We easily cough up our paychecks for the latest
skin-care innovations or the newest K-beauty must-haves, but when it comes to eyeshadow, we’re wise to the game. We know that the drugstore market is just as good (or at times, better) than the luxury products available. The biggest challenge is figuring out which palettes are worth plucking off the shelves — especially when you can't swatch them on your hand like you would in a department store.
We went ahead and solved the problem (and then some) with a little help from our favorite celebrity makeup artists. Ahead, find our 19 favorite drugstore palettes for under $21 — whether you're looking for some
smoky-eye inspiration or a jewel-toned kit worthy of your next night out.
Best For: Neutral Smoky Eyes Sonia Kashuk’s palette, filled with shimmery neutrals, is makeup artist Fabiola's go-to for smoky eyes. You can easily upgrade the 12 shadows (which are impossibly soft and silky, btw) from day to night by layering or sweeping them on with a wet brush. Sonia Kashuk Neutral Shimmer 3 Palette, $19.99, available at Target.
Or Try... Using nude shadows for a smoky eye may sound counterintuitive, but this array of neutrals is perfect for creating everything from a simple daytime look to a sultry night style. Rimmel London Magnifyeyes Eye Palette in Keep Calm and Wear Nude, $7.99, available at Ulta Beauty.
— PAID — Or Try... This eyeshadow trio has all the shades you need to create the perfect neutral smoky eye. The mineral formula glides on, blends where you want it to, and then sets for a crease-free finish that'll last all day. The best part? Each shade is infused with ingredients like vitamin E, bamboo, and honey, so you can live that au naturel life in every sense of the word. Burt's Bees® Eye Shadow Trio in Shimmering Nudes, $13.00, available at Burt's Bees®.
Or Try... Smoky eyes need not only come in shades of deep brown, gray, or black. This 12-pan palette has a myriad of shimmery shades to choose from to create something that's sultry — and unique. NYC Lovatics by Demi Eyeshadow Palette, $7, available at Target.
Best For: Classic Smoky Eyes But if you're in the market for a more classic smoky-eye look, try this collection of dusky-gray, charcoal, and silver shades. The powders are velvety-soft and perfect for blending. Physicians Formula Shimmer Strips Custom Eye Enhancing Shadow & Liner in Smoky Eyes, $11.95, available at Physicians Formula.
Or Try... These four shadows are all you need for a dimensional smoky eye. CoverGirl Eye Shadow Quad in Stunning Smokeys, $6.99, available at Target.
Best For: Shadow Pros Do you know your way around a plum smoky eye? Have you spent tortuous minutes blending your shadow until it’s just right? Do you hit the pan on your favorite shades monthly? We feel you, girl, and it’s time to upgrade. E.L.F.'s mini version of its pro palette offers endless color selection in a small-but-mighty case ideal for travel. (Makeup artists, take note.) E.L.F. Studio Endless Eyes Pro Mini Eyeshadow Palette, $7, available at E.L.F.
Or Try... Morphe's 35-pan eyeshadow palettes were made for your inner makeup pro. We love the 35W option because it packs matte and shimmer nudes that blend smoothly, so you can create everything from an everyday wash of nude to a classic smoky. Morphe Brushes 35W 35 Color Warm Palette, $19.99, available at Morphe Brushes.
Or Try... Don't ever let anyone temper your love for brown shadow, because you don't need that kind of negativity in your life. This 28-shade palette is for any earthy goddess looking for a fresh take on the smoky brown eye. BH Cosmetics Neutral Eyes Eyeshadow Palette, $12.99, available at Target.
Best For: Shadow Newbies But if you're just dipping your toes in the shadow waters, this well-edited palette is the perfect start, says celebrity makeup artist Andie Markoe-Byrne. The shimmery neutrals are foolproof, and there are even cheat sheets included on the back of the packaging so you can try a variety of looks. L’Oréal Colour Riche Palette Nude 1, $19.99, available at Ulta Beauty.
Or Try... This palette from E.L.F. is a great pick if you're into all matte everything. Not only does it feature a mix of neutral browns, it also has purple and orange for days when you want a hit of color. E.L.F. Mad For Matte 2 Palette, $10, available at E.L.F.
Best For: The Bold These compact palettes are full of vibrant colors, allowing you to express yourself with whatever plum, emerald, bronze, or yellow eye look you're feeling at the moment. Each kit is also packed with several neutrals to help balance the bold shades. (But don't feel like you need to.) Nyx Avant Pop! EyeShadow Palette, $16.99 each, available at Ulta Beauty.
