I received an Isetan mailer recently which had pictures of the new Bobbi Brown Nude eye and lip palette (RM210). I also saw the palette in person last week and the shadows were 4 similar colored nude or neutral eyeshadows. It reminded me of a question I used to ask before – Why would anyone want to use neutral eyeshadow or eyeshadows that look nude? Isn’t the purpose of eyeshadow having colour on the eyes?
Clockwise from bottom left: Bourjois Brun Irrel, Bourjois Beige Rose, MAC Coco pigment, MAC Naked Pigment,
Shu Uemura ME Silver 945, Stila Kitten, Wheat, Oasis, Sun
I’ve since worked out the answer for myself. There are some days or some occasions when having other colours on your eyes won’t do. Examples are strict work places or serious events or even just when you want to be taken seriously like if you have to attend meetings or meet new customers or clients or business partners. If you are in a serious sort of job, having beautifully made up eyes with coloured eyeshadow just won’t do because people just don’t take you seriously otherwise (unfortunate but true). (Read more after the jump) There are also times when you don’t want to look like you are too dolled up to go out like on a weekend or on holiday.
So, enter neutral eyeshadow.
N ude or Neutral eyeshadow is simply, any eye shadow colour that matches the colour of your facial skin to create the impression of not having eyeshadow on. It might seem contradictory, but believe me, having some color actually sometimes helps you look better.
Contrary to common perceptions, neutral does not always have to mean beige or champagne or brown or bronze. On people with fair skins, browns can actually look muddy and make you look tired. If you have a darker skin tone you might be able to pull off browns and bronzes better. Beige and champagne are common and easy colours to stick to, but variations in shades can help make or break a look. A rule of thumb I use is to choose a “nude” shade that is one shade lighter than my natural color of my eye lids- that way I always look awake even when I’m tired after a late night!
I’ve found that a good neutral eye color for me is Bourjois Beige Rose shaded with Bourjois Brun Irrel. There is minimal shimmer (yet the color isn’t flat) and the final effect is of “my lids but better” because my lids look smooth with a slight definition but not so that I look made up. Another nude look that works for me every time is MAC Naked Pigment with Coco pigment for depth. Some days, I push my luck with Stila Kitten (champagne with shimmer) topped with Shu Uemura ME Silver 945 (taupe) for a slightly more shimmery eye catching look. (Color examples in picture above) Kanebo T’estimo‘s brown Layered Impact palette too is perfect for me, although a bit shimmery. On yet other occasions when I want a truly no-eye makeup-look I use Stila Launey. The color in pan is an orange but it goes on like nothing on my lids yet makes it look smooth and even with very slight shimmer.
What does not work for me is straight brown shades. Brown on my eyes make me look like I have not slept in 3 days. If its a red-based brown, its even worse. I look like I’ve cried then not slept in 3 days!
Now, after applying your neutral eyeshadow, finish off with eyeliner and lots of mascara to create an wide-eyed natural look for the eyes. If you’ve had a bad night, this is one of the best ways to look like you haven’t; and its wonderful for those days when you don’t want to look like you have makeup on yet want to look polished. Interestingly, guys dig this “natural” look and you know you’ve found the perfect nude eyeshadow color when your guy friend/partner tells you “I don’t know why you bother with eyeshadow when you look good without anyway!” 😉
So, the moral of the story is to try to find a nude color that works for you. Just because an eyeshadow palette calls itself a nude palette does not make it the perfect nude for you. Out of 4 colors, you might find 2 that work and 2 others may not. Or as in the case of Bobbi Brown’s nude palette, 4 colours that look exactly the same. So, what’s the point really eh?
What’s your favourite Neutral or Natural colored Eyeshadow?
23 comments ... Read or JOIN THE DISCUSSION
This is one of your best posts for me! I don’t like to apply eyeshadow (because I wear glasses most of the time and it tends to magnify the colors) so most of the time I ignore my eyes. Pity really, because I think they’re my best feature. Haha.
Anyway, I’m really inspired to go and look for the perfect nude eyeshadow for me right now! (Okay, so it was the last bit about the guy’s comments that convinced me. Lawl.)
Thanks for the tips. Any particular brand to recommend starting out with? (I’m liking the Stila palette you’ve shown above though.)
