How to Do a Smokey Eye

Smokey eyes can be really dramatic, but they can also be nice for daytime too — it all depends on what colors you choose for your look and how much you pack them on. You can even start with a natural smokey eye during the day and just add a darker color on your outer V to make it more dramatic for nighttime! For this Technique post, I will show you how to do a smokey eye with notes on how you can adjust it based on how natural or dramatic you want yours to be.

Select three colors for your smokey eye look — one light, one dark, and one color that’s in between the two. This middle color will make the transition between the light and dark colors much smoother (as well as make blending much easier). I used the following MAC eye shadows (shown in the picture, left to right): “Brulé” (soft creamy-beige), “Copperplate” (matte mid-tone gray), and “Black Tied” (black with silver sparkle).

Although I choose these three colors to create more of a classic black smokey eye look, you can also use these colors for a daytime look as well if you apply them lightly (like in the picture above, the colors don’t look very dark). For the most natural smokey eye, you can choose a cream, light brown, and medium brown as your three colors, for example.


Before you create your smokey eye:

  • Apply foundation, if desired.

Sometimes people prefer to apply foundation after their smokey eye is complete to clean up any fallout, but I always like putting my foundation on first. If you put your foundation on first and you get some eye shadow fallout on your cheeks, just pick up some loose face powder on a powder brush and sweep it off.

STEP 1

Apply an eye primer to your entire lid and highlight area (see my eye makeup map if you’re not yet familiar with these terms).

You can use a colorless eye primer (like Too Faced Shadow Insurance or Urban Decay Primer Potion) or one that is a color that’s similar to your skin tone. I recommend these types of primers if you’re doing a neutral daytime smokey eye.

For really dramatic black smokey eyes, you could use a black base on your lower lid (like MAC Paint Pot in “Blackground”), but I’ve found that my everyday primer (MAC Paint Pot in “Soft Ochre”, which I’m using here) works well for just about any look I’m going for.

STEP 2

Apply the lightest eyeshadow as a wash (click here to see how to apply an eyeshadow wash).

I’m using MAC 227 Large Fluff Brush.

STEP 3

Apply the medium eye shadow color to the center to outer part of your lower lid. This medium color will help transition the darkest color (that you will apply in the next step) with the lightest color you have as a wash.

I’m using a MAC 239 Eye Shader Brush to pack in the “Copperplate” eye shadow. If you’re wearing this during the day, don’t pack the color in as much so that it will be lighter than shown here.

STEP 4

Use a blending brush (like MAC 217) to apply the darkest eye shadow color on your outer V. Blend it out along your crease.

STEP 5

Apply more of the lightest eye shadow on your highlight area to bring out your brow bone. I used a fluffy brush (MAC 224) for a softer effect.

Also pat more of the lightest color on your inner corner using a dense brush, like MAC 239 (you can just use the other side of the brush you used in Step 3).

STEP 6

Line your upper lash line. For a more dramatic look, use a black liquid or gel liner and wing out the ends (like I did on the right).

If you’re going for a daytime smokey eye, use a brown color to create your line.

STEP 7

Using a small angled brush (like MAC 266), pick up some more of the darkest color and lightly apply it on your outer to center lower lash line. Then line your lower waterline with a black pencil if you’re going for a dramatic smokey eye. Otherwise, use a brown pencil (or skip this step altogether) for a daytime look. You can always quickly line your waterline at night!

STEP 8

Curl your lashes and apply mascara, and you’re done!

If you want to apply false lashes, read my tutorial that covers everything you need to know about false eyelashes to finish your smokey eye look!

To really make your smokey eyes the focus of your face, make your cheeks light as well as your lips. I used MAC Mineralize Skinfinish in “By Candlelight” on my cheeks and MAC Slimshine L/S in “Bare” on my lips.

Have fun experimenting with colors and creating different kinds of smokey eyes! :)

21 Comments

LilyAugust 25th, 2010 at 9:17 am

You look Gorgeous!!! I love this look, definitely one of my favs. I might just try it myself. :)

LauraAugust 25th, 2010 at 10:27 am

Love this look!!

