Initial thoughts: Woah, this looks tough. Ten minutes later: Hey, this is pretty doable.

Here’s how Digital Fashion Week’s head of makeup Lan Nguyen-Grealis pulled off the sensational swagger of a traditional smoke with all of the flair and none of the fuss:


STEP 1. Grab a gel liner in the glossiest obsidian – try Body Shop’s superb 2-in-1 Smoky Gel Liner – and trace a line over your socket crease.

Top tip: To locate the socket, palpate your lids with a flat brush until you hit the sweet spot that’s the little sunken curve just above your eyeball. Keep your hand loose – no need to be too neat!


STEP 2. Using the same gel liner, create a second upward tick mark from the tail of your lower lash line, extending it to meet the line you’ve just drawn across your socket (see visual above).


The delineations of this V-shaped wedge will serve as an easy reference point so you know where to stop “smoking”. Now that you’ve got your outline, switch to a small shadow brush, dip it in your gel pot and deftly sketch it in.

STEP 3. Time to fire away and really go for it. Using a softly bristled paddle-shaped brush for maximum malleability, tap in a matte black shadow like the evocatively named Colour Crush in Moonlight Kiss.


Sweep your instrument back and forth, going over the socket edges and smudging liberally for a soft smoulder.  At this point, you should be enjoying the emergence of elliptical rings of colour around the socket.

Don’t be too precious about this bit! As Lan herself puts it, the single best thing about a smoky eye in this time and age is that perfection isn’t a prerequisite – casually smeared lids are entirely fine, desirable even.


STEP 4. Now for a heaping helpful of punchy punk liner. First, choose your instrument. In this instance, Lan says soft, short and stumpy is good; warm up the nub of your pencil by rolling it about the back of your hand. A rounded tip in a charred charcoal hue will give you a really thick, solid stroke; for easier application, slant the applicator at a 45 degree angle for precision tapering of the tail.

To apply, gently use your free hand to pull the eyelid taut for a flatter canvas to work on. Starting from the outer corner and working inwards, take a deep breath and line your lower lid in a single swipe, simultaneously easing up on the pressure so that the line becomes naturally thinner at the inner corners.


STEP 5. Last lap! Give the edges of your socket, the inner eye corners and the rims of the lower lid a once-over with a gleaming gunmetal shadow. This grey glimmer affords much-needed relief from all the matte blackness. 


STEP 6. Make a run for mascara! Lan makes this so easy; simply close your eyes and sort of wiggle your wand a bit around the roots of your upper and lower lashes. Clumps are cool and will add lots of character to the lived-in look we’re gunning for here. 


STEP 7. For a high-fashion “editorial” look, Lan finished by prepping the brows with a clear gel, then using a clean mascara wand to brush on a bit of creamy flesh-toned concealer.

This virtually erases the hairs for a grungy, Gaga-esque vibe – much too much for real life, but this trick makes for a great, no-commitment alternative to bleaching your brows. Try it!


Another ace tip: For eye-heavy looks like this, always start with the eyes before moving on the base and lips. This allows you to clean up the canvas as you go; feel free to use a moistened cotton swab to sop up stray marks and mascara flecks.


Finally, the trick to not looking like you have a black eye is to balance out the charred smokiness with beautifully airy, beguilingly bare-looking skin. This means just a smidgen of tinted moisturiser and quick upward strokes of a silvery taupe shadow on the cheekbones in lieu of full-on bronzer.

Buff the shadow right up to the temples, dab a creamy nude concealer onto your lips, layer a balm on top and bam, you’re good to go. Smudged eyes, subtly contoured cheeks and a devil-may-care attitude in spades.


Pair your sexy, sooty eye with say, a monochromatic tank, distressed jeans and black leather booties, and you’ve successfully married high fashion with street punk. Have fun!

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For more on Lan Nguyen-Greaslis, visit and follow Lan on Facebook and Twitter.