How To: Dramatic Smokey Eye

The Info—Stylist: Maria Lee Makeup & Hair / Photography: Hart & Sol WestMichelle Govang / Venue: The Box SF / Flowers: Green Snapdragon Floral Design / Dress: Little Borrowed Dress / Jewelry: BrideBlu Vintage + Handmade Jewelry

The great thing about doing a smokey eye for your wedding is that even though the look is dramatic, most of the technique revolves around the word “smudge,” so it’s relatively easy to accomplish once you get the hang of it. For our final P&G tutorial (thanks again P&G!), we wanted to tone down the drama of the smokey eye a bit to make the look a little more wedding-y and a little less club-y. However, you can easily adjust the intensity to your taste. (But if you do have a wedding out at the club, please send it to us? Yes?)

Now, a few tips from Maria on perfecting this look:

Keep The Look Balanced: The ultimate trick for making the smokey eye work is to keep everything else about your makeup as natural and subdued as possible. This means just a light dusting of blush along the apples of your cheeks (and a little highlighter on your cheekbones for contouring), and stay away from any kind of bold lip color unless you’re going for a Dolly Parton themed wedding (in which case, I don’t even care if you submit to us, just invite me to it, PLEASE).

For Eyes: Getting the smokey eye look down is all about layering. First you want to apply a cream shadow as a base (remember the awesome CoverGirl Intense Shadowblast with the primer built in?) on the part of your eyelid that sits just over your eyeball. Then over that, you’re going to place a rich black cream shadow in a thick line on the same part of your eyelid (we used CoverGirl Smokyshadowblast, which comes in a nifty shadow stick for easier application). Don’t be afraid if this part isn’t perfect because you’re going to smudge it up a little bit anyway. Then finish the layering by blending taupe shadow into the crease of your eye using a ponytail crease brush (which has bristles that form a ponytail shape) and working it down to the Shadowblast layer. The final result will be a black to taupe ombre effect going from lash line to crease.

Once you’re done contouring with shadow, how polished your smokey eyes look will depend largely on where you apply your eyeliner. (Has anyone else done that thing where you accidentally put it just a little too far down on your bottom lid and start looking like Bellatrix Lestrange?) Maria recommends applying eyeliner (we used CoverGirl LiquilineBlast liner, which has a built-in smudging tool, perfect for smokey eyes) on your lower lid, just between the lashes, and then smudging with the smudger tool. If you are worried about the liner looking too heavy, focus mostly on the outer part of your eye and use a lighter hand at the inner corners.

For Lips: Finish the look with a longwear lipstick in a light pink hue, top it with topcoat.

And that’s it! Away you go! The best part? If you don’t want something quite as dramatic as Jess’s look, you can totally modify this smokey eye with lighter colors for a more fresh-faced look, or if you want something a little more playful, swap out the black and brown for a more colorful combination like grey and purple. Once you’ve nailed the technique of layering and contouring your shadows, the possibilities are endless.


And now, since we’re bringing this series to a close today… OUTTAKES from our shoot a month and a half ago. Always the best part.

A huge thanks to P&G for making this series possible. If you’re just tuning in now, you can check out the whole APW + P&G Hair and Makeup Tutorial Series here. Hopefully you now feel more relaxed about DIY or DIT hair and makeup for your wedding, which was our real goal here… that, and more pretty looks for regular old fun. I think every staff member has something we want to learn, now that, um, maybe we have more time? Meg wants to do the fishtail braid for everyday, Maddie wants to master bold eyeliner with fake lashes (or as she calls it, 60s Barbie makeup), and Kate wants to sweep up her hair into a triple braid.

And! If you tried one of these looks, consider sending us a picture? Just e-mail APW Associate Editor Maddie at maddie (at) apracticalwedding (dot) com.

High-fives, team. And now, onwards, with pretty hair.

And as always, if you have questions about how to modify the look featured today, we’ll do our best to answer them in the comments, but you can always direct your questions at @PGBeauty for their expert advice (or if you’re not on Twitter, post your questions on their Facebook page for more info).

Download a PDF of the shopping list for this look here.

**This post was sponsored by P&G Beauty. Thanks P&G for helping make the APW mission possible!**

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  • Thank you for this tutorial!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I will put in practice soon!

    Also, you girls look like out of Botticelli’s primavera with those flowers in your hair (and pregnant Meg would be spring, of course)

  • I wish you guys would do a “how-to: make an awesome floral crown!”

    • meg

      Next week.

  • would it be possible to add these posts as their own tab somewhere for easy access? I have my favorite looks bookmarked for my wedding next year but thought it might be helpful for other ladies.

    this look is my favorite, by far!

    • meg

      If you go to the How To tab, you’ll see them all cataloged there, along with all our other How To content. These two looks will be added to the tab over the weekend, as well. So you’re all set! We have all this content filed neatly away for you.

  • Love this tutorial and will definitely be trying it out for my birthday in ten days! And Meg, bet you hear this a lot, but you look great. That “glowing” thing they say happens, you’re all over it.

    • meg

      HA. In looks only, lemmie tell you.

      • KB

        I second this! And your eyes are just like electric in that last photo, makes me wish I was blue-eyed!

        • meg

          Oh, that must just be the photo and lighting. I don’t think I’ve ever seen them look that way. Good photos, y’all, and you will be glowy too!

  • Sarah

    Would mascara be too much with this look? I don’t see it on the supplies list.

  • Disappointed


    • meg

      Really? Because I’ve always been into both smokey eyes, and knowing how to do my own makeup so I don’t have to hire someone to help me out. And we’ve already discussed at length the relationship between femme feminism and makeup, and feminism and choosing not to wear makeup, and will keep discussing it forever.

      That said, if it’s not your bag, I’m sure you can move on to our other posts this week about, say, letting a groom wear what they want, or loosing a spouse after 30 years of marriage, which I assume are not to WIC for you.

    • Maddie

      You keep using that word…I do not think it means what you think it means.

      I think it’s easy to throw the word “WIC” around any time we post about something that isn’t super thought-provoking (which, as Meg mentioned, is infrequent. Just look around this week’s content and you’ll get your fill of insightful, thought-provoking content).

      But really, this post is about empowering people to learn how to do their own makeup (if that’s their bag) so that they don’t feel pressured into hiring a professional to do it for them (which *is* what the WIC would tell them), it features a diverse group of models from within the APW community, promotes products that are affordable for everyone and not just a select group of people with a certain kind of budget, and uses clothing that you can rent for $50. Like Meg said, there is plenty of content on this site that you probably wouldn’t consider “WIC-fabulous,” which you are welcome to enjoy, but even so, this is a pretty far cry from what you’ve accused it of being.

      Though I appreciate the compliment. I think it’s kind of fabulous too.

  • You guys are purty!

  • Gorgeous pics and spot-on how-tos, but the best part of this post is th reference to Bellatrix Lestrange. Rock on.

  • Absolutely gorgeous!! I love it, great pics!! Everyone looks so pretty :)