The 10 Best Drugstore Eyeshadows of 2019

Drugstore Eyeshadow: The Best of 2019

The best drugstore eyeshadow has recently and rapidly become a big deal in our culture’s beauty sphere that matters more, moves more, and means more than ever before. If you’ve missed the signs, the makeup market has been ex-ploding. The fun and intrigue of working with makeup has become a more broadly respected profession—one that even now has its own celebrity subculture—as this industry has become more accessible and user-friendly.

Helping spread the glow-ups and adventures among all are some growing trends: Makeup use is showcased and shared heavily thanks to social media and TV shows, makeup is being produced to suit more skin tones than ever, and the gender stigmas surrounding makeup are being tested and torched.

Through Youtube channels, cosplay Instagram feeds, and our general societal evolution, the total number of makeup consumers is facing a modern swell, and many excited new makeup lovers have learned the hard way that products are not always affordable. Just touching the shadows of the beauty industry can be pricey, so regardless of your relationship with makeup, everyone is looking for a good deal.

Some old brand classics and some lesser-known, equally affordable underdogs comprise this exhaustive list of the best drugstore eyeshadows of 2019. These eyeshadows are likely available somewhere on your usual weekly commute and could be the exact palette experience you need right now to shake up and revitalize your beauty life (and on a budget!).

Drugstore makeup brands have been proving that they are fighting to stay. They continue to produce formulas that impress their customers and bring them a product they value, but even this market hosts some elite items that don’t quite have the economical quality that most of the best drugstore eyeshadows do.

Stila Glitter & Glow is a stunning liquid eyeshadow line that comes in 12 shades, each equally lovely well-named, and all providing a somewhat market-unique formula and foil. They may be gorgeous and worth the hype in a sense, but each single shade sells individually, so that's something for makeup lovers to keep in mind.

All the same, if you have the option to ‘treat yo-self’ in 2019, consider trying these beautiful, shimmery metallic liquid eyeshadow shades! A multi-award-winning product, Stila brought it all on for this one. These liquid shades come with a soft wand applicator built into their product packaging, similar to a lip-gloss applicator. Swipe the cool formula across your lid and let it dry (10-15 seconds), creating a lightweight, sparkly shade that can stand on its own, or work as a dazzling topcoat for powdered shadows.

There is a little bit of glittery fallout on the face over time with extended wear, but this drawback tends to be something that is worth the trouble of touching up, as the vibrancy and striking nature of these eyeshadows make the maintenance worth it—of course, only if you favor this sort of look. Stila’s excellent product formula also prevents major issues with creasing for most skin types, for a reasonably long period of wear.

Key Features
  • Extra-smooth formula and built-in applicator
  • Unique, stunning sparkle in the finish
  • Generally easy to apply for all skin types and tones
  • No. of Colors: 1
  • Dimensions: 0.9 x 0.9 x 3.8 inches; 0.16 ounces
  • Product Form: Liquid
  • Waterproof: No
  • Brand: Stila
  • Minimal fallout
  • Beautiful shades
  • PETA-backed cruelty-free
  • Can irritate sensitive eyes
  • Must be set for long-term coverage
  • Only one shade
Editors choice

2. NYX Ultimate

9.75 / 10

The eyes and the lips have traditionally been the two areas with the greatest potential for payoff when aiming to strike or change a makeup look, so coloring and pigmentation are very important when bringing your idea to life on these areas of your face. As a result, sometimes the quest to find your new ‘most-obsessed eyeshadow look of the season’ downright mandates the opportunity to play with as many color options as you can get your hands on. Thankfully, drugstore brands like NYX are still working hard to please their evolving consumers, and they continue to make mindful, functioning products like their NYX Ultimate shadow palettes.

The 6 palettes in this collection feature mixed finishes across sixteen eyeshadow shades. Each individual shade pan within the palette is the same size, making it a full and true eyeshadow palette. Some makeup masters might hold personal preferences or opinions about the value of a true eyeshadow palette versus the trending concept of a multifunctioning “kit,” but as an eyeshadow palette, the impressive color count of the NYX Ultimate certainly ranks at the top of drugstore eyeshadow options, whatever your makeup background or ability!

