Be A Total Smoke Show With The Perfect Summer Smoky Eye
Beauty & Grooming May 22, 2018
The smoky eye does not need to be retired for the fresher spring/summer looks… rather it should be re-interpreted through the haze of summer barbecues and the colours of warm seasons to evoke soft sensuality. Check out our ways to create the perfect summer smoky eye!
The smoky eye is universally recognised as an enticing look that evokes mystery and sensuality. It’s associated with black and softer shades of grey, and usually reserved for festive occasions where a touch of drama is required.
I do believe however that the smoky eye can be as colourful as other eye looks, and can be sensual and sinfully soft during the warm spring nights and hot summer evenings when blacks and greys are simply too heavy and sooty.
SWITCHING THE FOCUS FROM SEXY TO HAZY
To pull off the summer smoky eye, you need to switch your mindset from animal-sexy to more of a soft haze, like when smoke rises from the barbecue. The keys to a summer smoky eye is lots of blending, no eye liner, and well-defined lashes.
YES — SMOKE CAN BE COLOURFUL
In terms of colours, the key to a successful smoky eye is gradating the colour from the intensity surrounding the eye and slowly fading into smoke as the shadow reaches the eyebrows. For spring and summer, I favour using browns such as the Charlotte Tilbury The Dolce Vita Luxury Palette, and blues, such as the Dior 5 Couleurs Defy Palette Regard Couture.
MOISTURE IS KEY
Smoky eyes can require up to four shades of eye shadow which means that with all of the blending and tapping, it’s likely that errant particles will settle around the eyes. If you apply concealer, the particles will create a mess and you will need to start over. Consequently, instead of starting with the complexion, hydrate the eye area with a fast-absorbing, lightweight gel such as Estée Lauder DayWear Eye. A few gentle taps and it sinks in and stays put.
Remember that the skin around the eyes is thin and pulling and prodding will encourage wrinkle formation. The best way to apply the eye cream is to use your left ring finger because it has the least pressure of all the fingers. A light dab in the jar provides a sufficient amount to hydrate the upper lid and the lower contour for one eye. The trick is to quickly dab the gel around the eye area and repeat the dabbing until the gel is absorbed. Once the area is hydrated, curl the lashes, so that the clamp will not disturb your artwork when it is time to apply mascara, which is the last step of the process.
THOSE PESKY PARTICLES
To ensure that there are no particles after the smoky eye is done, use a sponge such as the Beauty Blender, and tap on a hefty layer of translucent powder such as Laura Mercier Loose Setting Powder. This particular powder is exceptionally fine-milled and does not settle into the lines. The powder’s role is to catch the errant particles.
South Asian skin tones tend to be darker in the eye area, therefore it’s imperative that the darkness be neutralized with a primer. The goal is to not have naturally occurring shadows compete with the eye shadows, otherwise the area will look heavy and tired. Given the warmer temperature, I recommend Laura Mercier Eye Basics. It’s a soft liquid primer that you can tap over the upper lid (using the left ring finger) and it stays put all day. The colour selection includes seven shades such as Peach, which corrects severe discolouration, and Wheat, an excellent universal nude shade.
LET THE “SMOKING” BEGIN!
Once the eyes are primed, I like to use a large, flat, dense, duckbill brush such as Make Up For Ever Brush 244 to colourwash the eyelids in the palest shade of an eye shadow palette.
Colourwashing means that the eye shadow is applied from lash line to the eyebrows. In a smoky eye scenario, the primer shade should be applied with a light touch i.e. a single layer is sufficient.
The next step is to apply a medium shade on the lower lid. This is tricky because it’s the space between the intense shadow around the eye and the softness of the crease. This area needs to be a tad bright, otherwise you risk looking like you have a black eye. An easy way to achieve brightness is to use a metallic shade of the colour, so that it catches the light. The lower lid is a smaller area therefore I like to use a smaller-sized, flat, dense, duckbill brush such as Make Up For Ever Brush 226.
I tap the metallic shadow along the whole area of the lower lid, being careful to avoid the crease. Given the importance of adding brightness, I apply two layers of eye shadow.
