A neutral palette that features 12 shades for a variety of looks. Includes colors with shimmery and matte finishes. Goes on smoothly and wears well throughout the day. Rich, buildable pigmentation.
Falls on the higher end of the price range, but you get superior eyeshadows for what you pay.
Attractive shades that complement most skin tones. Includes a powdered eyeliner and eyeshadow and eyeliner applicators. Available in several color combinations, including mauve and neutral brown tones. Long 8-hour wear.
Some of the shades are quite shimmery, which may not appeal to everyone or be practical for all casual occasions.
Generates enthusiasm for the 12 rich neutral shades that blend easily. Long-wearing shades don't tend to crease. Have a velvet-like feel on the skin. Can be applied naturally or layered. Company is cruelty-free.
Rare reports of crumbled shadows upon arrival.
Highly-pigmented eyeshadow in eight neutral shades. Easy to apply and blend. Silky smooth, weightless texture on the skin. Mineral formula is gentle around sensitive eyes. Last up to 12 hours.
Some colors look different in person. Tend to fade throughout the day.
Neutral colors that are practical for any occasion, including everyday wear. Shadows feel soft on the skin, and offer long wear. Can be used to highlight other areas of the face, such as cheekbones. A little color goes a long way. Cruelty-free.
Some customers complain of subpar applicator brushes. Shades can appear too dark if applied with a heavy hand.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
Whether you’re going for that alluring smoky-eye look or a bright, shimmery style for every day, it all begins with eyeshadow. There are thousands of eyeshadow types, hues, and finishes on the market, but if you want to pull off an eye-catching look, you have to start with the right product.
So what are you waiting for? Check out our top five recommended eyeshadows above, or keep reading to learn more about what makes an eyeshadow palette stand out from the crowd.
Everyone’s familiar with powder eyeshadow, but there are other types as well, each with its own benefits and drawbacks. The first step to choosing the right eyeshadow is choosing the type you want. Your primary options are pressed powder, loose powder, cream eyeshadow, and stick eyeshadow.
Pressed powder eyeshadow is pressed inside a container and applied with a wand. It doesn’t flake or leave a mess, and it spreads easily on the skin. You can build/blend color with this type of eyeshadow as necessary. A lot of people like pressed powder eyeshadow because it costs less than other types and doesn’t build up in your eye crease the way cream eyeshadow can. The disadvantage of pressed powder is that it doesn’t stay on as long as the other types.
As the name implies, loose powder eyeshadow is powder that has not been pressed. It has long been a favorite among makeup artists and those interested in creating a bold, vibrant look. You can quickly build up a bright color without using much powder. Like pressed eyeshadow powder, loose eyeshadow powder doesn’t adhere as well to skin as cream eyeshadow, so it’s best used with a primer. Loose powder can also be messy if spilled.
Cream eyeshadow is prized for its long-lasting color, easy blendability, and ability to pull double duty as a primer for powder eyeshadow. Cream eyeshadow goes on creamy but eventually dries to either a matte or shimmery finish, depending on the type you use. Some people find that cream eyeshadow has more of a tendency to build up in their creases. If this is a problem for you, you’d probably be better off with a powder eyeshadow.
Stick eyeshadows are essentially eyebrow crayons. You apply a small amount directly to your lid and rub it in with your finger. In texture, stick eyeshadow is similar to a cream eyeshadow, though it may be a little waxier. It’s a great option to have in your purse for on-the-go touch-ups, but on the downside, each crayon only comes in one color. If you like having a palette of choices, stick eyeshadow simply isn’t as convenient.
Rich color for every occasion
The Laura Mercier Extreme Neutrals palette boasts 12 rich matte and shimmery shades that can be mixed and matched for an infinite number of looks. Its creamy texture goes on smooth, stays on long, and builds up easily to give you a bold, show-stopping look.
Which eyeshadow colors are right for you? Here’s a bit of advice. If you’re new to makeup or looking for a versatile palette, go with something nude. Nude shades go with any outfit, and they transition well from day to night looks. Most nude palettes come with a handful of shades ranging from white to black with yellows, beiges, tans, grays, and even reddish colors in between.
If you’re looking for more color than a nude palette provides, you should choose hues that enhance the color of your eyes.
If you have blue eyes, it’s best to stay away from anything too dark. Stick to lighter colors like coral, orange, or champagne. If you’re going for a metallic look, try gold or bronze.
If you have brown eyes, you’re one of the lucky ones because you can wear just about any eyeshadow color. Neutral shades can make your eyes pop while still being casual enough for every day. But if you’re dressing up for a night out, don’t be afraid to go bold with bright colors and a lot of pigment.
