How To Pull Off A Jewel-Toned Smoky Eye

Photo: MCV Photo.
I've been a makeup artist for a long time, and I think people have major misconceptions about the smoky eye. Too often, people think "smoky" means black. But, in makeup terminology, a smoky eye means a gradation of color, which can easily be rendered in jewel tones. For this season, I'm especially loving a blend of pinks and purples. Making the look modern is all in how and where you place your colors, and your application technique.

Prepare Accordingly: First, you need the right materials. I'd select one eye quad with a cacophony of shades (I like mine in Prima Ballerina), a single plum liner, a lash curler, mascara, some Kleenex, two shadow brushes for applying color (one thin and firm, one fluffy), and two clean, fluffy brushes for blending. Above all, the most crucial step with any bold eye look is primer. Many people skip this part, but primer really does make a huge difference in extending the wear of your shadow, and also provides a smooth surface for application. Pick a formula that's nice and sheer, so you can tap it on with your fingers and be done in seconds. 

Start With Liner: Begin building the eye using a kohl. With any pencil, you want to feel  a glide across your lids — not a pull or a drag. Take a plum liner and apply right in between your lashes, then pull up ever so slightly. After you've done that all over your top lid (and the bottom, too, if you wish), you need to smudge it. Simply lift up your eyelid and smudge using a brush or your finger to soften the line, creating a smoky effect. You can use a Kleenex to wipe off any excess.

Powder In Between Steps: After that, take your other clean brush, dip it into a little bit of translucent powder, and set your line. You don't want to layer cream over cream, because then things will slide — setting it with powder readies the eye for shadows and ensures the longevity of your look.

Hit The Crease: Okay, now you're ready for the big color! I like the idea of pairing the plum with a richer purple. For more vibrant shades, try creating a contour with color. In other words, I'd place the richest shade of your palette in the crease, exaggerating the outer corner just a bit. Do your first application, then tap the excess product off your brush, and continue to diffuse that line until it's nice and blended. After that's done, use that same brush to go over where you applied your liner, then dust over the whole thing with a clean brush and some loose powder. You should see no harsh edges or uneven color application — everything should be nice and neat before you move to the next step. 

Put A Lid On It: On the lid, use a slightly more muted tone, like a soft pink. Then, take a flat shadow brush and blend it over the lid. Since this will be in the center of your eye, it's a good idea to use something with a slight sheen (not glitter, but something more subtle). It should blend right into your contour and all come together nicely.

Line, Again: For the last step with your palette, dip an angled liner into the darkest shade, then trace your original eyeliner application to intensify it. This time, however, you want to extend it a bit beyond the outer corner, so it plays very subtly on the shape of a cat eye. To get that little flick, start from the bottom of your lash line and then guide the color up — that's a good guiding point to ensure your eyes will match every time. 

Finally, Lashes: The most important finishing step for any eye look is curling your lashes. It's one of my favorite tools. Simply get as close to the base of the lashline as possible, and give it three little pumps. This will open the eye dramatically. Finish with a couple coats of black mascara, and you're good to go.

Color can be intimidating, of course, but if you're going to go for it, just remember: Color works whenever. There are no rules with color. Allow makeup to be your final accessory and you'll be surprised at how it all comes together.

Like this post? There's more. Get tons of beauty tips, tutorials, and news on the Refinery29 Beauty Facebook page!

More from Makeup


R29 Original Series