The 17 Best Drugstore Eyeshadow Palettes for Budget-Friendly Glam

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Byrdie / Sabrina Jiang

If you ask us, it's always worth scoping out all your options when buying makeup. Drugstore products have always held an important place in the cosmetics industry, and for good reason. For instance, eyeshadow palettes can cost a pretty penny at luxury retailers. But believe it or not, there are tons of show-stopping kits from fallback drugstore brands like NYX, e.l.f., L'Oreal, Maybelline, and Revlon, plus a few up-and-comers.

"Nowadays, you don't have to splurge with a high-end price point," says pro makeup artist Maria Gianno. "Drugstore makeup is competitively priced, has excellent formulation, and comes in a wide variety of products. I find many high-end dupes at the drugstore, which I reach for just as often as my more expensive makeup." 

The best part is, you don't have to set foot in an actual pharmacy to score top-notch products. Some key components you'll want to look for are a versatile shade range, as well as a mix of mattes and shimmers so you can create varied looks. To make things even easier on you, we rounded up the crème de la crème of affordable eyeshadow palettes you can buy online, including a few makeup artists' recs.

Here, the best drugstore eyeshadow palettes.

Best Overall: NYX Professional Makeup Ultimate Shadow Palette

4.8
NYX Cosmetics Warm Neutrals Ultimate Shadow Palette

Courtesy of Ulta

What We Like
  • Includes warm and cool shades

  • A good mix of matte and shimmer shades

  • Buildable

What We Don't Like
  • Packaging could be improved

Who else recommends it? Insider and StyleCraze both picked the NYX Professional Makeup Ultimate Shadow Palette.

What do buyers say? 88% of 27,000+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.

This eyeshadow kit by NYX pulls out all the stops. It's got a whopping 16 different colors, including warm and cool tones with both matte and shimmery finishes. The velvety powder is impressively pigmented and goes on silky smooth without creasing.

The Ultimate Shadow Palette comes in four color families. Warm Neutrals is the most versatile, Ash is ideal for creating a smoky evening look, and the brighter kits are all about playing around with pops of color.

Number of Shades: 16 | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Budget: e.l.f. Cosmetics Bite Size Eyeshadow Palette

 e.l.f. Cosmetics Bite Size Eyeshadow Palette
What We Like
  • Applies smoothly

  • Pigmented

  • Easy to blend

What We Don't Like
  • Can break easily

"e.l.f.'s Bite-Size Eyeshadow Palette collection is another fantastic find. The palettes are only $3, and you get four beautiful eyeshadow shades," Gianno tells Byrdie.

Number of Shades: 4 | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Nude: Maybelline The Nudes Eyeshadow Palette

4.5
Maybelline The Nudes Eyeshadow Palette

Amazon

What We Like
  • Nice range of matte shades

  • Can be used wet or dry

  • Sheer, light finish

What We Don't Like
  • Could be longer-wearing

Many view The Nudes as a budget-friendly dupe of Urban Decay's Naked Palette—and if you ask us, Maybelline is giving the latter a run for its money. This eyeshadow kit has 12 complexion-complementing colors. The natural shades reflect a broad array of skin tones, ranging from espresso to golden-brown to beige.

Number of Shades: 12 | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Earth Tones: Jason Wu Beauty Flora 9 Eyeshadow Palette

Jason Wu Beauty Flora 9 Eyeshadow Palette
What We Like
  • Shades are comparable to higher-end options

  • Suits many skin tones

  • Available in multiple shade options

What We Don't Like
  • A little expensive

"I've discovered Jason Wu Beauty eyeshadow palettes this year, and I can't get enough," says Gianno. "The quality, pigment, and shade range of his palettes are absolutely amazing!" The Flora 9 kit has nine earth-inspired hues and comes in the option of all matte, all shimmery, or a little of both.

Number of Shades: 9 | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Neutral: e.l.f. Cosmetics The New Classics Eyeshadow Palette

e.l.f. Cosmetics The New Classics Eyeshadow Palette
What We Like
  • Large palette

  • Creates many different looks

  • Easy to blend

What We Don't Like
  • Can break easily

With 18 pans of ultra-pigmented satin, matte, and shimmery shadows, The New Classics has a hue for every occasion. We're talking shades of nude, earthy colors, browns, grays, golds, subtle greens, blush pink, champagne, and a smoky almost-black.

