close-up of a brown, hooded eye with a brown and black grunge makeup look, eyelinre and false lashes

When it comes to makeup, I often draw inspiration from various style icons from the past. It could be an iconic movie character makeup I loved when I was younger, a fashion designer, or even a random music video that left an impact. With the late 90s child to the mid-00s being one of my favorite periods. Messy smokey eyes, sharp eyeliner, thin eyebrows, and voluminous hair with colored strands bring back some of the best memories from my childhood.

Lately, I've been thinking about this grungy period in fashion history, deciding to share with you some of my favorite makeup looks from the past. Of course, not with a proper step-by-step makeup tutorial and thorough instructions that will help you to re-create these looks. I've stopped on three of my favorite grunge makeup looks: a classic brown smoky eye look, a dramatic look with an under-eye accent, and the smudged eyeliner with a green highlight, inspired by Avril Lavigne's music video Smile. Let's take a closer look!

collage with three female celebrities from the 90s wearing brown smoky eye look (left to right): tyra banks, jennifer lopez and rachel weisz

#1. A Classic Brown Smoky Eyes

When do I say the phrase 'brown smoky eyes' is an image of what celebrity pops up in your mind? The correct answer would be – almost every female celebrity from the late 90s and 00s! A smoky brown eye is a classic eye makeup that fits absolutely everyone. You can choose the intensity of this look depending on your eye color, skin tone, or personal preference. 

My personal favorite – the messy, black and brown matte eye look. It is super easy, beginner-friendly, and features only a few basic makeup products: black eye kohl, a light brown matte eyeshadow, a dark brown eyeshadow, and mascara. Here is the step-by-step tutorial that will help you to re-create the look:

a step-by-step makeup pictorial showing how to apply brown smoky eye look on a hooded eye

How to Create Brown Smoky Eye Look?

1. Begin by priming your eyelids with an eyeshadow primer. Apply it all over the lids, softly blending the primer's texture with your finger;

2. Take your favorite black eye kohl and apply it all over the lid. Smudge the eye kohl with your ring finger or with the help of a synthetic brush;

3. Go over the kohl with a black, matte eyeshadow, blending it upwards and bringing the color out closer to the tail of the eyebrow;

4. Put a warm chocolate-brown eyeshadow on your crease with a pencil brush. Blend the transition between black and brown eyeshadows with a clean blending brush;

5. Finish your brown grunge makeup with some highlighter and mascara. Don't forget to highlight your inner upper and waterlines.

collage with three lower makeup or reverse makeup looks on female models

#2. Lower Lid Makeup or Reverse Makeup

Next goes one of my favorites – a lower lash line accent is also known as the 'reverse makeup' look. This makeup technique is a popular, low-key way to give your makeup the necessary grunge, without overcomplicating the look. You can use any eyeshadow color you have at your disposal, perfecting the look as you apply it.

Unlike the classic brown smoky, this grunge makeup looks a bit more original. By the way, it is much easier to create as well. All you need is a black eye pencil or eye kohl (or the color matching your eyeshadow),  an intense purple eyeshadow (mine was with fine shimmer to it), and a white eye pencil for waterline for the eye enlarging effect.

a step-by-step makeup pictorial showing how to apply an under eye eyesahdow look on a hooded eyes

How to Create the 90s Under Eye Eyeshadow Look?

1. To get this grunge makeup look, start by underlining your eye shape with a black pencil, or dark gray eyeshadow, creating a wing shape under the eye;

2. Gently blend the pencil with a synthetic brush, further winging it out towards the tail of the eyebrow;

3. Now it is time to put a purple eyeshadow all over the pencil and blend it with a brush;

4. Apply a white eye pencil on the inner corner of your eye and on the waterline;

5. Tightline the upper waterline with black eye kohl, filling the gaps between the lashes. Finish this grunge makeup look by curling your lashes and applying mascara.

collage with three Avril Lavigne's pictures from the Smile music video

#3. Smudged Pencil Eyeliner with Green Highlight inspired by Avril Lavigne

I bet everyone remembers and loves this iconic makeup look! I'm talking about a green and black grunge eye look from the music video Smile by Avril Lavigne. Her outfit, vivid green hair, and black smudged eyeliner have left a strong impression in my mind. At first glance, there is nothing too special about it: a bit of black, smudge eyeliner, and a shimmering highlighter on the center of the lid.

Still, this makeup look perfectly matches her outfit and the mood of the song. Here is how you can recreate this rebel and grunge makeup look:

a step-by-step makeup pictorial showing how to apply Avril Lavigne's eye makeup look from video Smile with instructions

How to Create Avril Lavigne's Makeup from Smily video?

1. Start the look by drawing a very thick line with a black pencil, creating a bold winged eyeliner in the corner of your eyes;

2. Smudge it with the help of the black, matte eyeshadow and a thin brush;

3. Now it is time to put lime-green, shimmering eyeshadow on the center of the lids. Put it right on the top of the pencil. You can opt for matte or glittery colors if you have them at your disposal;

4. Blend your raccoon look, but keep it grungy enough for authenticity;

5. Tightline your upper and lower waterline with black eye kohl, and put a few coats of the blackest mascara you own. The Smile music video makeup is done!


Grunge makeup will never stop being trendy! Its dark, appealing vibe and relative simplicity allow for countless combinations! There is only one major rule to remember when creating a grunge makeup look – blending is key! So, what do you think of these three grunge makeups? I hope today's tutorials are helpful to you and, maybe, you will actually try one of them. 

Lots of love,