As a big fan of eyeshadow and someone who is constantly researching the latest and greatest beauty products, you can take it from me that there are a ton of options out there. My head actually starts to spin just thinking about the sheer number of eyeshadows you can buy. That being said, you may be tricked into thinking that the best eyeshadows come from higher-end (and typically, more expensive) brands. I’m here to tell you that that’s simply not the case. While luxury names boast great eyeshadow palettes and powders, drugstore brands like NYX, e.l.f., and Maybelline offer options that work just as well.
If you don’t believe me, take it from the pros. Pro makeup artist Disco tells Marie Claire that higher-end eyeshadows “absolutely” compare to drugstore versions. “I think the makeup industry is very similar to the fashion industry in that eventually, those high-end formulas will have a drugstore version,” she explains. “The higher-end brands might have that new formula first, but if you can wait it out, a counterpart will make its way to the drugstore soon enough.”
So there you have it—quality eyeshadow doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. As further proof, we’ve rounded up the only eyeshadows worth your attention at the drugstore. Whether you love glittery shadows, cling to neutral shades, or prefer your eyeshadows creamy, this list has an under-$20 option for everyone. We even threw in a few makeup artist favorites, too. The next time you pick up your prescriptions, you’re going to want to swing by the makeup aisle for these pigmented, long-lasting eyeshadows.
What to Look For in Drugstore Eyeshadow
Like I mentioned before, there are about a million and one products out there when it comes to eyeshadows. To whittle down your options, you need to first decide on your personal needs as the drugstore makeup department has plenty of distractions, notes Disco. For example, you may only need one or two shades or maybe you’re looking for an entire palette. Disco says, “This will cut down your options significantly and then you can hone in on texture and shade. Is it a cream or powder? Is it a neutral or a vibrant color?” Lucky for you, we have options for any preference ready to go, below.
Additionally, celebrity makeup artist Zara Kaplan advises that pigmentation is major when it comes to eyeshadow at the drugstore. “Pigment is one of the biggest things to look at when searching for an eyeshadow palette,” she says. “If the colors look rich and punchy, that should be a good indication that the color payoff will be good!”
- Best Overall Drugstore Eyeshadow: NYX Professional Makeup Ultimate Eye Shadow Palette (opens in new tab)
- Best Drugstore Eyeshadow Palette: Milani UnGilded Most Loved Mattes Eyeshadow Palette (opens in new tab)
- Best Creme Drugstore Eyeshadow: Revlon ColorStay Crème Eyeshadow (opens in new tab)
- Best Matte Drugstore Eyeshadow: Physicians Formula Matte Monoi Butter Eyeshadow Palette (opens in new tab)
- Best Shimmer Drugstore Eyeshadow: L’Oreal Paris Infallible 24 HR Eyeshadow (opens in new tab)
The Best Drugstore Eyeshadow Palettes and Pressed Powders
Best Overall Drugstore Eyeshadow
Filled with 16 shades with a mix of finishes, this is a neutral eyeshadow lover's dream palette. You can create just about any look with this palette's mix of browns, champagnes, and rust shades and I guarantee these neutrals work for any skin tone. This also comes pro-approved as Kaplan says this is one of her three favorite drugstore palettes that "deliver really high-quality eyeshadows with rich pigments and great blendability." Coming in at $18, we consider this pick a steal.
Pros: Pro-approved; Comes with 16 colors; Highly pigmented; Includes a mix of finishes; Blendable; Has a range of undertones; Good value.
Cons: Packaging feels a bit cheap.
Best Travel-Friendly Drugstore Eyeshadow
For those that struggle with picking out corresponding shades on a large palette (we've all been there), this eyeshadow quad is for you. These shades are expertly paired to create an effortless eye makeup look, with a color to highlight and for the lid, crease, and outer corner. From pretty rose tones (shown here) to fun "jalapeño" colored shadows, there's a range of shades to chose from that all come in a "bite-sized" compact. Did I mention this palette costs less than a cup of coffee?
Pros: Highly pigmented; Travel-friendly; Blendable; Applies smoothly; Comes with a mix of matte and shimmer shades; Good value.
Cons: Shimmery shades have a bit of fallout; Reviewers note this palette can break easily.
Best Bright Drugstore Eyeshadow
Sometimes, neutral shades don't cut it. In that case, this bright palette from Makeup Revolution is there for you. Another favorite of Kaplan's, this palette is amply named "Euphoria," and with its fun rainbow shades, you can easily recreate looks from the hit HBO show. It also has a mix of matte and shimmer finishes for even more versatility with your looks. For an easy colored eyeliner look, dampen an angled shadow brush and pick your favorite shade to use along the lash-line.
