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How to Apply Eye Makeup: Smokey Eye Shadow Techniques

Updated on October 31, 2011

A smokey eye look is a very universal look for women these days. You can learn how to apply eye makeup (shadow) to achieve smokey eyes that will be suitable for any day or occasion from sophisticated weddings to a girls wild night out on the town.

This dramatic yet changeable look is achieved merely by the colors you choose to achieve your smokey eye look. Soft pastels and neutral colors are great for more casual or business-like appearances whereas bolder more vibrant colors can achieve a look that is meant to pop.

What you Need to Get the Smokey Eye Shadow Look

The process is fairly simple once you get use to it and what is needed is quite simple as well no matter what occasion you are getting ready for.

Eye Makeup and Primers

1) Lid Primer - which comes in many forms basically provides a surface for your shadow to stick to.

2) Varying Eye Shadows that consist of a Cohesive Color Pallete using both light and dark colors. As a suggestion If you plan to apply eye makeup to achieve the smokey eye look fairly regularly it is wise to have a good selection of shadows and color pallets available to you.

3) Eye Liner - Black eyeliner is one of the tools used to bring the smokey eye look together and really make your eyes stand out.

3) Mascara is not mandatory but for a more complete and dramatic look you will want to use it.

Smokey Eye Shadow Makeup Application Tools

1) Shadow brushes for applying eye makeup.

2) Sponge or applicator to apply lid primer (finger can be used as well making this optional)

How to Apply Eye Makeup to Achieve the Smokey Eyes Look

Step one - Begin by applying your lid primer over the entire surface of your eye lid. This should go on smoothly and will help keep your eye makeup in place.

Step two - Apply a layer of light colored shadow over the lid from lash line to the central crease in your eyelid.

Step three - Using your eyeshadow brush and a dark colored eyeshadow color you want to start to create your smokey eyes look by applying it to the outside of your eyelid in a "v" like pattern. While you do this you use your upper lash line and the central crease of your eye as guides each of these locations will represent one line of the v and they intersect at the outer edge of the eye. The shadow can be brushed or patted on and should run along approximately 1/3 of the outer lash line and crease extending ever so slightly past the natural eye line.

Step four - Using a solid point brush (often a long handled sponge like applicator that's used to correct eyeliner) apply the same color as used in step three to just under the lower lash line. Again only coming in about 1/3 of the way.

Step five - Now is the time for your eyeliner - begin by adding eyeliner to your upper lash line. (The video gives a good tip which is to use small dashes when applying rather than trying to attain a perfect line in one fell swoop). Let the line of your eyeliner extend past the outer edge of your eye just slightly for best finished smokey eye look. (which we aren't to quite yet but soon)

Step six - Apply mascara to your upper eye lashes. A good tip for a less chunky look is to place the applicator as deep in the lashes (towards lash line) and move the brush back and forth (left and right) while working your way up the lashes. This will allow the applicator to comb through the lashes separating them and getting mascara on each individual lash instead of clumping them together.

Step seven - Using another dark colored eyeshadow (at least darker than your base shadow) pat it on over your lid just within the edges of your other shadows. This basically means the edges of your other shadows should be left uncovered and you should be able to make out (if even vaguely) all 3 shadow colors. Now you want to take this color and trace beneath your lower lash line as well this time from one edge to the other using your pointed applicator brush. If you prefer you can use your second shadow color instead.

Smokey Eyes Shadow Tips:

Your shadow lines should not be harsh where the different colors meet - if they are then simply go over those lines with your shadow brush using light circular motions to blend the colors eliminating harsh lines.

When using liner to enhance your look a thicker liner line is perfectly acceptable and often just a standard part of the look. Black is recommended but deep dark browns can be used just as well if it better coordinates with your color pallet.

Using the lightest color in your chosen pallet you can get more pop by applying a light coat of the shadow to the innermost edge of your eyelash line tracing. Using a smaller V technique as you used in step three and the edges of your eye closest to your nose. You can vaguely make this out in the picture of Kim Kardashian as seen above (not below). Notice the slight shimmer at the innermost part of her natural eye line by her nose?

About the Video:

The video below is not mine and is included simply to give you an idea of the outcome and the steps needed to see how to apply eye makeup for the smokey eye look. There are extra steps taken in the video that I do not use such as fake eyelashes. If you have small eyelashes though false lashes may help you get a more dramatic look especially for less casual events such as clubbing or a night out or if you really just want your eyes to stand out more.

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      Geoffrey Lowe 6 years ago

      It's very great that nowadays people are very artistic when it comes to eyeshadows. Especially this type of smokey eye shadow technique. I know fashion designers used this kind of technique.