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The Easiest Guide to Applying Cream Eyeshadow, Ever

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Whether you're a makeup newbie, an experienced expert, or someone who prefers to spend five minutes, max on their daily makeup routine, cream eyeshadows are bound to become your new beauty BFF. This type of eyeshadow comes with a long list of advantages: they're super easy to apply, they blend extremely well, they're super buildable, highly pigmented, and most offer a long-wear formula. 

And unlike powder eyeshadow, all you need is a clean ring finger to apply cream shadow, saving you even more time during your daily makeup routine. Cream eyeshadows also are great if you're partial to shimmery shades, as cream formulas tend to be glossier than powder formulas but result in less fallout throughout the day. 

One thing to note: Different skin types react differently to cream-based shadows. Normal to dry skin is ideal for this type of eyeshadow. If you have oily lids, you can still use cream eyeshadow formulas, but to keep it from smudging, you may want to apply a translucent powder between your eyeshadow primer and cream shadow. Alternatively, you can apply a light base of powder shadow before applying the cream shadow of your choice to help it set better.   

Ready to give cream eyeshadow a try? Below is a quick tutorial on how to apply cream eyeshadow, as well as a few beauty editor-approved makeup products to add to your beauty toolkit.


How to Apply Cream Shadows, Step-by-Step

Step 1: Prime your eyelids. 

Start by priming your eyelids using an eyeshadow primer like the ELIZABETH MOTT Thank Me Later Eyeshadow Primer. While you can certainly skip this step, a primer is recommended for anyone with oily lids. Applying a primer will also do wonders to keep your shadow locked in place all day, transforming long-wear cream formulas into won't-even-budge-a-little-bit formulas. It will also help to create a super smooth base for a seamless and even application.

NATURE'S CARTEL Eyeshadow Trio in Champagne Scandal, Tan Lines From Tahiti, and 90's Nude

Step 2: Apply a base coat of cream eyeshadow. 

Using your choice of cream eyeshadow (we love the neutral tones in NATURE'S CARTEL's Eyeshadow Trio), apply the cream shadow using either a clean fingertip or a blending eyeshadow brush like the VASANTI COSMETICS Contour Eyeshadow Blend It Out Brush.

If you’re using your finger, start by dabbing the product onto the middle of your eyelid and diffuse it towards the outer and inner corner of your eye. Then, blend the color up into your crease and towards your brow bone. Use your ring finger for the lightest touch–this will 1) keep you from applying too much product at once and 2) keep the delicate skin around your eyes safe from rubbing and tugging. 

If you're using a blending brush, you'll still begin by applying the cream shadow with your ring finger to transfer the shadow from the pan to your lid (unless it comes in stick form: then you can apply that directly to your lid). Once you have enough shadow on your eyelid to create an even layer, pick up a synthetic brush and blend the product into your crease and up towards your brow bone. Use circular strokes for the smoothest blending.

VASANTI COSMETICS Contour Eyeshadow Blend It Out Brush

 Step 3: Blend cream eyeshadow with powder eyeshadow (optional). 

If you're looking for a soft, simple eyeshadow look, you can stop here and move onto eyeliner and mascara

However, if you want to create a makeup look with more dimension or something closer to a smoky eye, now is the time to blend in complementary shades using powder eyeshadow. You’ll also want to use a powder eyeshadow if you want to add highlight or cut your crease: cream shadows set and dry quickly, so using powder eyeshadow as your highlighter and crease color can be easier. If you do choose to use another cream eyeshadow shade instead, you’ll want to work quickly or choose a slow-drying formula to avoid any splotches or cakiness.  

Step 4: Apply cream shadow along your lash line. 

As another optional step for some added drama and glam, use your ring finger or a dense shadow brush to apply a swipe of cream shadow along your lower lash line and into the inner corners of your eye. 

Step 5: Finish with mascara and eyeliner. 

Top off your eye makeup masterpiece with eyeliner and mascara of your choice.


The Best Cream Eyeshadows

Now that you know how to apply cream eyeshadow, let's dive into the products we're obsessed with. Here are four beauty editor favorites.

BOBBI BROWN Long-Wear Cream Shadow Stick

1. BOBBI BROWN Long-Wear Cream Shadow Stick

This award-winning stick formula can be applied directly to your lid and quickly blended using a clean ring finger. On its own, this formula will stay put for up to eight hours, but prep your eyelid with primer and you'll be set for even longer. This creamy stick shadow also comes in 18 different shades. Use just one for a simple all-over color or combine two shades together to create your own custom color.


2. BANG BEAUTY Cream Color

This set comes with four cream eyeshadows fit for every occasion. The opaque, highly-pigmented colors work brilliantly as bold all-over lid colors, but they can also be used as a cream blush, highlighter, or a lip tint.

AURORA Chubby Shadowstick

3. AURORA Chubby Shadowstick

Here's another stick eyeshadow for seamless and speedy application. Apply the stick directly to your lid and quickly blend with a clean ring finger or a blending brush. Plus, every one of these 11 shimmery shades is non-toxic and incredibly long-lasting, staying put for up to 24 hours.

MAKE BEAUTY Molten Shadow

4. MAKE BEAUTY Molten Shadow

This option is ideal for anyone who hasn't used cream eyeshadow before. This formula offers a "mistake-proof application" that makes it super easy to blend. Apply a thin layer for a subtle finish or build-up to create a dramatic, pigmented look. As an added bonus, MAKE BEAUTY donates 10 percent of its sales to We See Beauty Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting women-led, worker-owned businesses in at-need communities.


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About the author
Cortney Clift
Cortney is a New York-based freelance writer who has written about beauty and wellness for more than six years. She was previously the senior writer and special projects editor at Brit + Co where she covered a wide range of news and lifestyle topics.
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Article Last Updated February 4, 2020 12:00 AM