Pros: Pro-approved; Blendable; Highly pigmented; Comes with a mix of matte and shimmer shades; Comes with 15 shades; Good value; Vegan.
Cons: Reviewers note this palette can break easily.
Best Pro-Approved Drugstore Eyeshadow
Although Colourpop isn't technically available at drugstores, it definitely has drugstore pricing. Plus the brand can be found at Ulta inside some Target stores so we'll let it slide since they have a great selection of shadows. "The shadows are a favorite among the artist community and I use them on my clients and on myself," Disco adds. "They offer a wide variety of colors and textures and they are so easy to blend." Disco likes to buy these single eyeshadows to put into one of her Kitpak Magnetic Compacts to create her own custom palette that's smaller than an iPhone.
Pros: Wide shade range; Highly-pigmented; Pro-approved; Blendable; Applies smoothly; Available in a range of finishes.
Cons: Singles are only available online.
Best Drugstore Eyeshadow Palette
Milani is a drugstore brand not to be slept on. Aside from their lovely baked blushes, they have quite a few eyeshadow palettes worthy of your attention. This 12-pan palette, which is another drugstore favorite of Kaplan's, is made up of matte reds, pinks, and browns that would complement so many skin tones. Each shade feels velvety smooth and you'll only need a swipe thanks to its high color payoff. Mix and match shades to your will, or, if you look closely, there's four distinct looks arranged in columns.
Pros: Pro-approved; Highly-pigmented; Blendable; Applies smoothly.
Cons: Only includes matte shades.
Best Drugstore Eyeshadow Single
If you have a go-to eyeshadow look, it probably doesn't make sense to buy an entire palette of colors you may never use. Instead, turn to single shadows in the shades you really want. These little compacts feature a big pan of shadow, meaning you get more bang for your buck. From electric blue to a matte cream, each shade packs an impressive amount of color payoff and reviewers say they are incredibly long-lasting.
Pros: Blendable; Long-wearing; Highly-pigmented; Big pan size; Available in a range of finishes.
Cons: Reviewers note some colors are different than they appear online; May be easy to break.
Best Statement Drugstore Eyeshadow
If you're bored of neutrals, red-toned eyeshadow can be a killer look. I personally turn to reddish shades when I really want my green eyes to pop. That being said, this warm-toned palette has the perfect set of colors to make a statement. Each shade is easily blendable so you can layer the shades together for a multi-dimensional look. Or if you prefer a simple wash of color, wear a shade on its own. You'll only need one swipe for high-impact color.
Pros: Includes a mix of matte and shimmery shades; Highly-pigmented; Long-wearing; Blendable.
Cons: Packaging feels a bit cheap.
Best Matte Drugstore Eyeshadow
The key word of this eyeshadow palette is "butter." These eyeshadows are packed with a blend of monoi, murumuru, cupuacu, and tucuma butters to provide extra moisture to your delicate eyelids, not to mention they apply just like butter on the lid. They may look like powder shadows, but they apply as smoothly as a cream. Physicians Formula is also a great brand if you have sensitive skin, as all of their products are created with hypoallergenic ingredients.
Pros: Applies smoothly; Highly pigmented; Great for sensitive skin; Long-wearing; Blendable.
Cons: Some shades have a smaller amount than others.
Best Budget Drugstore Eyeshadow
At just $1, these single eyeshadows are a great option to throw in your bag for quick touchups. And if eyeshadow is a bit hard for you to master, a single swipe of color across the lid is an easy way for you to amp up your eye makeup. These shades are vibrant and long-wearing—exactly what we want in an eyeshadow. We only wish there were more colors to choose from.
Pros: Good value; Highly pigmented; Long-wearing; Blendable.
Cons: Could have a wider shade range; May be easy to break.
The Best Drugstore Cream and Liquid Eyeshadows
Best Drugstore Eyeshadow Stick
Eyeshadow sticks are a makeup beginner's best friend—simply swipe the creamy, easy-to-handle pigments across the lid for an effortless glam look. Mix and match shades to your heart's content (these are available in eight metallic shades plus eight matte shades (opens in new tab)), or choose your favorite for a one-and-done look. Either way, your look will last the entire day without budging or fading, hence the name. These handy sticks also include a built-in sharpener for extra sharp lines, every time.
Pros: Long-wearing; Offered in 16 metallic and matte shades; Applies smoothly; Smudge-proof; Includes a built-in sharpener.
Cons: Reviewers note some colors don't match the website's description.
