The Ultimate Guide To Wearing Brown Eyeshadow

If there is a single eyeshadow every woman should own, it’s a brown eyeshadow. No makeup bag is complete without one.

I didn’t grow up knowing this, and my mama never taught me. But, after tons of research, talking to makeup artists, and lots of trial and error…I learned why a neutral brown palette is so awesome.

Imagine owning one eyeshadow that is so flattering, you know you always look your best.

Prepare to learn everything there is to know about the versatility of brown eyeshadow, and all the benefits for you!

Brown Eyeshadow Is A Must Because:

1. It’s a neutral color that complements all skin tones. Your perfect shade of brown is always current and appropriate.

2. It’s universally flattering no matter your age. Brown hues are often the most classic and timeless.

3. Brown eyeshadow can be natural or sultry – providing great versatility

4. It’s a multi-purpose makeup product. Brown eyeshadow can be used on the lids, in the crease, on the eyebrows (*this is important, we’ll talk about it later), or as eyeliner.

5. It’s the cornerstone of any makeup look. Shades of brown are perfect for both daytime, neutral looks and evening smoky eyes.

How Do I Pick The Perfect Brown For Me??

1. Consider your daily beauty routine.
Are you an “I have five minutes to slap on some makeup in the morning” type of girl?
• You’ll do well with two colors: a light neutral brown, and a darker brown. Dust one on the lid, and the other in the crease – easy five minute routine.

Are you a “makeup junkie who cannot LIVE without a huge makeup bag”?
• You will enjoy having multiple shades of brown in different tones for a plethora of looks. One for the crease, three or four for a smoky eye, one for your eyebrows, one for eyeliner.

Are you a “natural sort of girl who enjoys simple makeup during the day, but heavier at night”?
• You’ll love having three versatile shades. One neutral and two darker browns. The neutral for your lids, one of the darker browns for your crease, and another color for defining your eyebrows and using as eyeliner.

2. What color is your skin?
And I’m not talking about figuring out if you’re “warm or cool” toned – which for some of us is tricky to figure out. Instead, think to yourself, “Am I super pale? Fair skinned? Tan or olive? Am I dark or super dark?

• Pale and Fair – think soft browns, light mochas, mushroom and raisin


• Tan and Olive – think light tan, caramel, terra cottas, espresso, and also mushroom


• Dark and Super Dark – think champagne, copper, bronze, espresso


How about my eye color?

Blue eyes pair well with warm browns, copper, and purple-based browns, making blue eyes look bluer.
Green eyes work very well with purple-based browns to make that green pop.
Brown eyes should be paired with purple and copper-based browns to complement the brown and bring out the fun specks of color within those peepers.

3. Should I be wearing matte or shimmer-based products?
As our eyelids change with our maturity level, so should our eyeshadow. Brown shimmery shadow with lots of frost or glitter, reflect light and draw attention to lines. That’s not to say that a sassy woman in her 60’s cannot wear a little shimmer, but that color is best placed on the brow bone (under the arch of the eyebrow) and in the inner corner of the eye. This lightens the look without drawing attention to the places that have lovely laugh lines.

But just remember, brown matte eyeshadow is flattering and lovely no matter your age. Brown matte eyeshadow brings out your inner earth goddess and brings subtle luminosity to your gaze.

Blending brown matte eyeshadow and brown shimmery eyeshadow, creates dimension within your eyes. Neutral shimmery eyeshadow in lighter tones bring the perfect highlight under your brow bone. The same goes for the inner corner of the eye. Champagne or Iced Mocha are good examples.

Combine shimmers with a brown matte eyeshadow such as: Brownie Points, Yes You Canyon or Espresso for a smashing sultry eye.


Eyebrows, ladies…eyebrows! They define your face, lift your eyes, and polish your look. I love eyebrows, they are the easiest way to take your makeup look from zero to 20 in under two minutes!!

I have bushy eyebrows; others have sparse brows. Either way, we need to define the brow that we were blessed with.

A lovely girl once told me, eyebrows are sisters NOT twins – embrace it! They will never be identical, and that’s ok.

After tweezing a little, brown matte eyeshadow is the perfect way to create definition without drawing a harsh line.

Tweeze the rogue hairs in between your two sisters. The inner edge of your brows should line up with the inner edge of your eye. Next, find your natural arch (it will usually line up with the outer edge of your iris). Tweeze all the hairs below your natural arch and out toward the outer edge. Next, clean up stray hairs above the outer corners of your brows. Always pluck hairs in same direction that they are growing, with one quick motion.

