The 'Gradual Smoky Eye' Is The Subtler Way To Try The Timeless Makeup Look

Let's be honest: When was the last time any of us went for a classic, dark-as-night smoky eye? Nothing against the OG, tried-and-true smoky eyes, but most of us have moved on to subtler takes on makeup. From the no-makeup makeup craze to monochromatic looks, beauty trends have generally left harsher looks in the rearview, and this includes our beloved smoky eye, which has been left to remain a Y2K staple that we bring out at themed parties. Still, we have to give credit where it's due because this dated trend gave way to our current obsession: the gradual smoky eye. After all, nothing looks better at night than a well-done, soft smoky eye that blends upward into nothing.

If you've never heard of it, a gradual smoky eye is a much more laid-back, softly blurred version of the smoky eye. The OG look clearly still inspires this new trend, which you can see in the darkness of the colors creating that signature smoky effect. So, what exactly is the difference? Other than the obvious toned-down intensity, this look also has a uniquely gradual approach to its smokiness. Rather than being messily dark all over, this look starts light at the brow bone and slowly suffuses downward, darkening the most at eye level. Now, if you want to recreate the gradual smoky eye, here are a few ways to do it. It may just turn you into a straight-up smoke show.

All-nighter no-makeup look

As bad as it is to sleep with makeup on, we can't deny the allure of a slept-in smoky eye. Its smudged, rubbed-off appeal is, against all odds, delightfully cool (blame 2000s movies, not us). It's a good thing you can get this look without sleeping in it. Take two eyeshadows — one warm brown and one cool brown or black — and layer them. Place the brown across the crease and blend subtly upward to the brow. The dark brown/black should blend downward into the upper and lower lashlines. Then, smudge, smudge, and smudge.

Smudged liner over nude shades

Think you can't make nude eyeshadows work in a smoky eye? You definitely can. If you want a look that can go from dinner to disco, a nude smoky eye is the best approach. First, blend a light nude all over the lid. Then, take a deeper nude — a couple of shades darker than your eyelid — and blend along the crease, but make sure some space is left beneath the brow. Finish by drawing a messy line (with black shadow) close to the lash line and smudging it with a finger. Messy, yet classy.

Gradient smoky wing

While sharp-cut eyeshadow isn't everyone's cup of tea, there's always that talented friend who can nail the look. If that's you, try this look with the gradual smoky eye trend. Essentially, you want to create one big, gradually smoky wing that spans the entirety of your eyelid and ends at the tip of your brow — light toward the inner corner and darker as it goes out. Gentle, face-safe tape is your best friend for this look, as it keeps your wing perfectly pointed. You can even accessorize with gems if the occasion calls for it.

Glitter and drama

We all know that the smoky eye was invented for nights out when all you want is to look mysterious, but does this mean you shouldn't shine? No, of course not. In our opinion, a glittery smoky eye is one of the best iterations of the classic look. Plus, a gradual smoky eye will let the sparkles shine even brighter. Simply create your soft, blurred smoky eye and pack on the glitter. Yes, it's that simple. And if you're still itching for that air of drama, create a stark black wing — and don't forget those inner corners.

Glossy smoke

How can you tell if you've had a successful night out? You'll be sweaty (sorry, glowy) all over — eyelids and all. That's a sign that you've danced and laughed the night away, but wouldn't you like to start your night with a beautifully dewy eye look? Create your subtlest, gradually smoky look with a combination of nudes and dark browns, getting darker the closer you get to the lash line. Then, soften things further with a touch of dusty pink. Finish it off with a light layer of Vaseline or any glossy topper. A dewy dream is born!