Makeup Tutorial: The Reverse Smoky Eye

We’re never ones to turn down an opportunity for a smoky eye, but we have to admit that sometimes what looks amazing on a set of big, doe-like eyes doesn’t translate for the girls who have less eyelid to work with. Enter: the reverse smoky eye. Take the smoked out shadow that accentuates big eyes and flip it upside-down. Okay, there’s a little more to it than that, but that’s what celeb makeup artist Lauren Andersen is for. Below, she shares her insider secrets on creating a flawless “reverse” smoky eye, perfect for those with small eyes, hooded eyelids, and monolids.

Keep reading to see the four-step tutorial!

Justin Coit


You won’t need to start with anything more than minimal makeup—this reverse smoky eye will definitely be the focus of your look.

Justin Coit

Step One: Apply Light Eye Shadow

All of the drama will be concentrated on your lower lid, but to prevent the top lid from looking like an afterthought, add a little shine with a pale shimmery shadow. Pack it on to your lid using a flat brush.

Justin Coit

Step Two: Line the Lower Lid

Take a chubby black shadow pencil, like the Nars’ Soft Touch Shadow Pencil ($25) in Aigle Noir that we’re using (this shade has some gold shimmer in it to play up the smokiness), and apply it all along your lower lash line and waterline. Andersen likes to use shadow pencils for this step because they’re more malleable than liners, so you have better control of where the color goes. 

Justin Coit

Step Three: Blend

With a small flat brush, use sideways strokes to buff the color in. Soften the edges and extend the pigment ever so slightly past the outer corners and inner corners of your eyes. (Note: You may have to go over your waterline if your blending faded it out too much.)

Justin Coit

Step Four: Smoke It Out

Now really smoke it out with a shimmery cool-toned brown eye shadow. We’re using a shade from Dior’s 5-Color Designer Eyeshadow ($60) in Amber. With a small brush, apply the shadow over the black pencil, focusing on the edges. This will soften the look and help you achieve the ever-important color gradation every smoky eye needs. 

Justin Coit


No smoky eye is complete without a generous dose of black mascara. We used Dior’s Diorshow Mascara ($25) to finish off this edgy look.


Photographer: Justin Coit

Makeup Artist: Lauren Andersen

Hairstylist: Gregory Russell

Manicurist: Barbara Warner

Producer: Jenna Peffley

Model: Lyzy


Have you ever tried a reverse smoky eye?

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