Powder or Cream Eyeshadow: Which Do You Wear?

Published in: Just For Fun, Makeup

powder or cream eyeshadow

I guess part of this debate boils down to volume: powder eyeshadow shades outnumber cream colors within most makeup lines.


That’s why I lean toward powder eyeshadows, but when I’m pressed for time I reach for creams. Not as broad a selection of colors, but I can apply creams faster than powders. I call ’em finger-friendly.

Which do you prefer and why? Are you a powder eyeshadow devotee or a cream shadow fanatic?

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



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So far, 52 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Tali says:

    Cream base (paintpot) but then always majority is powder.
    I think the range of colors is better with powders and i also use my fingers for powders!!! So application doesnt factor…

  2. Michelle says:

    Powders for me. Using cream shadow is kind of new for me. I had a bad experience with my first cream shadow (it was one by Rimmel)because after a couple of hours all of the shadow seemed to get in my crease so I was left with bare lids and a gross looking line in my crease. I bought Too Faced Shadow Insurance and it seemed to help although I still get a bit of crease line. I recently bought two of Cliniques cream shadows and that didn’t give me a crease line problem, however I did not like the patchy, powdery look (that’s the best way I could describe it) it left me with. I’m thinking my eyelids could have been very dry that day and maybe I used too many layers. So I’m going to try again until I can finally figure it out. Wish me luck! 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Michelle,

      I’ve had that happen to me with the Clinique ones during times when I over applied in a hurry. Yup, you’re very right in that using less will look less powdery/patchy. 🙂 Are you using a brush or a finger? I remember having good results with a synthetic brush with a small head (like the MAC 239 or even a concealer brush).

  3. Alexzandra says:

    I prefer cream shadows since they are quick and relatively idiot proof for me (powders don’t seem to be a natural fit for me). However, I actually own more powdered shadows than cream shadows. I feel like most cream shadows are too frosty, and I wish there was a wider selection

  4. Jen says:

    I almost always use cream shadow as a base and powder on top! If I’m in a hurry, I’ll use only cream shadow, eyeliner, and mascara to head out the door – just like now. (I hope that He’s just not that into you is good!) Oh, but don’t forget about gel eyeliner/shadow (stila smudgepot)… I use that too! I love the Grey as liner with my NC40 skin and dark brown eyes.

    PS – love the new layout and can’t wait to rub elbows with Tabs!

  5. Glosslizard says:

    I could never pick just one! I love them both! I am a devotee of MAC paint pots and Benefit creaseless cream shadows, and as far as powder shadows go I love pretty much all of them! My only requirement is that I don’t care for the loose powders, I like ’em pressed!

  6. wehkwas says:

    I think the last time I wore a cream eyeshadow was when I was fifteen or sixteen and I’m now nineteen, so yeah, that was a while ago. I really enjoyed how quickly I could apply it and I always liked working with my fingers. But for some reason, my loyalty has always belonged to powder eyeshadow.

  7. Heidi says:

    Powder eyeshadows have more staying power than cream shadows, and I like my makeup to last throughout the day. I hardly ever touch up my face because it’s a hassle.

  8. lexi says:

    i love them both – i never use to use cream shadows but i never knew how to use them now i cannot NOT use them! like i have mentioned in sooooo many previous posts i love me some rubenesque and i cannot wait to try the new benefit colors – i only have skinny jeans and i love that one when i’m doing a sexy smokey eye!

    i like builidng and blending powder shadows on top of the cream. i just feel the colors are more intense especially if i add pigment to the mix…

  9. Kate says:

    I always use pressed powders as they stay on my lids all day without it disappearing. It’s also easier for me to apply and it’s easier to shade. It’s not messy either.

    Plus, as you know my nice hyper-sensitive skin issues, most cream shadows don’t like my skin. I get a nice big rash on my eyelids! It’s not cute. I can’t even wear cream costume make-up due to my skin issues. I itch incessantly and I have a facial rash that lasts for days!

