Makeup Tutorial: How To Create A Simple Smoky Eye

Since you guys wanted to see more step-by-step tutorials, I will be doing a series of makeup tutorials starting with one of my favorite looks, smoky eyes.

smoky eye tutorial

One thing I LOVE about the smoky look is how versatile it is. You can use pretty much any color and you can go from a soft smoky to a really dramatic one. My favorite colors to use on my brown eyes are purples, blues, greens, bronzes and charcoals. In my tutorial below, I used golds and browns but feel free to substitute them with other colors.

Step 1. Prep the eyelid with a primer to ensure longer-lasting color.

What I Used: NARS Pro Prime Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base



Step 2. Apply a pale gold or light beige cream eyeshadow all over the eyelid.

What I Used: MAC Chilled On Ice Paint Pot



Step 3. Using a flat eyeshadow brush like MAC #239 Eye Shader, pat a medium brown eyeshadow on the eyelid.

What I Used: NARS Eyeshadow Duo in Cordura



Step 4. Using a small brush like MAC #219 Pencil Brush, darken the crease and outer corner of the eye with a dark brown eyeshadow. Blend off harsh edges with a fluffy brush like MAC #217 Blending Brush.

What I Used: NARS Eyeshadow Duo in Cordura



Step 5. Apply the dark brown eyeshadow on the lower eye.

What I Used: NARS Eyeshadow Duo in Cordura

Applying NARS Cordura on lower eye


Step 6. Draw a line along the upper lashline with a black liquid or gel eyeliner. To create the illusion of longer, bigger eyes, drag the line a few mm past the outer corner. Line the waterline as well to make sure there are no “whites” peeping through.

What I Used: MAC Fluidline in Blacktrack



Step 7. Brush a highlighting color on the inner corner of the eye and under the brow bone.

What I Used: MAC Eyeshadow in Pollen



Step 8. Apply mascara and fake lashes on upper lashes.

What I Used: Rimmel London Lash Accelerator in Extreme Black; Makeup For Life Lashes in #Hugs ‘n Kisses



Step 9. Apply a few coats of mascara on lower lashes.

What I Used: Rimmel London Lash Accelerator in Extreme Black



Extra Beauty Tips

* Do your eye makeup first if you are going to be using dark colors. This will minimize any effort to clean up your foundation and concealer afterwards.

* Always pair dark eye makeup with a clean face and nude lips for a fool-proof look.

Like this tutorial? Check out my purple smoky eye tutorial as well!

Phyllis Li is the Founder and Editor-in-chief of Makeup For Life, one of the top 50 beauty blogs that focuses on celebrity makeup breakdowns, product reviews, makeup tutorials and all things beauty. Having lived and traveled in North America, Europe and Asia, she was exposed to different techniques and products at an early age and hopes to put a global perspective towards beauty. Phyllis won the Best Content Award by Total Beauty in 2008 and has been featured in various publications and websites including ELLE, Glamour.com, Yahoo Shine!, AOL Stylelist, Nylon Korea, VOGUE China, Ming Pao Daily (Canada) and Shanghai Weekly. In 2010, she was appointed one of the nine Real Women Ambassadors in the United States to take part in the Latisse® Wishes Challenge, working with Hollywood celebrity Kathy Ireland and raised over $400,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation to grant wishes for approximately 54 children. In 2012, she teamed up with luxury skincare brand TATCHA and released a limited-edition 3-Piece Set of her favorite beauty products. Phyllis currently lives in Chicago, US. She is the beauty editor for Shanghai Daily's StyleHai Magazine and a member of the Glam Beauty Network.

54 COMMENTS

  1. what a pretty look :D i really love the colors here! <3
    & i'm looking foreward to seeing more stepbystep tutorials from you! haven't seen these in a while ;D

  2. I love the step by step tutorials with details and pictures for each step! Thank you, it’s very helpful!

    I would like to request natural or everyday looks that are easy and simple to do with few eyeshadows, but still I’m looking for more than just an invisible shadow and some mascara, eg. a soft smoky eye. Also I would like to request a tutorial or some suggestions of colours to use if you have cool undertones in your skin (with blue-green eyes) and can’t wear warm colours 8eg. most browns). Finding the right colours is my main problem when it comes to makeup, I have been mislead so many times by the MAC girls who always try to sell me warm colours that makes me look sooo tired. Have a nice day :)

    • If you have cool undertones with blue/green eyes, you can actually wear a LOT of colors – purple, pink, peach, gold, gray, neutrals and even browns (I actually LOVE bronzes on blue eyes). Just make sure the colors are cool-toned i.e. no red undertones.

