How to do Smudged Eyeliner like a Pro {Step-by-step Tutorial}

smudged eyeliner tutorial step by step

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How to do Smudged Eyeliner {Step-by-step}

The allure of smudged eyeliner has been captivating women for decades.

It’s the perfect blend between sophisticated chic and rock’n’roll edge.

But, as many know, achieving this sultry look is not always as easy as it seems.

With this comprehensive guide, you’ll master the art of smudged eyeliner in no time!

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What is Smudged Eyeliner?

Simply put, smudged eyeliner is a softened, blurred version of a traditional eyeliner application.

Rather than a clean, sharp line, the smudged method gives a hazy, diffused effect that can be both subtly sensual or fiercely dramatic.

The smudged look has been popularized by many celebrities and has graced the runways of numerous high-fashion events.

From the grunge era, where the smudged look was almost a trademark, to modern pop icons showcasing it in music videos, its presence is undeniable.

The beauty of smudged eyeliner lies in its imperfection.

It’s about breaking the boundaries that traditional eyeliner sets.

The process involves applying eyeliner and then using tools (or even fingertips) to blur, smudge, and blend the liner.

This can be done on the lash line, both upper and lower, and even on the waterline for added intensity.

When to Use Smudged Eyeliner vs. Regular Eyeliner

Regular Eyeliner: Ideal for structured, defined looks. Think of corporate settings, formal events, or whenever you want a neat appearance.

Smudged Eyeliner: Perfect for casual outings, evening events, or when aiming for a more laid-back yet sultry vibe. Think of date nights, concerts, or a beach party.

Smudged eyeliner is a chameleon in the makeup world. It suits various occasions:

  • For a daytime look, a lightly smudged line adds depth without being overpowering.
  • For evening events, a heavier smudge combined with dark eyeshadows creates a captivating, mysterious allure.

Best Tips to Get the Perfect Smudged Eyeliner

  • Start Fresh: Always start with a clean and primed eyelid for a smooth base.
  • Work Quickly: Eyeliners set fast. Smudge as you go rather than waiting to finish the entire eye.
  • Layering: Layering is your friend. Start with a thin line and smudge. Add more and smudge again for deeper intensity.
  • Blend Well: The key lies in seamless blending. Avoid hard edges.
  • Stay Close: For a subtle look, keep the smudging close to the lash line.

What is the Best Type of Eyeliner for Smudged Eyeliner?

  • Pencil Eyeliners: Often the go-to choice for smudging. They offer ease of application and are easy to blur. This one is one of my favorites.
  • Gel Eyeliners: These can offer a deeper color and are often long-wearing, but you have to work quickly before they set. this one here is literally the best black gel eyeliner on the market!!
  • Kohl Liners: With their deep pigment and soft texture, they’re a dream to smudge. here’s our #1 top recommendation for kohl eyeliners.
  • Avoid Liquid Eyeliners: They dry quickly and are more resistant to smudging.

Smudged Eyeliner Tutorial Step by Step

Step 1: Prime the Eye

smudged eyeliner tutorial

Begin with a clean and dry eyelid.

Apply a thin layer of foundation or concealer, spreading it evenly over the entire eyelid.

This will act as a base for your eyeliner, ensuring it stays put and appears vibrant.

Once done, gently dab on some translucent setting powder.

This helps in setting the foundation or concealer, ensuring your eyeliner doesn’t smudge beyond where you want it to!

Related: What’s the best way to prime your eyelids before eyeshadow?

Step 2: Line Above the Lash

smudged eyeliner tutorial

Grab your favorite pencil eyeliner (though any eyeliner type will do as long as its not liquid eyeliner).

Carefully draw a line just above your lash line.

Don’t worry about perfection here; the smudging will take care of any minor errors.

Step 3: Smudge to Perfection

smudged eyeliner tutorial

Act quickly before your eyeliner sets!

Take a small precision brush and gently blend the eyeliner outwards, creating a soft, smudged wing effect.

This blurring technique is the secret to that sultry, smoky look.

I’m using my preciosn eyeshadow brush from this eye makeup brush set.

Step 4: Play with Eyeshadow

For added depth and a seamless transition, choose a dark eyeshadow.

Here’s a tip: a combo of dark brown eyeliner paired with black eyeshadow can create a stunning gradient effect.

Apply the eyeshadow very close to the lash line, on top of your smudged eyeliner.

This intensifies the look and adds layers to your smoky eye.

Step 5: Define with Concealer

smudged eyeliner tutorial

Perfection lies in the details. To make your smudged wing pop and look sharp, take a bit of concealer on a flat brush.

Neatly trace along the bottom edge of your wing, cleaning up any stray marks and refining the wing’s shape.

