5 Neutral Eye Looks That Aren’t Boring

If you’re anything like us at PATTERN, you’re a fanatic for all things bold, bright and fun, including makeup. We know, though, that certain occasions sometimes necessitate putting the color-filled palettes away in favor of more toned-down hues. 

We’ll let you in on a secret — neutral-toned eyeshadow doesn’t actually have to be boring. 

There’s a reason these classic tones dominate every makeup aisle. Sleek, classy and versatile, they allow the wearer to create anything from a subtle, barely-there wash of color to an awards-show-level glam. So go ahead, grab your favorite neutral eyeshadow palette, and follow along for five different ways to spice up your makeup routine and look killer at any occasion.

Black Graphic Liner

To replicate this statement eyeliner look, you only need two products and a little bit of patience. Grab a fine-tipped black eyeliner and your favorite mascara. If you want to be extra, you can also use a shimmery shade that matches your skin tone.

  1. Start at the outer corner of your eye and create a small wing, angling it upwards towards the end of your brow. 
  2. Leave a tiny gap at the end of the wing and then continue it further upwards, keeping it in line with the small wing. If you struggle with keeping your lines even, imagine the wing as an extension of your lower lash line and use the natural curve of your eye as a guide.
  3. For the top line of the wing, draw a curved line towards the inner corner of your eye. If you tilt your head back, you should be able to see the shadow of your eye socket — following this shadow line will give you the most even shape.
  4. Thicken the outer corner of both wings, making sure the edges are sharp.
  5. If you desire, use your finger to pat a shimmery shadow all over the lid. 

Pro tip: Use a liner with an ultra-precise tip to avoid mistakes.

Under-Eye Shadow

Feeling moody? Smoking out a dark brown shade along your lower lash line creates a grungy-looking wing that stands out from the crowd. Go ahead and ditch the concealer, too — this unexpected eye look doubles as excellent camouflage for under-eye bags!

  1. Grab an angled liner brush, dip it into a dark brown eyeshadow, and trace as closely as possible to your upper lash line while extending it outwards to create a dramatic wing. 
  2. Place a mini wing into the inner corner by gently pressing the angled liner brush down and pulling slightly outwards.
  3. Using the dark brown shade, take a bullet brush and stamp it along the underside of the wing, blending slightly as you go. Staying close to the lower lash line, take the shadow all the way across your under eye and connect it to the inner corner. 
  4. Add a lighter brown shade underneath the dark brown with a large fluffy brush while using short windshield-wiper motions to blend in sections. Focus on blending outwards horizontally, as the size of the brush coupled with the pigment of the shadow will naturally pull the color downwards.
  5. If necessary, use a flat brush and some concealer to sharpen the wing.

Pro tip: Take your time when blending to ensure the look is seamless and avoid any mistakes.

Negative Space Wing

This faux-eyeliner shadow pairs perfectly with either funky or refined fits. The look pictured here uses brown shades, but the same thing could easily be achieved with any color — just make sure you have a light and dark shade of whichever hue suits your fancy!

  1. Using an angled liner brush, dip into your lightest shade to map out where you want the wing to be placed on your lid. It’s helpful to use your natural crease as a guide for your shadow by keeping the line above the crease, mirroring its natural curve. 
  2. Once you’ve got your map, go ahead and use a pencil brush to blend out the outer edges of the line while keeping the inner edge as intact as possible. For a smoother blend, use a fluffy brush with a small amount of your light shade to buff everything out. 
  3. Trace over your line from step one with a darker shade to create definition. 
  4. Use the same bullet brush to blend out the dark shade into the lighter one.
  5. To keep the inner border sharp, dip a small flat brush in concealer and clean up the lid space. Top it off with a skin-toned shadow to avoid creasing. 
  6. Add a highlighter shade to the inner corner and brow bone with either your finger or a brush.

Pro tip: For an even line on both sides, look straight in the mirror and place a dot directly above the center of each of your pupils, making sure you mark above your crease. This will make it easier to ensure both wings are consistent in shape and size.

Brown Eyeshadow + White Eyeliner

Level up your basic black winged liner by trading it for white. This simple yet unexpected switch elevates the timeless beauty staple and works with nearly every outfit. Liquid eyeliner works best for this look, but a pencil liner could be used for a softer effect. 

  1. Place a medium brown eyeshadow above your socket shadow using a fluffy brush, alternating between windshield-wiper motions and tiny circles to ensure proper blending. 
  2. With white eyeliner, create a wing along your upper lash line.
  3. Find your eye socket line and trace over it with the white liner, making the line thicker in the middle and tapered towards each end.
  4. Optionally, add some sparkle to the lid with your finger.

Pro tip: For a precise application, try raising your eyebrows while you line each eye to pull the skin taut.

Mismatched Eyeshadow

Taking a wash of a single color across the lid is one of the simplest ways to apply eyeshadow, making this look nearly foolproof. This look is beginner-friendly — just select two colors and place one on each eye for a fun twist on an otherwise basic technique.

  1. Grab a fluffy blending brush and start by placing the color into your crease, diffusing it slightly upwards towards the shadow of your eye socket.
  2. With a dense shader brush, press the shadow all over the eyelid.
  3. Using the same shader brush, blend along the lower lash line.
  4. Repeat this process on the other eye with a second color.

Pro tip: Try playing with different color combinations to compliment the outfit you plan on wearing.

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