your eyeliner. If you want a smooth cat-eye look, bring your eyeliner from the inside corner lash line towards the end of your eyebrow. End it in a tapered line slightly before the edge of your eyeshadow (where the darkest part meets your un-shadowed skin). For a smudgy look, draw a thick line across the top of your lash line, and then use your fingertip or a small eyeshadow brush to smudge and blur the line.
    • To add more drama to your smoky eye, tightline your eyes. This is when you use your eyeliner to draw a line on the inner-rim of your eyes, located directly under your upper lashes and above your lower lashes. This can be difficult for some, as it involved using eyeliner very close to your eyeball.
    • Tightline the inner rim of your lash line nearest your tear duct by your nose with a white eyeliner pencil. This will help your eyes to pop, keeping them looking bright even with all the dark smudging above.
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    Add your mascara. Carefully apply your mascara, wiggling your brush between your lashes to help define them. Add no more than two coats to avoid clumps and an unnatural appearance. Apply a single coat to your bottom lashes to define them without giving yourself raccoon-eyes.
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    Brush away any excess color. If any eyeshadow or mascara fell onto your cheeks below your eyes, use a large makeup brush to brush it off in quick, broad strokes. If any of your mascara smeared along your eyelid or cheeks, use a q-tip dipped in makeup remover to take it off, and then your blending brush to fix any extra makeup that may have been removed.[1]

Method 3
Creating a Dramatic Smoky Eye

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    Apply your highlighter. Using the same technique as for a classic smoky eye, use your lightest shade of eyeshadow on the inside corners of your eyes and directly under your eyebrow, above your crease. Sweep the highlighter underneath your eyes a bit on the inside corner.
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    Put your darkest color along the lashline. Instead of starting with your medium shade, take your darkest eyeshadow and use your brush to sweep it along the entirety of your upper lash line. It should be the darkest near the roots of your lashes, and then blend upwards towards your crease.
    • Use a little on the lower lash line, but only near the outer edge. Sweep inwards with your dark shadow, going to only about halfway across your lower lashes.
    • Only use your darkest shadow till halfway up your eyelid. It should not reach all the way to your crease, as this will be reserved for your medium shade.
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    Add your middle tone. Take your medium shade of eyeshadow and start from halfway up your eyelid, sweeping towards your crease. You should place this color in the part of your lid where it can meet your darkest color.
    • You can blend this color upwards beyond your crease and into your highlighter if you want. The goal is for your eyeshadow to get gradually lighter from your lashes to your brows.
    • Use a little to blend the dark shadow on your lower lash line. Add it the remainder of the way under your bottom lashes.
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    Blend your colors. Clean your eyeshadow brush by washing it with face soap or shampoo and water, or by spritzing it with an antibacterial makeup brush cleanser. Dry the brush completely on a cloth or towel before using it to blend the shadows. Then, sweep the brush in soft, broad strokes across your lid at the places where the different shades of eyeshadows meet.
    • Blend in strokes that go in the direction of your lash line (horizontally), but create the appearance of color blending upwards.
    • Make sure that your lash line is the darkest part of your eyelid, and if necessary apply a bit more of your darkest shadow directly to your lash line as you blend upwards.
    • Don’t forget to blend outwards and the edges of your eye, so that your shadow softly fades into your natural skin tone. The same should be done for the color that has been placed underneath your eyes.
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    Add your eyeliner. For an ultra-dramatic smoky eye, it is best to used a smudged eyeliner look. Use a chunky eyeliner pencil to draw a thick line across your upper lash line only. Then, use your makeup brush or fingertip to blur the edges upwards.
    • Tightline the inside rims of your eyes to add extra darkness. Draw a line on the part of your eyelid that is nearest your eyeball, directly under your upper eyelashes.
    • If you add eyeliner on your bottom lashes, only bring it as far in as the dark color goes on your lower lashes. Be sure to taper the end of the line though, and blend it into the shadow so that it doesn’t look too harsh against the color.
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    Add your mascara. Carefully apply your mascara to avoid getting any on your eyelid. Apply it to your upper lashes first, and then a quick coat to your bottom lashes. Wiggle the brush between your lashes to help separate and define them. Avoid using more than two coats of mascara so that you don’t create unsightly clumps and lumps in your lashes.
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    Clean off any excess makeup. If any of the eyeshadow or mascara spilled onto your cheeks, sweep it away with a large makeup brush. Use big, fast strokes to avoid smearing it into your skin. If you do happen to accidentally smear your eyeshadow, use a q-tip dipped in makeup remover to erase the mistake, and then use your blending brush to blend the area back to its prior state.[2]
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Smoky Eye Chart

Sample Smoky Eye Chart


  • Keep in mind that it's easier to add more than to take away too much. Start with a light layer first, and then gradually add more to your liking.
  • A q-tip dipped in some petroleum jelly will remove eye make-up, even waterproof or smudge-proof, without taking too much of your foundation or face make up off
  • For a more edgy look, use cream eye shadow.
  • Be very careful when applying around the edges of the eye. A firm grasp could help prevent smeared makeup or a poked-out eye. A shaking hand can ruin it all.
  • If you are looking for a sharp edge on the outside of your eye, use some tape to make a stencil and gently peel it away when you're finished
  • Use good quality makeup. Visit the makeup counter in your local department store, Sephora, or Ulta for a wide selection of the best products.
  • Invest in some good make-up brushes, they help you achieve a more professional look.
  • Make sure you blend the eye shadow so that it doesn't look blocky.

Article Info

Categories: Eye Makeup