The 11 Best Eyeshadow Sticks of 2023, According to Celebrity Makeup Artists

The Laura Mercier Caviar Stick is another viral product from the brand worth the hype.

In This Article

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

Best Eyeshadow Sticks

InStyle / Kristin Kempa

How did any of us survive our morning makeup routines before eyeshadow sticks? One swipe with your finger, and you’ve completed a full eye makeup look. 

An eyeshadow stick can transition into the role of eyeliner, highlighter, or even contour. Celebrity makeup artist Renée Loiz, who works with stars like Quinta Brunson, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, and Vanessa Rubio, says that eyeshadow sticks are “basically foolproof,” adding that they “aren’t messy” and “won’t dry out as quickly as an eyeshadow cream in a container would.” 

Makeup artist Gabrielle Alvarez agrees, explaining that “shadow sticks are great for anyone in a rush or on the go, as they typically have a longer staying power in their formulas.”

If they’re good enough for stars, they’re even better for us. Makeup novices or not, no one can pass up a time-saving tool that makes gliding on extra shimmer or dramatizing a winged tip so easy. We find ourselves always reaching for our favorite: Laura Mercier’s long-lasting creamy formula found in her Caviar Stick. With almost 40 shades to choose from in three highly-pigmented finishes, we think it deserves a permanent home in your makeup bag.

Best Overall

Laura Mercier Caviar Stick Eye Color

Laura Mercier Caviar Stick Eye Color

Sephora

What We Love: The creamy formula slides on easily, comes in over 30 colors and finishes, and lasts eight hours or more without a primer. 

What We Don’t Love: Reviewers find some colors don’t match the website's description.

From its translucent setting powder (which topped our list of 2022’s best beauty buys) to tinted moisturizers worn by Meghan Markle, Laura Mercier is no stranger to glowing reviews, so unsurprisingly, the brand’s eyeshadow tops our list. 

While a single swipe will leave you with opaque coverage, increasing your eyeshadow's intensity is easy with these buildable and blendable colors. Choosing one of the 37 metallic, shimmering, and matte finishes may be a challenge, but if you’re unsure where to start, we recommend selecting an easy-to-wear shade, such as Caramel or Burnished Bronze, because they can work as an eyeshadow, eyeliner, highlighter, or contour. 

It’s hard to compete against a product with over 3,000 5-star reviews on Sephora’s website and more than 5,000 on Ulta’s, raving over this creamy and richly pigmented formula that lasts all day. Even the glittery shades, normally prone to sliding around, stay put, while the sticks across all three finishes avoid creasing into your eyelid.

One thing to note: Before buying online, we’d consult YouTube or TikTok for reviews to get a better sense of the shade. Some customers say the actual color could vary (appearing too light or too dark) from the website’s description. 

Price at time of publish: $32

Number of Shades: 37 | Finish: Shimmer, metallic, matte | Cruelty Free: No

Best Budget

e.l.f No Budge Long Lasting Eyeshadow Stick

e.l.f No Budge Long Lasting Eyeshadow Stick

What We Love: The brand makes a super-pigmented product with a noticeable, shimmery color that won’t rub off or smudge after hours of wear.

What We Don’t Love: e.l.f. only offers sticks in metallic shades, which may not be best if you want a more natural look.

e.l.f. products reign supreme of all the affordable makeup brands (the Camo Concealer knocks pricier options out of the water), so we weren’t shocked to see users compare it to our best overall pick from Laura Mercier. 

The super-pigmented color glides on eyelids for a dazzling metallic finish that won’t budge. And, as much as we think these super shiny hues could be the new neutral, we’d like to watch e.l.f. expand the shade range to include matte and satin options for when we’re not feeling so punk-rock. 

The high-shine finishes do, however, double as a highlighter, especially Perfect Pearl, which made the rounds on TikTok as one of those “can’t live without” products. 

To round off its list of winning qualities, it’s a friend to all skin types — the stick will stay put on oily lids and doesn't drag or skip across dryer complexions.

Price at time of publish: $5

Number of Shades: 12 | Finish: Metallic | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Splurge

Sisley-Paris Phyto-Eye Twist All in One Eyeshadow, Pencil & Eyeliner

Sisley-Paris Phyto-Eye Twist All in One Eyeshadow, Pencil & Eyeliner

Nordstrom

What We Love: It’s a three-in-one product offering eyeshadow, pencil, and eyeliner, developed with plant-based ingredients to nourish skin while providing a beautiful satin finish. 

