The best cream eyeshadows you can buy

  • Cream eyeshadows can deliver beautiful, buildable pigmentation without needing any brushes - it's basically like using adult fingerpaint.
  • The Laura Mercier Caviar Stick Eye Shadows are our top pick because they're longlasting, easy to use, and available in an array of stunning, unique shades, and finishes.

I love cream makeup of all kinds - cream blush, cream highlighter, cream bronzer, and of course, cream eyeshadow. Cream formulas melt into the skin for a totally seamless, natural finish and can be applied with fingertips. You can use a brush too if you want, but I find it easier to use just my fingers. In fact, I almost always pack exclusively cream makeup when traveling because it's just so easy to use on the go.

Some might find cream formulas overwhelming, but I think it's nearly impossible to mess up once you get the hang of it. Just one swipe with your finger can give you complete coverage, and the blendability is often unparalleled when compared to powders. When I want to create an easy eye look with just one color, I often reach for my stash of cream eyeshadows.

Though I described creams as "natural" at the beginning of this article, not all of them provide a no-makeup-makeup look - plenty of creams are extremely pigmented and intense. In fact, many of the cream shadows featured on this list are the ones I reach when I'm going for high-drama.

The best cream eyeshadows you can buy:

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The best cream eyeshadow overall

The best cream eyeshadow overall
The Laura Mercier Caviar Sticks have it all — versatility, ease of use, and a longlasting, budge-proof formula.

The top-rated cream eyeshadows according to Rank and Style (plus more than 3,000 Sephora shoppers) are Laura Mercier Caviar Sticks and after trying them myself, I understand why.

These creamy, blendable eyeshadows come in a stick format, so you don't have to get your fingers or a brush dirty. Plus, the color selection is wonderful. While there aren't as many super-bold shades, the lineup features unique duo-chrome metallics, shimmery jewel tones, and mattes with dimension. Since most cream eyeshadows focus on sparkle, I love that this range includes seven mattes in shades like pale pink, taupe, and gray. My personal favorite shade is Amethyst.

These promise to be budge-proof, meaning they won't transfer or crease. They stayed put on my lids, but I found them to be a little stiffer when applying than other formulas, though they're still creamy. However, if you have oily lids, I'd recommend using primer first.

The domed tip can be used in hard-to-reach places like along the lash line or inner corner, as well as all-over color. I typically swipe directly onto my lid and blend out toward my crease with a fingertip or fluffy brush.

As Allure points out, "The buttery formula sets in about a minute and then stays put for hours," so work fast. It's also given Laura Mercier Caviar Stick in "Tuxedo" a Best of Beauty award two years in a row.

"I love this product. I have limited time in the morning and this is incredibly easy to use. Use as a liner, or eye shadow. Easy to blend. Then it stays put," writes one Sephora reviewer.

Pros: Wide color selection, three finishes, longlasting, easy to use

Cons: Expensive, might set too quickly

The best sheer cream eyeshadows

The best sheer cream eyeshadows
The Jillian Dempsey Lid Tints give you a sheer wash of dewy color for a super-natural eye look.

Natural makeup is my go-to for the day-to-day. While plenty of cream eyeshadows are buildable, the Jillian Dempsey Lid Tints are the only ones I've found that are truly sheer and dewy. You can add oomph by layering the colors, but if you want a barely-there effect, you can achieve that with just one.

The shadows are very glowy and almost wet-looking on the lids, thanks to a formula with hydrating ingredients like shea butter, marula oil, and vitamin E. The result is a unique but subtle glossy finish; this effect stands out the most in the shade — or non-shade — "Dew," which is completely clear.

Other colors are more unique than good ol' clear, and there's a mix of satins and shimmers. I recommend applying with fingertips since the formula benefits from being warmed up a bit first. These crease on me almost immediately even with primer because they're so dewy and light, but honestly that's part of the appeal for me — I love how lived-in they look.

Of the six shades the brand sent me to try, the only one I found difficult to work with is Smoke.

These are also super easy to layer, so feel free to get creative. YouTuber Matilda calls the Jillian Dempsey Lid Tints "built for building up," and they're favorites of editors at Into the Gloss, Byrdie, and Allure.

Pros: Looks natural on lids, buildable, cruelty-free, vegan, preservative-free

Cons: Might crease on some lids, expensive

The best drugstore cream eyeshadows

The best drugstore cream eyeshadows
Maybelline ColorTattoo Metal 24Hr Cream Gel Eyeshadow is a drugstore formula with the pigmentation and staying power of a luxury cream shadow.

