The Eyes Have It: A Step-by-Step Guide to a Smokey Eye That Won’t Let You Down

Everyone’s had a bad stage photo. The first 3 years of my performance career I apparently don’t own eyebrows – they disappeared in every shot of me under lights. My eyes are also quite small and close together so I need to be sure I ‘open up’ my face with contouring when I use eyeshadow. I gradually learned how to do my stage face by taking the visual feedback from stage photographs and add them into my routine step by (baby) step. There are a million ways you can approach the ol’ smokey but I like to keep it relatively simple. I think they key is to use good quality product and layer, layer layer. Did I say layer? I mean LAYER it on. One swipe isn’t going to cut it, you need to build colour gradually and patiently. This look takes me approximately an hour to complete IF I don’t mess it up on the day. So give yourself plenty of time.

But enough about me – this is all about how I can help YOU conquer the shifty smokey eye for a dazzling stage look that can even work for evening wear or formal events. The look I’m demonstrating is for FULL STAGE so you can go lighter if it’s a daytime or a more casual event.

So without further ado –

PART 1. Foundation

Makeup Tutorial
1. A selection of my foundation & contouring products. 2. Foundation applied 3. Blush applied.

Your foundation is, well, the foundation of your look so it’s important to prep your skin so that the cosmetics we apply will stick & provide a beautiful blank canvas we can work with.

Step 1. I wash my face with a cleanser then moisturize. I let that settle for a moment while I get my gear together, then once I’m comfy I’ll add on a layer of primer under the eyes, on my nose, on my chin (I have a scar there) and anywhere else where there are some noticeable blemishes.

Step 2. I then apply my liquid foundation with my fingers, dabbing with a light outward motion, never rubbing in. If I’m having a bit of a bad skin day I’ll also apply concealer under the eyes or on any pimples, and blend into the foundation.

Step 3. Set the foundation with powder. Be careful not to be too heavy handed or you’ll go orange, and blend from the chin to the neckline, or even apply foundation there too if it’s noticeable.

Step 4. Contour lightly with bronzer under the cheekbones – bite the insides of your cheek to check where the hollows are. Follow the sweep up and gradually build – you don’t want this to be too dark. Dust a bit of bronzer along the sides of your nose, your temples and chin. We do this to add depth & shape back into the face that’s lost when you put the foundation over it. Then work back into the apples of the cheeks with blush. I lightly follow the blush over the bronzer too for a natural look.

PART 2. Colour Blocking

Makeup Tutorial
Contouring & highlighting eyes.

Once I have my foundation set up, I move onto the eyeshadow. I have a silver theme today so I have tones ranging from bright white/silver, middle grey, and black. To achieve this look I have used 4 colours. Before you start though you need to define the contours of your eyes and decide where they will go.

Step 5. I always take a black eyeliner and draw in my eyebrows. They look ridiculous at this stage but it’s important that they go in first. If they are not 100% perfect that’s OK for now.

Step 6. I then take a white eyeliner pencil and mark in the highest point on my brow bone under the arch, my inner eyes, the most middle point of my eyelid and the outer eye. These are the areas I would like to keep light – they are a keep away zone for dark colours. The placement of the white will open up my eyes, define the brows and give me a cat eye shape.

Makeup Tutorial
Adding eyeshadow base.

Step 7. I take my light silver/white shadow and go over the highlighted white parts just to get an idea of shape.

Step 8. I have a light grey which I then use all over the lid, blending around the white areas but not covering them too much. I go over these layers several times to build up coverage, blending between all colours, adding bits in when they look like they have disappeared.

Step 9. Using an eyeshadow brush, I have a darker grey which i use in the crease of my eye, blending outwards and also underneath the eye. A brush will allow you to blend softly as you go to avoid lines on the face. Continue building up colour until you can see a real contrast between the lid, crease and brow.

PART 3. GETTING THE LOOK

Makeup Tutorial
Adding in black. Notice the difference?

Step 10. I take another smaller brush and add a tiny bit of black in the crease of my eyelid and outer eye, blending out. I build up the colour very slowly alternating between larger brushes to blend and smaller brushes to apply more black in a small area. You can see in the image above the difference the black makes!

Step 11. Using the same black on a small brush I go over my brows, filling them in and shaping them. You can see the filled in brow on the left compared to the right.

Step 12. I line my eyes, again building up lots of colour. To make the eyeliner stick and to create depth you can also go over the eyeliner with black eyeshadow. I have a fantastic skinny brush which is perfect for precision in situations like these. Again if you overdo it on the black you can re add in grey or silver so they don’t get muddy.

Makeup Tutorial
Both eyes with black eyeshadow & eyeliner applied. Eyebrows have been filled.

Step 12. Go over your eyeshadow in spots that might be too dark, adding in light colour and blend in the black.

Step 13. If liquid eyeliner is your thing you can add it in (I like to set my eyes with liquid eyeliner once lashes have been attached) plus any glitter you might want to use to highlight your look. I put silver glitter on the bits contoured earlier.

Step 14. Apply your mascara. I use 2 (or 3 if I’m feeling a bit crazy) types – a waterproof volumizer as my first coat, then 2 coats of lengthening mascara, on both top and bottom lashes.

Step 15. Add your false lashes. Be careful to only use a tiny amount of glue along the edge of the lash, and allow to dry slightly before applying. Once my lashes are on I like to add another swipe of liquid eyeliner  to smooth over any bumps.

Step 16. Grab your lip liner and line your pout with your favourite colour. Coat with matching lipstick, blot, then reapply. I keep the lips pretty simple since for me it’s all about the eyes! I went with a matte look today but you can also add gloss or shimmer for extra depth.

DO YOUR HAIR, STICK ON SOME ACCESSORIES & YOU’RE GOOD TO GO

Makeup Tutorial

Mascara, eyelashes applied. Lipstick added. Glitter applied to highlight. Finished!

And here’s an action shot from the afternoon!

I really hope you find my tutorial helpful, please post any questions or comments below!

Isis Wings
Sneaky audience shot from a friend’s camera phone. Performing with Isis Wings!
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