5 Tips for Achieving Eye Makeup Greatness

by Julia Teen

Unless you’ve got mad brush skills, it's hard to pull off a smoldering smoky eye effect or perfectly winged-out liner without a makeup artist. Yet, while a natural look may be easier to pull off, there is definitely a time and a place for an amazing statement eye.

All it takes is practice — and insider tips from the pros who know all of the tricks. We spoke to celebrity makeup artist Kelsey Deenihan, who has worked on celebrities including Leighton Meester, Lindsay Lohan and Lauren Conrad, for her expertise on how to get your eye makeup looking professional every time.

Stamp First, Color After

Before you begin, Kelsey suggests applying an eyeshadow primer, such as Urban Decay’s bestseller, to your lids. “A good primer will intensify the color you wear as well as adhere to the shadow, allowing it to last longer and prevent creasing,” she says.

Also try: e.l.f. Shadow Lock Eyelid Primer, $6.39, Amazon

Less Is More, Guys

“The thing I tend to see the most with smoky eyes gone wrong is that people get over-zealous and too ambitious with the shadow. Don't go overboard — a little goes a long way,” says Deenihan. “Define the shape first and follow that with your shadow. Don't bring the shadow all the way up to your eyebrows — follow your natural eye shape and the curve of your eyelid crease.”

Eyes Before Foundation

Avoid getting shadow residue under your eyes on your finished face by applying your eye makeup before you start on your base. “If your foundation is applied before your eye shadow, [the shadow] falls and sticks in your face leaving a muddy mess,” she explains. Always use a shadow brush with bristles that are stiff, not fluffly, to avoid fallout.

Also consider: Real Techniques Oval Shadow Brush, $13, Amazon

Alternatively, Deenihan suggests working with crème shadows or shadow sticks like Maybelline Master Smoky Shadow Stick or Chanel Stylo Eyeshadow Pencil that are blendable and give great shadow without scattering messy, loose pigment.

Maybelline Master Smoky Shadow Stick, $5, Amazon

Chanel Stylo Eyeshadow Pencil, $32, Bloomingdale's

Know Your Eye Shape

Jason Merritt/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Working out what shape your eyes are will help to assess how you should apply your eye color. Take a look in the mirror — are your eyes more rounded or almond shaped?

“I created a maroon and black smoky eye for Lucy Hale recently,” says Deenihan. “Lucy has round eyes, so elongating the smoky shadow outward from the corner of her eye made them appear more cat-eye like."

Deenihan's fool-proof trick for creating a defined line like this is to take the edge of a sponge wedge and drag it from the outer corner of the eye underneath the liner, upward towards the end of the eyebrow. “The sponge will collect and clean up any unwanted product and leave you with a clean line.”

Try: CoverGirl Makeup Masters Sponge Wedges, $6, Amazon

For almond-shaped eyes or smaller lids, Deenihan suggests opening them up by applying your shadow in a more circular shape. “Try to keep the shadow mostly on the lid and under the eye – stay away from the outer corners.”

Bring On the Color

Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Switch up your eye shadow colors from the standard black or gray to something more exciting. “Kate Hudson’s recent Oscar’s makeup used a purple and silver hue teamed with black for a great color combination, which added dimension to the eye,” Deenihan observes.

For a really flattering effect, though, she recommends choosing different shades of one color, such as navy blue teamed with cobalt or sky blue. “Mixing different shades together from the same color adds fun dimension and makes the eye pop,” she says.

If you’re sold on the classic black/grey smoky eye, though, take it up a notch by placing a horizontal line of shimmer in the dead center of the eyelid, across the entire lid. “This will give a wet look to a smoky for extra effect.”

Check Out Stila A Whole Lot of Love Makeup Set, $58, Amazon