Sultry, timeless, and chic. Black eyeshadow is the easiest way to create an intensely mysterious and bold look.
From a dramatic cut crease to seriously smokey the possibilities are endless. The beauty of black eyeshadow is the fact that you can’t go wrong regardless of your skin tone, eye shape, or eye color.
So if you’re headed to an event and want to create the best dramatic, smokey look, we’ve got you covered with our list of 10 of the best black eyeshadows of 2021.
1. Stila Magnificent Metals Glitter & Glow Liquid Eye Shadow
Best Applicator Applied Black Eyeshadow (liquid)
If you’re looking to pull off a dark and sultry eye with an added twinkle of shimmer for that extra wow effect, Stila’s Magnificent Metals Glitter & Glow Liquid Eye Shadow is the best product to pull it off.
It comes complete with its own applicator wand that sweeps smoothly over the eyelid with precision to provide an intense and long-lasting look that’s not only lightweight but also fall-out-free.
What’s more, you can use it along with a powder shadow or on its own and intensify your look. It's also highly blendable and reacts well when placed over eyeshadow primer and other eyeshadow products.
2. Maybelline New York Eyestudio ColorTattoo Metal 24HR Cream Gel Eyeshadow
Best Drugstore Black Eyeshadow
Maybelline has been in the beauty business for decades and they definitely know a thing or two about perfecting their formulas.
Their Eyestudio Color Tattoo Metal 24hr Cream Gel Eyeshadow in dramatic black is all that and then some. If you’re looking for the most intensely pigment black gel eyeshadow then this is your perfect match.
Besides its ultra-affordable price, the product has some serious staying power and helps to provide that femme fatale high drama eye look sans the mess. It glides on effortlessly and can be used over your entire lid or as eyeliner to create the perfect cat-eye or winged tip.
3. Revlon ColorStay Crème Eye Shadow Licorice
Best Cream Formula Black Eyeshadow
Another titan in the cosmetics industry is the iconic Revlon. They’ve been busy creating makeup since our grandmothers were teenagers and have mastered the art of creating the perfect formula.
If you’re looking for longevity, and specifically a black eyeshadow cream that stays put and doesn’t fade despite a long night, then give their Creme Eye Shadow in shade Licorice a try.
Complete with its own cute little applicator, it goes on smoothly without dragging and its intensely pigmented cream can be used to cover the entire eye, or as a bold eyeliner. The shade is available in both matte and metallic variants giving you the power to choose the intensity of your look.
4. NARS Night Series Eyeshadow
Best Hi-End Powder Black Eyeshadow
Nars Night Series Eyeshadow, NightBreed will help take your look to the next level.
After all, they know how to create the perfect eyeshadow formula and are so confident in their products, they created an entire range of black eyeshadows to prove it.
This little singular pan of black magic will transform your eyes in one swipe. Use it dry to create a luminous glam look or wet (using a damp brush) to increase the drama. It glides on effortlessly, is long-lasting, and is crease-resistant making it a great option for a night out on the town.
5. Bloody Mary Eye Shadow
Best Black Eyeshadow for Versatility
Don’t be fooled by the gimmicky Halloween-themed packaging. This tiny pan is jam-packed with the darkest of dark pigment that will help you to create a smokey eye even Morticia Adams would envy.
Use it wet or dry and apply it over your entire lid or as an eyeliner, this shadow will create a plethora of different looks. Whether you’re perfecting your winged tip or smoking out your lids for a sultry mysterious look, this powerful powder will do the job.
6. Haus Laboratories By Lady Gaga: Glam Attack Liquid eyeshadow
Best Overall Black Eye Shadow
I can’t think of anything more dramatic than a Lady Gaga-inspired eyeshadow, after all her bold and intense persona helped her carve out her path to stardom in the first place.
Glam Attack Liquid eyeshadow can quite easily be hailed as the holy grail of liquid black eyeshadows. Out of a possible 10, the formula is an 11 given its ease of use, its highly blendable liquid to powder formula, and its pitch black shimmery pigments.
Transfer-proof, smudge-proof, and weightless, this gem of a product is all that it’s cracked up to be and so much more.
7. Makeup Forever - Artist Color Eye Shadow
Best Black Eyeshadow for Professional Mua’s
If you’re looking for a black eyeshadow that’s intensely pigmented, blendable, and one that delivers one-swipe color payoff, go ahead and try Makeup Forever's powder eyeshadow in the shade, Black Diamond Glitter.
Its professional-quality formula provides 12 hours of wear while rich silicon-coated pigments ensure a luminous, bold look that’s lightweight and crease-proof.
8. Anastasia Beverly Hills Eye Shadow Singles Noir - deep carbon black
Best Black Eyeshadow in terms of Blendability
Anastasia Beverly Hills is a top-rated color cosmetics powerhouse renowned for its exceptional quality. Their deep carbon black (ultra-matte) eyeshadow is no exception.
