Smokey eyes have always been a thing. Don’t you associate the Pharoah Cleopatra with black eyeliner and smokey eyes? Of course, you do! If you ask my friend Susan Aakad, Senior VP of cultural innovation and multi-ethnic marketing at Estée Lauder, she will tell you, “Egyptians, as a nation, believe that they invented beauty” and it all started with kohl black eyeliner according to Aakad.

Back to the future, smokey eyes are a look that is never dated because it looks good on everyone according to cosmetic industry mastermind Aakad.

If you’re super tired, smokey eyes can provide the perfect camouflage for dark circles and puffy eyes. Smokey eyes also draw attention away from imperfections in the complexion.

French fashion icon Ines de La Fressange, former Chanel spokesmodel and author of the charming style guide Parisian Chic, advises women “…you should look made up in the daytime and perfectly fresh at night.”

I’m all for it! One thing though, because you know how I say that “effortless is bullshit,” smokey eyes take practice and patience to perfect, but once you have the technique, you’ve got it forever.

Here’s the science on how celebrity makeup artist and collaborator Marc Cornwall got this smokey eye look that works as well by day and night.

Create a base layer on the lids with Tarte’s best selling Tartelette In Bloom Clay Palette using the Smokeshow brown eyeshadow blending up into the crease of the eye using a mini-tapered blending brush. Continuing on with the same brush and the smokeshow shadow, Cornwall blended the color under the bottom lash line. His weapon of choice for laying down defining brownish-black shadow is a small angled brush to “pack the color into the lower lash line” says Cornwall.

He cautions me “don’t sweep the color along the lower lashes – that can get messy real quick sister.” Cornwall says exploding with an infectious fit of laughter. “You’ve got to really tap that color neatly into those lashes,” he finished saying while raising a stern eyebrow for emphasis.

Use a pencil brush to buff the dark line into a gradation from dark to light; leaving the darkest color closest to the waterline of the eye. Mac Smolder eye pencil is this makeup artists current obsession because it’s soft, glides on easily and it stays in place he says about his fave eyeliner for the waterline.

Now here comes the pro trick that I know I was missing. Black powder shadows can turn grey as you feather out the color unless says Cornwall, without a black cream formula eye pencil or black cream shadow underneath. Next, use a completely clean tapered blending brush to sweep the the black shadow upwards towards the brow bone to create a gradation from a dark lid towards the crease for a “nightfall effect”. Be careful. Move slowly. Black shadow is very difficult to control and even more difficult to correct once a mistake is made.

Another helpful tip from makeup artist tip from Cornwall- wipe your brush down after finishing the first eye before moving to the second eye, that way you won’t as transfer the color deposited on the brush and make one eye darker than the other.

The final step take a clean sponge tip eyeshadow applicator and tap a little bit of the Flower Child shadow along the brow bone to highlight the tail of the eyebrows.

To recap, the big takeaways are:

  • Use completely clean bushes so you don’t get a smokey eye on one side and a black eye onthe other side.
  • Use a cream formula black pencil or show for true color and no messy eyeshadow fallout underneath the eye.
  • Smokey eye makeup can look like it’s a just a solid smear of black but the contrary is true.
  • Smokey eyes get their drama from a slow subtle building up of color, to create the desired effect you want which should literally look like it went up in smoke.



story x @veronicawebb

photos x @standamerhoutfoto

makeup x @marc_cornwall

hair x @andreawilson

post @darrentrentacosta

jewelry @lalique 1937 Collection

foundationx @diorbackstage in Neutral

eyeliner x @mac in Ebony

eyeshadow @tarte In Bloom Palette

nails x @colorclub On The Vine