With the whole rainbow, literally, at your fingertips, knowing which eye shadow colors to have in your beauty arsenal can be difficult, especially if you don’t know which colors and tones look best on you.
“Brown shadow is a versatile staple in any artist’s or beauty lover’s makeup kit,” says Jack Hargreaves, art director for Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics. “It can be worn both softly or dramatic depending on the shade, product and techniques used to apply it.” A fluffy blending brush, Sigma Beauty E35 Tapered Blending Brush ($16), will result in a sheer wash of color; a dense, flat or shader brush, such as MAC Cosmetics 239 Eye Shader Brush ($25), will allow you to pack the shadow on for more intensity.
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While brown eye shadow runs the gamut from light washes of barely there brown to dark, full-on pigmented colors that border black, Hargreaves says that a true brown shade is inherently natural. “It’s great when it’s used on its own or as a transition color for balance when you’re using brighter, more vivid colors. It can subtly define or stand out and make a bold statement.” We like Make Up For Ever Artist Shadow in Neutral Brown ($21).
Regardless of how you choose to wear brown tones, it’s important to take your skin tone and eye color into consideration when picking that just-right shade. “Using a warm brown will complement warmer skin tones. But, those warmer tones will look more dramatic on cooler skin tones and vice versa,” says Hargreaves. “When in doubt, go for a mid-tone brown that doesn’t lean too much on the orange or taupe side.” Try Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Loose Colour Concentrates in Clove ($15) for a natural look or Artifact ($15) for a more dramatic eye.
One of the best things about brown hues is that you can easily take them from day to night. “Brown is one of the easiest shades to transition. You can use the same shadow and liner and apply them differently,” says Hargreaves. For more of a nighttime look, apply a wash of subtle sparkle over the shadow and add liner. Or, use liner on your lid to create a smoky base, then pack on brown shadow and finish off with mascara.