Practice, it’s said, makes perfect, but honest to goodness I have tried and tried to “do” smoky eyes and every time I end up looking like I’ve gone a couple of rounds with Mike Tyson. As embarrassing as it is to admit at the age of 41 that I still don’t know how to pull off one of the beauty world’s essential looks, since “coming out” I’ve found I’m not alone.
A quick phone call to Bobbi Brown and some rather excited emails and myself and three girlfriends, Kate Snushall, Pip Patterson and Sarah Bothamley, are gathered at the brand’s gorgeous store in Auckland’s Britomart, to once and for all banish our smoky eye demons.
Each of us is paired with a Bobbi Brown make-up artist. Kate admits she doesn’t spend much time doing her make-up, so she is being shown how to create a smoky eye using just a cream eyeshadow stick and a gel eyeliner and then smudging it out.
“Just remember to keep it as dark at the lash line as you can get it, for maximum definition,” says Kate’s make-up artist, Rachel Beedel.
We’re told the key to the smoky eye here is to join the lower and upper shadow together at the outer corner of the eye. My colour is done with Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Cream Shadow in Beach Bronze ($57).
“I’m going in,” says Sarah as she plants herself in front of the mirror armed with a brush. “Ooh, it’s a bit wonky,” she declares after a few seconds. Senior artist Sarahlee Russell leaps in: “Just blend it, blend it, keep blending it,” she advises.
Now it’s time for the all-crucial eyeliner. “I just don’t know how to use it, I’ve tried so many times,” admits Pip. Rather than painting on one long stroke of eyeliner, Pip’s make-up artist, Christina Dellar, shows her how to apply small strokes, which leave less room for telltale shakiness and mistakes, and then blend the line till it looks how she wants it. “Where there’s a lash, there’s a line,” she adds. “Don’t stop till you get to the edge of your lash line. Then look in the mirror and fill in any gaps.”
I am in the hands of the wonderful Natalie Wallach, who applies Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner in Black Ink ($52) close to the lash line of my upper eyelid. “It doesn’t have to be perfect,” she says, “because you’re going to blend it.” She shows me that I should be blending the line upwards not outwards as I’ve always done. This helps to give a nice wash of smokiness and also avoids dark pigment pooling at the edges of eyes. We line along the bottom eyelashes with the Gel Eyeliner and Natalie uses a cotton bud to go along afterwards to correct the shape and blend it out.
At this point the artists teach us how to use a liner along the water line of our eyes. Not everyone will be comfortable doing this, but it definitely amplifies intensity. For the upper lid, you need to look straight into a mirror and slightly down. Put your arm over your head and use your fingers to pull your eyelid up; this will expose the underside of your lash line, then apply your liner along here. On the bottom, use your fingers to gently pull the lid down, then apply liner along the exposed inner lash line. The look is finished with Bobbi Brown’s new Smoky Eye Mascara ($57), which can be layered up for greater va-voom.
The final verdict? “Wo-oow,” say all of the ladies as we take in each other’s looks.