Number of Shades: 18 | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Pigment: Makeup Revolution Forever Flawless Eyeshadow Palette

Makeup Revolution Forever Flawless Eyeshadow Palette
What We Like
  • Large palette

  • Bright, pigmented shades

  • Available in many different shade options

What We Don't Like
  • Can be messy

"My favorite drugstore eyeshadow palettes are Makeup Revolution for the pigment," says Arizona-based makeup artist Felicia Gonzalez. With 18 pans of strikingly vibrant powders in matte, shimmery, and glittery finishes, the Forever Flawless kit is all you need to achieve a wow factor.

Number of Shades: 18 | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for Everyday Wear: L'Oréal Paris Colour Riche La Palette Nude 1

L’Oréal Paris Color Riche La Palette Nude 1

Ulta

What We Like
  • Neutral shades work for every day

  • Includes dual-ended brush

  • Includes satin, matte, and shimmer finishes

What We Don't Like
  • A little expensive

When you want to add some shading and definition to your everyday look, you'll be glad to have this stunning range of eyeshadows. La Palette Nude has 10 impressively pigmented and versatile colors with all-day staying power. Plus, it has a built-in mirror and comes with a dual-ended applicator, making it ideal for on-the-go makeup.

Number of Shades: 10

Best for Glam: J.Cat Beauty Dia & Noche Tri-Element 15 Eyeshadow Palette

J.Cat Beauty Dia & Noche Tri-Element 15 Eyeshadow Palette
What We Like
  • Bright, pigmented shades

  • Can be used wet or dry

  • Good value

What We Don't Like
  • Some shades have fallout

For going-out glam, reach for J.Cat's Dia & Noche (Spanish for "day and night") palette. The Noche kit is chock full of soft mattes, statement shimmers, and brilliantly foiled glitter eyeshadows. They're all beautifully pigmented, easy to blend, and just the thing for nailing an evening look.

Number of Shades: 15 | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for Smoky Eye: Rimmel London Magnif'Eyes Eye Palette, Smoke Edition

Rimmel London Magnif'Eyes Eye Palette, Smoke Edition
What We Like
  • Deep, cool-toned shades

  • Includes dual-ended brush

  • Long-wearing

What We Don't Like
  • Packaging could be improved

If you love a smoky eye as much as we do, you'll appreciate the Magnif'Eyes Smoke Edition palette. This award-winning 12-pan kit has a range of deep, cool-toned colors, including satins, mattes, and shimmers. Since the powder works as a shadow, liner, and highlighter, it's all you need to create a sophisticated smoldering effect.

Number of Shades: 12

Best Shimmery: Physicians Formula Shimmer Strips Eye Enhancing Shadow

Physicians Formula Shimmer Strips Eye Enhancing Shadow
What We Like
  • Can be used wet or dry

  • High-shine finish

  • A little goes a long way

What We Don't Like
  • Can be messy

When it comes to glittery eyeshadow, Physicians Formula Shimmer Strips Palette doesn't hold back. This palette has six seriously shimmery eye-enhancing colors, ranging from dark to light. It's ideal for going out, dressing up, celebrating, or any time you want to step up your glam.

Number of Shades: 6 | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Matte: Maybelline The City Mini Palette Matte About Town

Maybelline New York The City Mini Palette Matte About Town
What We Like
  • Neutral shades work for every day

  • Available in many different shade options

  • Goes on smoothly

What We Don't Like
  • Some colors can look dull

If you're not into the shimmery, sparkly look, Maybelline's Matte About Town eyeshadow kit is for you. With six pans in neutral colors ranging from deep mocha brown to banana, it looks almost like a contour palette. The creamy powders are perfectly flat, but when you blend them onto your lids, you'll have plenty of dimension.

