How to Apply Eyeshadow: Smokey Eye Makeup Tutorial for Beginners

Warm Smokey Eye Makeup Tutorial
Warm Smokey Eye Makeup Tutorial

Here’s an in-depth, step-by-step eye makeup tutorial that is geared towards explaining every step in as much detail as possible so that whether you’re a makeup beginner or an old pro, it should be easy to follow. My hope that is that the makeup tutorial will help you learn how to apply eyeshadow, how to blend eyeshadow, and how to use multiple eyeshadows in a single, cohesive look!

The look showcased in a warm, smokey eye that uses a light-to-dark gradient on the lid and layers mid-tone to deep shades in the crease for depth.  In real time, it takes about five to ten minutes per eye once you’ve had some practice. You might also want to take a look at this eye makeup diagram if you are unfamiliar with certain terminology (like crease, brow bone, etc.).

I wanted to create a fairly generic, warm neutral look with a slightly smoky outer corner and lash line, so it should be easy to replicate with a slew of products, but I specifically used Milani’s Bold Obsessions Eyeshadow Palette and Urban Decay’s Perversion 24/7 Glide-on Eye Pencil.  I used three brushes: a medium-sized, tapered crease brush (Wayne Goss 17), small, tapered crease brush (Wayne Goss 19), and a flat eyeshadow brush (Smith 253) for the tutorial.

Warm Smokey Eye Makeup Tutorial
Warm Smokey Eye Makeup Tutorial | Step 1

Warm Smokey Eye Makeup Tutorial
Warm Smokey Eye Makeup Tutorial | Step 1

Step 1:  Apply Color to the Crease

For most looks, I prefer applying crease colors prior to anything else.  Alternatively, working with mattes before shimmers is another way to think about it.  By laying down color into the crease first, I minimize how much shimmer from the lid gets diffused and blended into my crease since I shouldn’t have to do much blending (if any) at the end of the look.  I tend to layer colors in my crease and place them so that I can get particular deep color in the deepest part of my crease with color gradually fading upward toward the brow bone (deep crease, crease, above crease, and brow bone).  For adding depth, I tend to prefer applying as one of my last steps, but if preferred, you can read through step 6 and insert it between step 1 and 2!

The Tool:  I like using a soft, tapered crease brush–about medium in size–like Wayne Goss 17 (you can find other options from my must-have crease makeup brushes).  The edge should have some shape but not be too pointed; the sharper the point, the more precise the application and the less diffusion there will be.  Sharper points tend to work best for placing more intense, opaque color into the crease and using a fluffier brush to diffuse and blend.

The Technique:  Gently swirl and tap a tapered crease brush into Sweet as Honey eyeshadow, a warm, mid-tone brown with a matte finish.  Place the tapered edge just above the deepest (must sunken) part of the crease and start about halfway from the crease gently sweeping (no swirling, no circling, no pushing) the brush outward over the crease to pull and diffuse the color outward.  This keeps the concentration of the color in the center and enables us to blend and diffuse the color outward, inward, and upward.

Using the slanted portion of the tapered crease, gently sweep the brush back-and-forth in very short, feathery movements against the edge that closest to the brow bone.  I find that the edge closer to the lid tends to diffuse on its own (and is typically covered up by other eyeshadows, so a perfect gradient is unnecessary).  Always make sure to blend less than you think, take a step back and view the blending from a normal distance, and then go back in as necessary.

You want a decent blend, but we’ll be applying another shade above the warm, mid-tone brown to help diffuse and create a gradient up to the brow bone in the next step, so don’t spend forever diffusing this one shade.

Warm Smokey Eye Makeup Tutorial
Warm Smokey Eye Makeup Tutorial | Step 2

Step 2: Diffuse the Crease Color & Highlight the Brow Bone

The Tool:  We’ll be sticking with the tapered crease brush from step 1, but you could also use a fluffy, blending brush (like Wayne Goss 17).  If you’re using a more powdery formula, I recommend using something denser (often why I’ll use a tapered crease brush!) for initial placement or else the eyeshadow can get everywhere.

