The Best Liquid Eye Shadows, According To Makeup Artists

Liquid eye shadows are among the trendiest makeup formulas right now, with new versions dropping from a variety of brands seemingly every week. Devotees favor them for their ease of use, blendability and intense color payoff. But there are a few key tricks to finding the right formula and applying it like a pro. 

“When it comes to these formulas, a little goes a long way,” says makeup artist Beau Nelson. “The best way is to use a synthetic brush, apply thin layers and use the brush to buff edges for a clean transition.” Makeup artist Katie Jane Hughes agrees, nothing that fingers are fine in a pinch, but “the oils in your fingers can often break up the oils in the product.” One major benefit of using a liquid shadow is that it doesn’t require the use of a primer: They “basically act as primers with color. They work well amazingly on their own, or even as a base for powder shadows,” explains Hughes. 

Liquid eye shadows are also the unsung heroes of the makeup bag because of their versatility. Both makeup artists we consulted agree that the multi-tasking capabilities of these formulas are particularly impressive. “Metallic, pale and medium shades can look best as highlights. They can also act as blush — just mix a tiny bit of foundation to extend the product’s dry-down time,” says Nelson.

Now that you know how to apply them like a pro, here are the best expert-recommended liquid eye shadows to add to your collection. Read on to see (and shop) them all.

Danessa Myricks Beauty 24-Hour Cream ColorFix

Channel your inner artist with Danessa Myricks Beauty ColorFix 24-Hour Cream Color Matte. This ultra-long-wearing cream color can be safely used on lips, eyes, face, and body. ColorFix’s unique silicone-polymer base can be mixed to create custom colors and finishes.

Buy on Beautylish $25

Glossier Skywash

Powder-finish formula (that doesn’t feel powdery) smooths on with a doe foot applicator. Silky, blendable color melts into skin, creating a pretty, diffused effect that lasts. A little bit adds some depth to the eye area; add more for a refined, modern wash of color. Comes in seven shades inspired by dreamy Southwest landscapes.

Buy on their website $22

Stila Glitter & Glow Liquid Eyeshadows

Illuminate your eyes with Glitter & Glow Liquid Eye Shadow by Stila Cosmetics. This lightweight and water-infused formula provides long-lasting coverage, without ever flaking. Boosted with mica, this highly-pigmented formula reflects the light around you, revealing a glowing appearance. 

Buy at Dermstore $24

MILK Makeup Eye Pigment

Swipe ‘em all over your lids for a bold shadow look, or use an angled brush to create a long-wear liner.

Buy on their website $24

Covergirl Exhibitionist Liquid Glitter Shadow

These super sparkly liquid eyeshadows are the best way to amplify your eyes. With its smooth, lightweight feel and quick dry-down, you’ll achieve shimmery color in a flash.

Buy on their website

Chanel Ombre Premiere Laque

One swipe delivers lustrous, buildable colour that can be smudged out easily with fingertips for a soft-focus effect.

Buy on their website $36

Glossier Lidstar

Creates a sheer veil of color that locks onto lids without creasing (so no need for primer). Ultrafine pigments are enveloped in a buttery base for a silky, blendable formula that swipes on easily. Comes in six shimmery, long-wearing shades.

Buy on their website $22

ELF Liquid Glitter Shadow

This gel-based formula is long-lasting, quick-drying and 100% eye-catching! Formulated for comfortable wear and minimal fall out, this opaque liquid eyeshadow delivers high-impact, multi-dimensional glitters and pearls in a quick-drying gel base.

Buy at ULTA $5

KOSAS 10-Second Liquid Eyeshadow

A clean liquid eyeshadow that goes on like watercolor — soothes skin, won’t crease, dries in seconds.

Buy on their website $37

Armani Beauty Eye Tint Liquid Eyeshadow

A long-lasting, crease-proof liquid eyeshadow in multiple finishes with up to 16 hours of buildable color with a lightweight feel.

Buy at Saks Fifth Avenue $40

Wander Beauty Exquisite Eye Liquid Shadow

A highly pigmented liquid eyeshadow that transforms from liquid to powder to deliver vibrant color payoff that lasts all day.

Buy at Look Fantastic $22

Smith & Cult Glitterbaby Metallic-Shift Eye Shadow

Next level liquid glitter eyeshadow. Smith & Cult’s Glitterbaby Metallic-Shift Eyeshadow features black micronized pigments that transform to a deeper metallic as you blend. Build color intensity and depth. Wear as a sparkling metallic or smudge for a smoky look.

Buy at ULTA $24

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Wayne Goss – the Beauty Star Selling Out Product in Five Minutes

Welcome to Artist Spotlight #16 series on my blog.

Wayne Goss is not your typical YouTube star. He has amassed over a million subscribers on his beauty channel, and has the consumer influence to match: His first collection of brushes on Beautylish sold out in five minutes. But he stands out among other beauty vloggers for several reasons — the first of which is that he’s a guy. A guy who can quickly and confidently demonstrate Kardashian contouring tricks on his own face. He eschews the cutesy, neighborly tone used by most beauty vloggers in favor of a methodical, straight-to-the-point delivery.

