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I gave up on typical powder eyeshadows a long time ago. Not because I don’t like them — I do! — but more because they don’t like me. I’ve watched more YouTube beauty tutorials than I can count (or would like to admit) about how to master the perfect eye look. Be it something wild or a “simple” smoky eye, it still looks like a small child did my makeup every time. Endlessly frustrated, I followed the same road I’ve gone down with my blush and foundation choices in the past: I’ve converted to cream options instead.
It’s the best decision I’ve made cosmetics-wise because now I can go out at night with a full face of makeup without looking like I forgot about my eyes. Cream eyeshadows are truly so damn easy and finger-friendly to apply and look just as good worn smudged or precise and clean.
But because they’re obviously not all made equally — some definitely aren’t oily-eyelid-proof, meaning they’ll smudge off before you can even get where you’re going — I’ve pulled together four of my very favorite options, starting at just $3. Whether you’re looking for bright blues and purples or dewy neutrals, the options below will have you sold on creamy shadows.
Milk Makeup Eye Pigment, $24: If you’re into ultra-bold eye looks and a formula that nearly cements itself to your eyelids, there’s no beating this one from Milk Makeup. These teeny tubes of metallic cream shadow come in some super playful, editorial-worthy colors like Rave (vibrant purple) and After Party (light pink).
It dries almost immediately after putting it on — so dry that five minutes after applying, I could rub my eyes and nothing would come off. But while quick-dry is great, it also means you won’t be able to move it around or blend once it does, so be precise when you’re applying.
E.l.f. Smudge Pot Cream Eye Shadow, $3: The price of this product is kind of shocking to me after having used it because it’s so! good! The shades are extremely creamy and pigmented and go on really evenly and smoothly. Each shadow is a uniform color, but between the light and the natural contour of my lids, the metallic sheen gives really great dimension to the eye.
Jillian Dempsey Lid Tint, $28: I’m in the middle of Grey’s Anatomy right now — I know, a decade late — so I was pretty excited to realize the founder of this line is Patrick Dempsey’s wife. As far as the product goes, this was the most minimal one I tried, and I absolutely loved it. You just swirl your finger around the thin, dewy color and tap it onto your lids. It goes on like a glossy watercolor, so I highly recommend it for fans of The Dewy Look. I was worried this sheer wash of color wouldn’t hold, but it did!
The shade options are really great, too, ranging from a barely-there peach color to blue-ish black. I can’t wait to wear this in the summer with the other creamy products that look better when I sweat.
Maybelline Eye Studio Color Tattoo, $7: Another great drugstore option is this one from Maybelline. The texture is super unique: It’s thick and creamy with an almost leather-y look and finish that dries matte and stays put for a good portion of your day. It says it lasts 24 hours, but I’d say realistically it’s more like 10 — long enough to get through a full work day and then go out for drinks after. It’s also a really buildable product, so you can play up the intensity as much or as little as you want.