How to Do a Smoky Eye In 6 Easy Steps, According to Two Celebrity Makeup Artists

Smokey Eye
Photo: Getty Images

If I'm on a time crunch, you can bet money on the fact that I won't be attempting to create a smoky eye.

It's touted as one of the most classic makeup looks of all time, the "perfect Saturday night" beauty choice, but easy? That adjective never seemed fitting — well, until we chatted with celebrity makeup artists Neil Scibelli and Kristen Fortier, and got their incredibly simple breakdown on how to do smoky eye in six steps.

You'll still need to put in some practice to get the blending technique down, but this simplified tutorial has helped me graduate from my usual swipe of beige shadow. Keep scrolling to check out their tips, plus the InStyle-approved products you'll need by your side.

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Step 1: Prime Your Eyelids

Crunchi Eye Primer

"Start by using a primer on your eyelids to keep the product locked in all day and to prevent creasing throughout the day," says Scibelli. He also suggests taking the primer along the lower lash line so that the product grips to the under-eye area, as well.

We're a fan of Crunchi My Alibi Concealer + Eye Primer.

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Step 2: Choose Your Eyeshadow Palette and Color Gradient

Charlotte Tilbury Luxury Palette Colour-Coded Eyeshadow Palette

"Be sure to set your eyelids with finishing powder or neutral eyeshadow shade before creating your look," says Fortier. "[Then,] apply a neutral transition shade all over the eyelid and blend it up slightly above the crease."

If you're going for a dark smoky eye, your first base color should not be the darkest shade. Scibelli suggests going for a charcoal gray or a deep metallic. "For added definition, apply this same eyeshadow color along your lower lash line with a pointed eyeshadow brush," he adds.

We love the Charlotte Tilbury Luxury Palette Colour-Coded Eyeshadow Palette to create this look.

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Step 3: Blend Your Eyeshadow

Laura Mercier Finishing Pony Tail Brush

Next, use a brush like the Laura Mercier Finishing Pony Tail Brush to dip into the darker smoky eyeshadow color. Tap off excess product and apply this to your crease. "I typically apply the crease color starting from the outer corner of the eye, and into the crease, three quarter ways in, using a ponytail shadow brush," says Scibelli. "Use the brush in small, circular motions while adding the product from the outer corner of the eye moving inwards in the crease."

You should see a gradient of color starting to take shape. "Blend each shade using the fluffy brush — this will give the effect of an airbrushed application and eliminate any harsh lines," says Fortier.

If your smoky eye looks too heavy, Scibelli says to grab a clean brush and use it to blend the existing product. Finally, take the color you applied as the base and apply a small amount of it to the center of the lid to create dimension.

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Step 4: Apply Eyeliner

MARC JACOBS BEAUTY Highliner Gel Eye Crayon Eyeliner

"That smoky, sultry effect isn't complete without adding your dark eyeliner," says Scibelli. Whether you prefer liquid or a pencil, he says to start from the outer corner of your eyes, working your way inwards. "For that Sarah Jessica Parker tight-lined look, you can apply a matte pencil liner to the inner rims of your eyes." We suggest Marc Jacobs Beauty Highliner Gel Eye Crayon Eyeliner.

When lining the lower lash line, keep in mind that if you apply eyeliner across the entire bottom lash line this will make the eyes appear slightly smaller. "If you have smaller eyes you can still apply the liner but only apply to the halfway point of the lower lash line," says Fortier.

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Step 5: Clean Up

Bioderma Sensibio H2O

"A smoky eye can easily get messy, so keep pointed Q-tips and micellar water near by," says Scibelli. We like Bioderma's Sensibio H2O.

He uses this to clean up any fallout and to even out the eye lines. "Another way to 'clean up' your smoky look is to blend a highlighter under your brow bone, above your crease color, so that you have a clean transition of colors. You can always pop some highlighter to the inner corners of the eyes, for that extra spark.

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Step 6: Apply Mascara

Crunchi mascara

No smoky look is complete without full lashes. Be sure to apply several coats of Crunchi Shattered Mascara (or whatever your personal favorite is) to the top and lower lash line.

"Coat each lash by wiggling the mascara from the root to the top of the lash," says Fortier. "To create extra length and separation, use a clean mascara wand or spoolie to brush through the lashes after applying your mascara."

Updated by
Omenaa Boakye
Omenaa Boakye is a fashion and beauty writer and editor from the UK. Her byline has appeared in The London Times, Stylist, Brides, BET, and InStyle, amongst others.
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