The Best Cream Eyeshadows for Silky Smooth Lids

With buildable color payoff and gorgeous shimmery shades, Charlotte Tilbury Eyes to Mesmerize is a practically flawless pick.

We independently evaluate all recommended products and services. If you click on links we provide, we may receive compensation. Learn more.
Best Cream Eye Shadows

 Ulta / Nordstrom / Sephora 

No disrespect to powders, but we have major heart eyes for cream eyeshadow. These silky formulas, packaged in pots, tubes, and palettes, are easy to use, whether you’re an eyeshadow skeptic or a bona fide pro.

The pigments won’t fall onto your under eye concealer, you can build up the shades from sheer to full coverage, and the formulas lock onto your skin wherever you apply them. Diffuse them onto your eyelids for a wash of matte or shimmery color, or dip a dense eyeliner brush into the product to line your eyes.

We tapped Makeup artist Claire Balest to give us some insights on how to optimize your cream eyeshadow experience.

Set your sights on the best cream eyeshadows below.

Best Overall

Charlotte Tilbury Eyes to Mesmerise Cream Eyeshadow

Charlotte Tilbury Eyes To Mesmerize Cream Eyeshadow


What We Like
  • Buildable coverage

  • Long-lasting

  • Creamy finish

What We Don't Like
  • Creases without primer

Claire Balest approves this formula, and we do, too. It’s cream eyeshadow nirvana. The fine shimmer looks luminous (not glittery) on your lids, and you have plenty of playtime. It takes a few minutes to fully set, so you don’t have to rush when you’re blending it with your fingertips or brush. Once it’s settled, it won’t feel dry or tight on your lids, and the wash of color stays fresh without smudging throughout the day. The little pots pack in lots of product so they’ll last you months.

Price at time of publish: $34

Coverage Level: Medium to full | Finish: Radiant | Shade Range: 11 | Size: 0.24 oz. | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Drugstore

Revlon ColorStay Crème Eye Shadow

Revlon ColorStay Crème Eyeshadow


What We Like
  • Built-in brush

  • Works as highlighter

What We Don't Like
  • The container is tricky to open

  • Dries out over time

As a wallet-friendly pick that competes with luxury options, this eyeshadow is a good choice for trying colors outside your comfort zone (the Black Currant shade imparts sophisticated fairy vibes on any skin tone). The light color payoff goes on subtly, but you can easily build it up for more intensity. Apply primer underneath to extend the wear time.

Price at time of publish: $10

Coverage: Sheer | Shade Range: 6 | Finish: Radiant | Size: 0.16 oz. | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: No

Best Long Lasting

Smashbox Always On Cream Eyeshadow

Always On Cream Eyeshadow SMASHBOX


What We Like
  • Neutral and bold shade options

  • Long-lasting

What We Don't Like
  • Dries quickly

  • Best applied with a brush

Tube-style shadows tend to stay fresher than pots since the product has less exposure to air. That’s just one of this product’s benefits—its best feature is the primer-enriched formula. The product stays in place wherever you apply it and layers well with other shadows you want to sweep on top. You can choose from matte and shimmery options, too.

Price at time of publish: $25

Coverage: Medium | Shade Range: 14 | Finish: Matte | Size: 0.34 fl. oz | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Splurge

Tom Ford Cream Color for Eyes

TOM FORD Cream Color For Eyes


What We Like
  • Doesn’t smudge or crease

  • Strong color payoff

What We Don't Like
  • Limited shade range

  • Difficult to blend

Yes, this eyeshadow is the priciest on our list, but the formula is rich with three-dimensional pigments. A pea size amount is more than enoughto deliver a full wash of color on both eyes. “I have the oiliest eyelids, and this cream shadow is not only super blendable, but it also stays put through even the sweatiest days (and nights),” explains former editorial director Faith Xue. Go with a shade similar to your skin tone for a neutral effect, or choose a contrasting option for a bolder look. Because of the dense color payoff, we like to apply it with a brush for easy, even blending.

Price at time of publish: $46

Coverage: Medium | Shade Range: 3 | Finish: Radiant | Size: 0.17 oz. | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: No

Best for Mature Eyes

Jillian Dempsey Lid Tint

Jillian Dempsey Lid Tint


What We Like
  • Plant-based emollients

  • Easy to blend

What We Don't Like
  • Not long lasting on oily eyelids

Some cream eyeshadows get their buttery feel from silicones and waxes; this one scores that texture from coconut oil, shea butter, and sunflower seed oil that deliver eye cream-caliber benefits. “These have a stiffer, stay-put texture that doesn’t melt immediately off your skin like some cream formulas,” notes contributor Amanda Montell. The Dew shade is spot-on for the glossy eye trend—just dab it on top of your favorite shadow.