What We Don’t Love: The large tip makes a precise application more difficult. 

Sisley-Paris has everyone using its skin, hair, and makeup products, from celebrities like Jennifer Aniston to our editors, and this shadow stick is worth the splurge. It’s also a favorite of Loiz, who uses the waterproof, no-budge sticks on most of her clients, even under the hot lights of red-carpet events. 

The stick is available in 16 bold shades, but she usually sticks to Black Diamond, a glittery, coal-colored shade. We love the XXL jumbo tip for the amount of real estate it covers with just one swipe, but those who prefer more precise lines may find it tricky to use. 

We’re also pumped to see that it incorporates softening skincare ingredients into the formula, like camellia, white lily, and green tea — a skincare savior that helps with fine lines and wrinkles. 

Price at time of publish: $55

Number of Shades: 16 | Finish: Satin | Cruelty-Free: No

Best Metallic

KVD Beauty Dazzle Vegan Long-Wear Eyeshadow Stick

KVD Beauty Dazzle Vegan Long-Wear Eyeshadow Stick

Sephora

What We Love: It only takes one swipe of this vegan formula to achieve a glittery, shimmering color that lasts all day.

What We Don’t Love: The stick can break if you press down too hard.

Buyer beware: If you don’t want a color that’ll shine from outer space, these aren’t for you.

“These are the most metallic and high-shine shadow sticks I’ve found,” says Alvarez. And we can see why: They apply smoothly and easily for an intense, long-lasting color payoff, minus the mess of traditional glitter eyeshadows that tend to fall down your face over time. And even though the color appears as a chunky, iridescent shade, the formula couldn’t feel lighter on lids.

These high-intensity metallics give disco-glam a run for its money, but don’t limit these shades for special occasions. The brand also offers the shadows in shimmer finishes for those days you’re not embracing Ziggy Stardust. 

Price at time of publish: $24

Number of Shades: 6 | Finish: Metallic, shimmer  | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Neutrals

Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Cream Shadow Sticks

Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Cream Shadow Sticks

Sephora

What We Love: The brand has an impressive range of neutral shades in a crease-free formula.

What We Don’t Love: The shimmer shades can have some fallout.

Bobbi Brown has long been a leader in classic neutrals and understated makeup. In her line of more than 20 shadow stick shades, the matte finishes are perfect for priming a smoky eye or subtly enhancing your everyday look. 

Loiz is particularly fond of the Cinnamon shade, which applies as a warm dark red-brown, and Taupe, which is a universally flattering hue that looks especially great as a liner for your lower lashes. 

Don’t be tempted to skip this pick if you want to pump up your peepers, though — the metallic and shimmer finishes (which are prone to a little fallout, FYI, but we can help with that) blend beautifully with their neutral counterparts to create a 3D, amped-up look. 

No matter what color you add to your beauty arsenal, the brand promises it will last up to eight hours without creasing. 

Price at time of publish: $32

Number of Shades: 25 | Finish: Matte, shimmer, metallic  | Cruelty-Free: No

Best Matte

NudeStix Magnetic Matte Eye Color

NudeStix Magnetic Matte Eye Color

Ulta

What We Love: The long-wear stick offers a rich, matte color without appearing chalky.

What We Don’t Love: Learning how to apply the fast-drying formula takes some trial and error.

Glossy lips and lids will always have their time and place, but let’s not forget the power of solid matte eye color. They’re a reliable go-to look when you want a professional vibe for the office, but you can also glam them up with a few extra layers or use them as a base for more pigmented shadows

The opaque colors seamlessly run across lids without dragging, and they’re easy to buff out with your fingers or brush. In the beginning, some customers said the fast-drying formula was a bit tricky to blend before it set onto lids, but with a little trial and error, they found a method that worked. 

A dark, moody color like Night can give you a knife-sharp winged eyeliner seen on supermodels, or Moon, a cream-colored shade, will highlight cheekbones for a luminous glow. 

Price at time of publish: $27

Number of Shades: 9 | Finish: Matte | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Shimmer

Charlotte Tilbury Colour Chameleon Eyeshadow Pencil

Charlotte Tilbury Colour Chameleon Eyeshadow Pencil

Sephora

What We Love: The brand matches these shimmering shades to various eye colors, so you don’t have to worry if you’re choosing the one that will best complement you. 

