The Best Way To Apply Purple Eyeshadow, According To Me

Purple eyeshadow would look awesome on brown eyes even if a toddler applied it, but it'll look even better if you apply it yourself using these steps.
Publish date:
June 6, 2013
primers, eyeshadows, How-To, concealers, palettes, makeup brushes, purple, Bare Escentuals

Did you know 70% of the world’s population has brown eyes, and the remaining 30% is divided amongst blue, green, hazel, and gray? I found that out through Yahoo! Answers. I referenced these types of forums all the time throughout my undergraduate career, looking up anything from paper topics to birth control. And here I stand today, a degree-holding, childless young woman.

But if that isn’t enough to convince you, and you’re still weary of the information that circulates on those pages, I think we can still all agree that whatever the exact number, the majority of people in the world have brown eyes.

That being said, brown-eyed sistas: this one is especially for you.

Now, brown isn’t on the color wheel, so I’m not sure who/when it was decided that--at least regarding eye makeup--that purple would be its complementary color, but that’s just the way it is, OK? There’s some things science just can’t explain; another example being the tides, of course. (Bill O’Reilly reference; don’t worry about it.)

Bottom line: purple eyeshadow just looks incredible on brown eyes (or any eye color really), and I am particularly obsessed with the Ready Eyeshadow 4.0 palette in Dream Sequence by Bare Escentuals, which I what I'm using today.

You can use any eyeshadows that are available to you, of course, but I love the Bare Escentuals ones because they are so incredibly pigmented! Sometimes, when using lower-quality purple shadows, the color can wear a bit diluted and chalky. Unlike a matte black or brown shadow that’s going to look about the same at any price range, a true purple is a little harder and pricier to come by.

Normally, I opt for neutral eyes, but when I do this look, I like it to appear rich, bold, and unmistakably purple. (And for all you color snobs, I realize the varying shades can be described far more accurately than with the word “purple,” but just roll with it! Or educate me in the comments section.)


Start by priming your eyes to keep your shadow from creasing. Yes, this step is necessary. You don't need to buy an eye primer (though Urban Decay’s Primer Potion is amazing); plain old concealer will do just fine. Using concealer will also allow the shadow to appear brighter on your lids.

Next, take a fluffy brush and apply a warm, lighter-toned brown all along your crease to define it. Buff the color in alternating windshield wiper and small circular motions all along your crease. This is also going to serve as a marker once you go in with the darker shadows so that you won’t apply any colors higher than they should go.

As for the brush, I use a really cheap one that I found in my mom’s bathroom years ago, but the Sigma E45 would be a wonderful and affordable option. I’ll probably buy one once I stop blowing all my money on Chipotle.

After you’ve buffed in that soft brown color, dip your finger in the color Boudoir, which is pretty fuchsia, and press it all over your lid. Really pack on that color, it’s what’s going to make the look stand out. Some people like to use a brush to apply lid color, but I don’t think it’s unnecessary. My index finger always works just fine.

After you’ve applied the lid color, blend out any lines using the same fluffy brush from earlier, but with no additional product.

Then, take the darkest color, Nightcap, and either with a pencil brush or the same fluffy brush, apply it in the outer half of your crease and the outer V of your eye. If you don’t have a pencil brush, you can use a Q-tip to dot the color in your crease and then blend it out with a brush.

If you do this, though, you’ll have to build and blend that darker color gradually; otherwise, you might end up with a really harsh line that won’t easily be buffed out. The trick to this is to just keep blending. At some point you might think you’ve made a mistake and that you look crazy. It’s fine. Just blend it out for 20 seconds and you’ll be good.

After darkening the crease and outer V, apply Boudoir to your lower lash line and blend it out. For this step I like to use the angled brush that I mentioned in my eyebrow tutorial, but you can also use a pencil brush, Q-tip, or your finger.

Then, take Nightcap again, and apply it to the outer half (or quarter) of your lower lash line. Play with it, find what fits your eye best.

To finish, I apply the white-ish color 500 Thread Count onto the inner corner of my eye. Some people like to also apply a highlight to the brow bone, but for this look I think it might be too frosty.

For extra drama, which I always prefer and actively pursue in all areas of my life, add some winged liquid liner, and don’t forget mascara on your top AND bottom lashes.

Let me know if you give it a try! What other purple eyeshadow palettes do you recommend?