Mastering the Art of Smokey Eye Makeup

smokey eye makeup
Photo: Unsplash

One of the hardest aspects of makeup for anyone, but particularly South Asians because of our skin tones, is mastering the art of smokey eye makeup. With too heavy a hand, this look could end up making someone look like they got a black eye. But with too light a hand, the colours may blend together in a way that does not even show off the intricacy of a smokey eye. However, the perfect balance results in a mysterious yet eye-catching smokey eye makeup look that complements South Asian skin tones and eyes. 

A perfect classy night time look, the smokey eye is an essential part of anyone’s makeup repertoire. Mastering the art of how to do a smokey eye can be quite difficult, so many people avoid even trying to do it — but it’s a must-have for anyone’s go-to makeup looks.

Here are two smokey eye tutorials for beginners, drawing inspiration from two South Asian makeup artists who have perfected the look.

How to do Smokey Eyeshadow inspired by Peaches and Blush

This smokey eye makeup tutorial is a simple yet effortlessly gorgeous look, perfect for any beginner unsure of how to go about it. On the other hand, for more adventurous beginners, this tutorial leaves space for experimentation and embellishments in whatever ways you want.

1. Prime the eyelid

In preparation, many people underestimate how much their eyeshadow can slide without properly preparing the eyelid beforehand. So, the first step to any successful smokey eye makeup tutorial is to prime the eyelids with concealer and set the concealer with powder. 

Some popular concealers include:

  • Maybelline FIT Me Concealer
  • Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer
  • Tarte Shape Tape Concealer

After applying the concealer, set it with a powder of your choice, creating an even base to ensure your eyeshadow won’t slide off.

2. Blend out black eyeshadow or kajal

Using either kajal or black eyeshadow, line your lid and then blend it upward and outward, stopping it somewhere near the center of the eyelid. It may look silly at the moment, but trust in the process — it will eventually all come together in the end.

3. Apply a bronze

From where the black eyeshadow left off, go in with bronze eyeshadow and blend it up and outward as well, going all the way up into the crease. For this step, it is vital to use a light hand to ensure the black still shows through from beneath the bronze.

smokey eye makeup

4. Brush it all out

Using a light hand again, gently brush out all of the harsh lines and blend it all together. Line the lid again over the mix of bronze and black shadows, either using kajal/liquid liner or a black eyeshadow. Your finished eye should look something like this:

Smokey eye makeup

5. Finishing touches

To add some dimension, take a light sparkle shade and tap it into your inner corner to make the whole look pop. Add any other touches that you want!

Smokey Eye Makeup Step by Step inspired by The DayDream Project

This smokey eye makeup look is slightly more advanced and classy, yet still attainable for beginners. Where this tutorial is less dramatic in terms of colour, it makes up for in its angles and sophistication. But like the previous tutorial, this look also leaves room for you to add your own touches, whether that means changing the colours or adding more sparkle.

1. Prime the eyelid

Like in the previous tutorial, prime your eyelid with a liquid concealer and blend it out. Then, set the concealer in place with a powder. This essential first step will ensure your eyeshadow stays in place all night so everyone can admire it.

2. Creating the wing/edge

Take a dark black colour on an angled brush and begin by creating a wing angled from the corner of your eye up to right below where your eyebrow ends. 

3. Blend it out

Once you have created your wing, begin lightly blending out the black toward the middle of the eyelid in upward strokes, sort of creating a triangle of colour.

4. Adding in brown

Next, choose a dark brown shade. Begin by adding it to the edge of where the black left off, and continue blending it further into the eye, still in an angled shape. Your inner eyelid should still be eyeshadow-free.

5. Crease/inner corner

For the crease and inner corner of your eye that still does not have any eyeshadow, choose a lighter brown and begin blending it in your crease and inner eyelid. While blending these together, make sure to use a light hand so the colours underneath don’t disappear.

smokey eye makeup

6. Finish it off with a sparkle

To add the finishing touches to your look, add some sparkle all over the eyelid. If you want a more nuanced look, choose a lighter/whiter sparkle just for your inner corner, and choose a rusty bronze colour to tap on over the whole eyelid. You could also take that lighter or gold sparkle and concentrate it in the middle of your lid if you would like. Your finished smokey eye makeup might look something like this:

Smokey eye makeup

For the full video, check out The DayDream Project’s Smokey Glam tutorial on YouTube.


  • For some people, getting the angle of the smokey eye makeup can be incredibly difficult. To help get the line perfectly straight, take a piece of tape and angle it so the edge imitates the line you would like to create. Then, you don’t have to worry about fallout from the eyeshadow as you build your look. At the very end, take off the piece of tape to reveal a perfect wing/line.
  • To add some dimension to your smokey eye makeup, finish it off with some thin liquid liner, lining the top of your lid. You can also use kajal or an eye pencil to line your lower waterline, which will also add some dimension. Alternatively, use some bronze or brown eyeshadow as a lower lash liner to bring it all together.
  • For those who are more experienced, if you want to further define your wing and get rid of any fallout from the eyeshadow, take an angled brush and carefully apply concealer underneath the wing to make it pop.
  • Finish off your eye look with a coat of mascara, or maybe even some fake eyelashes if you’re feeling extra glam!


1. What are the best eyeshadow palettes for smokey eye makeup?

The answer depends on your preferences, your price range and other factors. However, some popular brands who make smokey eye palettes are NYX, Milani, Urban Decay, CoverGirl and more. Experiment with different brands and find out what works best for you.

2. Do smokey eyes look good on everyone?

Yes! Although some eye looks tend to look better on certain people than on others, smokey eyes are known for being iconic on anyone. But they especially pop on South Asian skin tones and eyes!

3. What lipstick colour goes best with a smokey eye?

Although it’s completely up to you how you want your look to be completed, people most often pair smokey eyes with a nude or brown lip colour. Depending on the rest of your look and your skin tone, a pink could also work. If you’re feeling extra adventurous and bold, pairing a red lipstick with a smokey eye look can create a stunning statement.

4. Can I wear smokey eye makeup during the daytime?

The smokey eye look is beautiful with its dark colours and sparkles, but it can sometimes be too intense for a daytime makeup look under the sun. Most of the time, people wear smokey eye makeup for night time occasions. If you do want to do a smokey eye look during the day, try using brighter colours, like reds and light browns rather than blacks and dark browns, and use your sparkly shades sparingly.