What We Don’t Love: It’s hard to find a sharpener large enough for this pencil. 

Until I discovered these pencils from Charlotte Tilbury, I never thought I’d be a no-makeup makeup girl simply because I can’t resist a sparkly shade of eyeshadow. These, however, strike a balance between an understated and ABBA aesthetic, delivering exactly the right amount of natural-looking shine. 

The color-concentrated, creamy formula might remind you of a toned-down version of the iconic (and forever out-of-stock) ​​Stila Glitter & Glow Liquid Shadows, but unlike a traditional glitter shadow, they’re easy to apply, and you can build up the intensity. 

Charlotte Tilbury is one of Loiz’s favorite choices, too, because the brand coordinates each shadow to various eye colors. Blue eyes will sparkle with Champagne Diamonds, while Amethyst Aphrodisiac enhances greens and brown-eyed beauties. The brand also recently expanded the range to include an extra sparkly version of Pillow Talk, the same nude-pink shade as their best-selling and celebrity-worn lipstick and lip liner.

One flaw we found was its oversized tip, which makes it difficult to find a large enough sharpener.

Price at time of publish: $29

Number of Shades: 9 | Finish: Shimmering | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Color

About Face Eyeshadow Sticks

About Face Eyeshadow Sticks

Ulta

What We Love: The brand offers a wide range of highly-pigmented, budge-resistant colors that take your eye makeup to the next level. 

What We Don’t Love: If you have hooded eyes, you could see creasing.

All three of our experts agreed: Singer/songwriter Halsey’s line of eyeshadow sticks deserved a spot on this list. In a world inundated with celeb-launched brands, our editor says this one is actually worth the hype, which checks out, seeing as Hasley is just as much a pro with an angled brush as she is with a microphone. The artist, who is known to do her own makeup for music videos and events, created a line of bright, highly-pigmented colors for a Y2K-inspired palette Paris Hilton would be proud to wear. 

Yet, the vegan, cruelty-free formula brings it back into the 21st century, and by offering muted taupe and pearl hues, there’s no limit to where or when you can wear these shades. We love that they last a seriously long time; just keep in mind that some reviewers with hooded eyes say they did see creasing after a couple of hours. 

Price at time of publish: $14

Number of Shades: 16 | Finish: Matte, pearly | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Sustainable

Clover by Clove + Hallow Plush Pigment Sticks

Clover by Clove + Hallow Plush Pigment Sticks

Amazon

What We Love: The environment-focused brand is Certified Net Plastic Neutral and only uses 15 ingredients in its formula.

What We Don’t Love: It can take a couple of swipes to build up the sheer color.

Clover is a line of ethically-made products from Clove + Hallow, whose sustainability practices are just as impressive as the product. The 100 percent Plastic Neutral Certified company commits to removing an equivalent amount of low-value plastic from the environment for every pound it uses, including the shadow stick tube, which is made from 50 percent recycled plastic. But to make this list, it’s what’s on the inside that counts the most, and this stellar 15-ingredient formula is especially great for those with sensitive skin. 

According to Alvarez, beginners will love this chubby stick because it’s nearly impossible to mess up and only requires a layer or two (but if you do manage to get color outside the lid, just blend it out with your fingertip). Plus, this sheer color works well as a primer, too, but worn alone will ensure you won’t get raccoon eyes as the day drags on. 

Price at time of publish: $16

Number of Shades: 5 | Finish: Metallic | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for Smoky Eyes

Urban Decay 24/7 Shadow Stick

Urban Decay Shadow 24/7 Shadow Stick

Ulta

What We Love: The extensive range of metallic and shimmer shades provide high shine and layers well with other eyeshadow shades. 

What We Don’t Love: Some customers say the formula feels sticky on their eyelids.

Everyone loves a smoky eye, but few know how to master the look. Enter: Urban Decay’s Shadow 24/7 Shadow Stick. The ultra-pigmented, metallic hues radiate rock ‘n roll glam on their own, or you can layer up for something even more dramatic. 

With the resurgence of grunge makeup, many brands are releasing Avril Lavigne-inspired smoky shades, but Alvarez likes these from Urban Decay because she says their metallics offer a higher shine than most others.

