Purple eyeshadow, not unlike a teasing comb or heated eyelash curler, is one of those beauty products that can go painfully wrong if mishandled. Swipe on too much, and you look like an ‘80s middle school dance sob story; too little, and you look like you may have grabbed the wrong shadow pot from your makeup bag. And even though purple eyeshadow isn’t the easiest look to pull off (it’s second only to red eyeshadow), once you get it right, it’ll flatter just about every skin tone.
With a plethora of purple shadows available, the first step, of course, is picking your shade: “If you have light eyes, go for soft pastel shades,” says makeup artist Katie Jane Hughes, who was practically the inspiration for this story. “But if you have dark eyes, opt for a more jewel-toned purple,” like the bottom three colors in the PIXI by Petra Palette in Amethyst Aura, her favorite iteration. And if you’re just getting your feet wet, dab just a tinge of lavender shadow in the inner corners to brighten up your eyes, and leave the rest of your lids bare.
Hughes also suggests starting soft and building up the opacity based on the look you’re going for—“then, intensify it at night with a black pencil in the water line and loads of black mascara.”
The 19 best purple eyeshadows to try now—including Hughes’ favorites, ahead.