How to create a professional smoky eyeshadow look in under five minutes.

The smoky eye is one of those classic makeup looks that when done right, appears perfectly smudgy and effortless. But anyone who’s ever watched a tutorial will know that it actually takes a fair bit of work, which, naturally, can be a bit off-putting.

Enter Sydney-based makeup artist Natalie Wright, who has offered to break the look down for us step-by-step.

“When they hear smoky eye, a lot of people assume they need to be using black eyeshadow,” she says, adding, “but that’s not necessarily true.”

Opting instead for browns, bronzes and other neutral colours is not only almost universally flattering on most eye colours and skin tones, but it’s also much more wearable, Wright says.

Step One.

Start with an eyeshadow primer like Urban Decay Original Primer Potion, $33 to start off with a really clean base. Simply swipe it across the eyelid and wait a few minutes for it to fully sink into the skin and set.

Step Two.

Take the midtone eyeshadow colour from your palette and start 'contouring' where the eye socket is (in makeup terms, this starts from the outside of the upper lid and goes into the centre of the eyelid).

Step Three.

Take the lighter colour from the palette and press it all over your eyelid, including over the powder you've already applied.


Step Four.

Next, go over the corner of the outer eye (where the darker shadows will soon be added) with a pencil. The darker product will grab easily onto the pencil base and you'll get a more intense colour straight away.

Step Five.

Then, grab the darkest colour from your palette and start pushing that into the crease of your eye (the area you've just added pencil to). The key to smoky eye is blending, so take your time blending the darker colour out and into the eye for a seamless finish.

Step Six.

Take a brown pencil and put it just at the bottom of your eyelashes, followed up by some liquid liner on top. (A good tip is to put a little bit of black shadow on a small brush and run it across where you've put the liner. It gives you a smoky look but also hides imperfections.)

Step Seven.

Complete the look with mascara on your top and bottom lashes before finally adding one last touch of a lighter colour shadow in the inner corner of the eye (this is going to lift and open up the eye).

Finally, if you notice any fallout under your eyes, just grab a little bit of powder and a brush and sweep it away.

Listen: Zoe Foster Blake's best beauty advice for time-poor women.