With so many intricate and inspiring makeup looks popping up on socials—from red carpets to editorial shoots and more, it can be easy to fall into the trap of believing that a great eyeshadow look requires tons of skill and a multitude of shades to create. The truth is some of the most beautiful looks are simple to do and easy to achieve with just one single eyeshadow. Not to mention, single shadows are much less bulky and often less expensive than palettes.
So, I took a deep dive into my extensive collection of single eyeshadows and got my hands on many of the most popular and highly-rated options to put to the test in order to share with you which ones really stand out. I tested each one several times and evaluated them based on formula, application, wear, appearance, and shade range. Ahead, I’m sharing the best single eyeshadows on the market for a one-and-done eyeshadow look.
Hourglass Scattered Light Glitter Eye Shadow
Soft, non-chunky formula
Comes in a variety of elevated neutrals
Shade could offer more pops of color
Glitter eyeshadow isn’t for everyone, but I encourage you not to be scared off by the name of this one—it’s not the kind of glitter that’s reminiscent of a kid's art project. The formula is more like a smooth, shimmery eyeshadow with an extremely fine, glittery finish to it that looks so elevated on the eyes—there are absolutely no chunks of large glitter that look overdone or feel uncomfortable. Swirl your fingertip into the pot and apply it straight to your eyelids, and you’ll be left with the most eye-catching, sophisticated wash of color and shine that instantly takes your makeup look to the next level. Once you apply it, you won’t have to worry about it fading or migrating around your eye area like many glittery formulas do.
If you prefer neutral colors, you’ll love the shade range. There are various neutral shadows with varying depths and undertones, and they’re incredibly pigmented, making them so flattering on all skin tones. This product is so incredible, I would love to see the brand continue to expand the range to include more unique pops of color and cater to an even broader audience.
Price at time of publish: $30
Shades: 9 | Finish: Shimmer/glitter | Size: 3.4 grams | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best Overall, Runner-Up
EM Cosmetics Cosmic Pearl Dewy Eye Shadow
Incredible, one-swipe pigmentation
Creamy, blendable formula
Smooth, shiny finish
Not the most long-wearing
The texture of this eyeshadow formula is unlike anything I’ve ever felt—you really need to try it for yourself to understand. The best way I can explain it is that it feels like a true hybrid between a plush cream and a powder. With one tiny swipe of your finger into the pan, you get a shockingly rich color payoff that looks so incredibly smooth and shiny on the eyelids. The brand describes the finish as “dewy,” and I couldn’t agree more; it really looks wet in the best way possible. I also love that in addition to working beautifully as an all-over wash of color, you can also dip a small, dampened brush into the product and use it as an eyeliner. It’s a go-to product for me when I want a quick and simple eyeshadow look to brighten up my eyes.
The only thing that would make this formula better is if it were a bit more long-wearing. Because it’s such a creamy formula, it does crease after a few hours. But it’s super easy to fix by patting out the creases with my fingertips, so it’s absolutely not a deal-breaker for me. If you’re in the market for a metallic yet completely wearable single shadow, I can’t recommend this one enough.
Price at time of publish: $26
Shades: 7 | Finish: Metallic | Size: 3 grams | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
NYX Jumbo Eye Pencil All-In-One Eyeshadow Eyeliner Pencil
Vast shade range
Easy to blend
Convenient stick makes application fast and easy
Pigmentation varies between shades
Not very long-wearing
If you’re looking for a quick single eyeshadow for an affordable price at the drugstore, this is a great option. The stick format makes swiping it on and blending it out with your fingers or a brush very quick and easy, and it comes in a large shade offering that ranges from matte neutrals to bright, shimmery colors and more. The texture of the pencil is creamy and comfortable to wear on the lids, though it does crease throughout the day, especially if you have oily eyelids, so I suggest applying a translucent eyeshadow primer before using this formula. However, I really appreciate that, unlike other eyeshadow pencils on the market, this one is soft enough that it doesn’t tug at the lids as you apply it but solid enough that it won’t crumble during application. Considering how accessible and affordable it is, I think it’s absolutely worth checking out if you want to achieve a fast eyeshadow look.
