The smoky eye is the roast chicken of beauty, which is probably why there are so many tutorials for both. A smoky eye is a symbol of achievement and skill — not for amateurs. Consider it a step above applying mascara (the beauty equivalent of boiling water), and a few steps above drawing on eyeliner (beauty’s answer to roasting a root vegetable). Yet more than one makeup artist has told me, “Oh, it’s easy.”
Both roasting a chicken and executing a smoky eye elude me. I’ve watched masters do both, but when it comes to actually looking at my raw face (or chicken) and the puzzle of an eye-shadow quad (am I supposed to use all the colors?), I forget everything I’ve learned. Every year at the Tom Ford show, I’m reminded of my incompetence as I watch a team of makeup artists expertly create some new, sultry variation on the smoky eye. It’s sort of like having 15 tabs of smoky-eye tutorials open at once.
I like to think each year, I learn something new. One year, I learned that eyeliner, not eye shadow, is the foundation of a smoky eye. Another year I learned that you could smush your lip gloss onto your eyeliner for a glossy, albeit sticky, look. This year, makeup artist Diane Kendal taught me that to create a more defined look, trace eyeliner (black if your skin tone is darker, espresso if it’s lighter) along the lower lash line, upper lash line, and around the eye socket, so you see a bit of it just above the crease.
“I’m blending down across and also up,” Kendal said, to create a drawn-out eye that extended toward the temple. It softened harsh lines and gave a soft halo effect to the blend of shadows on the lid. For those shadows, Kendal used all the colors in either the Tom Ford Beauty Nude Dip or Orchid Haze quad, depending on the model’s skin tone. Darker shadows were applied closer to the lash line. The lightest, shimmery color of the quad went in the middle of the lid, with Kendal explaining that it acted like a highlighter.
I still may not be up to trussing a chicken or attempting a full-on smoky eye with more than one shade. But there’s always next season.