Easy on the Eyes: A Super Simple Smokey Eye With Brown and Black

Published in: Eyes, Makeup Tips/How To

A simple smokey eye tutorial

Of all the eye makeup looks I’ve worn over the past — let’s see, I started wearing makeup when I was 14, and I’m 37 now (LOL! First I typed, “…and I’m 27 now.”) — 23 years (!), this simple smokey number with brown and black has to be one of my favorite five.


It’s one of my best conversation starters, because whenever I wear it and bump into fellow beauty fiends (MY PEOPLE!), there’s a pretty good chance they’ll ask what I’m wearing.

I like that it’s easy and elegant, and even though it’s more dramatic than the look earlier this week, I still think it fits within the “natural with a kick” category.

In terms of products you’ll need, there’s not much to it. Just a few things…

smokey eye tutorial 1
From the left: MAC 239 Eye Shader Brush, MAC 217 Blending Brush, MAC Kohl Power Pencil in Feline and MAC Eyeshadow in Soba

Like last time, I’m mostly using MAC products here, but there are literally dozens if not hundreds of similar shades out there from other brands. There’s no reason you couldn’t use some other colors and brushes you already have on hand.

Right. Now, on to the look! πŸ™‚

First, it’s time to prime — at least if you have oily lids. If not, let’s skip ahead.

Next (or maybe first, if you didn’t need to prime), grab something like MAC Kohl Power Pencil in Feline, and apply all over your lids.

Don’t worry if it looks a little messy at this point, because we’ll be doing some blending in a minute. Right now we’re just trying to start with a good base and give the overall look some depth.

smokey eye tutorial 2

You can probably guess one of the reasons I’m a fan of Feline, but it’s also super soft and easy to blend.

For this step, I’d probably steer clear of quick-setting, long-wearing pencils like Urban Decay’s 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Perversion that might not allow enough time for blending, but other than that, any good black liner should do.

Now, take your blending brush (I’m using the MAC 217 here), and gently start buffing out the edges; your smokey look should start to take shape.

smokey eye tutorial 3

Next, proceed to line your water lines with Feline. No worries if some of your liner ends up transferring onto your lower lash lines because we’ll also be smudging that in a second.

Then, take your shader brush (I like the MAC 239), and use it to push your eyeshadow, in my case MAC Eyeshadow in Soba, directly on top of Feline. As you do so, try to concentrate most of the color along your lash lines, aiming for a gradient that slowly fades upward as it moves toward your brow bone.

smokey eye tutorial 4

Clean the blending brush you used earlier (in my case it was the MAC 217) by wiping the brush head across a paper towel, and then use it to continue buffing out the edges.

Almost done! πŸ™‚

Now, grab the shader brush you used to apply Soba, and gently run it along your lower lash line to mix any leftover shadow on the brush with any liner that may have migrated to your lower lash line.

smokey eye tutorial 5

Wrap things up by filling in your brows and applying your favorite mascara to your upper and lower lashes.

smokey eye tutorial 6

smokey eye tutorial 7

That’s it! If things didn’t turn out exactly the way you hoped they would the first time you give this a try, don’t give up. Keep at it. I try new things all the time, and sometimes they don’t work out. Shoot, sometimes they’re downright disastrous, LOL! I always try to remind myself that eye makeup is like any other skill. Things get better with practice.


Oh! — a lot of the time I’ll try new looks after I work out, or before I wash my face at night. It might sound kinda wackadoo, but I figure, if I’m going to be washing my face anyway, might as well sneak in a little practice beforehand.

With looks like this one, when you start feeling confident with your technique, start experimenting, because this look is a great jumping off point for lots of other eye looks.

You could try different combinations of liners and shadows, or maybe add a darker shade on the outer third, to smoke out the look even more. I bet a thick cat eyeliner along the upper lash line, or a pair of false lashes, would look really pretty.

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



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So far, 53 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. marisol says:

    Woman you look gorgeous! i am going to a par-tay on Saturday night and am going to try this eye look.
    marisol recently posted … Reasons to lose weight

  2. Such a pretty look, Karen! Layering Soba over the rest of the shades really gives it that extra oomph. I can’t believe I’ve never even heard of that shade before!
    dani@callitbeauty recently posted … The Damage! (Or Dani’s IMATS 2012 Haul) + Tips For The IMATS Newbie

  3. Kellie says:

    I love this! Thank you for this Karen…I have never known how to do an easy smokey eye! I think I can manage this!

  4. Crystal says:

    I can’t tell you how much I love these tip posts from you. I’m trying them ALL!
    Crystal recently posted … NOTD: Dolce & Gabbana Lover #130

  5. Teri says:

    So pretty and it seems easy too, I will try this :). So great that you also listed the brushesd you used here, thanks!

