Best Single Eyeshadows (2021) | Editor's Top Picks

If you’ve ever felt like single eyeshadows don’t get enough love, our guide to the Best Single Eyeshadows, the 2021 Edition is made for you.  This guide features permanently available single ranges that have released consistently high-quality shades.  You’ll find powder eyeshadows to start, followed by more loose-pressed-powder formulas, and then two of my favorite cream-based eyeshadows at the end of the list.

Every product recommended below has been tested and reviewed by me, your eyeshadow-lovin’ Editor-in-Chief, and I test thousands of products every year–so they’ve earned their way onto this list. To read more about a specific shade or view swatches, make sure to use the drop downs and buttons below, as we’ve tried to make this guide comprehensive and easy to use!

Sydney Grace Eyeshadow

The matte eyeshadows tend to be pigmented (typically semi-opaque or opaque, often buildable if they aren't opaque) with a soft, more velvety texture that has slight slip but isn't so thick that it gets difficult to use, applies unevenly, or has a lot of fallout. I've found that most of the matte eyeshadows apply and blend out without much effort but a few may take a bit more effort to diffuse along the edges. The matte formula tends to wear between eight and eight and a half hours on me. Read more...

Sydney Grace

MAC Powder Kiss Soft Matte Eyeshadow

The formula is supposed to have "pillow-soft, matte colour" that is "highly blendable" with "unbelievable slip" that has "stay-true colour" that doesn't fade, crease, or dry out the lids. The majority of the shades were pigmented, though a few were more semi-opaque and buildable. Read more...

Clionadh Eyeshadow

There do not appear to be any specific claims made for the brand's regular eyeshadow range, so being held to typical industry claims (as well as looking at the brand swatches), I'd expect rich pigmentation along with being blendable. The brand has an assortment of finishes, and the price point varies from finish to finish and has some variance within finish as well, but they tend to range from $6.00 CAD to $8.00 CAD, which converts to around $5.00 to $7.00 USD. Read more...


Lethal Cosmetics Pressed Powder Shadow

The formula is supposed to have "extreme pigmentation" and "effortless blendability" ... "that [will] last all day." There are two primary finishes: mattes and metallics, and the latter can also be used wet. Read more...

Clionadh Multichrome Eyeshadow


ColourPop Pressed Powder Shadow

The new Pressed Powder Shadow formula is supposed to be “highly pigmented” with an “ultra-velvety and silky” texture that is “long-wearing” and “adheres easily to the eyes.” Most of the shades have semi-opaque to opaque pigmentation that applies well to bare skin, blends out without issue, and lasts for seven to eight hours. Read more...


Viseart Eyeshadow

The eyeshadow formula is supposed to be "pigment[ed]" with "smooth and even application" that is "long-lasting." The matte shades are typically semi-opaque to opaque but buildable with soft, velvety textures that can sometimes be a little powdery or slightly firm, depending on the shade. I find that the mattes are often best suited to someone who likes control over pigmentation and may prefer to build up color; they regularly perform better in practice than just swatched on the arm as well. Read more...

Tarte Chrome Paint Shadow Pot

The formula is supposed to have "rich, vibrant" color that comes in "loose pigment" form and will "melt instantly" and "stay put for hours" on the eyes. They feel like a heavier, creamier loosely-packed eyeshadow, which I think is illustrated well across the six shades I initially purchased (shown in the group shot): some arrived more crumbly and two arrived very smooth, densely and tightly packed. They brand recommends using these with a fingertip, but I was able to use brushes as well as fingertips to achieve very similar results. Read more...

Hourglass Scattered Light Glitter Eyeshadow

The formula is supposed to have "buildable" coverage from "a sheer crystal-like shimmer to an opaque prismatic glitter finish." It is a "hybrid cream formula" that "dries down." Each pot has a plastic stopper that sits on top of the eyeshadow, which can be used to press the product together if it loosens over time. Read more...

L'Oreal Infallible 24-Hour Eyeshadow

The formula is supposed to have “24 hour” wear with “intense, maximized color” and a “powder-cream texture.” They are absolutely long-wearing, but testing for 24 hours is more than I’m happy to do more than very, very occasionally, though most showed some sign of wear between 12 and 14 hours of wear, so I used that to help determine an approximate wear time. Read more...

ColourPop Super Shock Shadow

ColourPop Super Shock Shadow is a cream-based formula that comes in a multitude of shades and finishes. The more metallic shades have the most slip to them (they have a “wetter” feel), while the more matte ones have a firmer, more clay-like consistency. Almost every shade I’ve tried from ColourPop has been exceptionally long-wearing (10+ hours of wear, usually there until I remove, even 14 hours later). The pigmentation can vary from shade to shade, but the average shade is quite pigmented. Read more...


