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 • Makeup  • Makeup Guides  • The Most Flattering Eyeshadow Shades For Brown Eyes
Girl with a smokey eye brown eyes eyeshadow

The Most Flattering Eyeshadow Shades For Brown Eyes

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Main Image – Live That Glow

If you’re lucky enough to have brown eyes and you’re wondering which eyeshadow route to go down, then look no further. A whole article dedicated to you lucky lot? You betcha! Because we know that understanding which shades to pick can sometimes get confusing.

So sit back and relax while we take you through some dos and don’ts of eyeshadow for brown eyes. Some rules, and some not-so-rules. Some good tones and some really great tones.

With a little help from our expert friends, Laura Kay, leading permanent makeup expert and founder of Laura Kay London and Melissa Sophia, MAC makeup artist and ambassador for Kiss MUA.  

Here at Live That Glow though, we are firm believers in, well, you. We think that if you try on a shade of eyeshadow and it makes you feel like you could strut your stuff on the nearest catwalk, go for it.

It’s what makes you feel good that counts. So, take the following advice with a pinch of salt and treat it as a guide, not as gospel.


The theory of colour

If you’re makeup-obsessed, you may have come across a colour wheel before. Known also as the theory of colour, it’s something people often use to determine which makeup colours go well together.

There are usually no less than 12 colours on a colour wheel. The closer the colours, the closer in family they are, and any colour opposite another means they contrast and layer nicely together.

“The theory of colour is sometimes overlooked,” says Melissa. “Yet it is so important for bringing out those undertones and that contrast between your eyes and the shadow you are using.”


Girl showing her face after contouring brown eyes eyeshadow smokey eye

Image – Live That Glow


How to choose the right eyeshadow formula

Whatever your eye colour, it’s best to choose your eyeshadow formula before anything else. After all, some suit certain skin types better than others.

The most commonly used eyeshadow formula is a powder, with cream coming in a close second. There are also liquid eyeshadows which leave a slightly more intense, wetter look.

A powder gives a sheerer finish, unless you use a wet brush with it, in which case the pigment will be more bold. Melissa says powders are particularly good if you’re mixing more than one shade; “if you like to blend shades together, powders tend to be easier and won’t go patchy.”

A cream though is more flattering on mature skin as it gives more of a glow and is less drying. They’re convenient too; “They are great for a bold wash of colour, giving impact but not having to take the time to do it,” says Melissa.


Eyeshadow shades to flatter brown eyes’ natural tones

So now you’ve chosen your formula, it’s time to think about your eyeshadow shade. Like we said before, if something makes you feel great then go for it! But for guidance, here are the shades that traditionally suit your natural tones.

If you have light brown eyes, Melissa suggests you look at the flecks within your eyes and pick them out; “for example, some lighter brown eyes have honey/yellowy tones coming through,” she says.

For dark brown eyes, she recommends choosing cooler tones; “go for smokey grey/gunmetal,” she says. “The usual tones which also work beautifully on dark brown eyes are golds, silvers, chocolate browns and taupes.”


Eyeshadow shades to make brown eyes pop

Now choose some shades that will really make brown eyes stand out. Laura says if you have dark brown eyes, go for green! “I would recommend a dark green smokey tone as this colour will enhance brown eyes and make them pop, plus they are opposite on the colour spectrum,” she says.

For lighter brown eyes, Laura says, “You could use a soft bronze as your eyeshadow base and then add a green eyeliner.”

Melissa adds, “Contrasting colours like purples and blues and also warm browns such as terracotta will get those honey tones popping.”


Girl with a smokey eye brown eyes eyeshadow

Image – Live That Glow


How to create the perfect eyeshadow look

First things first! With most formulas, but particularly a cream or liquid, it’s best to use an eyeshadow primer before you apply any colour. This ensures the colour doesn’t crease with wear. (We wouldn’t be without Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion, £21/$26.17)

Use an eyeshadow brush to apply a powder formula and lightly sweep it over the entire lid. You could then create a 3D effect and open your eye up more by using a darker, earthy tone in the crease of your eyelid.

If using a smoky shade you could even run some along your bottom lash line for definition, using a smaller, skinnier brush.

Whilst liquid eyeshadows usually come with their own applicator, cream shadows are best applied with your finger. It’s a bit messy, but it’ll give you the strongest pigment. Plus, using a brush for this might clog up your brush’s bristles! Make sure you press it on, rather than rub or drag it as the skin there is very delicate.


The takeaway

Our eyeshadow shade guide for brown eyes is just that – a guide. You are the best judge of what looks good on you, and most importantly what makes you feel confident.

Look for the formula that best suits your needs and lifestyle. A liquid will be more high maintenance if that’s your thing, whilst a powder is more easygoing.

And remember, an eyeshadow primer is key for excellent application and longevity!


Meet the experts 

Laura Kay is a leading permanent makeup expert and the founder of Laura Kay London. With over 20 years of experience in the cosmetic industry, Laura opened her academy training programme in 2015, teaching her world-class skills to the next generation of permanent makeup artists.


Melissa Sophia is KISS MUA Ambassador and she’s a trained MAC makeup artist.


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Beauty Editor

The former Beauty Editor of Glamour UK, Philippa has been a beauty and lifestyle journalist for over 16 years, picking up countless tips and tricks from makeup artists, hair stylists, dermatologists and celebrities. In that time she’s written for names like Cosmopolitan, The Sunday Times Style, The Telegraph, Grazia, Refinery 29 and Byrdie. Philippa lives in the UK with her husband, two children and their hyperactive cockapoo, Paddy.

Expertise: Makeup, hair care
Education: Oxford Brookes University

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