Woman holding an eyeshadow palette© Unsplash

Everything You Need to Know Before Selecting Powder Vs Cream Eyeshadow

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Naina Atri

In the past two years, brands like Glossier, Charlotte Tilbury and Huda Beauty have been coming out with cream-based eyeshadows, in little pots or as sticks. And while cream eyeshadows have been used by consumer and make-up artists alike for a long time, these recent spate of releases has fueled one of makeup’s long standing debates—cream or powder?

The easiest answer is, of course, that it’s all subjective. And while that may be true, there are key objective differences between cream and powder eyeshadows that determine preferences.

The Primary Differences Between Cream And Powder Eyeshadow

eyeshadow palette and liquid eyeshadows©Pexels

Powder eyeshadows work better for more complex looks

The first difference is in terms of use. You’d be hard pressed to find multiple cream eyeshadows that blend well together. Blending even two different shades can be difficult; the shadows may lose pigment or one may overpower the other.

Your powder eyeshadow palettes work better when it comes to a blended look where the colours are still distinct. Multiple textures—matte, shimmer and glitter—can be layered as well. So eye looks with more depth and complexity are more easily accomplished with powder eyeshadows.

For something quick and easy, cream eyeshadows are the way to go

Cream eyeshadows are less messy, are faster to work with, and can be applied with less tools (even fingers work). This also makes them beginner-friendly. For a quick flush of colour or sheen, or to get that dewy look, it’s easier and faster to use cream eyeshadows. When using powder eyeshadows, there’s always a risk of having fall out (where particles of the powder drop all over your face) and you would need at least a few brushes to achieve a basic look. Very rarely do fingers work so you won’t be able to quickly swipe some product on and walk out the door.

Liquid eyeshadows swatches©Unsplash

Cream eyeshadows are more travel-friendly

Cream eyeshadows are usually easier to travel with. Powder eyeshadows are usually pressed into palettes and not all of them can be packed easily. For the person on the go, cream eyeshadows are easier to work with in a moving vehicle and they don’t take up too much space. A few taps of the product onto your lids with your finger and you can walk out the airport looking fresh and ready for the day.

Powder eyeshadows offer a wider variety of shades

You’d have to be really certain about the limited number of shades you use to only buy cream eyeshadows, which rarely come in sets. It isn’t always convenient to keep buying single shades and because of their formulation, there isn’t much colour versatility to begin with. Powder eyeshadows on the other hand, come in palettes with multiple colours. Depending on your taste, you can choose a colour story you like for there are numerous palettes of various themes. And for those of you who like the unusual, bright, and loud looks, powder eyeshadows offer more pigment that is true to colour.

Colorful powder eyeshadow palette©Pexels

Products work differently on different skin types

Obviously, there are a plethora of skin types which require their own combinations of products. When it comes to oilier skin types, matte, demi-matte or satin finish make-up tends to last longer. On dryer or dehydrated skin, cream-like textures blend in better without getting stuck on dry patches. For more mature skin, cream eyeshadows are preferred since they give off a youthful glow and sheen, whereas powders can highlight fine lines and look a little dull.

Cream vs Powder: Why pick just one?

Cream and powder can also work well together—cream products can be laid down first on the lids and then, to add more depth, powder eyeshadows can be blended in. Alternatively, you can use powder first and then apply a shimmery cream to add some glimmer. So, our suggestion? Go for the best of both worlds and just have fun with them.