eye shadow

Eye shadow: 7 products tested

Last updated July 2017

Glittery, shimmering and matte, eye shadow is available in a range of colours and forms. Eye shadow is perhaps primarily associated with evening makeup, but it can be just as suitable for everyday wear as there are many natural shades to choose from. Many people use eye shadow to create a more intensive look, increase the size of the eye or emphasise eye colour. Eye shadow is generally used together with other makeup products intended for the eyes, such as mascara and eye liner, and for it to be matched with an attractive lipstick.

Eye shadow is available as a cream, pencil or powder. A cream or pencil often creates an intensive colour and the shadow lasts all day. It's also very easy to apply with a pencil or pen, which is useful if you're in a hurry. One problem with this type of eye shadow is that it easily works into the crease of the eyelid during the day. Matte shades are also less common, which makes it more difficult to find something suitable for everyday wear.  Powder eye shadows are available in two variants – pressed and loose. The brands that have mineral makeup often offer loose powder mineral eye shadows. Loose powder eye shadows are good for creating a sooty appearance or for soft transitions between different colours. However, it can be tricky to get the right amount of powder on the right place on your eyelid. Pressed powder is the most common type of eye shadow. It's easier to apply than loose powder and it's also simple to draw in small details or apply as a soft sooty effect.

Eye shadows can be bought in shops or online, both as individual colours or in palettes with several shades. An eye shadow palette usually contains tones that match and variants with warm and cold colours are often available.

Applying eye shadow

When applying eye shadow, you can use a variety of brushes, an applicator or your fingers. This is a matter of taste and doesn't really make much difference in terms of result. However, it can be useful to have a large, fluffy eye shadow brush to blend together different shadows as a final step in your makeup. Remember that shimmering shadows are often easier to blend together than matte ones.

Start by applying a primer for eye shadow so that it stays in place all day. When the shadow is applied it's common for it to fall onto the cheekbone. To avoid this, use just a little eye shadow at a time and shake off the excess before applying to the eyelid. You can also hold a paper towel underneath your eye to collect any shadow, or apply a thick layer of loose powder. The pigment will then stick to the powder and can be easily brushed off afterwards with a large makeup brush.

To get an even effect on both eyes, it's a good idea not to finish one eye at a time, but instead to do both in parallel. Use your eyebrow as a reference when applying and keep the eye shadow at the same distance from the brow to achieve an even result. Another reference point is the lid line, and these two together make it easier to get the shadow in the right place.

Eye shadow is applied on the eyelid and up towards the eyebrow. Sometimes shadow is also applied under the eye. Lighter shadows are usually used in the inner corner of the eye and darker ones at the outer corner. Start with the lightest shadows and then gradually work with darker shades.

A good tip is to look for eye shadow tutorials on YouTube and check out different videos with instructions about how you can easily apply eye shadow step by step for a great result. 

Products tested

How the test was made

We carry out our tests ourselves and test all products as they are intended to be used in reality. We tested eye shadows over several weeks and in different types of situation. To get a good image of how the eye shadows perform in different climates, they have been tested outdoors in cold weather, indoors during calmer activities and during exercise to evaluate how they cope with sweat. We have taken the following parameters into account when assessing the products:

Colour: What is the colour result like on the eyelid compared with what it looks like on the packaging? Are the colours in the palette easy to combine and do they go together?

Durability: How does the eye shadow behave during the day and during different activities? Do the colours become less intense, do they get smeared or do they last well?

Use: Is the eye shadow easy to apply? Do you get fallout and end up with shadow under the eye? Is it easy to blend and get a soft, even result? Does it include accessories such as an applicator and mirror? Is the packaging straightforward?

All eye shadows have been tested for both everyday and evening makeup. Our assessment of the product is based on an overall experience which includes the price in order to be able to appoint a good value for money test winner.

