Much like a complicated-looking wrap dress you refuse to try on because it simply looks like a terror on the hanger, there are some eye shadow shades which appear radioactive in their pristine packaging. However, the most figure-flattering dresses must be tried on before you can appreciate their true beauty, and particularly lurid eye shadows should be tried on before you dismiss them.
Makeup formulas have been so revolutionized over the past decade that a shade which looks virulent green in its pot could easily come off as the most delicate wash of olive once applied to the eye. Therefore, it would be a disservice to yourself — and your adoring public — to eschew certain shades on principle even before you dip a brush in. After all, you could find that the harsh golden shade you've avoided so long complements your green eyes, or a cobalt blue applied along the waterline plays up brown peepers. In search of answers, I decided to select a handful of the most daring, glaring, gaudy, and intense eye shadow shades I could find and analyze the difference between the shade in its packaging, and applied to my lids. I was pleasantly surprised to find a number of new favorites hiding amongst the set. So set aside your cosmetic prejudices for a moment and read on about nine eye shadows which appear horrifying — until you try them on.
1. THE BODY SHOP COLOUR CRUSH EYE SHADOW IN HEAD IN THE SKY
A softer, more ethereal sky blue than The Body Shop's Eye Shadow in Head In The Sky would be difficult to find. The velvety formula looks electric in its subtle black packaging, but lends eyes an illuminating wash of periwinkle once applied.
2. THE BODY SHOP COLOUR CRUSH EYE SHADOW IN BLACKCURRANT AFFAIR
Blackcurrant Affair, $10, The Body Shop
A moody plum color, Blackcurrant Affair is a rich, theatrical shade best applied with a light hand to give the eye more dimension. It's not for every day, but adds a nice effect to a smokier look, especially for brown eyed girls.
3. MAC LUSTRE EYE SHADOW IN AQUADISIAC
Aquadisiac, $16, Mac Cosmetics
MAC's reputation for bold usage of color is epitomized in its shimmering teal shade Aquadisiac, but not to fear: The shade offers eyes a light film of color with one layer, but provides buildable color for more fearless makeup aficionados.
4. MAC VELUXE PEARL EYE SHADOW IN GORGEOUS GOLD
Gorgeous Gold, $16, Mac Cosmetics
Given fall 2014's golden eye shadow trend, MAC's eye shadow in Gorgeous Gold is right on target. Though the shade initially appears prima donna gold in its packaging, the color achieves a multidimensional, sheer, shimmering quality once applied—and its staying power is unparalleled.
5. MAYBELLINE EYE STUDIO COLOR TATTOO LEATHER IN VINTAGE PLUM
Maybelline Eeye Studio Color Vintage Plum, $5, Walgreens
Don't be fooled by the muted, bruise-colored shade you see in the pot: Maybelline's Eye Studio Color Tattoo Leather in Vintage Plum offers a beautifully neutral shade of pale plum which could easily become your new favorite work-appropriate tone.
6. KEVYN AUCOIN THE LOOSE SHIMMER SHADOW IN JADE
Kevyn Aucoin Loose Shimmer Shadow, $29, NeimanMarcus
Kevyn Aucoin's vivid shades and thoughtful formulations are perfectly encapsulated in The Loose Shimmer Shadow, a feathery power which is offered in rollerball form for ultimate precision of application. A pale, iridescent dove grey-tinged green, Jade offers an incredibly glamorous wash of shimmer on the eye.
7. NARS MATTE EYESHADOW IN DAPHNE
Perhaps the most terrifying of them all, Daphne by Nars is a lurid, borderline florescent purple in its handy compact container, but metamorphoses into the ultimate eye-enhancing shade once pressed into the lash line or applied in lieu of a liner on the bottom lid.
8. LAURA GELLER BAKED MARBLE EYE SHADOW IN MINT
A rich, autumnal forest green, Laura Geller's Eye Shadow In Mint looks oppressively dark in its pot, but its finely milled formula turns into a beguiling eyeliner or hypnotizing shadow once buffed onto the eyelid.
9. LAURA GELLER BAKED MARBLE EYE SHADOW DUO IN ROME/MILAN
The swirling, marbleized appearance of Laura Gellar's Eye Shadow Duo in Rome/Milan may give makeup lovers vertigo at first, but with a twirl of the makeup brush to combine the two shades, the shadow becomes an alluring, golden wash of mauve — perfect for accenting hazel or brown eyes.
Images: Kara McGrath