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When it comes to beauty purchases, it’s all about balance. While there are definitely times to splurge, like on your favorite high-end foundation or skincare standbys, there’s also nothing better than finding a hidden gem for less than the cost of lunch.
This holds especially true for eye shadows. With the impressive options that drugstores everywhere have been pumping out, there’s no reason to drop a pretty penny on a higher-priced counterpart. From ultra-pigmented shades to a variety of finishes and silky textures, the drugstore aisles are abounding with pigmented, smooth, and creamy formulas that you'd never guess came at a bargain price point.
To find the best drugstore eye shadow for you, keep reading.
Best Overall: Milani Bella Eyes Gel Powder Eyeshadow
With extreme payoff and a wide range of finishes and hues, this weightless gel-powder hybrid is the crème de la crème of drugstore eye shadows. The transformative formula starts off with gel-like texture and sets to a powder finish leaving behind saturated color. It glides on effortlessly with your fingertips or a brush providing a multi-dimensional look that doesn’t fade, crease, or crack.
For even more intensity, apply the metallic and shimmer formula using a damp eye shadow brush. The satin, matte, shimmer, and iridescent metallic finishes are all equally blendable and smooth.
Best for Beginners: Wet n Wild Color Icon Eyeshadow 10 Pan Palette
Wet n Wild makes some of the most affordable eye shadows at the drugstore, and we particularly love this palette available in four different color combinations and a mix of matte transition shades, shimmery lid colors, and sultry satin shades. It's a must-have for makeup newbies and pros alike thanks to foolproof formulas, stunning shades, and color payoff.
The 10 rectangular pans are labeled with the part of the eye that each shade belongs on, like the lid, crease, and outer corner. This feature makes the palette super user-friendly especially for beginners who are still mastering the smoky eye look. Of course, you can do whatever you please with the shades, but for those who have never used eye shadow before this is a great option.
Best Palette: NYX Professional Ultimate Multi-Finish Shadow Palette
This palette from NYX Professional Makeup is filled with 12 highly-saturated shadows and pressed pigments, allowing you to create versatile looks with ease. Each palette features three ultra-pigmented finishes (matte, shimmer, and sparkly metallic) in the same coordinated color family, so it’s simple to create a variety of eye looks from monochromatic to smoky to subtle. Also, the silky texture and easy-to-blend formula are major pluses. Due to its versatility and durable packaging, these palettes make great travel companions.
Check out our guide to the best eye shadow palettes you can buy today.
Best Metallic: L’Oréal Paris Infallible 24HR Eye Shadow
When it comes to a metallic eye shadow, the more intense the foiled effect, the better. These eye shadows from L’Oréal truly fit the bill. The hybrid of cream and powder is so smooth to the touch and offers seriously incredible pigmentation—all you need is just one swipe. It's also crease-, sweat-, and water-resistant with 24-hour wear time. So basically, no matter the season or occasion, the velvety shadow will last all day long (literally!). Plus, the extensive shade range boasts a whopping 24 different hues. From rose gold to violet to chocolate brown, there’s a color for everyone and every look.
Best Cream: Revlon ColorStay Crème Eye Shadow
A high-quality cream shadow from the drugstore is a dime a dozen. Most are lackluster, dry, and difficult to blend, but this ultra-creamy version from Revlon has changed the game. Featuring a blendable, crease-free formula, this budget-buy feels luxe and silky upon the first swatch and applies to the lids just as easily. Each shadow pot comes with a handy built-in brush for fuss-free application and lasts up to 24 hours. It also comes in 12 eye-catching shades (pun intended) with four versatile finishes: metallic, matte, pearl, and satin. You can wear these alone or as a base for a powder eye shadow to extend its wear time.
Best Matte: e.l.f. Cosmetics Mad for Matte Eyeshadow Palette
Matte eye shadows are some of the hardest to come across at a budget-friendly price point. Most are chalky, hard to blend, and don’t last on the lids for more than an hour or two. But this hidden treasure from e.l.f Cosmetics will change your view on what a drugstore matte eye shadow can offer.
With an ultra-buttery feel, these all-matte, shine-free palettes allow for versatile eye looks that don’t skimp on color payoff. Each palette contains 10 blendable, silky shades that you can use to contour your crease, add a sheer wash of color, or even as a liner to define your eyes. It also comes in tons of different color schemes including rose golds, warm rusts, smoky grays, and jewel tones.
Best Glitter: NYX Professional Makeup Face & Body Glitter
While adding a little twinkle to our lids with glitter can give the ultimate dimensional look, it can get messy within seconds of applying. The exception? These glitter pigments from NYX Professional Makeup which allow for mess-free application (with the help of the brand’s glitter glue) and come in 12 light-reflecting hues ranging from holographic and multi-tonal purples to rich bronze and cherry red.
Interested in reading more reviews? Take a look at our selection of the best eye shadows for brown eyes.