Since what feels like the dawn of time, the smoky eye (or "smokey eye," if you spell it wrong) has been upheld as the sign of true makeup skill or talent. But I'm going to let you in on a little secret: It's not.

Really, it's just a bunch of bold eye shadow that's blended really well, and it's not all that hard or expensive to achieve, despite looking really, ridiculously good. With their massive makeup vaults and 4-million-piece brush sets, though, beauty YouTubers will have you believing they're some kind of elaborate myth.

In fact, I'll make a bold statement: Smoky eyes don't need anything but two brushes maximum. I'll prove it to you myself.

Believe me when I say you can achieve makeup greatness with next to zero time and resources.

easy smoky eye
photo: Nicola Dall'Asen

After a few tries, a smoky eye this dramatic should really only take a handful of products — expensive, drugstore, or whatever floats your fancy — and five minutes.

To get the look pictured above, I used this brush duo. But 99% of the time, I need only a blending brush and (maybe) a smudging brush.

eye shadow brushes
photo: Nicola Dall'Asen

The blending brush (left) is a Morphe Round Blender ($5, Morphe); the smudging brush is one from NYX Cosmetics In Your Element Brush Set ($32, NYX).

To make this even simpler, I used only one eye shadow: Sabbath, the sole black shade from Kat Von D's limited-edition Saint + Sinner palette.

kat von d sain and sinner palette
photo: Nicola Dall'Asen

You, however, can use whatever dramatic shade — or combination of shades — you so desire. I'm using black just to prove it's not as scary or hard to apply as people seem to think.

Before I did anything, I prepped my eyelids with my current favorite primer, bareMinerals Gen Nude ($20, Ulta). 

bareminerals eye primer
photo: Nicola Dall'Asen

The first thing I always do when I'm creating a dramatic eye is to use the blending brush and a transition shade to create a sideways V shape that starts just above my outer crease and ends at my lower lash line.

easy smokey eye
photo: Nicola Dall'Asen

"Transition shade," bee tee dubs, is just makeup artist speak for a shade that's lighter than the darkest shade you plan to use but darker than the lightest shade you plan to use. A middle shade, if you will.

But because I used only one black shade this time and didn't have a transition, I simply applied it very light-handedly until I got that shape.

easy smoky eye
photo: Nicola Dall'Asen

The key to not overdoing it or getting that dreaded fallout smear at this stage, especially with a black shadow, is to tap or gently shake away any excess shadow off the tip of your brush every time you dip into the pan.

Then, where most would usually use a packing brush, I used my ring finger to swipe on that same black shadow with a helluva lot more pigment — but only on the lower lid.

easy smoky eye
photo: Nicola Dall'Asen

Then — you guessed it — I applied more black shadow with the blending brush! Really, the blending brush does 90% of the work in all of my eye shadow looks.

easy smoky eye
photo: Nicola Dall'Asen

Once I blended the upper lid and crease to my desired effect, I used the smudging brush to pack a dense line of black shadow just underneath my lower eyelashes. Then I'm almost done.

easy smoky eye
photo: Nicola Dall'Asen

Sometimes I even do this with the blending brush because I'm lazy — but that's usually at times when I'm using less intense colors than black.

The shadow alone might look incomplete, but that's where eyeliner comes in.

gel vs liquid eyelienr
photo: Nicola Dall'Asen

To make any eye shadow 10 times more intense with little effort, I pop a gel-based pencil eyeliner inside my top lash line and in the outer corners of my lower waterline. Right now, my pencil of choice is Lancôme Drama Liqui-Pencil ($23, Sephora).

>> Click to buy

An eye shadow shade this bold deserves all  the drama, so I said "fuck it" and also added a massive wing using Urban Decay Perversion Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner ($22, Sephora).

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And mascara, without which even the most dramatic eye shadow look is incomplete.

bad gal bang mascara
photo: Nicola Dall'Asen

I reviewed Benefit Cosmetics' highly hyped BadGal Bang! Mascara ($24, Sephora) months ago and haven't looked back since.

>> Click to buy

The final result? A lazy-girl-who-still-wants-to-party's dream.

easy smoky eye
photo: Nicola Dall'Asen

A smoky eye can be done in a countless number of ways with unlimited color palettes at any budget range. As long as you have the techniques down and have one or two tried-and-true tools on hand, you're golden.

easy smoky eye
photo: Nicola Dall'Asen

So, uh ... take that, beauty YouTubers.

photo: Giphy

Take your hard and elaborate tips home.