How to nail Hannah Martin's signature perfect smokey eye

Hannah Martin is sitting wedged between Vogue’s Jess Diner and me at Chiltern Firehouse, swiping through her photos. “There it is,” she exclaims, showing us a picture of Catherine Zeta-Jones circa 2000, eyes haloed in shimmering green. “That is why I put that IMO shade in the Smoke It Out palette (£42,, because I couldn’t find this colour anywhere, and the look had always stayed with me.”

We are lunching to celebrate Hannah’s collaboration with Scandinavia’s answer to Pat McGrath, Linda Hallberg. Linda’s make-up is rightly revered for its punchy pigments and innovative approach, and she gave Hannah free rein to do precisely as she wished with her product so Hannah, who Jess once dubbed “the queen of smokey eyes”, decided to create a 9-shade ultimate smokey eye palette, emblazoned with one of her make-up mottoes: “if in doubt, smoke it out.”

Hannah Martin x LH Cosmetics Smoke It Out Palette (Madeleine Spencer)
Hannah Martin x LH Cosmetics Smoke It Out Palette (Madeleine Spencer)

Hannah’s clients, who include royals like Princess Eugenie (she created her wedding look) and A-listers like Helen Mirren, rely on her ability to create makeup that feels fresh and modern. And yes, they will often ask for one of her signature smokey eyes. She believes the look is so popular because “it suits everyone; a slightly smudgy eye to me has always been an effortlessly sexy look worn day or night.”

While with Hannah, I asked her for her ultimate smokey eye tips, and she more than delivered...

You don’t need to use loads of shades

In fact, Hannah says you can easily just go for one lid colour with lashings of lashings of mascara. She adds one catch-all rule: “the deepest point of the shadow should be at the root of the lashes, with the shadow getting progressively lighter and you go through the crease and towards the brow bone.”

Start small and work your way up

If you’re new to the smokey eye, don’t go in with a big whack of black shadow. Instead, “try a cool mushroom or medium bronze and see how it feels. If you want to amp it up, you could add liner — and if you want to go a step further, you could buff some deeper shadow over the liner to make the lash line even more intense.”

Make friends with ‘bridging colours’

These basically add the transition from the darker, smokey shade and your natural skin, making it look more comprehensive and professional. Hannah says that this is because “sometimes the contrast can be a little stark, and it’s helpful to use a bridging colour to blend the edges for the most seamless finish.”

Make sure your mascara stands up to the smokey eye

If you’ve gone for loads of shadow, you need to make your mascara beefy, too. “The bigger and darker the eye the more mascara you need, so if your shadow goes all around the eye then I suggest applying to the lower lashes, too. The same potentially goes for eyebrows — sometimes with a very dark smokey eye you might need to make your brows a little bolder too or they could look a bit insipid next to the eye.”

Customise the corners

A smokey eye can finish in a round or more structured edge, depending on your preferences. “The most classic way to shape your smokey eye is to follow the natural contour of the eye and sweep your shadow up through the crease of the eye. For a more modern smokey eye, pull the shadow out towards the tail of your brow to create a more almond shape,” says Hannah.

Watch Madeleine Spencer put Hannah's tips to work in the video at the top of this page.