The Orange Eyeshadow Edit: I Love ‘Em

Get ready for some seriously warm tones…

When I first got really into beauty – let’s say about eight years ago now (that’s when I began camping outside the MAC store on the launch date of their latest drop) – I could not get my head around eyeshadow. I felt like it looked too obvious. I bumbled around with sponge applicators attempting to create a smokey eye (who knew fluffy eyeshadow brushes existed!?) and always felt that the end result just didn’t suit me. Perhaps it’s an appreciation that comes with age? Now, if I’m wearing makeup, I’m wearing eyeshadow. Maybe it’s because it balances out the dark circles under my eye, or that it just makes me feel a little more polished. Whatever the case, I’ve graduated from the shimmery champagnes of the early 2010’s and into a warm matte lid that’s borderline orange. Who would have guessed that, eh? I’m guessing it’s partly to do with the influx of warm neutral eyeshadow palettes that began hitting shelves on a monthly basis around two years ago. Although being a green-eyed gal, there’s something to be said for contrasting your peepers with an orange – colour theory and all that. Anyway, I thought today I’d break down my favourite shades from my favourite palettes and give you the dish on my top edit…

OK, let’s talk entry-level rusty lids before we get onto the real tangerine tones that I had to work up to a little. MAC Soba, might just be my most used eyeshadow of ALL TIME. Sometimes I Google it to find the link and stumble across an old blog post of me wearing it from six years ago where I look like a baby. Of all the shades that I’m going to dissect in today’s post, this is the most brown-like. There’s a warmth in there for sure, and a lot of these formulas become much more orange-y when I blend them onto my eye than they look when they’re swatched, but it’s by far the easiest to wear. If you feel like you’ve already conquered that mountain, they why not graduate to Anastasia Beverly Hills Eyeshadow in Caramel (very similar to MAC Saddle if you need an easy to find dupe)? I actually keep this colour in a duo with Soba so I can flit between the two depending on my mood, and sometimes mixing them if I feel like I want to hit the middle ground between them both. It’s like if you turned one notch in the direction of orange on the colour wheel. It’s certainly still brown, which makes it a shade that I feel is easy to wear. Plus, the formula is cracking; pigmented but not powdery, with a buttery blend.

If I assess all these shades that I’m talking about that I have swatched on my arm for reference as I’m writing this (WHY DIDN’T I INCLUDE A PICTURE OF THIS?! FOOL!), the offerings in the Urban Decay Naked Petite Heat Palette, are by far the most orange. It’s now finally available to buy – HOORAY! – and contains the most straight-up orange shadow that I own – Wild Thing. I’m actually quite amazed at how quick this is to throw on my lid and I find that it looks best when I go heavy on the lashes. If you blend, blend and blend again you’ll be surprised by how subtle it can look. Hot Spell is another good choice if you don’t feel like going full-on traffic cone on your lids just yet.

Back in the day we were a community of Satin Taupe wearers. Cool-toned taupes were the flavour of the month and only a brave few ventured into MAC Cranberry territory. Being a red-faced gal these silvery colours just didn’t do anything for me, except make me look even more rouge in the cheeks than I actually was and so it was this ZOEVA Cocoa Blend Palette that really became the tipping point for me deciding to give warm tones my full attention. Sure there’s a few cool pans wedged in there, but the majority are chocolatey and with a mix of mattes and shimmers, I’ve got a fair amount of use out of this over the years. Substitute For Love, (second row, second from the left) is my personal highlight and almost what would come next on the colour scale if you were to put it after Soba and Caramel. It’s next on the notch.

When I was thinking of my favourite warm palettes, of course the NARS Wanted Palette (or as the Unwanted Palette as I incorrectly call it ALL. THE. TIME) popped into my head. The pressed pigment glitters! The shimmers! The mattes! The sheer weight of the compact. I’m into it. However when I swatched the two matte browns that I always deem to be pretty warming on the lid, on my arm and next to my other picks, they practically look lavender. What’s all that about!? Seven Heaven and Shadow Hill (middle row, the two on the left) are the ones and actually because they are so cool toned compared to rest, they will be good options if you feel that usually that’s what flatters you and your complexion best. They can certainly come off looking warm depending on your undertone, but if shadows usually pull a little silver on you, then you may end up with that happening here. Making it perhaps another good entry-level choice?

If you haven’t already caught the gist – there’s something out there for everyone. Whether you’re new to the wotsit dust eyeshadow game, or a hardy veteran who was brave enough to give MAC Cranberry a go all those years back, for me it’s my favourite play on neutrals to wear. Near enough to brown to be in my boring safety zone, but contrasting enough to add some colour to my look. You know me. I don’t think I’ll be cracking out a blue shadow anytime soon. But orange? You in? Give me a shout if I’ve missed any bangers off my list. Although I’m sure I need another warm palette like I need a hole in the head…

Photos by Lauren Shipley

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