Price at time of publish: $6
Shades: 16 | Finish: Matte, shimmer | Size: 5 grams | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
ColourPop Super Shock Shadow
Massive shade range
Easy to blend
Prone to creasing after several hours of wear
Cream-to-power formulas are great because you get the blendability of a cream shadow combined with the lightweight, comfortable feel of a powder—and this one is fantastic. It can be applied with a dense eyeshadow brush or your fingertips, and it’s really easy to blend across the eyelids or smudge along the lash line. The shade range is absolutely massive—it offers various finishes and pretty much any color you could ever want, all at a really affordable price point. I recommend applying an eyeshadow primer underneath this formula, as it tends to crease after about five or six hours of wear, though not as significantly as true cream formulas. If you’re looking for a single eyeshadow in a specific shade, or you’re hoping to find a great product that’s budget-friendly, I think you’ll absolutely love this eyeshadow from ColourPop.
Price at time of publish: $7
Shades: 56 | Finish: Matte, shimmer, metallic, glitter | Size: 2 grams | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Jones Road The Best Eyeshadow
Easy to blend
Comes in a variety of neutral colors
Slim, compact packaging
Shade range could have more unique colors
Powder eyeshadows are great if you’re looking for a long-wearing product that you can quickly blend out with a brush. This powder formula comes in a wide range of neutral tones in matte and shimmer finishes, and both formulas are pigmented, easy to blend, and long-wearing. The mattes aren’t too dry, powdery, or chalky, and the shimmers don’t produce fallout. While I would love to see the brand add some unique colors to the line, I love that they offer neutral shades with unique undertones—like taupe, terracotta, mustard, and more. Once blended out, they stay put all day long without creasing, fading, or smudging. They also come in simple, chic packaging that isn’t bulky, yet the pan size is decently large, making it easy to dip any eyeshadow brush into the product. If you’re a true powder eyeshadow fan, I highly recommend checking out this product.
Price at time of publish: $25
Shades: 15 | Finish: Matte, shimmer | Size: 3 grams | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Danessa Myricks Beauty Colorfix Eye, Cheek, and Lip Pigment
Creamy, liquid formula
Large shade range
Glitter shades are a bit patchy
They dry quickly so you need to work fast
Though this product can be used for the lips and cheeks, too, it’s a gorgeous liquid formula that looks stunning on the eyes and performs really well. It comes in matte, metallic, glitter, and gloss finishes that make for beautiful everyday and editorial looks, not to mention that it comes in a huge shade range that truly has something for everyone. Each formula provides intense color payoff, although it’s worth noting that the glitter formulas don’t have much base pigment to them, so they do look a bit patchy if you apply them to bare eyelids.
It’s packaged in a squeeze tube with a really small opening, which allows you to fully control how much product you dispense, and it can be applied with your fingertips or a brush. The formula does dry down pretty fast, so you do need to work on blending pretty quickly, but once it dries, it locks in places with almost undetectable creasing for the entire day. It makes for an excellent single eyeshadow, but I’ve also found that the matte shades work nicely as a base underneath glitters or eyeshadow toppers—and of course, as a pop of color on the lips and cheeks, too.
Price at time of publish: $18
Shades: 50 | Finish: Matte, metallic, glitter, gloss | Size: 10 ml | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Charlotte Tilbury Eyes To Mesmerize Cream Eyeshadow
Effortless to blend
Smooth, creamy formula
Natural-looking, shimmer finish
Creases after several hours of wear
Shade range is a bit lacking
This popular product from Charlotte Tilbury deserves the praise it gets—it’s a fantastic option for a one-and-done, polished eyeshadow look. Yes, it creases after several hours of wear (I find that most cream shadows do), but blend out the creases with your fingertips, and you’ll still be left with a nice, put-together look. I adore how easy the formula is to blend, it’s the softest cream shadow I’ve tried, and the texture takes almost no effort to diffuse across the eyelids with fingertips or a fluffy brush. The finish varies just slightly from shade to shade, but for the most part, it sets down on the lids with a satin-like, shimmer finish that creates a slightly dewy-looking effect.
Though totally on brand for Charlotte Tilbury, all of the shades in the range lean very neutral and soft glam—and some of them look pretty similar on the eyes. I would love for the brand to release some more unique tones, but if you’re a neutral wearer through and through, I think you’d be really pleased with this product.
Price at time of publish: $35
Shades: 11 | Finish: Shimmer | Size: 7 ml | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Laura Mercier Caviar Stick Eye Shadow
Creamy, workable formula
Comes in multiple finishes
Easy to apply
Pricey compared to similar options on the market
Several shades look the same on the eyes
This eyeshadow stick has been incredibly popular and well-loved for quite some time, and I can absolutely understand why. The creamy formula glides across the eyelids without skipping, and while it eventually dries down, it provides enough play time to allow you to blend it out thoroughly. Once it sets down, it’s truly budge-proof and crease-resistant in a way that very few other creamy formulas are, making it a great option for on-the-go looks and long-wearing makeup.