WyetteAugust 25th, 2010 at 7:17 pm

GLAMOROUS!!!!!

NatalieAugust 26th, 2010 at 4:49 pm

Hey Wycee,
You are gorgeous as always!! Thanks for posting the smokey eye tutorial!
I went purchase some new products from MAC today from their new “Fabulous Felines” collection and they are hot!! The collection debuted today and I was first in line!! HAHA
Thanks for your site, it has inspired me more than you know!!

DebbieAugust 26th, 2010 at 8:49 pm

love your photo!

WyceeAugust 26th, 2010 at 11:49 pm

Thanks everyone! And thanks Natalie for your request! :)

Smokey Taupe Look + My Yellowstone Trip!September 14th, 2010 at 3:03 pm

[…] taupe color. This look is more towards a traditional smokey eye than what I wrote about in my Smokey Eye Technique post in that the darkest eye shadow color is placed along the entire upper lash line and smudged […]

LeeOctober 17th, 2010 at 3:36 pm

you rock! you make the smokey eye look so easy :)

WyceeOctober 18th, 2010 at 12:12 am

Thanks Lee! :)

DrooliaNovember 9th, 2010 at 11:37 pm

I love this smoky eye look ! You make it seem so simple LOL
I will definitely try this out (Y)

WyceeNovember 12th, 2010 at 12:37 am

Thanks Droolia! :)

Classic Black Smokey Eye LookJanuary 17th, 2011 at 12:03 am

[…] If you’re looking for a more wearable, everyday smokey eye, then check out my Smokey Eye technique! […]

DandeliionFebruary 11th, 2011 at 1:28 am

Hi, look great, can I ask what brush do you use for the liquid eyeliner? It is so precise and awsome! What is your favourtie gel eyeliner? Thanks and lot of success :)

WyceeFebruary 14th, 2011 at 1:01 am

Hi Dandeliion,

I used gel liner here with a bent gel liner brush. You can see a picture of the tip of the brush here (Step 10):
http://www.nerdygirlmakeup.com/2010/07/13/everything-you-need-to-know-about-false-eyelashes/

For liquid liners, I just use whatever packaging they come in if I’m only using it on myself (as opposed to applying it on others). I personally like gel liners though, especially Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner in “Black Ink”. Lately, I’ve been using my Inglot AMC Eyeliner Gel in “77″ (matte black), and I love it — but I got it when I was on vacation in the UK, and the nearest Inglot store is a few hours away from me. MAC Fluidlines are good too. :)

CheyenneSeptember 9th, 2011 at 11:09 pm

Hi Wycee :) I love your contact lenses! Can you please tell me which brand and color you use? They look amazing!

WyceeSeptember 9th, 2011 at 11:39 pm

Hi Cheyenne,

My contact lenses are prescription, so I don’t wear them specifically for the color (though it’s my favorite color)… and I found out a few months ago that they are now discontinued!! :( The color is called Sapphire Blue though in case you can find something similar.

LalyJanuary 12th, 2012 at 12:31 pm

Wooow ,,,,, i love it

Can you tell me about your lenses from which company

WyceeJanuary 13th, 2012 at 12:53 am

Thanks Laly! My contacts are prescription, so I order them from my optometrist. Unfortunately the manufacturer discontinued the colored version of my lenses last year. The color is called Sapphire Blue though in case you find something similar. :)

scarlettJune 28th, 2012 at 7:45 am

hey dear i am so crazy about eye make but i have no proper guideline but after reading these tips i am feeling well and will apply it on my next event. thanks

WyceeJuly 19th, 2012 at 9:52 am

Hi Scarlett! You can do it! :)

JaidenOctober 29th, 2012 at 5:24 pm

Hey Wycee,

I have to do smoky eye on quite a few people on Wednesday!! Can I use normal eyeliner instead of liquid eyeliner and still make it look good

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