Based on their advertising, NYX also seems to do a great job of aiming to provide flattering options in each palette for a range of skin tones, making each palette option more likely to be a viable, money-well-spent choice, across the board for makeup lovers. This is definitely extra helpful for those of us who are still learning what we absolutely love and what we could do without in our beauty lives, as well.

Unfortunately, these Ultimate palettes are not quite complete, as they do not come with any sort of applicator (boo), but as brush type and quality has truly become a respected factor to consider in the makeup world for a number of reasons, you may want to take a minute to read up on how to choose the best makeup brushes and the 10 best makeup sets of 2019 before christening or revitalizing your own brush set on a whim.

Key Features
  • Matte, shimmery, satin, & metallic finishes across palettes
  • Bold color options in many of the palettes, including some neon shades
  • Seemingly conscious of color options for different skin tones
  • No. of Colors: 16
  • Dimensions: 0.7 x 3.9 x 3.8 inches; 0.48 ounces
  • Product Form: creamy powder
  • Waterproof: no
  • Get a lot of colors per palette
  • Extensive range of look and finish options
  • PETA-certified cruelty-free
  • Shadows can be chalky
  • No applicator
  • No mirror
Best value

3. Wet N Wild Color Icon

9.50 / 10

Since the late ’70s, Wet N Wild has been fulfilling the beauty fantasies of many young makeup wearers. As their website mentions, they are often remembered as being the brand of makeup synonymous with your “first makeup purchase.” Their long-time drugstore availability certainly contributed to this potentially nostalgic memory but may also now cause you to instinctively consider the brand cheap, outdated, or something from the past.

2019 Wet N Wild is here to say that it is no relic, darlings! This iconic drugstore brand is still building from its own foundation and consistently working to compete in the growing beauty industry.

Take for example the Wet N Wild Color Icon Eyeshadow 10 pan palette: this baby comes in 8 palette options with super cute names like “Not a Basic Peach” and “Stop Playing Safe.” The collection sports vibrant pigments throughout, and each palette is economically designed with two larger pans of workable, marked transition shades surrounding the 8 main eyeshadow color options.

The palettes are visually very pleasing and provide some diverse look-inspirations, from dewy cute to cozy sultry autumn. At this price-point, even many beginners can feel comfortable investing right away in at least two palettes, bringing home major options in 20 eyeshadows that plenty of beauty gurus and makeup-loving customers alike support.

Even better, just like their competitors, these palettes are PETA-certified cruelty-free and provide the best drugstore eyeshadow value. Each palette comes with 10 sizeable pans of product, in workable, fun color spreads, with a respectable portion of pigmented shadow for the price. On trend with most of their competitors again, these palettes do not come with an applicator or a mirror.

While there are definitely makeup products out there that are worth returning, and guides like this one can hopefully help you avoid those larger mishaps, not all products perform equally for all skin types and tones. To make the most out of any “dud” colors in a larger eyeshadow palette you have purchased, try applying the shadow with a wet applicator, or consider sharpening your skills with some tips to make your makeup last longer!

Key Features
  • Very low price point for number and variety of shadows
  • Day to night time looks possible in each palette
  • Two large, marked transition shades
  • No. of Colors: 10
  • Dimensions: 2.6 x 1.5 x 5.6 inches; 0.32 ounces
  • Product Form: Powder
  • Waterproof: No
  • Some long-lasting pigments
  • Great mix of shade finishes and transition product per pan
  • PETA-certified cruelty-free
  • A little powdery in the pan
  • Facial fallout
  • Shimmery colors can be underwhelming

When it comes to slaying it in the drugstore aisle of the makeup industry, Milani bakes, takes, and devours that colorful, frosted cake. As of 2019, Milani beauty products of all types have gained conspicuous recognition, freely endorsed online by highly influential members of the luxury beauty community, such as makeup gurus Jeffree Star and Tati. Praised among the pack is the Milani Everyday Eyes palette, which proves to be a premium pick and is widely acknowledged as being well-worth trying out, whether you are a professional makeup artist who loves to play with a great palette, a budding beginner working with some DIY Makeover Tips, or someone in between who appreciates the value of a reliable palette that you can pick up at the drugstore.

