I’m good at many things. I’m an excellent gift giver, strong listener, and my brain is a storage unit for obscure Lana Del Rey trivia. Among my many gifts, however, is not the ability to do a smoky eye. I could do a winged liner in my sleep, but I’ve never been able to get the hang of a perfectly smudged and smoldering shadow, that somehow manages to look like you just rolled out of bed after a night of partying, yet put a huge amount of effort into looking glamorous and mysterious—my ideal look. Many of my personal beauty icons have made a smoky liner part of their signature look (Kate Moss and both Olsen twins to name a few), but despite years of trying, I’ve never been able to get it down.
My smoky eye FOMO was only amplified while covering backstage at New York Fashion Week. At nearly every show, I was greeted with smoky eye after smoky eye. It’s like the makeup artists were mocking me and my lack of blending skills. Now, smoky eyeshadow is nothing new, especially at fall shows, but paired with incredibly dewy skin and model bone structure, it reignited my desire to look like a rebellious Jenny Humphrey.
The stars must have aligned, because I attended a master class with makeup artist Diane Kendal to break down the Tom Ford makeup look, and she dropped a tip that rocked my world. It was like the clouds parted, and I suddenly had all the answers.
To create a lush, textured smoky eye (mine always look too flat and heavy), Kendall suggests starting with a cream liner to create a base, and then going in with eyeshadow. This is pretty standard advice that hadn’t helped me so far, but what comes next changed everything for me. She then says to line your eyes with a black liquid liner, and then to go back over it with a brown pencil. This creates dimension, and also helps to smudge it all out. Plus, for a liquid liner addict like me, it still gives me the definition I love, plus the smoke I crave.
Ever since adopting this tip, my confidence in my smoking skills has all but skyrocketed. I’ve swapped my normal going out look of an exaggerated eyeliner for a sultry smoke. Let me break it all down for you, below.
Step 1: Lay down the base
Create the base for the shadow with a pencil. Kendal used Tom Ford Eye Kohl Intense, but I’ve been alternating between the Charlotte Tilbury Color Chameleon Eye Pencil and MAC Teddy Eye Kohl. Trace it along your upper and lower lashes, as well as into the crease, to create the shape and help the shadow stick.
Step 2: Sweep on eyeshadow
At the Tom Ford show models wore cool toned shadow, but I’ve been using bronze to make my eyes pop—plus, I like more of a softer look. Using a deep matte shade, go over where you laid down the liner, and then add a lighter shade with a little sheen in the middle of your eye. Try to keep the shape rounder instead of a cat eye shape, and blend the edges so they look a little hazy.
Step 3: Add liquid liner
Add definition with a liquid liner on top and bottom, staying as close to your lashes as possible (I love the Tom Ford liquid liner pen for this). You don’t really want to see the liner, it’s just there to add depth. A wing is not the look, but it’s OK to extend the line a little past your eye.