How To (Finally) Make Cream Eyeshadow Work For You


cream eyeshadow tipsSource: Brook Mitchell/Getty Images

Some won’t flinch over creating a winged liner or dying their own hair, but if you put a cream eyeshadow in front of them, they’ll be shaking in their bathrobe! Okay, maybe not quite shaking, but let’s be real, as beautiful as it is and as cool of an effect it can give, cream eyeshadow is notoriously difficult to use. Eager for some real pro-tips, we reached out to a few MUAs who were happy give us the 411.

Here’s the Deal with Cream Eyeshadow

First, a quick rundown. Basically, cream eyeshadows have a super soft and creamy texture versus your traditional dry pressed powder.

“They can come in a pot, pan, stick, click pen, or a pencil, but they all have oil ingredients that make them softer and more moveable,” says Jenny Patinkin, a celebrity makeup artist and bestselling author. “They can give a more hydrated look, appear dewier, and they have the advantage of being able to blend out very sheer or be built up for extra oomph.”

One drawback of cream shadow is that it doesn’t boast a ton of hold or wear time. Heat from your skin tends to break down the oils in your shadow, which can result in creasing and/or transfer. For some, that lived-in, kinda messy look is desirable, but for others, it isn’t super ideal. Additionally, it can be a bit tricky to work with. Fortunately, there are some workarounds.

How to Make Cream Eyeshadow Work for You


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Jeffrey English (@heytherejeffreyhere) on

To master application and to improve longevity, do this:

Step One: Take Time to Prep Your Lid

Prepping your eyelid is super important anytime you apply shadow, but the stakes are even higher when it comes to cream formulas.

“Cream shadows are built with butters and liquids, which unless otherwise noted, tend to move and crease. A primer acts as a grip underneath the shadow, almost like double-stick tape to hold the pigment in place. It also keeps excess oils on the lid at bay and from melting away stability,” explains Jeffrey English, beauty director for Sephora.

He recommends NARS Pro-Prime Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base, $26, because it’s a bit drier of a formula that holds shadow like a magnet. It also comes in several lid-neutralizing shades, including a translucent, which doesn’t change or alter the shadows applied on top of it. The OG Urban Decay Primer Potion, $24, is also great.

Another pro tip for application is to take the time to clean your eyelids beforehand and to skip moisturizing your lid.

Step Two: Take Advantage of All Your Tools

“My pro tip would be to always try applying cream eyeshadow with your hands first, unless otherwise advised,” says makeup artist Amber Amos. “When I wear cream shadow, I tend to go in with my hands and then use a synthetic brush – like a flat concealer brush – to pack on extra color if I’m really looking for a pop.” Speaking of layering, it’s important to take time between applications. Amos says, “Some longer-wear creams will start to crack if you apply too much.

Check out how Amber Amos uses the Milk Makeup Eye Pigment Longwear Cream Eyeshadow (in shade Mermaid Parade, which is SO divine):


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Amber Amos 💋 (@ber_amos) on

Step Three: Be Prepared to Work Fast

Depending on the formulation, cream eyeshadows tend to dry really quickly. Like, within 30 seconds quickly. For that reason, it’s important to move fast when applying and blending. In fact, it’s prob best to work on one eye at a time.

Patinkin also recommends taking some time to warm up the shadow a little bit before getting it onto your lid. “This can be done by rubbing your finger or brush in the product for a few seconds before applying. This will soften up the oils and give an easier blend,” she says.

Step Four: Don’t Forget to Set It

“There are a few ways to cut down on creasing, but the quality of the cream shadow and its ability to dry down will be your best bet. Besides that, applying powders on top of some cream shadows can extend wear time,” says Amos.

English agrees, noting that cream shadows make amazing transformers for your other shadows. “Layering powder shadows on top of creams not only sets the cream, but can create some really cool color combinations,” he says. “Try mixing and matching cream shadows underneath powder shades for different multi-chromatic effects!”

If you just want to set the cream shadow without altering the original effect, a translucent powder will do the trick.

Check out this smokey glam using cream crayons by the incredible Linda Hallberg:


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Linda Hallberg (@lindahallberg) on

Cream Shadow MUA Shout Outs:

We asked each MUA we spoke with to share their absolute fave cream shadow. Their picks are below:

Amos: Danessa Myricks Colorfix, $18Danessa Myricks Colorfix

“These are my absolute fave cream shadows. So many colors, and you can use with your hands or a brush. An added bonus is that they don’t crease, crack, or smudge.”

English: Huda Beauty Matte & Metal Melted Double Ended Liquid Eyeshadows, $25

Huda Beauty Matte & Metal Melted Double Ended Liquid Eyeshadows

“I have to give a shout out to these shadows because you get two textures that you can layer to create extra dimension and a dazzling sparkle effect. My favorite shade is Limelight! Naturally, it’s the color of my aura.”

Patinkin: Rituel de Fille Inner Glow Crème Pigment, $29

Rituel de Fille Inner Glow Crème Pigment

“It’s a high powder content cream that wears beautifully and comes in a gorgeous range of colors,” she says.

Do you guys like working with cream eyeshadow or do you typically ignore it? Let us know in the comments below.