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How to Apply Eye Shadow for a Smoky Effect

Step 1

Prepare your canvas---makeup only looks as good as the skin beneath it. Apply a light layer of eye cream to your lids and let it sit on your skin for a few minutes. Use your blotting papers to remove excess moisture, and apply a light layer of eye primer or foundation to fill in the creases. Finish your preparation by dusting a light coat of powder on top for a smooth finish.

Step 2

Determine your eye placement and apply your base color accordingly. Portland-based celebrity makeup artist Katherine Sealy says, "Many women love the allure of a smoky eye, but can't pull it off because it makes them look tired or like their eyes are closer-set than usual. Women with close-set eyes should apply their smoky shades from the middle of the eyelid outwards, keeping the inner lid lighter. Those with far-set eyes can layer smoky hues all the way into the inner eye area near the bridge of the nose." For best results, use a professional-grade eyeshadow brush for this step.

Step 3

Blend your base layer well by using soft circular movements in an outward and upward motion until it is even. Add dimension by using layers of complementary shades starting from the lash line and working your way up to the eyelid, continuously blending out the edges. Don't be afraid to experiment with color. Blondes smolder in deep brown and bronze shades, while brunettes can work deep plum and gem tones. If you have dark skin, create a striking contrast with metallic shades like gold and silver. Whatever hues you choose, remember that less is more. In "Making Faces", the legendary Kevyn Aucoin says the most important factor in layering eyeshadow is to use as little as possible.

Step 4

Get a twinkle in your eye. Smoky effect makeup is no longer a monochromatic matte look; it's all about multi-dimensional color that illuminates the eyes and flatters the skin tone. Matte shadows work fine as a base, but shimmer shadows add vital light and shine to the smoky look. Sealy recommends using a soft, flat brush to dust a layer of shimmering shadow across the eyelid and brow bone for that extra bit of sheen.

Step 5

Complete this sultry look with a soft, dark eye liner that matches your eye shadow. "Daily Mail" recommends smudging the edges out softly with your eyeshadow brush to remove any harsh lines. For added "wow" factor, apply two coats of mascara to make your eyes pop.

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