Steamy Shadow Looks To Spice Up Your Summer

We love a good smoky eye as much as the next girl, but after a while, that whole smudged-black-shadow thing can start to look a little tired, especially when it's the only trick in your book. The point of a sexy makeup look is that it should be surprising and alluring — not expected and done to death.
With that in mind, we asked makeup artist Katie Mellinger to put a new spin on three classic, come-hither eye looks. From a mermaid gaze to a funky cat-eye, these simmering stares are guaranteed to command a lot of attention this summer.
Photographed by Aaron Richter; Makeup by Katie Mellinger; Hair by Charley Brown at Starworks; Model Tessa Schaaf at Click Models NY
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Quirky Cat-Eye

While you may think of a cat-eye as being a one-hit wonder, this versatile look can actually do a lot more than just look retro. According to Mellinger, depending on the colors and the shape, a cat-eye can be grunge, rock 'n roll, baby doll, or glam.

"Winged eyeliner has been big the past few seasons at shows like Anna Sui, Lanvin, Badgley Mischka, Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi, Giorgio Armani, and Ruffian," she says. "It's a fairly simple, classic look that can make the drabbest outfit seem glam. Plus, it's easy for anyone to pull off, making even the most novice makeup applicator look like a professional. I also think Mad Men had something to do with it." Agreed! Who wouldn't want to channel Joan Holloway?

On Tessa: H&M Parrot Top, available at H&M; Marni Off-White Collar, available at The Outnet; Alexis Bittar Cuff, available at Alexis Bittar.

Photographed by Aaron Richter
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To get this look, Mellinger used Urban Decay 24/7 Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner in Woodstock. Using the side of the liner's applicator as a guide, she started the line from the outside of the eye, swooping it down into the lash line and the middle of the eye. She then flipped the liner brush and started from the inner corner, meeting the color in the middle. She did the same on the opposite eye, then applied a generous coat of L'Oréal Voluminous Carbon Black Mascara.

"This look works well for summer because it's easy to pull off, and many liquid liners, such as the one I used, are waterproof or water-resistant. They don't smudge, and if you want to pair this look with a bare face, you can," she says. If this look is too bold for you, Mellinger says you can tone it down by lightly sketching a thin line, rather than covering the whole lid with color. "You don't even have to wing your eyeliner," she says. "Just use a fun color. It's so simple, but still makes a statement."

Photographed by Aaron Richter
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Mermaid Gaze

A traditional tri-color shadow look usually consists of colors on your brow bone, lid, and contour. Mellinger reimagined it as a play on ombré, using the season's hottest shade, blue, as her inspiration.

"Bold, graphic eyes were huge on the runway recently, especially in the color blue," says Mellinger. "The colors in this look are laid on the lid in a striped fashion, rather than being blended into the crease and the lash line," she adds. "The colors remind me of the ocean, which always makes me dream of warm weather. For this look I thought of The Little Mermaid — under-the-sea ocean action. Summer is all about color, so do it up! If you can mix and match patterns of clothes and colorblock your outfits, why not do it to the eye?" Hear, hear!

On Tessa: DKNY Dress, available at The Outnet; Antik Batik Ambroise Necklace, available at The Outnet.

Photographed by Aaron Richter
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Mellinger applied Shiseido Shimmering Cream Eye Color in Moss, Angel, and Purple Dawn on the lids, using a small, fluffy brush. She started with the green, applying it in the inner corner of the eye and blending out. She then grabbed a clean brush to apply the blue shadow to the center of the lid, then used the green shadow brush to blend the two colors together. Using another clean brush, she applied the purple shadow to the outer corner of the eye, then used the blue shadow brush to blend those two colors into each other.

She densely lined the top and bottom lash line with Dolce & Gabbana Crayon Intense Eyeliner in Acqua, then used a short-bristled brush to blend the liner and finished with Dior Diorshow Blackout Mascara, using a wiggle motion to apply it up the lash in order to create more drama.

According to Mellinger, the trick to getting your colors to blend is to make sure you use shadows in all the same consistency. Blending a powder shadow with a cream will only make the shadows gunk up. She also says it's key to use a fresh brush for each color, or to clean your brush in between — if you keep reusing the same brush to blend, it will cause the colors to muddy up and they will lose their vibrancy and distinction.

Think this look might be a bit too much for you? Mellinger says you can get the same effect using two colors, or if you're a total newbie, stick to one bright shade over the entire eye. The important thing is just to try something new. "Makeup can be anything you want it to be, and after you see the same old smoky eye over and over again, it gets boring," she says. "I love that we are more willing to experiment these days. Don't be afraid of color — embrace it!"

Photographed by Aaron Richter
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Smoke & Sand

Speaking of smoky eyes, we're going to have to request that you put down the black liner. The charcoal look is all well and good, but if you find yourself regularly reverting to smudgy raccoon eyes as your go-to, it's time to shake things up a bit. You can still get the hazy gaze you love, but just try it in a different hue, like summer-ready bronze.

"Everyone wants to look warm and healthy, and the eye is no exception," says Mellinger. "A bronze eye is universally flattering on everyone, and, if you have blue eyes, can really make them pop. It's so simple, and almost impossible to mess up. Bronze eyes can be big and bold or soft and subtle, and they always looks glamorous without feeling like you tried too hard. You can also add a bold lip to this eye without looking like you're wearing too much makeup."

On Tessa: H&M Bustier, available at H&M; Bijoux Heart Earrings, available at The Outnet.

Photographed by Aaron Richter
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For this look, Mellinger swiped Make Up For Ever Aqua Cream in Satin Brown close to the lash line, blending up with a fluffy brush. She then wiped off the excess product and used the same brush to draw a smudgy line beneath the lower lash line. Next, she applied MAC Eye Kohl in Teddy densely into the upper lash line, then set the cream shadow using Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Loose Colour Concentrate in Authentic. A light coat of Maybelline Lash Stiletto Mascara finished the look.

Still trying to master the quick-and-easy smoky eye? "A super simple way to create a smoky eye is to start with a cream or waxy base," says Mellinger. "Use a smudge-resistant eyeliner and apply it densely against the lash line. Smudge the line with a small, soft, short-bristled brush and set the color to your desired intensity with a similar colored eyeshadow. If you want to add a bit of drama, apply a black pencil into the water line. Pack on the mascara, and you're done!"

Photographed by Aaron Richter