Desperately Seeking Brown MAC Eyeshadows: Help!

Published in: MAC Makeup

mac cosmetics soba cork concrete brun

Hey, chicas! How was your Friday night?


Mine was filled with rap and yummy Chinese food. I dragged El Hub to a Chinese food joint in Sausalito called Tommy’s Wok. I’m addicted to their lettuce wrap dish, which I also like to call, “Let us rap.”

My name is Karen, and I’ve got a cat,
His name is Tabs, and he is a brat.
He eats Fris-kies every day and night,
And bites his mom if his food ain’t right.

Okay, so I’m no Biggie Smalls. πŸ™‚

After dinner we just chilled at home, watching both new eps of Dollhouse (twisty!) and Terminator (scary!).

So far today I haven’t done much… but I did get this email from MBB reader Camille.

Hey Karen,

I was just wondering if you could suggest a MAC brown eyeshadow that isn’t too orange or too red-toned? Soft brown and sable already look too red and too orange. I just want a nice matte brown. Please let me know.

Camille, you know I can’t live without my MAC browns! πŸ™‚


I raided my stash and found a couple non-orangey options.

  1. As far as brown shades for the lid or crease, I really like Soba and Cork. Both are warm golden browns that aren’t overly orange or red. What’s the diff between the two? Cork applies more brown than gold and has a matte finish; Soba, on the other hand, has the slightest touch of shimmery gold. It’s more gold than brown, but I love both shades and reach for them often.
  2. For a darker brown to use as a liner or in the outer V, check out Brun or Concrete. Brun’s a blackish brown, and Concrete’s a taupey brown (I also use it to fill in my brows).
  3. Additional browns worth checking out: Omega (a beigey taupe), Era (a soft golden beige) and Charcoal Brown (a muted taupe brown). Each of these shades gets very high ratings on Makeup Alley.

mac cosmetics soba cork concrete brun swatches with flash
Swatches from left to right with flash: Soba, Cork, Brun and Concrete

mac cosmetics soba cork concrete brun swatches no flash
Soba, Cork, Brun and Concrete swatches without flash

Fellow fans of MAC’s browns, can you think of any other non-orange/reddish brown eyeshadows that might work for Camille?

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



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So far, 40 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Jinnzor says:

    I really like Wedge as a lid color. It’s matte and it looks very natural.

    Jinnzor´s last blog post..For all the NomNom fans

  2. Tali says:

    Satin Taupe is quite good.
    Also Mulch.. it applies a bit golden not reddish. or Tempting.. thats also more golden.

    Umm. Karen I also had chinese today. Me and my mum destroyed the Dim Sum.. now i want more!!

    Tali´s last blog post..Elizabeth Arden, Neal’s Yard and more..

    • Karen says:

      Hi Tali,

      Those are all great shimmery colors! Love them… they’re so easy to wear.

      Girl, I love some good Dim Sum! Especially the lil’ shrimp dumplings. OH YEAH!

  3. Kimie says:

    Thanks for this post Karen. I realized all my browns have shimmer and have been wondering which matte browns to get. As usual you’re awesome. Happy Weekend

  4. Bj says:

    I’m pretty devoted to using Cork, its really versatile and pretty. Id definitely recommend it as well

  5. naira says:

    i am a karen-converted fan of soba and concrete. satin taupe is another goody that i have to re-obtain someday.

    i really loved corduroy. i say loved bcs i misplaced it last year during the move from my apt to live in sin w/the sweets. it’s a deep brown that went well with my medium-tan skin tone, almost black hair and brown eyes. i don’t remember it being red-toned tho if you read mac’s description, it says it’s a matte reddish-brown.

    i had hoped to find my pot of corduroy but after a week of going brown eye shadow-less, i ended up bringing home handwritten–which mac calls a rich chocolate. since it’s a matte2, it can be harder to work with than other e/s but i just start off with a light touch and work in layers.

    both are great for the v or as a liner, as well as part of a smokey eye. i think both are neutral enough that you can use them with a multitude of “color” e/s.

    karen–on wednesday i checked out the estee lauder’s double wear shadow’s based on your swatches. i thought i was gonna pick up the blue shade but when i got to nordies, i ended up adoring the silver leaf. the silver with bit of gold is so pretty! after a 48 hour waiting period (which i’ve now imposed since the available real estate in my too-big makeup case is about as scarce as four bedroom/2 bath home in honolulu costing less than $800,000) i went back yesterday afternoon to pick it up. i promptly wore it last night on a sushi dinner date with the sweets. it’s so gorgeous paired with rubenesque and a thin line of black around the eye and lots of mascara. much mahalos for the tip!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Naira,

      I’ll have to look at Silver Leaf again. At first glance I thought it might be too frosty, but hey, ya never know. Thanks for the rec. πŸ™‚

      Handwritten is also a good brown! Do the orange/red tones show up on you very much? When I wear it I get a lot of red.

  6. Glosslizard says:

    Mmmmmmm, I love lettuce wraps!

    I haven’t bought it yet, but I’m currently in the process of stalking Copperplate which, despite its name, does not appear the least bit coppery! πŸ˜‰ It’s a matte and is described as a muted, mid-tone gray. To me it looks like a medium gray-brown which is just what I’ve been needing for a neutral crease color!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Glosslizard,

      I have that one from Matte2! It’s amazing how varied one color can look on different skin tones. On me I don’t get any of the brown at all…

  7. lexi says:

    i too am a soba convert due to karen’s influence! i use that in my crease almost on a daily basis1 looks like i’m going to have to check out cork and brun now too. Is espresso too red? if so i’m going to have to find a new brow color..

