Makeup experts: can you recommend a dark brown eyeshadow without a blue tinge to it?
May 5, 2012 6:08 PM   Subscribe

I've bought several packs of neutral-natural smokey brown eyeshadow collections (including these two) just trying to look natural. Instead, they all turn blue-ish when put on my eyelids, and I look exactly like I'm wearing artificial colors. Trial and error is getting way too expensive! Has anyone had any luck with finding a set of browns that are actually brown? Thanks!
posted by heatherfl to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (26 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Not an expert, but that sounds really odd (and annoying.) I use clinique colour surge eyeshadow duo in double date, or Youngblood pressed mineral eyeshadow quad in timeless, both of which have really nice browns that go on the way they look in the compact. Are you using foundation, powder, or primer first? If not, some combination of those might help with the color.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 6:16 PM on May 5, 2012

Asked my wife, and her opinion was that you needed a primer for the shadow, as well as a better brand of eyeshadow. She mentioned Nix as something pretty good in the drugstore range, and Mac as an entry-level department store recommendation.
posted by Gilbert at 6:17 PM on May 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

I would suggest Mary Kay's mineral eye shadows. I think they will cost more than the two that you have purchased but MK will let you return the eye shadows if you are not happy with them. I suggest Hazelnut, Espresso, Moonstone, Almond, you ought to look. The nice thing about the mineral eye shadows is that you can layer them on top of one another to create a new color. If you want the color to deepen, you can wet your brush very slightly before picking up the color and it will give you a deeper color. There are also cream eye colors if you want to use it as a base (it works like a colored eye primer!)

And you can order online!
posted by Yellow at 6:17 PM on May 5, 2012

Agree with Gilbert's wife... you need primer, and probably higher quality shadows. For primer, I recommend either Benefit Lemon-Aid or Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion (link to original color, but there are tinted ones too). If you have a Sephora near you, you can get some advice, try some products out, and even return used products if you don't like them, so there's less risk than at the drugstore.
posted by dayintoday at 6:22 PM on May 5, 2012

If price is an issue, a lot of the major drugstore companies offer returns on makeup (even if opened). I agree you need a better brand of eyeshadow and make sure you use a primer. MAC has always been my favorite throughout the years and you can always try things out at the store before you buy. If you buy from the MAC website, you can return any used item for any reason within 30 days. Sephora is also a great place to go because they have tons of awesome brands and you can try almost anything out first.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 6:28 PM on May 5, 2012

Are you sure it's not just bad lighting where you're trying these out and looking at the results?
posted by tristeza at 6:29 PM on May 5, 2012

Seconding MAC. I use the Embark color as an eyeliner. It's actually brown and it stays on really well without a primer or anything.
posted by topoisomerase at 6:37 PM on May 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

1. The super-popular neutral palettes right now are the Urban Decay Naked palettes (there is an Urban Decay Naked and an Urban Decay Naked 2). They are expensive, sorry. :( I prefer to spend more on makeup like eyeshadow because it feels nicer on my face and eyeshadow lasts a looooong time. You should also be able to find a better price on the first/original palette than the one at that Amazon link. They come with a primer, which means your shadow SHOULD look more color-true and at the very least it will last longer on your face.

2. You might also like this LORAC palette, which also comes with a primer that IME is very good. On the other hand, I have found LORAC to be very...sparkly. Almost middle-school-dance sparkly. But they are super high quality- color-true and they feel luscious on your face.

3. At the drugstore level, the gold standard for eye pigment is, weirdly, Wet-n-Wild. I have the Wet-n-Wild Walking on Eggshells (oh my God, don't buy from that link, they are three bucks at the drugstore. In fact, don't buy from any of the links in this comment, just note the colors and item names and buy at Sephora, Ulta or EBay if they are a top-rated seller) palette and have found it to be a very pretty neutral brown/beige solution.

4. What's your skintone? I can imagine if you are super-pale with cool undertones that some browns might look blueish on you. Nthing going to Sephora and trying out different shades until you find something that works.