The next step is to apply the medium shade to the crease, not applying the dark shadows around the eyes. It’s counterintuitive but for the summer smoky eye softness is the key, and if you start with intensity, you risk overdoing the rest of the eye make-up. The crease is all about the haziness of the smoky eye, and for this area I like the Make Up For Ever Brush 234.
The angled surface allows me to trace the medium shadow along the crease. I use the tip of the brush from the inner to mid-eye, and then use the full surface from the mid-eye going outwards to create a full smoky effect.
Once the crease is made-up, I use the tip of my left ring finger to blend the line between the crease and lower lid, so that the colours bleed into each other at that demarcation.
Now for the fun part: Lining the eye! In a classic smoky eye, the trick is to use a black liner to define the eye and then smudge it with a tapered, pointy brush such as the Make Up For Ever Brush 212.
For the summer smoky eye, I prefer to tap the brush into the darkest shade of the palette and then tap it into the metallic shade. The idea is to ensure fluidity between the areas of the eyes so that the gradation is seamless and sensual. I like to trace the brush along the full lash line.
Remember if your eyes are close-set, emphasise the outer-half of the eyes, and if your eye are wide-set, emphasise the inner-half of the eyes. By emphasis, I mean that you should apply a thicker line of eye shadow and for the part that should be de-emphasized, trace the lash line with the tip of the brush to add a hint of definition.
For the lower lash line, I still use the 212 brush but for this part, I dip it into the dark colour only and apply the shadow along the length. The same application caveats for the upper lash line included herein above also apply for the lower lash lines for close-and wide-set eyes.
The make the look even more sensual, I like to use a blender brush such as Make Up For Ever Brush 208 and retrace the upper and lower lash lines. It smudges the lines and makes it slightly messy and less defined, and hence more like smoke.
The final step is mascara and after all of the haziness of the smoky eyes, I prefer to use a defining, opening mascara such as Estée Lauder Sumptuous Knockout mascara. Its stiff, well-lined bristles ensure that even the smallest lashes will receive a lift and coat of product.
I apply two coats on the top of the upper lashes, and then use the Make Up For Ever Brush 134 (a large, dense fan) to sweep away the translucent powder. I start from the inner corner of the eye and then sweep outwards several times.
Once the area is clear, I apply a single coat of mascara to the lower lashes … and my summer smoky eye look is complete.
HERE’S A BONUS TIP:
The smoky eye is so intense that the rest of the colour cosmetics should fall squarely into neutral territory. I like to use a highlighter on the cheeks such as Diorskin Nude Air Luminizer Glow Addict. The product attracts light to the face and opens the face further thus providing a sensual contrast to the eyes.
As for the for the lips, I recommend a satin finish in a neutral shade such as a soft caramel or a terracotta brown such as Laura Mercier Crème Smooth Lip Color in Crushed Pecan and Lychee Parfait.
The idea is to keep the focus on the eyes and to have a finished look. The wetness of satin continues the sensuality of the smoky eye while the neutral shades let the gradation around the eyes take centre stage.
The summer smoky eye is not about being a huntress of the night with strong, sexy eyes. Rather it’s about creating a soft, sensual gaze that enchants and imprints on the memory. The smoky eye can be achieved with any colour but the key is to have hydrated skin and primed lids so that the gradation of colour is achievable and sensual. Gradation is achieved by ensuring that the demarcations between the different parts of the eyelid, i.e. lower lid and its crease and the lash line are smoked through blending with the appropriate brushes and finger. The final touch for the eye area is one of definition by way of a mascara so that the area has a touch of structure and frame for your artistry.
Given the intensity of the look, the cheeks and lips should remain neutral. The smoky eye, like a true diva, commands centre stage during a midsummer night’s dream.
Main Image Photo Credit: Meena Khan
Meena Khan is a lawyer by day and a beauty writer by night. Born, raised and living in Montreal she is a polyglot who uses her analytical and communication skills to write about beauty issues and offer solutions to same. You can follow Meena's blog &quo...
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