How To: Apply Dark Eyeshadow

I don’t know anything about dark eye shadow. In the past, I’ve tried dark shadows and failed miserably (meaning having to frantically wash off the botched makeup before I go out). There is something inherently intimidating about dark eye makeup to me. Maybe it’s the fear of raccoon eyes or maybe it’s just my tendency to lean towards natural colors when it comes to most makeup. Or maybe it’s just the realization that when dark eye makeup goes wrong…it is usually really bad.


However, a while back I came across this pin on Pinterest, and last week, I figured it was time to face my fear of dark eye shadow. I was nervous dipping into the untouched dark shades of my palettes, but I ended up liking the end result. I will admit though, I was a little self-conscious how the darker shadows drew so much attention to myself. Dark shadow is like BAM – here I am. Maybe that’s why smokey eyes are usually more suited for nightlife than a Saturday trip to Walmart.

1. Prime your lids. You’re going to be applying quite a good amount of eye makeup and, you don’t want it sliding everywhere.

2. Apply under eye concealer in a downward triangle shape.


3. Apply a brown shadow or eyeliner  to your upper and lower lash line. You want to get as close to your lash line as possible, but you shouldn’t be lining the waterline just yet.

4. Line your lower lash line with a brownish-black or black shadow and wing it out towards the outer edge of your eye.


5. Apply a light brown shadow to your entire lid and crease. Blend out.


6. Apply the same dark shadow you used for your lower lash line in step 4 to the outer third of your lid and part of your upper lash line. Make sure to blend to fill out the winged shape from step 4.

seveneight 7. Line your lower and upper waterline with black pencil. Don’t stab yourself in the eye – it hurts (personal experience).

8. Apply a light golden shadow to the inner corner of your eyes as a highlighter and, finish by curling and coating your lashes with mascara.

brownsmokeyeye3beforeandafterIt’s definitely more dramatic than I am used to, but I think I would use this look again for a special occasion. For the time being though, I am going to cling to my lighter neutrals – my makeup security blanket.

Oh yeah. I am doing that whole, “Sam’s moving to England” thing in five days. Gulp.

Do you favor darker or lighter eye shadow looks?


25 thoughts on “How To: Apply Dark Eyeshadow

  1. budziak September 9, 2013 / 10:43 am

    5 days? Wow, so soon, time has definitely flown by this summer. Great look! :-) I’ll be trying that out.

    • Sam September 9, 2013 / 11:07 am

      I know, right! It seems like just yesterday I was applying and now, I am about to leave.

  2. Chriss September 9, 2013 / 10:57 am

    This eye makeup looks really good on you! Very glamorous ;)

    • Sam September 9, 2013 / 11:08 am

      Thank you :)

  3. myclosetnbeautyfinds90 September 9, 2013 / 11:03 am

    this is gorgeous! i actually have a ton of trouble with dark eyeshadow and avoid it most of the time, but i’ll have to try this! thanks!

    • Sam September 9, 2013 / 11:09 am

      I totally understand! This is the first time I’ve actually liked the result of putting on dark shadow! It can look crazy if it goes wrong.

  4. EyeOfTheBeholder September 9, 2013 / 11:04 am

    Looks great! And good luck with the final preparations for England!

    • Sam September 9, 2013 / 11:10 am

      Thanks :)

  5. Ashley September 9, 2013 / 11:23 am

    You look great! I love how dark makeup looks on but I rather dislike applying it. Every time I do a dark eye look I think it looks terrible until I put eyeliner and mascara on.

    • Sam September 9, 2013 / 12:11 pm

      Thanks! It’s quite intimidating to use dark colors because you never actually know if it’s going to look good or bad until you finish it with mascara. lol.

  6. Paige Wester September 9, 2013 / 1:33 pm

    What shadows/liners did you use? I really like the lower lash color! Great tutorial and good luck with England! You’ll love it!

    • Sam September 9, 2013 / 1:37 pm

      I was using shades from both L’Oreal and Maybelline palettes. Thanks! I’m excited (and nervous)!

  7. TooManyMuffins September 9, 2013 / 2:13 pm

    Love your step by step, I’m pretty useless at eyeshadow myself but I’m getting there! Gonna try this look. Best of luck for your travels xxx

    • Sam September 9, 2013 / 10:09 pm

      I mean – you could start out small and keep working until you are more comfortable with it. :)

  8. Jenn September 9, 2013 / 4:28 pm

    You know I have always worn bright and dright eyeshadow, but lately I’ve gone natural or just eyeliner because I’ve been lazy and getting up early and doing it for work just doesn’t do it for me any more. I am going to wear some dark shadow tomorrow to work now! You got me inspired. And I loved your look!

    Can’t wait to join you in your travels! I love and miss traveling.

    • Sam September 10, 2013 / 6:51 am

      I agree – neutral shades can be easier than taking the time to figure out blending and all that other stuff. Ayyy. I’m nervous, but I’m excited too. It should be an interesting three months.

    • Sam September 10, 2013 / 6:52 am

      Thanks, Marija!

  9. nyrmirez September 9, 2013 / 4:54 pm

    I love this eye look on you Sam! It makes your eyes stand out. 5 days Oh boy! I hope your are enjoying your last few days in America. I can’t wait to hear about your trip and all of the adventures you will surely have :).

    • Sam September 10, 2013 / 6:52 am

      Thank you! Yeah, I am trying to get in as much stuff as possible. It’s hectic!

    • Sam September 10, 2013 / 6:53 am

      Thank you :)

  10. thescribblingtrain September 9, 2013 / 5:51 pm

    It makes your eye colour look so beautiful! You should definitely wear it out or an evening do. :)

    • Sam September 10, 2013 / 6:50 am

      Thanks :) Darker makeup definitely draws more attention to the eyes.

  11. Juvy September 29, 2013 / 1:38 am

    Fantastic tutorial! I love it!

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