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The hazy, charcoal-dusted smoky eye look flourished where most iconic trends (beauty and otherwise) do: in the glam-filled days of 1920s Hollywood. And while it’s had a shimmering effect onscreen, for the rest of us, “It’s been in for a while and is becoming mainstream,” explains GianLuca Orienti, a Toronto-based celebrity makeup artist. Just look to the smoke-filled lids at Michael Kors and Lanvin this season.
Orienti and Amélie Ducharme, CoverGirl’s lead makeup artist, break down the smoky eye beauty trend seen on the fall runways, and how to get this season’s colourful update to the smoldering look.
Smoky eye update: A haze of colour
There’s something very regal-looking about the gradient plum eye shadow seen at Gucci and Altuzarra’s fall runways (especially on green eyes). “It’s very rich, very noble,” says Ducharme. “But you have to know how to do it.”
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Start with matte and flawless-looking skin. Apply concealer and foundation to erase any dark circles and redness, which will only be amplified with a purple eye shadow. Use a black liner (try Covergirl LineBlast 24 Hour Eye Liner) along the top lash line and one-third of the bottom to frame the eye, she says. Smudge a plum-red eye shadow with a pointy pencil brush along the lashes, heading toward the temples.
With a wider blending blush, apply a neutral shade over the lid. To create depth, smudge the plum colour on top toward the outside corner of the eye. “Don’t blend too high,” says Ducharme. “That’s the mistake most women make.” For added dimension, blend in a shimmery brown at the centre of the lid. And finish with two coats of mascara.
Avoid a dramatic, colourful smoky eye for your day look. “It’s unnecessary,” says Orienti. But come nightfall, bring out your brightest, boldest eye shadow. “Colour has a sense of luminosity—it brings out shine in the eye.” The easiest way to find a complementary hue is to choose an eye shadow that’s the same shade as your eye colour. “For blue eyes, select a deep blue eye shadow, and mix in dark grey and black,” he says. “It’s perfect.”
Or go with a colour that matches the darkest hue of your hair colour. For brunettes, “use black and brown colours around the eye,” he says. And choose a soft, neutral lip colour, “That doesn’t fight with the smoky eye,” Orienti advises. Keep eyebrows soft as well.
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Smoky eye update: Mix a coloured eye liner with a neural shadow
There’s no limit to the colour palette and boldness of today’s smoky eye, insists Orienti. With a neutral lid swept with a taupe or grey eye shadow, “Try a coloured eye liner along the bottom lash line,” he says. “It’s not for everyone, but it’s a cute, playful statement.” Try a dainty pastel blue eye liner, as seen at Badgley Mischka, or a lime-lined lid from Karen Walker’s fall runway look.
The main rule with coloured eye liner is to keep the rest of the eye neutral. “Use a soft eye shadow on the top lid as your base,” says Ducharme, “Keep the focus on the eye liner.” And use lots of mascara.
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Smoky eye update: Go for a geometric black liner
While the charcoal and kohl-dusted eye is likely the most common smoky look, the truth is, it’s also the hardest to properly achieve. “The worst idea is to start with black if you have never tried it before!” warns Ducharme. It’s much safer—and more forgiving—to start with a brown eye shadow, and blend in purple for a pretty, shaded effect.
But for the more experimental, there’s Anna Sui’s geometric and dotted cat eye liner on an inky lid. “There’s so many crazy things we can do with eye liner,” she says. For a true smoky haze, blend a gunmetal grey eye shadow right to the brow, as seen at Louis Vuitton this fall.
Above all, be sure to consider how the smoky eye fits in with the rest of your look. “It has a more dangerous side to it,” says Orienti. Avoid wearing with a polished ’60s-style bouffant or braided updo. “It’s much stronger with messy hair.”
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