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Brown might be the most common eye color, but it's by no means a boring hue. Dark brown, light brown, and hazelly brown irises all but sparkle with gold and copper flecks. Not only that, but the versatility allows brown-eyed beauties to pull off a broad range of makeup looks and rock almost any eyeshadow shade. Having said that, a handful of colors are undeniably flattering on brown eyes, and they're definitely worth trying out to help your peepers realize their most glamorous potential.
"For day-to-day wear, go for soft, delicate shades that have a touch of warmth," says Portland-based makeup artist Analisa Marie of The Wildflower Collective. "If you're looking for more depth around your eyes, try deeper shades with amber, gray, or purple undertones." With these pointers in mind, we rounded up several standout eyeshadow products, including powders, creams, palettes, singles, and sticks.
Read more about the best eyeshadows for brown eyes, and to find your most flattering option.
Best Overall: Urban Decay Naked Cherry Eyeshadow Palette
Marie explains that warm, soft shades with hints of pink, red, and gold are perfect for brown eyes. "Think roses, peaches, and the color of your favorite bronzer or blush." Urban Decay's Naked Cherry palette is just the thing. It has 12 colors, including both matte and shimmery shades, each with a touch of copper, rust, bronze, or berry-red warmth.
Best Budget: CoverGirl Eye Enhancers Eyeshadow Palette in Al Fresco 202
With two deep bronzy-grays, a coppery gold, and a highlighter shade, this budget-friendly mini palette has everything you need to make your brown eyes pop. "For a dramatic look with a simple approach, keep these colors close to the lash lines, blending them over your eyeliner on the top and bottom," Marie offers. "Swiping the shadow along your lash line diffuses the liner and actually increases the longevity of the wear."
Best Drugstore: e.l.f. Cosmetics Nude Rose Gold Eyeshadow Palette
This eyeshadow palette by e.l.f. Cosmetics takes the universally flattering nudes we know and love and warms them up with a dash of rose gold. "Try sweeping these shades across your entire eyelid, softening as you work up and out of your crease. If using more than one shade, keep the deeper tone on the outer top and bottom corners of your eyes," says Marie.
Best Splurge: Tom Ford Eye Color Quad Eyeshadow Palette
If you're open to splurging on a pro-level palette, you should definitely consider Tom Ford's Color Quad. It comes with four luxuriously smooth shadows and is available in several color families, including many that look brilliant on brown eyes. We recommend Body Heat, Disco Dust, Honeymoon, or Pretty Baby.
Best for Dark Brown Eyes: Anastasia Beverly Hills Sugar Glow Kit
Anastasia's Sugar Glow Kit looks a lot like a blush and highlighter palette because, well… it is—sort of. The four creamy, light-reflecting powders can be used on the eyelids to brighten up dark brown irises, as well as on the cheeks, temples, brow bone, décolletage, and anywhere else you want to add a little glow.
Marie says multi-purpose products like this are great for when you're short on time or anytime you want to "create a cohesive, minimal, naturally sunkissed, less-is-more look."
Best for Light Brown Eyes: Milani Pure Passion Eyeshadow Palette
If your eyes are light brown or have a hazel tint, eyeshadows with red undertones can be incredibly flattering. Try the ultra-pigmented Milani Pure Passion palette, which comes with 12 rosy, peachy, bronzy, and chocolaty shades.
"Soften any hard lines between the shadow and skin with a clean brush by sweeping it along the line of color you've created. This will blend and diffuse the pigment and leave you with a seamless transition between the color and your natural lid," says Marie.
Best Shimmery: L'Oreal Paris Infallible 24HR Shadow in Amber Rush
If you gravitate toward shimmery shadows, pick up a pot or two of this long-lasting, light-reflecting formula from L'Oreal. Rosy pinks, golds, purples, and grays are best for brown eyes, like the shades Amber Rush, Glistening Garnet, Smoldering Plum, or Bronzed Taupe.
"Try focusing the pigment of choice into your eye crease with a small fluffy brush, then connecting to the outer corners and halfway across your bottom lash line. This will create a very diffused wash of color that will bring warmth into your eyes and enhance your natural eye shape," Marie explains.
Best Matte: Tarte Tartelette Clay Matte Eyeshadow Palette
If you're all about the mattes, you'll appreciate the Tartelette palette. You'll get 12 shimmer-free neutral eyeshadows, each made of Amazonian clay for an extra-smooth, never-chalky finish—no primer needed.
Best Natural: Mented Cosmetics Everyday Eyeshadow Palette
This eyeshadow palette was made with brown eyes in mind. The nine neutral colors are on the warmer side, ranging from mocha to caramel to sandy beige. These versatile hues are perfect for creating an everyday look or adding some drama for a night out. "You can decide how bold you want to go," says Marie.
Best Purple: Smashbox Cover Shot Eyeshadow Palette: Punked
Eyeshadows with purple undertones can also flatter brown eyes. We suggest the Smashbox Punked palette, which comes with two blendable base shades and six curated colors with hints of mauve, plum, and rose.
Best Amber: Smashbox Always On Cream Shadow in Ochre
Amber eye makeup can also be striking on people with brown eyes. Try Smashbox Always On Cream Shadow in the shade Ochre. This impressively pigmented, super-blendable liquid shadow lasts for 24 hours and won't cake, crease, or smudge throughout the day.
