Hot take: Every makeup kit needs a cream eyeshadow. Hotter take: In most ways that matter, cream eyeshadows far outshine their powdery cousins. Though the right cream eyeshadow for you will depend on your preferred color and finish (not to mention your budget), all of the best cream eyeshadows have buttery textures that make them easy to blend, and they stick around for hours without creasing, fading, or smudging.
Here are some other, fun ways to use cream eyeshadows, because they also happen to be incredibly versatile: Trace some along your lash line with an angled brush, and it’s an eyeliner. Layer a powder shadow on top, and it’ll act as a primer. Depending on the shade you pick, they can even work as highlighters when dabbed onto the high points of your face.
A note on the best way to apply cream eyeshadow: I always get the best results when I apply the product in thin layers, then blend everything out with my finger, though you can also use a brush if you’d prefer. The best brush to apply cream eyeshadow would be a stiffer, densely packed eyeshadow brush, which will pick up more product than a fluffy brush would.
Scroll on to shop five of the best cream eyeshadows out there, starting at just $6.
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1. The Overall Best Drugstore Cream Eyeshadow
This Revlon Colorstay Creme Eye Shadow is a best-seller (and has been, for years) for a reason. Several of them, actually: It doesn’t crease or transfer, even on oily lids; the waterproof formula has excellent staying power; and the smooth-as-butter texture glides on easily. It’s sold in 13 shades in both matte and shimmery finishes, and each pot comes with a little applicator brush that snaps onto the cap. At just $6 per shadow, what’s not to love?
- Available shades: 13
2. The Best Cream Eyeshadow Stick
The only thing easier than a cream eyeshadow is a cream eyeshadow stick — and these are the best cream-to-powder eyeshadows out there. If you can color inside the lines with a crayon, you can use one of these: Just trace it along your lash line, sketch it across your lid, then use the built-in smudger to blend it out (or not). The rounded tip is incredibly smooth, so this whole process should feel borderline therapeutic. Thanks to that convenient packaging, these work perfectly as eyeliners or cream highlighters, as well.
- Available shades: 18
3. Pro’s Pick
If you prefer a more natural-looking shadow, pick up one of these Lid Tints from celebrity makeup artist Jillian Dempsey’s namesake line. These impart a wash of sheer color with a glossy, ever-so-slightly incandescent finish: The perfect recipe for a cool, effortless look, whether worn on their own or layered over a powder for more dimension. Of course, Dempsey herself is a fan: “I literally can’t imagine my beauty routine without the Lid Tints,” she tells Elite Daily. “It’s the easiest way to apply sheer shades to the lids and cheeks, and they won’t cause breakouts.” That’s down to the good-for-skin ingredients in the formula, which include antioxidant-rich rosehip oil and nourishing coconut oil. Also, because these are made without the most common, potential irritants found in makeup, these win the title of the best cream eyeshadows for sensitive eyes.
- Available shades: 10
4. Editor’s Pick
“The first thing to know about these Ritual de Fille eyeshadows is that they’ll last you a long time. I’ve had mine for a few years now, and the texture has yet to dry out — it’s still delightfully creamy, and the pigment remains vivid. Speaking of pigment, I can’t say enough about the dramatic, iridescent shades, which are the perfect blend of shimmery and sooty. They dry down to a kind of powdery finish, so they won’t look oily or slide off your lids in a matter of hours. In fact, their wear time is so impressive, you could use them as eyeliner with an angled brush. (Or for my favorite way to apply them, dab them onto your lids using a finger for the perfect, smudge-y look.) Bonus points for the adorable little jars in which they’re housed, which come stamped with the brand’s signature, cosmic-inspired logo."
— Adeline Duff, Beauty Editor, Commerce
- Available shades: 7
5. Writer’s Pick
Up there with the Revlon Colorstay pots, this Maybelline Color Tattoo Eyeshadow is another one of the best waterproof cream eyeshadows you can buy for less than $10. I distinctly recall falling asleep in this shadow, and there it remained, artfully faded yet completely intact, the following morning. Tattooed, indeed. But before it dries down — and stays down — you have a few seconds to blend it out, so it’s the ideal product for a one-step smokey eye. The metallic and shimmery finishes are beautifully dynamic, while the neutral matte versions make for excellent primers for powder shadows.
- Available shades: 10
Bonus: The Best Cream Eyeshadow Base
Cream shadows tend to be budge-proof on their own. But for added security, layer it over an eyeshadow base, like this one from Elizabeth Mott. The formula contains finely milled pearl powder, which helps keep grease at bay and creates a smooth, even surface for your shadow to cling to. It feels totally weightless, too — important if you’re layering a cream shadow on top, since creams tend to feel a little heavier than powders. Across the board, Amazon reviewers are blown away by its staying power. "I really would have given it a TEN star rating if I could have," one person raved, while others have deemed this a "perfect" product.
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