Top Tips for the Perfect Smokey Eye

Heading out for after work cocktails on a Friday evening and no time to dash home beforehand to spruce yourself up? Here are my top 5 simple tips to creating that subtle to sophisticated smoky eye taking you from office chair to cocktail bar in minutes!


Eyes are the one feature I feel that as a professional makeup artist you can really play on and transform. Smoky eyes in particular are probably the most requested technique asked of makeup artists today so I want to share my simple tips that absolutely everyone can achieve. To those of you who fear eyeliner or dark coloured eyeshadows fear no more! Let me take you through my five simple techniques for creating that office to ‘out time eye’ in minutes!


  • The key to creating but also sustaining a day to night time eye is all about the build and the layering of your product! Just like you prime, conceal and powder the skin to ensure your foundation lasts all day it is very important to do likewise for the eyes.
  • Begin by applying a primer or personally I like to use a paint pot to the eye. Paint pots are soft creamy pigmented eyeshadow that blend very easily over the eyes. You can simply smooth the paint over with your fingers or for a more intense finish I like to apply this using a Mac #217 Blending Brush.
  • Start this from the eyelids up towards the brow bone. Paint Pots come in lots of colours but for that “no makeup makeup” look go for MAC Groundwork Paint Pot. A relatively good dupe is Maybelline Colour Tattoo.



  • So this is normally the part most people fear! Remember it is only makeup and it is removable! Don’t just reach for the black liner and instead opt for a softer eye kohl/wax based liner that will help enhance those beautiful eyes whether that be a rich brown or a mauve toned pencil to play against a hazel, blue, green or brown eye.
  • My all-time favourite liner pencil ever has got to be MAC Eye Kohl pencil Teddy. This soft waxed based pencil glides so easily over the eye and really complements a blue, green and hazel eye. Other alternatives I would recommend are the NYX pencils, they come in a variety of shades and are super long lasting.  It is so important you do not skip this stage. This is what really defines and enhances the eye.
  • Leave the waterline clean if you are a little hesitant but do not be afraid to go slightly thicker at the outer corners of the eye making sure to just soften off the edges of the pencil afterwards. I like to use a soft haired pointed smudge brush for this like MAC #219 Pencil Brush. Alternatively run a clean Q- tip over the pencil to soften your edges top and bottom.


  • Ok by this stage you have a really solid base. Keep your eyeshadow choices simple but effective for now.
  • For a smoky eye you just need a base/light tone, a medium/blending tone and a dark/smoky tone. Choose matte or semi matte textures only (remember you can always throw your glitter pigment or a bright colourful metallic shadow on your eyelids just before you leave the office)
  • If I was to pick my three staple shadows for a day into night time eye it would have to be Blanc Type, Swiss Chocolate and Handwritten MAC shadows. There are many other amazing palettes out there like the NYX Shadow Palettes, Blank Canvas and Urban Decay


  • Taking a flat eyeshadow brush like MAC #239 Eye Shader Brush and a generous amount of your base tone eyeshadow apply this under the brow bone and into your tear duct to really brighten and enhance the eye.
  • You can skip the eyelid stage as you have your paint pot and liner smudged into the lash lines already, perfect for a soft shadow effect.
  • Next taking your fluffy blending brush as before apply the mid tone matte colour to the crease of your eye. This is without doubt the most important of all your eyeshadow colours. Remember the key to any style of smoky eye is all about the blend/fade!
  • Finally curl your lashes and apply a generous amount of black mascara to both top and bottom lashes. I recently came across Rimmel Day to Night black mascara and find it be a really affordable and buildable mascara on the market at the moment. A good tip that is to curl your lashes prior to mascara application.


The final touches when you are heading out:

  • Take your darkest eyeshadow colour with a fine tipped eyeliner brush like MAC #266 Angled Brush and just apply this neatly again to the lash lines top and bottom. Take the shadow into the outer eye corner also to really lift the edge of the eye for a more intense smoky eye effect.
  • After a quick outfit change and with five minutes to return to your makeup bag take either your brown or a black eyeliner pencil and return to those lash lines again. This time work your liner pencil into the waterlines top and bottom quite generously. Smudge the pencil into the root of the lashes again and blend it out with your smudge brush or a Q- tip. This instantly transforms the look in seconds and most importantly it means you do not have to waste time on that dreaded liquid liner stage, hallelujah!
  • For that final touch take your flat eyeshadow brush (or your finger tip) and whatever vibrant metallic shadow or pigment of your choice apply this from your eyelid to the socket (but not above the socket) for that VA VA Voom party eye. Check out MAC Tan Pigment which is a classic warm copper toned metallic shadow or Inglot AMC Pure Pigment Eye Shadow #88 for a deeper blackened smoky eye finish.
  • Re coat the lashes this time using the volumizing mascara wand and there you are ladies, you and your smoky eyes are good to go!



  1. MAC Groundwork Paint Pot (available in all Brown Thomas/ BT2 stores nationwide/online)
  2. MAC Eye Kohl pencil Teddy
  3. NYX products (selected Boots stores nationwide)
  4. MAC Eyeshadow colours (Blanc Type, Wedge, Cork, Kid, Texture, Handwritten)
  5. MAC Tan Pigment
  6. Inglot AMC Pure Pigment Eye Shadow #88 (Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick, Dundalk , Belfast)


  1. Mac #217 Blending Brush
  2. MAC #219 Pencil Brush
  3. MAC #239 Eye Shader Brush
  4. MAC #266 Angled Brush

As well as these MAC brushes, I also reccommend Blank Canvas brushes , Morphe brushes and Crown Brushes .
Hope your enjoyed the post 🙂
Have a request for a make up blog post? Email with your idea or leave a comment below.
Deirdre x

About Deirdre O’Reilly 

With over 10 years’ experience in the makeup industry, 8 ½ of which were gained working for leading brand Mac cosmetics, Deirdre O’Reilly is a highly trained professional makeup artist with a wealth of knowledge when working with her clients.
Deirdre specialises in bridal/beauty makeup and travels nationwide on request. She is extremely passionate about her profession and also teaches makeup artistry at Sallynoggin College of Further Education.
She is fast becoming a much sought after freelance makeup artist and is widely recognised for her creative flair and her ability to tailor that perfect look for each individual bride.

How To Book Deirdre

You can email Deirdre here Don’t forget to check out her most recent work on Facebook

Naomi Clarke is the owner and creator of The Style Fairy. Naomi, a qualified fashion stylist and personal shopper has over 12 years experience in fashion, personal shopping, blogging, styling and PR both in Ireland and abroad. Having spent 2 years working in the fashion industry in Sydney and then in Singapore, Naomi relocated back to Dublin to set up her own business in 2013 and so began The Style Fairy.