Today we’re critiquing 19 brands of matte eyeshadows to bring you the best on the market! Welcome to the Matte Eyeshadow Smackdown ;) Get a snack, it’s a monster post. If you are unfamiliar with the Sham Frip Smackdown series, essentially I select a category and review a whole bunch of brands within that category so you can be a savvy consumer ;)
I couldn’t possibly cover all the matte eyeshadow formulations I own so I’ve picked palettes or single eyeshadows in which I have most to say, LETS DO EET!
The Uber Luxe Mattes
The heading says it all! Matte formulas at a steep price point.
Marc Jacobs Mattes (Pictured: Lolita Palette)* // I own a few Marc Jacobs palettes and the matte shades within are consistently stellar, they’re velvety, blend effortlessly and produce no fallout. In particular, this palette contains a pale, medium and deep shade – very nicely curated.
Hourglass Mattes (pictured: Modernist Infinity Palette)* // These palettes received mixed reviews in the blogosphere, I actually quite liked them; the matte portions are dryer in texture but it doesn’t seem to effect the blending or application (just make sure to tap excess product off the brush or you will experience fallout). The pan does seem to kick up a lot of powder and one commenter on the Sham Frip made a valid point – some of the deeper pigments can contaminate the paler shades. I still love this colourway, gorgeous rosy tones <3
Surratt Mattes (Pictured: Assorted singles) // Perhaps it’s the shades I purchased (Ombre & Greige), but the Surratt mattes offer quite a soft payoff – not always a negative, who wants a opaque eyeshadow when you’re rushing to get ready for work? I mostly implement these singles for no-makeup-makeup socket contouring and as transition shades. The textures are silky smooth and flattering on fine lines, but nothing to write home about (at least from my gimme-garish-perspective).
Tom Ford Mattes (Pictured: Cocoa Mirage Palette) // A very warm collection of buttery mattes (one shimmer thrown in), the Cocoa Mirage formula is so silky that I find the shades are easy to overblend, which can lead to muddy/indistinct placements. The solution: I apply directly onto eye primer (where I would normally mattify with a flesh powder first) so the tackiness encourages the powder to adhere. Applied in this manner, I adore the formula – it’s the perfect palette for grungey, hazy eyes. The other colourways in the range are overwhelmingly shimmery, a pity.
Mid End Mattes
I eyeballed these brands as mid end but in hindsight, some lean towards the high end price point WHOOPS.
MAC Mattes (Pictured: Assorted & Matte 2) // Rather comparable to Makeup Geek singles with a higher price tag which is not to throw shade at MAC, I reach for them frequently. I’d describe MAC shadows as utilitarian, they get the job done but there isn’t much pleasure beyond that, or in simpler terms – I’d buy a MAC shadow simply because the shade is right. MAC offers a decent array of cooler mattes, some of my favourites include: Haux, Copperplate and Omega (EPIC facial contour shade). On the warmer spectrum, some standouts include: Wedge, Soft Brown, Swiss Chocolate and Brown Script.
LORAC Mattes (not pictured) // I did not enjoy the mattes in the Lorac Pro Palette at all, you can read my review here.
Sugarpill Mattes (not pictured) // Forgot to picture this brand but in short: amazing selection of bright mattes but I suspect there is a quality control issue. Read my full review here.
Becca Mattes (Pictured: Ombre Nudes Palette)* // ADORE the tonal colour scheme in this palette, it really takes the guesswork out of blending. I’ve heard some people describe Ombre Nudes as a collection of warm browns but on me, it runs rather cool, almost an ashy-brown effect. Like the Tom Ford, the Becca shadows adhere best to a grippy base (MAC Paint Pots work well) in order to achieve true-to-pan payoff. I’d very much like to pick up the rosier sister palette, Ombre Rouge :)
Stila Mattes (Pictured: In the Mind Palette) // Stila mattes feature in many of their palettes although the palette pictured is entirely matte. The pans do kick up a bit of powder (be sure to tap of the excess) and the formula performs best over a grippy base (in a similar vein to the Becca) but critiques aside, I really appreciate the selection of colours – an almost equal amount of warm and cool tones.
Too Faced Mattes (Pictured: Chocolate Bar Palette) // You gotta love your uber warm shades for this palette but the matte formulas are gorgeous: creamy, easy to blend, don’t kick up much powder and don’t emphasise texture on the lid. If Too Faced made a large matte palette, that would be heaven pls and thx very much.
It Cosmetics Mattes (Pictured: Naturally Pretty Palettes)* // I’m not sure I’d call this formula entirely matte, the shades are infused with some sneaky sheen but I thought I’d mention them anyway. It Cosmetics excels at the wearable dusty tones and application is foolproof but they’re frustrating because I just CANNOT build much impact with these palettes. It’s like the shadows are diluted with translucent powder, even the seemingly deep shadows blend out to soft hazes so I’d recommend them to beginners or people who prefer very soft eye looks.
Urban Decay Mattes (Pictured: Naked Palettes)* // In each Naked Palette, Urban Decay has thrown in a few token matte shades and I wish they’d gift us a few more because they’re lovely! Slightly more emollient than MAC or Makeup Geek, some noteworthy shades include Tease (cool taupe) and Buck (warm brown). You can buy these individually if they strike your fancy.
Make Up Store Mattes (Pictured: Assorted singles)* // Pictured below, Make Up Store mattes are similar in texture to MAC although the colour range is far more experimental with vibrant blues and oranges (in addition to the neutrals) for those who enjoy a bit of colour. They’re a go-to for colourful mattes although I suspect some of you will struggle to find them.
