My view of life is that too much coffee and eyeshadow palettes simply isn’t a thing… ok, well, maybe too much coffee can be, but that’s another topic. Today, we are all here with the same common addiction (I mean goal), to discover the best eyeshadows for us. And really, is anything more important? If eyes are the window to the soul, then eyelids must be the curtains, and we’d like them to look nice!
In this article:
Best Eyeshadows Overview
- Best Overall: MAC Eyeshadow
- Best Palette: Urban Decay Naked3 Palette
- Best Drugstore: NYX Professional Makeup Ultimate Shadow Palette
- Best Color Range: Make Up For Ever Artist Color Eye Shadow
- Best Budget: e.l.f. Cosmetics Bite Size Eyeshadow Palette
- Best Stick: Laura Mercier Caviar Stick Eye Shadow
- Best Cream: Danessa Myricks Beauty Colorfix Eye, Cheek & Lip Cream Pigment
- Best Splurge: Pat McGrath Labs Mothership V Eyeshadow Palette – Bronze Seduction
- Best Loose Powder: bareMinerals Loose Mineral Eye Color
- Best Pressed Powder: Urban Decay Eyeshadow
- Best Pencil: Charlotte Tilbury Colour Chameleon Eye Shadow Pencil
- Best Singles: Anastasia Beverly Hills Eye Shadow Singles
- Best Multi-Purpose: KVD Beauty Super Pomade Vegan Eyeliner, Shadow & Brow Pigment
- Best Blendable: NARS Duo Eyeshadow
- Best Liquid: Stila Glitter & Glow Liquid Eye Shadow
- Best Shimmer: Kaja Moon Crystal Sparkling Eye Pigment
- Best Cream-to-Powder: Maybelline Color Strike Cream-to-Powder Eye Shadow Pen
- Best for Travel: Kaja Beauty Bento Bouncy Shimmer Eyeshadow Trio
- Best with SPF: Supergoop! Shimmershade Illuminating Cream Eyeshadow SPF 30
- Best Highlighting: Fenty Beauty by Rhianna Killawatt Freestyle Highlighter
- Best Clean Formula: Ilia Liquid Powder Chromatic Eye Tint
- Best Long-Wear: L’Oréal Brilliant Eyes Liquid Eyeshadow
- Best Glitter: Hourglass Scattered Light Glitter Eye Shadow
- Best Pigmented: CoverGirl Exhibitionist Luminati Lid Paint
- Best Affordable Palette: Maybelline the Blushed Nudes Eyeshadow Palette
25 Best Eyeshadows of All Time
From the most wearable neutrals to bright colors, matte, and shimmer shades, check out the best eyeshadows to try for a variety of eye-catching looks!
If you know the power of MAC lipsticks, then really you should venture into the land of MAC eyeshadow as well. This long-lasting pressed formula comes in seventy-five highly saturated color options, so it’s fairly easy to find the best shade that works with your eyes, hair, and, of course, your skin tone. Almost all of the options are matte, so you don’t have to worry about any eyelid shine. They are easy to apply and blend, both wet and dry, take on the go, and some can double as a highlighter – really, who can say no? Find your favorite shade at Nordstrom!
No, this palette doesn’t decay or break apart at all. It’s just the name of a wonderful rose-hued neutral eyeshadow palette that contains twelve different shades in pearl, matte or metallic finishes, ranging from shimmer pink to a black matte. Each eyeshadow is paraben- and phthalates-free, and the palette comes with a two-sided brush for blending. Just be aware that it rubs off in around three hours, but think of all that you could accomplish with that perfectly blended cruelty-free eyeshadow in that time! Purchase it at Sephora!
Are you one of those people that theorize that drugstore makeup is just as good – if not better – than the splurgy items you can purchase elsewhere? Well, then this eyeshadow palette would certainly be something to add to your case list marked ‘success.’ Not only does the NYX palette come in six color options, each with sixteen highly pigmented shades in a range of finishes, from matte to shimmery, but also it’s long-lasting, well-pigmented, under twenty dollars, doesn’t fall off your eyelashes, and is PETA-approved cruelty-free. So, don’t hesitate to click ‘buy now’ on Amazon.