Number of Shades: 6

Best Jewel Tones: Milani Bold Obsessions Eyeshadow Palette

Milani Bold Obsessions Eyeshadow Palette
What We Like
  • Warm, rich shades

  • Buildable

  • Creates many different looks

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

Milani Bold Obsessions is another one of Gonzalez's go-to drugstore eyeshadow palettes. You'll get 12 velvety-soft shadows in strikingly rich jewel tones, including colors reminiscent of ruby, emerald, citrine, garnet, amber, and onyx.

Number of Shades: 12 | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Warm Tones: BLK/OPL Iconic High Impact Eyeshadows

BLK/OPL Iconic High Impact Eyeshadows
What We Like
  • Pigmented

  • Buildable

  • Smooth and creamy consistency

What We Don't Like
  • Packaging could be improved

Red-toned eyeshadow can be totally fierce. With this in mind, the statement-making BLK/OPL Iconic palette has six warm colors, including shades of chestnut, copper, rust, and brick.

Number of Shades: 6 | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Cool Tones: L.A. Girl Smoky Beauty Brick Eyeshadow Palette

L.A. Girl Smoky Beauty Brick Eyeshadow Palette
What We Like
  • Nice range of cool-toned shades

  • Includes dual-ended applicator with brush and sponge

  • Applies smoothly

What We Don't Like
  • Contains parabens and BHT

The L.A. Girl Smoky Beauty Brick has 12 supremely pigmented cool-toned colors. We're talking charcoal, navy, deep plum, chocolate brown, shimmery mauve, dove gray, taupe, and your everyday blue.

Number of Shades: 12 | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best K-Beauty: Etude House Play Color Eyes

Etude House Play Color Eyes
What We Like
  • Smooth and creamy consistency

  • Bright, pigmented shades

  • Cute packaging

What We Don't Like
  • A little expensive

Korean beauty brand Etude House had some fun curating the shadows for its Play Color Eyes kits. Whether you go with Peach Farm, Caffeine Holic, Juice Bar, Lavender Land, or any of the other playfully named palettes, you can count on a soft, silky texture that lasts all day.

Number of Shades: 10 | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Cream: Revlon Illuminance Crème Eye Shadow

Revlon Illuminance Creme Shadow
What We Like
  • Easy to blend

  • Leaves behind a natural-looking sheen

  • Good value

What We Don't Like
  • Shade range could be better

For those who prefer cream eyeshadow, we recommend Revlon's Illuminance palette. The four ultra-smooth, crease-resistant colors glide on effortlessly, blend easily, and leave behind an eye-enhancing finish.

Number of Shades: 4

Best Mini: Juvia's Place The Nubian Mini Eyeshadow Palette

Juvia's Place The Nubian Mini Eyeshadow Palette
What We Like
  • Compact and easy to travel with

  • Buildable

  • Easy to blend

What We Don't Like
  • Could be more pigmented

Juvia's Place Mini is the perfect purse-sized palette for creating an eye-catching look no matter where you are or where you're headed. It has six best-loved colors from the brand's full-sized eyeshadow kit, including a dark brown matte, a satin clay hue, and a shimmery rose.

Number of Shades: 6 | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Final Verdict

With so many excellent drugstore options out there, it's hard to narrow down our favorites. That said, the NYX Professional Makeup Ultimate Shadow Palette (view at Amazon) is the best option overall, thanks to its 16 pans of warm, cool, shimmery, and matte eyeshadows and silky smooth, crease-resistant formula. And if you're only looking to spend a few bucks, the e.l.f. Cosmetics Bite Size Eyeshadow Palette (view at Amazon) is your best bet.

What to Look For in a Drugstore Eyeshadow Palette

Shades

While some kits have more colors than others, there are a few key shades you'll want to look for. First, you'll need a medium transition shade. "A lot of the time, this is a neutral shade blended between the crease," says Gianno. "Also, always look for one deeper neutral color; this can be a dark brown or dark gray to create depth on the eyes." Lastly, you'll want a lighter hue, which you can use to highlight the area above the crease and blend your eyeshadow up toward your brows.


Matte vs. Shimmery

Some kits come with exclusively matte colors, others have only shimmery shadows, and many have both. Choosing between matte and shimmery eyeshadows is mostly a matter of preference. However, shimmer and glitter shadows tend to work better for highlighting, whereas flat shades are often used as a base.

