Features 12 different neutral shades in mattes and shimmers. Easy to blend and has good pigmentation. Great for creating full eye looks.
Palettes occasionally break while in transit.
Single shadows are available in a wide variety of colors and in matte, pearl, and sparkle shades. Easy to apply. Some shades offer different dimensions of color in one shade.
Some of the shades aren't very pigmented.
Available in 12 different quad color combinations. Lasts up to 16 hours without creasing. Can be used for both natural and dramatic eye looks.
Some shades have a lot of fallout.
Each palette has 16 different coordinating shades. Available in 4 different color collections. Cruelty-free. Includes matte and shimmer shades. Easy to apply.
Some of the shades aren't very pigmented and each shade is fairly small.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
If you want to draw attention to your eyes, makeup is the easiest way to do it. Eyeshadow, in particular, allows you to play with color, finish, and texture to really highlight your eyes. But whether you’ve just started wearing makeup or are an experienced makeup junkie, drugstore eyeshadow is a perfect option if you want to experiment with various looks.
Drugstore eyeshadows are available in several different formulas, so there’s an option no matter your skin type. You can find plenty of shadow singles, duos, trios, and quads at the drugstore, but eyeshadow palettes with five or more colors are also more common among affordable brands in recent years. Drugstore eyeshadow options have improved when it comes to finish and color choices too.
Drugstore eyeshadow is available in several different formulas. Each one has its own texture and application method.
Pressed powder eyeshadows are the most common option at the drugstore and the most popular eyeshadow formula overall. These are finely milled powders mixed with binders and fillers that are then pressed into pans. Pressed powder shadow is available in a wide range of colors and finishes and is usually applied with a brush or sponge-tipped applicator.
Loose powder eyeshadows, also known as eyeshadow pigments, are also made with finely milled powder, but they don’t contain any binders. The shadow has a loose texture and typically comes in a small pot or jar. Loose powder eyeshadows can provide more intense color than pressed options, but they can be messy to apply.
Cream eyeshadows have a soft, creamy texture and come in small jars or pots. They’re usually applied with clean fingers, but synthetic brushes also work well. Cream shadows are more hydrating than powder formulas, but they don’t hold up as well to heat and humidity. They can be used on their own or serve as a base for powder eyeshadow.
Pencils are an alternative to cream shadows that work well for application on the go. Eyeshadow pencils also have a creamy texture, but they come in pencil or crayon form, allowing you to swipe them over your eyelids directly from the tube.
Liquid eyeshadows come in tubes that resemble lip gloss or liquid lipstick. They have a thin, wet consistency, but they dry once applied to the lids. You usually apply liquid shadow with a doe-foot applicator built into the cap.
Loose powder, cream, pencil, and liquid eyeshadows are typically sold as singles at the drugstore, but powder eyeshadows are available with more shade options. You can definitely find single powder eyeshadows if you need a specific shade, but you’ll usually get a better value if you buy a compact with multiple shades.
Duos contain two colors that usually complement each other so you can use them together.
Trios feature three eyeshadow colors that work together to create an entire eye look.
Quads contain four eye colors that work together to create a complete look. Some even allow you to create more than one look.
Palettes typically contain five or more eyeshadow shades. Palettes have become much more common at the drugstore in recent years and allow you to create multiple eye looks.
Shimmery eyeshadows are best used on the lid and brow bone because they help attract the light. Darker, matte shades work best in the crease.
Fillers: Compared with high-end or luxury brand eyeshadows, drugstore eyeshadows typically contain more fillers. In some cases, that means the drugstore eyeshadows aren’t as pigmented as more expensive options.
However, some drugstore formulas offer higher-quality ingredients than others. Talc is commonly used as a base filler in cheaper drugstore eyeshadows, but it can give the shadow a chalky, dry finish. Formulas that use mica as a base are usually more flattering on the skin because they have more of a glow.
Binders: In addition to fillers, eyeshadows also contain binders that help the eyeshadow hold together. Drugstore eyeshadows often use zinc or magnesium derivatives as binders. It also helps to choose eyeshadow formulas with ingredients that give the makeup more “slip,” so they glide smoothly over the skin. Look for eyeshadows that contain ingredients like silica, dimethicone, boron nitride, or bismuth oxychloride for easier application.
