Mastering the Smudged Eyeliner Look: A Makeup Artist’s Guide

smoked eyes makeup with smudged eye liner technique

The smudged eyeliner look: a sultry alternative to the classic sharp-lined eye. Ideal for both a casual day out and a night on the town, it’s the look we often covet but can sometimes struggle to perfect. As a seasoned makeup artist, I’ve gathered all my top tips and techniques for nailing this look. Let’s dive in!

Understanding the Smudged Eyeliner Look

The essence of smudged eyeliner is to soften the intensity of the traditional liner, evoking a sense of mystery and allure. Unlike the defined lines we’re accustomed to, smudged eyeliner blurs the edges, suitable for all occasions and eyeliner shades, although the iconic hues are undoubtedly black and dark brown.

Nude makup with a little glitter and smudged eye liner

Remember the edgy, grunge looks from rock concerts? The smudged eyeliner was an essential component. But be wary; without the proper technique, it can quickly transform from rocker-chic to unintentional raccoon eyes.

Steps to Achieve the Perfect Smudged Eyeliner

  1. Prime and Prepare: Begin with an eyelid primer. This ensures longevity and sets a smooth canvas for the eyeliner.
  2. Upper Eyelid Application: Stretch your upper eyelid slightly to the side for a tighter surface. Draw a line close to the lash line, from the outer to the inner corner. For a bolder look, layer the liner.
  3. Lower Eyelid Technique: Apply the liner close to the lower lash line, starting from the outer corner and stopping two-thirds of the way in. This technique enlarges the appearance of the eyes.
  4. Join the Dots: Connect your upper and lower eyeliner to the eye’s outer corner.
  5. Time to Smudge: With a smudging brush or cotton swab, blur the eyeliner edges. For those comfortable with hands-on techniques, fingertips work wonders too.
  6. Set and Seal: To keep the smudged look intact, set it with a matching eyeshadow.
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What are the tools needed to create perfect smudged eyeliner makeup?

Let us look at the tools and beauty products proven to work in this type of makeup. We are sure that most of them are already in your beauty arsenal. Repeating this makeup several times allows you to experiment with the other textures and tools. But for now, let us take a look at the basics.

Crafting the Perfect Smudged Look

  1. Select Your ArsenalStay Away from Liquids. Liquid liners, although fantastic for precision, are not the best fit for this look. Their tendency to peel off rather than streak makes them a no-go. Kohl is King. A kohl pencil offers the blendability crucial for this style. It’s designed to give that smudged appearance effortlessly. Smudging Tools. For achieving the perfect smudge, consider using the BEAU GÂCHIS brush, renowned for its excellent blending capabilities.
  2. Lay the GroundworkNeutral Palette Foundation: Before diving into the liner, create a base using neutral eyeshadows to accentuate the smudged effect. The TOO FACED Natural Matte Neutral Eye Shadow Palette offers a fantastic range of shades.
  3. Precision with KohlLiner of Choice. The CIATÉ LONDON Wonderwand Gel-Kohl Hybrid Liner in Black provides versatility. Whether you’re going for a sleek cat eye or a grungy smudge, this liner has got you covered.
  4. Mastering the SmudgeQuick Reflexes. Immediately after applying the liner, use your smudging tool. Blend with small strokes, allowing you to experiment with different shapes and intensities. The choice is yours, from a delicate wing to a more rounded appearance.
  5. Mascara MagicElevate Your Lashes: Every edgy look needs a finishing touch. The MILK MAKEUP Rise Lifting & Lengthening Mascara in Elevate is a must-have for bold, dramatic lashes.
  6. Lock in the LookSetting for Perfection: To ensure your eyeliner remains impeccable throughout the day, overlay it with a black eyeshadow. Seal everything in with the MORPHE Continuous Setting Mist, a fan favorite, to ensure longevity.

eye makeup with sumdged eyeliner technique

Top Tips for Flawless Smudging

  1. Order is Key: After eyeshadow, apply the eyeliner. Mascara should always be the final touch.
  2. Less is More: Begin with a faint line. You can always intensify later—it’s simpler to add than to remove.
  3. Focus Outwards: Emphasize the outer eye area for a more dramatic, enlarging effect.
  4. Maintain Proximity: Keep the smudging close to the lash line to avoid the dreaded “over-smudged” appearance.
  5. Choice of Liner: For smudging, gel and pencil eyeliners are best. Liquid liners often resist staining and might flake off.
  6. Balancing Act: Pair smudged eyes with subtle cheek and lip colors for a harmonious look.
  7. Glam It Up: Draw a winged eyeliner over the smudged base for added drama.
  8. Correcting Course: Mistakes happen! Use a makeup remover-dipped cotton swab to fix any slips.
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So, there you have it—a masterclass on smudged eyeliner. With practice and the right tools, anyone can master this timeless eye makeup technique. Happy smudging!


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Olena Aliamina
I am Olena Aliamina, a prefessional coach and makeup artist. I started my career in beauty industry back in 2016 as a makeup artist, and later on added professional hair design, lash extension and hair stylist skills to my portfolio. I hope you will like my articles and tips I share!