This makeup seriously lasts forever! This single eyeshadow is available in sixty-six color options, all highly pigmented, blendable, and long-lasting, offering up to 12-hour wear. They’re easy to apply in just one swipe, come in large pans, and have five different finish options – glitter, matte, metallic, satin, and shimmer. You can get that one color you are so committed to or build your custom professional-quality palette by selecting the shades you like. Purchase your shades on Sephora!
Maybe you are just getting into makeup, or maybe you don’t think splurging on eyeshadow is worth it. If that’s the case, then this would be the best eyeshadow for you. While the one we’ve linked here is the Hot Jalapeño option with four green-hued colors – olive, blue, gold, and bronze – there are plenty of other set options to choose from. All the options offer a creamy formula with great blendability, and all are vegan and cruelty-free. While none will reference the iconic holiday movie (doesn’t Candy Cane Forest sound like a good eyeshadow palette name?), you can find plenty of other sets, all with different shade tones. So, for three dollars, have a blast with these eyeshadows! They are available at Ulta and Amazon.
No, none of the ingredients in this eyeshadow involve fish eggs. This caviar stick is most likely called such due to its creamy texture and delicious application! There are twenty-five color options to choose from, some capable of doubling as a highlighter, while all long-lasting, transfer-proof, and crease-resistant. There are three finishes available – shimmer, matte, and metallic, and all the options can easily blend with other shades without fallout. To add even more love, it has some moisturizing benefits… so, why haven’t you clicked the link to Sephora yet?
We all adore award-winning beauty products, and this Allure Best of Beauty winner is a great multipurpose product to consider getting. It comes in thirty different color choices in matte, metallic, or high-shine finishes, is completely waterproof, crease-proof, and eye-safe. It’s a long-wearing, quick-dry, creamy formula that offers easy layering with powdered eyeshadows as well. Vegan, gluten- and cruelty-free, it doesn’t contain any harmful ingredients either! Pick it up at Sephora!
This the mothership of all eyeshadow palettes! There are ten highly pigmented colors included, ranging from light to dark, designed to make any eye color pop. The deep brown option makes blue eyes so impossibly bright it’s phenomenal. There are three different finish options in the set, so if you don’t feel like going to work with glittery eyes, you don’t have to. All are easy to blend, and Pat McGrath may want to rename this the mothership of the no-complaints eyeshadow palette. Purchase yours at Sephora!
Loose eyeshadow powders are excellent for adding a light dusting of color to your skin without it ending up too thick. This bareMinerals loose powder is excellent with its durability and the fact it’s free of synthetic fragrance. There are eleven different shades that you can play with, ranging from light to dark, all in a non-smudging, creamy formula. Maybe you assume it to be expensive since you can pick it up at Nordstrom? Sorry, to disappoint but it happens to be $16 and long-lasting.
It appears we are once again greeted by the wonderful Urban Decay, and after the last one is it really such a shocker? Though I must admit, this one I love a bit more. The undertones (warm or cool) that the color would look best on are listed next to each color on Sephora! You have a range of bright and beautifully creamy, high-pigment, and long-lasting colors to choose from, in matte or shimmer finishes. Since the powder is pressed, it makes it easier to clean – more on that later – and the clear packaging lets you see which color you are grabbing without flipping each option open. So Urban Decay strikes again!
This may not be your association with eyeshadow, but it certainly should be! While using an eyeshadow pencil may take a bit more practice, it’s perfect for getting those beautiful, flawless, and thick eyeliner looks (think Alexa Chung or Brigitte Bardot). Charlotte Tilbury’s eyeshadow pencil line comes in eight shimmer finishes, each designed for a specific eye color – the dark pear is for hazel eyes! Find your color at Sephora!
These are the best eyeshadow singles that you could possibly find. Seriously! Being singles, you can take them on the go easily or purchase the coordinating case separately to store every one of the thirty-one color options if you want. Each pan is also refillable, making it more environmentally friendly. Just be warned that the photos on Sephora show a slightly different color than will actually come in the mail! But if it lasts all day, and there’s no fallout, is it too much of a problem?