  6. Lulle says:

    Easy way of doing a dramatic smoky! I use this technique all the time, it can work with any kind of shade : teal, purple, green…
    Lulle recently posted … EOTD: soft aqua

  7. Gina says:

    Super quick and looks great! Trying out this look this weekend…even if I don’t end up going anywhere. πŸ˜‰ a mommy can look good while doing chores, right!?

  8. Soo Jin says:

    Oooh, no wonder! I’ve been trying out the UD Smoked palette and the tutorial tells you to blend out UD Perversian and I was having the hardest time! I’m going to have to pick up that MAC Kohl Power Pencil. Thanks for saving me time/energy on future smokey-eye looks Karen! haha

  9. Liz says:

    You look amaizing. I love how you balanced the rest of your makeup.

  10. Katherine G says:

    Amazing eye look! I really liked reading your tips for the smokey eye, because I think that I have done it wrong (I tended to put blackish eyeshadow all over my eyelid and it was heavy, not smokey and blended). I will definitely use these tips with my new Urban Decay Black Palette. I really love how your eyes look!

  11. Jennifer says:

    I absolutely LOVE this makeup look! I tried it, and I just looked like a dirty hobo… πŸ™ I think it’s because my skin tone is too weird and uneven. Next time, I’ll try with a full coverage foundation, maybe I won’t look so raccoon-ish. Thank you for this tutorial though! Great help! I never thought about blending a drawn eyeliner.

  12. I swear, you’re the master at creating the perfect smokey eye. Plus you have the ideal shaped eyes for this. My lids are so small that I look like I have a black eye whenever I attempt something like this :/
    Becca @ The Beauty Sample recently posted … The Sample: NEW Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stains Review & Swatches

  13. IsabelG says:

    Im loving these how to makeup looks you’re doing its very helpful, i hope i see more!!

  14. steph b says:

    I am so trying this tonight! Black tends to be too harsh on my pale skin so I may use another color. I’ve never been able to do a good smokey eye but this looks so simple.

  15. Marian says:

    I’m going to try this one! I’m going out Saturday night (alone again) and I’m going to wear this!

  16. Kelly says:

    I love this look on you!! I am going to try this look with bronze instead, thanks for the tips. What are you wearing on your lips??? It is beautiful, it really completes the look.

  17. Anjali says:

    Karen – I’m loving this series! It’s making it so much easier for me to try some new looks! Thanks!

  18. Julia Alkaseltzer says:

    I’m going to try this. Thank you so much for this post! I needed a little push to try smokey eye again x)

  19. Kully says:

    Love this look. Will definitely try it out. What are you wearing on the your lips?

  20. Syen says:

    Hi Karen! Been reading your blog for a while now, but never rarely commented before this.

    Really love the look, and love how easy you make it look. We have similar shaped eyes, so I’m guessing it should work out on me as well. =) Btw – what did you use to fill in your brows?

  21. Katie says:

    Not that they’ve ever looked bad, but your brows have been FABULOUS lately. By keeping the rest of the face simple, you really emphasized those arches and the sexy eye makeup.

  22. gio says:

    Love it! It’s a gorgeous look and it seems easy to do! πŸ™‚
    gio recently posted … Product Review: Caudalie Vinosource Moisturizing Sorbet

  23. Melissa says:

    You look wonderful. This looks like something I could do, given I have no idea if I can pull off wearing that extreme of a smokey eye. This looks way easier to do then some of the looks I’ve seen on YouTube.. I may have to try this on Saturday. I’m going out for my birthday. Is there a drugstore eye liner you could recommend? I don’t know if I’ll get to the mall before then.

  24. artemis says:

    I LOVE smokey eyes and I LOVE yours!

  25. artemis says:

    and i try things in the evening or at night too! hehe

  26. Advah says:

    THANK YOU Karen! These tutorials are brilliant! I usually shy away from smokey eyes because I have thick dark eyebrows and lashes (inc lower lash line), so I very easily look like a panda with drooping eyes. Must work on my blending skills!

  27. Fieran says:

    Looks awesome, Karen. I read this post when I woke up this morning and then I took your advice and used Feline as a base but I don’t have Soba, so I used the ProLongwear eyeshadow in Keep Your Cool and some Patina to highlight the inner corners of my eyes.

    It looks really good. Thank you for your tips! πŸ™‚

  28. Alycia says:

    This is beautiful and you make it seem so easy, too! Thanks for sharing

  29. Dea says:

    This is so simple and so pretty! Thanks for sharing, Karen! πŸ™‚

  30. Nina says:

    I love this look — its soft but sooo pretty and can def be amped up for the evening!

