Most people consider eye shadow the cornerstone of the smokey eye look. In general, you should use two or three shades of eye shadow in complementary colors to accomplish the technique.
Before you brush on your eye shadow, apply a concealer or eye shadow base over the entire eyelid and on the skin under the eye [source: Marie Claire]. The concealer will help hide imperfections and provide a good base for eye shadow.
To start, choose a rich, dark base color. You may choose to go with black, dark gray or deep brown. Even if you have brown eyes, you'll likely find that a dark lining of eye shadow makes the color stand out [source: Seventeen]. Brush on the base color from the eyelashes to the crease. The color should get lighter as you sweep up to the crease. Take your time and let the brush do the blending and smoothing. Remember, you're going for a subtle sense of smokiness, not smoked out eyes. Colors with a bit of shimmer will lighten up your eye in a playful way, while matte colors will give a more mysterious, sultry look.
After you have applied the base color, use an angled brush to apply the same base color lightly under the bottom lash line. Use a thin line and a light touch. Heavy eye shadow under the eye can make your eyes look tired.
Now choose a second color in a lighter tone to add contrast just above the crease. If you applied black eye shadow, you can use a gray, copper or taupe color for contrast. Dark grays can contrast with lighter grays or coppers. Lighter beige or, in some cases, pink can accent deep browns. Use your eye shadow brush to sweep the accent color slightly above the crease from the inner eye outward.
Finally, you can add a little extra flair with a third color if you choose. This highlight color should be light and shimmery, such as cream, white or skin-toned. Gently brush on your highlight color under the brow bone and in the inner corner of the eye. This will lighten the smokey eye look and provide a little more intrigue.
Now that you've mastered eye shadow, read on to find out how eyeliner can make it pop.