How to: perfect the smoky eye
It's a classic, but the smoky eye can also be tricky. Luckily, we've practised enough for all of you. Here are our top tips for perfecting the sexy look. Sizzling results guaranteed...
Technique & tools
Do not skip primer unless you want your sophisticated smoulder to melt into Courtney Love territory (as in Courtney pre and post the glam moment she had with Celebrity Skin) by midnight. Applying a good eye primer all over your lid will create an even base for colour and mattify your lids to avoid shadow slip later on. We like I-Prime Eyeshadow Base by Gorgeous Cosmetics ($35).
Use a soft brush to wash a shade close to your natural colouring across your lid and up to your brow bone. Something with a slight shimmer can really lift the look, but avoid metallic shadows with too much sparkle. Try: MAC Eye Shadow ($30) in Orb, Brule, Bamboo.
Trace eyeliner along your top lash line and, beginning at the outer corner, continue the line close beneath your lower lashes too. If your eyes are quite big, you can draw the lower line right along to your inner corner; if they are a little on the small side, stop lining half way in.
Next, take a liner brush or cotton tip and gently smudge the line. The wider you make the line, the more intense the look will end up. Using a soft pencil eyeliner (like Elizabeth Arden's Smoky Eyes Powder Pencil, $32) makes this bit easy, but applying wet eyeshadow with a flat liner brush as eyeliner is simpler still - just touch the brush to the lash line and you're done.
Contour with colour
Dramatic black never goes out of fashion and shades of grey are classic for a night out, but tones of brown and purple also create a gorgeous effect (just look at how Reese smouldered with aubergine eyes at this year's Oscars).
Choose one medium and one dark eyeshadow to complement one another, grab your eyeshadow brush and begin:
1. Apply the medium shade across your lid to just below the crease.
2. Now to create the smoke. First imagine a V shape that starts at the outer corner of your eye and points up to meet the edge of your brow bone (find it with your finger) before returning to meet the crease of your lid. Pop a little of your darker shadow on the end of your brush and dot the 'point' of the V.
3. Load your brush with more dark shadow and draw on the V, using the dot as your guide.
4. Now continue the colour along your crease line. Again, whether you go half way or all along depends on the size of your eyes and how dramatic you want the effect to be.
5. Shade the darker colour down from the point where you stopped on the crease to the lash line. You can smudge the colour up toward your brow too, if you like. Blending is the key - remember, smoky eyes are soft and smudgy with no harsh lines. Don't forget to soften the V if it looks too precise.
6. Use a finer-tipped brush or cotton tip to touch this darker shadow along the line you drew beneath your eye. Note that if you used wet shadow instead of pencil, you can skip this step as the line is already soft enough.
Fan the flames
Lashings of black mascara set your eyes a-sizzling. Just make sure your lashes are free of powder before you apply it or you risk messy clumps. Our favourite mascara of the moment is Maybelline New York Lash Stylist Mascara ($17.95).
*Striking eyes need to be framed by groomed brows.
* Begin your make-up with your eyes. Creating smoky eyes can leave overspill on your cheeks and it's easier to tidy up when you don't have foundation and blush to worry about. Plus, this look is all about balance and once the main feature is complete you can properly judge how much other make-up you need.
* Stick to powder shadows until you're a pro. Blending creams takes special skill and cream shadows are also more likely to 'slip'.
* Tapping your loaded brush on the back of your hand before application helps avoid eyeshadow overload. It's so much easier to add a little more than to try to take any away.
* Stuffed up? Before you admit defeat and start again, try fixing the fudge with a touch of remover on a cotton tip.