Good going, PB! 🙂 I’m actually loving the Kanebo one I bought recently – very nice texture, and lasts a long time too.
i love this post! next post: nude eyeshadow: a step by step pictorial…. can ah? 😛
i oredi finished the gold (lame i think?) in stila kitten palette. love that palette!!
step by step picture tutorial can? 😛
giddy tigress says
Awesome tips! I have not ventured into nude eyeshadow yet, but I just might..given the fact that I am in need of some eyeshadow now.
When I saw the subject on nude eyeshadow, I was like, huh?! Reading on, bravo 🙂 I absolutely agree with you on this. I wore nude eyeshadow at work previously, and even though it doesn’t look like there’s anything there, it does brighten up my eyes. Especially in the early mornings, when I’d tend to look like crap 😉
For some reason, the browns don’t work on me. Just doesn’t flatter my eyes. *shrug*
My favourite nude eyeshadow previously was, believe it or not, the grey-silver shade by Wet and Wild (now Silkygirl). Cost me only RM14.90, but did the job well. Yay for el-cheapo makeup! 😛
Ms. Blacklace says
Great and helpful post!
Do you have any recommendations on matte nude eyeshadows? Shimmer ones gives my eyes an itch.
You’re right! I have the same question about applying nude e/s, but nude e/s is as great as colored e/s! it can make your eyes looks “awake” and it makes your overall look COMPLETE! I can’t wear just brown e/s as well, I looked so tired and like I owe someone a million dollars or something. This is a great post!
I got eyeshadows but I hardly use them but yet the colors are just so hard to resist I buy them. Haih. I only use it on very very special occasion. Brown shadows make me look either like I havent slept or I’ve been punched or something. I dun know why. Liners are the furthest I can go with my eyes =P
But I love dark blue shadows. Awesome
I too love nude/neutral shadows for everyday wear to the office! My standard office look these days is MAC Satin Taupe from lashes to crease, MAC Shroom to highlight, and BB Chocolate Shimmer gel liner. Sometimes I like to mix it up by using neutrals with a hint of green, blue or purple undertone e.g. MAC Sumptuous Olive (green) or Bedhead 4-play in Easygoing (purple). I think these subtle colors look amazing on dark brown eyes. And yeah I’m one of those who can’t pull off straight brown shadows either. Taupes and subtly hued neutrals are the way to go for me.
Great post, love nudes! My no-brainer nude is a Sephora Piiink My Mystic Shadow in 05-this shade matches my skin tone perfectly, but with shimmer. It’s one of those powder in a bottle with a sponge applicator top thingy, which makes for a quick and easy swipe. Done in seconds!
Yar, PB, do a step-by-step guide for us!
Andie Summerkiss says
Love it. Will try it.
Is it just me or the prices for make up stuff is getting more and more expensive? 🙁
The only eyeshadow palette I’ve used to the very end was a neutral Vincent Longo eyeshadow trio. These days, I find myself reaching for my BB Stonewashed Nudes palette a lot. A little bit goes a long way, and nude shadows are a godsend when one is pressed for time. 🙂
Rinnah: Thanks! I used to wear glasses too and I find that I could actually get away with more eye makeup then than I do without! You might try Stila or (gasp!) Bobbi Brown or even MAC (if you like the brand). Just play around and see which works.
Beetrice: Hurrah! I’m very partial to Kanebo stuff 😛
FA:Aiyo! I’m not that good with applying eyeshadow myself!
cass: wow! must be a really good color!
giddy tigress: Great for those days when you are lazy or have no time
Tine: Grey made a good nude? Wow I have that duo – gotta check it out again 🙂 And yes browns are not flattering at all for me.
Ms. Blacklace: Thank you! I don’t usually use matt eyeshadows, but I’m told that Make Up For Ever does good matt shadows. Maybe give them a try? The 2 brands I know that do matt shadows are MUFE and MAC.
Nikki: Thanks! Yes nude eyeshadows are so under rated when we look so good in them 😉
S-kay: Use them! Then you have more excuse to buy hehe…
Jooj: Thanks for your contributions. I used to have those MAC shadows and they made quite good nudes. I love green shadows but that will be the subject of another day 😉
Monstro: Wow! I never mastered the art of using an applicator for the eyes hehe… you give me more credit for my skills than I really have!
Andie: Its not just you – its happening all over. Boo!
