The Subtle Smoky Eye

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Photos: Getty Images

The “angry” smoky eye on Taylor Momsen and the subtle smoky eye on Gianfranco Ferré’s Spring 2011 runway.

Given how ubiquitous the smoky eye has become, you’d think it would be relatively clear how to pull it off. It’s not.

Unfortunately, there’s a thin—or sometimes, heavily scrawled—line between a subtle smoky eye and what we might call an angry smoky eye. (See 17-year-old Taylor Momsen, whom we’ll excuse on the grounds of her age.)

FashionEtc talked to editorial makeup artist Chrisanne Davis (you’ve seen her work in Allure) to find out how to create a pretty and angst-free eye.

Start with a deep, dark shade, and, using a small eye-shadow brush, sweep it over the entire eyelid and snugly underneath the lower lash line. Davis’s pick: MAC Eye Shadow in Carbon. “It’s deeply pigmented and matte,” she says.


Photos Courtesy of L’Oréal | MAC | Nars

Clockwise from top left: L’Oréal Voluminous Mascara in Carbon Black, $7.25; Loreal Paris. MAC Eye Shadow in Carbon, $14.50; M.A.C. NARS Eyeliner Pencil in Black Moon, $20; NARS.

Next, apply a slightly lighter shade (a shimmery charcoal is perfect) all over the lid, eclipsing the black shadow and blending it upward. Make sure only the lighter shade is near the crease.

Blend, blend and blend some more. What keeps Momsen’s take on the trend out of chic territory is that it’s not that smoky; the color should be gradated, a result of fastidious blending.

Use a black eyeliner to add definition to the upper and lower lash line. Be careful not to wing the eyeliner out—you’ll get a ’60s look. Just work the liner into the lashes to build intensity. Davis consistently comes back to NARS Eyeliner Pencil in Black Moon.

Finish by curling the lashes and adding liberal amounts of black mascara. Davis swears by L’Oréal Voluminous Mascara in Carbon Black.

Hint: If you’re looking for a more slept-in smoky eye (if the above were Naomi Campbell, this is Kate Moss), use your fingertip to blend a sheer cream shadow onto the lid, and for added intensity, line the inner rim of your eye with a black kohl eye pencil.