Our Favorite Eyeshadow: The 2022 List Beauty Awards

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You've likely heard the age-old adage that the eyes are the jewels of the face. Well, that sentiment became doubly true in 2020 and 2021 as the pandemic introduced the concept of masking and effectively removed lips from play for beauty lovers across the globe. Lipstick and gloss — though still classics — took the backseat for a while, and we'd argue this development made eyeshadow all the more popular.

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It's all about the eyes, baby dolls! Whether you love an old-school neutral glam or prefer playing with boldly colored shadows to create a rainbow-bright work of art, we are certainly in an era when experimenting with eyeshadow (and a really good eyeliner, too) is en vogue. Because of that, we were beyond excited to hunt down the best palettes available to buy right now.

Our goal was to find five fan-favored options that provide a versatile blend of finishes, a cohesive color story, and a high-quality formula for blending to create stunning eye looks. We tested them out by creating multiple looks with each palette, and we used the same eyeshadow primer and brushes so that each one got a fighting chance. From there, we tailored our list down to find our absolute fave. Get ready for The List's Best of Beauty: eyeshadow edition!

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ColourPop Cosmetics Lush Life Shadow Palette: Winner

ColourPop Cosmetics tends to get flack in the beauty industry for the speed with which the company introduces new products to its line. The Los Angeles-based brand moves at a prodigious rate (seriously — they may not sleep). It's hard to fault them when their products are top-tier, though. That was the case when they rolled out the Lush Life eyeshadow palette.

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Consisting of 12 pans, the palette costs $18 and contains an even mix of mattes and shimmers. It also features what is easily one of 2022's most innovative color stories. The genuinely lush blend of forest green, royal blue, burnt orange, and warm-toned neutral mattes provides almost endless options for your crease and proves that the palette's name is not an exaggeration. You can effortlessly go neutral or create a rich, colorful explosion on the eye.

Innovative shades like On The Prowl (an emerald matte) can be deepened when built on top of Eden (a chocolate matte). Admittedly, there isn't a matching light matte, but we didn't have a problem blending the green out to soften its edge. This palette's mattes are stunning, and its shimmers are every bit as nice. The copper shade Hideaway in particular applies with a breathtaking, foiled finish. It's like metal on the lid. Some of the shimmers (like the emerald Juicy) have a softer application but are just as beautiful.

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Every element in this jewel-toned delight comes together to create a must-have eyeshadow palette of the highest quality.

BH Cosmetics Blueberry Muffin Shadow Palette: Runner-Up

Whoever decided blue eyeshadow belongs in the past needs their eyes examined. Sure, you may not reach for it on the reg, but the daring color is fun to dip into when the mood strikes. And the Blueberry Muffin eyeshadow palette by BH Cosmetics is tailor-made for beauty lovers who are looking to introduce the cool-toned hue into their lives but aren't sure how.

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This 16-pan palette is on sale for $14 (with a regular price of $18) and consists of seven mattes, one sequin (a matte with glitter particles that often blend out), and eight shimmers. The color story breaks down to an even mix of blues and neutrals. You can use the cool-toned shades on their own for full drama or as an accent to a toastier look.

Decadent (a plum-toned matte) is noteworthy for its versatility. Reach for it to deepen out a neutral look, and it'll pull brown. But it leans purple enough to gel with blue mattes, too. Each shade applies without skipping and provides a top-tier blend. The shimmers are just as nice, Sugared (a duo-chrome with a yellow shift) in particular. Pack it on top of a matte as a transformational topper, pop it in your inner corner for a brightening effect, or apply it on its own over glitter glue for a more opaque color.

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Some of the neutral shimmers may feel redundant, but each glistens with a different sparkle on the eye. This affordable option is an approachable stunner with a bit of an edge.

Natasha Denona Mini Gold Eyeshadow Palette: Runner-Up

The Natasha Denona name (like Pat McGrath or Charlotte Tilbury) is synonymous with luxury, and it comes with a steep price tag to prove it. The company's largest eyeshadow palettes cost $239. That's a lot of money to drop on a beauty product! Thankfully, you don't have to break the bank to get your fix — at least not if you pick up the Mini Gold eyeshadow palette.

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For $25, you don't get a lot of product in this diminutive 5-pan, and each pan contains less than a gram of shadow. What you do get, though, is a variety of finishes and a luxury experience. The Mini Gold breaks down into two mattes and three shimmers. One of the shimmers (the deepest color in the palette) is a satin, another has a duo-chromatic shift, and the last — D'Or — is a high-sheen stunner. These can be used together or on their own to create texture, depth, and dimension.

Every shade serves a purpose, but there are standouts. Bia (the darkest matte) pulls army green and works perfectly in the crease. Dark Sepia (the satin) adds depth — but take note that it does soften upon application. D'Or shimmers whether it's applied with a dry brush or glitter primer. The shadows go on with ease and last for hours without fading or creasing.

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What's not to love? The small format will leave you wanting more. Think of this as a worthy entry point into a quality brand.

Juvia's Place The Masquerade Mini Eyeshadow Palette: Runner-Up

If you're wondering who has the best eyeshadow formula for colorful, well-blended looks, Juvia's Place has been the brand name on people's tongues for years. That's because the Black-owned beauty brand has a reputation for smooth-like-butter mattes, electrifying shimmers, innovative color stories, and a cool price point. Take its Mini Masquerade eyeshadow palette, for example.

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The 16-pan palette costs $25 and provides nine shimmers, five matte shadows, and two sequin shades. The shimmers are standouts; Dahlia, Casablanca, Makeda, and Giza in particular apply like true metallics and last for hours on end without creasing. These bad boys blend into each other nicely for a gorgeous gradient. We found that to be less the case for Mali, the metallic green, which took on a softer quality on the eyes.

Where the Mini Masquerade suffers is its matte selection. The mattes look thin and unimpressive when swatched out on the arm, but don't be fooled — they build wonderfully on a primed eye. Unfortunately, they are all mid-toned and quite similar. Its limiting color story makes it challenging to build looks with any depth. Instead, most of the drama in this palette comes from how you combine the vibrant shimmers with a matte or two.

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The Mini Masquerade and its award-worthy shimmers would work exceptionally well as a companion palette. On its own, it's the sort of palette that requires some ingenuity to wind up with a cohesive look.

E.l.f. Cosmetics Bite Size Eyeshadow Palette: Runner-Up

Most single-pan eyeshadows cost more than $3. However, that incredibly low price is the cost of a four-pan palette if you shop at e.l.f. Cosmetics. The brand went viral with the unveiling of its Bite Size collection, which comes in a variety of color stories that pack a punch.

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We picked up the palette in the shade Truffles, which features two mid-toned brown matte shadows, an almost-black sequin shadow, and a taupe shimmer. Like most sequins, the glitters in this one blend away on the eye, leaving you with the equivalent of three graduated mattes. Perfect for a smokey eye!

This color story is a neutral-color lover's dream. Does it perform like you only spent $3 on it? We found the shadows a little dry, but they build well when applied darkest to lightest on a primed eye. On a medium skin tone, the lightest matte is a bit of a dud. It didn't show up well; however, it helps with the blend. The shimmer shade is admittedly not a dazzler but applied nicely with a dry brush and packed more punch on top of a glitter primer. 

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As a whole, this bite-sized beauty product doesn't provide a lot of variety. It's a good option with a decent formula at an insane price point. While it's affordable and still good quality, it's hard to compare to some options at a higher price point in terms of variety of finishes and blend-ability.

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