Absolutely anyone can pull off a killer natural smokey eye look – it all comes down to using the right shades, finding the right shapes, and following the right steps. A black smokey eye is a classic look for heading out, but for a simple daytime look you’ll want a neutral shadow that’s just a little bit darker than your natural skin tone.
This smokey eye tutorial is perfect for a simple-yet-striking look to take you through the day.
1. Prep the eye area
The first thing you need to do is prime the area around your eyes. Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion is the perfect solution to get your skin ready, and it’s the UK’s #1 best selling eyeshadow primer. Ensuring that your eyeshadow stays vibrant and crease-free all day, Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion’s vegan formula helps to prep your lids for all-day wear.
But why do you need to use a primer anyway? Well, because the skin around your eyes is thinner than the rest of your face, and because it has a lot of movement throughout the day, powdered eye shadow will shift around the eyelids if you have oilier skin, or simply fade away if you have dry skin. Primer is essential as it helps keep everything in place for long lasting wear.
All you need is just the smallest bit of primer – about the size of a grain of rice – and you can use your index or ring finger to smoothen it across the eyelid, from the lash line to the brow bone. It’s important to use a primer specifically made for the eye area, using regular face primer will be counterproductive.
2. Apply a base
It’s wise to start with lighter shadows and work your way towards deeper shades as you go, so you don’t end up having to wipe it all off if you go too heavy. This also helps to create the smokey, gradient effect we’re looking for without having to blend too intricately; it should be an easy, simple look to achieve.
At this stage, you’ll want to create a base to work upon, and for this you should start with a matte shadow. To get the perfect natural smokey eyes look, you actually want to first make sure you neutralise any natural darkness around the eye, giving you a blank canvas to work with – so go for a matte shadow that’s a shade lighter than your skin to brighten and even out the area.
Urban Decay’s Naked Reloaded Eyeshadow palette gives you 12 flattering neutral shades to work with. Blur is a great neutral shade to use as a base for deeper skin tones, Angel Fire is fantastic for light to medium tones, and if you’ve got pale skin, go for our Bribe shade.
Work your way from the outer edge to the centre of the lid using a large eye shadow brush. Always start from the same spot, ideally from the outer edge, when you apply eyeshadow so that you avoid creating patchy areas.
3. Define the crease
Next, you want to use a shadow that’s a couple of shades darker than your skin to create your crease. For example, if you used Blur for your base, you might opt for the Bucked shade on this step.
Buff the shadow along your socket line (which is where the eyeball ends and the brow bone sits) from the outer edge in. For the best results, you should use a blending eye shadow brush.
As you define your crease, brush the shadow on in small circular motions that will create a more subtle smokiness without any hard edges.
Once you’ve applied this darker shadow to create the crease, use a smudge brush to extend the smokey colour along your bottom lash line. Having a bit of shadow under the eye helps achieve a more natural look.
4. Go deeper
You might be happy with the look you’ve got at this stage, but you can take it up a notch by adding a soft layer of darker shadow to the outer corners, two shades deeper than what you used to define the crease. Use this to deepen the outer corners of your crease. This is where you can play with shape a little and find the most flattering look for your lids.
Adding a darker shade along the outer edge of the crease will give you a slick cat-eye look. Use a flat brush like our UD Pro Flat Eyeshadow Brush to pat the deeper shade onto the outer corner of the eye, and then blend it in by buffing with a fluffy brush.
You can keep repeating this process until your shadow is saturated to your liking, but for a daytime look, you won’t want to take it too far.
Grab your smudge brush again and draw it out along your lower lash line, but only take it halfway across. The denser the darker shadow is at the outer corner of your eye, the more pronounced that cat eye shape will be.
5. Lighten up
While not essential for a daytime look, you can really draw attention to your eyes by adding a bit of shine to the shadow. Simply tap a bit of shimmer over the lids using your finger. It will still look natural because the darker matte shadow you’ve already applied will balance things out. This is a good step to open up the eye area, maximising space by reflecting light. Try a metallic shade from our Naked Wild West eyeshadow palette to add a subtle hint of shine to your natural smokey eye look.
6. Enhance the look
You want to make sure your lashes are still on point and aren’t being hidden away by the shadow. While thick black liner is more suitable for after-hours, just dot the base of your lashes with a dark brown pencil like 24/7 liner shade Whiskey to add a bit of darkness, and use your finger to smudge it along the lash line for a daytime look. Then, use an angled brush to thicken the line and blend it into your eyelid so it’s hazier and less defined.
You don’t need to line the lower lashes for a daytime look, but if you want to, tap the tips of your bottom lashes to accentuate the area. Try Urban Decay 24/7 Eyeliner for long-lasting colour that won’t budge. Explore 38 shades for a colour to suit your look!
A bit of mascara is the best way to make sure your lashes don’t get lost beneath your smokey eyes. Urban Decay Wild Lash is a vegan formula mascara offering 99% natural ingredients and delivering beautiful, fluffy volume to your lashes. For an even bolder lash, go for Perversion, a creamier, buildable mascara that delivers triple black pigment while lengthening your lashes.
7. Let it set
Even with eye primer applied, you need to set your smokey eye look for a truly long-lasting finish. Lock in your look for up to 16 hours with our All Nighter Setting – like our Urban Decay All Nighter setting spray – to mist your face. Shake the bottle well, hold it 8”” to 10”” away from you4 face, and spray 2-4 times in an X or T motion with your eyes closed.
You can even spritz All Nighter Setting Spray on your eyeshadow brush for a more intense colour payoff.
For a simple, natural smokey eye look to take you through the day, always go for neutral shades, start light, and build depth around the outer edges of your crease. Try Urban Decay’s Naked Reloaded eyeshadow palette, with 12 shades offering a universally flattering, long-lasting natural finish for any skin tone.