Multi-purpose things have become more and more popular, and it is no wonder why. Not only is it cheaper than buying each item separately, but also it conserves space in your house. This KVD pigment is certainly multi-purpose. You can apply it as an eyeliner, eyeshadow, or a brow pigment. Because of this, the majority of the seventeen colors come in different shades of brown, but there are also blue, yellow, and pink options you might be hunting for. The vegan clay makes every option comfortable, so you don’t have to worry about involuntarily itching your eyes only to find out you smudged your makeup! Purchase it at Ulta!
If you’re just getting into eyeshadow blending, then this is the best eyeshadow you can buy. Instead of staring at color palettes and wondering if the colors combined will look stunning or scary, NARS does the job for you. In each of the eleven options, there are two pressed eyeshadows (in either subtle or bright shades) that will look phenomenal blended together. As if it couldn’t get better, Nordstrom links different outfit ideas below that involve the different eyeshadows!
Did anyone else miss New Year’s parties this flip of the calendar year? Not just for the ball dropping, but because you weren’t able to wear your most outrageous, sparkly eyeshadow? Society might dictate that there are only few occasions in the year where we can streak our eyelids in glitter, but who has to listen (particularly if we’re all home alone!)?
This Stila glitter liquid eyeshadow is applied like lip gloss and comes in all glitter or metallic finishes. It’s perfect for anyone who adores glitter, but not the mess, and did I mention it won the Allure 2018 Best of Beauty award? So, yeah. New Year’s or otherwise, you need to head to Sephora immediately.
While the packaging seems to be only filled up halfway, the half that’s there is excellent. The pigment is liquid, coming in eight glittery and fun colors that can double as a sparkly primer. It is also another eyeshadow that is vegan and free of sulfates SLS and SLES, parabens, and phthalates. But, frankly, I think the best feature of all is that it is weightless due to its jelly formula and delivers a high-impact sparkle that reflects light from all angles! Purchase it at Sephora!
Sometimes it best to face the cold, hard facts, and in the eyeshadow case, it’s that cream eyeshadow can be the easiest to put on, but then comes the fact that creams can smudge and wear off quicker too, so in the end, the choice of eyeshadow for the night can be difficult. Well, Maybelline has certainly made it easier with this put-on-like-cream-turning-into-powder eyeshadow option. Since that feature is here, it’s easy to apply, smudge-resistant and lasts twelve hours. Where has this been all my life? Apparently, at Ulta or Amazon!
Do you remember traveling? Being able to get on a plane, bus, or train with little hesitation and visit a city you’d never been to before? But do you also recall in that long-a-go daydream the problem of finding makeup that can travel? Thankfully this kit of three (but eleven different sets!) is designed like a bento box for easy transportation. The eleven different options come in a variety of pinks, matte and shimmer options, and adorable names! Though, my favorite feature is that Sephora also has the undertones listed next to the color.
Supergoop! may be best known for its sunscreens, but in the case of this eyeshadow, that really isn’t a bad thing. All parts of our bodies are capable of getting burned, even your eyelids, and this is the best eyeshadow to remedy that. The color range may be slightly lacking (there are only four colors), but it’s durable, good for sensitive skin, and you build other colors off of it while still protecting your eyelids from UV rays, so it really is a must. Purchase yours at Sephora!
Who knew Rhianna was not only an amazing popstar but so good at coming up with beauty products too?! I suppose this just proves to never underestimate her because this is yet another amazing Fenty product. There are nine highlighter options for the face and eyes, in normal highlighter colors, along with blue and yellow because RiRi doesn’t shy away from bold statements. Each one blends with no effort into the skin and gives you a beautiful glow. Purchase the shade of your popstar dreams at Sephora.
Before you ask, no, this has nothing to do with Lady Gaga’s Chromatica album, no matter how much we all liked it. Though, Lady Gaga probably would approve of this eight-color, metallic, applied like lip-gloss eyeshadow. There are no silicones in the eyeshadow (quite a feat for something this glittery), it’s part of the clean at Sephora list and vegan. While the tubes can dry out a bit quicker than others, mixing in a bit of makeup remover should do the trick for softening it up.