Each of the 8 palettes features 6 pans of well-pigmented colors that come together to capture a full, story-telling, multi-look mood—they’re super well-curated and pretty! Of the 8 total palettes, 3 are solid matte; 1 contains all metallic shades, paired with a cool matte black; and the last 4 palettes are complementary mixes of matte and metallic shades.

In each palette, multiple colors are available to both contour and highlight. These shades have been selected to provide options for several finished looks, in spite of the mere six shades of pigment per palette, which is relatively low compared to industry competition. Unlike some competing products, Milani’s Everyday Eyes pans vary slightly in size based on the shade’s recommended makeup function, which can be economically beneficial over time, depending on personal use.

With 8 palette color options, user-friendly eyeshadow tutorials on the back of the packaging, and a widely vetted formula, these palettes pack a lot of quality for less than $10 apiece. They are a manageable size, look pretty, and don’t feel flimsy or cheap. They also come with a double-ended packing and shadow brush which is very rare for drugstore eyeshadows. These palettes are readily available in many chain stores, making it easy for you to grab them and start perfecting your look.

Key Features
  • Double-sided brush included to help create looks with dimension
  • Great product formula, especially for the affordable price
  • Versatile palette options to contour and highlight complete looks
  • No. of Colors: 6
  • Dimensions: 4.5 x 0.6 x 2.9 inches; 0.16 ounces
  • Product Form: Powder
  • Waterproof: No
  • Great amount of product for price
  • Rich and flattering palette options
  • PETA-certified cruelty-free
  • Not all palettes flattering for all skin tones
  • No mirror
  • Issues with fallout

Last but not least, we have another single-shade banger drugstore eyeshadow collection, this time in the form of a waterproof, long-wear, powder-cream hybrid. I personally apply these shades with my finger for an even finish, but a brush may also be able to get the job done.

These eyeshadows are created for making a statement!

The L’Oréal Paris Infallible 24HR Shadow collection features 21 separately-sold, unique shades that are easy to use and highly pigmented. Picking a color that complements your skin tone and/or intended makeup look is very important, as these eyeshadows are made with a super long-lasting formula and are pretty pricy as a result.

Aside from headlining looks with captivating, pigment-rich feature shades, some of the more skin-tone-neutral and true-metallic pigments can also really make some magic as glamorous base shadows, adding some eye-catching dimension to an effortless look.

This collection claims to have shadow colors that bring out the best in all eye colors, but they do not claim to be cruelty-free or hypo-allergenic in any way, so those with known or suspected eye and skin sensitivities should be cautious in trying these high-powered singles.

As with the Stila eyeshadow products, customers should also be aware that these are shimmer-rich shades in which a little goes a long way. Those who do not prefer a high-shine glimmer finish will likely not see much reason to celebrate this drugstore eyeshadow collection. These little pots of pigment may be tiny eyeshadow gold-mines to the right makeup lover, but for others, the price may seem unreasonable, and for some, the glittery texture and formula may even be irritating to the skin and eyes. Shop smart, but don’t be afraid to give things a try—even high-end makeup stores have return policies for a good reason!

Key Features
  • Potential for serious staying-power
  • Single shades that can feature or complement
  • Sturdy plastic shadow case unlikely to break
  • No. of Colors: 1
  • Dimensions: 1.6 x 1.6 x 0.7 inches; 0.8 ounces
  • Product Form: Powder-cream hybrid
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Very pigmented shades
  • Lasts a long time
  • Wide range of shades
  • Only one shade
  • Some glittery fall out

Since our society has become more health and wellness-conscious, what we put on our skin has become as important and as scrutinized as what we eat and drink to nourish our bodies. In learning more about where our products come from, we have recognized that there are chemicals in makeup to avoid, that putting beauty products on our face can cause acne (but it’s preventable), and that we care enough to really look at which companies are making what claims.