Best Blue: Maybelline New York Expert Wear Eyeshadow Makeup in Acid Rain
Blue eyeshadow works for all eye colors, but brown-eyed babes can play around with bolder shades. We're loving Maybelline's Expert Wear Eyeshadow in Acid Rain, a show-stopping electric blue with a hint of shimmer.
Best Earth Tones: Huda Beauty Haze Obsessions Eyeshadow Palette in Khaki Haze
This eyeshadow kit by Huda Beauty comes with nine earth-inspired colors that compliment brown eyes. We're talking deep chestnut, reddish clay, Army green, and brownish-black, plus a few gold and pink shades with metallic finishes for highlighting. "Adding a pop of highlight onto the center of your lid will really make your eyes glow," says Marie.
Best for Smoky Eye: Sacha Cosmetics Smokey Eye Kit 6 Piece
For a little more drama, Marie recommends "colors like gunmetal, bronze, or rich chocolates." The deep hues found in the Smokey Eye Kits from Sacha Cosmetics are just the thing for creating a smoldering look. "These tones will really compliment the different flares and flashes of light found in brown eyes," she adds.
Best Highlighting: RMS Beauty Luminizer x Quad Highlighter Palette
"Lighter shadows with flares of champagne, gold, or copper will really add to the natural sparkle of brown eyes," says Marie. "Try adding just a touch of these highlight shades in the inner corner tear duct and extending in toward the middle of your eye to add a fresh flash of light. This is a really fresh approach to making your eyes appear more open."
Best Cream: Charlotte Tilbury Eyes to Mesmerise Cream Eyeshadow
This delectably creamy eyeshadow is blended with illuminating pigments for a soft-focus finish. It comes in a little pot and can be applied with a brush or dabbed on with your fingers. If you have brown eyes, any of the golden, rosy, or bronzy colors will stun.
Best Stick: Laura Mercier Caviar Stick Eyeshadow
Laura Mercier's creamy, blendable Caviar Stick makes on-the-go glam as easy as pie. This transfer-resistant eyeshadow comes in a range of highly pigmented shades. We recommend Sunrise, Nude Rose, Plum, or Burnished Bronze for brown eyes.
The best option overall for brown eyes is the Urban Decay Naked Cherry Eyeshadow Palette. As Marie explains, warm colors similar to blushes and bronzers are ideal, and this kit hits all the marks. But if you're looking for something a little more affordable, you can't go wrong with the rosy neutrals in the e.l.f. Cosmetics Rose Gold Eyeshadow Palette.
What to Look For When Buying Eyeshadow for Brown Eyes
For everyday eye makeup, softer colors with a hint of warmth are best. This includes rosy blush, light bronze, sandy beige, amber, and copper. For an evening look (or anytime you want to add a bit of drama), reach for deeper shades with purple or gray undertones.
Versatile brown eyes aren't limited to neutrals, though. Bright blue, emerald green, violet, and other vivid eyeshadows can look striking, too. "You could even play with soft, brighter-toned pastels to add a pop of playful color," says Marie.
Since the most flattering colors on brown eyes are similar to those used for blush, highlighter, and bronzer, you might want to look for a multi-purpose palette. That way, you'll have everything you need to accentuate your best features. You can create a natural-looking eyeshadow look, dab a little color on your cheeks, highlight your temples and brow bone, use a deeper hue to contour, then dust on a shimmery bronze or gold for an all-over glow.
Matte vs. Shimmery
Both matte and shimmery eyeshadows are flattering on people with brown eyes. The choice between the two is mostly a matter of preference, though they can also be used for different purposes. Deeper flat shades are typically used as a base or to define the eyes, medium mattes are used for building color and blending, and shimmery shadows are often used for highlighting.
Why do these colors work best with brown eyes?
If you think back to the color theory portion of your high school art class, you may remember learning about the color wheel, and how the color directly across from the one in question can add some contrast and make it pop. "Colors on opposite ends of the wheel complement and colors adjacent to each other in varying tones offer less contrast, but generally look very pretty when used all together," says makeup artist Analisa Marie.
Should I also use a similar-toned eyeliner to make my brown eyes pop?
Only if the monochromatic finish is your end goal. Black or brown eyeliner can help to create more definition along the perimeter of your eye, but if you're after a tone-on-tone finish, aim for an eyeliner a few shades darker than your eyeshadow to ensure it doesn't get lost in the overall color scheme.
When does eyeshadow expire?
The lifespan of your eyeshadow can vary depending on its formulation, but in general, powders tend to last longer than creams.While cream eyeshadows should be replaced every three to six months, powder eyeshadows can last up to a year. Pay attention to changes in finish and consistency for signs that a formula is nearing its expiration date, and try to swap out old eye products more often than not, as they frequently come in contact with such a sensitive area.
Why Trust Byrdie?
Byrdie contributor Theresa Holland is an experienced commerce writer specializing in cosmetics. She's well-versed in the world of makeup and has tried a few products on this list. She's especially fond of Urban Decay Naked Palettes, L'Oreal Infallible 24HR Shadow, Laura Mercier Caviar Sticks, and the Milani Pure Passion Eyeshadow Palette.