When it comes to makeup, I would like to think that I’m somewhat adventurous, which is precisely why I was drawn to the reverse smoky eye trend. In the past, I have dabbled in the bright blue eyeshadows of the '80s (sans leg warmers and spandex) and even experimented with my mom’s makeup from the '90s to test its longevity. I own a super dark Lorde-inspired lipstick, and while I only wear it within the confines of my own home, I still had enough courage to buy it in the first place! That being said, I am a sucker for a classic makeup look.
For years now, smoky eye makeup has been a go-to that has appeared on red carpets, runways, and college dorms. Chances are if you clicked on this article, you have dabbled in your fair share of smoky eye makeup, too. Some people ace the blended look on their first try, and others — including myself — end up with dark eyeshadow all over our faces, looking like a failed attempt at embodying a panda bear. But I am determined to perfect a dark, alluring smoky eye nonetheless. Given my less-than-steady hand, however, I figured perhaps the reverse smoky eye was more for me.
Because I’m an avid admirer of beauty vloggers and their amazing skills, I typically come across lots of different beauty tutorials on my YouTube feed — one of which has been the reverse smoky eye tutorial by Desi Perkins. Instead of layering thick wads of dark eyeshadow and eyeliner atop the lid, she concentrates on the bright color, blending on the lower lash line. I expected the look to be too heavy and give off the “I haven’t slept in weeks” impression. But to my surprise, the eyeshadows lining her bottom lid looked super pretty and even widened her eyes. Basically, I was sold.
So, without a lot of convincing necessary, I was determined to try my hand at the reverse smoky eye. While there were some interesting reactions along the way, and despite that I’m not a trained MUA in any way, shape, or form, I’m glad I was adventurous enough to try out this makeup trend.
Everything always looks easy in makeup tutorial videos, so I prepared myself for the worst during the application phase. It wasn’t necessary, though, because the process actually went down swimmingly. While Perkins chose to use blue and purple eyeshadows to create her look, I stuck to mostly dark brown products. I picked out a brown cream eyeshadow, a sparkly brown eyeshadow, a brown kajal pencil eyeliner, and lastly, a matte brown shade for blending. I figured sticking to a color scheme would help with blending, and I was right.
Mostly following Perkin’s directions in the video, I did my makeup like I normally would, applying my base but avoiding concealer and powder until after the eyeshadow application. Because dark eyeshadows have a tendency to shed when being pushed onto your lids, it is better to use concealer and powder as clean up for whatever may have ended up on your cheeks. In terms of the top lid, I only applied a little of that cream eyeshadow and blended it out with my ring finger, dragging some matte brown shadow in the crease with a blending brush. The next step was the tricky part: the lower lash line.
I started with the brown eyeliner, and lined my inner rims as well as my lower lash line. Then, using a shorter brush, I blended it out, creating a base for the shadows. Then, with a shorter brush, I applied the cream eyeshadow to my lower lash line and blended it out with the previous blending brush I used in my upper lid crease. Lastly, I applied the dark powder eyeshadow on top of all that. (Blend, blend, blend with your favorite fluffy brush.) And finally, I finished off the eyes with two coats of mascara. The last step was to apply some concealer and my powder, add some blush and finally, lipstick.
And voila, the finished look:
I could totally tell an immediate difference to the heavy concentration of color on my lower lash line as opposed to where it usually is on my lid, but it didn’t look abnormal or too panda bear-like. If I had used black eyeshadow, maybe it would have been a different story. But the browns blended nicely together, and even though they went pretty far down the lower lash line, the shadows opened my eyes and really made them act as a statement, as opposed to a bright lip color or intense contouring. While it initially looked a little too dark, I got more used to it throughout the day, which leads me to the peculiar reactions I got while wearing this look:
I started my day in the afternoon, after I applied the reverse smoky eye in the late morning. I accompanied my mom to the mall, and when we met to drive there together, she was very complimentary.
Mom: It’s different, it’s nice.
Well, thanks mom.
Once we got to the mall, I got a few stares but no one said anything to me. I even ran into a male friend, but he declined to comment on the dark shadows beneath my eyes.
In search of some more feedback, I texted my sister. Like most siblings, my sister is unapologetically honest, so I thought her opinion would be necessary to include. I texted her this picture, and she replied simply.
Sister: Me gusta.
She likes it! Huzzah! But once I got to the grocery store, I got more stares. What is it with people staring? Maybe I was just paying more attention to them and noticed it more? Or maybe they’re off put by my reverse smoky eye? My boyfriend and his grandmother certainly were not later that evening at dinner.
Grandmother: You look so pretty.
Boyfriend: Why are you so beautiful?
You guys, don’t make me blush.
My agenda for the day was pretty basic: Go to the mall, stop by the grocery store, and then grab dinner with my boyfriend and his grandmother. But to my surprise, I got quite a lot of feedback on my new makeup look. And even more surprising, it was mostly positive. Wearing this look out on normal, domestic errands really solidified that it’s not as inappropriate for everyday use as some might think. As for those strangers, I can’t speak for their staring too much. But despite their lingering glances, I felt confident in my reverse smoky eye and I think most people could see that.
In terms of makeup trends, the reverse smoky eye is quite tame. Because you can choose which eyeshadow colors you use and how much you blend and add, it’s very adaptable to each unique face. It might be a little tough to pull off the blending — I definitely struggled with it — but it’s easy to practice. If you’re like me (and like messing around with makeup on a daily basis) and want something that’s not too heavy, the reverse smoky eye might just be the answer to your makeup prayers. If you’re not too keen on dark shadows and prefer something more subtle, on the other hand, this may not be for you.
Although I realize I looked like I was wearing a lot of makeup for a casual afternoon, I really liked the way the shadows highlighted my eyes and didn’t crease on my lids two hours after application. So, whether you’re into the look or not, I would encourage you to try it out.
Plus, who doesn’t love an excuse to apply makeup and take some selfies?
Images: Author’s Own; Giphy