The 21 Best Drugstore Eyeshadows of 2024

Behold: Gorgeous eye makeup that won't cost you more than $20.

A model wears purple eyeshadow and red lipstick on February 29, 2020 in Paris, France.
(Image credit: Kirstin Sinclair/Getty Images)

As beauty editors who are constantly researching the latest and greatest makeup products, you can take it from us that there are a ton of options out there. Our heads actually start to spin just thinking about the sheer number of eyeshadows you can buy. It's easy to assume the best eyeshadow palettes and foundations come from higher-end (and typically, more expensive) brands, but that’s not always the case. While luxury names boast great formulas, drugstore brands like NYX, e.l.f., and Maybelline offer options that work just as well.

If you don’t believe us, take it from the pros. Professional makeup artist Disco tells Marie Claire that higher-end eyeshadows are “absolutely” comparable 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.”

Celebrity makeup artist Jonet Williamson concurs. "Most people believe that drugstore eyeshadows aren't pigmented or that the formulations aren't long lasting which just isn't true," she says. "What a lot of consumers don't realize is that most drugstore brands are owned by the same parent companies as some of their favorite luxury cosmetic brands, so the quality is still there."

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 cream eyeshadow formulas, this list has an under-$20 option for everyone. We even threw a few makeup artist favorites in, too.

Ahead, discover the best drugstore eyeshadows. The next time you pick up your prescriptions, swing by the makeup aisle and fill your basket.

A selection of drugstore eyeshadows on a tan, floral blanket

A selection of drugstore eyeshadows spread out for freelance beauty writer Sophia Vilensky's testing pleasure.

(Image credit: Sophia Vilensky)

The Best Drugstore Eyeshadows

The Best Drugstore Eyeshadow Palettes and Pressed Powders

On the left: a close up of NYX's Ultimate Color Shadow Palette. On the right: A close-up of Sophia Vilensky wearing shades from the palette.

Vilensky used our favorite drugstore eyeshadow overall—one of NYX's Ultimate Color Shadow Palettes—for a June 2024 wedding.

(Image credit: Sophia Vilensky)

Sophia Vilensky wearing the Milani Gilded Mini Eyeshadow Palette

A quick sweep of nudes from the Milani Gilded Mini Eyeshadow Palette is perhaps the easiest eyeshadow look of all time.

(Image credit: Sophia Vilensky)

Sophia Vilensky wearing Catrice Coral Crush Slim Eyeshadow Palette

The vision while testing Catrice's Coral Crush Slim Eyeshadow Palette? Glitter of course.

(Image credit: Sophia Vilensky)

Sophia Vilensky wearing a rosy color from the Maybelline Shadow Blocks Eyeshadow Palette.

A rosy glow courtesy of Maybelline Shadow Blocks Eyeshadow Palette.

(Image credit: Sophia Vilensky)

Also Recommended

Ava Vilensky wearing Colourpop Pressed Powder Shadow in beige.

Ava Vilensky used Colourpop's wide (and colorful) eyeshadow array for a Pride makeup look.

(Image credit: Sophia Vilensky)

Sophia Vilensky holding her hand up, wearing Lamel's Selflove Eyeshadow Palette.

Just a little pretty sweep of pink with Lamel's Selflove Eyeshadow Palette.

(Image credit: Sophia Vilensky)

The Best Drugstore Cream and Liquid Eyeshadows

Ava Vilensky wearing a brown shirt and CoverGirl Clean Eye Color Eyeshadow Stick

Ava Vilensky putting CoverGirl Clean Eye Color Eyeshadow Sticks to the test.

(Image credit: Sophia Vilensky)

Sophia Vilensky wearing Revlon ColorStay Crème Eyeshadow under eyeliner.

A light sweep of Revlon ColorStay Crème Eyeshadow for a light touch of shimmer.

