The Best Eye Shadow

Close-up of eyes with purple and blue eyeshadow.

Buying Guide for Eye Shadow

Many colors of eyeshadow pencils drawing a rainbow of shimmering makeup lines on white paper.

Why buy eye shadow?

The right eye shadow can enhance the look of your eyes by adding color contrast with dazzling pigments. You can go for a more editorial high-fashion makeup look with glitter or bold colors or a natural style that uses tones close to your skin color. If you’re just getting into eye shadow, it’s fun to play and experiment, whether at home with your vanity mirror or on TikTok or Instagram.

What should you consider in eye shadow?

  • Shades: When choosing eye shadow, choose a color or palette that best suits your eye color. If you have brown eyes, shades of plum, lavender, blue, and gold will highlight or enhance your eyes. If you have green eyes, you may consider reds, pinks, oranges, or gold to really make your eyes pop. For hazel eyes, experts recommend using purples and rich browns; for blue eyes, they recommend ambers, coppers, and earth tones.
  • Application: Many eye shadow palettes come with a sponge applicator that many expert makeup artists recommend that you toss right into the trash. Why? Makeup brushes are more precise and blend your eye shadow better. However, some eye shadows and palettes aren’t made from powder and are in the form of a liquid or pencil. You can easily smear the makeup onto your eyelid, then blend it with your finger or a brush.
  • Building and Blending: It’s important to understand that most eye makeup isn’t meant to be one-dimensional. To make your eyes pop, you can build on a rich color by adding several layers, or you can blend colors, creating depth and a more balanced, professional look.

What are some tips for applying eye shadow?

A high-quality eye shadow will be easy to apply and apply evenly. However, some eye shadows may be patchy or leave creases. To avoid this, you can first use an eye shadow primer to make it smooth and more seamless. It is also best to apply a little bit at a time so that you don’t waste any product if you do not like the result. If you’re going for a smokey, blown-out full-face look, apply your eye shadow with a fluffy brush to make it more dramatic. For natural looks where you may use only one to two colors, you could apply with your fingers or brush, depending on the consistency of the eye shadow.

Our Picks for the Best Eye Shadow

Pros: You don’t need an arsenal of professional-grade brushes to achieve a great eye shadow look. This pigmented pencil glides on smoothly and blends just like a powder. With the precision of a pencil, you can add a pop of color or highlight to your creases or along your eye line. And it can be used as a highlighter for your water line, as an eyeliner, or just about anywhere you’d like to add a little highlight to your face. The colors are buildable as well as blendable. Plus, this brand is PETA-certified cruelty-free, never testing its products on animals. This eye shadow pencil comes in myriad shades and even some sparkly hues to intensify your look.

Cons: The colors are not very intense, so you may need to layer them to achieve your desired look. Also, these pencils are a little messy to sharpen.

Bottom Line: For fun highlighting eye shadow without powders or brushes, this eye shadow pencil is a great choice. It’s made by a well-known cosmetics brand and is also an affordable option.

 

Pros: This giftable eye shadow palette has 12 shades in each set. The available color palettes include neutral shimmers, neon colors, a smoky palette, and “ultra,” which contains rich purples, plums, and shimmering pinks. Each shade adds depth and dimension to your look to enjoy experimenting on yourself or your friends. Each palette has a mirror and a professional-grade double-sided eye shadow brush for flawless application. Best of all, this eye shadow stays in place all day long.

Cons: The makeup brush doesn’t always stay inside the palette.

Bottom Line: You’ll get a lot of bang for your buck with this 12-piece eye shadow set. It’s beginner-friendly, so it would make a great gift for teens or adults who are just entering their makeup journey.

 

Pros: You won’t need expensive brushes with this eye shadow stick. It stars as cream and finishes as a powder, gliding smoothly and blending effortlessly to create your best look with any shade or combination of shades. And with over 30 high-pigmented shades, this brand offers mattes, shimmers, and metallics to enhance your face any time, day or night. Also, this eye shadow stick hydrates and moisturizes with a vitamin-enriched formula. It’s made with strong staying power and won’t smudge or budge until you wash it off.

Cons: The blending sponge acts more like an eraser than a blender, and you’re better off blending with your finger.

Bottom Line: This eye shadow is a great choice for a buildable, highly pigmented look that will last all day. It glides on smoothly, and it comes in a variety of fun, shimmering colors.

 

Pros: This mineral eye shadow gives your skin a subtle, shimmering glow. It’s a great go-to shade for everyday wear, especially if you want to look natural and not be too formal. The pigment is made from pure, dermatologist-recommended minerals, and the application lasts all day. You can add more dimension if you choose to build your eye shadow look, or you can enjoy a subtle sheer and shimmering highlight. This eye shadow is easy to apply and goes on smoothly with your favorite makeup brush. Plus, it’s small and compact, and the packaging is top-notch.

Cons: This eye shadow is more expensive than similar brands and can be messy.

Bottom Line: Many people love an easy, natural everyday look, and this eye shadow delivers. It’s easy, sheen, and has a youthful finish.

 

Pros: With a lightweight texture, this water-infused eye shadow glides on and then dries down smoothly, locking in sparkle. And since there’s minimal fallout, you won’t have to worry about glitter shedding everywhere—a real nightmare for some. It’s made to be long-wear and is smudgeproof, so you can shimmer in confidence all day or throughout the evening. The colors are a mix of pearly powder with glitter added in for extra shine. Each package comes with 10 tubes of liquid eye shadow in a durable, giftable box.

Cons: Since this eye shadow goes on thin, you may need two to three coats for fierce color.

Bottom Line: This is a fantastic eye shadow palette for people who hate to be boring. The eye shadow has a soft and silky feel that’s comfortable to wear, and the colors are varied enough to have a lot of fun experimenting with your look.

Final Thoughts

Eye shadow is a makeup staple every good artist has in their makeup kit. Whether you enjoy pencil eye shadows or powders, you can find lush shades that complement the color of your eyes. With some practice and know-how, you can achieve professional artist looks with your favorite eye shadow.

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