It’s the iconic party look, says Vicci Bentley. But an editor once told me, she’d taken a straw poll round the office on whether anyone over-50 should do a smoky eye. Her 20-something assistants gave the thumbs down – they couldn’t cope with the idea of their mums rocking a sultry look. Well, how very ageist and really rather jejune. But there is a danger zone here. On older eyes, smeary shadow looks louche at best, derelict at worst and oddly weary in between. And let’s face it, perfect liner’s a terrifying challenge even if you lids aren’t wrinkly. On the other hand, senior eyes do need definition – something I’ve found especially since my hair’s been grey. The good news is, that a smoky eye doesn’t have to be perfect to make your eyes ‘pop’ in a good way. Relax – the beauty’s in the blur, FAB makeup artist Louise Heywood reassures us. Here’s the way to go.

Layer the liner

1: Prime lids with flesh-toned cream shadow or concealer from lashline to browbone. This blocks out any redness and gives colour products a smooth, blendable base. We used Mac Pro Longwear Paint Pot in Layin’ Low.

2: To avoid a smoky-eye looking heavy, it’s important to concentrate all colour on the outer lids and keep keeping the inner third ‘nude’. So, for basic defining, work a soft, inky black pencil liner between the lashes all along the upper lashline (no need to be precise). Then smudge outwards and upwards a quarter of the way towards the lid crease. We used Marc Jacobs Highliner Gel Crayon in Blacquer.

3: Now layer matt plum over the black, smudge-blending upwards into the crease with a brush. Whatever your eye colour, plummy tones will magically intensify it, while making whites look brighter. We used creamy Laura Mercier Kajal D’Orient Eyeliner in Vino.

4: Top with a sheeny bronze for an elegant, low-key sparkle, working right into the creaseline. We used Sisley Phyto Eye Twist No.7.

5: Here’s the really clever bit. Starting where your lashes start, trace your black pencil liner inside the upper waterline (to do this, gently pull your lid up to expose the pink under-rim). Doesn’t matter if you wobble – it won’t show. This ‘secret liner’ does, however, do wonders to focus your eyes and make lashes look thicker, so you don’t have to overdo the mascara. Speaking of which, we used Armani Eyes To Kill Mascara in No.1 on upper and lower lashes. And you’re done!

Go for it – take your look to the next razzle-dazzle level

They’ll tell you glitter’s for the girls. They’ll warn you shimmer shows up lines. And besides, it’s rather naff, don’t you know? Don’t listen to this dull naysaying. Used shrewdly and positioned niftily, those defining, shining accents liven your basic makeup look with an elegantly youthful vibe, says Louise. Now let’s grab some limelight.

1: Sketch gold pencil in a Xmas tree shape (sorry, triangle!) on the centre lids. Then diffuse with a brush to a subtle sheen. We used Clarins Waterproof Eye Pencil in 06 Gold

2: Matt lip tints won’t feather into pucker lines, but they can look dry and tight after a while. Use them as a base, then moisten them with a gilt-y gloss on the centre lips only, where it gives a plump illusion without risk of bleeding off. We used Victoria Beckham Aura Gloss in 01 Honey over Dior Rouge Touch Liquid in Jungle Matt.

3: Here’s a nifty bit of nail art. Brush gold spangly polish on the tips only – no need to be precise. Then seal with a couple of layers of clear top coat. The result’s an elegant, unexpected eye-catching glint – as if you’ve dipped your fingers in the glitter pot. We used Diorific Nail Liner Shine & Precision in Precious Rocks.


Team FAB: Photographer: Annie Johnston. Beauty editor: Vicci Bentley. Fashion stylist: Alyson Walsh. Model: Silvina Neder. Make-up: Louise Heywood. Hair: Marco at Ena Salon, 5 Great Queen Street, London WC2 (020 3301 5451).

First photo: Silvina wears black lace dress by Ghost, earrings by Pilgrim.

Second photo: Silvina wears: gold lamé blouse, By Malene Birger from Precious Boutique (also available HERE) and earrings by Nocturne.

22 thoughts on “You’re never too old for a smoky eye

  1. The nail varnish tip is one I’m definitely going to try. And agree 100% on the importance of priming the eyelid. Great tips!

  2. I think we might as well have fun with our makeup as well as our clothing!! It’s reversible and can be an eye opener–(punny, huh?)

  3. Love all the fresh ideas and encouragement to be bold, declrative (the most flattering way) and branch out from the same-old, same-old. The clothes are chosen and styled beautifully too., and the model glows with character.

  4. Looks amazing, a definite smokey eye but not of the over the top variety, then helped by rest of the makeup being understated. Going to try the nv idea….

  5. I think the model here is utterly beautiful and her eye make up so flattering to already lovely eyes. Alas, I can’t emulate her. My eyes, once my best feature, now have droopy lids which I don’t have the skill to disguise, despite watching you tube videos designed to help. I have sort of solved the problem by changing the lenses of my glasses to a mid blue tint which hides the droop. I keep my eyebrows tamed and neatened into a defining frame and focus on my mouth as I still have full lips and good teeth. I’ve had numerous compliments on my new look: ‘chic’, ‘elegant’.
    I think the rule is ‘be honest’. If time has really left its mark in one area, play it down, find a bit that’s still great and play it up for all it’s worth!

  6. I may be too old to wear smoky eye makeup in my mid-sixties but I embrace this look. And fortunately don’t have either drooping eyelids or too many wrinkles around eyes. Maybe because I use eye cream morning and night and have always worn large sunglasses. For products I use a mixture of Clinique and Laura Mercier to good effect. First as suggested above Clinique Touch Base in Canvas over lid. Then a basic powder eyeshadow in Pewter Laura Mercier. For evening I layer some Celestial a silvery grey on top and towards outer corners. Eye pencil I use is Clinique High Impact custom black kajal in Blackened Green. On upper lid Clinique Pretty Easy liquid eye lining pen in Black. Easy to do and stays put all day until removed with Clinique Take the Day Off makeup remover.

  7. Cannot tell you how relieved I am to know that smudging is fine when you are 60 because it means I don’t have to do anything different. Smudging has always been the result of my make up routine. Though I will try a goldy lip gloss because red just makes me look like a very old and mealy-mouthed old woman. Strangely, not particularly fetching.

  8. Great tutorials and products, thank you. I just learned another way to do the smokey eye, and it’s been so nice to see my naturally small, hooded eyes look larger and just better. It works!

  9. Loving the looks, some great ideas. Will try the nail polish dip. Coverting the model’s hair. Would be happy to be grey but my salt and pepper is just pants so staying with being Blondish!

  10. Thank you for this. I am Irish pale and not very confident with the smoky look now. I used to look really goth, but the creases have put me off doing it. Will definitely try these techniques. I especially love the dipped nails idea and the beautiful grey hair – wish mine would hurry up and grow in.

  11. she looks fab but hard to do when you have old eyes that can’t see and you need reading glasses and you can’t use them when applying make up, very frustrating

  12. What an incredibly beautiful lady! I loved my smoky eye until it was ‘suggested’ I was too old for it. Chacun a son gout! I am off to play with my cosmetics right now!

  13. I’m beginning to despair of the younger generation. I call them “moany millenials.” Have they never heard of Marianne Faithfull or Juliette Greco? Nothing “louche” or “derelict” about either of them. I once read Charlotte Gainsbourg sleeps in her eye makeup: can’t get more “smoky” than THAT!!

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