In the fashion world, khaki gets a bad rap for being decidedly unsexy. After all, the preppy, practical pant is an essential part of the uniform at just about every big box store across the nation. But in the beauty world, khaki is having a bit of a moment -- and it’s totally glam. At the Rebecca Minkoff spring/summer 2017 runway show, the focal point of the makeup was a dramatic and gorgeous khaki smoky eye, a refreshing departure from the traditional black or gray. “With khaki, it’s possible to create the depth and drama needed to achieve the smoky look,” says Gato, the Maybelline New York global makeup artist who created stunning makeup for the show. But there’s a warmth to the shade that makes it softer and more wearable, he says. “There are golden pigments in it that make it perfect for spring.” 

Even better: “It’s a surprisingly universally flattering shade,” says makeup artist Ashleigh Ciucci. Everyone can wear the olive-y green hue. However, Ciucci suggests varying it in richness depending on your skin tone. Keep it more sheer if you have light or fair skin, and play up the intensity if you have a darker complexion. And because the hue has hints of yellow, blue, golden, and black pigments in it, it goes well with all eye colors, adds Gato. Though those with hazel and gray blue eyes will look particularly radiant in this shade, he adds.


khaki smokey eye hero


Get The Look 

Here’s how Gato created the bold eye for the show. 

Step 1: Create Depth

Gato created a creamy dark base by mixing Maybelline Lasting Drama Waterproof Gel Pencil in Ultra Black with Dream Cushion Foundation. He applied the blend around the eye with his finger. 

Step 2: Add Drama

Then he used the gel pencil again, this time rimming the waterline of eyes. 

Step 3: Go Green

Gato then layered the star product, Expert Wear Mono Eyeshadow in Khaki Camo, over the black base -- along top and bottom lash lines and into the corners of the eyes.


 khaki smokey makeup


Step 4: Finish With FringeThe final touch: a couple coats of The Falsies Push Up Angel Mascara on top and bottom lashes, a volumizing, lifting formula that creates a false-lash look without the hassle of applying strips.  

A More Casual Khaki 

Off the runway, you could simply layer the khaki shadow over black liner to get a similar depth with a pop of rich green. If you don’t want to go full-on smoky, another variation is to ditch the dark liner and line the waterline with a nude or cream pencil to brighten, says Ciucci. Try Urban Decay 24/7 Waterline Eye Pencil in Walk of Shame. Tweaking the texture of the khaki can also lighten the look. Go with a sheer, shimmery formula (powder or cream), Ciucci suggests. We like Urban Decay Eyeshadow in Mildew, a pretty golden mossy green (despite its off-putting name). Apply it with a fluffy eyeshadow brush to get the sheerest application. Or, to just dip your toe into the trend, try a swipe of khaki liner along top and bottom lash lines and smudge it out. Try it with Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Stash. 

What To Wear With Your Khaki 

At the Rebecca Minkoff show, Gato paired the eye with a golden highlight on cheeks and a clear balm on the lips, but there are a lot of options that work with the green shadow. Like the pants, the khaki shadow serves as a neutral -- it can go with almost anything. “You can combine it with one of the colors that it is made of: gold, blue, yellow, black,” says Gato. Here are few foolproof combos and how to get the looks.


khaki smoky eye


Khaki + Bronzy Cheeks: Khaki pairs really well with warm shades, says Ciucci. She likes a khaki eye with bronze or peach cheeks and a gold or champagne highlight. Try L’Oréal Paris True Match Blush in Precious Peach topped with Maybelline Face Studio Master Strobing Liquid Illuminating Highlighter in Deep/Gold. Finish the look with a sheer peach-y lip. Try NYX Cosmetics Lip Lingerie in Cheekies. 

Khaki + Coral Glossy Lips: A strong eye doesn’t have to mean a barely-there lip. A khaki eye and a bright pop of color on lips strikes a nice balance. Slick lips with a bright coral or even a tomato red gloss, suggests Ciucci. Try Lancôme Gloss In Love in Glittermania. 

Khaki + Fuchsia Lips: A green eye and a blue-based pink fuchsia look are another strong pairing. Try L’Oréal Colour Riche Balm Pop in Wild Lily. 

Khaki + Light Blue: “Personally, I find the contrast between khaki and light blue or even vivid orange very cool,” says Gato. “For example, use khaki to create the smoky eye and use light blue or orange shadow or liner to pop in the inner corners of the eyes,” he says. Try it with Maybelline Expert Wear Eyeshadow in Teal The Deal. 

What not to wear with it? 

Just as we wouldn’t suggest wearing khaki pants with a red shirt, unless you want to be asked what aisle the socks are on, there are certain shades that just don’t work with khaki eyeshadow. For one, skip the silver. Gato is quick to point out that there is no hard and fast rule against the duo, but he personally doesn’t do it because mixing gold (a tone in khaki) and silver is not his “cup of tea.” Ciucci also cautions against pastel lips (not universal enough for everyone to pull off) and khaki plus dark tones -- only because this time of year, the pairing can look too wintery. But in the cooler months, go for it. 


What’s your favorite way to wear khaki makeup? Tell us in the comments below!




About the Author:The daughter of a hairdresser, Krista Bennett DeMaio likes to say she has beauty in her blood. She has well over a decade of beauty editorial experience. The former magazine-editor-turned-freelance writer has covered all things beauty from anti-aging skincare to NYFW runway trends. Her work has appeared in national publications and websites including Women’s Health, Redbook, Shape, Dr. Oz The Good Life,, and She lives in Greenlawn, New York with her husband and two interns, er, daughters.

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