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

Stop looking at me with your GIANT EYES! Or, a post on the right eyeshadow for your peepers.

I’ve often overlooked the fact that makeup, as a skill for many women, doesn’t come easily.  I mean this not in a condescending way, but what I’m saying is that I take for granted the fact that I’ve been seriously messing around with the stuff since early middle school.  And that I read all of Kevyn Aucoin’s books cover-to-cover as a freshman in high school, and have since read literally countless amounts of information on makeup through blogs, books, and magazines during college and beyond.  I’ll sometimes have friends or acquaintances ask me a question or two on how to apply concealer, or what shade of lipstick they should look for, and in a moment of complete ignorance I’ll think to myself, “They … they don’t already know this?”  Stupid, I know.  I should also probably remember that people are busy with other things besides makeup, and I should be grateful that I’m even thought of as a source of helpful information at all.

One common area of interest that I’ve encountered in many of my friends or acquaintances is the question of what color eyeshadow to use on their eyes. Now, you may have seen those Almay i-intense eyeshadow kits at the drugstore tailored specifically for each eye color, but in my humble opinion I think they suck.  I don’t find them user-friendly (as you have to understand how to apply the three colors for proper contrast, etc.), and I’m totally not into the color combinations offered.  Blue eyeshadow is a tough sell to blue-eyed folks considering they’re typically told from day one to not wear blue eyeshadow, and who wants to be limited to three shades anyhow?  Especially when they’re meant to be worn together?

So, I wanted to share an article with you that I’ve had saved in an issue of People StyleWatch from October of 2007.  It’s a feature on the most flattering shadow shades for every eye color, and you only need to worry about wearing one at a time.  There are even recommendations on specific shadows to buy and try.  It’s by far one of the most useful articles I’ve ever encountered in a magazine.  I realize I save every issue of People StyleWatch (and am running out of places to put them), but I have to encourage you that if you’re ever feeling you lack a certain degree of aptitude regarding makeup, browse through some magazines!  I know you may not find an answer to your particular question immediately, but seriously- get off Pinterest and give print magazines a chance!  This coming February issue of InStyle features a full how-to article on contouring.  Contouring!  That’s some advanced stuff there that even I’ve yet to get a good grip on!  Don’t take the easy way out and Google it.  Go the paper route!  Anyhow, here’s our first page for brown eyes:

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As someone who has brown eyes, I have to confess that I’ve loved their neutrality because it’s enabled me to use pretty much any shade of eyeshadow I like.  PSW suggests using champagne and gold, intense greens and purples, and rich, smoky gray for the best results on brown eyes.  These are, indeed, all extremely flattering choices.  However, another great method for figuring out the best shadows to use on your eyes is checking out the color wheel and figuring out what the opposite of your eye color is (identify your eye color on the wheel and your opposite is whatever’s directly across from it).  The opposite hue of your natural eye color is typically a very complimentary choice.  Now, there isn’t exactly an opposite of brown, because it isn’t on the color wheel.  But in most brown eyes there tends to be found quite a bit of yellow, and the opposite of yellow is purple.  So, I often like to add my own recommendation for brown-eyed folks and suggest trying navy or even electric shades of blue, as they’re somewhat near the purple family.  You’ll see these appear later as a good choice for hazel eyes.

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Here’s our section for blue eyes.  Now, you may notice the options tend to just range within different shades of brown, but this is because brown tends to have some yellow in it, which contrasts quite well with blue.  Additionally, other colors tend to clash with blue eyes because they aren’t as neutral, but don’t get discouraged.  The article suggests gunmetal gray, golden rose, and pretty much any shade of brown will look great.  Again, most anyone can pull off any color if you consult a professional and find the right shade, but these will be the most flattering options for you.  Additionally, if you’re feeling bold, try a subtle shade of orange shadow as orange is blue’s direct opposite.

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I love doing makeup on green eyes because the opposite of green is violet-red, which tends to manifest as purple when it comes to eyeshadow.  I love me a smoky eggplant-hued eye.  PSW suggests golden beige, pale purple and smoky plum, and burgundy for your more dramatic occasions.  There are a number of incredible shades of purple shadow that MAC features, including Sketch and Embark, which is more of a deep brown with plum undertones.  Oh, and note the color suggestion made for everyone on the right- gold.  And yes, I concur that this is true.

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I love the options that hazel eyes have.  I’ve often felt that too many people shy away from navy blue shadow (and if you’ve got brown eyes, you should be working it!), so please just know that if you’ve got hazel eyes it’ll look awesome.  Tawny pink (think more of a warm shade as opposed to baby pink), dusty violet, and gray-blue and navy are all suggested for hazel eyes.  If you’re going for a smoky look (and this is the case for most all eye colors), playing around with hues other than black can bring some amazing results.  I’ve been forgoing my common black-brown shadows lately in favor of a deep navy, and I’ve been loving it.