One dangerous side effect of testing makeup for a living is that you sometimes fall in love with the high-end stuff. But the good news is that I've found lots of drugstore items that look, feel, and wear the same as the expensive stuff, but without the high price tags,

Like Maybelline ColorTattoo Metal 24Hr Cream Gel Eyeshadow.

This is a $6.99 eyeshadow that performs just as beautifully as much pricier options. These shadows are richly pigmented and longlasting, with up to 24-hour wear. I wash my face every night, so I can't exactly attest to that claim, but I will say that they wear without creasing for as long as I've needed.

One of the main drawbacks to drugstore shadows is that even if the formula is comparable to the high-end stuff, the color selection is often not as unique. That's why I was pleasantly surprised by the range here, which includes teal, mustard gold, and peachy orange. The matte shadows are tougher to blend than the shimmers in my experience, but still workable on my lids.

Maybelline ColorTattoo Metal 24Hr Cream Gel Eyeshadow averages a 4-star rating on Amazon based on more than 1,300 reviews, and has been featured on places like Byrdie. The color "Bad to the Bronze" is a 5-time Allure Readers' Choice Award Winner. "It spreads like butter but sets quickly, staying put — and true to tone — until you take it off," says the Allure writer.

Pros: Affordable, budge-proof, wide color range

Cons: Matte shades aren't as creamy or pigmented as the shimmers

The best cream-to-powder eyeshadows

The best cream-to-powder eyeshadows
Pat McGrath EYEdols Eyeshadow is a highly pigmented, buttery cream-meets-powder formula with a unique color selection.

Speaking of unique colors, you'll find them in the Pat McGrath EYEdols Eyeshadow range. These eyeshadows are a unique cross between cream and powder, and I was shocked when I first touched one and felt the velvety smooth texture. The formula contains soothing rice bran extract and honey extract to keep the color from feeling really dry on my lids.

It comes in three finishes — matte, metallic, and shimmer — and truly unusual colors like Burnished Honey (a deep mahogany brown) and Divine Mink (a gray brown). They're extremely blendable and pigmented, and the shade "Statuesque" is the perfect transition color along my crease.

Matte shadows can be patchy and difficult to apply, but these are literally smooth as butter. "[These shadows] are smooth, creamy, and they are long-wear (even without eyeshadow primer) and there is little to no fallout," writes one Sephora shopper.

Some shoppers complain about the packaging, which is pretty but doesn't have a snap or magnetetic closure. I wouldn't personally travel with them, but otherwise, I don't find that to be a problem.

Pros: Creamy formula, unique colors, extremely pigmented, mattes are beautiful

Cons: Expensive, packaging doesn't secure shut

The best glitter cream eyeshadow

The best glitter cream eyeshadow
Hourglass Scattered Light Glitter Eyeshadow gives you beautiful, high-wattage shimmer with one quick pass.

My makeup motto is this — glitter is for every day.

I'll say it once more for people in the back — glitter is for every day.

Hourglass Scattered Light Glitter Eyeshadow is some of the most wearable glitter shadows around. You get high-wattage shimmer in a longlasting cream formula with no fallout or smudging.

I have the champagne shade "Reflect" and it's so beautiful that I hardly ever pair it with other shadows, preferring to let it shine on its own. I'm eyeing several other shades from the collection, including Vivid (olive green) and Smoke (taupe).

Once you lay down the color and blend out the edges, the shadow won't budge until you wash it off. No creasing, no fading, nothing.

Hourglass Scattered Light Glitter Eyeshadow has a 4.6 rating at Sephora based on more than 200 reviews, and is a favorite of YouTubers like Samantha Ravendahl and Jamie Paige.

"This is special and I do not have anything quite like it in my collection. These are sophisticated and look just as good as a topper as they do alone. I plan on getting all the colors. The package design is cool with the plastic stopper so you can repress the shadow down again," writes one Sephora shopper.

Pros: Wearable glitter, pigmented, unique colors

Cons: Expensive

What else we considered

What else we considered

Milk Makeup Eye Pigment ($24): I love these intense, rich metallic pigments that create a solid wall of color in one swipe, but they're really more of a cross between a liquid and a cream. If you want very intense color, you can't go wrong — they're lovely and budge-proof.

Charlotte Tilbury Eyes to Mesmerize ($32): Charlotte Tilbury's shadows were frequently recommended but quite expensive, even compared to the priciest ones on this list. Plus several of the most unique shades are currently sold out online, so inventory seems to be an issue.

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