Who has time to blend various shades of eyeshadow, followed by artfully applied kohl liner to create a perfect smoky eye? Definitely not us. But there are tonnes of great pencil or stick formulas out there now, that can be smudged into lashes, or up onto lids using your finger instead of time consuming brushes and you'll have the same effect in seconds. Here are the best ones for the job.
Charlotte Tilbury Colour Chameleon Eye Shadow Pencil (£19, www.charlottetilbury.com)
These chunky, glimmering pencils not only glide and smudge on really easily, but the colour truly sets and stays put. Draw across lashes, then onto lids, blending slightly with your finger as you go. Charlotte has also cleverly created a shade for every eye colour to make your eyes pop.
Bourjois Effet Smoky Pencil (£5.49, boots.com)
Available in five intense shades in a more traditional skinny kohl pencil form, but the creamy consistency and super-soft brush makes for easy peasy blending. It never drags and you can build up the colour for a dramatic finish.
Clinique Chubby Stick Shadow Tint For Eyes (£17, clinique.co.uk)
For those moments where you realise your kids have been playing with your make-up bag, and you can't find a pencil sharpener, Chubby Sticks come to the rescue. Just twist the stick up to reveal more product and smudge the hydrating, balm-like tint onto lids. Colours are pretty and wearable, great for an everyday smoky look.
New CID Cosmetics i - smoulder Smoky Eye Pencil & Shadow (£18.50, newcidcosmetics.com)
If you prefer to use a shadow on your lids, the dual ended pencil has everything you need without faffing with pots and brushes. One end houses a cream shadow in the lid (just dip the sponge tip in and twist) and the other end is an angled, twist-up liner for adding definition at the lash line. Easy to master and available in tonnes of great shades.
Max Factor Wild Shadow Pencil (£5.99, superdrug.com)
A gel shadow and liner in one, these high pigment cream sticks can be sharpened for a more precise line, or smudged onto lids. Available in shades such as ‘Fierce Lime’ and ‘Bold Sapphire’, to add colour for evening, or we love ‘Savage Silver’ and ‘Caramel Rage’ for super-flattering, daytime eyes.
These dual-ended shadow sticks have a rounded, creamy shadow (for blending onto lids) and a pointed end for defining your lash line and upping the intensity. Never leaves a hard line and gives a softer smoky eye feel.
Rimmel London Scandaleyes Shadow Stick (£4.49, boots.com)
Our favourite shade of Scandaleyes Shadow is ‘Bad Bronze’ for a shimmery, flattering alternative to black (or if you're new to the smoky eye game). ‘Bulletproof Biege' also doubles as a great highlighter on the inner corners of eyes and under brow bone.
Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Cream Shadow Stick (£20, bobbibrown.co.uk)
These fail-safe sticks honestly won’t budge once applied, with no sharpening required. Create a wash of pretty colour on lids, or choose the deeper shades for more definition.
Kiko Makeup Milano Long Lasting Stick Eyeshadow (£6.90, kikocosmetics.co.uk)
Available in practically every colour imaginable, but the best thing about this formula is that it stays put all day. If you find most shadows crease or run, give this a try.
Maybelline Eye Studio Master Smokey (£5.99, boots.com)
These chunky, richly-pigmented pencils glide on easily with zero dragging, which means you smoke up eyes in seconds. If you find the consistency is a little too soft and smudges under eyes, try setting the pencil with a similar-coloured eyeshadow to fix into place.