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How To Get Smokey Eyes

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Close up of young woman's eye with make up
Andreas Kuehn/Stone/Getty Images
Smokey eyes have been a big style for quite awhile and there's no sign this particular trend is dying. Here we show you step-by-step instructions on how to get the perfect smokey eye.

The key to the perfect smokey eye is proper blending. You want to make sure colors are blended together flawlessly. Also, it's important to pair light base colors with rich dark colors. Nice mixes include: Soft gold base with deep purple on top, champagne base with bright blue and peach base with green hue.
Difficulty: Average
Time Required: 10 minutes

Here's How:

  1. Prep the lid. The key to keeping eyeshadow from melting into your eyelid crease as the day goes on is to kept eyelids oil-free. To do this start with an eyeshadow base (also called "primer"). Simply swipe the primer across the eye and let it dry before you continue to the next step.

    Some great primers for a smokey eye include MAC's 'paint' and Urban Decay's 'Primer Potion'.

  2. Apply eyeliner. If you're going for a typical black, brown or gray smoky eye, apply liner in one of those colors above the upper lash line, drawing line thicker in the middle of eye. If you're opting for a jewel-toned eye (violet makes a gorgeous smokey eye), line eyes with a purple, blue or deep green liner.

    For more intricate directions on lining for a smoky eye see How to apply eyeliner. Also see my list of the best eyeliners. I include several that work great for the smokey eye.
  3. Blend in color on bottom lashes For color on the bottom (a key smokey eye look) you'll want to use a eyeliner pencil because they're easiest to smudge. Once the line is drawn, run your finger over it to smudge the line. You can also apply a bit of shadow to get full smudge effect.
  4. Apply light base color Again, the key to a smokey eye is pairing a lighter base with the darker hue. I prefer a nice cream shade for my base. Sweep a light, shimmery shadow over the lids to your browbone. I love Stila's whipped eye shadows. The moist "mousse" consistency seems to stay on forever. My favorite colors are taupe and pearl.
  5. Blend in darker color, but keep dark color below the crease. Now that you have the base and eyeliner on, it's time to get the smokey effect. You need a darker eyeshadow shade. Using an eyeshadow brush blend in color starting at your lash line, blending up. Make sure to blend color into the lash line so the eye liner disappears. Stop deep color at crease. The key here is to blend, blend, blend.
  6. Doublecheck your work Make sure eyes match and blend color with a Q-tip if need be.
  7. Finish with several coats of mascara. You'll want to apply a few coats of mascara so lashes are thick and dark. If you don't have naturally long, curled lashes, curl them with a lash curler first. See my list of best mascaras if you don't have one you love.

Tips:

  1. Remember to keep lips nude. When applying strong makeup (like smokey eyes or red lips) put the focus on either eyes or lips, never both. (Think Angelina Jolie: She either plays up her huge eyes or her huge lips, never both. If she did, she'd look like a clown).
  2. For a bit of fun, try a blue or purple mascara. It will make blue eyes "pop."
  3. Liner doesn't have to come in pencil form. Makeup experts know eyeshadows make some of the best eyeliners. To do this take an eyeliner brush (available at Sephora, MAC or any dept store), wet it, then dab wet brush into the dark shadow. This allows for a deep, precise line. You can also use the dark shadows without wetting brush first. Either way, eyeliner is necessary for smoky eye.
  4. This season go jewel-toned (blue is great for you blue-eyed girls) and keep your eyes smoky but stay away from dark browns and black. Instead, go for a deep purple, a gold-brown or any of the many vibrant colors in this year.

What You Need

  • Eye primer (you don't need it, but it's great for keeping shadow in place)
  • 2 Shadows: One light, one darker
  • Eyeliner
  • Makeup brushes
  • Mascara
Related Video
How to Make a Smokey Eye
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