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An Actually Easy 10-Second Eye Makeup Look That Will Get You Party Ready

I simply can’t help myself: This holiday season I’ve started to feel all sorts of sparkly again. After two Decembers ruined by the pandemic, this year I’m all about bubbly, lots of laughs, and dressing to the nines (OK, maybe sevens or eights). To prove my point, I’d like to share that I’ve worn shimmery eyeshadow to not one, but two holiday dinners so far.

The aesthetic wasn’t flashy, however–in fact, it’s surprisingly understated. For me at least, the holiday sparkle of 2023 is about less megawatt and more candlelit–less dazzling, and more dashing.

Certainly I have a hunch that the revival of moody makeup (freshly dubbed “indie sleaze” by the TikTok crowd) has influenced me. As someone who spent her twenties in the era of full-faced YouTube tutorials and pristine, bright Instagram aesthetics, seeing makeup that feels undone is a much needed breath of fresh air.

I was particularly inspired by makeup artist Donni Davy’s advice in our story about makeup aesthetic: “In order to nail the look, it really shouldn’t look like you put any real effort, which actually makes it pretty easy to achieve,” Davy says.

And that’s exactly how I’m approaching my holiday glam this year: Just eye-catching enough, (actually) effortless, and not too focused on making sure it’s perfect.

How to wear and apply a modern smoky eye.

Recently I was rummaging through a makeup bag looking for a new eyeliner pencil, and came across a little pot of Hourglass’s Scattered Light Glitter Eyeshadow in Smoke. It had been ages since I’d worn it, and it made me so happy to become reacquainted with the product. That very night I brushed a small bit along my lash line, paired with a coat of mascara.

It was smoldering–I’m even tempted to say smoky, but afraid that will conjure up images of hard cut creases and piles of pigment. And the early aughts smoky eye this is not.

Rather, the modern smoldering eye is simple. Something you can apply with your fingers, even. No ten-minute long video tutorial required. In the photo below, I applied the look in the mbg offices between meetings (and I was only a tiny bit late to the second video call.)

Image by mbg Creative


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I’ve found the easiest way to achieve it is to tight-line the eye area with a black pencil liner (I’m into this Victoria Beckham Beauty Satin Kajal Liner in Black.) Celebrity makeup artist Jenny Patinkin once told me that you should get the liner as close to the waterline as possible–and that when you can hear the lashes ruffling as you etch on the liner, that’s when you know you’re in the right spot. The idea here is to create a base for the shadow to eventually blend with, creating that hazy affect.

From there, I go in with my shadow of choice: Gunmetal, a dark brassy metallic that brings just the right amount of edge. I’ve been drawn to options that have a warm taupe undertone because I think it works better with my complexion and eye coloring–but there are stunning shades that skew more silver, cool-toned, and mauve.

For the more creamy-textured shadows, I use my fingers to apply. (My preferred method of application for most days.) I simply pick up a small amount of pigment with my ring finger, and smudge it into the lash line, blending out onto the lid. (Depending on the shadow of choice, you may need to work to blend it a bit more thoroughly–some creams are dense with pigment.) I repeat this process until I get the desired intensity, which is thick at the root, but then dissipates out as you work up the lid. I don’t apply anything higher than my crease.

For powders, it’s a similar situation, but instead of my fingers I pick up a small shadow brush, like this Line Smudge Brush from Jenny Patinkin. But I always start at the lash line and blend out and up. It’s sultry, appropriately messy, and takes all of a few seconds. This glam should be completed with a coat or two of mascara to really play up the drama.

And that’s it! I promise you don’t need to be a pro to get the hang of it. I’m quite rusty with my eye makeup application, and I find it oh-so-easy to pull off. It’s quick too, which means you can spend less time getting ready–and more time sparkling.

Hourglass Scattered Light Glitter Eyeshadow in Smoke$ 30This taupey gray is made with pearl powder to create a high-impact sparkle–but rest assured you can sheer it out quite smoothly should you want something a bit more understated. The texture feels equal parts powder and cream (it’s very unique), and can be applied with either a shadow brush or your fingers.

Roen Beauty 52 Eyeshadow Palette$ 49Who doesn’t love a shadow palette? These beauties from clean makeup brand Roen are a dream to wear–the powders feel soft and blend into the skin so effortlessly. The quad color combo here is ideal for a holiday glam moment: A bold gunmetal, taupe, rose, and plum.

Victoria Beckham Beauty Lid Lustre In Mirror$ 36A dazzling collection of sparkly shadows that you’ll want to wear again and again. This new shade is a cool-toned and sleek chrome, which looks great on it’s own or blended with other shades if you want to bring in a bit of color.

Jones Road Just A Sec $ 26For those who prefer a more subtle wash of color, this option’s for you. The cream-to-powder hybrid sheers out on the skin, so it’s more effervescent and bubbly. This shade is a perfect metallic gunmetal.


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