More Affordable Mattes
Not drugstore (to be frank, I’m rarely impressed by drugstore mattes) hence ‘more affordable’.
Inglot Mattes (Pictured: Assorted) // I know you wanna see swatches of this 40 palette so here ya go. Inglot mattes are very hit and miss, I’d be wary about purchasing them online. To Inglot’s credit, they’re on the affordable side (unless you’re Australian, ugh) and one of the few brands that offer a vast selection of neutrals AND brights. The texture is on the dryer side, some shades can kick up a lot of powder and produce fallout, other shades read a bit ashy on the skin. Don’t get me wrong, some perform nicely but if you’re looking for neutrals, go Makeup Geek, the quality is far more consistent. If you’re looking for brights, Inglot is your best best, just touch before you buy ;)
Zoeva Mattes (Pictured: Cocoa Blend Palette)* // Zoeva mattes are not available individually, only as inclusions in their palettes which are reasonably priced. Whether you prefer warmer tones (Cocoa Blend Palette) or cooler hues (Taupe Palette), Zoeva has a curated palette to suit you. I’m particularly impressed with the pigmentation of these shadows, it takes little effort to build a smokey look and I’d definitely recommend them to those who like a statement eye.
Colourpop Mattes (Pictured: Assorted singles)* // I’d describe these as a cream but some categorise them as a powder hybrid so let’s discuss them today. As per my original review, while I love the Colourpop foiled shades, the mattes are just more work than they’re worth; they set super quickly on my skin and became tricky to blend especially when layering shades or contouring the socket. The paler ‘mattes’ (inverted commas, all Colourpop mattes throw some sneaky sheen) make for a nice base but as for the darker shades, I can’t justify the hassle given the incredible list of mattes on this page.
International stockist here.
Ending on a positive note, these are the matte eyeshadows that I recommend to everyone.
Viseart Mattes (Pictured: Neutral Matte Palette) // A good mix of deep, medium and pale shades, this Viseart palette does run a little warm so keep that in mind if you’re a cool lover. It’s bloody expensive but definitely a must-have if you’re a makeup artist because the shadows are reliable and offer spectacular impact/opacity from the first swipe. They’re also easy to blend and all that good stuff, perhaps my only critique and I’m grasping for straws here – when this formula is built heavily, you can start to see ‘product’ on the skin, particularly if there are dry patches or texture on the lid.
Kat Von D Mattes (Pictured: Shade & Light Eye Palette)* // I adore the Kat Von D and Viseart mattes equally. Many have asked me to compare the two so here goes: while the Viseart formulation is identical between shades, the Kat Von D shades vary a touch in opacity. This is not a bad thing, in fact it’s a rather clever addition, the paler shades are less pigmented than the deep shades and this prevents the textural buildup that can occur with Viseart mattes. FYI: the large taupe pan makes for a brilliant facial contour shade. Overall, the Kat Von D formulation is more user friendly and suited to any makeup lover, while the Viseart is geared towards makeup professionals.
Burberry Mattes (Pictured: Assorted singles) // I’d really love to depot these because single compacts receive little love from me but I’m pretty sure there would be casualties (NO NO NO). Burberry mattes are more emollient/buttery to the touch than the two aforementioned formulas and the brand boasts a range of nuanced neutral tones. They’re so easy to blend that you could practically do it with your eyes closed. Cons: pricy and housed in brick-heavy-compacts, undeniably luxurious although somewhat impractical.
Rouge Bunny Rouge Mattes (Pictured: Assorted Singles)* // It was actually when I discovered RBR shadows that I realised the importance of matte shades and the love affair continued from there. The range is rather small and decidedly neutral but what few shades they do, they do very very well. I’d recommend them to the eyeshadow beginner or someone seeking daytime shadows – they can be built to smoky looks but the payoff is a touch softer so ideal for natural definition. Like the Burberry, they feel like silk to the touch and I can’t fault them!
Makeup Geek Mattes (Pictured: Assorted singles)* // Out of the more affordable options, Makeup Geek Mattes receive the most love from me. They’re very comparable to the the MAC matte formula, although perhaps the quality is more consistent between shades. While not silky to touch like RBR or Burberry, they do blend effortlessly and the colour range is spectacular – my perfect warm eye consists of Peach Smoothie, Creme Brûlée, Cocoa Bear and a touch of Bitten (I’ve used this combo in quite a few tutorials).
PS – other brands that I would have liked to included but I don’t own enough to make a proper judgement: Make Up For Ever and Anastasia Beverly Hills. Will have to report back on that front.
NB: I’ve just realised that I haven’t touched on longevity because as long as I use an eye primer, I personally have no issues in that regard but if you do, be wary of the formulas I describe as emollient.
Other Posts In The Smackdown Series
Powder Highlight Smackdown – click here
Longwear Eyeliner/Tightline Smackdown – click here
Cream Eyeshadow Encyclopaedia/Smackdown – click here
Eyebrow Product Smackdown – click here
Undereye Concealer Smackdown #1 – click here
Undereye Concealer Smackdown #2 – click here
Undereye Concealer Smackdown #3 – click here
Who is still with me LOL?! Did you enjoy the matte eyeshadow smackdown? Leave any questions and thoughts in the comments section and we’ll chat :)
* Denotes products sent for consideration. I’m always honest when reviewing products :) Some links in this post are affiliate links.