MAC Unsung Heroes: Soft Brown Eyeshadow

Published in: Eyes, MAC Makeup, Unsung Heroes

mac soft brown

Oh, the buckets of glittery tears I’d shed if MAC ever discontinued Soft Brown Matte Eyeshadow ($14.50).


Don’t be fooled by how uninspiring it looks in the pan. Soft Brown’s like the sun and the rain, and it makes my life a foolish game. Okay, well, that may be going a little too far, but I do think I could probably wear it every day for the rest of my life (no joke).

Because it’s a color I reach for so often, I think of Soft Brown as an “anchor” shade — like the glue that holds many of my eye looks together.


Worn in the crease, Soft Brown’s warm orangey brown gives depth and dimension to smokey looks. In a matte finish, I think it also ups the contrast of any shimmery shades I wear with it in blue, green, peach, pink — you name it.

A few shots of Soft Brown in action…

With a shimmery green shadow in the Bobbi Brown Ivy League Look

With a teal eyeshadow in the Freida Pinto SAG look

With browns and beiges in this office-inspired makeup look using colors from the MAC Originals collection

But what I love about it most is how well it works on such a wide range of skin tones from light to dark.

Soft Brown Fun Fact: Fan of the show, Mad Men (I am!)? Soft Brown is one of the key shades MAC makeup artists use on characters Joan Holloway (the stunning redhead) and Betty Draper (a beautiful blonde).

Joan Holloway, played by actress Christina Hendricks

Elizabeth “Betty” Draper, played by actress January Jones

I’m sure I could live without this MAC Unsung Hero, but would I want to?? 🙂

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,


P.S. The MAC Unsung Heroes series features some of my favorite products from MAC’s permanent collection…


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So far, 56 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Michelle says:

    It is a great go-to shade. I use it with a 224 brush in the crease to blend out everything!

  2. Lindsay says:

    I use this shade with just about everything. I love it’s blendability. Thanks for the great review, as always!
    .-= Lindsay’s last blog post… Wet N Wild Lust FOTD =-.

  3. Arianne says:

    I wholeheartedly agree. Soft Brown is a great anchor shade, for both bold and neutral looks.
    .-= Arianne’s last blog post… Getting My Glow On Thanks to Genuine Health! =-.

  4. Karen B says:

    Yes, I remember it being featured on Joan in Mad Men. I do have Kid and Cork eyeshadow, how different is Soft Brown from those two?
    .-= Karen B’s last blog post… Shopaholic =-.

  5. Tiffany says:

    I need a shade like this! I love me some neutral eyeshadows!

    • Karen says:

      I can’t believe you don’t have Soft Brown. You need it in your life, ASAP.

      • Tiffany says:

        I feel so overwhelmed looking through their huge rack o’ eyeshadows. and then I usually pick a few shades, look at the names and realize all the colors I’m drawn to I already own, and then I give up. LOL!

      • Karen says:

        Oh, I totally get that. I have to go in with a LIST, otherwise I get too overstimulated.

        What neutrals do you have? These are a few of my go-tos:

        Soft Brown
        All That Glitters

        I’m sure there are a few more but I can’t think of ’em right now, oy!

  6. Liza says:

    Hey hey, I’m looking for a brown eyeshadow hero of my own. What do you think would be a cool-toned but still matte counterpart to this?

  7. Chibu74 says:

    I love ur pic in Black…ur skin looks so glowy….very pretty

  8. I bought this last year because of you! I love it to death as well.
    .-= Michelle (LipstickRules)’s last blog post… To Review or Not to Review – that is the Question =-.

  9. Vet says:

    Thanks for posting this Karen, I’ve been looking for a soft brown color for everyday (work day) look. I’ll have to check it out!

  10. Tania says:

    This is my fav Unsung Hero post thus far. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this color!!! My eyes are dark brown and this just oomph’s them up a bit. I like it on top of Painterly Paint Pot and it’s great if you’ve gone overboard with eyeshadow. My new fav way to wear it is with the blue eyeshadow from the Dame Edna eyeshadow palette. Great post!! Happy Thursday!!!


  11. Lydia W says:

    mmm, looks fab 🙂
    tempted to grab some of this next time I’m in town, but I’m kinda pale (NW15) and wondering if it might look a bit too orange?
    help! x

  12. Holly G says:

    I’m exceedingly pale and a MAC makeup artist advised me to use it on my wedding day, in conjunction with cork satin and a pinkish shade I can’t remember the name of, and it looked amazing!!! Now it’s one of my everyday staples! 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Oh, your look sounds beautiful.