  10. Karen says:

    Hi Lexi,

    Cream shadows make such a huge difference in color intensity, huh? It’s amazing.

    I hope you like the new Benefit Colors, yay!

  11. Kate says:

    It is heaven. People wonder why I may buy one compact of eyeshadow from each maker and the truth is I’m playing Devil’s Advocate seeing which ones are okay and which ones aren’t. I can’t use Maybelline at all unless it’s lipgloss, possibly lipstick. I have a mental list of Okay to Use and Avoid at all Costs Lest You Want Red Skin. Hypo-allergenic, safe for contact lenses, ophthalmologist tested, dermatologist tested and fragrance free products are my best friends.

  12. A. Ozair says:

    in a rush..creams..but luv powders b/c of the vibrancy! 🙂

    loooving the new look of your blog…so professional! 😉
    but hey karen..i noticed a change…before when i was going through any specific blog entry of yours…there was a link on that entry’s page..to either go the entry before that..or the one after that…it isn’t there anymore..i miss that feature..! 🙁
    whenever i dropped by at your blog i used to go thru ALL your entries without having to go back to the main page again and again… plz plz bring it back! 🙂

    again..loving your new layout..takecare! 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi A. Ozair,

      Thanks for the feedback! I’ll still getting a few design things worked out, and I may bring that back in the future.

      Hope you’re having a great weekend! 🙂

  13. lindsay says:

    I like powder better..I find it easier to apply. Cream shadows always end up in my crease even when I put primer on first.

    Have you ever used the Lip Scrub by Sara Happ? I’ve heard so many good things about it.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lindsay,

      I’ve heard of it but haven’t tried it because I’m on a lucky “my lips aren’t peeling” roll as of late. 🙂 In the past I tried and liked tarte’s fRxtion. It works great, although I was really tempted to eat it!

  14. Music_Is_Freedom says:

    I’m a powder shadow devotee for the most part. I used to have one or two cream shadows (Wings of Love by Burt’s Bees–loved them!), but they crease really easily on my lids, and I’ve always found it easier to work with powders. I’m thinking of trying a MAC Paint Pot soon…I’ll see how that goes.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Music_Is_Freedom,

      The MAC PP work pretty great… I haven’t had any big issues with creasing. Popping Too Faced Shadow Insurance beneath it seems to help if there’s ever any creasing issues. What Paint Pot are you thinking of getting?

  15. Anne says:

    I much prefer cream! I like the consistency better than a powder. I wear my makeup very naturally so a quick swipe of a pretty champagne cream shadow works perfectly for my daily look 🙂

  16. Karen B says:

    I love me some cream eyeshadows. It’s just that I’m usually pressed for time and then I pop on a layer of paint pot after concealer, some liner and some mascara and I’m done. I don’t have any with me here in Sweden though as the glass containers were a bit heavy but I have to say I do miss them. I only have my Chanel Garden Party quad here and my single ricepaper e/s.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karen B.,

      Both Garden Party and Ricepaper are good colors to travel with (you can do so many looks). 🙂 I haven’t taken out Garden Party in awhile — I’ll have to party with her again this week. 🙂

      I hope you had a nice weekend!

  17. Michelle says:

    I think I used both. I do need more brushes and I’ll check out the 239 next time I’m @ the MAC counter. Thanks for the tip!

  18. gio says:

    I prefer powder as I find it easier to work with and last longer than cream shadows. Also, cream eyeshadow tends to crease on me.

    gio´s last blog post..New Collection: Armani Pink Light Spring 2009 Collection

  19. YadiQ says:

    Give me powder any day

    I have had ugly crease issues with creams but have been tempted to try urban decays new cream shadows but seriously even with too faced shadow insurance the creams crease hopefully the new ud’s will cooperate 🙂 I do love chanels liquid shdows though totally creaseless !!!

  20. Wendy says:

    I always use powder eyeshadows. They have more staying power than cream shadows on my eyes. I also always use the MAC paintpot colors.

