We Tested 11 Cream Eye Shadows—and the Best One Wasn't the Most Expensive

Updated 05/24/18
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Getty Images. Graphic by Cristina Cianci

It’s official: Cream and stick eye shadow formulas have fully taken the place of cumbersome powders—at least in the makeup routines of Byrdie editors. We’ve tried dozens of the best cream eye shadows over the past year, and during the process, we have discovered several key elements to consider. Color, vibrancy, consistency, and texture are all important, of course. But the difference between a good cream eye shadow and a great one is the “wearability” factor. Especially if you have oily eyelids that can’t seem to hang on to color. Think about it: No matter how pretty the pigment, if your shadow doesn’t last through the night, what’s the point?

By far, our favorite thing about cream and stick eye shadow is how easy it is to apply—and we’ll take an effortless cream over a fussy powder any day. However, our standards for long wear still stand strong. So we went on the hunt to find the longest-lasting cream eye shadow on the market: one that we can just swipe on leave be. We editors put seven cream eye shadows that promise all-night wear to the ultimate test. Keep scrolling to read our reviews of the 10 long-lasting cream eye shadows!

E.l.f. Smudge Pot Cream Eye Shadow $3

"What I loved most about this smudge pot was the smoky effect it delivered even though it went on as a cream. It was highly pigmented but still buildable, and though it's a uniform color, it gave off an ombré effect as its metallic sheen played with the light and the contour of my eyelid. Unlike some of my go-to eye shadows (both powder and cream), the rich color lasted throughout the day. This product is perfect for those wishing to achieve a dimensional eye look with just a few easy swipes of the finger or anyone applying makeup on the go." — Dacy Knight, weekend editor

L'Oréal Paris Infallible Paints Eye Shadow $8

"It felt like fate that this double-sided eye shadow fell into my hands—I recognized it immediately, since Beyoncé had worn that exact shade the night before at the Grammys. (I wrote about it; I'm not just a stalker fangirl, I swear. Ish.)

"First things first, I really love the texture of this liquid formula. It glides right on. And this particular shade—Nude Fishnet—is a really nice neutral color. I would probably wear the matte side for a natural daytime look since it matches my skin tone exactly—it's great for hiding any discoloration that's making me look tired, which is always good. But if I want to add a little somethin' somethin', there's the shimmery version on the other side. It's essentially the mullet of eye shadows, which is probably the only positive connotation I'll ever associate with mullets: business in the front, party in the back.

"As for long-lasting wear, it mostly stayed put through a 75-minute yoga class, so there's that. Although perhaps I shouldn't have been surprised—if Bey can wear it through a televised performance, I can certainly maintain my look through a few vinyasas." — Victoria Hoff, news editor

Eye Polish Solar 0.15 oz/ 4.25 g
RMS Beauty Eye Polish $28

"I'm not actually much of an eye shadow wearer (read: I wear it maybe five times a year). But when I DO reach for something to add a little more depth to my lids, it's this pretty (and organic!) pot from RMS. It takes two seconds to dab on in the car, smudges pristinely, and is still intact by the time I get to the gym around 6 p.m.

"Plus, to add fuel to the fire, I'm convinced it looks BETTER as the day wears as it gradually warms into skin. I love Myth because it's a neutral but gives off that 'your eyes but better' vibe. Which, as someone who doesn't like the typical drama of eye shadow, is perfect for me." — Erin Jahns, associate editor

Milk Makeup Eye Pigment $24

"If you're looking for truly long wear—as in, eye makeup that practically cements to your face—it doesn't get better than Milk's formula. These little tubes of metallic cream come in youthful shades like After Party (a light pink), Rave (a vibrant purple), and Mermaid Parade (an aqua green). I chose the light pink, slathered it on my lids, and it dried down so completely that I could have forgotten I was wearing makeup, rubbed my eye, and it still wouldn't smudge. The only thing to remember is that you have to be precise when you apply it because once it dries, it's almost impossible to blend or move around. But if it's long wear that you're looking for, this, my friend, is it." — Amanda Montell, associate features editor

