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 • Makeup  • Makeup Tutorials  • Finally Master the Perfect Smokey Eye with Our Quick Step-by-Step Tutorial
Girl with smokey eye makeup

Finally Master the Perfect Smokey Eye with Our Quick Step-by-Step Tutorial

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Image – Live That Glow

You’ll probably know that a smokey eye is that sultry, sexy, slightly smudged eye makeup look you see every now and again. The one that you think looks impossible to do at home because there’s more than one colour involved (or is that just me?).

But guess what? It’s actually not as hard as it looks. You’ll find that out for yourself in about 5-10 minutes time when you’ve finished reading this article. 

The key is to first choose colours that work well together. Shades like slate greys, bronzed browns and black are the best ones to start off with. Then, if you’re feeling brave, you can move on to a jewel toned smokey eye using dark greens, deep purples and navy blues. 

With tips from CEO and founder of Formen Makeup Andrew Grella, here’s how to achieve a gorgeous and, most importantly, really simple smokey eye.


Step 1: Use a primer

An eyeshadow primer is beneficial for a smokey eye as it not only preps the skin but also enhances the intensity of the eyeshadow and ensures it stays put for longer,” explains Grella

“Look for a primer that is high in quality, has a smooth texture, and is close to your skin tone for a more natural look.”

My favourite eyeshadow primer is Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion which helps statement colours in particular stay put for longer and prevents them from creasing. 


Girl showing how to apply makeup primer before doing a smokey eye look

Image – Live That Glow


Step 2: Apply your base shade

This one goes all over your eyelids and should typically be a neutral or light shade.This is because it serves as a clean canvas, helps set the primer, and balances the darker shades you will layer on top,” Grella says. If you’re confused, I always say to go to whichever is the most natural shade in your palette


Girl showing how to apply base colour in a smokey eye look

Image – Live That Glow


Step 3: Apply colour to your crease

Applying eyeshadow to your crease (the place where your eyelids naturally fold when your eyes are open) is your next step.

“This deepens the eyelid and adds depth to the overall look, giving your eyes a bigger appearance,” says Grella. “Opt for a medium shadow colour darker than your base colour.”

Mimicking a windscreen wiper motion with your brush, “apply it directly into the crease, bringing it slightly above,” he adds.

Apply a light wash of the same colour to your lid too.


Girl showing how to apply eyeshadow to her crease for a smokey eye

Image – Live That Glow


Step 4: Apply the same colour to your outer corner

Choose the same shade for this. To get the placement just right, look at where the tail of your eyebrow is. Then, go diagonally down towards your outer eye from there and you’ll land on your eyelid’s outer corner.

You can go as bold as you like but remember to only keep it at the outer corner to shape the eye.


Girl showing how to apply eyeshadow to her outer corner for a smokey eye

Image – Live That Glow


Step 5: Blend

You’ll need to do this at the edges of each of your colours so that your eye doesn’t end up looking like a ‘paint by numbers’! But keep it neat. “To blend the colours without creating a messy look, use a clean, fluffy blending brush and apply gentle, circular motions,” says Grella.

“The key factor here is to be patient and blend in a controlled manner to achieve a gradient of colours rather than a harsh line.”


Step 6: Apply your eyeliner

“Opt for a soft pencil or kohl liner instead of a liquid one to keep the look soft and smoked out,” Grella advises. “For a full smokey effect, you can line both the top and bottom lash line, but ensure to smudge it well to avoid harsh lines.” 

Most eye pencils now come double ended, with a smudger on the end which can be used for a subtle line. You can also use a liner brush dipped into a darker eyeshadow shade for an even softer, more customisable look.


Girl showing how to apply eyeliner for a smokey eye

Image – Live That Glow


Step 7: Apply highlighter to your brow bone

This is a good way to add radiance. “It also helps define your eyebrow shape and enhances the dimension of your smokey eye,” Grella says. “Use a small, dense brush, apply a small amount of highlighter, and blend it well to achieve a subtle glow and to avoid any stark contrast.”


Girl showing how to apply highlighter to her brow bone as part of a smokey eye look

Image – Live That Glow


Step 8: Apply mascara

Two or three coats of mascara gives the perfect finishing touch to a smokey eye and helps to tie the whole look together. My favourite mascara is Jones Road The Mascara which has a curved brush to expertly lengthen and separate lashes. Apply your mascara from root to tip, twisting the brush as you go.


Girl with a smokey eye

Image – Live That Glow


The takeaway

The main things to remember when it comes to creating a smokey eye is the placement of each colour – neutral all over the lid and mid-tone in the crease and on the outer corner. Also, don’t forget to blend the edges neatly and don’t draw any harsh lines – the smokiness comes from the smudge!

Remember, a smokey eye won’t last five minutes without a decent eye primer and make sure you always finish the look off with lashings of mascara!


Meet the expert

Andrew Grella, with nearly a decade of entrepreneurship and beauty industry expertise, is the founder of Formen Makeup, a company that specializes in men’s makeup and grooming products, manufactured in the USA and Canada. Motivated by a desire to address the gap in the men’s makeup market, Grella’s Formen Inc. has expanded to over 50 retail locations globally while maintaining a strong online presence, offering practical solutions for diverse skincare needs.


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Beauty Editor

The former Beauty Editor of Glamour UK, Philippa has been a beauty and lifestyle journalist for over 16 years, picking up countless tips and tricks from makeup artists, hair stylists, dermatologists and celebrities. In that time she’s written for names like Cosmopolitan, The Sunday Times Style, The Telegraph, Grazia, Refinery 29 and Byrdie. Philippa lives in the UK with her husband, two children and their hyperactive cockapoo, Paddy.

Expertise: Makeup, hair care
Education: Oxford Brookes University

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