This is another one for those in the club of ‘best drugstore beauty product buys’! Similar to both Stila’s and Ilia’s liquid eyeshadow, this is another metallic, applied like a lip-gloss option to add to your repertoire. There are twelve different color options that last all day and are flake-proof (always a plus!). It also dries quickly, making it the perfect easy-to-apply eyeshadow or eyeliner! Purchase yours at Ulta or Amazon!
While we’ve talked a great deal about the best glitter eyeshadow options throughout this article, this one takes the cake – or glitter! With nine different glitter options to play with, no parabens, micro-light reflecting glitter, no fallout, and so many pigmented options, it makes sense. This eyeshadow isn’t exactly contact-lens-safe, though, since the glitter is so small it can attempt to sneak into the lens and blur vision. Luckily it looks just as stunning with glasses on, so you can still click the Sephora link and have fun.
Wow! Now that’s a mouthful of a title. Being an exhibitionist isn’t a requirement to wear this eyeshadow, nor is it something that was created by the Illuminati. Though, for eleven dollars and high pigmentation, it would probably end up being secret society-approved. There are eight different color options that are all flake-proof and cruelty-free. It’s easy to blend, apply, and dries quickly, so it should certainly be in your next Ulta basket.
I will never encourage sending nudes as a present unless the ‘nudes’ involve this eyeshadow palette because in this case, I’d like the whole warehouse, please! There are three different nude palette options for you to select, based on your skin tone, but none of the prices go above nine dollars – a definite bonus! Whatever set you choose comes with twelve different color options for you to pick your favorite or blend together, giving you an effortlessly natural look to match your skin tone. It will last all day and isn’t irritating, plus, for the price, you need to go to Amazon right now! Because, is there ever such a thing as too much eyeshadow?
What to Look for in the Best Eyeshadows for You?
Finding the best eyeshadow shade or palette can seem like a difficult process when you consider all the variables: eye color, skin tone, hair color, durability, price, finish, and formula can be a bit overwhelming. Below, we’ve done the hard work for you – well, mostly! You’ll be able to figure out what shades will look best with your hair, skin, eyes, and lipstick colors, as well as all the other things mentioned above that will help you to be able to narrow down your new go-to eyeshadow.
When hunting down the best eyeshadow, it’s always a good idea to check through the ingredient list and see if there’s anything that you don’t want on your face. Parabens (a preservative that can disrupt common hormonal practices) and phthalates (a type of plastic) are most common in eyeshadows and often the ones that people try the hardest to stay away from. At least cosmetic companies seem to be catching up with that idea!
Other than the ingredient list, you can choose between the following eyeshadow formulas:
- Pressed powder eyeshadows are the most common type with a range of color and finish options. They blend easily and are perfect for beginners.
- Loose powder eyeshadows are the most pigmented options, however, applying them can get a little bit messy and require better skills.
- Cream eyeshadows are the easiest to blend and can also be layered with other formulas. The only drawback is that they tend to crease.
- Liquid eyeshadows are similar to lip glosses and are more fluid than cream ones. You can apply them with the doe-foot applicator most come with, your fingers, or an eyeshadow brush. They can also be layered with other formulas, blend easily, and offer a myriad of finishes and colors.
- Pencil or stick eyeshadow is the most versatile type in that it can also double as your eyeliner. It is perfect for reaching the hard-to-reach areas easily and creating more intricate looks.
When speaking about the longevity of an eyeshadow, it isn’t only about the length it lasts on one’s eyes, but the amount of time you can keep the palette without cracking or becoming a bacteria festival. Depending on the eyeshadow, the durability can range anywhere between three to twenty-four hours based on what ingredients are involved. So, if you want it to last a certain amount of time, read the reviews and testimony on the package.
As for cleaning and keeping eyeshadows for a certain amount of time, most shadows can and will last up to two years, though most eye doctors and dermatologists would prefer you to replace it after one if you don’t clean the powder often. And before you jump me for not detailing how to clean a powder, it’s right below:
- Cleaning pressed powders is the easiest because you can lightly scrape the top layer of powder off with a sanitized mascara wand and dump it out – this should be done monthly.
- Cream and liquids should be sprayed lightly with rubbing alcohol once a week.
- For loose powders, it gets a bit more complicated. The easiest route would be to just use a sanitized brush before dipping it into the powder. Easy-peasy, right?