    Plus – your instructions are so clear and easy to follow. More! πŸ™‚

    I also try on looks and practice my liner before washing my face at night. Ill be all quiet in my little makeup room and the hubs will text me to ask if im playing with my makeup again LOL. Ive come out of that room looking super cray at times!

  31. Kim says:

    Thanks for this – I would never have guessed by your finished look that you had started with black liner all over your lids. I’m actually amazed at what a soft, beautiful look you can get. Of course, I would try this out with a brown liner first. πŸ™‚ That said, I’ll need to get some brushes!

  32. Thanks for the tutorial Karen! I think I’ve attempted similar technique before, but black just doesn’t work so well on me for some reason. Maybe I should give it another go now that I am a little more confident!
    Sunny @ Mostly Sunny recently posted … Pressed for Time or Not, I Would Grab Le Metier de Beaute Coral Nymph Creme Fresh Tint!

  33. Stephanie C says:

    I really like this! I can’t wait to play!! πŸ™‚

  34. Great look! I’m a big fan of smokey eyes. I almost always do a smokey eye on myself. I do different colors and change up the details, but it’s always based on a good old smokey look.
    Kiss & Make-up recently posted … New and put to the test! Catrice Nectar Gloss

  35. Satvi says:

    loooooooooove it!
    please share your lip and blush choices too πŸ™‚

  36. bianca says:

    Karen, I love this! U look gorgeous! I’m really enjoying these posts! I’m going to try this! When I’m putting my makeup on I go to your site! Love the polish… What color is it pls?

  37. Sarah S. says:

    Gorgeous! I can’t wait to get off work and try this at home ^.^

  38. Stacy says:

    You look fantastic in this look! I can never seem to pull off doing smokey looks so I’ll have to try this method! thank you πŸ™‚

  39. Sondra says:

    We MUST know what you’re wearing on your lips! It. Is. PERFECTION.

  40. Gisselle says:

    Hey Karen looks great! What other mac color would you suggest besides soba. I dont have that one

  41. Ester says:

    I’m going to try this!

    And I also do the same thing..I like to use the time right before I wash my face to try something crazy. I feel safer that way because I know if it looks crazy, the look will just go safely down the sink!

  42. Annaham says:

    I actually tried your tutorial this morning with UD’s 24/7 Liner in Mildew and MAC’s Soba, and it looked great! I can’t do the shadow on the bottom lid because it brings out my under eye circles somethin’ fierce, but thanks so much for posting this! I am looking forward to trying this with Soba and a bunch of my favorite darker liners.

  43. Nadege says:

    Best eye look I’ve seen! And the easiest tutorial to follow!
    Nadege recently posted … The Summer Foundation Series: Lancome Teint Idole Ultra 24 Hour Foundation (460, 500 & 510)

  44. musical says:

    Thank you, thank you :). Happy Thursday! I just got back from Farmers’ market and got some purple bell-peppers and green Thai eggplants :). Got some cherry and grape tomatoes as well, so you know what’s cookin’ ;). xoxo

  45. Alina S. says:

    You’re sooo beautiful! I love it when u do makeup looks!

  46. You look gorgeous with smokey eyes! Great tutorial. I always go for darker browns to blend out the kohl, never though an eye shadow like Soba could look so great as well!
    Ankita@corallista recently posted … MAC Permanent Eye shadow Swatches Part 7 : Lavender and Purples

  47. Annemarie says:

    This is great-please do more tutorials like this–the perfect smokey eye has always been hard for me-i might be able to do it now after reading your simple instructions!
    PS you look fab!

  48. Ok, long time lurker here but this tutorial is so simple and doable that I just have to comment and say thanks. I’m really a makeup newbie and the YouTube tutorials on the smokey eye has driven me bats, what with needing a whole lotta tools and what-not πŸ™‚

  49. Katrina says:

    YES! This was awesome! I actually figured out how to do it! More tutorials PLEASE!!!

  50. 80sChicwithglasses says:

    I’m definately going to try this look since I’ve been loving the last one you posted. I’ve even been trying that technique with different color combos and I’m in love! I’m LOVING this series and look forward to the rest! Thanks, Karen πŸ™‚

  51. Awesome awesome post! I’m going to try this look on the weekend, with Woodwinked in place of Soba.

    Thanks for the inspiration Karen!

  52. Melissa says:

    Can you recommend good brushes in the $10 and under price range? I have just gone back to work just after being off for 2 yrs and with having to share products with 2 teen daughters, I am not able to spend much on product like I want or used to. Oh, I love that you show us how to use some MAC products. I haven’t been able to find much info on paint pots.

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