Once you’re all cleaned up, use a small eyeshadow brush with stiff, small bristles (like our angled eyeliner brush). Load your brush with a very small amount of the brown matte eyeshadow. Find the area of your brow that is the thinnest, and start there.

With small strokes, going in the same direction as your hair growth, begin to fill in lightly. Once that area is filled in appropriately, and you’re pleased with the intensity of the color, then finish the rest of the brow. With this technique you can fill in the most important spots, using the right intensity of color without darkening your entire brow too much.

If you are new to filling in your eyebrows, you’ll want to see for yourself what an impact a defined, polished brow can make. Do your entire eye makeup look first without touching your brows. Look straight in the mirror. Then attack one of your brows from start to finish. Look straight in the mirror and notice the striking difference!



This is a basic daytime look without eyebrows groomed and defined.



This is the same look, with eyebrows groomed and defined – what a difference!



Brunettes: You want an eyeshadow that is slightly lighter than your natural hair color (Brownie Points or Espresso)
Gingers: You want a taupe or reddish brown (Sugar & Spice)
Blondes: You want a color that is slightly darker than your natural eyebrow color (Yes You Canyon)
Silver Foxes: You’ll want slate, gray, or taupes depending on the color your brows have taken on. *Remember you want your brows to stand out, so picking a slightly darker shade than the silver hair is important (Clean Slate, Taken For Granite, Yes You Canyon, or Brownie Points)



Let’s take a glance at three different looks using brown-toned neutrals

#1: Daytime: 5 minute makeup


Simple daytime makeup that’s perfect for a hectic morning, picnics or a PTA meeting!

I only used two eyeshadows: Porcelain and Brownie Points by Red Apple Lipstick

Porcelain is a matte neutral which I used over the entire lid all the way up to the brow bone. This really brightened the eye.

Brownie Points is a matte light brown and was used in three areas:

  • in the crease to create a shadow, which makes the eye appear bigger
  • wet as an eyeliner to create soft definition on the upper and lower lash line
  • as an eyebrow filler, with a small brush to polish the look

I double-purposed my lipstick too!  Ruby Slippers was applied lightly to the lips and the cheeks.  This coordinates the look and cuts down on time!  Check out the close up photos below.



Notice how Brownie Points is blended into the crease and on the lash line. Don’t worry about perfection, just create a shadow.


In a big hurry? Try using your ring and pinky finger to appy the two shadows – talk about a shortcut!



#2: Daytime to Nightime: 15 minute makeup


Great for those days where there’s no time to touch up in between business meetings and a dinner date.

I used four shadows: Iced Mocha, Yes You Canyon, Twinkle Taupe, and Lucky Penny by Red Apple Lipstick

Iced Mocha is a light, shimmery neutral which I used on the inner corner and brow bone for highlight and instant lift.

Yes You Canyon is a matte terra cotta color, used on the outer 2/3 of the lid and up into the crease

Twinkle Taupe is a darker, shimmery brown which I multi-purposed in the following ways:

  • blended into outer 1/3 lid and outer crease
  • used wet as a liner
  • as an eyebrow filler to polish the look

Lucky Penny is a shimmery copper color, which was applied wet below the lower lashes for a pop of color and to enhance my eye color.

Lips: Ruby Slippers Lipstick with Cabernet Kiss Gloss

Examine the detailed pictures below.



Applying interesting colors underneath creates interest and dimension. Use brighter colors that complement your eye color.


Notice the highlight in the inner corner and brow bone and the gradual darkening shadow.



 #3: Nightime Smoky Eye: 20 minute makeup


Smoky eyes aren’t just for black eyeshadow. Brown eyeshadows make an amazing smoky eye that’s more earthy and not as harsh!

I used 5 eyeshadows: Champagne, Dirty Girl, Vamp, Espresso, and Brownie Points by Red Apple Lipstick

Champagne is a shimmery neutral that I used in the inner corner and brow bone for highlight – always!

Dirty Girl is a matte mushroom-based brown. Pack this on to the entire lid, in and above the crease.  Don’t worry about being too precise, that’s the beauty of a smoky eye, we will blend and smoke it out later.

