A Makeup Artist Just Taught Me How to Do a Smokey Eye in Minutes

It’s really no secret that I am terrible at doing makeup. Considering I spend most of my days learning tips and tricks from the best makeup artists in the business and getting the lowdown on the new formulas and products set to make application easier, it’s pretty shocking how subpar my makeup skills are.

And while, over the years, I have become confident in my ability to apply a base, place my blusher and contour the hell out of my face, the one area I still need serious help with is my eyes. As every makeup artist loves to remind me, my eyes turn downwards and are slightly hooded, thus making following any sort of one-rule-fits-all eye-makeup tutorials incredibly difficult. 


(Image credit: @SHANNONLAWLOR)

And it is at this time of the year (i.e., party season) when a smoky-eye look reigns supreme that I find myself getting most frustrated. I spend far too many hours of my evenings agonising over eye makeup. Achieving a high-impact smoky eye without my patience wearing thin is, I have learned, too much to ask. So this year, I decided to put an end to my smoky-eye incompetence and seek some one-to-one professional help.

Before party season really kicks off next week, I gave my go-to makeup artist extraordinaire, Mira Parmar, a call so that she could talk me through every step. These are the tips she gave me on how to nail an easy smoky eye every time.

Step 1: Prep


(Image credit: @SHANNONLAWLOR)

This is a step that I can categorically say I have never done before applying my eye makeup. It turns out that prepping your eyelids is a thing. As in, people actually do it. Who knew?

According to Parmar, creating a clean, smooth base for your shadow to go onto can make all of the difference in blending and the overall finish. "Make sure your eyelids are clean, and prep them with a concealer or lid primer. I like the Urban Decay one," she says.

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Step 2: Shadow


(Image credit: @SHANNONLAWLOR)

I must admit I own a shameful number of eye shadow palettes for someone who has no idea what they're doing. With all of the choice, I struggled to know where to start. "You can use any shadows or palette to create a smoky eye as long as there is a mix of lighter and darker shades. Just find a palette you love," Parmar advises.

Wanting to make sure I got it right, I asked her for her top palettes of choice and opted for Vieve The Essential Palette. 

"Once you have chosen your shades, use a medium to light colour all over the eyelids," she says. The truth is I probably went a little bit too dark for my usual style but also felt as though I might as well go the whole hog.

Shop Parmar's Palette Recommendations:

Step 3: Liner


(Image credit: @SHANNONLAWLOR)

I look totally ridiculous here, but Parmar assured me that it's important not to get hung up on the way things look at this stage, which, I assure you, is difficult considering she also refers to this part as the most important.

"The key to an amazing smoky-eye look is a great pencil. Find a pencil that's not too soft and not too hard—it needs to be easy to smudge," advises Parmar.

Once your shadow is in place, it's time to go in with your kohl liner. She says that you can opt for any black or brown shade of your choice, but I opted for very deep brown seeing as my shadow shade was already relatively dark. "Use the kohl pencil to line the upper and lower lash lines roughly. It doesn't have to be neat, as we're going to smoke it all out and intensify the look next."

In terms of my tool of choice, I once again turned to Parmar's advice and went for one from Victoria Beckham Beauty.

Shop Parmar's Liner Recommendations:

Step 4: Smudge


(Image credit: @SHANNONLAWLOR)

As you can probably tell, I struggled with this next bit. "Use a smudging brush to smudge out the liner outwards and upwards. You want to lift the eye," says Parmar.

I struggle with this for a couple of reasons. First of all, I'm just not very precise or finely artistic with my method. Second, as previously mentioned, my eyes naturally slant downwards, so trying to lift them with a liner illusion simply doesn't seem to work on me as well as it does on others. Regardless, I persevered. 

"Keep layering liner and smudging out to intensify the darkness of the eyes," she adds.

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Step 5: Smoke


(Image credit: @SHANNONLAWLOR)

This is the step that usually involves me going wrong somehow, but actually, with Parmar's guidance, I'm not that mad with the results.

"Choose a darker colour to create a > shape on the outer edge of the eye. This will create that smokiness we're after," she says.

In typical "me" fashion, I decided to run before I could walk and dipped straight into a charcoal-black shadow. I was going whole hog, don't forget. In hindsight, I probably possessed a little too much optimism. Turns out black is an incredibly hard colour to blend, and it shows every little bump and smudge if it's not done properly. After applying my shadow, I spent approximately two minutes blending out the edges of each eye with a clean brush. By the end, I was actually really impressed.

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Step 6: Mascara


(Image credit: @SHANNONLAWLOR)

With a few coatings of high-impact mascara, my smoky-eye look was complete. And do you know what? I am genuinely very proud of myself. I know it's not particularly British of me to admit, but I think my eye makeup looks great.

It look a couple of minutes longer than I would ideally like, but the whole thing was still done in less than 10 minutes (and that includes taking a selfie at each stage). And the best bit is I feel like I can apply this technique to whatever eye shadow I please. Whether I fancy a lighter, brighter look for the daytime or a shimmery finish for festivities, I've now got my go-to eye-makeup routine on lock.

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Freelance Beauty Editor

Shannon Lawlor is a renowned beauty journalist and has contributed to Who What Wear’s beauty content since 2020. As a leading beauty editor, expert and brand consultant, she has over eight years of experience working for some of the industry’s most esteemed titles, including Who What Wear (of course), Glamour UK, Stylist, Refinery29 and Fabulous. Having also worked behind the scenes with some of the industry’s biggest brands and retailers, Shannon has a unique insight into what people really want from their beauty routines. Understanding that beauty lovers seek honest, open and responsible advice, she has it made her mission to demystify the intimidating world of beauty, taking a no-frills approach to the most relatable topics. While Shannon is the first to admit she doesn’t hold the answer to every beauty question out there, she is dedicated to sharing her expert insights in a bid to help. As a self-proclaimed lazy girl, Shannon has an affinity for easy-to-use, foolproof beauty products and has made it her mission to scope out the best of the best. When she’s not working, Shannon is likely soaking in the bath or giving no-holds-barred beauty reviews on Instagram from her bathroom floor.