  21. Lauren Alyssa says:

    I usually buy eyeshadow palettes in an effort to be more economical (I’m a big fan of Urban Decay palettes). So most of my shadows are powder shadows. I’m not opposed to cream shadows, just anxious about creasing!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lauren Alyssa,

      I’ve heard great things about the Urban Decay palettes. Can you recommend your favorite?

      If you try a cream shadow and it creases, layering Too Faced Shadow Insurance beneath it helps to eliminate creasing!

  22. Suzanne says:

    Hi Ladies,
    I’m new to the site and to blogging,so here I go. You know it’s so funny the question is which eyeshadow do you like? ( powder or cream ) I went out shopping and bought 2 new ones from benefits creaseless cream collection. I love, love, love, them. The names are “get figgy” and “stiletto”. The figgy is a lighter plum for lids, and the stiletto is for the crease or to really make your eyes pop! Anyway I would have to say cream for benefit’s shadow’s.

  23. honeybrown1976 says:

    I’ve never worn cream eye shadow; so, I’m definitely in the powder clique. I’m interested, though. But, not enough to entirely leave the sorority.

  24. nai says:

    haaaaaaaaaaaaaw!!! *whine*

    okay, karen, seriously. this. has. got. to. stop. i saw the gorgeous green shade of humid in the photo you put up for this post and i just *had* to have it. i hied my bumdebum over to nordstrom and meant only to get that. pfft! with the mac MA cajoling me like a tiny doll on my left shoulder where the devil normally sits and casting a spell with a quickie makeover, my doom was inevitable. i ended up hiding humid and juxt powder e/s, high tea lippie, and painterly paint pot in the bottom of my purse so my sweetie wouldn’t know.

    back to your original question: i have 30 mac powder e/s and 3 paint pots. mac’s cream e/s are the only ones that haven’t gone all slippy besides the hip cream shadows (of which i have commanding and nervy). i love the versatility of powder and am learning to enjoy the better cream shadows out there.

    too bad i can’t buy more. my wallet’s hurting and my sephora train case is full to the gills.


    • Karen says:

      Hi Nai,

      Woo hoo! You will get a ton of use out of Painterly and High Tea. They’re like the plain white-T of the MAC world — they totally go with everything. 🙂

      I don’t have Juxt! How are you liking it?

  25. Wendy says:

    Hi Karen,

    I adore the Soft Ochre piantpot, I use that one the most, and Quite natural when I use brown colors. Mos scape for green and my best friend is the Sharkskin shadestick, I use that one the same way as the paintpots. Im so happy that they will launche some new shadesticks in the sugar sweet collection in March, they are really handy!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Wendy,

      I like the Shadesticks, too. I have Beige-ing, which I love! I love that their lightweight and easy to travel with (plus they don’t require any brushes).

      I have lamely missed the opportunity to pick up Sharkskin when it was at Nordie’s a few months ago. I need to find a way to get my hands on it. 🙂

      Anyway, I hope you’re having a nice Monday so far!

  26. Wendy says:

    Hi Karen, Hopefully they will repromote the sharksin again. Than we can stash them up! 🙂

    Have a lovely day!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Wendy,

      I hope so. I bet it looks so pretty when you use it to do smokey eye looks! 🙂

      My Monday is just chugging along so far. I am getting ready to head out to class in a few. How’s yours been?

  27. Wendy says:

    We went to Antwerp, Belgium for the weekend,(Im from the Netherands). So Im really tired today. Its now almost 10 pm, so I think I will take a bath with my last Lavender blissard ballistic (I love lush!! Do you use the ballistics often?) and take a good night sleep. Tomorrow it will be early 🙂

  28. Karen B says:

    Yeah, she’s perfect for afternoon tea 😉

  29. Jess says:


  30. Priscilla says:

    I LOVE Motives luxe creme eye shadow in brown suger. It’s the perfect bronzey brown for a brown smokey eye…and its not too frosted either.

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