Shryh: Yes, time is certainly a factor and nude eyeshadows are the most foolproof way to apply shadows on the run!
you know i am not a nude (eye shadow!) person but there are nude shades that i know (or just neutrals to be exact). my favorites are MUFE Essential Eyes Palette. (now i better do a review soon.) but Shu 945 didn’t work for me and i got rid of it (gasp!)
i never really have a serious place to go that i have to use neutral. lol. but i do enjoy wearing down to earth colours now that i am a lot older. *_*
great post. and i wish i could write half as well as you!
i like the stila palette, still using it.
jojoba: Thanks! You did bring up another good point. Neutral colors are more forgiving on older people (much as I hate to admit it myself!)
winnie:Yep that was a good palette although it lacked depth.
Good Post…I like your ideas. Really teaches me what we really need for basic make up!
Karen L. says
I absolutely agree with you on the need for neutral eyeshadow. Anyone who doesn’t believe this should try using just eyeliner and mascara without the eyeshadow, and witness the difference for yourself. Liner and mascara may define the eyes, but it’s the shadow which really makes them pop!
Over the years, I’ve gone through many makeup phases and am finally happy to call myself a minimalist: neutral brown eyeshadow + dark brown liner + black mascara, light peach blusher and sheer/slightly frosted coral/pink/brownish lipstick (best natural look) for day; darker metallic eyes with a pale shimmery mouth OR neutral eyes with stronger lips for night.
At the moment, my perfect neutral eyeshadow is Shu Uemura’s N P Brown #820. It’s a slightly shimmery taupe that warms the lids perfectly, and if layered on more heavily, is also intense yet subtle enough for evening. One application lasts all day as well, so no worries if – like me, very often – you’re too lazy or tired to redo your eyes for the evening. Just touch up the face and lips and you’re good to go!
While we’re on the subject, my current favourite blusher is also from Shu Uemura: Glow On Blusher M Peach #44. The great thing about Shu Uemura’s blushers is that they’re so finely milled as to resemble face powder/compact rather than blusher per se. It’s like having two in one. Great for those who (again, like me) aren’t blusher application experts, as it builds up very gently and gradually – as opposed to certain blushers which give you killer clown cheeks from the first stroke, even when you thought you had tapped the brush of any excess! The colour itself is simply lovely: subtle, slight sheen and sheer enough not to mask the natural glow of the skin. In fact, like I mentioned, if you don’t feel like touching up your powder after a long day (because this can sometimes produce an ashen, muddy or cakey look), just use the blusher as it already seems to have enough powder in it to cut extra oil/shine.
And lip colours? 🙂 (couldn’t leave you hanging without some final recommendations here!) I used to love wearing matte or other heavily pigmented textures, even for neutral colours, but I recently discovered that doing that tends to age one somewhat. Believe me, these things tend to matter after you hit 30! Sheer/slightly frosted textures work much better for a fresh and natural look.
I like Clinique’s Long Last (sheer) Lipstick in Beauty, which by happy coincidence I managed to score from my mum who didn’t quite like the colour (a friend had given it to her.) I also managed to trade in 6 used makeup containers under MAC’s recycling programme, and got a free lipstick in their Frost range in Skew, a pretty sheer pink/coral hue. My favourite cheap lipstick, In2It in Virtual, seems to have been discontinued :(. Such is life. The quest for the perfect lip shade goes on..I’m not a big fan of gloss, by the way. Don’t see the point, really : if I want a bit more shine on the lips, I just top up whatever shade of lipstick I’m wearing with some clear MAC Lipglass, and voila! It lasts longer than most glosses too. Only problem is that it’s a bit sticky, but it’s a small price to pay for the brilliant shine.
Bottom line tip: if you’re tired of your present look and want a change, but you’re not too sure how to go about it, don’t just think about changing colours. TEXTURES are the key to subtle but effective transformation! The same shade in another texture (eg sheer, frosted, cream instead of powder etc etc) can make all the difference.
Last but not least, remember: ALL WOMEN ARE BEAUTIFUL, and you’re gorgeous just the way you are! Wearing makeup should be a choice you make for YOU first and foremost, so that you feel better about yourself, and not so much for the sake of pleasing anyone else.
Hope all this helps, and thanks for giving me an opportunity to share on a topic so close to my heart! xxx karen