It is certainly pricey compared to other eyeshadow sticks on the market, but I’ve found that this formula is easier to work with and more long-lasting than similar products. The shade range is fairly extensive—there are tons of neutrals and purple hues, though I will admit that several shades look similar on the eyes. Hopefully, the brand will add some more fun colors to the lineup, but for now, if you like neutrals and you appreciate the convenience of an easy-to-use stick, I highly recommend checking this one out.
Price at time of publish: $32
Shades: 35 | Finish: Matte, shimmer, metallic | Size: 1.6 grams | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Bodyography Glitter Pigments
Fine, glittery finish
Excellent shade range
Smooth, soft formula
Some shades produce minimal fallout
If you’re thinking that this eyeshadow looks really similar to the Hourglass Scattered Light Glitter Eye Shadow, it is—but there are a few key differences. While they both feature fine glitters, they both wear beautifully, they both look really elevated on the eyes, and they both come in almost identical packaging; up close, the formulas are slightly different. A lot of the shades from Bodyography have less of a strong base pigment to them, meaning that they can be worn alone for a wash of color with a glittery finish or layered on top of a base color for added dimension. The glitter pigments are absolutely still super fine, though they’re slightly larger than the ones in the Hourglass formula, so they make more of an impact on the eyes.
As for the application, it can be applied dry with your fingertips for a smooth, even finish, or you can spray a flat eyeshadow brush and dip it into the pot to create a more metallic, wet-looking effect. I’d be remiss not to mention the stunning shade range—there are a host of neutrals and a ton of fun colors with really unique undertones, my favorites being Spirit Quartz, an icy golden shade with a pink reflect, and Hue, a rich lavender. If you like the idea of adding a grown-up glitter to your makeup collection, this is the one for you.
Price at time of publish: $24
Shades: 24 | Finish: Glitter | Size: 3 grams | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Urban Decay 24/7 Moondust Eyeshadow
Comfortable, non-scratchy glitter
Can be layered
Produces some fallout
Can be tricky to remove
This eyeshadow recently reached TikTok virality, and I can absolutely understand why there’s so much hype surrounding it. Just one little dab onto the center of the eyelids holds the power to completely boost any makeup look. It can absolutely be applied onto bare eyelids, though my favorite way to use it has been as a topper over a tinted primer or a cream eyeshadow. If you really layer on the formula, you’ll be able to notice some base pigment, but if you lightly tap your finger or a brush into the pan and apply a just little bit, you’ll be left with a seriously stunning, glittery finish that looks unbelievably shiny, especially in natural lighting.
Like most true glitter formulas, this shadow does produce a bit of fallout and leaves behind some glitter pigments even after washing your face—that’s just the nature of this type of product. However, compared to other glittery eyeshadows I’ve tested, these two cons are minimal, and I think the gorgeous effect it creates on the eyes outweighs the negatives.
Price at time of publish: $24
Shades: 5 | Finish: Glitter | Size: 1.7 grams | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best Cream & Powder
Auric Smoke Reflect Cream + Powder Eye Shadow Duo
Contains two textures in one, compact container
Both textures provide versatility
Unique shade offerings
Excellent color payoff
Cream formula creases after hours of wear
I might be cheating a bit with this one as it technically features two formulas, but you can easily pop this little product into any makeup bag and apply it on the go, just like any other single eyeshadow. The convenience and versatility of having both a powder topper and a cream in one small pot is so incredibly valuable, and both formulas are high-quality and look beautiful on the eyes when they’re layered together or worn alone. The cream has a soft, mid-weight texture that’s easy to blend and delivers impressive color payoff, and the hard-pressed glitter topper provides a glimmering finish without the fallout that loose glitters create. While it currently only comes in five shades, I appreciate that the shade range features wearable neutrals, a smokey gray option, and two stunning jewel tones. If you like to mix and match eyeshadow textures and you want an easy-to-use duo, this one has my stamp of approval.
