The word “pigment” refers to a substance that imparts a color into another substance or onto a surface. All eyeshadows, therefore, are pigmented, because all eyeshadows impart some kind of color when they are applied onto the skin. There are, however, great differences in the intensities of pigmented eyeshadow types, ranging from very sheer, low-intensity eyeshadow to vivid, high-intensity eyeshadow. Generally, the higher the pigment, the more true and vivid the color will appear on the skin.
A low-intensity pigmented eyeshadow generally consists of a small amount of pigment and larger amounts of filler ingredients or colorless powder. As a result, using a low-pigment shadow will usually impart a sheer, fine wash of color. While some people might prefer the subtle, sheer finish of a low-intensity pigment, these eyeshadows are generally associated with less expensive, lower-quality drugstore makeup brands because they require more product, are not particularly vivid or true colors, and usually do not wear as long as higher-pigmented shadows.
If an individual purchases an eyeshadow that turns out to be less pigmented than expected, there are ways to build up the shadow to help make the pigments more pronounced. Sometimes it is possible to build up a more intense finish by layering repeated coats of shadow, especially if an eyeshadow primer is used over the skin as a base. Similarly, applying the shadow with a moistened makeup brush will help concentrate the pigment and result in a more vivid, intense hue.
Pigmented eyeshadow formulas that actually contain higher levels of pigment are typically long-wearing, vivid, and maintain the same color in the pan that they do on the skin. This last characteristic is a great help when selecting a color, because individuals can be reasonably sure that the color they apply will look precisely like the color of the product in the packaging. It is notable, however, that even if a pigmented eyeshadow looks very bright or intense in the packaging, these shadows are usually very easy to blend with other shadows if it is desirable to tone down a shade.
Some very high-quality highly pigmented eyeshadow brands are sold as loose powders and are almost completely pure pigments with no additional filler products. A little bit of these high-intensity shadows will go a long way because they colors are so strong and pure. While there are almost certainly inexpensive brands that carry intense pigments, a well-pigmented shadow is usually associated with high-quality, expensive, or professional makeup brands.