Best Shimmery Drugstore Eyeshadow
For fans of a shimmery and metallic finish, you can't be L’Oreal's Infallible 24 HR Eyeshadow. These little pots hold lots of product, which at first feels like a powder, but then they turn ultra creamy and feel velvety smooth. These eyeshadows also deliver the prettiest metallic colors in a single swipe thanks to their intense pigmentation. Like the name suggests, these shadows won't fail you, either. They are waterproof, crease-proof, and last up to 24 hours of wear.
Pros: Highly pigmented; Long-wearing; Waterproof; Non-creasing; Applies smoothly.
Cons: Only available in shimmery and metallic finishes.
Best Creme Drugstore Eyeshadow
ICYMI, I'm obsessed with Revlon's Colorstay Liquid Eyeliner. Well, I'm happy to report the same incredible staying power of the brand's liner extends to this eyeshadow. This pick features an ultra-creamy texture that dries down for a long-lasting finish. So long, in fact, that the brand says it can last for up to 24 hours. All 12 color options have a great color payoff, too, so there's no need to layer for an opaque color. This pick has over 8,000 5-star reviews on Amazon, so you know it's good.
Pros: Long-wearing; Waterproof; Highly pigmented; Glides on smoothly; Comes with a brush; Available in shimmery and matte shades.
Cons: Reviewers note the packaging is hard to open.
Best Glitter Drugstore Eyeshadow
Yet another NYX shadow has made the list, and it isn't the last, either. These tubes offer shimmery, bright color in an easy-to-use liquid formula. Colors range from a super-fun strawberry (pictured here) to megawatt gold, but each one gives an illuminating. These are also formulated with vitamin C to brighten your skin as you wear them. These earn bonus points for their multi-use formula—apply on your cheekbones as highlighter or dab on top of lipstick for a shimmery glow.
Pros: Multi-use formula; Highly pigmented; Long-wearing; Vegan; Easy-to-use; Offered in 13 shades.
Cons: Some shades have chunkier glitter than others.
Bet Long-Wearing Drugstore Eyeshadow
Another cream eyeshadow that will last you from day to night is Maybelline's Color Tattoo pots. These might shades stay on your lid (almost) like a tattoo. Each color has the same intensity as permanent ink and will last you up to 24 hours of wear without fading, creasing, or smudging. Plus they are waterproof! Because of their ultra-smooth texture, they are incredibly easy to apply—either swipe on with your finger or use a brush to dab on.
Pros: Long-wearing; Highly pigmented; Available in both shimmery and matte shades; Waterproof; Glides on smoothly; Non-creasing.
Cons: Has less matte shades than shimmer; May be drying on sensitive skin.
Best Multi-Use Drugstore Eyeshadow
For $6, you can get an eye pencil that can do it all. With its extra-thick design, your eyeshadow look will only take seconds with a few swipes. Or take a bright pastel shade (I'm personally obsessed with the pink color, Cupcake), and line your upper lashline for a fun pop of color. Finally, you can use a neutral shade like Milk or Iced Latte across the lid to create a base for other shadows.
Pros: Multi-use; Under $10; Glides on smoothly; Blendable; Offered in 15 shades.
Cons: Difficult to sharpen.
Meet the Experts
Disco is a leading expert in the beauty industry, with over 12 years of experience as a makeup artist. She has worked with international clients and celebrities, and has participated in NYFW for 14 seasons. In addition to her work as a freelance makeup artist, Disco is also the co-founder of Kitpak, a professional makeup organization company.
Zara Kaplan is a British celebrity Makeup Artist currently living in Los Angeles. Having started her career in 2012, Kaplan has since gone on to work with globally renowned brands such as Chanel, La Mer, Louis Vuitton, Kosas Cosmetics, and many more.
Zara’s work has caught the eye of celebrity clients such as Alessia Cara, Stephanie Sheperd, Iskra Lawrence, Peyton List, Taylour Paige, Tylynn Nguyen, Raveena Aurora, and Ally Brooke to name a few, and her work has been recognized in leading publications such as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, ID Magazine, Dazed Magazine, InStyle Magazine and Vanity Fair Italia.
Known for her ‘less is more’ approach when it comes to complexion makeup, she truly believes in enhancing ones beauty rather than masking it and is known for creating beautiful, breathable makeup looks, taking any opportunity to add fun pops of color or accents to any makeup look she creates.
Brooke Knappenberger is the Editorial Fellow at Marie Claire, where she writes across the board from fashion and beauty to books and celebrities. As a pop culture junkie, Brooke obsessively consumes and writes about the latest movie releases, streaming TV shows, and celebrity scandals. She has over three years of experience writing on fashion, beauty, and entertainment and her work has appeared on Looper, NickiSwift, The Sun US, and Vox Magazine of Columbia, Missouri. Brooke obtained her Bachelor's Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism with an emphasis on Magazine Editing and has a minor in Textile and Apparel Management.
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