I remember long ago when the makeup artist who gave me Ben Nye's Burns & Blisters wheel remarked the two important accomplishments in his makeup career were achieving the perfect natural eye look and makeup application on a mature woman.
This came from the same guy who told me my makeup was bland! I looked at him with cruel disdain. Okay, I didn't show it on the outside but on the inside I did. I just acted like the words flowed into one ear and out the other. I had no use for boring matte neutral shadows back then, I was still a Spring chicken!
Fast forward and guess what? I turned into a mature woman who had trouble finding the perfect natural eye look. I had enough color shadows to color an entire Cirque Du Soleil troupe. This mostly had to do with not knowing what colors gave that skin tone makeup look. You know the kind you see in the Showtime series The Tudors, natural and neutral yet not overpowering. They may look boring but they do lay the foundation for other eyeshadows. Think of them as the bra and undies for the dress to be layered on top; in this case for the shimmery colors. Makes sense yet hard to pick out the colors that display this naturalness.
Remember Eva Green's character Vesper in Casino Royale? Remember the bathroom scene when she was applying eyeshadow? The palette she held contained the four colors that provided the natural eye look. (She was probably prepping the eyes to layer the smoky look on top! :p) Basically, a makeup artist will use four colors to give that natural look and these colors can also be used all over the face when needed. The intensity of these colors are nothing too bright and more bland than what you would expect yet not completely the basic beige tones. There is a highlighting color, shading color, neutralizing color/blush color, and contour/lining color. You can pick out the basic four matte colors. La Femme is a line that many makeup artists use that offer good matte colors and cheap. Each eyeshadow is about $3-$6USD. The basic four I suggest from La Femme are Nude-highlighting color; Taupe-shading color; Peach-neutralizing/blush color; and Dark Brown for the contour/lining color.
Or you can buy the ready made palettes and some offer more colors to suit a wide variety of skin tones. The following are a selection of basic matte shadow palettes which are excellent choices.
Ben Nye Eyeshadow Palette ($45USD) consists of eight classic colors of Vanilla, Honey, Taupe, Espresso, Ash Brown, Burgundy, Navy Blue, and Black. This one will pretty much cover the bases of all skin tones including the very dark. The colors will give the ghost white to strawberry blondes the natural no makeup look and the darkest of skins the depth needed on the eyes to define them enough for a natural look.
Tricia Sawyer's The Essentials Palette ($36USD) is another great one that houses the four basic colors that are suited for the palest of pale to a dark tan olive skin tones. The colors are Generosity-matte yellow vanilla; Compassion-matte nude peach; Perspective-matte neutral taupe; and Wisdom-matte neutral dark brown. The four colors give the eyes a no makeup look when photographed. They just define the eyes to prep them for what can be layered on top.
Kryolan Palette of Essential Shading Colors ($20USD) is pretty much what it says. It is a palette of five colors that will shade or enhance the face naturally. Highlight is the basic ivory; TV Brown is a warm midtone brown; Sunlit is a terra cotta brown; Sudan is a dark brown; and Anthracite is a charcoal grey. This palette will work on most skin tones except maybe the fairest of fair to light.
Viseart Basic Eyeshadow Palette ($68USD) is one of the palettes that I use. It contains all the colors needed to do a natural eye look to a neutral to a dramatic smoky look. The colors contain the basic ivory, vanilla, beige, peach, cafe, warm brown, terra cotta brown, espresso brown, ash brown, brown grey, grey, and black. This one will cover all skin tones. The only problem may be the jump from the warmth of the browns to the ashiness of the grey based ones. Other than that, it is a very good palette whose eyeshadow texture is very refined for a matte shadow. Mature eye friendly too!
Mehron Celebre E.Y.E Palette ($35USD) is another good one that surprised me because the colors, even though they are neutral, mimic the undertones of the skin. Most likely if you have had trouble finding a palette of neutrals that actually look neutral on your skin, this could be the one to try. The colors are White-basic snow white; Natural Wheat-more of a peach color; Cocoa-warm taupe; Toffee-medium mauve taupe; Fawn-yellow brown, Cinnamon-reddish brown; Espresso-dark brown; and Black-blue based black. This one will work on skin tones of ghost white to darkest dark.
These palettes are only a few that offer the basic eye look, there are more. They may look boring for the color addicted but when it comes to the basic organization of makeup, starting from these colors help build the collection. Once I had my basic classic colors, the other color eyeshadows fell into place and made my mornings easier and quicker. And, we all know how important those extra seconds of sleep are!