The Technique:  Using a similar technique as in step 1, pick up a moderate amount of Bare in Mind Eyeshadow, a soft, light-medium beige with a satin finish.  First, I placed the brush along the outer portion of my eye, just above where we placed the crease color, and diffuse outward.  Then, I moved the brush upward (without getting any additional product) and diffused the brow bone shade upward and outward toward the edge of the tail of my brow.  Afterward, I swept the brush back and forth in soft, fluid motions from inner crease to above the outer crease once.  If necessary, I’ll pick up a bit more product to soften and blend out where it seems needed.

This particular shade has a light sheen to it, so it ended up doubling as a good shade to diffuse the crease color as well as to highlight the brow bone.  Sometimes, I’ll use two separate shades for this, and I prefer to apply my brow bone highlight earlier on, particularly if I’m working with more powdery formulations as there can be fallout from the brow bone onto the lid, which is easier to clean-up when there isn’t anything on the lid yet.

Pro tip #1:  if you have additional brushes, either wipe thoroughly between colors or use additional brushes (same shapes) as depths or finishes change to avoid cross-contamination.

Pro tip #2:  if you’re using a more shimmery shade to highlight the brow bone or want to really make the brow bone pop, try placing the shimmery eyeshadow directly under the arch of the brow.

Warm Smokey Eye Makeup Tutorial

Warm Smokey Eye Makeup Tutorial
Warm Smokey Eye Makeup Tutorial | Step 3

Step 3:  Apply Eyeshadow to the Inner Area of the Lid

The Tool:  I like flat, small-to-medium-sized eyeshadow brushes that tend to work well for packing, pressing, and some sweeping/blending motions.  For this tutorial, I used Smith’s 253, which is one of my favorite brushes for this purpose as the arrowhead shape helps it fit well into the inner and outer corners of the lid space.  You can find other brushes I love for applying eyeshadow on my must-haves list.

The Technique:  I patted my brush into Gold-Getter Eyeshadow two to three times to pick up product, then lightly tapped the handle against my wrist to allow any excess to drop off prior to getting onto my lid.  I like to hold the brush so that the shape of the edge of the brush fits as well as it can to the inner corner of my lid.  I gently pressed and pushed the brush into the inner third of my lid and gently pulled the brush outward toward the middle part of my lid in a controlled, fluid motion.

After the initial placement, I turned the brush on its side (in photo two) and used the edge to gently diffuse the edge of the color toward the middle part of the lid.  I use this same technique when it comes to applying other shades to the lid, which you’ll see in the next steps.

Warm Smokey Eye Makeup Tutorial
Warm Smokey Eye Makeup Tutorial | Step 4

Step 4: Apply Eyeshadow to the Middle of the Lid

The Tool:  For this tutorial, I used Smith’s 253, which is one of my favorite brushes for this purpose as the arrowhead shape helps it fit well into the inner and outer corners of the lid space.  I used it for the inner portion of the lid, and I’ll be using the same brush here.

The Technique:  I patted my brush into Blazing Hot Eyeshadow two to three times to pick up product, then lightly tapped the handle against my wrist to allow any excess to drop off prior to getting onto my lid.  For placement of the brush head, I tried to get it on the exact center of my lid–an area that doesn’t quite have any of the inner lid shade on it yet–and then gently swept it toward the inner lid shade but don’t get too worried about blending the two together.

Blazing Hot and Gold-Getter should blend into each other with little effort as they aren’t too contrasting, so using more of the side and edge of my brush, I gently move the brush back and forth (about 1-2mm where the two shades meet) to diffuse.  I find that the easiest way to avoid losing the intensity of the inner lid shade is to wipe off my brush once, and then go back and gently pull the inner lid shade toward the middle shade.

Warm Smokey Eye Makeup Tutorial
Warm Smokey Eye Makeup Tutorial | Step 5

Step 5: Apply Eyeshadow to the Outer Lid

The Tool:  For this tutorial, I used Smith’s 253, which is one of my favorite brushes for this purpose as the arrowhead shape helps it fit well into the inner and outer corners of the lid space.  I used it for the inner and middle areas of the lid, and I’ll be using the same brush here.

The Technique:  I patted my brush into Red Between the Lines, a soft red, two to three times to pick up product, then lightly tapped the handle against my wrist to allow any excess to drop off prior to getting onto my lid.  I like to hold the brush so that the shape of the edge of the brush fits as well as it can to the outer corner of my lid.  I gently pressed and pusedh the brush from my outer lid toward the outer corner being more mindful of the shape and trying to bring the color to the outer corner–think of your lower lash line extending toward the tail of your brow (like you might for liquid eyeliner), that is the angle of the placement I prefer for my outer corner shade.

