13 Liquid Eye Shadows That Will Make You Want to Ditch Powder for Good

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Sure, powder eyeshadows are the most traditional, but there’s an entire slew of liquid shadows ready to give the classic formula a run for its money. Credit several unique advantages that liquids have over their powder counterparts. For starters, “Liquid eyeshadows are not only beginner-friendly, but they also work as an eyeshadow base and primary color,” explains MUA Manuel Espinoza. “In comparison to powder eyeshadows, liquid formulas have easier application and less fallout and are typically more pigmented,” he says. Liquids are also the way to go if you’re after a super shimmery or metallic finish, although these days you can even find matte options out there. The point is, once you go liquid, we’re willing to bet you won’t want to go back to powder.

Meet the Expert

Manuel Espinoza is a makeup artist and a StyleSeat Pro based in Los Angeles with over a decade of experience in the industry.

Here are the best liquid eyeshadows out there.

Best Overall: Stila Shimmer & Glow Liquid Eye Shadow

STILA Shimmer & Glow Liquid Eye Shadow

Courtesy of Sephora

What We Like
  • Lightweight

  • Long-wearing

  • Buildable

What We Don’t Like
  • Pricey

Espinoza is a big fan of this classic formula, which he says is rich in shimmer without any glitter. The water-infused, lightweight formula also never feels heavy on lids, he adds, and it’s long-wearing, too. Take your pick from any of the six wearable shades, all of which come housed in a tiny tube that won’t take up too much real estate in your makeup bag or bathroom drawer.

Size: 0.153 oz. | Shades: 6 | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Budget: e.l.f. Liquid Glitter Eyeshadow

Liquid Glitter Eyeshadow

Amazon

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Long-wearing

  • Dries quickly

What We Don’t Like
  • Some may prefer a less intense glitter

For basically the same price as your morning matcha, you can nab this liquid formula, which touts a full-on glitter finish. The gel base is quick-drying and long-lasting, while the glitter effect is achieved in just one swipe (though you can add more if you want to up the effect.) It comes in nine colors, many of which also pull double-duty as a glitter topper that can be used over other shadows.

Size: 0.1 oz. | Shades: 9 | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Drugstore: NYX Glitter Goals Liquid Eyeshadow

NYX Glitter Goals Liquid Eyeshadow

Ulta

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Works alone or with powder shadows

What We Don’t Like
  • Some may prefer a less intense glitter

This is ideal for achieving stunning glittery and sparkly eye makeup in one easy swipe, says Espinoza of another one of his favorites. “It’s infused with highly-pigmented sparkles and can be worn alone or layered and built up with powder eyeshadow,” he adds. The wallet-friendly price is just a bonus.

Size: 0.1 oz. | Shades: 8 | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Sheer: Glossier Lidstar

Glossier Lidstar

Glossier

What We Like
  • Sheer finish

  • Creamy texture

  • Crease-proof

What We Don’t Like
  • Pricey

The tagline for this product is ‘glistening eye glow,’ and indeed, that is the effect it delivers. The super sheer formula imparts a veil of color (which, although it’s subtle, is still crease-proof). The eight colors all have just a touch of shimmer, but in a creamy base that’s almost more akin to a cream formula; it glides beautifully onto lids without ever tugging or pulling. Bonus points for the angled doe-foot applicator, which makes application easier than ever.

Size: 0.15 oz. | Shades: 8 | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Pigmented: Kosas 10-Second Eye

Kosas 10-Second Eye

Kosas

What We Like
  • Great color payoff

  • Cooling sensation

  • Packed with skin-loving ingredients

What We Don’t Like
  • Hard to manipulate once set

On the other hand, if you want more high-impact color, try the Kosas 10-Second Eye. It glides on like a gel and has a refreshing and cooling feel that’s extremely pleasing. Even just one swipe of color goes on super pigmented and opaque, though if you want to build it up further you can add another layer or tap it on with a makeup brush instead of the included sponge-tip applicator. (FYI, let it sit for five to 10 seconds after applying before blending.) We also appreciate that there are skincare ingredients infused into the formula, think things such as moisturizing shea butter and jojoba oil. Plus, all of the six shades are wearable and look great on any skin tone.