This full pigment, finely milled eyeshadow is available in a variety of textures from glitter and metallic to shimmer and satin for those interested in a black shadow that packs a little more punch than a mere matte.
It’s highly blendable, glides on like a dream, and can be used both wet or dry to create the perfect smoldering smokey eye.
9. Urban Decay Blackout - Matte
Best Cruelty-Free Black Eyeshadow
If you’re looking to create the perfect smoked-out eye and are passionate about cruelty-free products, Urban Decay Blackout is the perfect product to help you achieve the look.
This creamy, highly pigmented vegan eyeshadow lasts for up to 12 hours and provides an ultra-velvety, intense matte black finish.
It’s also highly blendable which lets you dial up or dial down the intensity you wish to create. Use wet or dry, over your entire lid or as eyeliner to suit the occasion.
10. Laura Mercier Caviar Chrome Veil Liquid EyeShadow Night Sky
Best Black Eyeshadow for Layering
Black eyeshadow doesn’t get any boujeer than the Laura Mercier Caviar Chrome Veil Liquid Eye Shadow. As its shade name suggests, “Night Sky” provides you with intense color payoff, peppered with shimmer particles to make your eyes appear smoldering, smokey, and shimmery.
If money is no option this $29.00 shadow is definitely worth its hefty price tag. Besides being incredibly long-wearing and lightweight, you’ll love the molten metal shimmer this eyeshadow provides and with a sheer to medium texture you can either build it up or down.
How do I apply Black eyeshadow?
Wearing black eyeshadow is not for the faint-hearted, nor should you attempt wearing it if you’re a beginner.
Black eyeshadows can be incredibly difficult to apply given the fact that they’re so dark and highly pigmented.
Product fall out and smudging can be a huge problem and your eye also requires prepping before application.
With that said, be sure to apply a great eyelid primer and let it dry down first. Once it’s dry apply the shadow in the following way based on whether you’re using powder or liquid
Using a small, fluffy, tapered blending brush - dip the brush lightly into the pan and tap off any excess product.
Starting at the outer corner of your eyelid, pat the product onto your eyelid using small circular motions blending in towards the inner eyelid.
For a bolder, more intense result, repeat the process until you have achieved the desired intensity.
Liquids and Cream Eyeshadow
Creams and liquids can be slightly more challenging to apply.
If your product comes with an applicator, apply the eyeshadow using the applicator and then use your fingers to blend it from the outer eyelid towards the inner eyelid.
Some formulas dry down quicker than others so you’ll need to work quickly to achieve a polished blend.
Should I choose a Matte or Shimmer Black Eyeshadow?
This comes mostly down to personal preference. If you’re looking for a subtle black eyeshadow look, a matte black shadow will be a good choice.
Black eyeshadows, especially those that contain shimmer particles are great for special occasions or when you intentionally want a more intense and dramatic look.
Is a Liquid Black Eyeshadow better than a Powder Formula?
Once again, it all comes down to your personal preference and the type of intensity and performance you’re expecting.
Both can provide an equally intense effect however in broader terms Liquid and cream black eyeshadows are typically more difficult to apply but are less messy than powders.
Powder eyeshadows tend to fall out and if you’re not careful, can stick to your undereye area. Trying to wipe it off can wreak havoc, especially if you’re already applied your foundation and concealer.
Hi-end vs. Drug Store Black Eyeshadow, what’s better?
Just because a product is more expensive doesn’t necessarily make it better in terms of performance.
Yes, high-end products generally contain better quality ingredients than their drugstore counterparts, however, you can find an equally great drugstore product with a bit of trial and error.
So, there you have it, we’ve given you a run-down of the absolute best black eyeshadows that 2021 has to offer but if we had to pit them against one another, just who exactly would come in first place?
Side Note - Any MUA worth their salt knows just how difficult it is to create the perfect black eyeshadow formula with many brands failing dismally in the category of best black eyeshadow.
With that in mind, the hands-down winner in this category goes to Haus Laboratories By Lady Gaga: Glam Attack Liquid eyeshadow. If Lady Gaga approves and puts her name on a product you better believe it’s going to be good.
The sheer intensity of its pigment along with its illustrious finish makes it the best in terms of overall performance and longevity. It’s also well priced for a high-end brand making it worth every cent.
Looking at who provides the most power in terms of black eyeshadow powder,
Bloody Mary Eye Shadow by Secrets of an American Make-Up Artist is tops.
Not only is it versatile, given that it can be worn wet or dry, its super affordable price tag and longevity, makes this the perfect black eyeshadow to add to your collection.
I hope this article has inspired you to go out there and purchase a black eyeshadow that will leave you looking like a smokey-eyed goddess!