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Skin Deep: How to do a smoky eye with two products in two minutes

You can do this even if you think you’re a makeup dunce!


Welcome to Skin Deep with Louise McSharry, my opportunity to put years of obsessing over beauty products and techniques to good use. I won’t tell you something is good if it’s not. I won’t recommend products I haven’t actually tried. As the magical sitar in Moulin Rouge said, I only speak the truth.

A few weeks ago I was having a chat with a friend about an event I was going to. I mentioned that I wouldn’t have time to do much with my makeup, so I’d just do a quick smokey eye. She laughed. In my face. Apparently a ‘quick smoky eye’ is not something that exists in her world. Since then, in discussions with other women I know, I’ve discovered that a smokey eye is something which many find intimidating. There’s no need for that, so today I thought I would write about a very simple smokey eye, which anyone can do in two minutes flat.

In my view, the two key factors in making a smokey eye a success are the colour and the blend. Really any colour of eyeshadow can be used to create a smokey eye, as long as it’s dark enough. For a long time I thought that the only colour option was black, and assumed that the look just didn’t suit me. In truth, it was just that the black was too harsh on me. These days I use browns instead, and the look never fails me, so it’s worth finding the colour that works for you  If you have brown eyes, most colours will suit, but purples will look especially good. For green eyes, dark silvers and warm grey-browns (taupe, if you want to be fancy) are great.

How dark you want to go depends on two things. The colour of your skin, and how dramatic you want your look to be. To achieve a smokey effect, you really need to be using a shadow that’s at least three shades darker than your skin tone. So, if you’re very fair, then a light-medium shadow will work to provide a subtle smokey effect, but if you have very dark skin, you’re going to need something on the darkest end of the spectrum. If you’re fair, you can also use very dark colours, but it will look extremely dramatic, and probably won’t be for the daytime (although, who am I to tell you what you can and can’t wear? DO YOU, BOO.)


Once you’ve selected your shade, grab it and your favourite pearly white or cream shade, along with your favourite eyeshadow brushes. For this effect you need something to apply the colour shadow to your lid, a blending brush, and a small one to get into the inner corner of your eye. I’ve linked to my favourites for this purpose, but if you need to know more about brushes, check out my previous column here.

Whenever you’re using dark eyeshadow, it makes sense to do it before you do the rest of your face. It means the shadow can go all over your face without any stress. Once you’ve done your eyes you can tidy up mistakes and blend out the edges again if you need to. So, starting with a bare face, lash the colour onto your lid right up to the crease. Then, using the same brush, bring the colour along your lower lash line, stopping where your eyelashes do. Next, take your blending brush and run it back and forth along the crease easing the shadow up to the brow bone, and along the lower lash line. How low you want to take the shadow comes down to personal taste, but I like to bring it quite low to create a really smokey effect. Essentially what you’re doing here is trying to create a fade of colour so that the edge of the shadow is invisible. If it’s still looking a little bit rough, rub your blending brush on a tissue or a towel to get rid of excess product, and go nack along the line in small circular motions.

PastedImage-40784 Clarins Ombre Matte in Earth

When that’s done, pop a bit of your pearly shade in the inner corner of your eye to brighten it (if you’re in a real rush this step isn’t essential), lash on loooads of mascara and if you’re really going for it some black pencil in your inner lash line. I often skip the eyeliner, simply because a smokey eye wears really well, so is ideal if you know you’re going on a proper session, but the liner tends to gloop up in the corner of my eye, which is not a good look.

Which brand of eyeshadow you use doesn’t matter, but you want it to be finely milled and well pigmented so that it blends well. Inglot shadows work well for this, as do Sleek, but my personal favourite is Clarins Ombre Matte eyeshadow in earth (as seen in the image for this article). It has an almost creamy texture which I find lends itself to this technique.

Does it sound simple? It is. You can do it. I promise.

New product


A couple of months ago I wrote here about Penneys PS… Lip Kit Matte Collection. I told you it was very good for the price (€4, where would you be going, etc.), but that they needed to expand the colour range. Well, great news, that’s exactly what they’ve done. Four new colours are now available: a red, a fuschia, a nude and a deep purple. Get ‘em while they’re hot.

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