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Updated September 2022
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Buying guide for Best eyeshadows for brown eyes

Eyeshadow might be the one makeup product that allows you to express your creativity most easily. It comes in so many colors and finishes that you can essentially play the artist right on your eyelids. If you want to look your absolute best, it helps to choose eyeshadow shades that flatter your eye color. 

Your eye color is the most important factor to consider because the right eyeshadow can instantly make them stand out. Brown eyes, in particular, offer plenty of opportunities for creativity because they usually include a range of tones. For example, some brown eyes are pure chocolate brown, while others have gold, amber, green, and even reddish tones. That means you can use many different eyeshadow colors to make your brown eyes pop.

If you’re having trouble locating the best eyeshadow for your brown eyes, our buying guide can help you find the right shades, formulas, and finishes. We’ve also included several specific eyeshadows that we like to help make your shopping even easier. 

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Don’t assume you can’t wear brown eyeshadow because you have brown eyes. Matching your shadow to your eye color can be incredibly flattering, particularly if you choose a shimmery formula. 

Key considerations

Shades

The color wheel plays a central role when you’re choosing eyeshadow shades for almost any eye color. Selecting a shade that’s the opposite of your eye color creates a natural contrast that makes your eyes stand out. For example, blue is the opposite of orange on the color wheel, so blue eyes truly pop when paired with eyeshadows of orange, peach, or rust. 

Brown is a neutral shade, so you won’t find it on most color wheels. But that’s good for you because it means that there aren’t any eyeshadows that don’t go with brown eyes. Still, some shades are more flattering than others when you want your brown eyes to shine. Some eyeshadow shades that work especially well with brown eyes include the following:

  • Green
  • Purple
  • Gold
  • Gray
  • Silver
  • Chocolate

Formulas

When choosing an eyeshadow formula for brown eyes, you can use your skin type as a guide, but it’s mainly a matter of personal preference.

Powder is the most common formula for eyeshadows. The powder is pressed into a solid pan of shadow. It’s very easy to use, even for beginners, and it usually isn’t messy to apply using a brush or sponge-tip applicator. Powder eyeshadow works best on oily or normal skin because it can settle in fine lines and wrinkles on dry skin. 

Loose powder or mineral eyeshadow is similar to powder formulas, but the powder shadow isn’t pressed into a cake. You need a brush to apply it. Loose shadows can be somewhat messy because they can easily spill if you knock the container. 

Cream eyeshadow has a thick, creamy texture that dries for a long-lasting finish. It can be somewhat tricky for beginners, but you can use a clean finger or brush to apply it to your lids. Cream shadows usually work best on dry or mature skin. 

Liquid eyeshadow has a thinner texture than cream shadows but usually dries similarly. It typically wears even longer on the skin than creams, but it can be tricky to apply. 

Pencil eyeshadow is similar in texture to cream eyeshadow, but it’s packaged in a pencil container, making it easier to apply. You can “draw” the shadow over your eyelids and then blend it with a finger or brush.

Palettes vs. singles

While most cream, loose, liquid, and pencil eyeshadows are sold as single shades, powder eyeshadow is available as both singles and in palettes with multiple shades, from as few as three shades to as many as two dozen shades. Palettes typically provide better bang for your buck than individual eyeshadow colors, but you run the risk of buying shades that you’ll never use. 

Purchasing an eyeshadow palette is the easiest way to put together an eye look because all the shades are coordinated to work together. It takes all the guesswork out of finding a color combination to use on your eyelids. You can find eyeshadow palettes designed specifically for brown eyes. They contain flattering shades that are designed to work together, so you always achieve the perfect look. 

Palettes also make travel easier because you can toss one palette into your bag instead of having to pack several single shadow compacts. 

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Staff Tip
Instantly look more awake by brightening the inner corners of your eyes with a light-colored shimmer or satin eyeshadow.
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Features

Finish

Eyeshadow is available in several different finishes, all of which can flatter brown eyes, so it mostly comes down to personal preference.

Matte eyeshadows don’t have any shine or sheen and don’t reflect the light. They work well for adding definition to the eyes and so are often used in the crease. They can also be flattering on mature eyelids because they don’t accentuate lines or wrinkles. 

Shimmer eyeshadows have very fine particles that give the eyes a visible sheen or shine. They can help brighten the eye area, and they look particularly good on the eyelid or the inner corner. However, they should be used with a light hand on mature skin because they can draw attention to fine lines and wrinkles. 

