Classic Kevyn Aucoin Makeup Lesson #3: Smoky Eyes


Shinya Mori (from Making Faces, 1997, Little, Brown and Company)

In this exclusive series, we’re celebrating the work and life of one of the most celebrated makeup artists of all time, the late Kevyn Aucoin. Kevyn was known for making application techniques accessible to everyone, perhaps nowhere more so than in his two most famous how-to books, Making Faces and Face Forward_. From those tomes, we’ve adapted four basic makeup lessons. Follow along with part 3 to learn how to get the perfect smoky eye, in Kevyn’s own words. _

The Allure of The Smoky Eye

From “smoky” to subtle definition to high-drama, the eyes are integral to any successful look. Remember, there’s no magic to eye makeup, or makeup in general. But with perseverance, a commitment to fearlessness, and a sense of joy, you can create some magical effects, like sexy, smoky eyes! The main principle to bear in mind with eye shadow is that dark colors deepen or hollow an area, while light colors bring and area forward.

Technique #1 on Kevyn’s sister Kimberly Trahan (from Making Faces, 1997, Little, Brown and Company)

Smoky Eyes Technique #1

Dark, smoky, sexy eyes are best achieved with pale colors on the lids and a darker color running into the crease and along the upper and lower lash line. To create the illusion of larger eyes, I’ll use a dark color, even black, in the eye creases and along the lashes, and then shade outward in gradations of black or gray. 

STEP 1: First apply a thickish line of black liquid liner along the top lash line. Over that, apply black powder eye shadow and soften with a small shadow brush.

STEP 2: Taking the shadow brush from the outer corner of the eye, draw an arc into the crease of the eyelid (emphasizing the shadow on the outer third of the eye).

STEP 3: The “winged” effect is accomplished by drawing the shadow from the outside corner up and outward into the direction of the temple. Always make sure to soften the look with deft blending, using a shadow brush, sponge, or your fingertips.

Technique #2 on Vanessa Brook (from Making Faces, 1997, Little, Brown and Company)

Smoky Eyes Technique #2

STEP 1: Use one color (I like a beige-y brown) all over the lids and brows, blending outward and upward.

STEP 2: Dust the same color under the lower lashes.

TIP: When using powder products such as eye shadow, a light application of loose or pressed powder first is the best way to ensure smooth blending. Powder eyeshadows applied directly to the skin will “grab” in the oily areas, creating a blotchy application.

_Read more about Kevyn’s life here and see some of his most famous work here. _