soft smokey eye makeup tutorial

We’ve spent all summer bare faced as can be. On a rare night we crave a little more, our go-to is something light, loose and just a smidge sexy — like this soft smokey eye from celebrity makeup artist, Katey Denno. This simple makeup situation is more of a vibe than a look (it’s not nearly that dramatic), which is why we’ll be rocking this stunning style to dinner parties, date nights and any other evening gathering that seduces us out of our homes. Get the step-by-step below…

Summer makeup trends tend towards the lighter end of the spectrum (save for the ongoing influence of countless heavy-handed Instagram makeup artists), and often feature a pop of color on the lip or cheek. But what if you’re not a ‘pop of color’ fan, and you want to showcase your eyes, year round? Is there such a thing as a summer smokey eye? Absolutely! Here’s how…

How To Master The Soft Smokey Eye

Gather The Goods.While I love the dark tones of chilly-weather makeup look, I also favor a much more subdued sheer, neutral-toned smokey eye for the warmer months. This can be accomplished across the skin color spectrum by choosing two matte finish eyeshadow shades close to the color of your skin — one that’s a pretty perfect match to your skin color (or ever so slightly lighter), one slightly darker, and one shimmery shade that’s as close to, or lighter than your skin tone. Pro-tip: If you have a highlight and contour palette that works with your skin tone, you’ve already got the shadows you need!

The three eyeshadows I used are from Kjaer Weis: ‘Cloud Nine (shimmery neutral),  ‘Grace (skin tone match), and Earthy Calm.

Curl Your Lashes. My top three lash curlers are: Surratt BeautyUtowa, and Tweezerman’s collection for different eye shapes. 

Line ‘Em up. Using a small dome-shaped brush, press your darker matte shadow along the crease of your lid, and ever so slightly above it. Here I took it a little heavier along the inner 1/3 of her eyebrow for subtle, added depth. This last step isn’t for everyone; notice how much space she has between her eye and eyebrow. Without this much space (like, if you have very deep set or hooded eyes), this heavier shadow under the inner portion of the eyebrow can be overwhelming and make eyes look receded.

Blend + Brighten. Using your lighter matte eyeshadow (with the same brush, dusted off), blend the top part of the dark shadow you applied upwards from the crease, towards the brow. Notice how the outer 2/3 of the space under her brow is slightly lighter, but the gradation of it is seamless? This is the how and how this subtle, subdued look works so well. Blend, blend, blend with a small, fluffy brush, or gently with a cotton swab.

Shine On. Press your sheer shimmery neutral shadow into the inner corner and a bit along the inner underneath lashes. You can make this part as light and sheer or as heavy as suits your personal taste. I kept it rather light for this look. Blend, blend, blend.

Make ‘Em Pop. This is the part that makes this look really special, but you might not notice if I didn’t point it out. Using a matte liner in a shade just slightly lighter than your skin tone, drag it along the upper lash line (don’t get it on your lashes, though). I used an Alima Pure white eye pencil, warmed up by drawing the tip along the back of my hand a few times before application. Use a small flat line brush to blend it seamlessly straight along the top edge of your upper lash line, behind those curled lashes, making them really pop. Coat those popped lashes with a dark black mascara, like this one from W3LL PEOPLE.

Tidy Up. Clean up any shadow that’s fallen onto the skin beneath your eyes. I like using the micellar water from REN, on a cotton swab.

Complete The Look…

I know I’ll have a bit of fall-out from my eye makeup application. Because of this, I like to do the eyes first, and then focus on the rest of the face. Here’s a breakdown of exactly which products I used on the gorgeous Salem Davern:

FIrst, Feed The Skin. I like to spritz True Botanicals Clear Nutrient mist all over the face, then blend a few drops of True Botanicals Clear Face Oil directly into the skin.

Build a Foundation. I applied Juice Beauty’s illuminating primer along the highlights of my model’s face — the bridge of her nose, cupid’s bow, and her cheekbones so she’ll have the summer glow, without any shimmer. On top of it, I lightly applied Juice Beauty Serum Foundation in ‘Sand’, applied heaviest in the center of her face, and blended outward with their fluffy foundation brush. A little goes a long way.

Just A Bit of Bronze. Tap Lilly Lolo’s Honolulu bronzer with a large, densely packed, fluffy brush. Dust lightly along the forehead, close to the hairline, and along the temples. With the edge of the brush, I trace the under side of the cheekbones just slightly.

multi the Cheeks. Using my ring finger, I pick up (from the tube) and pressed in a layer or two of ILIA’s ‘All of Me’ cream multi-stick blush on the pads of her cheeks.

Fill The Brows. I filled in my model’s eyebrows with a cool blonde potted gel — ‘Marilyn’, from Ecobrow — using a slanted edged brow brush, blending the edges with a cotton swab for a soft look.

Lastly, The Lips. Be sure to keep this area soft and natural. I let her lip freckles shine by coating her lips with Henne Organics Luxury Lip Balm.

Love the look?
Explore more natural makeup tutorials from Katey Denno here!

Bottom banner image
From our friends