Metallic eyeshadows are there for us when life loses its luster. They add the most irresistible gleam to any makeup look, making your eyes look dangerously reflective. A dark metallic eyeshadow can create a unique smokey eye, while a pop of champagne in the inner corner of the eye is the perfect highlight!
If you’d like to fortify your makeup arsenal with a few metallic eyeshadows, we’ve got you covered. We have selected the best metallic shadows and palettes to brighten up your look. We also explain what the difference is between metallic shadows and other common eyeshadow finishes to help you in the selection process.
In this article:
- 11 Best Metallic Eyeshadows & Palettes to Buy
- The Difference Between Metallic Eyeshadow and Mattes, Satins, or Glitters
11 Best Metallic Eyeshadows & Palettes to Buy
Palettes and singles, creams and sticks – these are the best metallic eyeshadows you can get right now, with the most amazing pigmentation and longevity, not to mention the incredible metallic shine.
1. Pat McGrath Labs Mothership VIII Artistry Eyeshadow Palette – Divine Rose II Collection
Owning a Pat McGrath eyeshadow palette is a beauty game-changer. The shades always perform impeccably, and the color stories themselves are fascinating. Metallics are plentiful in each one of her palettes, but we selected Mothership VIII because of its blend of quintessential metallics and some unusual shifts, not to mention a few exquisite mattes that work well with the shimmery tones. Get it at Sephora!
2. ColourPop Super Shock Shadow
When it comes to single metallic eyeshadows, it’s hard to beat ColourPop for either quality or price. These shades have a butter cream-powder formula that glides on beautifully, and an intensely refined formula that has a ton of color payoff as well as blinding shine. Most of the shades lean towards pink, bronze, lavender, or champagne, and each one is a winner. Because they’re so soft, however, they must be handled with care, or they can break easily. You can find them at Ulta.
3. Urban Decay Moondust Eyeshadow
If you’re looking for a wider range of metallic eyeshadow singles, Urban Decay has got you covered. From the more traditional bronze and champagne metallics to deep, unique shades like Scorpio or Zodiac, they have an option. The colors are extremely bright and reflective, which means that the color itself is often a little less saturated. In other words, if you want maximal shine, these are the best metallic shadows to try. They’re available at Sephora.
4. Huda Neon Obsessions Palette
The combination of neon and metallic shades is not an obvious one, but it works so well! The Neon Obsession palettes feature a balanced mix of mattes and metallics, along with a couple of punchy shimmer shades. As with all Huda shadows, the colors go on and blend like a dream. Choose the color story that suits you best or get all of the palette options to live your best neon-colored life. Our favorite thing about these palettes is the large mirror and durable packaging. Buy them from Sephora!
5. Milani Gilded Noir Palette
Shockingly affordable yet oh-so-dramatic – this is one of the best metallic eyeshadow palettes for creating a sparkly smokey eye. This palette is holistic, with a few mattes for additional depth as well as a few highlight shades, but the colors that really shine are the vampy metallics like the burgundy, navy, and amethyst shades. The palette is sturdy cardboard with a nice, big mirror. Shop for it at Ulta!
6. Julep Eyeshadow 101 Crème to Powder Waterproof Eyeshadow Stick
Eyeshadow sticks are perfect for looking pretty in a rush. Just swipe some on, blend a little with the spongy end, and you’re done! These metallic eyeshadow sticks are waterproof and long-lasting, and they come in a range of very pretty, wearable colors. You can double up by wearing them under a metallic powder shadow for intense shine. The formulas are enriched with vitamins C and E to nourish the eye area. They’re sold on Amazon.
7. Natasha Denona Sunrise Eyeshadow Palette
You can’t go wrong with an eyeshadow from Natasha Denona, and choosing the best metallic eyeshadow palette was a tough job for us. Ultimately, we couldn’t resist the Sunrise palette and its beautiful color story of warm nudes and fuchsias. The set includes 8 metallics and duo-chromes (which are a category of metallics in our opinion), and 7 mattes that complement them well. These shades are vibrant and pigmented, so they pop easily. Pick it up from Sephora!
8. MAC Frost Eyeshadow
MAC’s eyeshadow singles are classics, and their frost range offers a gorgeous selection of metallic shadows. They have reliable pigmentation, and the shade selection is immense, with both softer highlighter tones and mesmerizing jewel tones. Not all photos manage to capture how smooth yet shiny these shadows manage to be, but trust us, they really deliver on that front. You can buy them as singles in a compact, or pick up just the pan when it’s time for a refill. Purchase them from Nordstrom or Ulta!
9. Laura Mercier Caviar Sticks
For a wash of metallic shadow that is beautiful and delicate, we can’t recommend these eyeshadow sticks enough! They save you the need for a primer, and they glide on easily to get you glammed up in seconds. You can use a few together to create a complex look or get just one for a one-shadow look. They come in some really stunning blues, pinks, and traditional bronze or gold shades. You can find them at Nordstrom.
10. Tom Ford Cream Color For Eyes
There is nothing more luxe than a creamy, golden metallic eyeshadow in a sophisticated Tom Ford jar. These cream eyeshadows are divine with the kind of smooth shimmer that looks exactly like melted metal all over your eyelid. Despite being creams, they tend to self-set well, so they don’t smudge or fade throughout the day. The 4 colors available are all universally flattering metallics, like champagne, gold-peach, taupe, and deep copper, so if you can, get the whole collection at Sephora.
11. NYX Professional Makeup Prismatic Eyeshadow
When it comes to color, you can trust NYX to get it right. The Prismatics are some of the best metallic eyeshadows we’ve seen in a truly joyous color range. The shades are bright, playful, and unique, including metallic pastels like Girl Talk and Blue Jeans. The formula is lovely to work with because it’s so smooth and silky. The only drawback is that the compacts can break easily. Grab your favorite shades from Ulta!
The Difference Between Metallic Eyeshadow and Mattes, Satins, or Glitters
The words “metallic” or “frost” describe the finish or texture of an eyeshadow. They mean that the eyeshadow has a lot of very finely-milled reflective particles embedded in it, which makes it very smooth-looking yet reflective.
When there are a few differently-colored pieces of reflective pigment in a metallic eyeshadow, the result can be even more astounding and complex. For example, having a mix of white, pink, and light purple pigments leads to a pearlescent shift, while greens, blues, and purples can lead to an opalescent effect. Some eyeshadows can shift to appear very differently colored depending on how the light hits them, which makes them “duo-chromes.”
On the opposite side of the texture spectrum, there are matte eyeshadows, which have absolutely no reflective effect to them. As a result, they look a little darker and flatter than metallics. Some matte eyeshadows will have a few shimmery pieces embedded in them, which are usually not enough to create extreme shine but still add just a subtle hint of sparkle when light hits the individual pieces.
In between, there are satin-finish eyeshadows, which have an about-equal ratio of reflective and matte pigments that are extremely finely milled. This leads to a semi-reflective sheen that is not as blinding as a metallic and can be very flattering no matter how it’s applied.
Finally, there are glitter eyeshadows, which are perhaps the most intriguing. Recently, glitter eyeshadows have become very popular, although their safety isn’t always guaranteed. They’re usually made of reflective PET, which is a type of plastic. This is in contrast to the reflective minerals that most sparkly eyeshadows are made of. The result is large flecks of very dramatic glitter, though if those chunks get into the eyes, they can cause corneal abrasions, even with cosmetic-grade glitter.
Photos via @leighdickson, Instagram