Meow! The Smoky Eye and The Deep Red Lip

Ever since Sharon Stone rocked the red carpet with smoky eyes and deep red lips last year, I’ve been obsessed with the look. It’s such a dramatic combination of Sex Kitten, glam and femme fatale, I’m totally on it.


The interesting thing about the smoky eye with the deep red lip is that it is contrary to what all the beauty magazines have told us. If you are going to go deep on the lip, go natural on the eyes and vice versa they have said for decades, but now the smoldering dark ‘Rock Chick’ eyes are making a comeback when combined with a rich crimson mouth. It’s a more balanced look than that of the past and it just goes to show that cosmetic rules are meant to be challenged.


There are a few different variations of the smoky eye with red lip. You can go for a tight line in pitch black around the eye and in the waterline like Sharon did, above, or try a sooty, smudgy eye like Kim Kardashian, below. Either way, the look is drop-dead sexy. I love that it can work on a variety of different coloring. Sharon, for example, with her blonde hair, pale skin and green eyes…


…as well as Kim, with her dark exotic features. First, however, and most important to keep in mind: this is not an easy look for just anyone to pull off, despite its seeming versatility. It helps if you have great skin and if you use only minimal amounts of concealer and foundation. Why?

Because honestly, a face full of thick makeup does not look good on anyone. You will want to keep the skin healthy-looking and somewhat bare; if you have freckles, even better. Let them show. The point is to be realistic-looking. Use a touch of concealer or foundation, sparingly, on problem areas only. Foundation is not meant to go all over. Put it only where you need it, and top with a dusting of powder—like MAC Studio Fix, or a great mineral makeup—using a fluffy brush, to mattify the face and build your coverage.

When I do this look on myself, the next cosmetic I apply after perfecting the skin is the red lip. I know this contradicts every other makeup artist in the world, but let me tell you why. When creating the smoky eye and red lip look, I have already chosen my perfect red. It’s predetermined, so applying lip color first is the quickest way to gauge how the rest of my face should look. The lip color will set the mood for the eyes and determine just how deep I can go with my shadows and liners. But this contradicts every other makeup artist I have ever talked to. They practically always finish with the lip color, so do what works best for you. That’s the only way to learn.


Your red should be a deep, rich red with a lot of pigment, like OCC’s Lip Tar in Vintage or Stalker. I mix them together 50-50 and this combination of lip colors looks great with my coloring–pale skin and dark hair. In fact, I think it would work for anyone. It will give you a classic, bruised cherry shade.

Next I start on the eyes. There is no point in taking the time to create a beautifully shaded eye if your handiwork will betray you by midday with oily eyelids and creased makeup. So first I lay a thin coating of my MAC Paint Pot in Painterly on the lid, or you can use a good concealer like MAC’s Prolong Wear Concealer if you prefer, to knock out any red or blue undertones and prevent creasing.

The great thing about the MAC Paint Pots and MAC concealer is that you need not powder down after applying them. You will be ready for eyeshadow immediately, and now it gets really fun. I have a billion different eyeshadows that have been sent to me from a multitude of cosmetic labels.


My favorite-of-the-moment is Guerlain’s compact of six gorgeous shades, above, in Place Vendôme, or Tom Ford’s quad in Burnished Amber, below.


Choose smoky shades that work with your eyes. I really love Rae Morris’s book Beautiful Eyes: The Ultimate Eye Makeup Guide for determining your ideal color palette. Rae consulted color expert Bronwyn Fraser with a chapter devoted to eye color charts. Remember that when creating the smoky eye your eyes do not have to be black and dark. “You can achieve smoky eyes with bronzed colors, a jewelled effect, and even shades of green,” said Rae.


If you are seeking a rich black in conjunction with the smoky shades, make sure you blend the shadows and the liners with finesse so you don’t end up looking ghoulish, like Taylor Momsen, below. There’s nothing artful about this makeup application. Remember, you want to look Sex Kitten, not Psycho.


MAC’s Fluidliner in Blacktrack along the lashline is perfect for a serious black. It’s a gel eyeliner in a pot that you apply with a brush and has intense pigment, reading like a true black instead of turning grey on the skin like some other eyeliners and shadows. It paints on smooth as silk and dries instantly. I love this product.


I like to mix my eyeshadows together and buff them along the lid, creating a deep sideways V shape at the outer corner of the eye. When you mix the colors together you get a smoky effect and it will not look like you have a streak of color painted on your lids. Mixing creates an indiscernable smoldering look that is more nuance than novice.

It’s okay if you get a bit messy; Rock Chick eyes look good that way. However, for the nice crisp edge that you seek at the outer corner of the eye with your shadows, Rae recommends this makeup artist insider tip: clear Scotch tape.

Simply apply about an inch of the clear tape from the lower outer corner of the eye, angled up toward the end of the tail of the brow before you start your eyeshadow. When you are finished, peel it off and you will have a precise line instead of a mottled mess.

After eyeshadow and lining the top lid, I work on the lower eyeliner. Remember to keep it heavy on the lids but tight around the bottom of the eye. Line the inner rim, also known as the waterline, in black for a cat-shaped eye. Go all the way into the inner corner of the eye using a soft, black kohl pencil liner, like MAC’s Feline or Smoulder, or by using Laura Mercier’s Cake Liner with a flat eyeliner brush dipped in water.

This is best on larger eyes. Hold the pencil or brush vertical to the inner rim of the eye and color in the waterline, wedging the pigment into the rim of the eye and lower lash line. Do not hold the liner perpendicular to your eye because the tip of the pencil is irritating and will make your eyes water. You should never point the tip of any pencil toward your eyeball.


Apply mascara, and lastly, fill in the brows with shadow and an angle brush. Remember that artful makeup takes evaluation, and, like a painter, time. Take the time to evaluate your makeup. It will get faster and easier with practice.

Touch up your foundation, skip the blush, and voila, you’re ready to break some hearts. Va-va-voom.

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