      Cork is another one of my faves, actually! Have you tried Soba? If you like Cork, you might like Soba, too.

  13. Nina says:

    I believe I need this eyeshadow in my life. Immediately! 😀

    • Karen says:

      Yes you do! You can wear it with all the MAC neutral greats: All That Glitters, Arena, Naked Lunch, Woodwinked, Sable, Shroom, Ricepaper…

  14. JamieJamez says:

    Ugh!, I went to a sneak peek of Mac’s to the beach collection on the 18th and the only thing I really wanted was sand & sun E/S and after your review knew the color payoff wasn’t worth it but still wanted to see it for myself. The MUA did a quick eye demo with rubenesque paint pot as my base and over all lid with sand & sun and soft brown in my crease. The look was so pretty. I got the paint pot and sand & sun but left soft brown coz I thought is was an easy dupeable color, now I’m not so sure. =(

    • Karen says:

      Hmmm. I’m always down for a drugstore alternative, but I have to say I still haven’t found anything quite like Soft Brown.

      Do you do smokey eyes often? It looks really great blended out in the crease.

  15. Catherine says:

    Karen, I have a whole list of MAC neutrals I want now because of you. =P
    .-= Catherine’s last blog post… MAC To The Beach Marine Life High-Light Powder pt. 1 =-.

    • Karen says:

      Trust me, you’ll be so happy when you finally get them in your stash. You’ll be able to get a lot of use out ’em.

      How are you feeling? I hope you aren’t sick anymore!

  16. Christina says:

    wow…soft brown looks nice…I love, love love the third look, with the orange/reddish lip…
    P.s: totally off-topic BUT your eyebrows look killer, I wish mine were in such great shape 🙂

  17. Maggie says:

    I’ve been wanting Soft Brown for the longest time…and Naked Lunch too! I really need to go out and by them now. Seriously.
    .-= Maggie’s last blog post… Let’s Rejoice! It’s a Mini CVS Haul =-.

  18. I havent tried this one yet. I can feel a haul of mac permanent shades coming up!!
    .-= scarlettholly’s last blog post… Urban Decay Stardust Shadows: A Glittery Feast! =-.

  19. rachel says:

    best. eyeshadow. EVER.
    .-= rachel’s last blog post… Project 10 Pan – PRODUCT THE FIRST =-.

  20. This shade looks really good.
    .-= Beauty Is Diverse’s last blog post… Fashion Business: Victor Dzenk S/S 2011 =-.

  21. Ewa Linsey says:

    Karen, You are so persuasive. I am totally sold on that shade. I LOVE how you look in that green/ brown smokey eye: so beautifull and classy. My unsung hero is more taupe: I really like Taupe Satin by MAC. Ewa@LoveSmokeyEyes

  22. Vonvon says:

    Soft Brown has some red in it, no?

    My neutrals are usually from the champagne shade family. wonder if this brown would make my eyes look like I’ve rubbing my eyes… my eyes are quite puffy.
    .-= Vonvon’s last blog post… Photos: MAC To The Beach – Look, Outfit & Tote! =-.

  23. Anne says:

    dear karen,

    you totally made my day (which has been an too-much-work&no-sunshine-only-rain monday so far). i have been forever looking for a neutral shade every day eye shadow & i wanted it to a mac one 😉 i’m more of a blush & lipgloss kinda girl, but this shade looks simply perfect.

    thanks again, have a sparkling week & greetings from a summer-rainy germany,

    • Karen says:

      Hi Anne,

      So glad to hear that you ind this helpful! If you’re a makeup minimalist, you might also want to check out MAC Soba and MAC Woodwinked eyeshadows, too. 🙂

  24. Savannah says:

    I’m definitely wanting some new shades for my collection, (not to say that I don’t have enough, I have three quads, and one 15 palette and they’re all almost full :S) I just want some new things, and some shades turned out to be duds or are too colorful and I can’t wear them everyday. I’m thinking of soft brown, espresso, grain, rice paper and brule? To spice things up 🙂

  25. Arlene says:

    Is there any dupes for soft brown? It’s not sold at mac in Ireland and was wondering wud harmony blush be similar

  26. Mz Nanee says:

    hi Karen…

    I love natural colour..!!
    my skin is NC40…can u suggest which colour of eyeshadow for my skin tone?

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