Size: 0.06 oz. | Shades: 6 | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Splurge: Armani Beauty Eye Tint Long-Lasting Liquid Eyeshadow

4.6
Armani Beauty Eye Tint Long-Lasting Liquid Eyeshadow

Sephora

What We Like
  • Lightweight

  • Buildable

  • Long-wearing

What We Don’t Like
  • Pricey

This tube may be pricey, but it’s worth it. It comes in an impressive line-up of 18 shades, across a range of shimmer, matte, glitter, and metallic finishes, offering a little something for everyone. It’s also super long-lasting, with up to 16 hours of wear time, and is easily buildable depending on how much of a pigmented effect you’re looking for.

Size: 0.13 oz. | Shades: 18 | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Multi-Dimensional: Natasha Denona Chromium Liquid Eyeshadow in Infra Nude

Natasha Denona Chromium Liquid Eyeshadow in Infra Nude

Cult Beauty

What We Like
  • Unique, chromatic and multi-dimensional color

  • Packed with skin-loving ingredients

  • Great color payoff

What We Don’t Like
  • Pricey

Yes, this is just one color, but the multi-dimensional hue changes when you look at it from different angles, making for a unique, layered eye look, says Espinoza. It also touts a jelly-like texture that feels fresh and hydrating, even though the chromatic finish packs a serious punch of drama.

Size: 0.084 oz. | Shades: 2 | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Shade Range: SeneGence ShadowSense

SeneGence ShadowSense

SeneGence

What We Like
  • Packed with skin-loving ingredients

  • Long-wearing

  • Waterproof

What We Don’t Like
  • Pricey

There are, wait for it, a whopping 51 shades of this long-wear liquid eyeshadow to choose from, making it easy to find any and every color you want. (Not to mention that they can all be worn individually or blended.) Espinoza also lauds the formula for the inclusion of ingredients such as vitamin E and antioxidants that help protect the delicate skin around the eye area.

Size: 0.2 oz. | Shades: 51 | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Matte: About Face Matte Fluid Eye Paint

About Face Matte Fluid Eye Paint

About Face

What We Like
  • Great color payoff

  • Long-wearing

  • Buildable

What We Don’t Like
  • Hard to manipulate once set

Liquid eyeshadows may most often be associated with shimmery or sparkly finishes, but there are great matte options out there, too, like this one. Along with the velvety matte finish, the color (there are 15 shades) is also extremely pigmented, offering opaque coverage right off the bat. It goes on as a liquid but dries down to an almost powder-like texture, one that stays put, without any budging or smudging.

Size: 0.15 oz. | Shades: 15 | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Matte, Runner-Up: Too Faced Melted Chocolate Eyeshadow

Too Faced Melted Chocolate Eyeshadow

Macy's

What We Like
  • Works alone or with powder shadows

  • Great color payoff

What We Don’t Like
  • Chocolate-y scent can be off-putting

Don’t want to part with your beloved powder shadow? Consider layering it with this pick, which works very nicely as a primer to help build and amp up powder formulas, says Espinoza. Still, it can be used on its own, thanks to the richly pigmented formula that has an intense matte finish, he says. And yes, as the name suggests, it does have a chocolatey scent.

Size: 0.16 oz. | Shades: 8 | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Metallic: ONE/SIZE by Patrick Star Eye Popper Sparkle Vision Liquid Eyeshadow

ONE/SIZE by Patrick Star Eye Popper Sparkle Vision Liquid Eyeshadow

Sephora

What We Like
  • Great color payoff

  • Works alone or as a topper

  • Long-wearing

What We Don’t Like
  • Reviewers note it is hard to blend

On the other hand, if you’re after a high-impact, full-on metallic finish, this is the way to go. Credit multi-size glitter particles that ensure an almost foil-like effect… one that stays extremely opaque and shiny all day long. Also nice: While the five colors work great on their own, they can also be used as a ‘topper’ over other eyeshadow.