  8. wehkwas says:

    its funny that you should make a post about brown eyeshadow. i haven’t worn it in literally months and today for a family gathering, i had a aha! moment and wore a matte brown eyeshadow. sorry this comment is like so off topic and i can’t recommend any mac too you. i own very few mac. but i just thought it was interesting.

  9. Elle says:

    I love Mulch, as well as Soba and Bronze. I also like Romp, Ground Brown, Handwritten and Mulch…they all show up “true” brown on me.

  10. Liz says:

    DEfinitely should try: SMUT πŸ™‚ **i hate orangey browns too ^^**

  11. Priya says:

    i was thinking maybe satin taupe? or maybe even texture? or umm espresso?
    heres some more : corduroy, tempting, ground brown, twinks
    maybe Camille should go and check out and see which one she likes, because theres such a big selection!

    hope this helped (: – Priya

    Priya´s last blog post..BOTD

  12. mayya says:

    Karen, whenever you mention your ‘stash’ my mind drifts off to imagine how it would be! It would be awesome if you could share some pictures for us. Is your stash like a erupting volcano or are you super organized with your makeup stuff?

  13. Rae says:

    <3 Dollhouse!!!

    Anyhow – just wanted to say thanks for this post! I’ve been wondering about the “perfect brown” recently as well, and this was super-helpful.

    And I second what mayya has asked. I would LOVE to see your stash pics!

    Rae´s last blog post..Colour Ready lips

  14. Kimberley says:

    Wow.. I will bookmark this post; HOW helpful! As much as I love colour around my home, colour in clothes, I just don’t wear a lot of colour on my eyes, but if I could have EVERY shade of neutral.. I’d have it! So thankyou so much πŸ™‚

  15. KT says:

    I use Embark a LOT. It works beautifully at the lash line as the easiest way to bring out your eyes ever. πŸ™‚ It’s a dark matte so it’d also go well in the crease I think. Personally, I have fairly deep-set eyes so doing ANYTHING in the crease scares me. But I think it’d work!

  16. Bellalina says:

    Try Espresso (a nice matte golden chocolate brown) and Quarry MAC eyeshadows. The latter is described as a plum-brown (which can have red undertones), but trust me, it’s not anywhere near red or orange. It goes on as a matte medium taupe-ish brown for me (I’m between a NW 20 and NW 25). Maybe even try Club. The MAC site says that it’s a “red-brown with green pearl,” but it’s a rich multi-dimensional dark brown on fair to medium skin. I use that for smoked out eye looks on the outer corners.

  17. Kypris says:

    Awesome post! I actually was wondering about this recently too, but then yesterday I just went to the MAC counter and asked…and walked away with Satin Taupe, which I really like. I may get more browns eventually… one can never go wrong with a good brown.

    You asked last time which makeup brands I like; well, of course, MAC is one of my favourites. I like Lancome for its cleanser though (although it’s expensive, so I alternate with cheaper ones). I’m not too familiar with many other brands, as I really just use the basic few shades. I do need better brushes, so I’m still on the hunt for affordable ones.

    I also bought the last cakeshop shadestick they had in stock at MAC yesterday – I love the colour!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kypris,

      I haven’t tried any of the Lancome cleanser. I’ll have to check that out. πŸ™‚

      Hmm, for brushes I really like MAC (but not the short handled ones they do for holiday). I also like Sonia Kashuk (the black handled brushes) and Eco Tools for drugstore brushes.

      Oh, and lucky you to have snagged the last Cakeshop!!

  18. lexi says:

    i bought coquette because of this post! i am a weak woman but i did manage to also trade in more old lipstick tubes and glosses for ‘creme in your coffee’ lipstick so i don’t feel too bad!

  19. Karen B says:

    I love Kid. It’s only a recent purchase but for me it is the perfect no-makeup-makeup crease colour

  20. Sylvie says:

    Handwritten from Matte2. It’s not too red and not too bronze and it satisfies her requirement of something matte. I was looking for the exact same thing as she was a month ago and I am very happy with Handwritten.

  21. Elle says:

    Hey Karen!

    Out of those three, I think I use Ground Brown the most…I do a smoky eye with Ground Brown, Soba, and Costa Riche kohl pencil pretty often. πŸ™‚ I use Bronze a lot with other golds, and Romp is gorgeous on its own.

    Hope you’re having a good Easter Sunday! I’m in full-on food coma right now. πŸ™‚

  22. Camellia says:

    oh my goodness karen! thank you for posting this (: you spelled my name wrong keke` but it’s okay (: thank you so much<33333 and thanks to everyone for helping ^^* i’m going to check these colors out (: thanks again!

  23. cloudburst says:

    I would say Cork for a lighter one & Espresso for a darker.

  24. Demi says:

    Well someone already mentioned it but I really love satin taupe at this moment! its nog orange or red.. it’s pretty brown with golden shimmers! I love it!

  25. Kira says:

    Swiss Chocolate but of course!

  26. Ashley says:

    I love concrete to fill in my brows!

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