The Definitive Eye Makeup Guide

Actress Jessica Szohr recently hit the red carpet in L.A. rocking this seriously stylish smoldering eye. Create …We know, eye makeup can be intimidating. Applying liquid eyeliner and perfecting a smoky eye are not tasks that happen overnight, but you don't need your own personal makeup artist to perfect even the most complex looks. If the eyes really are the windows to your soul, you want them to be beautiful, not splotchy with caked on shadow and clumpy mascara! Ready for crash course 101? Follow our quick and easy guide to eye makeup. 

Related: Find the Best Makeup for Your Eye Color


When it comes to eyeshadow application, don't be afraid to layer textures. Gabriel Almodovar, makeup artist for Maybelline New York whose clients include Zoe Saldana and Vanessa Hudgens, says this will not only help your eyeshadow to stay put longer, but it will also make powder eyeshadow look more vibrant because of the cream texture underneath.

Related: Olivia Wilde's Colorful Summer Eye Makeup: Get the Look

Start by using your finger to pat a light colored cream eyeshadow such as Maybelline's EyeStudio Color Tattoo Metal 24 HR Cream Gel Shadow in Inked In Pink ($5.59, onto the middle of your eyelid and work your way into the crease. Then, use an eyeshadow brush (Almodovar loves the NARS Eye Shader Brush, $55, to pat on your powder eyeshadow.

To create an easy smoky eye, start by applying an eyeliner pencil at the lash line and then smudging. Use a brush such as the NARS Eye Shader Brush, turn it upside down, and pat on. Then, take a ponytail eye makeup brush (Almodovar likes the NARS Large Dome Eye Brush, $33, and soften the color into the crease. Next, blend. If you're a more of a smoky eye pro, blend a second color into the crease.

For a nude look, layer a nude cream eyeshadow over a nude eye powder then apply a brown eyeliner into the lash line and smudge. After curling your lashes, apply a brown or brown/black mascara instead of black to achieve a more natural look.

The best way to become an eyeliner applicaton pro? Practice. Also, don't freak out if you mess up. Just like a real pencil, you can easily erase your mistakes. The best way is to take a Q-Tip, douse it in eye makeup remover and gently go over the mistake. Wipe over the eye with tissue to remove and lingering residue and then start again.

Eyeliner Pencil

If you're new to this whole business of applying eyeliner, start with using a pencil and remember that imperfection is key. "Pencil eyeliners are for definition only and should always be smudged," Almodovar says.

First close your eye and hold the eyelid taut at the outer corner with your fingers. Sometimes the idea of creating a straight line can be a bit daunting, so the easiest way to use an eyeliner pencil is to use very short strokes and line the rim of your top eyelid with little dots or dashes. Then, just think of it as a game of connect-the-dots to fill in the gaps. Afterwards, use your finger or a tool to get to smudging-many pencils come with a brush or sponge on the other end. You can use this technique for both the top and bottom of the eye. If you're aiming to look more wide-eyed and awake, avoid applying heavy amounts of eyeliner on the bottom lash. Instead, stick to lining the top lash line only.

Liquid/Gel Eyeliner

Designed to give a crisp, clean line, liquid and gel eyeliners should never be smudged. "For gel eyeliner, use a pointy brush such as the Smashbox Angled Eyliner Brush and for liquid, apply straight from the applicator," Almodovar said. These liners are perfect if you're looking to create the winged, cat eye look. You can either make it subtle or channel your inner Adele by laying it on thick.

If you're new to the winged liner game, it's best to start with a potted gel eyeliner and a brush such as the Smashbox Arced Liner Brush #21 ($20, This time you'll need to keep your eye open when creating the winged eyeliner look. Almodovar recommends applying the gel eyeliner first from inner corner to outer corner in one fluid line. Then, create the wing at the tip of your eye. This wing should be at a 45-degree angle. If you aren't sure if your wing is at the right angle, take a business card and hold against the outer corner of your eye. It will work like a ruler to help you create that perfect shape.


For instant volume, try an eyelash curler! Rest the center of the curler on your eyelid. Then, slowly close the curler to avoid any pinching. Make sure the lash curler is as close to the root as possible. Open and close the lash curler 5-8 times to create a bend in the eyelash.

"Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle" should be your mantra when it comes to mascara application. "The majority of your mascara should be [applied] at the root of the eyelash," said Almodovar. This adds a volumizing effect.

He suggests looking down and then gently wiggling the makeup wand back and forth while moving it upwards to coat your lashes. If done correctly, you won't have to worry about applying a second or third coat which will help you avoid clumping.

To create an on-trend colorful smoky eye check out the video below:

Related links:
Find the Best Makeup for Your Eye Color
8 Iconic Eye Makeup Looks
The beginner's Guide to Liquid Eyeliner