The eye shadow section in any beauty or drugstore can be overwhelming. Personally, I've been using powder eye shadow since I started playing around with makeup as a little girl, so when I look at the tubes and sticks and pots of colorful pigment in the beauty aisle, I'm a little out of my league.
But beyond my beloved powder eye shadow palettes, there's a world of cream and stick eye shadows I know nothing about. Since I love makeup, I decided it was time to branch out and learn a bit more. So I talked to Nicole Cudzilo, a national makeup artist at Vapour Beauty, and asked her what it all means.
How cream and stick eye shadows benefit your makeup routine
Surprisingly, Cudzilo told me my powder shadows actually require more work than some of their relatives, not to mention a variety of makeup brushes. Still, they do have an upside.
"Powder shadows are great to add depth and drama to looks, or for very sculpted and perfect makeup," she explained. "Very oily eyelids will usually do better with powder shadows, unless the cream formula they choose is waterproof."
"Cream and stick shadows are perfect for an effortless makeup style that looks polished, but not like you tried too hard," Cudzilo continued. "They're ideal for minimalists or those with on-the-go lifestyles, and they apply beautifully using only the heat of your fingertips."
Cudzilo says there are all types of these shadows on the market, some that are sheer and weightless and stay dewy and emollient throughout the day and others that dry down to powder for a waterproof finish.
"Those who enjoy glowing, skin-centric and natural-looking makeup will fall in love with cream shadows," she added, "especially going into the summer season. Most skin types will be able to find a formula to suit their wants and needs and everyone will enjoy how easy it is to simply blend with their fingers and go."
Cream eye shadows to shop
Whether you want something matte or a bit of shine, these Revlon eye shadows offer 24-hour wear so you can go from one event to the next with your look intact. They come with a "pro-inspired" built-in brush in the cap so you can use that to apply or just use your fingers.
This multiuse pen touts the ability to be all the -proofs: waterproof, sweat-proof, smudge-proof and crease-proof. It comes in an array of neutral colors so it'll easily become your go-to product.
Take your look to the next level with this glitter cream shadow that, according to the brand, delivers highly-pigmented color that is quick drying and lasts all day. "This cream eye shadow is the perfect addition to your night on the town outfit," raved one reviewer. "I love the application and how easy it is to use."
Get playful with your looks with colors like ultramarine, sienna and guava. No need for a separate eye shadow primer with this option because it's already infused into the formula to remove one step and make your beauty routine even easier (while saving you a few dollars along the way).
Offered in almost 30 different shades, this cream eye shadow stick is a shopper favorite with over 153,000 hearts on Sephora's website. "Love! Easy to apply without having to use my fingers and has serious staying power," wrote one five-star reviewer on the site.
Highly pigmented and long-wearing, these shadows go on creamy then dry to a vibrant finish that lasts up to 24 hours.
Glitter, shimmer and pigment make up these cream shadows that give the perfect combination of color and shine.
This cream-to-powder shadow is available in over 50 matte or shimmer shades and can be used to accent, highlight, contour or line the eyes.
We love these double-ended wands both for the low price and the two complementing shades included in each tube.
This cream eye shadow serves a higher purpose: It provides SPF 30 sun protection (though don't forget to throw some sunscreen underneath your makeup beforehand!). Add in the shimmery shades it's available in and it just may be summer's perfect shadow.
Stick eye shadows to shop
Boasting highly-pigmented color, a buildable formula and all-day wear, this budget-friendly eye shadow stick is worth a try. Its twist-up design has a built-in sharpener so you never have to work about working with a dull tip and its pointed shape makes it easy to use as eyeliner, too.
Between shimmery metallics and classic mattes, this eye shadow stick comes in any color you need whether you're planning on heading into the office or hitting the runway. According to the brand, it has a "long wearing, water-resistant formula that lasts all day."
If you're a beginner, this Clinique Chubby Stick is a foolproof place for you to start. It gives off a sheer, lightweight color, so you don't have to worry about dealing with something too pigmented for your first foray into eye shadow. You don't even have to be particularly gentle with it; just swatch some color on your lids, blend out with your finger until you reach your desired result and go!
Offering 10 or more hours of staying power, this eye shadow stick from about-face boats the ability to provide all of the color you need in just one stroke. "They blend easily if you smudge them out right away but if you're going for more of a precise look they will def stay where you put em!" wrote one reviewer on the brand's site.
A multipurpose stick for cheeks, lips and eyes, this one-stop product adds color while moisturizing and calming skin.
A long-wearing cream shadow packaged in stick form, these Bodyography shadows can also be used to line, highlight or create a smoky eye look.
Designed for one-stop use on eyes, lips and cheeks, this product adds warmth and sparkle to the eyes while maintaining a natural makeup look.
This double-ended eye shadow stick offers the option of creamy stick shadow or powder shadow applied with a soft spongy applicator.
Go from an effortless cream application to a waterproof powder finish with this pigment-packed stick shadow from Julep Beauty.
Colorful and long-wearing, these blendable stick shadows from Lord and Berry come in a variety of neutral shades.