Why Brown Eyeshadow Is The MVP Of The Korean Makeup Bag

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.
For a rundown on how you can mimic the Korean girl’s everyday look, click through for the step-by-step tutorial.
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To create a clean, even palette for the eyes to take center-stage, skin prep is minimal. Last year, Korean girls were all about dewy skin. This year, it’s all about semi-dewy. The secret to the toned-down way to show off well-hydrated skin is in face oil.

Blossom Jeju 100% Camellia Seed Dry Oil, $30, available at Glow Recipe.
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The key to an amazing makeup moment? A smooth base. This essence is a K-beauty skin care fave that will deliver just that. Use after cleaning and toning to boost skin's hydration and smoothness.

May Coop Raw Sauce, $43, available at Sephora.
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This rosehip oil is cold-pressed, so all the ingredients are maintained at the highest levels and you're promised the best results. Prep your skin with this concoction first thing in the morning to deliver just the right amount of moisture without making your makeup slip off.

Aromatica Organic Rose Hip Oil, $29, available at Peach & Lily.
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If oil isn't your thing, swipe on this tinted sunscreen that adds an instant dewy finish and protects you with SPF 50.

SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50, $34, available at SkinCeuticals.
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This sunscreen reflects UV rays like a champ, plus it provides a subtle, flattering tint for no-makeup makeup at its best.

Aromatica Natural Tinted Sun-cream, $25, available at Peach & Lily.
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Marry a few drops with your favorite foundation for a lighter gleam of coverage. The current number-one foundation in Korea is TonyMoly’s BCDation All Master, which provides lightweight coverage and a natural-looking, matte finish.
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For that lit-from-within glow, opt for an illuminator that's designed to be a base before foundation. Your skin will be radiant all day long — without any touch-ups.

Koh Gen Do Maifanshi Aqua Foundation Illuminator, $62, available at Peach & Lily.
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A tone correcting BB cream that also offers up a lightweight, dewy tint is ideal for oily and acne prone skin types — and this innovation from Mizon is exactly that.

Mizon Snail Repair BB Cream, $21, available at Peach & Lily.
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If you're looking to build a bit more coverage, try Belif's Moisturizing Bomb Cushion Compact for foundation. Bonus points: The foundation also boasts an SPF of 50, which is pretty clutch.

Belif Moisturizing Bomb Cushion Compact, $42, available at Sephora.
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As with any typically Korean look, the brows need to be straight. First, use a brow pencil to shape arched areas and achieve a flat shape.
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For a little more hold, give this smooth, beeswax-based gel a try. It imparts natural-looking color that thickens and sculpts the brows without making them look drawn-on, and the water-, sweat-, and oil-resistant formula means it’s practically everything-proof.

Son & Park Gel Bonding Eyebrow, $19, available at SokoGlam.
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Using a highlighter or ivory shadow with a bit of shimmer, highlight the brow bone. This will create contrast with the browns later to make the eye pop.

Son & Park Highighter Cube, $12, avaiable at Soko Glam.
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Take a warm brown shadow and with your eye open, lightly stencil the area just above the crease that will be visible when it's open. With the lid now closed, fill in this area, but concentrate the color to be deepest slightly off-center, toward the outer eye. Blend the edges with your fingers or a brush.

Take the same shadow and line the bottom lashline, concentrating color on the outer corners and barely depositing color as you move closer to the tear duct. At this point, you should look like a blonde panda, and it’ll be more weird than cute. But, the next step will resolve this.

Stylenanda 3 Concept Eyes Long Wear Eye Crayon in Fallen, $17, available at Stylenanda.
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Using a black eyeliner, line the top lid with a thin line that extends slightly outward.
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To soften the look but still add definition, use an almost black liner with a hint of sparkle on the bottom lashline.
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To accentuate the bags under your eyes (a sign of "cute" in Korea), highlight them with a hit of shimmer, concentrating most of the color in the center, right under the lower lashes, and the inner corners of the eye. Then, create a little shadow using brown powder. For this, it’s easiest to use an aegyosal-specific tool like Etude House’s Dear Girls Cute Eyes Maker (that’s seriously the name), which contains a highlighter and shader on opposite ends of a handy stick.
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Mascara. Top and bottom. Wiggle wiggle.

This mascara's not Korean; it’s Japanese, but it is loved by all. It wields some serious curling power and contains little fibers to lengthen the lashes. It's really waterproof, which means it’s not fun to take off, but you can apply it to the bottom lashes without any anxiety over it becoming a smudgefest.
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This mascara may seem pretty ordinary — until you see the wand. Only one side is coated in tiny bristles, which help to curl, lengthen, and lift lashes from root to tip without getting pigment all over your eyelid.

Pony Effect Mega Curling Mascara in Black, $19, available at Memebox.
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In another effort to draw attention to the eyes, we need to minimize the face, and Vidi Vici’s Small Face Case makes that easy. The name is no joke, and neither is the case. The handy little compact contains a finishing powder, highlighter, blush, and shading powder. In the same year that Vidi Vici launched, its Small Face Case compact quickly rose to fame after appearing in the popular Korean drama, My Lovely Sam Soon, Korea’s version of Bridget Jones’ Diary. In it, Korean Bridget Jones manages to slim down her face via the Small Face Case.

Sweep on the finishing powder along the jawline and sides of the face to subtly contour. Use the highlighter on a small blending brush to highlight the forehead, bridge of the nose, Cupid’s bow, chin, and inner cheeks.
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Since the face is a swirl of neutral and brown at this point, you need some color to rescue it from looking too sallow. Just a touch on the cheeks and lips is enough. Go multi-purpose with Skin Food’s Lip & Cheek balm, and rub a bit on the inner cheekbones. Avoid spreading it to the outer cheekbones, as that would break up the contouring achieved in the previous step.
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Or try this lip tint that adjusts its color based on your lip's pH. No one will have a shade like it — and it'll flatter you like it was made for you.

Too Cool For School Dinoplatz Lost Identity Lip Tint, $18, available at Sephora.
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Similar to Benefit's cult-favorite Benetint, this one from Peripera makes it easy to accentuate the center of your lips, as opposed to outlining your entire pout. Plus, the stains lasts and lasts.

Peripera Peri's Tint Winter, $12, available at Peach & Lily.
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While most stains can dry you out, this one's got sunflower seed oil to prevent cracking.

Heimish Dailism Water Drop Lip Tint Clear Day, $12,97, available at Amazon.
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This "ink" goes on matte, but hydrates your lips with hyaluronic acid and jojoba oil.

Peripera Peri's Ink the Velvet, $9.46, available at Amazon.
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Cushion blusher is the perfect way to get a sheer wash of color — without going overboard!

Peripera Ah Much Real My Cushion Blusher, $16, available at Peach & Lily.
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To finalize the look, I am in L-O-V-E with Dr. Jart+’s Ceramidin Oil Balm. First of all, it smells amazing. The scent is slightly herbal, but in a pretty, delicate way — like the kitten version of Tiger Balm.

Via a nifty little metal spatula, you can scrape out a pea-sized amount of the solid balm and rub it between your hands, where it instantly turns into oil from the heat. I like to rub for a few seconds, so my hands absorb some of the oil. Then, lightly press your hands on the cheeks and forehead to leave behind a soft, finishing glow.
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If the idea of pressing actual oil onto the high points of your face sounds a little too greasy for your liking, this shimmery (but still subtle) cream will give you a similar dewy, lit-from-within finish.

24/7 Touch Up Skin-Perfecting Cream, $22, available at Peach & Lily.
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