Satin eyeshadow has a subtle sheen somewhere between matte and shimmer. It looks more natural on the skin and works well on the lids, brow bone, inner corner, and crease. This finish works well for nearly everyone, including those with mature skin.

Glitter eyeshadow includes glitter particles that reflect the light for a dramatic look. It works well for parties and evenings out, but it’s a poor choice for mature skin because it can call attention to fine lines and wrinkles.

Applicator

Some eyeshadows come with a small sponge-tip applicator or brush. These applicators aren’t always the best quality, but they can come in handy when you’re traveling or want to touch up your eyeshadow on the go.

Cruelty-free

If you don’t want to use any products tested on animals, choose eyeshadow labeled as cruelty-free. These products often have a bunny logo on the packaging that certifies that they didn’t undergo animal testing during the manufacturing process.  

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Staff Tip
If you opt for eyeshadow in rich, deep shades like sapphire or emerald, stick to neutral colors for your blush and lips. That ensures that all the focus is on your eyes. 
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Accessories

Eyeshadow primer: To keep your eyeshadow looking fresh and vibrant all day, applying an eyeshadow primer to your lids first is essential. If you want to save some money, you can choose a drugstore eyeshadow primer instead.

Eyeshadow brushes: Your eyeshadow can look its best if you apply it with the right brushes.

Pricing

Eyeshadows for brown eyes range in price based on the number of shades, the quality of the ingredients, and other features. Most eyeshadows cost between $1 and $110.

Inexpensive

The most affordable eyeshadows for brown eyes are drugstore brands that contain lower-quality ingredients. Single eyeshadows generally cost between $1 and $10. You can also find eyeshadow palettes at the drugstore that are perfect for brown eyes, and these usually range from $5 to $18.

Mid-range

These eyeshadows for brown eyes come from high-end beauty brands and contain average- or better-quality ingredients. Single shadows typically cost between $12 and $20. Eyeshadow palettes in this price range generally cost between $19 and $59.

Expensive

The most expensive eyeshadows for brown eyes are made by luxury beauty brands and contain high-quality ingredients. Single shadows usually cost between $29 and $64. Eyeshadow palettes in this price range generally cost $50 to $110, and some large palettes can cost more than $200. 

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Staff Tip
If you want to intensify the look of your eyeshadow, layer a powder shadow over a cream shadow from the same color family. 
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Tips

  • Start with a primer. Regardless of your eye color or the look you want to achieve, you should always start with a high-quality eyeshadow primer. It helps lock your shadow in place all day and makes the color as vibrant as possible. 
  • Try jewel tones with very dark eyes. If you have extremely dark brown, nearly black, eyes, jewel tones like emerald, sapphire, and plum are especially flattering on you.
  • Match the flecks of color in the irises. For medium or light brown eyes, choose eyeshadow colors that match the flecks of color in your irises. For example, if you have golden flecks, opt for gold or bronze shadow to help your eyes pop. 
  • Try different eyeliner colors. Black eyeliner is a classic option with nearly any eyeshadow look, but a soft purple eyeliner like plum can help brown eyes stand out even more. 
     
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When using a dark or bright eyeshadow, apply it before you apply foundation. That way, if any of the shadow falls on your cheeks, you can wipe it away without worrying about ruining the rest of your makeup.

FAQ

Q. Are there any eyeshadow shades I shouldn’t wear if I have brown eyes?

A. Makeup is supposed to be fun and allow you to express your creativity, so no matter your eye color, there aren’t any eyeshadow shades you shouldn’t wear if you like them. Brown eyes give you the most versatility since your eyes are a neutral color that works with nearly any shade. For example, bright blue eyeshadow can be one of the trickiest shades to pull off, but it can look fabulous on brown eyes if applied correctly. 

Q. What’s the best way to remove eyeshadow?

A. It depends on the eyeshadow’s formula, but you should always use an eye makeup remover to remove shadow without irritating your eyes. An oil-based remover is the best option if you’re wearing long-wearing or waterproof shadow. 

Q. Does eyeshadow expire?

A. Like other makeup and skincare products, eyeshadow does expire. Powder and loose powder eyeshadows have the longest shelf life, typically lasting for a couple of years. Cream, liquid, and pencil shadows are generally only good for a year. 

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