Summer is a season of playfulness, and that extends to your makeup look. The easiest place to go a little bolder with your beauty routine is your eyes. There is no shortage of colors and textures in eye shadows, from matte to metallic. With a bevy of formulas at your disposal, you can play with color whether you’re a makeup novice or a beauty pro. Even better, many of these shadows are affordable, even for tiny budgets.
$34 at Kohl’s
Dip your toe into the colorful eye shadow pool with this palette. It’s perfect for makeup newbies or those who love neutrals and want to start adding color to their repertoire. The nudes, with names like Suntan and Beach, are made for summer, but it’s the gorgeous blue hues, one matte and one shimmery, that will change your beauty game. The turquoise shade is particularly stunning. You can do everything from a simple highlighting sweep of color to a full-on nude smoky eye with this collection, so if you can only splash out on one palette this summer and need something that will take you from the office to a weekend getaway, you’ll do well to go with this one. It even comes with a black eyeliner pencil!
$6 each at MakeupGeek.com
These unbelievably cool, highly pigmented metallic shadows, the brainchild of YouTube beauty vlogger Marlena Stell, combine two colors in one pan to create a beautiful multifaceted look on your lids. This is a great way to experiment with special effects even if you’re new to makeup. If you’re hesitant to go super bold, start with a color that’s not too far out like I’m Peachless, a pretty coral shade.
$3.99 at Drugstore.com
If you’re curious about different eye shadow textures, take a look at Milani, an underrated drugstore gem. The Bella Eyes formula starts out as a gel that imparts rich color and dries to a powder. It comes in a sophisticated array of shades and finishes like the matte satin Bella Black, the metallic Bella Gold and the shimmery Bella Champagne, so you can create a variety of looks with ease.
$10 at Birchbox
Makeup minimalists, your eye shadow has arrived. This shimmery, creamy shadow stick comes in a range of totally wearable, flattering hues, from Day Trip, a vivid copper, to Nite Owl, a vampy plum shade. These set up in no time — we’re talking under a minute — so you have to work fast, but the payoff is in the richly pigmented color that lasts even without primer. No, really. These are great for travel. Pro-tip: to save some cash, buy a shadow stick trio. For $25, you’ll get three complimentary shades and a pencil sharpener. Try Piece of Cake, a collection containing a medium chocolate brown along with soft pink and peach shadows.
$4.49 at Ulta
If you like LOC’s metallic shades and are ready to kick things up a notch or would like a more affordable substitute, these pencils are perfect. The colors run the gamut from matte white to peacock blue, and the shimmery formula works really well for highlighting the inner corners of your eyes. Despite some of the puzzling shade names — the last thing most people would associate with pearly white shimmer is “Cottage Cheese” — these are a wonderful pick for the budget beauty junkie. The formula is also a bit more blendable than the LOC sticks if you aren’t interested in playing “Beat the Clock” with your shadow.
$24 at Sephora
Think of this metallic cream shadow as a fancier version of face paint. These pigments have amazing color payoff and a dazzling sheen while being easy to blend, but, like the LOC pencils, they set in a snap. You only need the tiniest bit of product, so a little goes a long way, making these a great deal for the price. Go with Mermaid Parade, a gorgeous green, for a super bold look, or use the taupe-hued Peep Show for a more subdued, but equally impactful, look. One caveat: they aren’t quite as easy to apply as Milk Makeup’s instructions suggest. Try using a brush or, if you use your finger, be prepared to clean up your work a little.