4 Takes on Smokey Eyes

Published in: Makeup Tips/How To, News

Smokey eyes

I’ve always wanted a Burberry coat like the one Harry Potter alum Emma Watson has on here, but the coat wasn’t what first grabbed my attention about this new ad campaign. It was her smoldering, smokey eyes!


The one-minute smokey eye

The look, in its many incarnations, never really goes out of style, and one of my favorite things about smokey eyes is how little effort they can take.

Take, for example, this one-minute smokey eye by MAC Senior Makeup Artist James Malloy, which breaks down a little something like this:

  1. Start with a jet black eye kohl pencil like MAC Technakohl Liner ($14.50). Really get the black in between the root of the lashes and build outward.
  2. End with a blackened silver shadow over the top of the kohl pencil, adding a spot of a steely gray, gunmetal shadow pressed in the center of the lid to add a highlight.

Or how ’bout a shimmery midnight blue?

A brownish black with false lashes?

This look by makeup artist Nancy Spencer starts with a base on the eyelid and an eye primer like Urban Decay Primer Potion ($17) to help the eyeshadow stay put.


Or a sexy red carpet look?

Experiment with your smokey eyes, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes! Like MAC Pro Artist Neil Young says, “It’s not a tattoo; it [makeup] comes off.” 🙂

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,


P.S. Have you peeped the new Benefit Smokin’ Eyes Palette yet? With seven products for $36, I think it smacks of a pretty good deal.


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So far, 27 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Kristen says:

    Love the smoky eye look…thanks for the quick tutorials. I love trying them out in different shades.
    .-= Kristen’s last blog post… Bobbi Brown Goes Nude =-.

  2. Stef says:

    Love the smokey eyes alternatives. I’m trying the Midnight Blue. A deep khaki would be pretty too, yes?

    And Karen, do you have the Smokin’ Eyes yet or are you just eyeing it? Buy it! I heart it big time.
    .-= Stef’s last blog post… Laura Geller Eye and Lip Spackle reviews =-.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Stef,

      Oh, you can never go wrong with deep khaki. I love deep khaki and gold together!

      I have the Smokin’ Eyes kit and like it a lot! 🙂

  3. In the MAC smoky eye video, is he using Knight Devine shadow? If not, which color is he using?
    .-= Kajal Couture’s last blog post… Straight Hair? Curly Hair? =-.

  4. In the MAC smoky eye video, is he using Knight Divine shadow? If not, which color is he using?
    .-= Kajal Couture’s last blog post… Straight Hair? Curly Hair? =-.

  5. Christina says:

    I love the smokey eye… but I’ve always been curious if there was a way to adapt it for those of us who wear glasses? I feel like behind my frames, “gorgeous smokey” can easily turn into “punched in the face.” Any other ladies feel the same or have ideas how to avoid looking victimized?
    .-= Christina’s last blog post… Fans Are Killing Themselves =-.

  6. Caz says:

    I agree with Christina on this one – I love a smoky eye but it does seem to look awful (re. deathly) behind my glasses!
    I save this look for the rare occasions when I wear contacts.
    Love to know if there are any tips!
    .-= Caz’s last blog post… Summer Togs =-.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Caz and Christina,

      I have this problem, too. If I’m wearing my glasses I’ll modify the look and do a lighter version, and opt for softer colors (gold, bronze, brown, champagne, gray, silver and khaki) rather than deep dramatic colors (black/dark purple). A few combos that I like to wear with my glasses are champagne with gray, gold with brown and silver with gray.

      I’ve noticed that frames make a difference, too. I can usually go bolder if I use simple, wireless frames that don’t compete with the look. My thick, black frames look better with a softer, smokey eye look.

  7. I am totally intimidated by the smokey eye for some reason! It’s funny, I have all the tools and eyeshadows/liners at home, but am scared to try for some reason! Neil made it look so ridiculously easy though, I really need to go home and test it out. I love the idea of pressing a pigment color onto the lid also, I don’t know why I never thought of layering like that. Silly, silly me 🙂
    .-= Vampy Varnish’s last blog post… OPI Spain Collection for Fall 2009 – Part II =-.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Vampy Varnish,

      G’morning! It’s cloudy and overcast here in Marin Co… no more heat wave.

