The Perfect Smoky Eye in 5 Steps

katie jane hughes smoky eye tutorial

Byrdie

Here at Byrdie, we live and die for a fabulous smoky eye—especially when makeup artists like Patrick Ta and Katie Jane Hughes are behind them. Sure, it might not be a look we rock on the regular, as we tend to opt for natural makeup more days than not—but that by no means diminishes our obsession.

You see, the smoky eye is a classic for a reason: It's foolproof in that it's perfect for just about any occasion, and is super versatile so you can go the signature black, gray, or brown route—or you can shake things up and incorporate color. Either way, it's a look that always wows, which is why we think everyone should learn how to master it at some point. Because we know it can be a daunting eye look to execute, we took the liberty of breaking it down into seven, super simple and straightforward steps. So long as you follow them and give it some practice, you're bound to be a master in no time. Ahead, watch Katie Jane Hughes's video tutorial for the perfect smoky eye.

Meet the Expert

Katie Jane Hughes is a celebrity and editorial makeup artist with clients among the likes of Ashley Graham, Kerry Washington, Anna Kendrick, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, and more.

Step One: Prime 

The last thing you want is your shadow to fade, smudge, or crease over the course of a few hours—which trust us, totally happens—so priming your eyelids before anything else is essential. It's also especially important to do if you have oily skin, as it will help keep your shadow from turning into a slippery mess. These are a few of our favorite primers, all of which just so happy to be under $10. 

Step Two: Apply a Base Shadow

First things first, you want to go in with a neutra shade as a base. "I'm going with the most bone-colored shade and tapping it on," says Hughes. "This is to neutralize the texture of the lid, and also brighten the lid." Sweeping this shadow all over the lid and into the crease will make the rest of the blending process more seamless and give your high-voltage hues something to adhere to. Here are 10 neutral eye shadow palettes we swear by, all of which have a variety of killer base shades to choose from.

dior eyeshadow palette
Dior Backstage Eyeshadow Palette in Warm Neutrals $49
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Step Three: Smoke It Out

Once you have your base, you'll want to apply a darker shade to the outer corners and crease of your eyes. Hughes is going for a warm, taupe look, but you may choose a darker, more charcoal-toned shade for this step, which helps create definition. It's all about the look you're going for.

Step Four: Apply Blending Shadow

After getting your base shadow and definition shade to a place that you're happy with, you then want to go in with your main shadow, whether it be a classic black or bronze, or an electric blue or purple. Simply pack this shade all over the lid and blend, blend, blend until there are no harsh lines. You can also trace a small amount on your lower lash line for an added intensity that brings the whole look together. Just make sure to blend until everything is seamless. What's more: To give it a subtle cat-eye vibe, blend outwards and upwards in the outer corner where you'd normally do a wing. 

Step Five: Finish Off With Mascara

No smoky eye could be complete without a few generous coats of mascara. We'd recommend using one that's waterproof or smudge-proof to ensure it doesn't disrupt the rest of your makeup and stays put for hours. On the hunt for a new favorite? These are 11 formulas Byrdie beauty editors always recommend. 

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