  3. Awesome! I think i’ll use these tricks to figure out how to perfect the smoky eye with my new fav smoky shadow-Mystery by Mac. thank you!

  4. thankyou for sharing such tutorials.. i’ll definitely try it in this way.. this is realy helpful for ones new in makeup…

  5. So pretty! This is one of the best smokey eyes I’ve seen done.
    Thanks for the detailed tutorial.

  6. No one commented on the color of those irises! ive never seen anything like it… awesome. (unless they are contacts?)

  7. I love this tutorial! Im currently in school for make up at the academy of glam & I have been practicing the smokey look on different people & your tutorial really helped me perfect the smokey look!

  8. Hey hun! great look, i did something really similar as well since i am in love with the nars cordura, check it out if you have time :)
    xx Roseanne

  9. I LOVE this site! The tutorials are amazing, especially with step by step photos and your eyes are beautiful! Thanks for the tutorial! I’m sure we will be referring to your page from our women’s website! Thanks so much for the tutorials!

  10. you have really pretty eyes… i don’t know if i could get away with that

    i use a different technique that i found on youtube years ago, but this looks simple enough for others :)

  11. Thanks for this tutorial, I actually wear this look everyday when I go outside. It makes me look as if I have bigger eyes which people around me like.

  12. One thing that i can’t do is do eye makeup.. :( i just can’t get it right..but i think these steps are really going to help me…thanks alot.. :)

  13. just have to say, I LOVE THIS! :) I have never gotten the smokey eye look till now! :) I have gone through dozens of tutorials but it never looked right till now! :) You really are amazing :) Thanks so much! :) My makeup looks fantastic! :)

  14. I have never been able to do a brown smoky eye… I am Asian with a monolid and medium-dark skin and using brown always just makes them look tired, especially under the eyes. Any tips anyone?

    • Hi Claire,

      I would recommend using honey shades with golden undertones and staying away from coppers or anything with red undertones. You can also try adding a dab of shimmery gold/light beige eyeshadow in the inner corners – this will really help perk up tired eyes.

  15. Why shouldn’t you use red tones for blue/green eyes? I have turquoise eyes and my favourite eye shadows all range between browns, golds, bronzes and coppers. I find they suit my skin and hair tone (i have ash brown hair and light olive skin) and they really make my eyes stand out. I find anything in cooler colours doesn’t really have the same ‘wow’ effect and can make under my eyes look a bit dark. Was just wondering if there’s any thing I’m missing here… lol Mind you it could be because I apply the same rules as ‘smokey eye’ I keep the rest of my make-up very clean with nude lips. Lovin’ all the Mac by the way. My fave brand! :D x

    • Thanks Rhiannon =)

      If you read Ana’s comment above, she has cool undertones with blue/green eyes, which is why I suggested her to stay away from eyeshadows that are too warm. You, on the other hand, have olive skin, which is completely different.

      When it comes to picking eyeshadows, you have to look at a few things, including eye color, hair color and your skin tone. You can refer to this entry for more info:

      http://makeupforlife.net/2006/02/eyeshadow-techniques-part-ii.html

  16. Great Tutorial website for eye make-up! For those who still find it difficult can use other althernative item which is Eye Majic Instant eyeshadow. =)

  17. I love the beauty tip at the end about doing eye make up before concealer and foundation- I always have dark smudges under my eyes after doing smoky eye- not anymore :) Thanks!!

  18. i have a question… i like the brown lenses but i don’t which one it’s good on my eyes…. i very like your brown color… what’s your lenses called?

  19. I like how you outline step by step with photos and what product you used. I’m a fan of the smoky eye that doesn’t just use a black or navy shadow, so this is great. Any more tutorials you’d like to share, we’d love to see them at taaz.com!

  20. Thanks for this I will try this later :) hope you can post more step by step tutorial.. By the way you look gorgeous whatever makeup style you do

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