Price at time of publish: $28

Coverage: Sheer | Shade Range: 10 | Finish: Radiant | Size: 0.11 oz. | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Stick

Laura Mercier Caviar Stick Eyeshadow

Laura Mercier Caviar Stick Eyeshadow


What We Like
  • Works as eyeliner

  • Wide shade range

What We Don't Like
  • Bullet may break if not retracted properly

  • Creases on oily lids

With an astounding 37 shade options, Laura Mercier’s shadow sticks are a one-stop shop for any eye look. (You can even select from matte, shimmer, and metallic options.) The stick style pigments are simple to apply on your lids as liner or shadow: Just sweep the stick close to your lash line and use a brush or your fingertips to blur the product up and out, if you wish.

Price at time of publish: $17 for .03 oz

Coverage: Medium | Shade Range: 37 | Finish: Multiple | Size: 0.05 oz. | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: No

Best for Sensitive Eyes

RMS Beauty Eyelights Cream Eyeshadow

RMS Beauty Eyelights Cream Eyeshadow


What We Like
  • Doesn’t crease

  • Included key helps dispense product

What We Don't Like
  • Limited blendability

The ebullient founder behind RMS Beauty, Rose-Marie Swift, pours her energy into creating makeup with skin benefits. Her latest eyeshadow launch is a testament to that. These glimmery cream shadows contain green tea extract and plant-based peptides to nourish your skin. The aluminum tubes come with a key that helps you squeeze out every last drop of the eyeshadow, so nothing goes to waste.

Price at time of publish: $26

Coverage: Full | Shade Range: 6 | Finish: Radiant | Size: 0.28 fl oz. | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Palette

Patrick Ta Major Dimension Eyeshadow Palette

PATRICK TA Major Dimension Eyeshadow Palette


What We Like
  • Highly pigmented shades

  • No fallout

What We Don't Like
  • Cream bases are dark on fairer skin tones

Balest loves to layer cream eyeshadows with powder products for more dimension and longevity in your look. “This palette is a great option for this approach—it includes two cream bases and a collection of velvety powder shadows for layering,” she explains. The neutral cream bases work with all the shimmer options, so you can mix and match the shades to your liking.

Price at time of publish: $68

Coverage: Medium to full | Shade Range: 1 palette, 12 shades | Finish: Multiple | Size: 0.13 oz. | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for Oily Lids

MAC Cosmetics Pro Longwear Paint Pot

Pro Longwear Paint Pot Cream Eyeshadow

Courtesy by Nordstrom

What We Like
  • Water resistant

  • Dermatologist and ophthalmologist tested

  • Apply with brush or fingertips

What We Don't Like
  • Drying on non-oily lids

Cream shadows can be tricky to use when you have oily eyelids: The pigments tend to crease, transfer, and smudge throughout the day. MAC Cosmetics’ formula has a primer-like power that keeps the product in place for hours on end. The shade range includes neutral options to even out discoloration on your lids, plus punchy tones like burgundy.

Price at time of publish: $25

Coverage: Full | Shade Range: 15 | Finish: Natural | Size: 0.17 oz. | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: No 

Best for Hooded Eyes

Danessa Myricks Beauty Colorfix Eye, Cheek, and Lip Pigment

Danessa Myricks Beauty Colorfix Eye, Cheek & Lip Cream Pigment


What We Like
  • Multi-use pigments

  • Buildable coverage

  • Waterproof

What We Don't Like
  • Dries down quickly

If you’re after a monochromatic moment, these versatile pigments are for you. You can dab the colors on your eyes, lips, and cheeks. The color intensity is adjustable, too: Sweep the product with a fluffy bristled brush for a sheer finish, or apply the product with your fingertips for more opacity. There’s no shortage of shade options and three finishes (high shine, matte, and metallic) to choose from.

Price at time of publish: $18

Best for Beginners

NUDESTIX Magnetic Eye Color

NUDESTIX Magnetic Eye Color

Courtesy by Sephora

What We Like
  • Built-in sharpener

  • Long-lasting 

What We Don't Like
  • Creases on oily lids 

  • Sets quickly

With buildable coverage and good blendability, this chubby stick is a great choice for those who are new to cream eyeshadows. We love that the shade range includes multiple sheer, shimmery options you can use as highlighter on your brow bone. “I rarely wear eyeshadow, but when I do, the product needs to have a great color payoff, and it needs to be able to withstand whatever is on my agenda that day—that's exactly what happened with these Nudestix products,” explains former social media editor Aimee Jefferson. The stick comes in a tin carrying case with a mirror inside, so you can touch up or add intensity on the go.

Price at time of published: $26

Coverage: Sheer to full | Shade Range: 21 | Finish: Multiple | Size: 0.10 oz. | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Multitasking

Live Tinted Huestick Multistick

Live Tinted Huestick Multistick


What We Like
  • Silky texture

  • Dense pigments

What We Don't Like
  • Prone to smudging

Some multitasking products perform well for one use but fall flat in another. This stick, on the other hand, is as good on eyelids as it is on lips. The shades are highly pigmented but diffuse out well when you tap them in place (a little goes a long way). And each stick contains skincare ingredients like hyaluronic acid, squalane, and vitamins C and E.