Or Try... You don’t have to own binge Cosmos on Netflix (although you should) to totally geek out over this gorgeous palette, which contains 18 shades of smooth, intensely pigmented shadows inspired by the Milky Way. BH Cosmetics Galaxy Chic Baked Eyeshadow Palette, $16, available at Ulta.
Best For: Brush-Free Blending Don't feel like investing in a six-piece brush kit? Try cream shadow, suggests Markoe-Byrne. Revlon’s palette comes with an array of lavender hues, including an on-trend rust shade to kick things up a notch. Use your hands to blend to your heart's content — the extra warmth from your fingers only adds to the sexy, smudgy effect. Revlon Illuminance Creme Shadow in Wild Orchids 701, $5.99, available at Target.
Best For: Party Looks According to celebrity makeup artist Jordy Poon, this palette from Hard Candy may just make you the life of the party. With vibrant jewel tones and reflective glitter, it’s the “ultimate accessory to any outfit," he says. Layer the hues on your entire lid, or keep things a bit tamer by concentrating them close to the lashline. Hard Candy Glitteratzi Compact Eye Shadow in Center of Attention, $6, available at Walmart.
Or Try... If you want to dip your toes into mono makeup — but aren't ready for shimmery pinks and purples — try this palette. The soft, pink-based neutrals blend easily to create subtle looks that easily match everyday cheek and lip color. Maybelline The Blushed Nudes Eyeshadow Palette, $9.98, available at Walmart.
Best For: A Mono-Makeup Look CoverGirl's new rosy palette may look intimidating, but it passed our test with flying colors. Read: It's really easy to apply and super-flattering. It's also the perfect product to help pull off one of spring's most popular trends: mono makeup. Pair it with blush and lip color in the same pinky family for a polished look perfect for the season. CoverGirl Roses TruNaked Eye Shadow Palette, $11.99, available at Ulta Beauty.
Or Try... Could Catrice's palette get any more girly? Probably not, but the looks you can create, on the other hand, are totally versatile. We especially adore the smoky plum shade, which will turn any look from so-so to smoky. Catrice Absolute Rose Eyeshadow Palette, $6.99, available at Ulta Beauty.
Best For: Blue Eyes While we firmly believe that you should wear whatever color you want on your eyes, some shades play up your features better than others. Blue-eyed ladies, for example, can look to bronze or brown to really make their irises pop. (See this one in action here!) CoverGirl Eye Shadow Quad in Go for the Golds, $6.99, available at Target.
Best For: Green Eyes Those with green eyes, on the other hand, can count on bold, purple shades to bring all the attention to their peepers. Be daring and try this quad from Milani to really make them stand out. The foil-like texture goes on like a dream. Milani Fierce Foil Eyeshine in 02 Rome, $9.99, available at Milani.
Best For: Hazel Eyes If you're lucky enough to have hazel eyes, there are a ton of undertones you can play up. Try emerald to bring out the green and gold for the tiger-eye effect. The soft shadows and sleek packaging, created by Eva Mendes, make this feel like a luxury palette. Circa Beauty Color Focus Eye Shadow Palette in Metamorphosis, $12, available at Drugstore.com.
Or Try... If you're not into adding more green into your routine, try this golden palette, which makes hazel eyes glow. Laura Geller Iconic New York Collection Mini Downtown Cool Eyeshadow Palette, $15, available at Ulta Beauty.
Best For: Brown Eyes And if you're blessed with brown eyes, the shadow world is your oyster. Have fun experimenting with blues, purples, grays, greens — you name it. We especially love this shimmery palette of taupe, navy, silver, and white from Pixi. Pixi Mesmerizing Mineral Palette in Silver Sky, $12, available at Target.
Or Try... Looking to be on-trend with rusty, red shadows, but don't want to shell out $40? Try Lottie London's The Rusts palette, which delivers the goods — for less than $15. The best part: The warmer colors bring out the golden hues in brown eyes. Lottie London The Rusts 12 Piece Eyeshadow Palette, $12.99, available online only at Ulta Beauty.
Or Try... When we tried this palette for ourselves, we couldn't believe how easy the formula was to work with. As far as the shadows go, don't let the bolder shades scare you: These ones are really blendable, so you can build up the color exactly to your liking — making it perfect for beginners. It even contains a matte black shade that you can use as liner. Maybelline Total Temptation Shadow and Highlight palette, $14.99, available this week at Amazon.
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