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Ash K Holm Reveals the Secrets to Her Signature Sultry Eyeshadow Look


A scroll through celebrity makeup artist Ash K Holm’s portfolio reveals her endless makeup creativity. You’ll see everything from ‘90s-era grunge eyeliner to old Hollywood glamour complete with striking red lips, and even Y2K reminiscent glittery lids. However, there’s one makeup look that pops up again and again (trust us, we have the saved inspo pics to prove it!): the Ash K Holm signature sultry eye.

Holm’s signature sultry look is part subdued smoky eye, part soft, winged eyeshadow, and it’s been seen on the lids of some of her biggest clients (think reality TV royalty and award-winning pop stars). Now, our Chief Makeup Artist is showing you how to get her signature eyeshadow look at home using just a few products. Ready to try Holm’s lid look? Keep scrolling!

About the Expert:

Ash K Holm is IPSY’s Chief Makeup Artist. She has perfected a signature soft glam look on some of Hollywood’s most famous faces (just peep her Instagram for a look at her A-list client roster), and now the in-demand makeup artist is at your service.

How to Recreate Holm’s Signature Sultry Eye

1. Prime Your Lids

“I always start off by basing the eye with a primer,” says Holm. “This really ensures that I’m going to get that all-day-long wear. My clients are always doing the most red carpets, filming for TV shows and movies, so I need to make sure that this eyeshadow is not going anywhere.” Even for everyday wear, eyeshadow primers (like YC COLLECTION Bold + Matte Eyeshadow Primer) can help your look last all night without creasing. On clean, bare lids, swipe the primer from the lash line to the brow bone. You can even sweep a little under your lower lashes where you’ll also be adding some shadow (more on that below!).

NATASHA DENONA Alloy Eyeshadow Palette

2. Lay Down a Base

Once your primer is in place and set (give it about 30 seconds), you can create your base shadow, sometimes called a transition shade. Holm recommends a matte color one or two shades darker than your skin tone, like the center shade in this NATASHA DENONA Alloy Eyeshadow Palette. “Pat it on the eyelids using a flat, dense brush,” she says. “This is just going to allow you to really build up the product quickly. You can bring it up into the crease as well. I also like to take a soft blending brush and use circular motions to round out the transition shade in the inner corner of the eyes. It makes the inner corner look a little more sultry.” To help elongate the eyes, Holm then uses that blending brush to drag the pigments out and up toward the tail end of the brow for a blown-out cat-eye effect.

BEAUTY FOR REAL Essential Pro I-Brush Collection

3. Define Your Lash Lines

Next, take a deeper matte shade (like the dark brown from the same NATASHA DENONA palette) and dense, flat brush to deepen your lash lines. We love BEAUTY FOR REAL Essential Pro I-Brush Collection for all the tools you need to create this look. “Work this along the outer corner of the lash lines,” says Holm. “You can bring this about halfway or all the way in to really make that eye sultry. You can also drag it in an outward direction to fake a winged liner.” As you work the deeper shade toward your inner corner, Holm makes sure to keep it really close to the lashes so it creates a thinner line. “The best part about doing a sultry, smoky eye is that it doesn’t have to be perfect. I think the smudgier the better.”

Close-up of a model's sultry eye makeup look by Ash K Holm

4. Build up Your Crease

Switch to a pencil-shaped brush, which gives you more precision, and start shading the crease with that same deeper matte shade. “This is going to add even more depth and definition to the eye. You can then connect the crease with the outer corner of the smudged eyeliner we created,” says Holm. If you have hooded eyes, Holm recommends keeping your eyes open as you trace out your crease, and keep the line slightly higher than your natural crease to make sure it shows.

If you’re ever having trouble blending that darker shade in your crease, Holm likes to go back to that initial transition shade and blend it over top to help everything look really seamless. “You also always want to have clean blending brushes on hand, so you can go back over your work and start softly blending out these edges,” she adds.

Close-up quarter profile of a model rocking Ash K Holm's signature sultry eye makeup look

5. Create More Dimension

The key to any eyeshadow look is dimension, and Holm creates it by adding a bit of warmth through the crease, like the rust shade in the same palette you’ve already been using. Take a fluffy blending brush, dip it into your warmer eyeshadow color, and blend it back and forth through the crease of your eye. At this point, you can also go back in with the matte brown shade and deepen up your lash line even more as you might have blended some away while working on your crease color.

6. Wrap the Color

“It wouldn’t be a smoky eye if I didn't wrap the darker shade around the lower lash line,” says Holm. Using the same small flat brush from earlier, sweep the deep brown shade across your lower lash line and up into the water line all the way from the outer corner and inner corner. This is what really helps bring the look together. If you’re not used to adding eyeshadow to your lower lids, this step might seem a bit extra, but trust us, it makes a huge difference—and once you add mascara, everything softens.

7. Finish With Mascara

Grab your favorite mascara, and generously coat both your upper and lower lashes. Like topping your pasta with grated parm or spritzing your curling iron waves with a texture spray, mascara serves as the can’t-miss finishing touch to this sultry eyeshadow look.

Model posing and wearing Ash K Holm's signature sultry eye makeup look

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Article Last Updated March 29, 2023 12:00 AM