Price at time of publish: $24

Coverage: Medium | Shade Range: 7 | Finish: Radiant | Size: 0.1 oz. | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Metallic

Hourglass Scattered Light Glitter Eyeshadow Metallic

Hourglass Scattered Light Glitter Eyeshadow


What We Like
  • Lightweight feel

  • Intense sparkle

What We Don't Like
  • Requires primer for even application

You can find a number of cream shadows with barely-there shimmer. If you’re into extra shine, these pots are just for you. You’ll get loads of sparkle (without chunky flecks of glitter, by the way) for light-reflective lids. The cream shadow is best applied firmly for an even finish. Use your fingertips or wield a dense brush to get an even wash of metallic glimmer on your eyes.

Price at time of publish: $30

Coverage: Full | Shade Range: 5 | Finish: Radiant | Size: 0.12 oz. | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Matte

Rare Beauty by Selena Gomez Stay Vulnerable Liquid Eyeshadow

Rare Beauty by Selena Gomez Stay Vulnerable Liquid Eyeshadow

Courtesy by Sephora

What We Like
  • Layerable

  • Not drying

What We Don't Like
  • Limited shade options

This liquid-to-powder shadow isn’t exactly a cream, but it feels like one on your skin. The matte finish creates a smooth base for layering other products on top, but it’s beautiful on its own, too. The shade range is relatively limited, but if you always reach for berry, pink, or mauve shadow, you’ll be spoiled for choice.

Price at time of publish: $20

Coverage: Medium | Shade Range: 5 | Finish: Matte | Size: 0.1 oz | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Final Verdict

We have one clear winner, and it’s Charlotte Tilbury’s Eyes to Mesmerize. The makeup artist-recommended formula outperforms other cream options because of its buttery texture, just-right shimmer, and smooth blendability. Revlon ColorStay Crème Eyeshadow is a budget-friendly gold standard choice; it goes on sheer but builds up beautifully, and the shade range includes neutral metallics and pretty pastels like peach and lavender. Cream shadows are prone to fading throughout the day, but Smashbox Always On Cream Eyeshadow has primer-like qualities that keep the pigments in place for hours. 

What to Look For


The denser the pigments, the deeper the color payoff. Cream formulas are malleable: You can blend them out for a diffused effect or pack on the product for more vibrancy. Swatch the product on your hand before applying it to your lid, and you’ll see how sheer or full coverage the product is. 


It seems counterintuitive that cream eyeshadows have a finish that’s anything other than, well, creamy. But in reality, you can find various options, from matte to high gloss. If your eyelids are oily, a matte option will be best for longer wear time. Dry lids? Then go with a buttery pick to prevent flaking. Many cream formulas also have some shimmer to them: Those flecks look more lit-from-within in a silky base than they do in a powder formula. 


The majority of cream shadows are packaged in little pots or tubs, which usually signals a wetter formula. You can also find options condensed into palettes—these have denser pigments. Tubes are also an option; they keep the product fresher longer, as the formula stays sealed and away from air, which can dry it out. 

  • Is cream eyeshadow better?

    Compared to powder eyeshadows, cream options are generally less likely to smudge or transfer to your undereye concealer. You also have more control over the formula: They have more grip on your lids, so you can build them up or buff them out. 

  • How do you keep cream eyeshadow on?

    If your eyelids are oily, start with an eyeshadow primer to lock things in place. “Taking care to blend well is the real key when you’re applying a cream shadow,” says Balest. So be sure to buff or tap the product thoroughly—it’ll be less likely to crease or smear when you wear it.

  • Do you need to use a primer before applying cream eyeshadow?

    “Some formulas offer longer-lasting wear than powder shadows, and a primer isn’t necessary for these,” explains Balest. “Other cream formulas have a wetter, creamier consistency that benefit from a primer to absorb excess oil and prevent creasing,” she adds. 

  • What’s the best way to apply cream eyeshadow?

    Cream shadows are easy to apply—Balest usually uses her fingertip to tap it onto the lid. “You can use a cream shadow brush; just make sure the shadow is well blended, so there aren’t uneven deposits of product on the lid,” she adds. Dab the majority of the product on the lower part of your eyelid near your lashes, then smooth it upwards into your crease. Take one last look to ensure you don’t see a line of demarcation between the formula and your skin, and if you do, keep on blending. 

Why Trust Byrdie

Claire is a freelance beauty writer based in New York City. She spent six years at Martha Stewart Living and Martha Stewart Weddings, most recently writing and editing beauty content for both brands. You’ll be hard-pressed to find her applying eyeshadow that’s not cream-based, so she’s familiar with the nitty gritty when it comes to formulas, application, and stunning shades. 

Related Stories