Best drugstore eye shadow

Eye Makeup

Soap and water alone won’t remove all your eye shadow, especially if it’s high pigment or long-wearing. Use a makeup-removing product like liquid or wipes to remove shadow without irritating delicate skin around the eyes.

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Which drugstore eye shadow is best?

Whether you’re on a budget or appreciate a good deal, drugstore eye shadows are worth adding to your makeup collection. They’re available at a fraction of the price of shadows made by premium beauty brands, and sometimes, they’re similar in color or formulation.

From single shadows to palettes with color stories, there’s no shortage of options for drugstore eye shadows. If you’re searching for a set of colors to create a full look, Maybelline The Nudes Eyeshadow Palette remains a top choice for its versatile collection of shades and finishes.

What to know before you buy drugstore eye shadow


An eye shadow’s formula impacts application and wear time. Some formulas are better for certain skin types than others.

Pressed powder eye shadows are made from finely ground powders and other ingredients that are pressed into pans. These shadows have dry finishes that are suitable for most skin types.

Loose powder shadows are also made from finely ground powders, but they don’t have binders and usually come in tiny jars. They’re known for their intense pigments and high color payoff, although it takes a skilled hand to apply them.

Cream eye shadows have smooth textures that swipe easily across lids. They’re more hydrating than powder formulas, and they’re often preferred by those with dry or mature skin.

Stick or pencil shadows usually resemble large crayons. They have creamy, blendable textures that are as hydrating as cream shadows. They’re quick and easy to apply and remain a favorite among those with dry or mature skin.

Shade quantity

Pressed powder eye shadows are available in more than one quantity. Single shadows, as their name implies, have a single shade. Duos, trios and quads include complementary shades that achieve a full look. Eye shadow palettes can contain up to 24 shades, which may include a diverse color assortment or a cohesive theme called a color story.

Application tools

Many drugstore eye shadows come with small applicators. They work in a pinch, but for better application, use shadow brushes. They come in several shapes and densities to apply shadow to the lid, crease and brow bone. For more information on shadow brushes, visit the BestReviews buying guide on makeup brushes.

What to look for in a quality drugstore eye shadow


Fillers: Drugstore eye shadows usually contain more fillers than high-end shadows. Talc, a base filler, gives shadow a dry, chalky finish. Formulas that use mica as a filler are more flattering because they give the skin a light glow.

Binders: Binders such as zinc or magnesium are ingredients that hold together eye shadow. Some binders contribute to smoother application and better blending, including dimethicone and silica.

Waxes and oils: Cream and stick shadows contain waxes and oils such as beeswax and jojoba oil to achieve their unique textures. Waxes and oils are emollients, which means they protect and lubricate the skin.


Eye shadows come in more than one finish. When you use more than one of them, it adds dimension to your look.

Matte shadows have zero shine or glitter, and you can use them as base shades.

Satin shadows have a subtle sheen that’s universally flattering.

Metallic shadows have shiny metallic tones popular for bolder looks.

Shimmer shadows have a sheer, buildable finish with a touch of sparkle.

Glitter shadows have a high density of noticeable glitter particles that capture light.

Long-wear eye shadow

Some eye shadows are long-wearing, meaning they’re formulated to last longer than other shadows. Many of these shadows contain isododecane and acrylate copolymers. These ingredients not only help the shadow stick to skin longer, they may reduce the likelihood of transference and fallout.

How much you can expect to spend on drugstore eye shadow

Some single and duo eye shadows cost $6 and less. Better-quality single shadows and quads cost closer to $12. Top-of-the-line eye shadows, which include long-wearing formulas and larger palettes, cost $12-$20.

Drugstore eye shadow FAQ

How can you better apply eye shadow?

A. Besides using shadow brushes, use a quality lid primer that provides a smooth base that holds onto color. To hold your look in place all day, close your eyes and use a makeup setting spray to seal it.

What’s an eye shadow dupe?

A. In the world of beauty, dupes refer to drugstore makeup products that are similar in shade to more expensive products. Colors will appear similar, although the ingredients, intensity and wear time may differ between products.

What’s the best drugstore eye shadow to buy?

Top drugstore eye shadow

Maybelline The Nudes Eyeshadow Palette

Maybelline The Nudes Eyeshadow Palette

What you need to know: This 12-color Maybelline palette is comprehensive if you want a single product to cover all day-to-night looks.

What you’ll love: This palette features a diverse assortment of matte and shimmer shades that work well for base, crease and liner. Colors have a high-pigment, long-wear formula that’s easy to blend. The formula also holds onto liquid and cream eyeliner well.

What you should consider: The palette is somewhat fragile and shades may break if they’re jostled in a makeup bag.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top drugstore eye shadow for the money

CoverGirl Eye Enhancers Shadow

CoverGirl Eye Enhancers Shadow

What you need to know: If you’re on a budget, this CoverGirl eye shadow is a solid choice, given its high color payoff.

What you’ll love: The shadow has a silky-sheer formula that’s easy to build. It comes with a dual-sided applicator, which is convenient for on-the-go touch-ups. It’s Leaping Bunny certified as a cruelty-free product.

What you should consider: Pigment is hit or miss, as some shades are much richer than others.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out



What you need to know: Touted as a well-rounded option with great color stories, these palettes work well for creating daytime or glam looks.

What you’ll love: The 16-color collection features matte, satin, shimmer and metallic shades. With bold, long-wearing pigments, many colors are considered dupes for shades from high-end brands. The palette is cruelty-free.

What you should consider: Each shade is small, so you may run out of your favorite ones quickly.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Sian Babish writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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