Sydney Grace Cream Shadow

The formula is supposed to "dry down to a smudge proof finish" that isn't waterproof but "will last all day on the lids." The brand recommends working "one eye at a time" as the formula "dr[ies] fairly quickly." It is a very pigmented formula where the merest dab of product--like as little as one can physically squeeze out of the tube--is enough for most of the mobile lid. Read more...

Sydney Grace

Our Methodology

The way I approach my guides is by focusing permanent formulas that have stood the test of time–they are high quality, consistent, and all formulas that have performed well. Every shade is thoroughly tested and reviewed, and these are formulas where I’ve often tested every shade in the line of, so I really grasp each formula’s strengths and weaknesses!

More product guides: Best Blushes, Best Highlighters, Best Lipsticks, Best Lip Glosses, Best Blush Brushes, Best Eyeshadow Brushes, Best Highlighter Brushes

Top Rated Single Eyeshadows from 2021

Check out the current top 10 highest-rated single eyeshadows (individual shades) reviewed by the editor in 2021–this list will update automatically! The list below features individual shades that may be limited edition or permanent but were actually reviewed in 2021, whereas the above list featured only permanent formulas.

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Wow…this is an amazing post! I am so excited to peruse it more later. I love that you include how each shadow works and how well they stay. Super shocks and Viseart are pretty amazing!

I am curious if anyone knows…what works to keep the PM special shadows from creasing? I used a primer and glitter glue and still had creasing by mid-day with the Nocturnal Nirvana palette. Humid Houston contributes, I know.

I use Too Faced Glitter glue on my eyelid just before applying the shadow, besides eye primer, set with translucent powder, and the mattes I use to set up and ground the sparkley shadows. I use Cover Girl Lif lockup as my base eye primer because I have oily lids and prior to that I clean lids with no oily cleansing pad and spray it with setting spray.

I really like the Marc Jacobs Omega single shadows – I just wish there were more colours to choose from. Ditto the Tarte singles; I have 3 of them and would love to have access to the darker green/olive one they have (or maybe “had”) but it’s not carried at Sephora. I wish they also had a wider range of shades.

Some of them are really nice, and I appreciate that there are several shades in the line-up that are less seen – but there have been a few duds, and the line is still a bit small, so it didn’t make my list… yet!

MAC has some great eyeshadows in the line, but their formula has been inconsistent for many, many years, and they have also discontinued dozens in the last few years, so the range is weak.

Many of the shadows they have discontinued were among their very best, which makes so little sense. They made some of the Extra Dimension shadows permanent and then set about slashing and burning those shades as well.

All of my favorites are here and I have many of the shades shown. I love the formula for all of these products and really wonder why I ever buy anything else! Another big thank you, Christine, for doing these types of posts. I know how incredibly labor intensive this must be.

There are so many fantastic brands selling top notch singles for reasonable prices these days that we are so lucky to have such choices at every price point.
Some of them – like the L’Oreal Infalliable shades are oldies but goodies. The brand has also recently (well in the past year) a set of metallic infalliables – in Chrome, Bronze, Rose Gold etc and these are pretty good too.
I am eyeing off the Sydney Grace shadows for my upcoming birthday in late Novemeber…..

I also meant to say that I wish and wish that Colour Pop would return that glorious Snakebite shade…..I really dislike it when brands delete their best products….it’s probably the same for MAC lovers as well.

Agree with you Genevieve, I think it’s a great time to be interested in makeup if you are open to different brands and especially buying singles!
I didn’t know about the newer Infallible shades -I am curious about them now!

I’ve been so impressed with the Sydney Grace shadows. Coloured Raine’s have been very nice, also. I don’t typically buy a lot of singles, but both brands got quite a bit of money from me this year.

I believe that this will be the year that I get my creative energy going again, and will indulge in Clionadh and Sydney Grace shadows. Premade palettes may be an easier route, but generally not very personalized and unique to ones specific shade and tone preferences.

2020 is a lot of things but it’s been a great year for me for shadows. I’ve especially enjoyed my Sydney Grace (all types), JD Glow galaxy shadows, Coloured Rain shimmers, and Give Me Glow singles. I have two Tarte paint pots that are stunning as well. Still have yet to try Clionahd shadows but ordered a bunch a few months back so just waiting for them to arrive!

Great post! What work ethic!!!! Your are the bomb Christine, really for all you do for your readers! God bless and thanks!

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