This step gives your smudged eyeliner a more polished appearance.

Step 6: Lashes to Complete

smudged eyeliner tutorial

Your eye makeup isn’t complete without some attention to your lashes.

For a natural look, apply a coat or two of volumizing mascara.

If you’re feeling a tad more dramatic, go ahead and adorn your lashes with a pair of flattering false lashes.

Optional: Bottom Lash Line Magic

For an intensified, all-around smoky effect, repeat the above steps on your bottom lash line. This frames the entire eye and adds a touch of drama.

Voila! Your smudged eyeliner look is complete.

Whether you’re stepping out for a casual day event or a glamorous evening soirée, this technique is sure to make your eyes the talk of the town!

Remember, practice makes perfect, so don’t be disheartened if you don’t nail it on the first try.

Best Eye Shapes to Try Smudged Eyeliner

Truthfully, smudged eyeliner looks good on almost every eye shape! However:

  • Almond Eyes: Benefit from a soft smudge on the outer corners, elongating the eye.
  • Round Eyes: A slight smudge on the lower lash line can create an illusion of elongated eyes.
  • Hooded Eyes: Smudging on the outer third can give depth and definition.
  • Monolid Eyes: A thicker smudge can create dimension and depth.

Why Smudged Eyeliner is Perfect for Hooded and Mature Eyes

The magic of makeup is its ability to enhance our features, drawing attention to our best attributes

Smudged eyeliner is one such versatile tool that is particularly flattering for specific eye shapes, notably hooded eyelids and mature eyes that show signs of aging like wrinkles.

Here’s why:

Understanding Hooded Eyelids

Hooded eyelids, often referred to as “droopy eyes”, feature a more prominent brow bone, causing a skin fold that can hide the mobile eyelid when the eye is open.

This shape poses a challenge for classic winged eyeliner as the “wing” can get hidden or distorted by the crease.

Benefits of Smudged Eyeliner for Hooded Eyes:

  1. Subtle Drama: Unlike sharp lines that can get lost or look uneven, a smudged look imparts softness and depth without the need for precision.
  2. Flexibility: With smudging, you don’t have to worry about the “perfect flick” of a wing. Instead, focus on smudging outward to elongate the eyes, giving an illusion of lift.
  3. Avoiding Overcrowding: Thick, bold lines can make hooded eyes look heavy. Smudging provides the drama without overpowering the lid space.

Embracing Mature Eyes

As we age, our skin naturally loses elasticity.

This can lead to wrinkles and fine lines, especially around the delicate eye area. The challenge here is that crisp eyeliner lines can settle into these creases, exaggerating them.

Benefits of Smudged Eyeliner for Mature Eyes:

  1. Softening Effect: The blurred boundaries of smudged eyeliner do wonders in softening the appearance of wrinkles, rather than highlighting them as sharper lines might.
  2. Youthful Glow: A gentle smudge can create a smoky, sultry effect, giving a youthful touch to the makeup look.
  3. Avoiding Tugging: Mature skin requires gentle handling. The smudging technique doesn’t require the same taut pull as creating a precise line, hence it’s gentler on the skin.

Tips for Perfecting the Smudged Look for These Eye Shapes:

  1. Use a Primer: A primer will ensure the eyeliner doesn’t transfer, especially important for hooded eyes.
  2. Start Thin: Begin with a thin line. You can always add more, but it’s harder to remove excess. Smudge in gentle outward motions.
  3. Opt for Pencil or Gel: These formulations are easier to smudge compared to liquid eyeliners.
  4. Consider Eyeshadow: A similar shade of eyeshadow can be used over the smudged eyeliner to set it and intensify the smoky effect.
  5. Highlight the Inner Corner: A touch of shimmer on the inner corners can open up the eyes, complementing the smudged look.

What Goes First: Eyeshadow or Smudged Eyeliner?

Generally, eyeshadow goes first. It acts as a base, setting the tone for the eye makeup.

After applying eyeshadow, you can then add and smudge your eyeliner to complement and intensify the look.

However, if you’re going for a very intense smoky eye, you might smudge the eyeliner first and then blend eyeshadow over it for added drama.

Final tips on smudged eyeliner

The smudged eyeliner look is a versatile and sultry addition to any makeup look.

Whether you’re dressing up for an evening out or just want to add some oomph to your daily look, smudged eyeliner is the way to go for an easy all-eye-shapes fit eyeliner technique.

With the right tools, techniques, and tips in hand, you’re all set to achieve this natural and easy eyeliner trick!

I personally use this technique with my older clients that have loose wrinkled skin on the eyelids, and I teach all my smudged eyeliner technique and more mature skin makeup tricks in this guide.

Related makeup posts:

How to do smudged eyeliner like a pro

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