Beauty trends come and go but few looks are more enduring than the smokey eye. The reason for its perennial popularity? The smokey eye is versatile, universally flattering, and is ever evolving to meet current trends and tastes. Characterized by its smoked-out, hazy, smudgy effects, the smokey eye runs the full spectrum of styles from classic to edgy, and everything in between. But its coolness comes with practice. There’s a delicate balance of blended shades to create the perfect smokey eye. And, whether you’re a pro at nailing the smokey eye and want some new twists on it, or you want to master the perfect smoked look, our guide has everything you need.
“The smokey eye is an effortless eyeshadow look that anyone can crush. It just takes a few tips and tricks to get that balance just right for the style of smokey you’re going for,” explains Janeena Rumsey, Glo’s Global Artistry Lead.
“And, there are so many variations on the smokey eye, it changes each season. You can use any mix of colors you like, you just always need one smoked element to give it that signature sultry look.”
What Is a Smokey Eye?
First up, let’s define what a smokey eye actually is. “It’s a blended or diffused eyeshadow effect that adds dimension to the eye area,” explains Janeena. “It’s all about building up layers with different shades and finishes like matte or metallic, to create depth, starting with dark and fading out.”
Smokey Eye Makeup Tips
Blending is key to achieving the perfect smokey eye. “Make sure to really build out the intensity with your darkest color at the lash line area to help make your eyes pop,” she shares. “Your brush choice will also be important to helping layer effectively and load with just the right amount of shadow.”
Generally, classic smokey eyes usually use browns, charcoals and grays, or the darkest version of other colors for a more modern take, then blended with creams, beiges, and highlighter shades.
1. Start with a mid-tone eyeshadow across in and above the crease as well as lid to create a base. For this any of our Eye Shadows in Bamboo, Cosmic, Dolce or Twig work perfectly as base shades.
2. Tight-line eyes with a dark hued eye pencil or Cream Stay Shadow Stick. Then smoke it out with the Crease Shader Brush.
3. For transition shades try Cosmic, Dolce, or Twig Eye Shadow, blending outwards.
4. Once you get into the crease, this is where you start to create more eye socket definition so any of our Eye Shadows in Eclipse, Espresso, Mahogany, or Grounded work perfectly for this.
5. Accent the brow bone and inner corners and create some highlighting with Bamboo, Locket, or Ribbon.
6. Finish with mascara for that final lash definition.
If you’re looking for some current smokey eye makeup looks that are oh-so fresh and relevant, here are five of our favorites.
Smokey Eye Makeup Looks
The Copper + Plum Smokey Eye
“This is such a beautiful and eye-catching take on the classic smokey eye, combining such pretty shades into a really fresh look.”
Get The Look:
1. Add shape and a light wash of color by sketching Cream Stay Shadow Stick in Scotch along the entire lash line and lid, then blend through the crease to soften.
2. For added depth, dip into the shade Fate from the Moonstruck Shadow Palette and apply to the crease and lash line, then blend.
3. Add highlighting details to the center of lids and inner corner of eyes with the Cream Stay Shadow Stick in Solstice.
4. Line along upper and lower lashes with Scotch, then give it a good blend.
5. Coat lashes with Lash Lengthening Mascara for defined, lengthened lashes.
The Grungy Smokey Eye
“For those times you want to add a little edge to your smokey eye, this will be your go-to.”
Get The Look:
- Swatch Bonbon Cream Stay Shadow Stick onto lids and lower lash line, then blend out to create your desired eye shape.
- Add a second layer of Bonbon to outer corners for extra depth and blend until seamless.
- Apply Pitch Cream Stay Shadow Stick to the waterline then blend into Bonbon.
- Add a generous coat of Water Resistant Mascara to upper and lower lashes.
The Cool Smokey Eye
“Easy and effortlessly chic, this cool smokey eye is so versatile for day or night.”
Get The Look:
Mainly using the Elemental Shadow Palette
- Start by creating natural shape and contour to eyes by blending Cosmic into crease.
- Then add Relic to outer “V” area of the eyes and bring it down to the lower lashline and give it a good blend.
- Line and shade lids with Cream Stay Shadow Stick in Orbit, then blend to soften.
- Top Orbit with the shade Dusk for metallic shimmer.
- Deepen outer corners and lash line even more with a bit of Eclipse, then blend.
- Give lashes a generous coat of Water Resistant Mascara.
Metallic Smokey Eye
“A more dramatic and elevated smokey eye, the metallics in this look creates strong depth and dimension.”
Get The Look:
Using the Warm Smokey Eye Quad
1. Apply Frolic to lids for an even canvas to start blending on top.
2. Blend Dolce into crease and lower lashline.
3. Add Whiskey to the center of lids and fuse into Dolce.
4. Add highlight touches to brow bones and inner corner of eyes with Linger.
5. Coat upper and lower lashes with Volumizing Mascara for extra thickness.
The Fresh Smokey Eye
“This is a fresh and modern take on the smokey eye, perfect for summer or daywear.”
Get The Look:
- Blend Eye Shadow in Twig into crease and lower lashline to create subtle depth and shape.
- Shade Cream Stay Shadow Stick Metro into a slight winged shape along upper lash line.
- Add Cream Stay Shadow Stick Echo to lower lash line for smokey definition then blend until seamless.
- Add a few coats of Volumizing Mascara for extra fluffy lashes.
“Ultimately the smokey eye is all about you and your style, so play, experiment, and discover new eyeshadow techniques, shades, and applications," says Janeena. Whether you're into more earthy shades or want to weave in more unexpected hues, the sky’s the limit.