If you have green or hazel eyes, stick to shades that are pink or red. Purple can also work. You don’t want to go with anything too dark, though, because it will overpower the natural beauty of your eyes.
If you have gray eyes, the best thing you can do is play that up with a steely gray eyeshadow. You can also try some lighter blue shades if you don’t want to go that neutral.
Don’t rub your eyes if you get eyeshadow in them. The product could actually scratch your eyes and result in an infection.
You may be familiar with matte and metallic finishes, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to eyeshadows. Think about what kind of look you’re going for, and choose a palette that can accommodate it. The most common types of finishes include the following.
Most eyeshadow palettes contain a combination of these finishes, so you can mix and match them as you choose. It’s common to start with matte shades for your base color and then layer shimmery shades on top, but it all depends on the look you’re going for.
Matte: A matte finish has no sparkle or shine. These eyeshadows are highly pigmented and often much drier than the other types. They may even have a chalky texture. Matte finishes work for any age, but they’re a favorite among mature ladies who don’t want to draw attention to their fine lines because they don’t tend to build up in the eye crease as much.
Satin: Satin is a happy medium between a matte finish and all the various shine finishes listed below. It looks good on all skin types and offers a deep, vibrant color.
Frost: Frost eyeshadows have an iridescent finish and are highly reflective. They generally come in cooler tones. Frost eyeshadow can build up in your creases, so it’s not recommended for mature skin.
Metallic: Metallic eyeshadow is similar to frost eyeshadow, but the hue is usually warmer – think gold and bronze instead of icy blue. These eyeshadows can be used on all skin tones, but they’re especially flattering on darker skin.
Pearl: Pearl eyeshadows are generally less pigmented than the ones listed above. There is a slight iridescent shimmer similar to frost eyeshadow, but the overall look is softer.
Shimmer: Shimmer eyeshadows fall somewhere between the softness of pearl and the shininess of metallic shades. They have the same light luster you get in a pearl eyeshadow with the extra pigmentation found in metallic eyeshadow.
Glitter: This one is pretty self-explanatory. But as anyone who has ever worn glitter knows, it doesn’t always stay on for long. Make sure you use a primer and setting spray to prevent the glitter from flaking off onto your face as the day wears on.
Velvety smooth and stays in place
TheBalm NUDE ‘tude Eyeshadow Palette makes your eyes pop with its bright natural shades that glide on don’t build up in your creases. It comes with a special double-ended brush so you can easily get into your creases and blend colors together for a seamless transition.
You can find a basic drugstore eyeshadow palette for under $5, but if you’re interested in a quality product that blends easily and will last all day, you’re going to have to spend a little more.
There’s a noticeable difference in quality once you cross the $30 threshold. These products tend to spread more easily and have better pigment, so you don’t have to use as much at a time.
Some people find themselves tempted to go with a cheaper palette that offers every color of the rainbow, but before you do that, ask yourself: how often are you really going to wear lime green eyeshadow? You may feel like you’re getting more for your money with a large palette of colors, but when it comes to beauty products – especially eyeshadow – quality is much more important than quantity.
Adding a few drops of rubbing alcohol to broken powder shadow can put it back together again.
Go with a medium or dark shade in your crease to give your eyes some depth.
Apply primer before you apply your eyeshadow, and finish with setting spray. This will help your eyeshadow stay on longer.
Applying a matte white eyeshadow first will help any colors placed on top really pop.
Keep darker shades toward the outside corners of your eyes. Using them near the inside corners can cause your eyes to look too close together.
Apply your eye makeup first, before the rest of your face. This helps prevent eyeshadow from falling onto your cheeks and ruining your other makeup.
Learn about your eye shape and color your eyes in a way that accentuates this.
Q. Does eyeshadow expire?
A. Yes. Like all makeup products, eyeshadow will eventually expire. They are usually good for six months to two years, depending on the brand. Continuing to use an eyeshadow product beyond this date could result in eye irritation or even infection.
Q. How do I get a rich, vibrant color?
A. There are a few ways to go about this. You can easily build up any eyeshadow by gently patting it onto the lid until you achieve the desired effect. Be careful not to apply too much, though, or it may settle in your creases. You could also try using loose eyeshadow powder, as mentioned above. Or, you could dip your brush in a bit of water first and then into the eyeshadow. This method also results in a much richer pigment.
Q. What’s the most effective way to apply eyeshadow?
A. Begin at the interior and work your way out, layering darker colors over lighter ones. Then, blend the colors together with a blending brush. This will give you a gradual transition between the colors without dulling them.