Makeup artists agree that department-store-brand shadows are vastly superior to their drugstore counterparts. "The color is richer, they adhere to the lids better, and they go on smoother," says Tina Turnbow, a makeup artist for beauty.com. Drugstore brands tend to crumble (since they are not as finely milled), and you rarely get as deep a color on your skin as in the package. "Certain pigments, such as deep blues and purples, are very expensive," says Tom Winarick, executive vice president of Prestige Cosmetics, which makes mass-market products. "Companies that charge more can use more of them." Recommended product: M.A.C Eye Shadow ($15, maccosmetics.com) has a high concentration of pigments.
If you want to try a new, trendy color but aren't sure it's for you, experiment with a cheaper brand. If you hate it, you've spent only a few dollars. If you love it, buy the quality version.