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Put This On Your Face: Liquid Shadow

During the first few months of the pandemic, when we didn’t have much to do besides look at each other, our screens, and piles of clutter, I decided it was finally time to address the collection of eyeshadow I had amassed over the years. Before the pandemic even started, I had stopped wearing eyeshadow entirely (save for Pride). I used to wear it daily in high school, albeit poorly blended. But by college, it was reserved only for parties, and I wore it even less once I graduated.

Despite not really wearing eyeshadow anymore, I still had so much of it. I do think some of it can be attributed to nostalgia — the Naked palette STILL has a grip on my heart, probably because it was the first “real” palette I purchased and also that velvet exterior was just gorgeous — but most of it was a desire to not throw out something that could prove itself “useful” someday (this is a problem in other parts of my life, namely the fridge).

I pushed past my discomfort and rid myself of no less than 11 mostly untouched super shock shadows (probably from a bulk order when I was in college and Colourpop would run $3 shadow sales), the aforementioned Naked palette, and a bunch of other shadow products to which I did not have strong emotional attachments. Honestly, I think everything I threw out was from 2014-2016, which I will now be calling my Shadow Era.

Since then, I haven’t really looked back. I haven’t reached for an eyeshadow product in the past several years (once again, save for Pride), though I do occasionally swipe a multistick on my lids just for the fun of it. Honestly, I thought I was free of eyeshadow until I was watching a TikTok creator do a full face of Euphoria-inspired makeup and they used the doe-foot applicator on a liquid shadow (shimmery, glittery, gorgeous) to create a graphic LINER!! Now, I am no stranger to using tools for things other than their intended purpose (my dilators are still in use despite not having vaginismus anymore, I won’t elaborate but you can figure out why) so I am very into this whole graphic liner shadow moment!

It also got me thinking that maybe I swore off of eyeshadow too soon. Just because I didn’t want to deal with the fallout or fading of powder didn’t mean that eyeshadow was off the table entirely. I could just use a liquid eyeshadow!

If you want to dip your toe into liquid shadow world, here are some options!

I am, unfortunately, a slut for ILIA, and their Liquid Powder Eye Shadow Tint ($28) is one of their heavy hitters. It’s quick-dry, water-based, and buildable, so it works even if you want a light wash of color. They’ve got shimmery and matte options, but nothing super wild in their shade range — you won’t find a lime green or a neon pink here. The Rare Beauty Stay Vulnerable Liquid Eyeshadow ($20) is another product that has rave reviews but doesn’t offer anything surprising in their shade range. It’s all pinks and browns and very nude and SFW. However! It is waterproof, so reach for this if you plan on crying in the rain a lot. Or, for something extremely sheer, try Glossier’s Lidstar ($18)!

If bright, bold colors are more your thing, try Halsey’s makeup brand, About Face! The Matte Fluid Eye Paint ($16) is so BRIGHT and comes in almost every color you could think of, and yes, this includes lime green. In a refreshing turn of pace for shadows, they only offer matte options (why are so many shadows shimmery?) but say that you can add glitter on top should you wish to have a little glitter on your lids.

Speaking of glitter, in the depths of hell (Reddit) I found a few recommendations for MISSHA’s Glitter Prism Liquid Eyeshadow ($10-20 depending on the retailer) and it’s simply gorgeous! The shade “02 Interstellar” has something marketed as mermaid scale glitter in it and while I KNOW that no mermaids were harmed in the making of this product I can’t help but wonder because it just looks so darn ethereal! “01 Gravity” also has my heart because it has holographic STARS!! Stila’s Glitter & Glow Liquid Eye Shadow ($25) is a classic for a reason — it won an allure award in 2018.

But if you want the glitter shadow experience at a cheaper price point, try the e.l.f. Liquid Glitter Eyeshadow ($6). It’s gel-based, and while it doesn’t have mermaid scales in it, it still is really pretty. I would use this as a graphic liner in a heartbeat. Another less expensive, but just as glittery option is the NYX Glitter Goals ($8). Ulta seems to only carry a single shade, which is disappointing IMO because the NYX site has four (though three of them are sold out so maybe “Multiverse” really is the only option).

If you want to splurge, try the Violette_FR Yeux Paint ($31) — and then let me live vicariously through you because the shade Rêve de Dahlia has been living rent-free in my head ever since I saw it, second only to the greenish gold Scarabée d’Or. I think they’re intimidating and hot and honestly critical to building up an Intense Femme look! Bonus points if you can pronounce either of those shades because I simply cannot!

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Ashni is a writer, comedian, and farmer's market enthusiast. When they're not writing, they can be found soaking up the sun, trying to make a container garden happen, or reading queer YA.

ashni has written 48 articles for us.


  1. about-face also does make glitter eye paints too (if you’re a sucker for a sparkly eye like me); they’re just sold separately from the matte eye paints as “fractal glitter eye paint” – mostly metallic shades (silver, gold, bronze) but they’ve got a stunning blue and green option for sale.

  2. The intro alone was seriously compelling. I also barely use eyeshadow anymore and had to throw out so many college-era makeup recently, but I do like the idea of having some easy cool stuff handy for the rare occasion that I want it!

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