Glitter eyeshadows are so easy to fall in love with at first sight. They draw me in with their bright sparkles and rainbow hues; they promise to make every look I attempt so much shinier (and therefore better). But all too often, as soon as I apply them, the cracks start to show—literally. I’ve tried countless formulas that look IG-perfect for a whole 30 seconds before disintegrating into a crease-y mess, or rapidly migrating to any part of my face that isn’t my eye area. I discovered the Ellis Faas Lights when they first launched in 2010, and for the past 10 years, nothing else has come remotely close. Ahead, my honest review of the best glitter formula to touch my face in a decade.
Ellis Faas Lights Eyeshadow
STAR RATING: 4.8/5
BEST FOR: Those who love glitter makeup, as well as anyone who hasn't found the right glitter formula for their needs.
USES: Eyeshadow, eyeliner, or a very extra highlight
BYRDIE CLEAN: No, contains parabens
ABOUT THE BRAND: Storied editorial makeup artist, Ellis Faas, founded her brand based on the colors that exist naturally on our bodies. It’s since evolved to embrace her love of playing with makeup and self-expression, evident in her metallic Lights collection.
About My Skin: Eats eye makeup for breakfast
Historically speaking, my biggest problem with glitter formulas has been my eye area’s tendency to eat any makeup that lands within its radius. Without primer, most eyeshadows and eyeliners tend to crease within a few hours—with primer, they still fade and bleed a bit as the day goes on. Glitter is one of the worst culprits; dry formulas tend to give me a lot of fallout, while liquid or gel versions slide all over my face. Either way, I’m usually left with an eye look that’s nothing like the one I applied in the morning.
The Feel: Quick-dry, grit-free magic
Faas once told me that it was too difficult to find a factory that could nail both the colors and textures she envisioned for Lights. So instead, the brand buys the pigments separately, then converts them to a texture that’s blendable, but dries to a budge-proof finish. If you’re a longtime fan of Ellis Faas (like yours truly), you’ll note that the brand subtly converted the packaging after its initial launch. While the exterior has always looked the same—like a reflective mini spaceship—they’ve since swapped the twist-up brush applicator for a doe-foot wand. I prefer the current version by far, which allows greater control and doesn’t waste any product.
To apply, I twist the eyeshadow open and dab a tiny bit of product on the center of my eyelid, then go in with my finger to pat it on. You can of course also use brushes to further blend it out or paint in details, but I currently own a grand total of zero eye makeup brushes (solely because I’m too lazy to clean them). The formula is a lightweight—but not runny—liquid that feels slightly cooling when it goes on, but sheers out easily into a dry-touch finish. The brand nailed the dry time on these; they stay blendable long enough that you can create smokey eyes or layer multiple shades, but then stay fully put after a minute or so. The finish is completely smooth; at no point will you feel the recognizable grit of glitter flakes. It’s also not sticky, so it doesn’t crease up. I’ve easily worn these all day and night before, without a single drop of eye primer. If I wear them for a ridiculous period of time, I’ll see some fading, but there’s never any fallout, smudging, or creasing.
The Results: An otherworldly finish
Ellis Faas Lights currently come in eight shades: Antique Silver, Green Gold, Bronze, Lilac, Holographic Bordeaux, Beige, Chocolate Brown, and Dark Metal. Each is shot through with a glimmering, metallic iridescence that pairs perfectly with the base shade. Here, I’ve swatched E302 Green Gold, E303 Bronze, and E306 Beige, then photographed them with flash. Like most glitters, these show up at their shiniest in artificial light, which makes them perfect for parties and events. If you want this kind of high-impact glitter, the brand recommends painting them on directly with a brush or the doe-foot applicator and letting them dry. The more you blend, the subtler the final effect will be—although they will still show plenty of shine.
One of my favorite ways to use Lights is to layer them on top of cream formulas; this lends them an amazing, dimensional finish. Faas sometimes pats her favorite shades on top of lipstick, which is an easy and pretty take on glitter lips. Here, I tried the eye version, beginning with a matte base of Ellis Faas Creamy Eyes in E125 Khaki Green. I patted a thin layer of E302 Green Gold on the inner corner, then dabbed a thicker layer of E303 Bronze on the center of the lid. For a look that was done with my fingers in less than a minute, I was impressed with how well it turned out. It definitely wasn’t down to my skills either; this is all the work of Lights.
For those that prefer a slightly subtler take on glitter, this is what E306 Beige looks like when sheered out as a single-layer lid wash. You can easily do this with any of the colors, but I especially love how Beige Lights makes my eyelids glow like the pearlescent edges of a seashell. For a shinier finish that still uses only one eyeshadow, I would just add another, more concentrated layer at the inner corner or center of my eyelid. The formula is easily buildable, and I find that adding more layers makes the color even richer—almost like you’re wearing a spectrum of the same glitter shade.
The Value: Worth it for the versatility
There aren’t many formulas that can go from molten metal to sheered-out iridescence—and wear equally beautifully both ways. Lights is really the only one you need. At $39 a pop, they’re expensive, but also last forever. I’ve found lots of other gorgeous glitters, but none that replicate the finish and formula of these. The shade range also offers a lot of versatility. My recommendation for those that don’t want to spend too much on a glitter shadow is to choose one that works across a wide range of looks. For instance, Lights E306 Beige can be applied so many ways: on lids, cheeks, and lips. The gold shades will also pair easily with any eye look you care to try.
Interested in reading more reviews? Check out our list of the best MUA-approved glitter eye shadows.
Our Verdict: Save up for this splurge
Ellis Faas Lights will convert even the most hardened glitter haters. The formula is truly special, and the colors wear as well alone as they do with the rest of your eyeshadow collection. I’ve seen so many glitter launches since Lights first came out, but these still hold a sacred place in my makeup kit. Whether you want to enhance your makeup looks with a single shade or collect them all, this is one splurge worth saving up for.