BECAUSE purple is a mixture of red, the warmest colour in the spectrum, and blue, the coldest colour, there is a shade to suit everyone.
It’s therefore surprising that many women shy away from using purple when it comes to choosing eye shadows.
“I definitely think some women are afraid of it,’’ says Boots No 7 consultant Raj Kaur. “They think it’s a bit bright and a colour that young girls use. But it can look lovely, you’ve just got to find the right purple.”
To demonstrate purple’s versatility and wearability, we asked three cosmetic consultants to show us how to use the new season’s colour palette.
The key, says Raj, is to test as many different shades of purple as you can: “Sometimes purple can look a bit bright and scary on the palette, but it looks completely different when it’s worn and different skin tones will bring out different shades.”
She showed us how it’s done with sales assistant Laura Griffin as her model. Raj chose a palette of soft purple, mauve and pink from the No7 collection. But to brighten things up a bit, without going over the top, she added a hint of electric purple at the corners of Laura’s blue/green eyes.
“The electric purple looks really bright in the palette,” says Raj, “but it’s actually not quite as bright when it’s on. It’s a good example of how you need to try a colour.”
Laura admits that she rarely wears purple, preferring more muted and smokey colours such as monochrome greys. And she’s not alone. The top selling No7 eye shadow palette comprises a collection of browns and neutral beige, but, says Raj, the purple palette also has its fans and the brand’s limited edition palette for spring – which features both a blue/purple and pink – has almost sold out.
Colour consultant Cath Hepworth from Brighouse, who works for Colour Me Beautiful, says that while there is a purple for everyone it’s not necessarily easy to find the right shade.
“The rule of thumb is that if you have cool colouring – hair, eyes, skin tone – then you can wear the cool, bluey purples, and if you have warm colouring then you can wear the red/purples. But it’s not quite as simple as that,’’ she explained.
“If I’m making-up someone who is a ‘clear’ with dark hair and blue eyes (Courtney Cox is a good example) then I’d always use a cool purple eyeshadow. However, someone who is ‘deep’, with dark hair and dark eyes, like Catherine Zeta Jones, can wear plums and aubergines.
“Women with ash tones in their hair or grey hair look best in cool, paler mauves.”
Cath says that purple is an extremely popular colour for clothing among her clients. “We sell a range of pashminas and the purple one is the biggest seller. But I’d say that most people can wear clothing in a much brighter shade of purple than they can use on their eyes,’’ she added.
At House of Fraser, Dior consultant Miriam Coldwell, demonstrated the use of plum and aubergine colours on her model, student hairdresser Hallah Al-Jawad. With her dark brown eyes and naturally dark hair, Hallah is the perfect candidate for the more dramatic colours at the purple end of the spectrum.
Miriam believes many women are concerned that purple eyeshadow will make them look as if they have “been punched in the face” and have black eyes.
“Women are generally worried about using the darker, stronger colours,” she said. “But it’s all about getting the shading right and using the right tones.”
Deep, dramatic colours, she added, can look stunning worn with evening wear.
With light hazel eyes and fair hair, however, brand manager Carol Smith – modelling for Yves Saint Laurent consultant Susan Vasilenko – needed the lighter shades of purple.
“Women are worried that purple is going to look garish but there is no skin tone that doesn’t go with purple, it’s just a question of getting the right shades,” said Susan.
“Purple makes a lovely change from playing it safe with the browns and smokey shades,” she added.
Our cosmetic consultants used the No7 Organza eye palette, £9.50, and Electric Purple single eyeshadow, £7; YSL Five Colour Harmony palette No 4, £39; and the Dior Five Colour Night Butterfly palette, also £39.
If in doubt, ask a cosmetic consultant to show you how to apply new and unfamiliar colours. They work with them all day, every day and see a wide range of customers with different skin tones and eye colours.