5. Ask this question at MakeupAlley. It's free to join, and the women there all got the secret makeup knowledge manual as children. They know things about makeup that I didn't know existed.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 6:39 PM on May 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

I don't use primer, but have been thinking about getting Urban Decay Primer Potion. This advice helps, thanks. I know it's not just the lighting, as I've carried my makeup bag to various hotels over the years. I am at the vampire end of the paleness scale! Thanks again to the folks who suggested specific colors - that helps a lot!
posted by heatherfl at 6:41 PM on May 5, 2012

I'm at the vampire end of paleness too (maybe even paler). Some products that work great with our skin tone and that don't require primer (and will stay on all day) are the paints or the paint pots from MAC. You can apply them with a brush, but I prefer to use my fingers since it's easier that way. They also have buildable coverage so if you apply less, it will look more natural. I wear them alone or sometimes I use them as a primer and then apply a powder shadow on top for a more dramatic look so it's kind of two products in one. And as stated above, MAC has a great return policy.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 7:12 PM on May 5, 2012

I second or third or whatever Urban Decay Primer Potion. It really makes a huge difference - not just in making the eyeshadow stay on allll day, but it looks much more vivid and opaque and creamy on your eyelid.

I also just bought the Urban Decay Naked 2. I like it, and I might buy the original Naked. The Naked 2 is definitely more purpley/gray/beige with some gold and rose gold thrown in rather than brown, though, so don't get that one.
posted by ohsnapdragon at 7:15 PM on May 5, 2012

I knew someone on whom all eyeshadow turned blue. Try primer with the eyeshadow you already have. You could go to a makeup counter at a dept. store, and try some different types to see what keeps its color best. Just don't get guilted in buying a ton of makeup.
posted by theora55 at 7:25 PM on May 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Those Revlon eyeshadows are HORRIBLE. I had a very similar experience with the Brazen palette, which barely showed up in the first place. Agreed that higher quality shadow (plus that amazing Urban Decay primer) will help a lot, but I have this palette and it actually works surprisingly well, doesn't look fake. I use the #3 color for the lid and the #4 to punch up my eyeliner. The rest goes to waste, but it was pretty cheap in the first place.

Going to Sephora is a good idea, as is asking Makeup Alley. Also if you have a friend with a lot of makeup, ask to try some of her eyeshadows, maybe. :) (And if you wear foundation, you can try putting some on your eyelid before the shadow, too.)
posted by stoneandstar at 8:26 PM on May 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

This Etsy seller is really awesome, and her browns come in a ton of shades and are true-to-color when on.
posted by spunweb at 8:28 PM on May 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

I like the Two Faced Naked Eye and Natural Eye palettes. They come with little instruction cards, too.

As others have mentioned, definitely use primer and good brushes. It makes a difference and the colors turn out truer.
posted by sfkiddo at 8:29 PM on May 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

When I first started using makeup, I found elf (eyes lips face) makeup. Especially the eye shadows are well pigmented and very inexpensive. You can find it at target and kmart, or online (with great sales). Their eye shadow primer is good coverage as well.
posted by bookdragoness at 8:35 PM on May 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Not sure exactly why that is happening, but nthing Sephora, MAC, and visiting the various makeup counters in department stores to experiment before investing more money in shadows that don't work for you. While I am never eager to spend more money than I have to, I'm incredibly picky about makeup and tend towards more subtle neutrals like you're describing. My three favorite brands are Lancome, Lorac, and Bare Escentuals. They apply well, are true to color, and have a wide variety of neutrals as well as more dramatic colors. I find the Lancome to be more heavily pigmented than the other two, which is good, but also means less is more. My second tier preference of eye shadows are Fresh, Benefit, & Clinique. They aren't my go-to's, but I have been happy with them on occasion. Before you buy anything, however, go on a few shopping excursions and play around. You can also get help from the sales people, but that can be a crap shoot. Good luck!
posted by katemcd at 8:53 PM on May 5, 2012

I am very pale too. For neutral matte taupe-browns, I use MAC Coquette and Copperplate. If you like browns with a little more red, try Cork, Wedge or Omega.

