How to create a flawless smoky eye

Intimidated by the smoky eye? Fear not, ladies! We consulted with a major makeup expert to learn how to create the look at home. Trust us — this technique will have all your girls begging you to do their eyes for them!

woman smoky eyes

How to… pull off sultry eye makeup

“There definitely isn’t a more requested makeup look than the smoky eye,” notes renowned celebrity makeup artist Julia Papworth. “It oozes sexiness [and] it’s sultry — not to mention, it’s always chic and in fashion.” I mean, c’mon — what girl hasn’t tried to perfect this look at one point or another? Whether you’re headed to a holiday party or just a regular night on the town, follow this tutorial — courtesy of Papworth — to truly nail the look.

Smoky eyes product collage

Step 1: Eyeshadow primer

First, start with an eyeshadow primer. “My favorite is Smashbox Photo Finish Lid Primer,” explains Papworth (, $20). Lightly pat it over your entire lid and let dry.

Step 2: Fill in your brows

While your primer is drying, fill in your eyebrows. Thick eyebrows frame the smoky eye best. “Personally, I’m a huge fan of MAC’s brow pencils,” says Papworth. (, $15)

Step 3: Natural eyeshadow

Now, grab a light, neutral eyeshadow — like Brule from MAC (, $15) — and dust it over your entire lid.

Step 4: Medium-shade shadow

Using a medium-shade shadow, dust from the outer corner of your eye, up to your brow bone and to the center of your eye.

Step 5: Dark eyeshadow

Finally, with the darkest shadow, apply it right at the outer corner of your eye and blend, blend, blend. The Bdellium #776M Blending Brush is the absolute best for this. (, $10)

Step 6: Blend eyeshadows

Continue to add color and blend your eyeshadow until you achieve the specific darkness level you’re after.

Step 7: Eyeliner

As far as eyeliner goes, dip a small, slanted brush into MAC’s Styleseeker Fluidline in Blacktrack (, $15), and apply it to your upper lash line.

Step 8: Smoky effect

Using a small eyeshadow brush, blend your liner out and away from your lash line to give it that “smoky” effect.

Step 9: Curl eyelashes

Next, curl your eyelashes with a Shu Uemura eyelash curler (, $20), and apply two coats of Smashbox Jet Set Full Exposure Mascara. (, $19)

Step 10: Polish the look!

For the finishing touch, make sure to remove any dark eyeshadow that fell beneath your eyes, and you’re all done!

Expert Tip

Before attempting your smoky eye, remember that you can use any color palette. It doesn’t have to be black—it can be brown, green or whatever you prefer. “The key thing to keep in mind is blending,” says Papworth.

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