Powder Eye Shadows

Saturday, 8 January 2011 | Tags: , , ,

Shopping Bag Emma L. provides a thorough review of some popular shadows.

Powder eye shadows come in a vast variety of sizes, containers, amounts, finishes and textures. With so many finishes and brands to consider, what’s a girl to do? Read this guide, of course!

The Basics:

  • Powder eye shadows can come in an endless array of finishes, but mainly they are made in shimmer (clear colour, with a medium-fine shimmer added), glitter or frost (lots of sparkle, colour may be slightly diluted), matte (no shine or glitter at all, straight colour), and satin (closer to matte, but with a very subtle hint of shine).

  • Powder eye shadows come in two forms: pressed and loose. Pressed powders are the most popular; they are the shadows that are pressed down hard, to form a cohesive shape. Pressed powders are the most convenient, as they are mostly mess-free and easy to travel with. They can be applied with a wide range of applicators, including brushes, sponge-tip applicators, and your fingertips.

  • Loose powder eye shadows are simply loose pigments, often stored in sifter jars. Powder eye shadows can lose pigment when they are pressed, so leaving them loose preserves that colour payoff, providing you with richer, more vivid colour. However, loose powders are very messy, and not at all convenient for travel. They must also be applied with a brush, something that is not necessary for pressed powders.

  • Powder eye shadows also come in a wide range of price points. More expensive powders generally have more pigment, resulting in a stronger, fuller colour that will require you to use less when applying.

  • Drugstore cosmetics brands are mostly inexpensive, but they often have far less in the way of selection.

  • If you’re someone who is an eye shadow addict, you may like to consider some of the more high-end brands sold in department stores or beauty boutiques due to their vast array of colours and textures that you won’t find at your lo! cal drug store…but you should be prepared to pay up to 4 times more!

  • If you are a more mature woman, you may want to avoid the shimmer or glitter textures, as these can exaggerate fine lines and wrinkles, sinking into them and making them look a lot more noticeable. A great matte eye shadow can’t be beat!

  • Powder eye shadows can crease into fine lines on your eyelids over a period of a few hours – they may also begin to fade. If you want to extend the life of your powder shadows dramatically, consider investing in a silicone-based eye shadow primer, or, if you own one already, use a silicone-based concealer as a base for your eye shadow prior to applying.

Buying Tips:

  • Before buying a powder eye shadow, swipe your finger across an available tester. Rub the powder between your fingers. Does it feel smooth? If it feels grainy, chunky (this usually happens as a result of glitter) or doesn’t spread evenly, don’t bother. Even inexpensive shadows should never feel chunky!

  • It may sound strange, but smell the powder prior to purchasing. It should not have any strong odour, and if it does, I would not advise purchasing it.

  • Examine the packaging. Is it flimsy? In terms of makeup, packaging is extremely important. Would it hold up to being thrown in your purse? Is it easy to access the shadow? Is there a lot of unnecessary packaging, serving to make it more difficult to use? You want functional, durable packaging – in this case, appearances can be deceiving!

  • If you are looking to stock up on eye shadow, or wanting to try many from a single brand, investing in an eye shadow palette could save you money. While the price of a palette may appear to be steeper than buying singles at first, it is actually much more costly to continue buying single shades over time.

  • Eye shadows should be used up or disposed of within a couple of years of purchasing. If an eye shadow is past its prime, it will be dry, crumbly, and will not have the smooth texture that it used to. The colour pigment will no longer be rich, and when you try to apply it, the colour will appear dull and chalky. It may also drag and crumble when you swipe it across your eyelid.

Being a makeup addict myself, I have a ton of powder eye shadows. Powder is my preferred formula of shadow, so with that in mind, I tested out a few of the ones in my collection, organized by finish.

  • e.l.f. Cosmetics Everyday Essentials eye shadow ($1, shimmer)
  • MAC eye shadow ($17, shimmer)
  • Revlon Matte eye shadow ($8, matte)
  • Urban Decay Matte eye shadow ($20, matte)
  • Maybelline eye shadow ($7, satin)
  • Clinique eye shadow ($18, satin)

My Results:

For the shimmer eye shadows, I preferred the texture of MAC, but the price point is definitely more than I’d like to spend. Thankfully, the e.l.f. eye shadow was actually quite nice as well! While I love my MAC, if it’s not in your budget, I definitely recommend e.l.f. Cosmetics.

When it came to the matte eye shadows, I strongly preferred the Urban Decay. It was simply smoother, richer, and I didn’t have to use a lot of it for the colour to be vibrant. The Revlon was a bit chalky, and the colour was dull and lackluster. I’ve run into this with matte shadows before – and unfortunately for my wallet, for matte finishes, the pricier options are almost always better!

Finally with the satin eye shadows, I actually preferred the inexpensive Maybelline. I found the Clinique shadow to be dry and crumbly, which should not happen to a fresh eye shadow! The colour payoff was quite poor as well, whereas Maybelline was mostly vivid and easy to apply.

When it comes to powder eye shadows, expensive isn’t always better. Technology in cosmetics has advanced so much in the past few decades, that it is often possible to find low-price powders that are almost as good as their high-end counterparts. Of course that expensive shadow will always have prettier packaging, and will always be more luxurious; in the end, however, it’s no longer necessary to splurge on these items to get great eye shadows that make you look and feel beautiful.



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