Deep hues like Digitalized and LSD will become your go-to beauty accessory for nights out, allowing you to capitalize on the siren eye trend. But regardless of how many hours you spend dancing the night away, these eyeshadows won’t budge or crease, yet you may want to start with a base primer first, only because some reviewers found that the shadow made their eyelids feel slightly sticky. 

Price at time of publish: $26

Number of Shades: 14 | Finish: Matte, shimmer, metallic | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for Beginners

Mented Cosmetics Color Intense Eyeshadow Sticks

Color Intense Eyeshadow Sticks

Mented Cosmetics

What We Love: Mented makes an easy-to-use shadow stick in highly-pigmented colors that are flattering for most skin tones.

What We Don’t Love: It’s only available in muted and neutral tones.

If you tend to become overwhelmed when choosing a new eyeshadow, Loiz suggests these beautiful, highly-pigmented shades that work well with all skin tones. 

While the stick is only available in four neutrals, the hint of subtle metallic shimmer proves that bright hues don’t have all the fun (case in point: this smokey brown eye makeup from Angela Bassett). Plus, if you’re new to eyeshadows, it’s easier to start with a more muted tone and work your way up to bolder, brighter colors.

You can wear these versatile neutrals as part of your daily makeup routine or as a base to layer a more intense look.

Price at time of publish: $20

Number of Shades: 4 | Finish: Metallic, matte | Cruelty-Free: Yes

What to Keep in Mind

Formula

Another huge benefit to an eyeshadow stick is its non-fallout formula, which is especially helpful when it comes to sparkly shades. Eyeshadow sticks are usually creamy, so the metallic and shimmer finishes provide high shine with a messy application. While you might not get the same intensity as you would with loose glitter, French explains that “most eyeshadow sticks have a bit of a sticky finish before it dries down completely, making it easy to just pop some loose glitter or shimmer overtop.” 

Matte or satin finishes can serve as a base layer for more intense eyeshadows. “Most formulas offer a way to provide a sheer initial application with the ability to build upon itself for an opaque look, which makes them very versatile across skin tones,” says Alvarez.

Design

The most obvious difference between an eyeshadow stick and one that comes in a pot is its packaging and application. Most shadow sticks are either a pencil, which may require a sharpener or a chunky crayon. 

If you want more precision, choose a pencil with a finer point, but if you’re in the market to simply swipe and go, consider a large crayon with a dense tip, like this one from Clove + Hallow.  

Your Questions, Answered

Why would you choose an eyeshadow stick versus one that comes in a palette or pot?

To start, they offer more precision, says Alvarez. 

“You can target the lash line, inner corner, and under the eye a bit easier than simply working out of a pot, which would require a brush for the same accuracy,” she says, adding that stick formulas also have longer staying power compared to other eyeshadows (which is why neutral hues are also great as primers).

These user-friendly products are a beginner's best friend, but even the most experienced among us love them because they’re just so easy. If you’re in a rush, all it takes is one swipe and a quick blend with your fingertip to master a diffused, polished look in 60 seconds or less. 

When you want something more complex, eyeshadow sticks can also up the ante of any makeup. “They’re great for a really strong opaque color that can be blended out for a softer look,” says French. 

How do you apply an eyeshadow stick?

Alvarez suggests applying the shadow stick directly to your eyelid and blending it out with your finger for a “diffused look,” while a “synthetic brush offers more precision.” 

To achieve a whisper-thin line, she likes to run a small brush along the tip of the shadow stick and then paint the color directly onto the eyelid with the brush. 

How else can you use a shadow stick beside your eyes?

You can use most shadow sticks all across your lid and waterline, which, Alvarez says, is an option for someone needing a creamy smooth application in the area. “Depending on the ingredients, I have been able to use shadow sticks on the face as well as the lips, but take care to blend quickly before the formula sets and doesn’t budge,” she says.

According to French, matte shades, like these from NudeStix, are terrific when used as an eyeshadow primer or for evening out your eye’s skin tone. Turn to more luminous shades (we called out e.l.f.’s Perfect Pearl earlier) to get a glowy highlight.

Why Shop with Us

Irene Richardson is a writer with over five years of experience covering fashion and beauty trends. For this story, she spoke with Celebrity Makeup Artist Renée Loiz, Makeup Artist Gabrielle Alvarez, and Celebrity Makeup Artist Alexandra French, best known for her work on Euphoria season two working under makeup designer Doniella Davy, cofounder of Half Magic Beauty

Related Articles