Decoding the Perfect Smoky Eye

Mastering this timeless beauty look is definitely easier than it appears.

Olivia showcasing an inky, glistening eye look.

One of the most requested beauty looks for special events, a night out, or even for daytime, is the "smoky eye." Though there are many variations and creative flairs possible, the look at its core involves the layering of light and dark eyeshadows, a swipe of eyeliner, and a blend alongside both lash lines for an effortless, smoky look. But why is it so beloved? To put it simply, it's universally flattering on every skin tone and eye shape. Can't beat that, right?

For our SS20 Olivia Palermo Collection lookbook shoot, strong eye makeup was part of the beauty brief as it's one of Olivia's go-to's. The team aimed to channel Italian glamour through smoldering makeup, which complemented the collection's mix of luxe leather and elegant silks. Makeup artist, Andrea Tiller, was on set to execute the perfect smoky eye and we caught up with her recently to break down the look. Here, she shares more details on the shoot's inspiration and her expert insight on how to replicate these foolproof eyes at home.

Could you tell us more about the inspiration behind this version of a smoky eye?
The idea for this the makeup was old-school Italian glamour: super luxe, expensive-looking, and timelessly chic. Think Sophia Loren in the late '60s and '70s. She was my primary reference when creating this look.

Andrea perfecting Kitty's eye makeup on set.

What are the steps to achieve this look?
First, using eyeliner, I drew a bold black wing and I blurred the edges with a brush to start building a glamorous, smoky effect. Next, for the eyeshadow application, I worked my way up (using dark, matte earth tones) and blended from the eye socket to the wing's end. Then, for extra drama, I added full faux lashes. For the bottom lash line, I used a black/dark brown pencil and slightly smudged that area as well. Pro tip: try a white pencil on the bottom, too, to make the eyes appear more prominent. Then to balance out these intense eyes, I kept the skin matte and well-sculpted—not using too much blush. The lips were also flesh tone to pull it all together.

Why do you think the smoky eye is so flattering and sought-after?
Everyone has such pretty and unique eyes, and we love highlighting/intensifying them to be the focal point of our face. There are so many eyeshadow colors one could use and variations of a smoky eye, so anyone can find the perfect fit. It's all about creating a look that is within your comfort zone and you'll feel your most confident, sexy self.

Vintage earring.

When it comes to eyeliner, what is the secret to applying a perfect wing and/or cat-eye?
I recommend first tracing the shape you want with a non-waterproof pencil. That way, you can make easy corrections using a skinny Q-Tip. Once you like the shape, apply a waterproof liquid eyeliner over what you drew with the pencil—this method never fails.

What are the essential eye products in your makeup kit?
I can't live without a good Kevyn Aucoin eyelash curler, Charlotte Tilbury's black and dark brown pencils, a Tom Ford black liquid eye pen (this tip gives steady control), and trusty waterproof mascara by Chanel or MILK Makeup.

Credits In hero image: Olivia Palermo Collection Flounce Sleeve Crossover Dress, Vintage necklace, Wolford tights. Lookbook Photographed by William Lords / BTS Photographed by Ryan Kyungrockimof / Makeup by Andrea Tiller / Hair by David Cotteblanche / Creative Direction and Production by SFB Creative / Modeled by Kitty Hayes at Next Models and Corrie Lejuwaan at Muse NY.
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