There’s nothing wrong with a soft brown smokey eye, except for the fact that it’s often achingly boring if the simple look happens to be your chronic go-to. The good news: There are plenty of alternatives that are as universally flattering and easy to pull off, but they’re a lot more exciting.
Below, three subtle tweaks to try this fall if you’re not willing to ditch that brown pencil for good.
1. Add a deep reddish tone.
We know: Putting red anywhere near your eyes sounds like an open invitation for conjunctivitis assumptions, but working reddish tones in with brown, bronze, or even gold adds pretty warmth and makes your standard neutrals a little less basic. More to the point, the right shade of red can be stunning on blue and green eyes. Accent your usual brown shadow with a deep, coppery red that borders on burgundy—we’re partial to Urban Decay Eyeshadow in Roach ($19).
2. Make it more graphic.
Giving a slightly more polygonal shape to your smokey eye switches it up from the norm without an abundance of extra technique. Trace your darkest shade beneath the eye, avoiding the inner corners (it’ll make your eyes look smaller), and pull it upward and outward into a blunt triangular shape and blend.
3. Ditch the brown altogether and opt for metallics in the same color family.
Using bronze or copper shades is as easy as using browns. Choose warm or cool tones based on what you usually use and blend light, medium, and dark gradations as you would with any smokey eye. Using shadows that change with the lighting, as metallics do, makes a look way more interesting than matte or even shimmery formulas: The four shadows in Guerlain 4 Color Eyeshadow Palette in 07 Les Cuirs ($65) are perfect.