BareMinerals Ready Eyeshadow Quad The Truth

Easy to apply with good colour reproduction and fantastic durability. Suitable for all occasions

Number of colours in palette: 4 Effect: Shimmery, glittery Quantity: 5 g Accessories: Applicator, mirror Price class: Premium
Badge Best in Test 2017.png

These eye shadows are quite simply fantastic. You get almost no fallout during application and the result is very similar to how the colours look in the palette. That's just what you need for an intensive result. Despite there only being four shades, you can combine them in different ways to suit both everyday and party makeups. However, all of the colours produce a shimmering result, which easily gives a relatively "made up" appearance. Apart from shimmer, these bareMinerals shadows consist of neutral and natural brown tones, which makes it possible to create a natural look with a bit of zing. 

The shadows stay in place almost all day and it's only in the evening that they may have produced a little fallout under the eye. So for an evening out with a lot of dancing they're perfect as the durability is so good. The packaging is also nicely matte and feels exclusive. Its durability and the range of colour results that are great both for parties and everyday mean that this palette climbs up to a top position.

+Good durability, easy to apply, good colour reproduction, suitable both for parties and everyday
Only shimmering shadows
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Max Factor Masterpiece Nude Palette Cappuccino Nudes

Matching colours that give a good result and suit both party and everyday makeups

Number of colours in palette: 8 Effect: Shimmery, glittery Quantity: 6.5 g Accessories: Narrow and wide applicator Price class: Budget
BEST BUDGET CHOICE

With its enormous range, Max Factor has something for all occasions. This palette contains shimmering and glittery eye shadows in matching shades from pink to brown. Even though they are all shimmery, the lightest colours are relatively moderate and can be used every day. The light brown, shimmering shade is perfect to apply to the crease for an intensive result. In combination with the darker tones, it also looks great for parties. The shimmering shades give just enough colour and can easily be applied to the eyelid without any fallout. However, the glittery colours provide very little colour and compared with how they look in the pallet the impression is rather pale. Nor do the glitter grains bind very well to the rest of the powder and so you get glitter and colour underneath your eye. The dark colours that just shimmer produce a certain amount of fallout too, but give an attractive and intensive result.

The eye shadows can cope with cold temperatures and calmer activities without problem and look good all day. However, a sweaty evening out provides more of a challenge and you will have to top up your make up during the evening as it smears and ends up under your eyes. Because the glitter doesn't stick very well to the eyelids, it's easy to get it in your eyes, which can cause irritation. Max Factor's pleasant colours are easy to make natural and soft as they can easily be blended with a normal brush and give you the look you want for daytime.

+Suitable for party and evening make-up, matching colours, durable shimmering shadows, good colour result
Glittery shadows last less well, easy to get glitter in your eyes
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Best price at:

Maybelline The Nudes Eyeshadow Palette

A good value for money palette with a nicely matched colour scale, accompanied by a brush

Number of colours in palette: 12 Effect: Matte, shimmery, glittery Quantity: 9 g Accessories: Applicator sponge and brush Price class: Budget

The first thing you notice about this palette is the beautiful, well matched colour scale. It goes from the lightest pink, almost white, to the darkest brown which is nearly black. Here you will find matte, shimmering and glittery colours – everything to make the palette work both for a party evening and a normal work day. The eye shadows give a relatively intensive result without any fallout. The colours agree relatively well with what the shadow looks like in the palette even though it's not quite as intensive on the eyelid. Durability is really good for the price class. The eye shadows wear off during the day and you'll have to top them up, but the result is still pretty good.

The applicator that comes with the palette is different in that one end has an applicator sponge and the other a brush. The applicator sponge is slightly too hard but the brush works very well for blending together colours and creating soft edges. The palette is probably intended to be carried in your handbag. Both because it's small and neat and because of the tools that come with it. However, there's no mirror, which makes it difficult to stop and top up your makeup on the run.

+Accompanying brush, well-matched colour scale, good value for money
Needs to be improved, needs a mirror
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3.5 of 5

NYX Ultimate Eyeshadow Palette

Lots of shades that give an intensive colour result and don't produce much fallout

Number of colours in palette: 16 Effect: Matte, shimmery, glittery Accessories: None Price class: Medium

Incredibly intensive result! When applied to your eyelids, the colours from NYX are almost exactly what they look like on the palette. The palette fulfils expectations and given the low price is a real surprise. The palette contains matte, shimmering and glittery eye shadows in different shades which makes it perfect for both everyday and party makeup. However, because the colours are strong, you have to be a little bit careful when you apply them for a normal day at work because the results can easily be a bit heavy. But the lighter shades are perfect to use to get a brighter appearance.

