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In the world of eyeshadow, it can sometimes seem like palettes are the only way. New collections of different, “complimentary” shades seem to hit our shelves almost every day. In all of this palette-excitement, it seems as though we’re neglecting the lowly single eyeshadow – and that’s a real shame.

A single eyeshadow may not be as exciting and glamorous as the beautifully multi-tonal palette. But they’re also quick, easy to travel with, and often give some of the most cool, subtle, understated eye looks. Don’t believe me? This roundup of the very best on the market should help you change your mind.

When it comes to singles, I tend to prefer a cream formula for ease of application. But there are two major exceptions. The Make Beauty Strawberry Hill single eyeshadow is a total thing of beauty – both in the pan and on the eyes. And the fact you can slightly switch up the tones by focusing on different areas of the pan makes it super versatile.

But if you want just one matte brown eyeshadow in your collection, I’d point you in the direction of Make Up For Ever M647 Speculoos. It doesn’t look like anything special at first glance, but it’s the perfect slightly mustardy warm brown tone that brightens up blue and green eyes while adding depth to brown ones. It’s also a fabulous formula – pigmented yet still easy enough to blend out in a hurry.

Another matte eyeshadow formula I’ve been obsessed with of late are the Stila Suede Shades. They’re liquid eyeshadows that dry matte but never look dry or crusty. The nude-pink shade Sassy is the perfect everyday wash, while Something Blue is the prettiest baby-periwinkle I’ve ever seen.

An oldie but a goldie, though, is the Stila Glitter & Glow in Diamond Dust. If you like glitter, you really do need this product. It can be dabbed on to give a sheer, gloss-effect wash, or packed on for full silver pigmentation. Either way, it’s a beauty.

Speaking of glitters, the Hourglass Scattered Light eyeshadows need mention on this list. They’re not as overtly spangly as the Stila, but still offer an eye catching gleam. The shade Vivid is the ideal Christmas party gold-green.

If you’re attempting a single wash eye look, the MAC Paint Pots are classics. Vintage Selection gives a soft pearly bronze, while Groundwork adds just the right amount of beige-y definition without looking obvious. Similar in formula but with far more out-there shades are the NYX Vivid Bright Cremes. For an uber-cool cartoony look, apply one of these neon colours to your mobile lid and just slightly blend out the edges.

I’m also partial to a creamier, greasier effect. The Surratt Lid Lacquers and Jillian Dempsey Lid Tints both achieve this grungy, slightly undone look. They’re sheer and never quite set, so will crease and move around a bit – but if you’re into the look of a dewy eyelid, you won’t do better than these.

And just because they don’t look like single eyeshadows, let’s not leave the stick formulations out. To achieve a quick eye looks, there’s really nothing better. The Laura Mercier Caviar Stick in Moonlight is incredible for adding glamour on the go, giving a hint of colour and sheen to lids that suitable for day or night. But to amp up the glow, the Tarte Sugar Rush Sparkle Shadow Sticks are truly incredible. One swipe gives opaque, glittery colour then blends out, but then sets and stays put.

Shop 11 editor-approved eyeshadow picks to achieve the perfect look

Featured images via Tarte Cosmetics

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