The cosmetics world tends to meet brown eyeshadow with a "meh," but it’s more versatile than one would think. As the Naked palettes testify, brown is so much more than...brown. Living in Korea, I began to notice a consistent pattern in the way brown eyeshadow was being applied. It’s strategically splayed around the eye instead of the standard beige-tan-dark brown gradient on just the top lid.
Similar to contouring, in Korea, brown eyeshadow lives up to its function of creating depth and accentuating the eye, but that also involves playing up the aegyosal (fat bags under the eye). This is the exact opposite of how the area is treated in America, where anything under the eye is concealed. This makeup technique plays up that little undereye bulge. If you think that’s weird, check out these Korean celebrities without aegyosal. It’s almost as creepy as celebrities without eyebrows.
As Korean luxury brand Vidi Vici’s senior makeup artist Chaeyeol Lim puts it, many East Asian women have relatively flat, smooth faces. This makeup technique essentially creates a more hollowed-out eye socket. The look doesn’t go full Tim Burton/zombie, but defining and adding depth to this area creates the illusion of deeper, more intense, larger eyes.
If you’re wondering why anyone would want sunken-in eyes, something a night out on the town would accomplish just as well, you’re right. No one wants that. But, going a few steps in the direction of bad can be a good thing. For people who naturally have a little bit of fat right under the eye (Jessica Alba, Beyoncé), ignoring intuition to conceal the undereye and highlighting instead can mean looking younger and happier. Notice how the bit of fat gets fatter when you smile or laugh?
Creating a slightly deeper socket gives the eyes a smoldering intensity, and using brown eyeshadow to subtly pull this look together without going full smoky-eye makes the technique all the more appealing.
Lim explains, “This brown eyeshadow trend is a basic in any Korean girl’s everyday look. Interestingly enough, the more simple and natural a look has to appear, the more complicated it is.” He demonstrated the trend on me, and it was shocking how much better I looked.