Goss spoke to the Cut about how being a guy is advantageous in the YouTube beauty world, how he got started, and why he doesn’t wear makeup himself.

How did you get started in the business?

It was something I’ve been interested in since I was a young boy. I always liked looking at magazines and seeing the pretty faces. When I was 20, I started suffering from acne. That experience reminded me of my love for makeup and how I could use it to fix my skin.

I am self-taught. Fifteen years ago, I picked up some books by Way Bandy and Kevyn Aucoin and read them to practice. I went to London and studied makeup artistry. Then, I discovered YouTube. I found that there were so many kinds of people on it, but there didn’t seem to be any teaching and instructions on how to make the process simpler. I feel like my videos fill a gap in the market. I keep them short and clearly explain what I’m doing. My point of view is that you don’t have to have a degree in art to be able to explain it.

How do you think you became successful on YouTube?

It was so gradual. You don’t really notice it creeping up on you. I remember hitting 20,000 subscribers and thinking, Oh my god, that’s a lot of people. And then it started to increase very rapidly after my first year, especially after I did videos on concealer and blusher. But I don’t really know. It’s still a mystery to me. I imagine it is a combination of people doing searches in Google, seeing a video, and liking it. The social media aspect certainly helps.

Do you think that being a man in the field is advantageous?

Absolutely. I’m pretty much the only male in my age group doing it. I think people appreciate that I’m not going to be talking for an hour about something I could do in a few minutes. I’m very matter-of-fact. I’m not very handsy nor flamboyant. Even if I’m demonstrating something on myself, it’s not about making myself a pretty princess. It’s about the technique and explaining it very succinctly. In real life, I don’t even wear any makeup. It’s not my cup of tea.

Since you demonstrate a lot of the tutorials on yourself, I think people probably do think you wear makeup every day. 

I think it does surprise people. I love putting eyeshadow on people. But I’m six feet tall. I’ve got a beard. It doesn’t interest me. I don’t want to be pretty. I’m just a bit scruffy and unkempt, and that’s just sort of my style.

If you don’t wear makeup yourself, why do you demonstrate the tutorials on yourself?  

Well, lately, I have been using models in my video. But sometimes, when I get home, the last thing I want to do is see anyone else. Also, apart from the fact that I’m male, my eye shape is very realistic. Models have good skin, very large eyes, so that makes everything very easy to do. If I apply eye shadow, you get a more realistic impression of what it looks like on my eye, not someone who is genetically blessed.

How did the brush project with Beautylish come together?

I contacted Beautylish because I read their online content a lot. I mentioned that I was pursuing a brush line and they liked the idea, which was to create a really good-quality brush using Japanese craftsmanship techniques. The difference in quality would be understood the minute you opened it.

I knew about the bristles and furls and what to look for. It was difficult finding companies that could deal with all the requests I had. It had to be hair that couldn’t be cut. Nothing could be done by machine. There’s a bluntness to machine-cut hair that cuts your face at harsh angles. Especially as we get older, that can be harsher on the skin. With the right makeup brush, makeup goes exactly where you want it. For women over 40, it’s a great benefit to have a brush that’s not moving the eyelids around.

This project was self-funded, so I was very pleasantly surprised when I learned they sold out in the first five minutes. My philosophy has never changed. I still believe you should buy the best makeup you [can] afford, and if you can only afford one thing, buy one brush. Most people are applying makeup with their fingers. But a brush is an instrument you can use it for several purposes, and blend at the same time. For someone like me, not born with this artistic flair, good brushes enabled me to do makeup well. I really don’t have this innate talent, I struggled all the way and managed to find the right sort of brushes. It was a very selfish project, in a way.

What do you think of the story that came out a few weeks ago that said YouTube stars like Michelle Phan were making millions?

I obviously know of Michelle, although I’ve never spoken to her. I would say that’s an exaggeration in terms of figures. But again, I don’t know anything about her. I started about a year and half after her. At that time, the partner programs for YouTube weren’t available.

The bulk of us who started doing YouTube did it for the love of doing it. Those of us that did it for the right reasons are still around for the right reasons. There has been an influx of people thinking, I shoud make a fortune here. 95 percent of them don’t make it any way. And those that do certainly aren’t making six-figure salaries. It would be nice to start with a thousand. The bulk of people earning good wages from it now were around when there was no money.

The partner programs now, I believe, make it more difficult. Everyone wants a slice of the pie. I think this pie is really wonderful and big. You hear these glamourized stories, but the reality is very different. We still have full-time jobs. We work hard. And YouTube is a full-time job, because you have all these components, like filming and editing. I imagine that 90 percent of us do that ourselves without the help of anyone else.

I’m still a makeup artist. I still do jobs. I always will do that. I’m in a wonderful position of doing a job that I love. It’s a great thing. YouTube is the icing on it. It’s lovely to be able to connect with people on it I would never otherwise be able to meet.

Check out Wayne Goss’s makeup line at Beautylish

Check out Wayne Goss’s Instagram

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