Let me know of any other questions you may have regarding shadow, or any recommendations you may like on a color to purchase.  I’ve got oodles of know-how for you!  And I promise to not snap at you for not doing your own research.  That would be far too Christian Bale of me.  xo, MR

WORST Beauty Moments of 2012 … or, in which I give cause for everyone to hate me.

Cool your jets.  Yes, I haven’t even said anything yet and I’m already telling you to cool your jets, just in case.

I initially began writing a post on my favorite beauty moments of 2012, but then I thought to my self, “Self, you’ve kind of sprinkled your favorite bits in posts throughout the entire year already.  No one’s shocked to see another shot of Keira or Kate on this blog.  What may be shocking though, self, is what folks discover that you actually don’t like.  And let’s face it, self- we’re always a little more interested at hearing about what bugs the crap out of us as opposed to what we squeal over.”  And admittedly, many of the “worsts” seen here may not be that shocking to some of you at all anymore.  If you read regularly, you know what I like and what I don’t.  But in case some of the following does take you by surprise and you find yourself wanting to set fire to me, let me just preface by saying this: Relax.  This is just me giving my opinion.

#1  Demi Lovato perfectly demonstrating my concept of “overcooked” and my eternal frustration with extensions.

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Too … much … everything.  I literally want to rip the extensions right out of her scalp.  Or brush them like a crazed maniac until they cease to look like Disney princess wig strands.  And if these are not, in fact, extensions, well, they look like it and that’s still a problem.  And the shape of the hair looks rather like pigtails with a life of their own as opposed to healthy, curled locks.  They’re so perfectly positioned, it’s like someone’s taped them to her blouse.  Just makes me wanna chop ’em.  Chop ’em right off.  And then there’s always the very makeup-looking makeup.  And the nose piercing.  And the tan.  And the door knocker earrings.  And the cleavage.  And you get it.

#2  Julianne Hough doing it wrong.

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By now you all know that I love me a messy topknot.  I like ’em nice and unflattering, and right there at the top of the head.  So very Je ne sais quois, so very Man Repeller.  However, when you find yourself in a fancy dress at a fancy premiere, it might be time for a touch of effort.  But what gets me about this  particular topknot is that I’ve got a bad feeling that whatever stylist responsible for this (maybe even Julianne herself) tried too hard to not seem like they were trying too hard.  Know what I’m saying?  Like, I get the whole 21st-century irony of going for a messy topknot in a designer gown, but you can still detect the hard work that unfortunately went into this.  You see the pins.  You see the pretty, well-done makeup oddly-yet-intentionally juxtaposed against the haphazard hair.  You see how the knot is so obviously off-center on her head with its plainly uneven shape, almost as if it was planned.  The point of topknots is to not give a damn.  This one, all too clearly, does.

#3  People cut their hairs off.

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2012 New York City Ballet Fall Gala

I know, I KNOOOOOW.  But before you get your panties all in a wad, keep this in mind- I am simply very strongly attached to hair with length.  This one is truly more of a personal “worst”, and there’s no expectation to agree that Miley’s or Anne’s or anyone’s pixie cut is bad (and I wasn’t exactly a fan of Miley’s look before anyhow).  In fact, it’s pretty safe to say that these haircuts are quite good.  Anne looks great, and the cut does nothing if not frame her beautiful face and earn her that Oscar that she’s so desperately been jonesing for.  But again, just bear in mind that I’ve got a thing for long hair that you can do stuff with.  It’s just me.  I couldn’t do what Anne did, or I’d at least do it and then shamelessly plop a Kate Beckinsale wig on my head for the next six months to come.  In her own words, “I dreamed a dream of times gone byyyyyy, with lots of hair and lots of braidiiiiiiing …”.

#4  Taylor Swift still looking like Taylor Swift.

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Fine.  Hate me.  Hate me with everything you’ve got, but I don’t care.  It’s time for a change with this one, it is.  And this one looks like nothing if not Disney princesses personified, so you know that’s really saying something when it comes from me.  I applaud Taylor for sticking to her stylistic guns, but you’ll have to forgive me for saying that there’s just not enough excitement for me in her look.  I’m bored.  To tears.  Taylor made the Earth-shattering change of adding red lipstick to her look some years ago, then shocked the world by styling her hair straight instead of with those teenage curly-cues we were so used to!  THEN she cut BANGS!  What WILL she do NEXT?!  I mean, Nicki Minaj must’ve gotten a hold of her or something … BANGS!!!

#5  People pinning airbrushed, Photoshopped, Kim Kardashian-esque eyeshadow looks to their Pinterest boards.

