The smokey eye look - typically characterised by applying a dark eyeshadow on your eyelids an effect created by the application of dark eyeshadow on the eyelids and smudging dark eyeliner along the upper and lower lash lines.
The smokey eye is so popular because it's a versatile look that flatters everybody. You can keep it as simple as you like, you aren't restricted to just a black/grey colour spectrum, and you're guaranteed to look like smouldering temptress if you pull it off. But that's the thing - how to do you nail a smokey eye without ending up looking like a baby panda? Thanks to a lot of help from the beauty community, we've now got the scoop on smokey eyes.
When was the 'smokey eye' born?
Makeup artist Linda Cantello is the creator of the smokey eye that we all know and love today. She created the look whilst working with Tom Ford during his time at Gucci during the 1990s. "Up until that point, the beauty looks had been very constructed," said Linda, speaking to The Cut. "If it was dark eye, there was a defined bit in the corner and the lid. But we blended it all in as though she had been wearing it. It was bringing sex back." Linda is now the international makeup artist for Armani Beauty, and she still has hot tips to give in regards to her iconic look. "There should be no demarcation," she advises.
When has the smokey eye been most popular?
The smokey eye has never really gone out of style, it just has a series of moments. When the 'no-makeup makeup' look was sky rocketing, the smokey eye didn't stop being chic but simply took a backseat for a while. Now the barely-there, natural makeup look is wrapping up, the smokey eye has come to the forefront yet again. We've missed you, old friend!
Celebrities Who Can Rock A Smokey Eye
Sure, they may have access to some of the world's most talented makeup artists, but we can still look to our favourite Hollywood stars for smokey eye makeup inspiration! Here are some stunning examples, modelled by the crème de la crème.
1. Kim Kardashian
No one can pull off classic dark smokey eyes like Kim Kardashian-West can. We love this dramatic look, its got Kimmy looking like the Queen of the Night.
2. Serena Williams
Serena Williams dominates on the court and in the style pages. Anyone that follows Serena on Instagram will know that she has a passion for both fashion and makeup. Here, her daughter Olympia puts the finishing touches to a brown smokey eye - she's incredible dexterous for a toddler!
3. Emily Ratajkowski
Model and actress Emily Ratajkowski teams a bronze smokey eye with black eyeliner and frames the look with perfect lashes. Can the former Victoria's Secret Angel do no wrong? Apparently not!
4. Tess Holliday
When Tess Holliday isn't telling the world where to stick its beauty standards, she's schooling us in the art of wearing green eyeshadow like an utter boss! Not only does this colourful look compliment her enviable auburn tresses, it isn't intimidating if you want to try your hand at something relatively simple.
5. Munroe Bergdorf
You'll often see Munroe Bergdorf rocking a light, almost red, smokey eye if you follow her on social media. The model, activist and founder of Goddess Platform always looks flawless, so you'll have a hard time deciding on your favourite look.
6. Michael Finch
Can this jaw-dropping cut-crease be considered an example of a blue smokey eye? We're not sure, we'd have to double check with Michael. All we know is that this ice-cold fantasy is everything, so we had to include this on our list!
A Step-By-Step Guide to Smokey Eyes
Pictured: A smoky bronze and gold combo, brought to life by makeup artist Julia Edwards.
To follow a smokey eye tutorial, you're going to need a few tools of the trade. For beginners, we recommend having the following products to hand:
- A primer (Try Anastasia Beverly Hills Eye Primer) or your usual concealer (Try Tarte Shape Tape Contour Concealer or Fenty Beauty Portable Contour & Concealer Brush)
- A setting powder (Try BECCA Under Eye Brightening Setting Powder)
- Your favourite eyeshadow palette
- A smudge brush (Try the Sephora Collection Pro Brush Precision Smudge #29)
- A dark eyeliner (Try Benefit Cosmetics Roller Liner)
- Highlighter (Try Fenty Beauty Killawatt Freestyle Highlighter)
How To Do A Smokey Eye
If you want an easy eye makeup tutorial to follow, Sydney-based makeup artist Rianne has got you covered! This neutral smokey eye tutorial shows just how effective the soft, subtle look can be.
1. Prime Your Lids
Prime your eyelids using an eye primer or your regular concealer. We need to give that eyeshadow something to stick to!
2. Set Your Eyelids
Use your setting powder to set the primer/concealer you applied to your lids and take it all the way from your crease to your brow bone. This way your eye shadows will blend better.
3. Reach for the lightest of your eyeshadows
In her video, Rianne uses Makeup Geek eyeshadow in shade Crème Brûlée because she's doing a neutral smokey eye and this light shade will form the base of the look. If you're going for a traditional dark smokey eye, this might mean reaching for a grey or silver shade. Whatever colours you're using, start with the lightest and apply it evenly to the crease of your eyelid.
4. Apply the next darkest shade
In her video, Rianne then takes Makeup Geek's shade Cocoa Bear and applies it to the outer corner of her eye. Be sure to blend each colour as you add it to your look, we don't want any lines of demarcation, we want you looking smoky and mysterious.
5. Apply the next darkest shade and don't be afraid to get creative
Even though purple isn't consider a typical neutral colour, Rianne works it into her smoky eye look. She applies Makeup Geek shade Cherry Cola on top of shade Cocoa Bear, blending it seamlessly.
6. Time for your darkest shade!
Rianne then applies a black shade, Makeup Geek Corrupt, and carefully applies a small point to the outer corner of her eye. Whatever colour you choose, this will be the smokiest eyeshadow used in your look.
7. Return to the inner crease with a light shade
Pictured: Rianne modelling a warm smokey look on her Instagram
In the video, Rianne then turns her attention to her eye's inner crease. She applies a light shade, Makeup Geek's Frappe, to the inner crease. This achieves a striking contrast between your inner crease and the darkness of your eye's outer corner.
8. Time to cut your crease
Pictured: a shorter Instagram video where Rianne shares a few tips for measuring where to cut your crease
In her neutral smokey eye tutorial, Rianne then takes her concealer and does a half cut crease. She then sets this concealer with light matte eyeshadow, using a combination of shades White Lies and Peach Smoothie.
9. Blend out the border of your cut crease
That light eyeshadow you used on your inner crease? You need it again, this time to gently blend out the borderline where your cut crease stops and the rest of the your eyeshadow begins. Rianne does this by returning to the shades Frappe and Cocoa Bear, using them to create a visible gradient.
10. Now for the scary bit - eyeliner time!
Time to apply your eyeliner on top of all your hard work! Don't worry, this bit freaks everyone out. One slip and you'll end up ruining your eyeshadow. The best thing you can do is go slowly and do lots of mirror-checks to make sure you're on the right track.
Finish your look off with some generous lashings of mascara, and highlight under your brow bone. Remember this is just one variation of the smokey eye look, once you get the hang of it your options are limitless! Here are just a handful of stunning colour combinations we found on Instagram.
1. Navy & Gold Combination
Source: Instagram/ Makeupby.Esca
2. Gold & Bronze Combination
Source: Click right to see Tabeacnk teach this look step-by-step
3. Pink Combination
Source: Instagram/ Francesinhamakeup
4. Yellow Combination
Source: Instagram/ Agne_Brunette