Watered-Down Eye Shadows Are in the Past—Enter a New Breed of Brights

Updated 04/10/18
New Breed of Brights
Imaxtree

Rummage through my makeup bag (and undoubtedly your own too) and you'll notice that all of the warm, earthy, neutral tones that reside in the many eye shadow palettes have been buffed right down to the silver pan—that's how much they get used. All that remains are the perfectly untouched bold shades, the type that for so long gave me goosebumps at just the thought of actually applying them onto my eyes.

I know I'm not alone in this. Most of us have kept bright eye shadows at arm's length for years, avoiding the unwelcome flashbacks from our teen years that they incite. Back then, brights were pallid and diluted—merely wishy-washy excuses for color. It seems as though times are changing, however, as technology means bright eye shadows are just that: bright.

"Bright eye shadows are typically more pigmented and longer-lasting nowadays due to the quality of pigment. Manufacturers are also sourcing the best, as there's more competition on the market," explains Danielle Roberts, Urban Decay's national makeup artist. And it's got me thinking that it might be time to give those bright hues a second chance.

Of course, it's daunting to face a palette of rainbow tones. The fear of looking like the result of a 5-year-old's scribbled crayon picture is real, but that simply means that trial and error is key here and be sure to start off slowly. "If you're a bright shadow novice, choose one shade and have that as your focus rather than trying to combine colors," suggests Roberts.

While generally, the technology has improved, eye shadows still aren't born equal, so we've sifted through them all to find the best brands to give you a serious dose of vibrancy.

Nyx Professional Makeup

best bright eye shadow: NYX Professional Makeup Ultimate Shadow Palette, Brights
Nyx Professional Makeup Ultimate Shadow Palette in Brights $18
Shop

Nyx is the go-to brand for getting out of a makeup rut, as its purse-friendly offerings are perfect for trying out different shades. The silky satin textures in this palette make these bold tones a joy to apply and won't feel like you're drawing on a chalkboard.

Morphe

best bright eye shadow: Morphe 35B Colour Bright Matte and Shimmer Palette
Morphe 35B Colour Bright Matte and Shimmer Palette $26
Shop

This palette is all the proof you need as to why Morphe is the brand of choice for beauty influencers. Its vivid sell-out shades melt as you apply them, so you get a flawless finish as well as a huge spectrum of powders to choose from. This is ideal if you're not quite sure what colors work for your skin tone, as you can play around with all 35 of them.

MAC

best bright eye shadow: MAC Eyeshadow in Electric Eel
MAC Eyeshadow in Electric Eel $17
Shop

Whatever color you're looking for, MAC is guaranteed to have it, and its selection of brights are eye shadow heavyweights. Try the electric blue shade for a punchy hit of color that will be right at home with your summer wardrobe

Illamasqua

best bright eye shadow: Illamasqua Power Eye Shadow in Hype
Illamasqua Power Eye Shadow in Hype $17
Shop

You know that pre-purchase excitement of seeing an intense shade in its packaging only to find that once you swipe it over your lids it's dulled down by four shades? Well, Illamasqua won't let that happen to you with its punchy brights. If you're not keen on blending multiple colors, then its single pans can more than hold their own.

Sugarpill Cosmetics

best bright eyes hadow: Sugarpill Cosmetics Pro Pan Pressed Eyeshadow in Flamepoint
Sugarpill Cosmetics Pressed Eyeshadow in Flamepoint $13
Shop

This L.A.-based brand is the expert on color, so it's no wonder that its rainbow of eye shadow shades is reaching cult status. You can purchase individually or fill up your own palette and select the shadows that work best for the look you're going for with these daring singles.

Urban Decay

best bright eye shadow: Urban Decay Eyeshadow in Woodstock
Urban Decay Eyeshadow in Woodstock $20
Shop

There's no greater feeling than getting your hands on the latest Urban Decay launch. Successfully adding the newest palette to your basket is akin to bagging tickets to a gig within the first few minutes. But its single eye shadows are just as covetable. This electric pink shade is pigmented enough to work as an eyeliner if you're not ready to go over the entire lid—just use a wet angled brush.

Related Stories