Gianno recommends having a matte option, as it'll come in handy for blending and building color. "When looking to buy an eyeshadow palette, I find that having at least one light matte shade is essential," she tells Byrdie.


Versatility

When you're on the go and have limited space in your makeup bag, you'll be glad to have a neutral kit with a multi-use formula. "Eyeshadows are often formulated to be versatile so that you can use them throughout your face or body. I love taking some of my pink shadow shades and using them as blush and some glitter shades and placing them on the cheeks' high points as a highlighter," says Gianno. Deeper shadows can also be used to contour.

FAQ
  • Which eyeshadow palette is best for a natural look?

    For a natural eye look, look for matte shades in neutral, earthy tones. We like Maybelline's Matte About Town palette because it is ideal for an eye contour, or making your eyes look more defined without looking like you're wearing eye shadow. L'Oréal Paris Colour Riche La Palette Nude also has a range of shades for a no-makeup makeup look.

  • How do I choose an eyeshadow palette?

    It depends on what type of looks you want to create. Palettes with bright colors and shimmers are great for statement-making looks, while neutral, matte tones create more of a natural look. Experiment with different shades to see which make your eyes pop and give you the look you crave.

  • What's the best eyeshadow palette for beginners?

    We like the e.l.f. Cosmetics Bite Size Eyeshadow Palette because it has four basic, yet beautiful shades to start with, making things less overwhelming than staring down a huge palette. As an idea to get you started, you could use the lightest shade to highlight the inner corners and brow bone, the peachy shade all over your lids, bronze shade on your outer corners, and finally the darkest shade to line your lash line.

  • How do I choose an eyeshadow palette?

    The best way to start with choosing eyeshadow is to use your own eye color as inspiration. While you don’t need to match your eye color, choosing shades that complement your eyes can make your look pop. Additionally, you’ll want to think about how often you actually wear eyeshadow so you don’t collect too many palettes that won’t get used.

  • How do you know if eyeshadow is good quality?

    High-quality eyeshadow applies evenly and smoothly. The product shouldn’t get stuck in certain parts of your lid. It should also hold its pigment once applied, and the shade should look similar to how it appears in the pan. If you’re wondering exactly how you should be applying and blending your eyeshadow, we recommend following a makeup artist-approved tutorial.

  • How long do eye palettes last?

    It may come as a surprise that makeup in general should be used within months of opening it. Check the period-after-opening symbol on your palette’s packaging, and never use expired products. Makeup artist Ashley Rebecca says that "skin irritations such as rashes, bumps, and burning sensations can occur when using expired products.”

  • Are all eyeshadows the same?

    All eyeshadows are definitely not the same! That said, pricier doesn’t always mean better, and there are plenty of great drugstore eyeshadows and eyeshadow palettes. Be sure to choose pigmented shadows that glide on smoothly and evenly. Knowing how to properly apply and blend your eyeshadow will also help you glean which shadows are of better quality than others.

How We Researched

To compile this list, our team of editors and contributors spent hours researching the best products on the market in this category, evaluating their key features—like ingredients, shade range, or design—in addition to reviews from customers and other trusted sources. We then used this research to assign a star rating from one to five (five being the best; one being the worst) to certain products on the list.

Why Trust Byrdie?

Byrdie contributor Theresa Holland is well-versed in the world of cosmetics. She has substantial experience writing about makeup and has tried out a handful of products on this list. She's particularly fond of NYX, e.l.f., and BLK/OPL eyeshadow palettes. You can find more of Theresa's work on The Spruce and MyDomaine.

According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find enough drugstore eyeshadow palettes from a Black-owned and/or Black-founded business to meet this percentage. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at contact@byrdie.com and we will evaluate the product ASAP.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. The best drugstore eyeshadow palettes you can buy. Insider. https://www.insider.com/guides/beauty/best-drugstore-eyeshadow-palettes

  2. 17 Best Drugstore Eyeshadow Palettes That Are Truly Gorgeous — 2022. StyleCraze. https://www.stylecraze.com/articles/best-drugstore-eyeshadow-palettes

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