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Because nothing inspires more confidence in a makeup artist (for brides, no less) than seeing something like this and a caption below reading “PERFECT FOR WEDDING!!!  EXACTLY WHAT I WANT!!!!”.  Yes, you pin looks for the purpose of suggestion, for inspiration.  But bear in mind that the perfection typically exhibited on such images like the one above usually involves Photoshop editing, like that used for photo spreads in magazines.  It takes a steady hand to create this look, along with a steady few clicks of a mouse.  But I will, however, submit that I could recreate this look to the best of my abilities, given all the proper resources.  Just don’t freak out when you see a tiny bit of eyeshadow fall-out on your cheekbone, and relax!  I’ll have these with me!

#6  Speaking of Kim Kardashian …

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Yes, Kim.  Thank you for the contouring tips.  But now that we all know that you have to paint A TREE on your face everyday to look the way you normally do as you stomp the pavement with Tracy Jordan Kanye West at your side, I can’t say that we’re all that interested anymore.  Or at least, I’m not.  And that tree on your forehead isn’t including the rest of the clown mask you’ve got going on there.  For the runway, yes.  For the pavement with Tracy Jordan, no.

#7  THIS IS NOT THE FACE OF SNOW WHITE.

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This … I … I can’t even.  I.  CAN’T. EVEN.  Yes, I know we’re going for the face of the I-pull-myself-up-by-my-own-armored-bootstraps, I-play-in-the-mud-and-I-wield-a-sword-and-I-won’t-be-gender-stereotyped feminist Snow White.  And toward that I have no qualms.  But THIS is not even THAT face.  This face may have remained fixed with this EXACT expression for the entirety of the film (that so sorely disappointed me that I can hardly bear to discuss it).  And in fact, I’m pretty sure we can find this expression on Ms. Stewart’s face  throughout every other film she’s been featured in this side of FOREVER.  But the red lips, the alabaster skin, the hair a shade of raven’s black … I got none of it in Snow White and the Huntsman.  I get that the point wasn’t to Disney-fy Snow White in this case, but the look just wasn’t there.  I don’t know.  Maybe that’s the problem.  Maybe I just don’t know what I want, and maybe it’s not such a problem with the styling as it is with the confession that I just didn’t want her.

#8  Christina Aguilera looking like she rolled around in the MAC stockroom.

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We’ve already discussed this situation, so I won’t add much.  But the lavender ombre’ really caps it off for me.  It’s subtle, like a garlic sandwich.

#9  Justin Bieber looking prettier than Kate Beckinsale.

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Those baby pink lips.  That perfectly smooth skin.  Those fluttery eyelashes.  Those immaculate eyebrows!  That shiny hair with those beautiful diamonds!  No, I’m not talking about a Victoria’s Secret Angel strutting her stuff in the Fantasy Bra on the catwalk, or some girl that George Clooney is seducing in Lake Como.  I’m talking about Justin Bieber.  Yes, this guy, the alleged heartthrob of this current generation of young teenage girls.  Maybe I’m just partial to the scruffy, rugged look, or maybe I’m not being patient and allowing puberty to catch up with ole’ Justin, or MAYBE I’m just NOT cool with the fact that this, *ahem*, young man so clearly spends more time in front of the mirror applying his Creme de la Mer and strawberry-scented Bonne Bell lipgloss than I ever have or ever will.

#10  And lastly, the kicker …

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Um, ma’am?  Excuse me, ma’am?  You … you’ve got a sock on your head. I know you’ve shaped it into a purty little Cinnabon roll the size of a cabbage with your hair, but … you’ve got a sock on your head.  Oh, but I can’t see the sock?  Well, here’s the problem- I still know it’s there.  And it’s bothering me.  I want to poke it.  I want to poke it bad.  I want to shove my foot in your sock-hairs so I can keep warm in the winter cold.  Oh, you’ve cut a hole in that sock?  Well then lend it to me as a wristband for my awesomely sweaty workout.

Consider sock-buns the Bump-It of 2012.  Every time I saw some girl last year with a conveniently-placed tuft of volume at the top of her head, I so desperately wanted to play Whack-A-Mole and throw down a hammer on that bump just to see if it was some Bump-It impostor or if it was just real hair, teased and sprayed for height.  Same game goes for sock-buns this year.  Should you ever feel some bony finger poking your giant bun on the back of your head, I apologize in advance.  It’s just me being curious.

Welp, there you have it.  I’ve got a feeling I’ll be cranking out a “Best of” list sometime soon in order to make up for this one, but in the meantime, enjoy.  And you be sure to let me know if you’re feeling particularly enraged by any of the aforementioned.  I’ll send you a complimentary sock in the mail.  xo, MR