As its brand name suggests, Physicians Formula essentially has the market cornered on beauty and hygiene products that are sensitivity-friendly and as safe as possible for the eyes and skin. Their Shimmer Strips eyeshadow and liner palettes are dermatologist-tested, hypoallergenic, fragrance and paraben free, cruelty free, and even gluten free, as well as being a competitive makeup choice.

This clean beauty makeup product comes in 5 palette options, each supporting either 6 or 9 shades in similar color families, largely intended to achieve a certain look. For example, one palette is clearly marketed as a “smoky eye” option, while another is deemed the “nude” palette.

The collection stays true to its name, however, as each strip of eyeshadow options is very shimmery. While each shadow can be applied either wet or dry for a different look (or to act as a liner, rather than a more traditional soft eyeshadow), the high-shimmer sheen is a staple for these palettes, which you may or may not prefer for yourself and need to take into consideration.

Each palette comes with a small, angled, foam applicator, but no mirror. Unlike many of the other drugstore eyeshadow palettes, Shimmer Strips position pigments directly next to each other, with a very thin piece of pan separating them; this may not be the easiest layout for keeping pan fallout from tainting other shades in this less-conventional palette style. In return, the strip is extremely compact!

Key Features
  • Each shadow can be applied wet or dry
  • Incredibly clean ingredient list; great for sensitivities
  • Very pretty “look” palettes with performing pigments
  • No. of Colors: 6 or 9
  • Dimensions: 2 x 1.9 x 5.4 inches; 0.16 ounces
  • Product Form: Liquid powder
  • Waterproof: No
  • Very shimmery
  • Great pigmentation for product category
  • Prime choice for sensitive eyes and skin
  • Some fall out
  • Can break & come out clumpy when pressing with foam applicator
  • Not a crazy wide selection of colors, especially for the price

Sometimes too many options can be overwhelming. I feel you! Sometimes you just want a quick pick—a tried-and-true palette that you know can get you through your day in one piece without too much pressure or time spent thinking about it. Let me present the Quad. It’s like the little solution you wish you had to easily decide what to do for dinner tonight or who to put your energy into texting back, but for your day-to-night eyeshadow wear. The Revlon ColorStay 16 Hour Eyeshadow Quad is a little luxurious blend of 4 complementary shades, optioned in 8 compact palettes.

While the price may be a bit steep for only 4 shades per palette, the colors are highly pigmented and long-lasting on the skin, requiring less product per application and ultimately providing a better investment over time (which will be great when one becomes your go-to emergency palette).

Each palette also does a solid job of offering 2 options for a lighter, daytime look, and 2 options for a darker, nighttime look within the 4-shade combinations. The shades are all quite glittery, which could be either a pro or a con based on preference but is definitely visible on the skin and worth considering.

The Quad does come with some eyeshadow placement directions on the packaging but does not come with a mirror, which seems like a decent bust for such a travel-friendly drugstore eyeshadow compact. It does come with a small foam applicator, but the applicator does not have the best longevity, so you may not want to rely on it.

This product is not cruelty-free or hypo-allergenic but does market itself as “ophthalmologist tested,” which is essentially a lighter screening for human skin and eye irritants. Even so, these palettes have been reported to cause irritation in some sensitive-eyed makeup wearers, so if you know you are in that category or worry you might be—stay away! Otherwise, pillage the 12 options and pick your metaphorical poison, because these Quads are the simple answer you need sometimes!

