Brown for Blue

When I first started out wearing makeup, I knew only one thing: brown liner and copper/gold shadows looked good contrasted with my blue eyes. However, my application style was severely lacking. I usually just washed a single shade over my eyelid and drew heavy brown liner around my top and bottom lid. The end result was a muddy looking disaster.

I was frustrated with my makeup looks from an early age, and longed to look “more like those girls.” The ones who knew how to do their makeup well every time, or so I thought.

So I switched over completely to heavy black liner. Didn’t change my eyeshadow or eyeliner application, just the color. Now I looked like an amateur wearing black liner instead of brown. Great.

It has taken me many years and many hours of watching and reading makeup tutorials to start to enjoy my makeup looks more. I’ve been learning about correct eyeshadow placements for my eye shape, eyeliner styles, and what colors look good with my eyes.

I’ve been avoiding brown liner for quite a while. I still do like how black liner also makes my eyes pop, and adds a sharply defined look, but somedays a girl just wants to be wearing what is considered more “soft” makeup and still look good. Not every day has to be black eyeliner and vibrant lipstick — that gets boring fast.

  • Couple of pro-tips (I don’t have the time this morning to cover in full my makeup routine)
  • As a general rule, don’t just do one wash of color on your lids. Unless you already have large eyes, this will make your eyes look smaller, and it’s boring. Place darker shadows in the crease and outer V of your eyelid, vibrant pops of color on the middle of your lid, and lighter colors towards the inner corner of your lid. This is an illusional trick to make your eyes look larger.
  • Bonus points if you wing your eyeshadow and eyeliner together. At the very least try to pull your eyeshadow out beyond your crease a little bit, but never extending past the end of your eyebrow. Unless you are a professional model or a pop singer it’s not a good everyday look to overextend your eyeshadow or liner.
  • Brown for blue, Black for brown, Purple for green, or any variation on those colors. Look at a color wheel — when you are picking a complimentary color for your eyeshadow liner you want to go with the color that is opposite your eye color on the color spectrum.
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And here are the results of retrying brown eyeliner. I used the Naked1 palette, paired with Stila’s Eyes Are the Window palette, and NYX gel liner in brown:

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Before and After

This last Monday I did something scary: I shared a picture of myself without any makeup.

It was frightening for a couple of reasons. Aside from my naturally fair skin that is splotchy red (thank you Irish/Germanic ancestors), and my dark circles and sparse eyebrows, it evokes throwback feelings of my home-schooled girl days when I didn’t wear any makeup, I didn’t feel pretty, and I equated looking pretty with making friends.

Well, since 16 (almost 10 years ago!), and being allowed to wear makeup, a few things have changed.

  • I’ve learned that being pretty doesn’t have any bearing one one’s ability to be socially well-adjusted.
  • I’ve learned that looking pretty is about more than just how well you apply makeup, it’s about one’s attitude and bearing.
  • I’ve learned how to apply makeup in ways that highlight my natural features, rather than obscure them.

Most women judge themselves pretty harshly when it comes to looks. Some of the prettiest women I’ve known in my life, even with makeup on and dressed to impress can still see their “flaws” and “imperfections.”  But to a detached and experienced make up artist can easily see the features to enhance and build on, not obscure or over color. Maskcara is very good at this in her Before and After Makeover Mondays. Here is one of my favorite makeovers she shared on her blog.


So, next time you pick up your makeup applicators, try to remember to not judge yourself harshly without makeup on. I recommend building on simple looks, and working your way up to more “dramatic” makeup, like a smokey eye or dark lipstick. Start off by just tight-lining your top lash line and add mascara. Remember to add darker colors, “shadows,” to outer corners of your face and eyes, and use lighter colors more on the center and inside of your face and eyes.

Here is my before and after, for the record. I used mainly Sephora liquid foundation and concealer and the Urban Decay Naked 3 palette.