Hung Vanngo on mastering the smoky eye

Hung Van Ngo Smoky Eye

The celebrity makeup artist spills his secrets

Beauty Crew Beauty Editor / September 12 2017

We’ll be the first to admit that doing a smoky eye on yourself isn’t the easiest task in the world. Just like curling your hair with a straightener, it’s the kind of makeup skill you can only master with lots of practice. However, someone who we constantly look to for smoky eye inspiration is makeup artist Hung Vanngo, who needs no introduction. A scroll through his Instagram feed will reveal his favourite faces to work with, such as Selena Gomez, Kate Bosworth and Emily Ratajkowski. We spoke with the Global Artistry Ambassador of Marc Jacobs for his best tips for mastering the tricky eye makeup look.


Start with a primer

Just like the rest of your face, your eyes are covered in tiny oil glands that help keep skin healthy, but as a result they can affect the longevity of your eye makeup. Hung Vanngo’s solution is simple: “An eyeshadow primer, such as Marc Jacobs Beauty Under(cover) Perfecting Coconut Eye Primer, can make eyeshadow easier to blend, it intensifies colour and makes it last all day.”


Layer your products

Instead of just using powder eyeshadow to create your smoky eye, go with several formulas to build up your look. “I really think you can get a more beautiful effect by layering products,” says Vanngo. “I sketch the [smoky eye] shape with a pencil (Vanngo uses Marc Jacobs Beauty Highliner Gel Eye Crayon but we also like Australis Gelifeye Gel Eyeliner), and then on top of this I'll layer one to four eyeshadows to create a multidimensional effect, concentrating the most depth on the outer corner of the eye. The key is to apply every product in very thin layers, and to blend each one really well.”


Having the pencil under a powder eyeshadow creates more depth. I also tend to blend a bit past the outer corner of the eye to create a more elongated almond shape, which is flattering on everyone.
Hung Vanngo
Marc Jacobs
Global Artistry Ambassador


Use the right tools

When it comes to perfecting your smoky eye, it’s essential to apply your products with a good quality tool. “A small smudging brush can be used to diffuse liner, whereas a flat eyeshadow brush can [be used to] apply your shadow shades, and a fluffy blending brush can diffuse and soften each layer for a beautiful finish.”


Mix and match textures

If you’re after a smoky eye with more of a modern take, give Vanngo’s trick a go: “Different finishes [of eyeshadow] can help to achieve a multidimensional finish. Matte shades create depth and definition, and more pearlescent and shimmering shades can create various pops of texture and shine where you want a little colour and light. The ability to layer them gives you endless possibilities.” Try Marc Jacobs Beauty Eye-Conic Multi-Finish Eyeshadow Palette.

Shimmer shades can give a bold, high-shine effect if applied with a dampened (but not soaking wet) brush.
Hung Vanngo
Marc Jacobs
Global Artistry Ambassador


Customise your look

While there really aren’t any hard rules when it comes to mastering the smoky eye, Vanngo recommends sticking to what works for you. “The limit is whatever you decide it is. There aren't any rules in makeup, but what I tend to do is [apply] a maximum of three or four [shades] to create that sultry diffused look. It's my favourite.”


If you’ve accidentally ruined your smoky eye, here are three ways to fix it

What’s your favourite smoky eye hack? Tell us in the comments below.

Main image credit: @hungvanngo

Iantha is BEAUTYcrew's Beauty Editor, and has been part of the team since the site launched in 2016. Besides pinky-nude nail polish and wispy false lashes, she has a healthy obsession with face masks and skin care ingredients. Her previous work can be found in Virgin Australia Voyeur, Women's Health, and SHOP Til You Drop.