Key Features
  • Long-lasting, high-pigment shadows
  • Quick, easy options for day and night looks
  • Palettes are strong and compact and travel well
  • No. of Colors: 4
  • Dimensions: 2.6 x 2.6 x 0.5 inches; 1.6 ounces
  • Product Form: Powder
  • Waterproof: No
  • 12 palette options
  • Nice directions on the pack
  • Very pigmented
  • Only 4 shades for the price
  • Finish is always glittery
  • Not a great applicator

Another 12-palette collection worth considering among your best drugstore eyeshadows is the Rimmel Magnif’eyes collection—and honestly, largely for the value, no matter who you are. The price per pan is a steal, and it’s available almost everywhere, so you almost might as well check it out and add it to your beauty arsenal. That being said, you may want to do a little bit of research before popping by the store; this collection does have mixed performance when it comes to application success across its 12-palette spread. Find which palette(s) are likely to work for you and your skin tone, because the ones that do feature an impressive 12 shades at half the cost.

These rather diverse palettes are said to work as eyeshadow, liner, and highlighter all-in-ones, with options for many skin tones. As mentioned above, it seems that not all options suit every skin tone, but the palettes that do provide really visually interesting and captivating shades that come in rather extensive options, and in a range of shimmer, satin, and matte finishes.

These palettes all include a dual-ended applicator—one side a somewhat fluffy eyeshadow brush and the other a dense foam tip. They do not contain a mirror, and compared to some of the competing palettes, these plastics tend to feel cheaper and more prone to breaking. Rimmel should be held to high enough standards to replace defective or faulty products, but as all brands should be subject to that same treatment, the available pigment shades for the price keeps this palette collection relevant and definitely worth its spot on the best drugstore eyeshadows of 2019 list.

Key Features
  • Dual-ended brush and foam applicator
  • 12 collections of 12 shade variations, affordable and available
  • Eyeshadow, liner, and highlighter all-in-ones
  • No. of Colors: 12
  • Dimensions: 6.9 x 2.4 x 0.5 inches; 3.52 ounces
  • Product Form: Powder
  • Waterproof: No
  • Lots of colors for the price
  • Dual-tipped applicator
  • Huge shade range across the collection
  • Not always the best staying-power
  • Palettes have mixed performances
  • Does not claim to be cruelty-free

As a sassy little compromise to the 4-shade Revlon and the 12-shade Rimmel best drugstore eyeshadows, Maybelline offers the 6-shade City Mini Palette in 14 color options with #mood names like “Brooklyn Nudes,” “Diamond District,” and “Concrete Runway.”

Each mini palette’s packaging provides a small tutorial on how to use some or all of the shades within that palette. Among the palettes, base shade options include shimmery greens, peachy tones, melting golden browns, jet black with a trendy pop of blue, and even jewel tones of purple and teal.

For the price, there could be a bit more product—or maybe more to the packaging, as these palettes do not come with a mirror or a brush—but overall, these are a great option for a quick little travel palette. Like some of its competitors, these palettes offer day to nighttime transition options and are built to withstand rattling around in a bag all day, if needed.

While complaints of a broken palette case are few, shadows themselves have been prone to breaking; as an alternative to the options above, perhaps some of the palette cost could instead be put into further product development or quality control to ensure that fewer unlucky customers have to go through the process of exchanging a broken shadow.

Most makeup lovers are probably buying a palette like this for its general ease and cute variety for on-the-go—with some extra room for a mood change or two. Having to make a roundtrip to the drugstore is not the commitment this palette should offer, I think. However, if one or some of these City Mini palettes looks like a mood-match for you, definitely go for it! These are beyond convenient to have on hand for a long, busy day.

Key Features
  • Very wide range of shades across the collection
  • Mix of shade finishes in each palette
  • Transitional choices for day-to-night wear
  • No. of Colors: 6
  • Dimensions: 3.8 x 2.3 x 0.5 inches
  • Product Form: Powder
  • Waterproof: No
  • Tutorials available for shade placement
  • Interesting color options
  • Appealing presentation
  • Some issue with fallout
  • Not all shades perform equally
  • Does not claim to be cruelty-free

Although their packaging looks quite different, e.l.f.’s 10-shade palettes are almost like a slightly bigger-badder cousin to the Physicians Formula Shimmer Strips. These palettes are vegan, also cruelty-free, paraben-free, and mainly consist of shades that will achieve variations on a single, premeditated “look.” Each of these palettes comes with a coveted mirror and a small “how to use” guide, but no applicator.

