Musicians have the Grammys and actors have the Oscars. For beauty products, earning a spot in InStyle’s coveted beauty awards is the industry pinnacle. With over 100 winners in 2016, these contenders are carefully chosen and vetted by the industry’s top experts—dermatologists, hair stylists, makeup artists, and manicurists. With a process that takes over six months, we begin sending out super detailed (and long!) surveys in October and then tally up the results. As our beauty closet begins to fill up, we interview our pros to find out why they really love these products and why they deserve some real estate in your makeup bag. Some eyeshadows are better than others. Whether you love a killer smoky eye, or are loyal to a subtle nude, a lot of trial and error goes into finding the perfect formula that packs major pigment and won't crease. In the name of saving you time, we turned to the pros to find out which eyeshadows are the cream of the crop. According to our panel, these are the four shadows that deserve a permanent spot in your makeup bag.
1. Best Powder Eyeshadow
Enough with the shadow quads that leave you scraping metal to get the last bit of one shade while the rest of the untapped understudies get rejected. These luxe cases hold four satiny powders—and you'll actually use all of them. "Every shade is wearable and it coordinates well together," says makeup artist Fabiola.
In versatile color families like amethyst, bronze, gray, and navy, "the hues in each are well-thought-out, and the compacts contain both shimmers and mattes," says celebrity makeup artist Ashleigh Louer. And you won't get a whisper of color of here, the "colors are very pigmented so they go on easily and blend beautifully," says Louer. But it's not just the colors that artists rave about. The silky hues glide onto the lid, "there's no chalkiness to the finishes," says pro Fabiola.
Tom Ford Eyeshadow Quad.
Tom Ford | $82
2. Best Cream Eyeshadow
For N.Y.C.-based makeup artist Megan Lanoux, the best way to describe these cushiony, shimmering shadows is with three letters: OMG. Trust us when we say that this is the gel-based eye "mousse" you never knew you needed. "It's my obsession and always tucked inside my red-carpet kit," says L.A. makeup artist Jeannia Robinette. Arts rave about the texture, "it’s fluffy and it spreads so easily- you can literally use your fingers to dab this on and it still looks amazing," says makeup artist Megan Lanoux. "It's so soft and it feels so smooth when it goes on and it blends so easily," says makeup artist Bruce Grayson.
Beyond the texture, artists also love the unique hues available. "The colors are so fun, it really takes your eye makeup from regular to magnificent," says Robinette. She likes to add a light gold shade as an "elevating and ethereal" touch on top of Miranda Lambert's smoky eyes before the country singer hits the stage. "It eliminates that heavy feeling." You can also brush lash lines with the dark, mysterious Ocean Light shade (shown) and use it as eyeliner, suggests Lanoux. She notes that you could "literally put it on lids with your fingers and it would look good." It also wouldn't go anywhere—the formula is budge-proof, crease-proof, and smear-proof.
Chanel Illusion De Ombre Longwear Luminous Eyeshadow.
Chanel | $36
3. Best Eyeshadow Palette
Makeup junkies wait for a new Urban Decay Naked palette like techies do for the latest iPhone—with a "hopped-up kindergartner waiting for recess" kind of anticipation. But the original version is still the biggest hit with makeup pros. Here's why: The 12-hue kit (which comes with a dual-ended brush) is filled with neutrals in matte and metallic finishes; they're the tones grown-up girls will reach for daily. The powders go on easily without fallout, which means you won't catch yourself midday in a mirror with random flecks of shadow halfway down your face.
Artists agree that the 12 shades offer tons of versatility, "you can do a glam look or you can go natural, you can go from day into night, you just get so much variety," says L.A. makeup artist Jeannia Robinette. Fully saturated pigments are the reason makeup artist Tamah Krinksy uses this palette on all her celebrity clients. "This is a desert island product," she notes.
Urban Decay Naked Palette.
Urban Decay | $54
4. Best Eco-Friendly Eyeshadow
They had us at midnight teal paired with a perfect creamy beige—we're imagining a polished lid with a hit of surprise along the lash line. "They come in coordinated duo combinations that feel on trend and the powders create a beautiful wash of colors on the lids," says celebrity makeup artist Arndre Sarmiento, who works with Kate Bosworth. But in addition to what L.A. makeup artist Mai Quynh calls the "user-friendly" color duos, these mineral shadows are also beloved for how easily they blend and how long they hold up.
And while some eyeshadows sink into fine lines and exaccerbate puffiness, these anti-aging formulas work double duty. A blend of caffeine and cucumber help alleviate bags and fine lines while borage oil ups hydration. And to top it all off, this eco-friendly pick is paraben free.
BareMinerals Ready 2.0 Eyeshadow Palette.
Bare Minerals | $20