Vamp is a slightly shimmery purple-based brown.  I blended this on the outer 2/3 of the lid and into the outer crease.  I then used a thin brush to line underneath the lower lashes.  Use Vamp to make a thicker line and smudge it out with a Q-tip.

Espresso is a matte dark coffee brown eyeshadow.  I used it wet as an eyeliner on both upper and lower lashlines.

Brownie Points is the same matte light brown shadow that I always use to fill in my eyebrows with a small brush.  Filling in your brows always defines and polishes the look.

Lips: Blush Revolution Lip Pencil – fill in entire lip, then apply Honey Badger gloss on top.

Check out the following detailed pictures.



Dirty Girl applied all over the entire lid and above the crease.
Be messy with it you will blend Vamp into it in the next step.


Vamp is blended on top of Dirty Girl and heavily into the outer crease.
Espresso is used as an eyeliner and drawn outward to lift the eye.




*Warning: Shameless plug approaching*
All Red Apple eyeshadows are mineral-based eyeshadows. So, that means not only are they awesome in quality, BUT each color can be worn in a variety of ways.
• Wet or Dry
• Intense color based on amount of application

Wet or Dry

By using RAL brown mineral eyeshadows wet, you can create many different color intensities. Brown matte eyeshadows will take on a deeper more luscious hue, while the brown shimmery eyeshadows will intensify their undertones.

Run your RAL wet/dry eyeshadow brush under water slightly and shake off the excess to ensure that the bristles have separated from the water. Dip into the eyeshadow of your choice and apply. To test the difference in intensity first, before applying directly to your lid, apply the color to the inside of your wrist.

Use this technique with the darker brown eyeshadows (brownie points, espresso, and vamp) to create an eyeliner. Using an eyeshadow as eyeliner allows you to get either a sharp defined line, or a smudged, more natural look that can be perfectly coordinated with the rest of your eye makeup!


This seems so obvious, but begs to be spotlighted. RAL brown mineral eyeshadows can be worn light and natural or full bodied depending on the amount you apply.

The key here is not to swirl the brush a million times into your eyeshadow, but rather BUILD the intensity.

Compare building the intensity in your eyeshadow to cooking.  If you add too much seasoning at first, you can’t go back and remove it.  Instead you should start light, and build. Pick up a little color on your brush and slowly and thoughtfully begin to work it into your crease or eyelid. Look straight into the mirror. Do you like it? Do you want more? Then go for it, add a little more to the brush, and apply in the same place.

This will allow you amp up the intensity but keep total control.


Let’s just list ‘em out by finish.

Brown Matte Eyeshadows: From lightest to darkest

Porcelain – light neutral for eyelids and brow bone
Yes You Canyon – terra cotta for eyelids, crease, eyebrows
Brownie Points – soft brown for crease, eyebrows or eyeliner
Espresso – coffee color for crease, eyebrows, eyeliner

Brown Shimmery Eyeshadows: From lightest to darkest

Iced Mocha – light mocha shimmer for brow bone, inner corner, and under bottom lashes
Champagne – light tan shimmer for brow bone, inner corner, and under bottom lashes
Down To Earth – caramel/bronze shimmer for eyelid, crease or under bottom lashes
Lucky Penny – copper shimmer for eyelid, crease or under bottom lashes
Dirty Girl – mushroom shimmer for eyelid or crease
Twinkle Taupe – medium brown shimmer for crease, smoky lid, or eyeliner
Chocolate Martini – deep coffee brown with gold glitter for smoky lid or eyeliner
Vamp – raisin color for crease, smoky lid or eyeliner


  1. Jean Owens says

    Thank you for the tutorial — this was VERY helpful and helped me select THE brown shadow for blue eyes and very fair skin. For me this has always been a difficult process and now with celiac I had given up as I just didn’t know how to find the color. I will keep this page and use over and over

    Thank you again

  2. Jo Merriam says

    I used to wear eye shadow when I was younger and had to dress professionally for work. As I got older and the skin around my eyes began to get a little “crepey”, and I was in a more casual work environment, I stopped using shadow altogether.

    Thank you so much for this tutorial! Now that I’m retired, I think I just need to stick to matte shadows, and not too much at that. This has been so helpful, and I’m glad I learned how to adjust my eye makeup as I age.

  3. Brenda says

    Wow, love this article! This is everything you just taught me but more (and written down). I am so thankful for the lesson. I will re-read this again and again until I can complete a couple of looks.

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