Tips for Creating the Perfect Smokey Eye Look

We’ve seen it. We’ve loved it. We’ve wanted to have it. It’s the penultimate exhibit of makeup mastery: the smokey eye look. Before, a smokey eye could only be achieved by a seasoned makeup artist. That is until everyone learned just how easy this sultry, seductive makeup look really is!

So, whether you’re aiming for a smokey daytime shadow or a dramatic smokey eye for a night out, here’s everything you need and need to know about perfecting your look.

What You Need

Scott Barnes Beauty

Whether it’s a bold, bright, or classic smokey eye, the tools are the same. Your shadow colors may change, but everything else you need to perfect this eye makeup look will stay the same.

  • Dense eyeshadow brush

Try Scott Barnes’ #61 The Eye Fan Brush

  • Liner brush

Try Scott Barnes’ #59 Lip & Eye Precision Liner

  • Blending brush

Try Scott Barnes’ #62 Eye Blender Brush

  • Concealer
  • Eyeshadow prep
  • Eyeshadow palette

Try Scott Barnes’ versatile Collectors Limited Edition Music Box Palette or  Atelier Palette

  • Pencil eyeliner
  • Black mascara

Try Scott Barnes’ Pumped Up glossy black mascara

  • False lashes (optional)

Try Scott Barnes’ Luscious Lashes

  • Glitter eyeshadow (optional)

On Point Smokey Eyes

Girls with bright make-up in a black leather cap

Now that you’ve got everything you’ll need, it’s time to decide what smokey eye look you’re going for.

The Classic Smokey Eye

Nothing says classic smokey eye like the ever dark, dramatic, and sultry shades epitomized in this look. Opt for deep, dark eyeshadow shades accompanied by a neutral or warm tone shade only slightly darker than your skin tone.   

The Neutral Smokey Eye

A neutral smokey eye like the one below is perfect for upping your workday makeup routine or for stunning your brunch mates on a day out.

The Bold Smokey Eye

If you’re tired of wearing the same old black, nude, or peachy eyeshadow, this one’s for you. Forget neutral shades, the bold and bright smokey eye relies on brilliant colors like electric blue or hot pink to remind the world you’re not one to follow the rules.

Smokey Eye Step by Step

Model girl with stylish makeup in a dark blue tones

Now that you’ve picked the perfect smokey eye for you, it’s time to get down to it. Here’s a step-by-step guide for perfect eyeshadow every time.

1. Prep Your Eyelids

We can't stress enough how important this step is! Instead of using a thick primer, try going over your eyelids lightly with leftover concealer or foundation and then setting this with a powder of your choice.

If you have oily eyelids, eyeshadow primers can help combat this. If you aren’t looking for a primer that has pigment to it, opt for a clear eyeshadow primer to help with oil control. A primer that is pigmented can help your eyeshadow have more impact—for example, a light colored primer can help a pink eyeshadow have the intensity you're looking for in a colorful smokey eye.

2. Pick Your Shades

For every smokey eye in the book, you’ll need one to three shades:

  • A transition shade that’s just a little darker than your skin tone
  • A light-colored shade that you’ll use to create a highlight
  • A dark shade you’ll use to create the smokey effect and make your eyes pop

These shades can be in any color—neutral, nude, green, pink. No matter the smokey eye you’re going for, the same rule applies. You need a light shade, medium shade, and dark shade.

3. Apply Your Transition Shade First

Whether you are going for a more solid smokey eye or one that’s more open, apply your transition shade or your darker eyeshadow color in your crease with a smaller fluffy brush in windshield wiper motions. By doing this first, you can create the shape of your smokey eye before moving on to blending and deciding if you want a dark color on your eyelid.

4. Apply Your Lid Shade

Here is where you can choose if you want to take your eyeshadow to a more dramatic level by applying the dark shade all across your eyelid or leaving it more open.

5. Smoke It Out

Take a clean brush or the brush used to apply the transition shade to blend any harsh lines, creating a seamless transition between the shades.

6. Apply Your Highlight

Once you’ve blended everything out, apply the lightest shade to the inner corner of your eye. This will bring your look to life and add the perfect contrast to make your eyes pop.

7. Line Your Lids

Use a dark pencil liner to line your upper lash line and water line. Then go in with a clean liner brush and gently blend the liner out to give your smokey eye more definition and strength.

8. Add Some Sparkle

If you prefer a matte look, stop here. However, if you want to add a pop of sparkle for a night out, grab a glitter or shimmer eyeshadow in a similar shade to your transition shadow, and dab it gently onto the middle of your lids.

9. Lash It Up

To finish off the perfect smokey eye, add some luscious, dramatic false lashes to draw even more attention to your flawless makeup skills.

Now that you’re ready to try the perfect smokey eye, all that’s left is to grab everything you need and get creative. Luckily, Scott Barnes offers pretty much everything you could possibly want to create your very own smokey eye look.

From versatile eyeshadow palettes to volumizing falsies, Scott Barnes has used his decades of experience as a makeup artist to the stars to create a line of cosmetics that guarantees to take your makeup game to the next level.