Spring’s most lived-in makeup trend is bringing new meaning to beauty sleep. The slept-in smoky eye is your smudgiest answer to smoked-out shadows and tightlining. The opposite of pristinely blended red carpet lids and a nod to TikTok’s fascination with finger eyeliner, it’s slightly soft goth, intensely grunge, and decidedly effortless. Meet 2023’s update on the classic smoky eye.
“Slept-in smoky eyes are grungy and imperfect,” says Donni Davy, Euphoria’s head makeup artist and Half-Magic Beauty cofounder. “That’s what makes it cool. It’s unapologetic and a little scary.” According to Davy, it’s part of our renewed obsession with makeup that’s more expressive and moody, two categories that go perfectly with this trend. “It’s refreshing to try a different approach to your makeup,” she says. “To think, ‘How can I make this look weirder and less perfect?’”
Where You've Seen It
You’ve already seen the ‘90s precursor to this makeup trend on Kate Moss. “She’s the queen of this look,” says celebrity makeup artist Kirin Bhatty. Bhatty’s current icons of slept-in smoky perfection are Deepica Padukone, Emma Chamberlain, and Gemma Chan. “They really rock it,” she says.
For Davy, few do it better than Maeve Wiley on Sex Education. Played by actress Emma Mackey, she navigates the screen in makeup that “always looks grungy and real, like she did it in less than a minute—or maybe even slept in it.”
Celebs, models, and influencers love the look, but you’ve also seen it all over TikTok, where it draws from several trends that emphasize deliberate messiness, like the bubbling indie sleaze revival which calls on party girls of the mid 2010's like Cat Marnell, the Olsen twins, and Effie from Skins.
Who Does it Work for?
If you want to rock it, you can. “It’s one of the most iconic looks to keep in your arsenal,” says Bhatty.
Smoky lids often require a tweaked placement for anyone with hooded eyes, but Davy says the slept-in version was made for them. Her advice: As you outline your eyes, make sure to focus your eyeshadow more along your lower lash line, a technique that goes against all conventional smoky eye wisdom. “I know that sounds like it might look intense,” she says. “But that’s the point!”
How to Wear Slept-In Smoky Eyes
As imperfect and smudgy as they might be, there’s still a trick to keeping this trend from turning into raccoon eyes. “To make this flattering, line your lower waterline,” says Davy. It’s her favorite trick for instantly making smoky eyes look more lifted and snatched, a technique she refers to as “a bra for the eyes.”
From there, rely on the creamiest, most spreadable textures you can find to create your smoky base, tracing your upper and lower lash lines all the way around. “Embrace cream and liquid products,” says Bhatty, who swears by the Rem Beauty Midnight Shadows Lustrous Liquid Eyeshadow ($16) in Telescope, paired with Charlotte Tilbury’s Rock 'N' Kohl Eyeliner Pencil ($29) and Live Tinted’s Huestick ($24) in Legacy. Both Bhatty and Davy recommend getting in there with your fingers to gently blend and smudge your way to your desired level of slept-in messiness—no brushes required here. For more intentional smudging, Davy likes to bring the shadow at the outer corner of her eye outward toward her temples. Pull it all together with multiple coats of inky mascara. Bhatty’s favorite is Sisley-Paris' So Curl ($78).
The rules are few, and there remains plenty of room to play. “Don’t necessarily use black eyeshadow,” says Davy. If the shade feels too harsh on you, swap it out for darker shades of blue, purple, green, or brown. Or, layer shimmering metallics over black for a softer, contrasting finish. Davy is partial to the buttery taupe shine of her Half Magic Beauty Eyeshadow ($12) in Wet Pebble, which she pats on with her tapered Pyramid Brush ($18). Of course, you could also use your fingers. That’s the beauty of the slept-in smoky eye: It’s an effortless makeup look you can actually be lazy about. Don’t sleep on it—or do.