How-to: Dramatic smokey eyes (with a bit of extra sparkle)

I warned you that there’d be a lot of this black smokey eye this month, but I promise — this is the last post focusing on it! I really loved the look, though, and I wanted to share a step-by-step how-to before leaving it behind and moving on.

It’s a really high-impact look that’s surprisingly easy to do, so keep reading for all of the tips & tricks that’ll give your smokey eye that extra oomph.

(Holy crap, I just realized that contouring is like a push-up bra… for your face. I never anticipated needing to use these words, but: I have to tweet this.)

A smokey eye tutorial with an extra edge

[ What does it even mean to “have edge;” is “edge” actually a thing that you can have? And if it is, is your worth determined by the number of edges you have, or is edge a singular entity of varying size? Is this all just a muddy anecdote having to do with metaphorical sharpness? ]

Start off the look with a black cream base, applying it quickly (before it sets) but not worrying too much about the edges. I used an Annabelle SmudgePaint in Glitzy Black, LE this fall — the creamy texture and solidly-setting formula make it a great choice for a smokey eye, and the intense black-plus-shimmer shade made it perfect for this look.

(Make sure you get it through your lashes, too, or the final look will end up more crazy than classy.)

You’ll need to follow up with a shimmery black powder eyeshadow (or a black eyeshadow and a shimmery one, separately,) so I swatched a few different products and picked the most intense.

From L-R, below: (1) NYX Eyeshadow in Black + FaceFront Artistic Pigment in Silver Fox; (2) the black from Clarins’ Mineral Eye Quartet in Graphites; (3) FaceFront Pressed Eyeshadow in Printed + Artistic Pigment in Silver Fox; (4) MAC Pigment in Dark Soul.


I could have gotten a better shimmer density with Dark Soul, but MAC pigments are so finicky to work with — and I didn’t want the look to be all bark with no bite, you know?

I ended up using NYX’s black eyeshadow (ridiculously buttery and pigmented, for the price) layered underneath FaceFront Silver Fox, but we’ll deal with the shimmer in a minute. First, just take the black eyeshadow overtop your cream base, using it to give shape and blend out the cream liner’s harsh(er) edges.

From there, pull the black eyeshadow through your lower lashline, take a step back and re-evaluate: it’ll change how your eyes are weighted, visually, and I often find I have to go back and add height to the eyeshadow on my lids at this point.

Follow up with black liner along your waterlines (if you used a shimmery base, swap it out for something with a cream finish), then move on to filling your brows. Pick something with a bit of a cooler tone, and don’t be afraid to mix a bit of grey into your usual shade to get the right shade!

Finally, use a flat eye brush to pat silver shimmer just overtop the black, not straying beyond the area. Highlight the browbone with a matte-finish eyeshadow, and make sure to clean up and conceal the undereye area well.

Like, really, really well. You need to be as bright as freshly fallen snow, no matter how many different products you have to use to get there.

(I used three: a concealer, a brightener, and a yellow colour corrector that I blend en masse on my own. It’s a pain in the arse to get right, but it’s my holy grail undereye fix-it — no circle, no matter how dark, can penetrate it.)

Curl your lashes, add mascara, and finish the rest of your face. I know you guys know how to do the rest of this already — and, honestly, you can take the look anywhere from here. This is my no-fail technique for a black smokey eye, but a lot of it translates into other colours, too; if you’re going with a single-colour lid, the process doesn’t really change much.

I mean, obviously, if you’re going to take this tutorial and maul it with traffic-pylon orange eyeshadow and loose purple shimmer, I’m going to be angry. But it’ll still work be functional, is the point. Even though it’s going to break my heart and make a lot of people want to punch things.

See more of this eye here and here, & be sure to let me know how it goes if you give this tutorial a try! 

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  • Reply projectswatch

    This is gorgeous on you!
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    October 29, 2012 at 6:38 AM
  • Reply Eli

    Looks really great on you, too bad my eyes have this crazy shape, and such makeup makes me look like a panda :(
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    October 29, 2012 at 6:46 AM
  • Reply Helen Nguyen

    This is a great tutorial. I dislike it when ppl only can think of basic black and grey when it comes to smokey eyes. I love using sparkles and colors to do smokeys

    October 29, 2012 at 7:28 AM
  • Reply Jeanne

    Gorgeous! I'm jealous of how precisely you can apply your makeup – I'm so heavy handed often times I end up applying way too much eyeshadow much higher than I intended to (my mother doesn't hesitate too let me know when I've overdone it!) I'll have to try this :)

    October 29, 2012 at 8:29 AM
  • Reply Lily

    You need to tell me what concealer / brightener / colour corrector you're using! Said before, gorgeous!

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    October 29, 2012 at 9:38 AM
  • Reply Sandra

    That's the one thing that I just cant do properly: smokey eyes! You look stunning!

    October 29, 2012 at 11:38 AM
  • Reply Larie

    Which eyeliner do you use on your waterline? Nothing stays there. NOTHING. hahaha.

    You look magnificent as usual, my dear.
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    October 29, 2012 at 11:55 AM
  • Reply perilouslypale

    I really love this look on you. LOVE it!
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    October 29, 2012 at 12:13 PM
  • Reply xiao

    I know you know, but I'm just going to remind you that I love you. Also, it's unacceptable that you didn't tell us exactly what concealer, brighter and yellow corrector you use, or that you don't already have a tutorial. Someone's face is going to be grouchily bitten.

    (And contouring is totally the cheekbone push-up.)
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    October 30, 2012 at 3:18 AM
  • Reply claire

    That is a very nice smokey eye look, thank you for this tutorial! I really like the shape you did.
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    October 30, 2012 at 9:13 AM
  • Reply Vesna

    This looks so amazing on you! You rock this smokey eye look! :)
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    October 30, 2012 at 3:07 PM
  • Reply The Beauty Sample

    This is gorgeous! I haven't done such a dramatic smoky eye in a long time, but I am really craving one now! :)
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    October 30, 2012 at 4:24 PM
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  • Reply Patty

    Okay, you have a nice, amazing technique,and you look stunning! I've tried this before, and it never seems to look quite right. Maybe I'll try again!
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    November 5, 2012 at 12:06 PM

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