Get Sultry, Alluring Smokey Eyes in Just 8 Steps

When it comes to evening makeup, the smokey eye is an elegant, time-tested classic. Although it may have waxed in and out of fashion over the decades, there’s a reason why the collective cultural taste keeps coming back to it. Smokey eyes have a deepening effect that enhances and emphasizes the eyes, making them look bigger, more appealing, and more expressive. The smokey eye works with almost every skin tone, from pale redheads to olive-skinned Kim Kardashian. The key is finding the right colors and tones to perfectly complement your complexion.

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The key to mastering the smokey eye look is depth. This is generally achieved by carefully layering and blending eyeshadows, usually in black, grey, or very dark brown tones. Here’s a step-by-step guide for getting that perfect, sultry smokey eye look every time, even for makeup beginners:

  1. Use primer. Eyeshadow primer is a great product that smoothes out the skin and coloration in the area around your eyes. This helps stop your eyeshadow from smearing around or settling into creases and folds. For a long night out, primer can be a lifesaver– no more checking your makeup every few minutes in the bathroom.
  2. Apply your powder and concealer. Dark circles can bring your smokey eye makeup from “sultry and exotic” to “derelict raccoon.” It’s important to use some concealer to smooth out the tonality and coloration of the skin beneath your eyes. After blending your concealer, you can use a large, fluffy makeup brush to carefully tap powder onto the area. This both eliminates that “shiny” effect, and serves to catch loose eyeshadow after you apply it.
  3. Curl your lashes. For a heavy evening smokey eye look, luscious lashes are a must. Gently clamp your eyelash curler around the lashes, hold for about five seconds, then release it. It’s that simple! Curling the lashes helps them look fuller, especially after you’ve applied mascara (that step comes later).
  4. Apply your dark shadow. Take the darkest of your three eyeshadow shades, and apply gently from the bottom of the eyelid by the lashes, up to the crease. Then, get a small, angled makeup brush. Use the brush to gently and carefully drag the shadow along the lower lash line.
  5. Smudge the makeup. Smokey eyes rely on soft, tapering color– like smoke dissipating gently. You don’t want harsh lines, so use a q-tip or smudge brush to very carefully smudge your eyeshadow at the crease and along the lower lashes.
  6. Apply your eyeliner. Now that your base color is in place, use a dark eyeliner to lend your eyes even more definition. You can even gently line your inner bottom lash line.
  7. Use a highlighter to add shimmer and contrast. A shimmery highlighter across the brow bone will further create depth and open up your eye area, contrasting with the dark makeup around the eye itself.
  8. Finally, add mascara. Mascara is the last step in the smokey eye process, but it’s quite important. Try using a mascara designed to add volume to the lashes. Apply strongly, but don’t go overboard– no one wants spider lashes.

That’s right, only eight steps. You can create a subtle, smokey eye look for any occasion, without spending hours on your makeup or using dozens of products. Using the right shades for your skin tone and complexion, you can add an exotic edge to your look for your next evening event.