11 Tools To Master The Smoky Eye, According To A Professional

by Meg Kehoe

If there's any makeup style that will stand the test of time, it's the smoky eye. That's what makeup artist Tricia Sutter tells me as I'm quizzing her yet again on how to make my eye makeup look like I actually know what I'm doing. She's a veritable genius when it comes to makeup, and has the gift of patience — which is all but required when teaching someone like me about the virtues of makeup. "You'll need a few tools to master the smoky eye," Sutter says. "And it might sound intimidating at first, but like anything else — it gets easier with practice!"

"A smoky eye is great, because you can easily vary the intensity to make it appropriate for any time of day, or any function you're attending," Sutter says. Sutter gave me a subtle smoky eye this past summer for a wedding I attended, and I received more compliments on my eyes than I've ever received in my life. This woman knows what she's doing. She recommends starting with a lighter palette, for beginners. "It's easier to blend and clean up with lighter colors," Sutter says. "But if you're feeling it, go bold and dive in with a dark palette!" Aside from the obvious necessities of eye shadow, Sutter talked me through the rest of her smoky eye necessities, so that I could recreate the look on my own. Below, you'll find her tips, tricks, and favorite tools to master the smoky eye.



"Like most makeup looks, start with a good concealer," Sutter says. "A creamy formula works best and will give your smoky eye the foundation it needs to look its best. Use the concealer underneath your eye to take away any dark circles you might have, and on your lid to create a base for the shadow to cling to."

Try Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Concealer, $6.99, Amazon


Beauty Blender

"Rather than using your finger to blend the concealer, use a beauty blender to make sure your makeup is blended in evenly," Sutter says. "Taking this step will ensure your smoky eye lasts longer."

Original Beauty Blender, $20, Sephora



Clearly, you won't be using the tape quite like the gentlemen above, but, yes. Regular tape. "Use a piece of tape and carefully place it at the angle you want, starting from underneath your eye and leading outward," Sutter says. "Then, do the same thing on your other eye. Matching two pieces of tape to the same angle is easier than guesstimating with your shadow."


Nude Eyeliner

"For a subtle contrast, use a nude eyeliner at the inner corner of your eyes," Sutter says. "You can also use the eyeliner to create definition at your brow bone, to give yourself a guideline of where to stop layering shadow."

Check Out: Rimmer Scandaleyes Kajal Liner in Nude, $6.45, Amazon


Translucent Powder

"Take a translucent powder, and apply it gently with a fuller eye shadow brush beneath the eye," Sutter says. "But don't blend it! Let the translucent powder stay where it lands. When you're applying darker shadows, any excess will fall onto the translucent powder, which you can then wipe away with a tissue when you're finished, creating a flawless look."

Try: Physician's Formula Corrective Translucent Powder, $9.76, Amazon


Matte Shadow

"I always recommend starting with a matte shadow," Sutter says. "You can layer iridescent shadow on after you get your base going, but for a good solid base, especially while you're practicing, I recommend using a matte shadow."

Check Out: Revlon Colorstay Matte Eyeshadow Quad, $5.69, Amazon


Flat Brush

"Use a flat brush when you're applying your eyeshadow, and you'll get the best powder application," Sutter says. "Pat your darker eye color on using the flat brush first, to give yourself all over coverage."

Try: Yoits Flat Eyeshadow Brush, $9.98, Amazon


Soft Dome Brush

"Once your base, dark color has been applied to your eyelid, use a soft dome brush to layer your secondary colors over top," Sutter says. "Softer brushes are perfect for layering and blending."

Check Out: Bdellium Professional Dome Brush, $10, Amazon


Eye Liner

"Don't forget the eyeliner!" Sutter says. "A smoky eye is about more than just the eye shadow. I like to apply a winged liner with my smoky eye, using a combination of eye pencil and liquid liner to achieve my look." Sutter uses a pencil to lightly create an outline for what she wants her liner to look like, and then traces it with her liquid liner.

Try: Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner, $21.99, Amazon


Angled Brush

"Using an angled brush, you can easily connect your eye pencil guidelines with your liquid liner, and blend," Sutter says. "The eyeliner will only enhance your smoky eye, making it even more dramatic and defined."

Try: Ardell Professional Angled Brush, $6, Amazon


Eyelash Curler

"Remember, a smoky eye is all about the complete look, and that includes your lashes," Sutter says. "Curl your eyelashes before applying mascara to achieve that extra va-va-voom."

Try: Shu Uemura Eyelash Curler, $14, Amazon

Sutter reminds me that I didn't come out of the womb with a smoky eye, and that like any makeup technique, it'll take practice and experimentation before I get the look right on my own. "Really take your time with the blending and layering, and don't be afraid to get dramatic. After a few practice runs, you should be able to apply your signature smoky eye look in your sleep!"