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How to Clown-Proof Your Eyeshadow Colors

By Amalah

Hi, Amy.
First off. I love you.
Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, quick eyeshadow question. I am a color ditz. I totally have no idea what goes with what. So usually, I rely on my good friends, the makeup providers, to give me cute little bunches of two or four eyeshadows, guaranteed to compliment.
However, I have begun to doubt my friends, especially when they present me with duos such as “chartreuse green/cobalt blue” or “marigold/iris”.
Are these cruel jokes, planned by the makeup companies to point out the truly un-savy? (Like, ohmigod, look, someone actually bought that!) Or is it truly possible to combine some of the so-called “duos” and look like you belong among real people?
Thanks for any help!

When it comes to eyeshadow, I love me some neutrals. My signature colors are beige and boring. Mostly because I am a lot like you: I am really not super great at picking out colors. Especially multiple colors.
bysance.jpgratedr.jpgHilariously enough, I was all set to recommend the NARS duo shadows, when I noticed the crazy colors you mentioned are, in fact, actual offerings by NARS. I am sure there are some people who can pull off green and blue shadow. I am not one of them, so that’s why I use the All About Eve duo. NARS calls it “shimmering flesh and shimmering neutral.” Whatever. It’s brown and brown. I wear it every day, putting the darker shade on first, lid to brow, and then I brush the lighter color in a sideways V on the outer edge of each eye. A little brown eyeliner pencil, brushing to blend, some mascara and ta-da. Done. It’s clean-looking and understated and appropriate for the office that I no longer go to.all%20about%20eve.jpg
So what about when I do want some color? Well, I stay away from the duos, that’s for sure. I am clearly not a shadow expert, so I like to stick with ONE additional color. (I am all for recognizing your limitations in life and cosmetics.) And I don’t rely on my own judgment, since my own judgment will always send me home with another stinking shade of brown.
So I ask a salesperson for help, or I pick up a copy of Allure or InStyle and flip to one of those “Get This Look!” features. I look for a model with similar coloring and see what they’ve used on her. (Remember! Eye makeup should compliment your SKIN TONE, not necessarily your eyeball color or [oh God forbid] your outfit.) Even if I don’t end up buying the exact shade or brand, I make a mental note that hey! I could wear a nice peachy pink without looking like a clown. (Sephora has a nice online Get The Look feature, although I wouldn’t just go and order stuff without trying it out in the store first.)
garnet.jpgMy favorite shadow was a recommendation from a Sephora salesgirl — even though I hesitated to listen to her, as she was wearing a hideous yellow-green shade on her own eyes. I was getting my photo taken for a magazine, and I knew I needed to go beyond the beige if I wanted to actually show up on film. She picked out a LORAC shadow in Garnet. (Sephora describes it as a “shimmering garnet plum,” but I’d say its a little too coppery to be called a plum shade.) I swap the lighter shade of beige with this color, and sometimes dab a wet brush in it and line my eyes with it instead of a pencil.
So I guess, to really get back to what you asked about in the first place: Duos and palettes? Not as foolproof as you might think, unless you’ve got somebody to show you exactly how to apply the colors. Stick with the neutrals, and then go for the singles when it comes to adding color. And get your recommendations from your NEW best friends: salespeople and magazines.
And now a question for the peanut gallery: ages and ages ago, there was a makeup brand that included dummy-proof diagrams with their palettes and showed you exactly where to apply each shade. I’m pretty sure it was just a drugstore brand, but I totally loved that. (I still had a problem with buying colors that were completely wrong for me, but I’m thinking I could probably do a little better now.) Anybody know which brand this was? Or (oh glorious day) still is?

Published August 1, 2007. Last updated August 1, 2007.
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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