There’s a reason smoky eye is a timeless classic: it’s sexy, flattering, and downright seductive. Whether you’re in town or looking for a subtly dramatic everyday look, covering eyeshadow and blending creases is a great way to look and feel fierce. Universally flattering and infinitely customizable, the smoldering eye look is truly the little black dress of eye makeup.
And like LBD, each season brings a slew of new takes and iterations of the beloved classic. Keep scrolling for 29 smoky dark eyeshadows we create year-round.
The classic smokey eye never goes out of style, does it? To really pop the eyes, keep the rest of the look minimal, like here on Dakota Johnson.
Famous makeup artist Georgie Easel created this eye for Anya Taylor-Joy using three shades: shimmering gold in the center, light brown bronze shimmering on the burnished, and shaded satin brown around her eyes. Apply a generous coat of black mascara and that’s it.
A subtle mystery
Makeup artist Pati Dubroff knows that the key to accentuating skin’s radiance is a strong and mysterious eye, like here on Jodie Comer. The black lining adds structure and focus to the eye without compromising the overall look.
Sometimes more is more. Do you need proof? Look no further than this iconic holiday makeup from Priscilla Ono, Rihanna’s personal makeup artist. From touches of green on the eyelid to two-tone lips, we repeat this look whenever there’s something to celebrate.
Warm and sensual
There’s something about a vampire eye paired with rosy cheeks and glossy lips that just works. It’s the perfect mix of girly and grunge and prevents dark eyeshadow from looking heavy and oppressive on the face.
Hot and cold
We love how this cool toned eye complements Julianne Moore’s gorgeous red hair. From bold lashes to under-lash contrast, this is a smokey eye lesson.
Rock and roll
“I wanted to give Doja a steaming look with a rock and roll twist,” says famous makeup artist Ernesto Casillas. “The trick to achieving this eye look is to layer and blend the shadows.” If you want to show it off, try Viseart’s Petites Mattes Neutral Eyeshadow Palette ($ 40).
Complex neutral colors
This look uses Nudestix’s Dark Romantics Kit ($ 27) to create a deep smoke with shades of smoky green, eggplant, and rich greige. Result? A simple eye, a chic editorial. Plus, the white accent on the waterline provides an unexpected glow that complements the rest of the look’s natural glamor.
This is proof that dark eyeshadow doesn’t have to be heavy. Keep the lids neutral and blend the black liner on the lower lashes for a thick look that only lasts a few minutes. Try a pencil like Makeup by Mario’s Master Pigment Pro Pencil Super Black ($ 22), which has one end of the brush for easy blending on the go.
Lush and elevated
There is something about the contrast between a smoky shade and a crisp, full cat’s eye shape. Add a blush to the high points of the cheeks and a subtle contour to complete the look.
You don’t need an arsenal of eyeshadow to nail a smoldering eye this winter. In fact, you don’t need any shade. For this look, makeup artist Diane da Silva simply ran a plum pencil (she used the Makeup By Marion Master Pigment Pro eyeliner pencil) and covered it with mascara.
Bronzed and beautiful
“For smoky, shaped eyes, I often use a bronzer to contour the eye before applying the dark shadow,” says Casillas. I blend it around the eye first, then go with a deeper brown. You can finish the whole look using any metallic shade. Make bursts. . ”
Black-rimmed eyes and sparkling lids are a pretty foolproof combination when it comes to a luscious and sexy look. Polish and blend the black shadows in the outer crease and under the lower lashes to finish.
We give you the bed bomb look of our dreams. Keeping the smoky hue confined to just the lid creates a more vibrant, less overtly glamorous eye that’s still impressive.
Something about the contrast between the lining and the cover works here. And while a bold lip is perfect, we think it would look just as good with a glossy neutral pout. By the way, if you’re curious, this look gets the maximum effect from Pat McGrath Labs’ products.
A bronze bomb
For this absolutely bombshell look, makeup artist Allan Arenado used Anastasia Beverly Hills Primrose Palette ($55). “Although it looks like a shade, I used some shades from the palette in the same shades to add subtle dimension to the look,” she says.
Soft and surprising
To get this eye, Avendaño started carving out the shape of the eye using the deepest shades of the Nars Saint Germaine Des Pris palette ($49). Then she lightly coated the center of the lid with a shimmery golden hue.
Whoever said dark eyes are bad clearly hasn’t seen this photo. Strong eyes perfectly balance the raised eyebrows without appearing kitschy or covering the rest of Ruth Negga’s face.
According to makeup artist Ash K. Holm, the key to this look is to start with a black liner along the lash line. Then burn it on the lid making sure to move it up in the outer corner to lift the eye. Don’t worry about creating a perfect line here – it’s a smoky eye, so the more swipes the better.
Hello, the glitter wing of our dreams. If you want to create that super-sharp finish, use concealer and a small brush to really clear up those lines.
Famed makeup artist Alexx Mayo says she really wanted to create something strong and striking for Tinashe. “He has a song called ‘Stormy Weather’ and I couldn’t get it out of my head that day,” he says. “I think it subconsciously affected the look. I started by using a dark blue metallic pencil to draw a round shape with a small wing on the outer corners; she blended the pencil with a small, dense, fluffy brush and added a navy blue metallic shade, a more silvery shade in the center of the lid and in the inner corner. Top it off with two coats of mascara and voila!”
Smoke and freeze
There’s something about smoky, icy makeup that brings out the best in blue eyes. Dab an icy blue shade in the center for an extra touch.
The look of dark eyeshadow is not limited to gray, silver and black. Change it to gold for a brighter feel. We love the hints of green and brown in this Lucy Hale look.
An important reminder that bold brows aren’t going anywhere. Patrick Ta makes a compelling alternative to the high-low method by keeping brows thick and natural (just a drop of gel to hold them in place) and applying them all over the eye area.
Take a monochromatic dressing to a new level with a suitable shade. Dark eyeshadow below the lash line adds an edge that transforms Hunter Schafer’s coordinated look from preppy to bold.
Because glamor sometimes has to be glamour, go for bold brows, smoldering lips and dark, almost vampire-like lips this season. Thanks is guaranteed.
Once you’ve outlined the entire eye, pull the liner slightly beyond the inner corner to create a sexy, lifted look, like here on Bretman Rock. Then blend under the lash line, stopping just before the end of the inner wing.
Add an unexpected element to your classic smokey eye by using shades of brown. Bonus points if you pair it with lips in the same color family, like here on Tessa Thompson.
On the hooded lids, aim the dark color on the lash line to avoid eye strain. Add a subtle shade to the lids and combine with natural makeup on the rest of the face for maximum impact.