Truth #21: Neutral colors are not the best way to look natural.

Using the wrong brown in the wrong way can make you look dull and outdated.

Everyone seems to think that brown is a very “safe” color to wear on the face because it’s so neutral. Beware because the wrong brown can make you look dull and sallow. Brown is one of those funny colors since it can have either warm or cool undertones. The more yellow/green a brown shade is, the more you risk looking unhealthy, especially around the eyes. Very few women have the kind of coloring that looks good with a yellow/green brown. About 90% of the time it’s best to avoid these shades, which is why I so rarely suggest anyone use an olive-colored eye pencil.

The look of a nude brown lip was very big in the 90s. MAC couldn’t keep up with the demand of its Spice lip liner when matte, coffee-colored lips, eyes and cheeks ruled the runways. My darling friends, I have a shocking fact to share with you: the 90s were 20 years ago. Seems like yesterday, I know, but it’s time to move on. Now that we are past our glorious youth we want to look current and fresh. Yet too much brown, especially matte brown, strips your face of color and makes you look dirty. Here’s where neutral tones aren’t helping out your natural beauty. So you can finally let go of that Spice lip liner you might have been holding on to, just in case the look made a comeback. Now promise me, no more brown lips!

Don’t worry, I won’t take away your comfortable brown completely. You still get to use it on your eyes, but you need to pick one or even a couple of shades that seem to be a good match for your skin, eyes and hair. If you need a refresher on understanding color theory, refer back to my article on finding your color palette.

How can you tell if a brown is too yellow? Do swatch tests on your hand of various brown shades. When you see them side by side it will become very clear to you which shades have more red, green, purple or gray.

To be on the safe side, keep in mind that the most universally flattering neutral shade is taupe brown. Taupe is a bit cooler, with a hint of gray that gives a great balance between the warm and cool hues on the face.

Ultimately, if you are choosing neutrals to look natural your end goal should be to look vibrant and beautiful. Yes, you can use brown to accent and shade, but remember to add a touch of something brighter to perk up those features.