Back-to-School Beauty: Everything You Need to Know About Matte, Brown, '90s-Inspired Makeup for Fall

Neutral makeup how tos from a pro

By Taylor Stephan Aug 26, 2015 1:26 AMTags
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School is in session. 

Whether or not you are headed back to school next month is neither here nor there, but what is of utmost importance is the fact that your day-to-day makeup could likely use a reset. "I think we're coming out of the crazy fun makeup phase, and will see a return to '90s-inspired matte neutrals come fall," predicted celebrity makeup artist Suzie Kim.

With beauty girls like Zendaya and Kat Dennings jumping on the grey-brown matte bandwagon, we're jonsing for the chance to recreate the '90s supermodel face ourselves. For a quick and easy take on the look, Suzie schools us on all things coffee-colored.

Kailey Strachan for E! Online

Firstly, it's a universally flattering color, with everyone's happy spot "falling somewhere in the spectrum of browns," said Suzie. If you're on the fair side, lean toward ashier hues, while olive complexions can go with warmer browns. 

Start with eye shadow first. Before you do anything, prep your eye with a primer. For a mocha lid that's matte but still muted, opt for natural shades of brown. Using a nudes pallete, dab your lightest beige color from the brow bone to the lid, swiping a slightly darker taupe-y brown over just the lid area and evenly blending a deep grey-brown along the lash line to achieve a cohesive chocolate swirl.

It's all about the blurred lines. "For fall, I'm all about blurred lines," meaning no clean, crisp eyeliner lines, said Suzie. Not only are softer lines more effortless, they "actually open up the eyes rather than hardening the look," she noted. For this taupe look, swipe on a creamy brown liner stopping at the midpoint, and then smudge it out using an angled brush.

Kailey Strachan for E! Online

Matte skin is in. "A lot of people think that matte means dry, but that's not the case at all," informed Suzie. To get the look, pick a foundation formula that looks like skin. "You want people to see your skin, not the makeup," she said. Use a thick concealer to hide under-eye bags and blemishes, and set with a translucent pressed powder (as opposed to loose powder, which buffs out skin and diffuses light). 

Go big with brows. Even though this look is '90s driven, keep it current with full, soft brows. Use a brow palette to define brow lines and fill in bald spots—so business as usual. 

Kailey Strachan for E! Online

Skip the blush. For a taupe-y contour, pick a pressed foundation that is two shades darker than your normal shade. "I tend to steer clear of traditional bronzers, since most of them contain shimmer," noted the pro. By using a darker foundation shade, you're staying true to a flesh-tone contour.

Finish with lips. The key to a matte lip is to start with a lip liner. To keep the lines blurred here too, work the liner up the lip instead of just tracing an outline. To polish it off smear on a swipe of matte, grey-brown lipstick and blot clean.