Price at time of publish: $40
Shades: 5 | Finish: Shimmer, glitter | Size: Cream: 5 grams, powder: 1.7 grams | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
MAC Pro Longwear Paint Pot Eyeshadow
Can be used alone or as eyeshadow primer
Easy to blend
Some pearlescent shades are patchy
If you like the idea of swiping on a cream shadow, but you find that cream formulas quickly crease on your eyelids, this is a great option for you. The long-wearing formula can be used as an eyeshadow primer to serve as a base for additional shadows while prolonging the wear of your makeup, or it can be used on its own for an all-over wash of color. It has a creamy, almost clay-like consistency that’s easy to blend, but it’s not so emollient that it ultimately breaks down after a few hours of wear. I’ve been using the shade Painterly as an eyeshadow primer for almost ten years, and it never lets me down. While I love using it as a base for other shadows as it meshes with my skin tone and enhances the wear of other eyeshadows, it’s also great for minimal makeup days where I simply want to cancel out discoloration on my eyelids.
The shade range features a variety of neutrals and a few colorful options, though I will say that the pearlescent formulas that include some glitter in them are a bit patchy on the eyes. I personally don’t love the finish of the pearly ones, but I cannot recommend the matte shades enough in terms of look, application, and performance.
Price at time of publish: $25
Shades: 16 | Finish: Matte, pearlescent | Size: 5 grams | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
My best overall pick is the Hourglass Scattered Light Glitter Eye Shadow. The formula is pigmented, easy to blend, and looks really sophisticated on the eyes. If you prefer a more budget-friendly single eyeshadow, the NYX Jumbo Eye Pencil All-In-One Eyeshadow Eyeliner Pencil is a great choice. And if you like a classic powder formula, I recommend the Jones Road The Best Eyeshadow.
Other Options I Tested
R.e.m. Beauty Midnight Shadows Lustrous Liquid Eyeshadow
I love that this liquid eyeshadow comes in lots of really fun colors, but I found them to be lacking base pigmentation, resulting in a sheer, fairly patchy look.
L'Oréal Paris Brilliant Eyes Liquid Eyeshadow
This drugstore eyeshadow creates a nice glittery finish on the eyes, but the glitter pigments are a bit heavy, and it's tricky to blend the formula without it getting a bit patchy.
RMS Eyelights Cream Eyeshadow
This cream formula comes in some really beautiful shades, but it dries really quickly, forcing you to work fast, and I found that it emphasized some texture on my eyelids.
What to Look For in a Single Eyeshadow
As you can see from this list, eyeshadow singles come in all different types of formulas, so be sure to consider if you have a preference before purchasing one. If you like the ease of a convenient swipe-on stick, try the Laura Mercier Caviar Stick Eye Shadow. If you’re loyal to powders, go for the Jones Road The Best Eyeshadow. And if you enjoy cream products, the Charlotte Tilbury Eyes To Mesmerize Cream Eyeshadow is your best bet.
Understanding that overall look you’re aiming for will help you to determine the eyeshadow finish you should seek out. If you love an all-matte eye look, try a matte powder eyeshadow. If you'd like something bold and shiny, I recommend the Bodyography Glitter Pigments or the EM Cosmetics Cosmic Pearl Dewy Eyeshadow.
Unlike palettes which offer a multitude of shades, single shadows obviously only offer one—so be sure that the formula you choose comes in a range of shades that are appealing to you. If you’re looking for bold colors or unique undertones, you can’t go wrong with the Danessa Myricks Colorfix Eye, Cheek & Lip Cream Pigment.
How do you apply a single eyeshadow?
The best way to apply a single eyeshadow totally depends on what look you’re going for and what formula you’re using. If you’re using a cream or liquid eyeshadow, I recommend dabbing the product onto your eyelids with your fingertips to yield maximum color payoff and then blending the edges with a fluffy blending brush for a diffused finish. If you’re using a powder, I recommend applying it with a flat brush to the center of your lids and blending it out with a fluffy brush.
What is a one-and-done eyeshadow?
A one-and-done eyeshadow is a product that you can apply to your eyes in one single step. Rather than using various colors in an eyeshadow palette to create an intricate look, a single eyeshadow can be applied all over the eyelids for a general wash of color.
Why Trust Byrdie
Alyssa Kaplan is an experienced writer in the beauty industry and product tester specializing in cosmetics. She received a bachelor’s degree from the Fashion Institute of Technology, where she studied marketing and product development in the cosmetics industry as well as fashion business marketing. Alyssa has been a commerce writer at Byrdie since 2022, where she covers all things beauty.