For blending, it should easily diffuse into Blazing Hot with just a very light back-and-forth sweeping motion between the two shades.  If you want more of the reddish hue, gently sweep the angled, fluffy edge of the 253 from the edge of the red shade toward the middle of the lid; if you want more of the copper hue, gently sweep the brush from the center of the lid toward the outer corner.

Warm Smokey Eye Makeup Tutorial
Warm Smokey Eye Makeup Tutorial | Step 6

Step 6: Apply Eyeshadow to the Outer Corner & Add Depth to Crease

I prefer to add depth later on in the look, as I find connecting the outer corner to the deep crease to be easiest after I have a good idea of how everything is coming together.  By laying down a softer, more diffused color in the crease previously (in step 1), I don’t need to blend out the deeper shade too much.

The Tool:  I like smaller, tapered crease brushes (even a pencil brush will do well for the initial placement, and then use your medium or large crease brush–as clean as you can get it–to do any blending needed) like Wayne Goss 19.

The Technique:  I take the very point of the brush and tapped into the eyeshadow–Brunettes Have Fun, a dark, matte brown–and tapped the brush lightly against my wrist to remove any excess product prior to applying the color to my eye.  Now, I like to place the brush along the very outer corner/edge of my lid and where it meets the deeper part of my crease, and then gently sweep the brush in a single, fluid motion to about the halfway point of my eye.  By starting at the outer corner, the most product is deposited there and less and less gets pulled toward the middle/inner portion of my crease.

I used feathery, back-and-forth motions in the deep crease to even and diffuse the color with most of the blending done by the tapered tip of the brush.  Then, I use the fluffier edge of the tapered crease brush and diffuse the dark brown shade upward to blend with the original mid-tone crease shade we applied.

Warm Smokey Eye Makeup Tutorial
Warm Smokey Eye Makeup Tutorial | Step 7

Step 7: Step Back, Assess, Fix

This is where you’ve done most of the work, and now it’s time to assess how everything is coming together in a normal mirror (in case you’ve been using a magnifying one–I always do!).  We don’t want to over-blend and get a muddy result, and it’s important to remember that unless you’re sharing high-res close-ups of your makeup, people in your day-to-day life are not going to be seeing a macro shot of your lid and any blending.

For this look, I ended up going back with the medium-sized tapered crease brush and applying more of Sweet as Honey Eyeshadow, the mid-tone brown, above the crease as I wanted a better and smoother gradient toward the brow bone.

Warm Smokey Eye Makeup Tutorial
Warm Smokey Eye Makeup Tutorial | Step 8

Step 8: Final Touches, Highlighting, Lining

The last step is about applying a brightening shade to the inner corner/tearduct along with applying eyeshadow to my lower lash line and lining the waterline.  I put mascara on last, and I often go back and run my brush along my lower lash line for a final blend after liner and mascara is on, in case of any smudges (inevitably, there usually are a few!).

The Technique:  For the inner corner/inner tearduct, I like the Smith 253’s arrowhead shape to get a good pat of product into the nook and cranny there, and if you have smaller eyes, a small pencil brush will also work well.  I patted my brush once into a pale, shimmery eyeshadow–Sands of Time–and patted and pressed the product onto the inner corner of my lid–the space between inner area of the lid and the bridge of the nose.  I turned my brush on its edge, picked up a touch of Gold-Getter Eyeshadow, a shimmery gold, and placed it on the inner third of my lower lash line.

Then, I took my small, tapered crease brush and used it to smoke out the lower lash line.  I first applied Red Between the Lines, a soft red, from outer to inner lower lash line with feathery, sweeping motions back and forth to really diffuse and drag the color downward.  I then took just the very point of the crease brush and dipped it gently into Brunettes Have Fun, a dark brown, and applied it to the outer half of the lower lash line and tried to get it as close to the waterline as possible.

Pinterest-Friendly

Here’s a shorter, Pinterest-friendly version of the tutorial if you’d like to pin it to a board for later.

Warm Smokey Eye Makeup Tutorial