Colour, colour and more colour - that's the message of make-up this season and, I suspect, for the next season, too. But the trouble with colour is that not only is it easy to get it wrong, it's also very noticeable when you do. Get the "natural look" wrong, and you'll look like you've had a few too many late nights and not enough vegetables. But get colour wrong, and you'll look silly or cheap, and more likely both.
The first, and arguably most important, priority with colour is to spend what you can afford. This doesn't have to be a lot - it just means if your choice is between two cheap eye shadows and one not-socheap one, go for the latter, because, sadly, cheap make-up and black skin are a terrible combination. This is because cheap make-up means cheap - that is, bad - pigment, and bad pigment means chalky, powdery finishes. White skin can get away with this - the skin colour absorbs it; black skin can't.
However, expensive doesn't necessarily mean quality, and while a quick hand test may be a good way to check if an eye colour or blusher suits you, it won't tell you what that colour will look like a couple of hours after application. Or, for that matter, how the colour will look under natural lighting, rather than the fluorescent lights of a beauty hall.
The lighting issue is easily resolved - once you've dabbed the colour on your hand nip outside to look at it. Assuming your eye shadow of choice passes the natural light test, how can you tell whether or not you'll be left with a white residue after a couple of hours? The annoying answer is, that you can't - not without road testing properly, by which time you'll have already parted with your money.
But you can tell an awful lot about the quality of a range by its face powders, foundations and concealers. These are the basics of any line, and if the bases aren't decent (or don't go beyond a light caramel), then the chances are its more disposable items - eye shadow, lipstick, etc - aren't worth bothering with, either.