One of my favourite things to hammer home when creating makeup tutorials is to “use what you already have at home.” I am a huge believer that a lot of us have great things in our makeup bags already, but boredom or feeling stuck in a rut can put us off them.
Occasionally, there are things you need quite specifically to achieve your desired makeup. Smokey eyes simply won’t look blended without a soft, fluffy brush, for example, and a truly flawless base requires a full coverage element of some kind. And for sexy, smudgy, smokey eyes, the thing you need is a creamy pencil liner.
You might be wondering why your choice of product is so important. Creamy pencils are my favourite to work with because they are so much easier to correct if needs be. Rather than being held to ransom by the crisp, final strokes of a liquid liner, creams allow for blending and playtime to totally nail your shape. They will also amount to a smudgy, sexy finish that is much more effortless – think Kate Moss in her Glastonbury party days.
Smokey eyeliner: the best products to use
So which pencils are going to make your life easier? A new discovery that I really recommend is 19/99 Beauty (sold here on Cult Beauty), as its creamy, easy pencils also come in a really vivid selection of shades. This is a relatively new brand to me, but I am seeing it infiltrate my TikTok more and more lately. Do check out its brand imagery; a glorious selection of models of all ages looking great in all liner colours.
Then, of course, there’s Victoria Beckham’s kajal liners. I have to hand it to Victoria; her brand is so far removed from the many vacuous celebrity brands that have cropped up as pandemic passion projects. Her formulas are truly unique and high performing; she has totally nailed makeup that always looks flattering. Everything is hydrating, elegant and easy to use, and her creamy liners are no different. There’s a little buffer on the end of them which is super handy. In addition to making great liners, you could map out an entire smokey eye using these pencils alone.
Coming in strong from an affordable point of view is – you’ve guessed it – Peaches and Cream. I know I return to the brand a lot in my Eliza columns, but the reality is that its liners are super easy to blend and SO affordable. While you’re there, you might acquire some small detail brushes to help buff the edge of your liner to create a softer finish – look at the PC31 Small Detail Brush, £5, and the PC38 Fluffy Pencil Brush, £5, both Fabulous Makeup.
Smokey eyeliner: the technique to try
Now on to technique. With the correct liner, this should be easy. Here’s my quick step by step on how to create a smudgy, smokey liner look:
- Take a creamy pencil and trace the upper lash line. Do this one eye at a time so that you have time to blend it before it sets.
- While the liner is still creamy to the touch, take a tiny brush and buff the liner from the inside outwards. At the end of the eye, use your finger to drag the end of the liner outwards, carving out a wing as you do so.
- Now that you have a blended liner shape, return to the root of the lashes with your pencil and retrace this space gently. This should leave you with a dense layer of pigment near the lashes (great for giving the illusion of more volume) and then a softer, smudgy feline shape everywhere else.
- Finish with mascara and you’re all set!
For best results for these smudgy liner looks, I’d buff excess product off your brush and onto the back of your hand as you go along. If you have too much product on your brush, you’ll be deepening the eyes rather than softening them with the blend!
Once you’re finished and it’s time for a brush wash, Donna May’s Makeup Brush Cleaner Kit, £25.45, Donna May London, will make the process quick and easy and keep your brushes feeling fantastic. Donna was head of hair and makeup at ITV for 25 years, and her brand is all about simple accessories that make your life easier.
I’ve created a step-by-step video to show you these tips in action over on the Eliza IG page after one of our followers requested it! Feel free to reach out if you’re reading this and you’d like me to show you something special next time too.