How to do a simple smokey eye
If you want to learn how to do a simple smokey eye but are not sure where to start. Here is a step by step how to do a simple smokey eye. Smokey eyes are my absolute favorite eye makeup to do. They are super effective and make your eyes stand out straightaway!
There is a certain image that comes to mind when you people hear smokey eye makeup. A lot of people think that smokey eyes always mean dark black eye-shadow all over the eye or that it won’t suit them and that it is only for a certain “age group” and not everyone can wear it. This couldn’t be further from the truth! You just need to be able to adapt it. For example the colour and depth of the eye-shadow that I would use on a 18 year old would not be the same that I would use on someone in their 50s. That’s not to say they couldn’t wear it, it just means I would need to adapt it.
If done properly and soft enough anyone can wear a smokey eye, in fact in a in most smokey eyes you won't even use any black eye-shadow. I always try and stay away from using black eye-shadow all together as it can be quite harsh and tends to close the eye up. I would opt for a very dark brown or plum colour to use by the lash-line. In most cases it is up to the makeup artist to judge how much “smoke” you eyes can take but in this case if you are trying to do it yourself, start with a medium-dark brown.
Understanding and knowing this comes from experience so if you are a makeup beginner or just not that confident with it, start off small. Start with small amounts of eye-shadow in slightly lighter colours and slowly add more depth. Keep experimenting and trying different things out and to see what works for you.
To make things as simple as possible for this particular example that I am going to show you, I will be using only four eye-shadows.
- light cream colour
- soft warm brown
- medium warm brown
- very dark brown
You can absolutely do this at home with the eye-shadows that you already own, you don't have to go out and buy a whole new set (although that is a very good excuse 😉 ).
1. Start by wiping your eyelid free from any oil and face cream or product that might be left over.
The reason for this is if you were to apply eyeshadow straight over an oily lid it would: make your eyeshadow cling to the oil and not blend and it would also break down the eyeshadow.
2. Apply a primer on to the eyelid.
Eyeshadow primers are good for many reasons:
- Make your eyeshadow last longer.
- Stop your shadow from creasing
- Correct any discolouration on the eye and generally brightening up.
It is essential to correct any discolouration on the lid prior to applying the eyeshadow as it the true colour of the shadow might not take otherwise. The shadow colour is much more likely to show up correctly if you have a nice clean canvas to work from.
In this case I used the Bobbi Brown Long-wear Eye Base in the colour medium to dark.
3. Once you have applied the primer all over the lid. You can go in with a bit of concealer under the brow to highlight the brow bone. I would use one that is a couple of shades lighter than your natural skin tone.
This will also help with the transition of your eyeshadow as it will give a brighter and crisper line between the transition colour and the brow.
Make sure to set it with a light matte eyeshadow. If you want a shimmery highlight you can add this at the end.
Get started with the eye shadow!
4. I would then take a soft light brown colour (a matte bronzer is a good alternative) and apply this on the crease and on your main lid. Try not to take it any higher than your crease otherwise it will make the whole eye look very dark. You still want to be able to see a lot of the light shadow we put on before.
This will be your "transition" colour - the colour that blends you main eyeshadow into the rest of eye.
The key is to keep it quite light and simple and keep adding more as you go on. You do not want to apply too much at once as you won't be able to blend it. Remember you can always add more on but you can't take it away.
I used Bobbi Brown Taupe eye-shadow.
5. You also want to add a small amount of the primer on the bottom of your eye by the lash line.
You would then add some of the same shadow that you used as your transition colour. This is what is going to give you the "smokey" effect.
Remember to use a light enough colour, if you go in with a colour that is too dark you run the risk of closing the eye up. You want to add definition but don't let it become the main focus.
Half way there!
6. It is now time to add some drama! Use a soft eyeliner pencil to line the top of your eye by the lash line. This doesn't have to be neat, a rough line will do as you are going to blend it anyway.
Whilst you are there you can also tight-line too - this is when you push the eyeliner to the top "water line" in between the lashes. Very important for a smokey eye as it will add to the smokey effect.
At this half way point some people may be put off by the way the eye-shadow looks right now- as it can look very dirty and messy at the halfway point. It can be very tempting to give up but keep going until the very end, you will see it will come together!
I used the Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Eyeliner pencil in Jet.
7. Use a small smudge brush to blend the eyeliner into the rest of the eyeshadow. This is where the smokey effect is going to come in!
Add a little bit of a dark eye-shadow to blend into the eyeliner, then repeat process of liner. Liner - smudge - shadow. Repeating this once should be enough to give you that beautiful blended effect. Remember it doesn't have to be perfectly blended as we are going to add another colour on.
For my dark brown eye-shadow I used Bobbi Brown Rich Brown Eye-Shadow.
8. Once you have done that. you can go in with a medium brown on the main lid to blend the transition colour and the eyeliner shadow together. This is what is going to give the seamless blend effect.
For my medium brown colour I used Bobbi Brown Cocoa Eye-Shadow.
9. Apply mascara. A good lengthening and volumising mascara is essential to a smokey eye. Mascara is always what pulls everything together.
You can then add eyeliner to your bottom waterline. A long wearing/ waterproof eyeliner would be the best option to avoid any smudging throughout the day.
I LOVE the Bobbi Brown Smokey Eye Mascara. It's simply the best, the formula is super build-able and does not clump at all! If you are going out and you want it to last all night/day I would recommend using a waterproof mascara on top.
10. The last I would do to finish it off is add some highlighter in the inner corner and a little bit under the brow (be careful not to add too much so it becomes the focus).
At this point I would double check all eye-shadow is perfectly blended and if not, go back in with a clean brush and add a bit of the transition colour. You could add more on to the bottom lash-line to add more drama.
In this case I used the gorgeous Bobbi Brown Bronze Glow Highlighter. This is by far one of my favorite highlighters ever, it is so pigmented and adds a lovely glow to the skin without adding texture or sitting on the pores.
There you have it! A simple yet effective smokey eye in 10 steps.
I hope you found this helpful!
Feel free to leave any comments with any questions or any feedback!
I would also like to add that I am not sponsored by Bobbi Brown or any other brands for any of my blog posts or social media shares! I simply love the brand and the products. These are my true and honest opinions.
If you want to learn more about eyeshadow colours and how to pick the best colour for you, check out my special occasion makeup page.