Maybelline Eye Studio Color Tattoo 24-Hour Eye Shadow $6

"I don't typically wear eye shadow because I don't like how it creases. That was not the case with this one from Maybelline. (I chose the purple shade.) The color is easily layered—I wear it as a sheer violet tint on my lids, but you could also do something more pigmented with it. At the end of my workday, it looked just as it did right after application." — Maddie Sensibile, Obsessee editor

Cream Color For Eye
Tom Ford Cream Color For Eye $45

"I have the oiliest eyelids, and this cream shadow is not only super blendable, it also stays put through even the sweatiest days (and nights). Plus, unlike other cream shadows, all the colors are super three-dimensional and give a really petty shimmer. Sphinx is a sherbet-tinged shade that has a slight holographic tinge in sunlight (I got so many compliments when I wore it last weekend in L.A.), and Caviar is my favorite to smoke out my liner on a night out." — Faith Xue, editorial director

Jillian Dempsey Lid Tint $28

"Makeup artists, celebrities, and beauty editors (not least of all me) are obsessed with these sleeper hit cream eye shadows, which have a sort of stiffer, stay-put texture that doesn't melt immediately off your skin like some cream formulas. The shades are pigmented yet soft, and come in both matte and shimmer finishes depending on your vibe. I'm a new fan of these, but a committed one." — Amanda

Nudestix Magnetic Eye Color $24

"I rarely wear eye shadow, but when I do, the product needs to have 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. They're smoother than velvet and so easy to blend that it's almost therapeutic. I received so many compliments while wearing them (which is always a plus), and they were able to last through my workout class. I don't think I'll be parting with this product anytime soon." — Aimee Jefferson, social media editor

Rituel de Fille Eye Soot $38

"I have very contradictory standards from eye shadow in that typically I like something that looks effortless and borderline messy, but it also needs to stay put. In other words, I'm down with creasing and fading as long as it does so in a way that doesn't make me look like I've been drunkenly crying in 105º weather. The thing I love about Rituel de Fille's eye soots [which are midway between a cream and a powder] is that they're beautifully pigmented and sheer, so you can layer them on according to the look you're going for. This also means they still look stunning as they fade. It's my go-to when I want that hazy-eye look—a bronze-y orange, grungy aesthetic that would make Fiona Apple proud." — Victoria

Givenchy Ombre Couture Cream Eye Shadow $26

"When I initially put it on, I loved how easy this applied and blended with just my fingers. I tried the No.13 in Noir Sequin Black, and I loved the glittery finish. (From shimmery khaki green to matte pastel pink, all the hues offered are versatile and gorgeous.) Because the application was so creamy, I was anxious to see how well the pigment would wear. I wore it for about seven hours, and I must say, I thought it would wear a bit better, as it claims to be waterproof and long-lasting. When I looked in the mirror, I could still see glitter finish, but most of the color was no longer there. I'd recommend using this with a primer or as a base to intensify powder shadows instead. That way, your shadow will look more vibrant, and it will last longer since you're setting it with a powder!" — Ariel Ornelas, editorial intern

Stila Glitter & Glow Liquid Eye Shadow $24

"I've never had much luck with sparkly eye shadow, especially creams. Normally it applies super patchy or is not pigmented enough, or I end up with glitter all over my face. But I was surprised and delighted by this Stila pick. First, the shade selection is gorgeous and dimensional: Each bottle contains a blend of two colors. (My favorite was Smoky Storm, a pinky-silver hue.) The product stayed put, looking sparkly and beautiful for almost 10 hours. By the time I washed it off, only one single sparkle had fallen onto my cheek. The product might be a little much for everyday wear, but I would highly recommend this stuff for a party or night-out look." — Amanda

What's your favorite cream eye shadow? DM us your recommendations on Instagram @byrdiebeauty!

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