How to Create the Perfect Smudged Black Eyeliner Look

July 07, 2022
Marisa Petrarca
By: Marisa Petrarca | by L'Oréal
person wearing smudged black eyeliner

Crooked winged liner or an uneven cat eye? These are clearly makeup mistakes. Smudgy eyeliner? When done right, it’s a total makeup win. The lived-in look is sexy and edgy, but there’s a fine line between nailing the smoky vibe and looking like you have raccoon eyes. For tips on how to create the perfect smoky, smudgy eye, we reached out to beauty influencers Marwah Khamas and Olivia Thompson. Read on for their do’s and don'ts.

How Do I Make My Eyeliner Look Smudged?

Step 1: Start Off By Creating a Traditional Winged Look

“Start off with winged liner and then smudge it with black eyeshadow using a small blending brush,” says Khamas. “Clean it up with a makeup wipe if you make any mistakes.” We suggest stocking up on the CeraVe Hydrating Makeup Removing Plant-Based Wipes because they’re gentle on the skin but powerful enough to remove even stubborn waterproof makeup formulas. They’re also biodegradable.

Step 2: Choose a Product That (Nearly) Does the Work For You

“I recommend using Lancôme Le Stylo Waterproof Long-Lasting Eyeliner in the shade Noir or Noir Intense,.” says Thompson. “They are both extremely black and work well for this type of look as there is a smudger on one end of the pencil that allows you to create that perfect smoked-out effect. Because the formula is a smooth gel, it’s easy to smudge when wet, and sets dry to stay in place all day.”


We also love the Maybelline TattooStudio Smokey Gel Pencil Eyeliner because it features a heavily pigmented formula that glides onto the skin with ease, as well as a soft blender tip to buff out and smudge your liner into a smoky look.

Lancôme Le Stylo Waterproof Long-Lasting Eyeliner

Don’t Use Eyeshadow Alone 

“A lot of people use only black eyeshadow to create this look,” Thompson says. “Eyeshadow is great to use on top of a liner to smudge and set it, however, the black pigment can get extremely messy and cause fallout all over your face. It needs something to hold onto.”

Blend Like You Mean It — And Then Blend Some More

“A common mistake in general is not blending eyeshadow and liner well so you can see the separation between the eyeshadow and liner,” says Khamas. “Take your time and blend.”

Photo: Chaunte Vaughn

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