Applying the powder is a pleasant experience because it's easy to get the right amount on the brush so that you don't get much fallout under the eyes. Even though the result is intensive, it's easy to blend the edges with a fluffy brush to get a soft look. Unfortunately it doesn't last all day and by the afternoon you get a bit dark around the eyes. The palette is best for cold days and copes less well with an exercise session straight after work. However, it's easy to wipe off and top up.

+Intensive colour result, not much fallout, lots of shades in the palette
Doesn't last all day, slightly tricky to get the right amount of colour
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3.5 of 5

Makeup Revolution Ultra 32 Eyeshadow Palette

No fallout during application with lots of shades that makes the palette suitable for most occasions

Number of colours in palette: 32 Effect: Matte, shimmery, glittery Accessories: Mirror Price class: Budget

The relatively new brand Makeup Revolution wants to produce make up that suits everyone for a reasonable price. This a good value for money palette contains a full 32 shades and there's definitely something for everyone. It contains everything from natural brown shades to brighter colours like strong pink or blue. The palette is constructed of matte, shimmering and glittery shadows, which makes it just as good for a friend's party as for a normal day at the office. The result isn't as intensive as in the palette, which means it can be difficult to see the difference between shades that are close to each other in the colour scale when they are applied on the eyelid. However, with a little work you can build up a more intensive result.

During application, there is practically no fallout from the powder. Considering their low price, the eye shadows last well in cold environments. At warmer temperatures and if you sweat, it's unfortunately more difficult to get the powder to stay in place. Given the large number of colours, it's natural that the palette is a slightly larger model. This is one that you can't put in your handbag and take with you during the day. But surprisingly there is a large mirror in the lid. Even if you can't use it on the go, it's still nice to have a mirror.

+Lots of shades, suitable for different occasions, no fallout on application
Not very durable, difficult to carry with you
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TheBalm Meet Matt(e) Eyeshadow Palette

Durable with really good colour reproduction and no fallout

Number of colours in palette: 9 Effect: Matte, slightly shimmering Quantity: 25.5 g Accessories: Mirror Price class: Premium

This theBalm palette has fantastically attractive retro packaging. TheBalm creates characters with its makeup, and here we meet Matt – a stylish gentleman who decorates the outside of the eye shadow palette. And matte is really the right name to describe this powder shadow. Almost no shimmer at all even though in the two darkest shades you can make out a few shimmering grains. This makes the palette slightly difficult to use for a party make up as you'll often want something more glamorous.

The colours are strong and also produce a strong colour when applied to the eyelid. The tricky thing with this palette is that it doesn't just contain brown shades, which makes it more difficult for a beginner to use. A plan and advance thought are required to use these eye shadows in an attractive manner. Unfortunately they're not very forgiving either, and like many matte colours are difficult to blend together. However, there is almost no fallout on application or later during the day. By evening time some of the colour has disappeared, but it doesn't end up under your eyes, which is good.

+No fallout, good colour reproduction, durable
Difficult shades, not suitable for party makeup
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2.5 of 5

IsaDora Eyeshadow Palette 7.5 g

Soft tones that give a natural look with good tools included

Number of colours in palette: 5 Effect: Matte Quantity: 7.5 g Accessories: Applicator sponge, brush and mirror Price class: Budget

IsaDora is one of the most established brands on the market and has a range of different products. This particular eye shadow palette is best for a neutral everyday makeup. The matte, soft tones create a natural look that's a little brighter and fresher. The palette is small and easy to carry in your bag. The fact that it contains a mirror, applicator sponge and brush to blend with makes it easy to use on the go to top up your makeup during the day. This is positive as it wears off even during a day with relatively calm activities.

When the colours are applied to the eyelid, they are lighter than what you see on the palette and even the darker shades can be used for every day. And it's for everyday make up that the palette is most suitable. As the eye shadows neither shimmer nor glitter and they aren't particularly strong colours, it gives a relatively beige impression at a party. If you want a party look, it's best to choose another eye shadow.

+Good tools included, natural impression
Not suitable for parties, weak colour intensity, wears off during the day
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