One of the most-requested looks at beauty counters across the world is the quintessential smokey eye. Universally flattering, easily adaptable and forever chic, a smokey eye can take you from day to night in a few flicks of an eyeshadow brush, and can make a bold statement or compliment a subtler look. Plus, it really isn’t that tricky - once you grasp the basics, the easier it’ll be to find a colour and style to suit you. Read on to learn how to find your own signature smoke...
1. Prep the eyes
Did you know eye primer is a thing? Just like regular primer, it’ll help your make up stay in place longer and possibly do other jazzy things, like the Urban Decay Sin Primer Potion (£16.00, feelunique.com), which gives you a lovely rose gold base to work on. If you just want a bit of grip, can’t say better than NARS Pro Prime Smudge Proof Eye Base, (£19.50, www.narscosmetics.co.uk) which will help glue things in place.
2. Invest in a tool kit
The basics for a smokey eye are a good all-over-the-lid brush, a crease brush, a detail brush and a liner brush. You can get all these, plus a couple of extras, in the Real Techniques Your Eyes Enhanced Set (£21.99, Boots), which is a great starter set for beginners, but even the more experienced will get good use out of the pack. Bonus points for the handy case that turns into a stand to make you feel like a pro.
3. The basics
Take it from the expert; Laura Mercier let Grazia Daily in on the secret to a perfect smokey eye using a palette: “Take the lightest colour and wash over the entire eye, gradually building it vertically towards the arch of the eye brow. Then take the medium or dark intensity colour and softly start to darken the eye lids from the outer corner, inwards so that the lightest part is nearest your nose and the darkest part is nearest your ear. This gives the very popular slightly feline look to the eye makeup. Another simple trick is to use medium or dark liner along the upper lash line and elongate the line at the outer corner. Remember that lining around your entire eye and wearing dark colours on your inner lids will make your eyes look as if they are closer together. When lining your eyes, start the liner away from the inner corners." Try Laura’s new palette, the Nude Smoky Eye, exclusively at Fenwick’s (£72.00).
4. Palette power
It’s probably best to get a palette for your smokey eye; while you can mix and match, the pre-selected shades will tone well with each other and give you a perfectly matched look. For a classic, dramatic look, try the Burberry Complete Eye Palette Smokey Grey No. 01 (below left, £40.00, www.uk.burberry.com) palette, which has a mix of dark grey and almost black, with a bright white shade to define the inner corner and open the eye.
5. Add a summery twist
If you want something to enhance your tan, go for bronze tones for a total Grecian goddess look. Charlotte Tilbury’s Luxury Palette Colour Coded Eye Shadows in The Dolce Vita (£38.00, Selfridge’s, above right) has burnished bronze, terracotta neutrals and glowing gold for a totally tropical take on the smokey eye.
6. More than 50 shades of grey
Smokey doesn’t have mean grey - for an elegant daytime look, we love Revlon’s Colorstay 16 Hour Eyeshadow Quad in ‘Decadent’ (£7.99, Boots), which has rich deep pink and rose gold tones for a subtle smoke. The same principle goes with the application, but this will give you a more neutral look.
7. Walk the line
Liner is totally optional, but it especially brings together more dramatic evening looks. Try gel for a more precise line - BECCA’s UK Brand Manager, Ana Patricio, advises ‘‘If you want a neat line then use a flat brush and wiggle the product tight into the lash line, you can even use it underneath in the waterline using the same method. This should make your lashes look thicker and fuller.’ We love BECCA'S Ultimate Crème Eyeliner (£16.00, www.beccacosmetics.co.uk)
8. Flutter away
Of course, lashes complete any eye look. If your natural lashes need a boost, go for full drama with Benefit’s best-selling They’re Real! Mascara (£19.50, counters nationwide) which turns up the volume on even the the shortest of lashes.
9. Consider a helping hand
If you really want to wow, or your natural lashes have seen better days, it’s time to whack out the falsies. The Eyelure 202 Dramatic Lashes (£7.10, www.eyelure.com) will help add volume and length to really bring the look together.
10. Fix it in place
When you’re happy with your finished look, a dusting of translucent powder will help keep everything in place and hopefully not get sweated off on the Tube or on your night out. Try Laura Mercier’s Loose Setting Powder (£29.00, Space NK) - use a small brush and ever so gently stipple some powder over the lid.