If you’ve ever felt like single eyeshadows don’t get enough love, our guide to the Best Single Eyeshadows, the 2020 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!
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The mattes are velvety, blendable, and dense without being thick or too heavy, and they have semi-opaque to opaque pigmentation where a little can go a long way with some of the deeper and richer hues. The satin and pearl finishes are smooth, lightly creamy, and firmer but not dense or thick with good pigmentation, blendability, and easy application.
The more metallic finishes tend to be softer, creamy, and smooth with a bit more denseness and no powderiness. The sparkly/glittery shades are often designed to be applied wet for richer coverage or intensity, which has largely been my experience.
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.
The shimmer eyeshadows are more consistent in pigmentation with the majority of shades having opaque color coverage. The more metallic/sparkly the shade is, the creamier and more emollient the eyeshadow felt in the pan, which often yielded really smooth application and good adherence to the lid, though a few worked better with a fingertip or a dampened brush for true-to-pan color or to get a truer finish/sheen.
The formula is supposed to be "highly pigmented, long-lasting, and blendable" and come in a variety of finishes. Most their eyeshadows are semi-opaque to opaque with a smooth, blendable textures that are easy to use and apply well to bare skin. The shimmers are slightly dense and creamier to the touch compared to the mattes, which aren't thin but don't have the same amount of slip. They tend to wear between eight and nine hours on me.
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...
Anastasia Eyeshadow is supposed to be a “finely-milled, highly-pigmented” powder eyeshadow. There are several different finishes, and the performance can be better or worse depending on the finish, though it also ranges from shade to shade. On average, the formula is semi-opaque to opaque, lightly dusty to buttery, wears seven to nine hours, and is fairly blendable. The Metallic and Titanium finishes seem to be the best-performing to me, but there are some really standout mattes and shimmers as well. I have not tried the sparkle, satin, or velvet finishes as extensively as the other finishes, personally.
The formula is typically described as "high-pigment" that "stays on your lids" and goes on "seamlessly." Their permanent range has a lot of fantastic shades in it, and many of them are pigmented, blendable, and long-wearing. Some of their matte are real workhorse kind of shades with soft, smooth, silky, and blendable textures, while their shimmers and pearly shades are very rich in payoff and apply beautifully to the lid. They wear between seven and nine hours on me, depending on the shade and finish.
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...
If you love high-shine, sparkly eyeshadows, the See-quins pack a massive punch of color, sparkle, and payoff with minimal fallout and great adherence (without having to wet your brush or use your fingertips).
The formula is a more loosely-pressed powder format that has a denser, creamier consistency, which translates into intense pigmentation that adheres well to bare skin and doesn’t have to be used wet to get high-impact results. They work well dry brushes but can also be used with a dampened brush or fingertips for even more sparkle and shine.
If you love twinkling sparkle paired with creamier textures (but still feel more like a powder), the Scattered Light formula is compelling. It’s particular good for someone who likes one-and-done shades or wants to be able to play around with the pigmentation as these are often pigmented but can be sheered out more readily than formula alternatives.
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 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).
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. The texture was smooth, like a liquid-cream hybrid as it wasn’t runny but it was more spreadable than a cream eyeshadow you’d find in a jar. The majority of shades applied evenly to bare skin with little effort, and the edges remained blendable enough (even as it was mostly dried down) to soften and fuse with other shades.
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!
Top Rated Single Eyeshadows from 2020
Check out the current top 10 highest-rated single eyeshadows (individual shades) reviewed by the editor in 2020–this list will update automatically! The list below features individual shades that may be limited edition or permanent but were actually reviewed in 2020, whereas the above list featured only permanent formulas.