Waxes and oils: Cream, pencil, and liquid eyeshadows contain waxes and oils instead of powder ingredients, which helps liquefy the shadow. Typical ingredients for cream and liquid shadows include jojoba oil, castor oil, shea butter, beeswax, and silicone. These ingredients are more emollient, so cream shadows usually work better for mature skin or anyone with dry eyelids.
Drugstore eyeshadows are available in several different finishes, depending on the look you’re going for.
Satin eyeshadows have a slight sheen that can be very flattering for all skin types. You can find many satin eyeshadows at the drugstore.
Metallic eyeshadows have a high-shine finish that resembles metal. They can look incredibly flattering on darker skin tones, but those with mature skin should usually avoid metallic shadows since they can settle in fine lines and wrinkles. You can find a good number of metallic eyeshadows at the drugstore.
Shimmer eyeshadows are slightly sheer but have some sparkle to them. You can find many shimmer eyeshadows at the drugstore.
Glitter eyeshadows have noticeable glitter particles for a bold look. They don’t always adhere well to the skin, so they may require you to apply a base first. You can find some glitter eyeshadows at the drugstore.
Matte eyeshadows are usually intensely pigmented, but they don’t contain any shine, sheen, or glitter. They’re suitable for all skin types and are extremely useful for shaping and defining the eyes. In the past, it could be difficult to find high-quality matte shadows at the drugstore. However, many drugstore brands have introduced excellent matte shadows in recent years that provide plenty of pigment and aren’t too dry.
You can find nearly any color shadow you might want at the drugstore. You’ll have the widest range of options if you prefer natural or neutral shades like taupe, brown, beige, and gray. If you prefer brighter shades like purple, pink, blue, or green, you’ll still find multiple options, but the selection is more limited.
Many drugstore eyeshadows include some type of applicator. Most come with a small sponge-tipped wand, but some larger drugstore palettes include a small brush.
Eyeshadow primer: A good eyeshadow primer can make even a lower-quality eyeshadow last all day.
Makeup brushes: You can use the sponge-tipped applicators that come with your drugstore eyeshadow, but you’ll achieve a better look if you use makeup brushes.
Eyeliner: If you want to add further definition to your eyes after applying shadow, the right eyeliner can do the trick. You can also choose waterproof eyeliner if you're concerned about your eye makeup running.
Drugstore eyeshadow varies in price based on the formula, the number of shades, and the quality of the ingredients. Most drugstore eyeshadows cost between $1 and $20.
The most affordable drugstore eyeshadows are usually single, duo, or trio powder eyeshadows with low- to average-quality ingredients. These typically cost between $1 and $6.
These drugstore eyeshadows are usually powder duos, trios, and quads of higher quality, as well as cream, liquid, and pencil formulas with average- to high-quality ingredients. They generally cost between $6 and $12.
The most expensive drugstore eyeshadows are usually palettes that contain more than five shades. Those with five to eight shadows generally cost between $10 and $15, but you can pay as much as $20 for a palette with ten or more shades.
Cream shadow is best applied with clean fingers or a synthetic brush. Natural bristle brushes usually can’t blend the formula as well.
A. With any eyeshadow, you’ll always get much better wear if you start with an eyeshadow primer. It creates a barrier that keeps the oils in your skin from breaking down the shadow and causing it to crease. If you’re using a liquid or cream eyeshadow, you might want to apply a translucent powder over the shadow to set it in place.
A. Layering cream or liquid eyeshadow with a powdered shadow in a similar shade is the best way to intensify the pigmentation. Apply the cream or liquid shadow first, then use a flat shader brush to pat the powdered shadow over it. The cream shadow will help deepen the powdered shadow’s pigmentation, so it has more impact on your eyes.
A. Like all makeup products, eyeshadow has an expiration date. Powdered eyeshadows are usually good for a couple of years, while cream and liquid formulas expire in six months to a year.