As you have probably noticed by now, eyeshadows have a lot of different finishes. Mattes to metallics and beyond can seem a bit extreme, but since makeup is all about having fun, then that’s what it is!
Choosing the best eyeshadow finish can depend on the day and what is happening. For instance, wearing bright purple glitter may not be appropriate at a corporate board meeting but might be a must at any ‘it’ club. Simply just consider the setting and have fun!
When picking an eyeshadow, it only makes sense to consider the pricing and what comes with it (not including the free sample we all hoard from the shipments from Sephora). Hopefully, what comes with it is a brush or a type of applicator, though this isn’t always the case. Of course, the main thing is picking the right price for your budget that has good quality and colors you will actually wear!
- Blue: Go for lighter colors that compliment your eyes, such as champagnes and corals. If you seek to make your eye color pop, then it’s always a good idea to use a bit of brown, whether in an eyeshadow or eyeliner.
- Gray: Smokey eyes are complementary because they will blend in with your eye color. Once again, if you are seeking to stand out, then go more towards the golds, browns, greens, and blues.
- Green: Muted colors will look best such as a duller purple or blue. Here it can be fun to play with eyeliner to exaggerate both your eye color and the eyeshadow itself.
- Hazel: Beige and metallic will be the keys to making your eyes stand out.
- Brown: Lucky you – almost every color will make your eyes pop! However, like my advice with blue, try to do a contrasting color such as, uhhhh, blue? Or purple or green or….!
There are about sixteen different ‘main’ skin colors that cosmetic companies often focus on, ranging from ‘porcelain’ to ‘espresso.’ While, thankfully, this is more diverse than it has been in the past, we all have so many different shades to our skin that blending foundations and eyeshadows often occurs to get the best results.
To find the perfect match for your skin color, it’s important to, first of all, know your own skin undertone. An easy way to do this is the trick of looking at the veins in your skin under natural light. If they are a bluish-purple, you have a cool skin tone. If the veins are green, then you have a warm/olive/dark skin tone. If it’s difficult to determine, then you are probably neutral.
Other ways to check will be thinking about whether you can tan without burning or look better in gold than silver (a warm skin tone). If you are one of those lucky people that can pull off gold and silver equally, well, then you have the neutral skin tone gene (lucky!).
- Warm skin tones have the wonderful ability to pull off some of the most common eyeshadow colors – bronze, pink, and coral. I foresee you having quite a bit of fun with those warmer or neutral colors!
- Skin tones that are considered cool will work best with colors that have blue undertones. Reach for the blues, silvers, pale pinks, or grays. Just make sure to stay away from the darker colors, as this can wash you out.
- If you are one of those lucky people with a neutral skin tone, then you can pull off almost any color. If you want to head more towards the neutral colors that match your skin tone, then reach for taupes or greens.
- Richer jewel tones like ruby, sapphire, and emerald are going to look best on those with darker skin. Instead of the paler colors that can be absorbed quickly and cause darker skin to look dry, these colors will compliment your skin and last longer.
- Black and Brown: Like with eyes, you will want to decide how heavily you want to contrast your hair or blend in. For instance, those with brown hair and blue eyes may decide to reach for a brown eyeshadow because it makes their eye color even brighter.
- Blonde and Gray: Blonde and gray hair have a lot of options (particularly gray, so there’s nothing to dislike about that color. Remember the silver hair trend from a few years ago?!). Often you will want to reach for paler colors because, as an example, having blonde hair and brown eyes, then adding purple eyeshadow can make you look tired or even bruised!
- Unnatural: If you’re having fun and dyeing your hair in all your favorite colors, then chances are you already have a creative streak and don’t need my help. But if you’re a bit lost, then reach for the shade diagonal to your dyed hair choice on the color wheel.
- Red: Considering that red is often a bold color in and of itself, picking more neutral shades such as copper, gold or olive would be best. And consider colors that finish in a slight shine because that will pull attention away from the hair – if you want it to.
Lip Color Cheat Sheet
- Red lips + gold eyeshadow
- Deep purple lips + light brown eyeshadow
- Pink lips + champagne/taupe eyeshadow
- Nude lips + green eyeshadow
Photos via Instagram