Best Of: Brown Eyeshadow

Most folks who are into beauty will tell you that there’s always that one makeup item that they continue to purchase, almost impulsively, in multiple varieties and brands, even though acquiring more of that item is completely unnecessary.  What am I talking about?  I’m talking about the person who has nine different hair masks, or the girl who keeps buying new highlighter (whether liquid or a solid or whatever) over and over even though she’s barely made a dent in one of them.

There always seem to be one or two items that we’re particularly drawn to, and over the years we find ourselves in possession of a substantial-yet-laughable collection of said items.  For myself, it seems to be any type of my-lips-but-better color that’s just between pink and what would probably be categorized as nude.  A second one for me would be brown eyeshadow.  I’m discussing the latter today.

When I refer to “brown” eyeshadow, I get that the term can necessitate some explaining.  I do not mean bronze or rust, or anything with too much of an orange cast.  Sometimes, I guess I might be referring to something within a taupe range, but I really do believe that its a true brown that catches my eye the most.  That’s not to say that my attraction to shades of brown hasn’t been refined over the years.  I think I was naturally drawn to more earthy tones in the first place because I grew up watching my mom wearing lots of shimmery shades of copper and bronze.  I think the first eyeshadow I ever chose for myself was a peach CoverGirl single shade, called “Peach Parfait”.  You’d think that as a teenager I’d be more attracted to striking jewel tones, and yet even as I grew up I always identified brown or earth-tone shadows as my favorite and what I felt to be the most flattering on myself and others.

I tend to see most people agreeing with this.  There’s a reason why Urban Decay’s Naked palettes possess the cult status they now do, and there’s a reason why they were made in the first place.  These palettes we know so well are comprised of metallics and rose-golds and now a huge variety of shades, but there’s a general starting point that you can detect and it begins with the idea of ultra-flattering brown.  Just look at the case of Naked 1.

But anyhow, on to four particular shades of brown that I am personally in love with.

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Bobbi Brown Eye Shadow in Slate may be part of the whole taupe thing I mentioned earlier.  It’s definitely not a classic warm brown, but it’s certainly not silvery either.  It reads as a matte, milky, cool grey-brown on the eyelids and it works perfectly for day by itself, or you can really build it up for a smokier night look.  I discovered this shade by researching what Princess Kate used on her wedding day, and yep, this is one of the actual shades used!  I think she layered it with about three others, but I’ve worn this a few times by itself and I love it.

I purchased L’Oreal Infallible 24HR Eyeshadow in Bottomless Java after reading about its use on Kate Beckinsale for an Allure magazine cover shoot.  Eyeshadow is usually the last thing I’ll purchase at a drugstore when it comes to beauty.  I always find the color payoff to be terrible and the shadow pick-up on the brush to be bad.  You know how sometimes you tap a brush into the shadow and it only seems to rub it around and make dust without ever picking anything up on to the actual brush?  That’s most drugstore eyeshadows.  This L’Oreal line, however, is honestly great.  The pigmentation is awesome and every brushstroke is loaded with rich color.  This particular shade would be gorgeous on any skintone, and I favor this color over a couple of MAC’s Veluxe Pearl shades.  Rim your eyes with this shadow and blend it up into the crease, pile on some mascara or false lashes, and that’s pretty much all you need for a night out.

There are about ten MAC eyeshadows that are considered essential shades to many makeup artists.  If you’re accustomed to the brand, you’ve probably heard of Shroom, Naked Lunch, Sketch, All That Glitters, or Cork.  This last shade has been such a staple of mine over the years that I think it’s managed to make it on every bride’s eyelids that I’ve worked on (mine included).  It’s a very basic, matte shade described as “muted golden brown”, and it’s managed to be a building block in nearly every multi-layered eyeshadow look I’ve done.  First I’ll use a shade like Shroom or Orb to even out the discoloration of the eyelid on top of shadow base, but I almost always follow that up with Cork to begin adding warmth.  A look I’ve repeated multiple times is blending Cork in nicely all over the lid while adding lots of kohl eyeliner in Smolder or Feline (and I took this idea from a page out of InStyle that I’ve kept for years).

Finally, for a bit of a wildcard brown that has a slight twist to it, MAC is my friend once again.  Their Pro Longwear Eyeshadow in Uninterrupted is described as “dark camel with semi-matte finish”; it has a lot more gold in it than the other shades I’ve mentioned.  However, it’s discontinued!  That’s sort of the beauty and tragedy of MAC- they hold on to their timeless classics and there are always so many shades to play with, but if you fall in love with one of the many that gets discontinued, it’s quite a bummer.  It’ll probably take me forever to get through Uninterrupted though because the stuff really does last an eternity.  I don’t even use base when I wear it; it’s that potent and long-lasting.  I love this shade for its brightening properties- blue eyes look Blue Fairy kinds of blue with it, brown eyes look more yellow-gold, and green eyes look sort of hazel with it.  And hazel eyes just look extra hazel!

What are the products that you keep purchasing over and over?  Anyone else happen to have a brown eyeshadow addiction like me?  I actually haven’t purchased a Naked palette yet, probably because I’m a proud hipster and don’t want to own what I feel like everyone else owns, but knowing me, I’ll crack one day.  One day.  xo, MR

My eyelids look exactly like Kate’s eyelids.

Ever see red carpet makeup, or makeup in a movie, or makeup on a magazine cover and you think, “Hmm, I’ll bet I could do that”? And do you ever get even more excited when you’re able to find out what products were used on the look? That’s like striking gold for me. A lot of times websites or magazines will simply suggest items that they claim will “recreate” the look, but they won’t list the exact products. This always left me feeling a little cheated. I mean, come on! If it’s good enough for fill–in-the-blank-celebrity-name, it’s good enough for me … right? So anyhow, when I’m able to dig up the exact products used for whatever look it is that I’m loving, I know I’m that much closer to really looking like Jennifer Aniston. Uh huh.

Just kidding. I don’t really want to look like Jennifer Aniston.

But I did find myself quite enamored with this beautiful shot of Kate Beckinsale as the August cover girl of Allure magazine. She’s been on the cover for this magazine more than a couple times, but hey, why not?

Allure always features a page in every issue that gives the details on their cover shoot, including the makeup that was used. Now, to be honest, I’m still not sure if the products referenced are the real goods used for the shoot. They may still have me fooled after almost ten years of reading this magazine (yes, ten). But I decided to make a run down to my drugstore and try out the eyeshadow they referenced because it looked easy, gorgeous and it was cheap. And I try not to buy drugstore makeup too frequently, however tempting it may be. The suspect- L’Oreal 24HR. Infallible eyeshadow in “Bottomless Java”.

We’ve all got a million brown eyeshadows (especially if you have brown eyes like me), but I’d really recommend this one for your “best bargain” category no matter what eye color you’ve got. The color is incredibly rich without too much fall-out, it builds well, and is highly pigmented. While it’s decidedly neutral (I mean, it is brown), a couple layers of the stuff make for quite the smoky eye.

While I don’t quite look like Kate Beckinsale post-shadow application, I’d say it’s a pretty good match to the shade observed on her cover look. Hopefully this means Allure really is giving their most accurate information and we can all have Kate’s eyelids together. xo, MR