(Image credit: Sophia Vilensky)

On the left, NYX Ultimate Glow Shots liquid eyeshadow over a brown floral blanket. On the right, a swatch of NYX Ultimate Glow Shots liquid eyeshadow on an hand.

NYX Ultimate Glow Shots Vitamin C Infused Liquid Eyeshadow will not budge. Promise.

(Image credit: Sophia Vilensky)

What to Look For in Drugstore Eyeshadow

  • Personal Needs

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?

“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?” explains Disco.

  • Pigmentation

Celebrity makeup artist Zara Kaplan notes 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!”

How to Wear Drugstore Eyeshadow

Eyeshadow is very much a choose-your-own-adventure makeup medium, and the good news about the best drugstore eyeshadows is they often offer an application guide for the novice makeup artist. Sewell also notes that it's easier to build than take away—start gently.

"The tip with building the best eye look is all about the tools and techniques," she adds. "If you want a sheer wash of color, use a fluffy sparse eyeshadow brush. This will create a soft sheer effect. If you want to pack on pigment, use a smaller, dense brush. The bristles look compact within each other. This will allow you to pick up more products and deposit with more opacity!"

Another tip? Use an eyeshadow primer. "Using a primer for matte shadows helps add to the wear time while wetting a brush with setting spray to apply metallics will bump up the color payoff even more," notes Williamson.

Meet the Experts

Jonet Williamson
Jonet Williamson

Makeup artist Jonet Williamson discovered her love for art at a very early age. While growing up in New Orleans, one of the world's most eclectic and inspiring cities, Williamson was admitted into the gifted art program of her magnet high school. Here is where she began to master color theory, symmetry, texture, and innovation. From paint brushes to makeup brushes, she has used those same skills to solidify her style as a pro within the beauty industry.

In 2005, Williamson began her journey in beauty working as a makeup artist for M.A.C. Cosmetics. Here the feeling of connecting with other women and helping them see the beauty within themselves became her greatest passion.

With a willingness to learn and an eye for perfection, Williamson moved to New York City in 2014 determined to further her artistry and career. Since then, her work has been featured in commercial campaigns (Dolce & Gabanna, Levis, Shea Moisture), editorials (Essence, L'Officiel), and TV and film productions (CBS, MTV, TNT).

A woman with long blonde hair.
Kelli Anne Sewell

Kelli Anne Sewell a Celebrity Makeup Artist & Content Creator based out of New York City. She's originally from Texas, where she graduated from UT Austin (hookem) and started MXKA from her apartment in Austin. After four years of balancing her side hustle with a full-time corporate tech sales job, she took the biggest risk of her life and moved to NYC to chase her dream of becoming a celebrity makeup artist.

Headshot of Disco, pro makeup artist

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 headshot, celebrity makeup artist
Zara Kaplan

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.

Sophia Vilensky
Freelance Writer

Sophia Vilensky is a Freelance Beauty Writer at Marie Claire with a beauty, wellness, and entertainment journalism portfolio that includes contributions to Byrdie, Bravo, Teen Vogue, and Us Weekly. Growing up in a family of beauticians—and through her own personal studies—she developed an in-depth understanding of aesthetics, cosmetic product formulation, and beauty treatment development and has also held roles as a senior copywriter, content strategist, and proofreader for top beauty and wellness brands. Even so, you'd be hard pressed to find her with her hair and makeup actually done. Sophia is based in Minneapolis and is a 2019 graduate of the University of Minnesota, where she majored in English and minored in cinema studies. During her time at the university, she was the Arts & Entertainment Editor for the Minnesota Daily, earning the 2019 Editor of the Year award for her work. She connected deeply with the Twin Cities arts scene, collaborating with leading beauty professionals, designers, and artists. Graduating Summa Cum Laude, her thesis—a close-reading of Vanderpump Rules—was featured on NPR. When not immersed in writing or testing new products, Sophia enjoys watching reality TV, reading, and exploring the newest woo-woo wellness trends. Keep up with her on Instagram @sophiavilensky.