Into the shadows
Date: 26 january 2017

Eyeshadow class is in session, and we’re laying down the groundwork on how to pick the perfect formula for you - By Parizaad Khan Sethi

Pressed Powder

The most commonly found variety of eyeshadow, pressed powders are a versatile makeup basic

  • Easiest to use, and particularly great for beginners who are learning the basics of shading and contouring
  • They resist creasing and are long-wearing, even on oily eyelids
  • Can create a range of subtle or dramatic looks, and as they’re highly blendable, it’s easy to combine a variety of shades into a single look
  • Available in the widest variety of finishes like matt, pearl, metallic, glitter, shimmer and velvet
  • Can be used with natural or synthetic brushes, or fingers
  • They have a long shelf life if used with clean implements and stored properly
  • Perfect for: neutral, contoured eye looks, a soft or dramatic smoky eye, or any eyeshadow application


  • In darker shades, fallout is a problem

We love: M.A.C Eye Shadow, M.A.C Spellbinder Shadow, Ciaté London 9 Shade Eyeshadow Palette, Estée Lauder Pure Color Envy Sculpting EyeShadow 5 Color Palette


Cream shadows have a softer, dewy finish and are stunning in shimmer and glitter textures

  • They give a seamless, creamy finish that can look like it’s one with the skin if blended in properly
  • Available in a variety of textures and finishes, like shimmer, pearl and matt
  • For an intense look, they can be used as a base with other cream or powder eyeshadows layered on top (topping creams with powder shadows also prevents creasing)
  • Can be used with synthetic brushes or fingers
  • Perfect for: monotone eyeshadow looks, a soft smoky eye


  • Will crease on those with oily lids. In that case, use an eyeshadow primer before applying
  • Not easy to blend for makeup beginners, as they tend to set quickly. Work fast to blend in the shadow after you put it down on skin
  • Product might dry out in time. Open the container only long enough to transfer as much shadow as you need onto a makeup palette (or the back of your hand). Keep them tightly sealed
  • They might spoil quicker than powder shadows as it is a wet product that’s more prone to bacteria buildup

We love: M.A.C Pro Longwear Paint Pot, Bobbi Brown Metallic Long-Wear Cream Shadow, M.A.C Cream Colour Base

Shadow sticks

These are the easy version of cream shadows—portable and a breeze to apply

  • Their finish is similar to creams, giving a super-blendable, soft look
  • They’re perfect to apply on the go, and great for mid-day touch-ups
  • They’re much easier to apply than powders or creams, as the stick itself functions as the applicator—just use fingertips to blend
  • They make a great base for a more intense shadow application and can be topped with a powder or another cream/stick shadow
  • Available in a variety of finishes, from pearl and shimmer, to matt
  • Perfect for: monotone eyeshadow looks, a soft smoky eye


  • Tend to crease on oilier skintypes (use a primer underneath, or powder eyeshadow on top, to minimize creasing)
  • Softer textured sticks tend to be a little fragile—twist up only as much as needed while applying

We love: Ciaté London Skinny Shadow Sticks, Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Cream Shadow Stick, Chubby Stick Shadow Tint For Eyes, Estée Lauder Magic Smoky Eye Shadow Stick


These are powder shadows on steroids, packing quite a colour punch

  • These loose powders with an intense colour payoff are a multi-tasking asset in a pro or beginner’s makeup kit
  • Can be used dry, or mixed with water, for a more dramatic finish
  • They resist creasing and are long-
  • Have multiple other uses, and can be used on cheeks, nails, lips and skin, when mixed with the right products
  • Perfect for: dramatic eye looks


  • Like powder shadows, there is a risk of fallout

We love: M.A.C Pigment

Into the shadows
Parizaad Khan Sethi

is a beauty and wellness editor based in New York. She was the former beauty editor at Vogue India and now serves as a contributing editor for the magazine. At age 5, Parizaad fell in love with an old cream blush she found in the back of her mother’s drawer, and has been in awe of the transformative power of beauty ever since. When she’s not writing about beauty, she researches advances in skincare as a hobby, and is constantly guinea-pigging herself in the name of beauty.