Or Bobbi Brown --- Bobbi Brown is famous for its neutral brown shades.
posted by Susan PG at 9:37 PM on May 5, 2012

A cheaper alternative to the UD Naked palette would be Nyx's Nude on Nude palette (though I've never used it). Or the single Nyx shadows, which I've heard are of slightly better quality than the palettes. You should be able to find them on or Amazon. Also, Kat Von D's True Romance palettes are pricey but have absolutely amazing pigmentation. You might check out Ludwig, for example; I think that one has some browns. MakeupAlley is your friend for sure! :D
posted by désoeuvrée at 10:32 PM on May 5, 2012

If you just want to try out a primer without dropping the money on UDPP, try out e.l.f. eyelid primer. It's $1, but it's actually pretty decent (just not as long-lasting as UDPP).

I recommend going to a makeup counter at the department stores where they have makeup artists. They'll be able to see your skin tone in person and make good recommendations. Most of them won't pressure you to buy their brand (though of course they will show you what they recommend using their brand), and you should feel free to ask them what they think are good matches in other brands especially at the drugstore level.
posted by asciident at 12:26 AM on May 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

My thought would be to go for a colour that is more orange than you want from the colour. The orange will cancel out any of the natural blue in your skin that is interfering with the tone you're trying to get. Much like how green tinted serums can be used to cancel out redness. I've found that with a bit of colour theory under your belt, you can use whatever brand you like and still get consistent result.

I'd also second hitting up a makeup artist at a department store. They tend to know what they are doing.
posted by Jilder at 12:32 AM on May 6, 2012

I've had great luck with Lancôme. Not cheap! But the colors are true and long-lasting.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 6:05 AM on May 6, 2012

Yes, an eyeshadow primer would be a good idea. Urban Decay Primer Potion and Too Faced Shadow Insurance are the most popular, but NYX HD Eyeshadow Primer is also excellent, and only around $7. You can find it at Ulta or online.

I agree with the above comment that Wet n Wild (surprisingly) makes the best eyeshadow at the drugstore, and second the recommendation for Walking on Eggshells - and it's only $3.

However, sometimes, it's actually cheaper to spend the money on high-end makeup you can test out than buying a bunch of drugstore products that don't end up working out. MAC is probably the least expensive high-end brand - and they have a lot of neutral shades.

MAC isn't sold at Sephora, and I like Sephora a lot though because they have a very liberal return policy (you can do exchanges without a receipt), and you can play around with the makeup by yourself/ no pressure. If you go to a Sephora, I'd recommend checking out the Urban Decay Naked Palette if you like shimmer - it's expensive, but an excellent value (about $4 a shadow, and comes with a mini primer you can try out). You could also check out the Tarina Tarantino eyeshadow quints, they are supposed to be really excellent quality. It's $32.
posted by insectosaurus at 7:34 AM on May 6, 2012

I use the UD Primer Potion and it does help.

But the truest browns I have are all Ben Nye - I have mocha, taupe, and vanilla and they are exactly the colour they allege and never turn.

I got mine at a costuming store, but I know loads of people who order online with no problems.

Aside from Ben Nye, the best two IMO are UD & Bobbi Brown.
posted by batmonkey at 8:20 AM on May 6, 2012

A warning on the extremely popular Urban Decay Naked palettes: they have a lot of shimmer in them, so if you don't like to look glittery they may not be for you.

I have a Sonia Kashuk "perfectly neutral" eye palette that is pretty high quality for something you can pick up at Target for $20, and it's not too harsh on my very pale skin either.
posted by bookish at 12:36 PM on May 6, 2012

Based on reviews from Makeup Alley, I recently picked up this NYX primer at a fraction of the price of the Urban Decay potion. Grant you, I've never used primer before, but I will say that after using this, my shadow stays on for 12 hours without a problem. I also picked up the NYX Nude on Nude palette and it's got some nice warm browns in it. Some are shimmery, so be warned if that's not your thing.
posted by Addlepated at 2:17 PM on May 7, 2012

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