5 Steps to Smoky Eyes

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Start With Eyeshadow Primer

Urban Decay

The first step in creating a smoky eye is to apply eyeshadow primer to the eyelid and blend it upward all the way to the brow. Clear colored primers, like this one from Urban Decay, are ideal because they have no tint to them and don't alter the color of your eyeshadow. Wait a few seconds for the primer to dry before moving on to the next step. 

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Apply Waterproof Eyeliner

Giorgio Armani Beauty

Applying a waterproof eyeliner on the waterline and in between the eyelashes is a great way to define the eyes. Most people ignore the bottom waterline, but when you fill it in there's no white gaps and eyes appear much more smokier. Waterproof is best because a lot of eyeliners can fade away over time due to the natural tearing your eyes do on a daily basis. You can also blend the eyeliner above the lash-line and on the bottom, if you want the smoky eye to be dramatic. This waterproof liner comes with a sponge on the end of it so you can easily blend with that.

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Pick Your Eyeshadow Palette


You can experiment with several tones of eyeshadow for smoky eyes, but when starting out, opt for a quad that has four colors, like this one here from Clarins.

Here's a simple way to utilize shadow to create a smoky eye:

1. Apply the darkest shadow on the lid and blend it with this brush from MAC until it's fully covered.

2. Apply the second darkest shadow in the crease to soften the line between the lid and crease, blending it in a circular motion until it looks seamless. Blending is always key when it comes to eyeshadow.

3. The third eyeshadow is the second to lightest tone, but not the highlight. You can add this on the center of the eye lid, and then use the lightest color as a highlight under the brow and in the corner of the eye to brighten it up.

Most eyeshadow palettes will come with a diagram explaining where to apply each color, and you can follow the instructions until you feel comfortable doing it on your own. 

Makeup Artist Tip: Blending with professional makeup brushes is the best way to create beautiful eyeshadow looks, and can take a little bit of practice. A great rule of thumb is you can never really over blend shadow, so keep doing it until you're satisfied. Investing in brushes that are quality is important, as they will last you much longer than inexpensive brushes which can fall apart after continued use.

Top Product Pick: Artis Fluenta Five Brush Set

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Clean Up the Excess


There's some controversy over whether to apply eyeshadow before foundation and concealer or the other way around. When creating a smoky eye look o yourself, go ahead and apply shadow first before skin, because you can easily clean up the flakes that fall onto the face while creating shadow looks. This makes it much easier as it saves you from not having to do double the work. Using a cleanser like this one here on a q-tip and simply removing shadow under the eye until it's fully gone is a great way to prepare for flawless concealer and foundation. Be sure to remove all eye makeup before going to sleep to prevent any sort of irritation.

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Curl Your Lashes and Apply Mascara


Curling your lashes before mascara is important, because most lashes stick out straight and are hard to see once makeup has been applied. When you curl them, you add so much more to your makeup look, and mascara can automatically wake up eyes with or without shadow. Curl them at the base of the lash-line and keep curling upward until you reach the top, then apply your mascara of choice. If you like to heat the curler with a hairdryer to use on more stubborn lashes, be sure it cools enough before applying it so you don't burn yourself. 

Top Product Picks: Shiseido Eyelash Curler, Japonesque Go Curl Eyelash Curler, Pixi By Petra Large Lash Mascara

Want to try a different color mascara? Give this gorgeous cobalt blue one a chance!