Tips for a Bold Smoky Eye

Scarlett Johansson's shocking pink smoky eye at the 2010 Tony Awards provided a theatrical touch of color.
Scarlett Johansson's shocking pink smoky eye at the 2010 Tony Awards provided a theatrical touch of color.
Jemal Countess/WireImage/Getty Images

There are times when you want to be subtle; when you want your makeup to say "professional" or "natural" or "laid-back." These times call for neutrals, pale shades and an overall light touch.

And then there are times when all that goes out the window in the name of sex-appeal and glamour and your eyes cry out for deep, dark and sultry -- a smoky eye, and not the downplayed, daytime kind.


Always sexy, the smoky-eye style can still be taken up a notch or three with different shades, techniques and creative extras. To begin with, a simple change of color: Ditch the tan, grab the black.

Bold Smoky Eye: Go Dark

The versatility of the smoky eye lies primarily in shade choices. Light browns, grays or taupes create the deep-set, sultry look without being overly loud; the darkest browns and blacks turn it up to an 11.

So, that's the first step in going bold: Choose eye shadow colors that are several shades darker than the ones you wear in the day. Espresso, black and charcoal are great ways to go. Still work to complement your skin tone, of course -- warm for warm, cool for cool -- just go with something deeper and more saturated than you usually apply.


The change in shade, then, can easily accommodate another dramatic twist ...

Bold Smoky Eye: Up the Contrast

One of the tricks to dressing down a smoky eye is to minimize the contrast between your eye shadow shades. It follows, then, that upping the contrast can dress it up.

To create the look, you'll still reach for three colors (sometimes four, depending on your approach), but you'll put some further distance between the shades. So instead of, say, champagne, tan and brown, try ivory, brown and espresso. Instead of ivory, light gray and charcoal, go with ivory, charcoal and pitch black.


Even as you increase the contrast, though, do not forget to blend between each step. Crisp lines can turn a smoky eye from sultry to a little bit sad.

And finally, for those who want to really go bold...


Bold Smoky Eye: Try Color

We've seen it on the red carpet on the more daring of starlets, notably Scarlett Johansson, who did it in shocking pink and fuchsia at the 2010 Tony Awards.

The smoky eye goes novel when you stray from brown and black. Experiment with color to see what works. Pinks, greens, purples and even blues in multiple shades can achieve a similar effect to the traditional smoky eye -- depth, drama, definition -- but with a bit more personality.


Not every color is going to work on everyone, and it's not the easiest tweak to pull off, since you can cross the line from bold to garish when working with bright colors. But if you do pull it off, it'll be a new you. Show up in a pink smoky eye, and you'll turn a head or two.

Other effects to try include metallics, shimmer, and, if you're that bold, tiny stick-on rhinestones in shades to match your shadow. Show up in a jeweled smoky eye and you'll turn every head in the room.

Boldly smoky ain't for wallflowers.

For more information on makeup and style, check out the links on the next page.


Lots More Information

Related Articles

  • How to Create a Bold Smokey Eye Look. Glamazons Blog. April 4, 2011. (May 1, 2012)
  • Muniz, Kat. "Friday Beauty Flash: Nighttime Smokey Eye." LC Radar: Beauty/Lifestyle. Sept. 16, 2011. (May 1, 2012)
  • Scarlett Johansson's Pink & Purple Smoky Eyes: Love Them? Beauty Style Watch. June 26, 2010. (May 1, 2012)