Size: 0.14 oz. | Shades: 5 | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Multi-Tasking: Exa Light Show Color Melt Multi-Use Pigment

Exa Light Show Color Melt Multi-Use Pigment

Credo

What We Like
  • Can use anywhere on face or body

  • Long-wearing

  • Packed with skin-loving ingredients

What We Don’t Like
  • Product can separate in the tube

This shimmery pigment looks gorgeous swiped across lids, but it also works equally well dabbed pretty much anywhere on the face or body, for that matter. There are four foil colors and four iridescent shimmery ones to play with (all of which are super blendable, too). They all tout completely clean formulas, never crease, smudge, or budge, and contain skin-loving ingredients such as amino acids and vitamin E.

Size: 0.34 oz. | Shades: 8 | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Longwear: Danessa Myricks Beauty Colorfix Eye, Cheek & Lip Cream Pigment

4.5
Danessa Myricks Beauty Colorfix

Danessa Myricks Beauty

What We Like
  • Long-wearing

  • Creamy texture

  • Works on cheeks and lips

What We Don’t Like
  • Hard to manipulate once set

To be fair, liquid eyeshadows are long-wearing pretty much by definition. That being said, this one takes the cake, offering an impressive 24-hours of staying power to be exact. And yes, it is slightly creamier than other liquid formulas (hence the names), but we find that the thicker texture only enhances its longevity. It also can be used on cheeks and lips and comes in a whopping 101 hues with matte, metallic, and high-shine finishes.

Size: 0.34 fl. oz. | Shades: 101 | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Final Verdict

Liquid eyeshadows are pretty much foolproof to apply, have amazing staying power, and pack a punch of pigment. The Stila Shimmer & Glow Liquid Eye Shadow earns the top spot on our list, a longtime industry favorite that has the ideal amount of shimmer without veering into full-on glitter territory. The Kosas 10-Second Eye is another one of our favorites, which is also shimmery and super pigmented, plus it has a refreshing, cooling feel. For those who prefer a more subdued eye look, the Glossier Lidstar is a great choice, while anyone who likes matte finishes should consider the About Face Matte Fluid Eye Paint, which comes in a nice array of 15 shades.

What to Look For in Liquid Eyeshadows

Formula

Opt for a long-wearing formula that you can easily throw into your crowded makeup bag. It'll be great when you head on vacation since it'll save tons of space and will only require slight touch-ups. Plus, it'll leave you worry-free about it getting ruined super quickly.

Finish

Deciding between a matte and shimmery eyeshadow is a matter of personal preference. However, shimmer or glitter shades tend to work better on top of other eyeshadows, whereas mattes can easily be worn alone (or in conjunction with a shimmer shade). However, the number of look creations is endless, so you can even get one of each.

Shades

Since liquid eyeshadows tend to come in individual packaging, selecting a shade that you truly adore is crucial. Ask to swatch the color before you purchase. Certain colors bode well with specific skin tones, so be sure to keep that in mind, too.

FAQ
  • How do you apply liquid eyeshadow?

    Swipe it on with your finger or an eyeshadow brush, depending on your preference. You may also want to use an eyeshadow primer, especially if the formula isn't long-wearing.

  • How long does it take liquid eyeshadow to dry?

    Each eyeshadow takes a different amount of time to dry. However, many of them take between 15 to 20 seconds.

  • How do you keep liquid eyeshadow from creasing?

    To avoid creasing, apply an eyeshadow primer underneath your liquid eyeshadow. A light swipe of translucent powder over the eyeshadow may also help prevent it from creasing, too.

Why Trust Byrdie

Byrdie contributor Melanie Rud has over a decade of experience in the beauty industry, writing for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there. Liquid eyeshadows are her preferred formula of choice, not only for their ease of application but also for the more dimensional finishes. The Glosser, Kosas, Exa, and e.l.f. options on this list are currently all a part of her regular rotation.

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