      The smokey eye plagued me, too, but I started getting more comfy with it when I started doing a simple liner and powder combo like in that video. The only place it can get tricky is the lower lash line, but if you keep a makeup wipe nearby to clean up your mistakes along with a makeup sponge to mellow out the lines you can make it work.

  8. Dao says:

    Emma Watson looked so grown up in that picture. I love smokey eyes a lot, I think everybody look good in it!
    .-= Dao’s last blog post… How to Get Gisele’s Hair =-.

  9. ines says:


    unfortunately today my makeup mojo is totally gone – my poor little froggy ninja died, leaving yogi all by himself! poor thing got dropsy (aquarium bloat) and croaked. had to flush him and it was so sad 🙁
    .-= ines’s last blog post… Update: Clarins Creme Delicieuse Auto-Bronzante – Day 2 =-.

  10. Meream says:

    I love you forever, Karen. I’m always on the lookout for smoky eyes tutes. 🙂

  11. Karen B says:

    Nice. Really like the last one: just pencil and some pigment and you’re ready to go.
    Thanks for sharing 🙂

  12. Nicole15 says:

    Like Karen B. said, i think the last one is totally my fave. Pencil smudged from lash line up & some sparkly pigment thrown on top. Smokey, sexy & simple. I like that a whole lot 🙂

  13. ines says:

    i’m okay. it’s a shame about him though. not nearly as sad as when my pug died (tumor in his eye) but still sad, even though he’s just a frog!

    at least cha cha will come home in 6 days to cheer me up!
    .-= ines’s last blog post… Update: Clarins Creme Delicieuse Auto-Bronzante – Day 2 =-.

  14. Karen says:

    Hi Nicole15,

    Oh, me too! The lazy girl in me has been gravitating to simple looks as of late.

    BTW, I have been dying to watch that Notorious BIG flick. Was it good? I have to watch it when El Hub isn’t home (he’s TEAM TUPAC). Even though I’m from the west side I have love for both coasts. Ready to Die is still one of my favorite CDs, ever.

    Throw your hands in the air, if you’re a true playa…

  15. Karen says:

    Hi Ines,

    Oh good. Anytime a pet dies it’s hard… they love us so unconditionally, you now?

    I’m so excited for Cha Cha’s big homecoming. You better take a ton of pictures.

  16. Marina says:

    I’ve noticed that now Emma Watson is on the cover of many magazines because new Harry Potter movie is cooming out soon. She is on the covers of Teens Vogue, Elle Uk etc. and is she really doing anything for Chanel? there were so many rumours about it…
    .-= Marina’s last blog post… Coco Mademoiselle by Chanel, New Promo Photo =-.

  17. Nicole15 says:


    Same here – I grew up on the northern east coast (now living in the southern east coast) but have always had love for tupac, dre, snoop in addition to BIG. Never got the whole coast rivalry thing. Anywho – had to see the movie for nostalgia & I truly enjoyed it. Obviously its not an academy award winner or anything but it held my interest & i loved the story that was told. Couldn’t help but sing along to my favorites. “I love it when you call me Big Poppa…” LOL! You should def rent it when you can.

    P.S. I was shocked though at how Lil’ Kim was depicted in the movie. Portrayed as a psycho, stalking girlfriend, ghetto homewrecker. Def not the bionic booty Kim we came to love on DWTS!! HA 🙂

  18. stacie says:


    How do you get your eyeshadow/eye liner not to smudge or spread after an hour? Mine always seem to flair out after an hour. I even use UDPP.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Stacie,

      I use one of several primers. UDPP works for a lot of people, but not for everyone. I don’t like it because I find that it’s hard to blend shadows on top of it, but that just might be me. Anyhoo, for long wearing eye looks I’ve used and like Laura Mercier Eye Basics in Wheat, all of the MAC Paint Pots (Painterly is a good basic nude), Tarte’s Clean Slate and the Benefit Creaseless Cream Shadows.

      It could also be a matter of what type of shadow/liner you’re using. I’ve noticed some stay on longer than others.

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