Nevertheless, these palettes work for their spot on the list because they do provide a wide range for their buck, they really are quite pretty, and they also compete as one of the most sensitivity-friendly products—which is a must-have for some of us, but also generally good all-around for your skin and eye health. It really is lucky to have more than one sensitivity-friendly brand and range of eyeshadow wear readily available at the drugstore, but these e.l.f. palettes also do a pretty good job of making a classic bang-for-your-buck case.

Many of these 10-shade eyeshadow palettes lean towards the smokier and warmer hues, with e.l.f.’s brightest shades of this collection offered in their “Jewel Pop” matte option. Across the 9 palettes, matte and shimmery finishes are available, but not all of the palettes mix finishes; some are comprised completely of matte pigments, for example.

If you are looking for a larger shade-range of sensitive eyeshadows, these e.l.f. options are the cream of the drugstore crop. For this type of product at this price-point, there is a pretty generous amount of variety, so this also might be a great collection to experiment with if you are still creating your makeup voice, and/or are not quite sure if sensitivities will be an issue for you—no matter what, you’ll end up with some fun new shades and textures to play with.

These palettes offer shadows that may be applied wet or dry to change color intensity and texture of application, as some eyeshadows do. Consider using a wet application for a more pigmented look, and of course make sure you are using the right brushes!

Key Features
  • Mirror included
  • Comes in a variety of smoky and warm shade ranges
  • Pigment of matte shades is often impressive
  • No. of Colors: 10
  • Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 3.4 inches; 0.96 ounces
  • Product Form: Powder
  • Waterproof: No
  • Wide shade range for product type
  • Comes with mirror
  • PETA-certified cruelty-free & vegan
  • May need to reapply (not the longest staying-power)
  • Does not come with applicator
  • Not super pigmented when dry

A practice as ancient as our roots, wearing makeup now supports an industry that is forecasted to maintain a value beyond 800 billion dollars by 2023, along with the careers and fortunes of many celebrities from Rhianna, Kim Kardashian, and Kylie Jenner to makeup gurus (self-made makeup celebrities) like Jeffree Star, Tati, and NikkiTutorials. Plenty of wealthy people are dipping into the growing beauty game, while others are finding plenty of new wealth by creating their own independent beauty brand or voice. Running in the same race, though, remains the drugstore beauty brands, some of whom have dressed to impressed, and others who have come for blood in 2019!

Regardless of the retail price, our society has spoken and made a significant market impact by insisting on cleaner products and cruelty-free production practices. A major factor in the direction of products and potential success of products throughout the wellness and beauty industry is, and will continue to be, the safety of the products and the practices used to create them, which is why this list of the best drugstore eyeshadows of 2019 takes the time to recognize and consider the health-friendly choices of each brand and eyeshadow fighting for a top-10 spot.

Other market-preferences for eyeshadows that this guide considers in its review include staying-power, pigments being powdery in the pan, shades causing an uncivilized amount of fallout on the face, and shade range for the price or type of palette. Even if you’re set up with the best full coverage foundation (or the best full coverage drugstore foundation, which isn’t necessarily mutually exclusive to the former), the most well-planned makeup look can suffer a disappointing hit from a mishap caused by unruly cosmetics—don’t even talk to me about some bright eyeshadow fallout on a freshly baked cheek or a swatch of mascara spackled across your most-flawless-yet nude eye. It’s devastating!

This guide has been crafted with the hopes of helping you avoid some potential pitfalls of drugstore makeup and instead setting you up with your perfect eyeshadow solution. It puts the top 10 best drugstore eyeshadows of 2019 to some of the same tests we want our luxury products to excel at and ranks the results! We want healthy, well-made products that perform well on the skin and don’t make a wasteful mess in the process, and if we can find them at the drugstore, I say even better.

Resources– Reuters, Nielsen, Jeffree Star, Tati, Wet N Wild

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