Ilia Necessary Eyeshadow

I've Tried Hundreds of Eyeshadows, and This Award-Winning Formula Is the Best

And there’s no talc in it, so no chance of asbestos (cringe).

For our 26th annual Best Beauty Buys, the InStyle team worked with leading dermatologists, makeup artists, hairstylists, wellness experts, fragrance connoisseurs, and manicurists to find out which products they can't get enough of. Now, the votes are in — and you'll want to get ahold of these 229 beauty game-changers.

As someone who's made a living out of trying beauty products, the incidents that throw certain ingredients into question are highlighted, bolded, and red flagged in my brain. I'm talking about landmarks like Hawaii banning oxybenzone and octinoxate, which drew my attention to the generational effects of hormone-disrupting ingredients, and the multiple lawsuits over the years around talc and its relation to different types of cancer. 

In case you haven't been keeping track, in 2016, a St. Louis jury awarded a woman more than $70 million in her lawsuit alleging that years of using Johnson & Johnson's baby powder caused her ovarian cancer. That was followed by a Los Angeles jury ordering Johnson & Johnson to pay $417 million to a hospitalized woman in 2017, who claimed in a lawsuit that the talc in the company's baby powder causes ovarian cancer. 

According to asbestos.com, Johnson & Johnson says it's now facing more than 25,000 lawsuits related to talc products that have allegedly caused cancers, primarily from asbestos fiber contamination — and in 2020, the FDA found that nine out of 52 cosmetic talc products sampled contained asbestos. All of which is deeply concerning, and sent me directly into the arms of talc-free products like Ilia's Best Beauty Buy-winning Necessary Eyeshadow Palette. Necessary, indeed.    

Ilia eyeshadow palette
Credit: Courtesy

Shop now: $38; sephora.com

If you look through any amount of eye, face, and lip products (and dry shampoo, for that matter), you'll probably find talc. It's a major component in most formulas, so discovering an eyeshadow palette that doesn't rely on the ingredient to deliver buttery-smooth, highly pigmented color is a bit like finding a needle in a haystack. Yet Ilia's provided just that with its 6-shade palettes, combining wearable mattes and sultry shimmers in two color medleys. 

The Cool Nude spin above brings together a shimmery taupe, mid-tone lavender, and slate brown for definition, along with a garnet red and glistening plum that stand out on cool skin tones. The Warm Nude palette, meanwhile, is fine-tuned to play up warm skin tones, and draws on beiges the color of warm sand, a beautiful pearl highlight, sunlit copper, brick red, and a rich, earthy brown — like Palm Springs in the palm of your hand.  

Both of them strike the ideal balance of a modern eyeshadow palette. They're not crowded or overwhelming with multiple near-identical shades, yet they provide color options to take you from easy weekend days to outdoor drinks (any excuse to get fancy). The pigmentation on a single sweep is stunning, and the way they blend is like clouds at dusk — grounded, yet ethereal thanks to the satin and metallic hints. If you're interested in eyeshadow at all, you'll love this formula. And trust me, you won't miss talc in the least.    

Ilia eyeshadow palette
Credit: Courtesy

Shop now: $38; sephora.com