All hope of a smokey eye is not lost for those with watery, itchy, irritation-prone eyes — this, or any other look you’re going for, can be done with any of the best eyeshadows for sensitive eyes featured ahead. All of these eyeshadows are hypoallergenic and made of gentle, non-irritating ingredients, but they don’t sacrifice quality in pursuit of safety — in fact, they’re actually some of the best eyeshadows out there, period.
Also to avoid irritation, be equally mindful about application as the eyeshadow itself. Tap the pigment on with a clean, soft-bristled brush (or your ring finger) using an extra-light touch, then pat (don’t pull!) to blend. When you’re ready to take your makeup off, use a gentle, oil-free cleanser, like a micellar water designed for sensitive skin. Follow it up with a gentle eye cream to soothe, replenish, and protect the fragile skin around your eyes.
And now, onto the good stuff: Scroll on to shop eight of the best hypoallergenic eyeshadows out there, from sparkling brights to muted neutrals to prestige palettes and more.
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1. Best Shimmer Palette
No list of hypoallergenic cosmetics would be complete without an entry from Physicians Formula, an absolute OG in the hypoallergenic cosmetics world (it was founded by an allergist in 1937 — this is how old school we’re getting). The brand’s Shimmer Strips palettes have become one of their signature products. Nude Eyes, pictured above, features five warm-toned, rosy-neutral shadows, plus a charcoal you can use as a liner. Each block is concentrated with non-irritating glitter, which technically reads more “sparkly” than “shimmery” (but gorgeous either way).
- Available shades: Nude Eyes, Smoky Eyes
2. Best Matte Palette
If you’re not into shimmer, glitter, or sparkles, go for this 10-shade palette from Pacifica. These matte pigments are made of skin-safe minerals, while coconut water and caprylic/capric triglyceride (derived from coconut and glycerin) contribute to the buttery, blendable texture. Importantly, this gets the seal of approval from reviewers with sensitive eyes, including contact lens-wearers, watery and itchy-eyed folks, and people with “severe eczema” around their eyes. Across the board, customers are impressed with the pigmentation and longevity of this $14 palette, which is comparable in quality to luxury brands.
- Available shades: Pink Nudes, Beachy Punk, Crystal Matrix
3. Best All-in-One Palette
If you swing both ways on the glitter/matte pendulum, get everything you want, all at the same time, with this PYT palette compact. In here, you’ll find four satin-finish shades and four bright glitters to create pretty much any look you want, with varying degrees of intensity and sparkle (or lack thereof). Among its many rave reviews, customers particularly love the palette's color payoff, staying power, and buildable formula. It’s a great choice for beginners, too — the palette comes with a plastic overlay that labels exactly where each shade should be applied. On the “clean” front, these shadows are hypoallergenic, free of harsh ingredients (including talc), and completely safe for the most irritation-prone skin, as one reviewer who’s experienced “swollen, red, itchy, cracking and burning eyelids” with other brands attests.
- Available shades: Cool, Warm
4. Best Splurge-Worthy Palette
Though they’re relatively under-the-radar, Youngblood is one of the best clean, luxury cosmetics brands out there — it was founded by a medical esthetician who sought makeup that was gentle enough for her clients to wear after treatments, but didn’t skimp on quality. All their eyeshadows are gorgeous, but I’m partial to this eight-shade palette that bears a striking resemblance to another, uber popular eight-shade palette. (It rhymes with Shmaked.) In this case, these powders are formulated without common irritants like talc, petroleum, mineral oils, and synthetic colors and fragrances, and they’re infused with antioxidant-rich plant extracts like honeysuckle and jojoba. With its mix of creamy metallics, shimmers, and matte shades in a range of warm-toned darks and neutrals, this is the only palette you will ever need, as far as I’m concerned.
5. Best Trio
Another drugstore classic for your consideration: This Burt’s Bees eyeshadow trio, which contains (you guessed it!) three shades for the easiest-ever lid/crease/highlight palette. In true Burt’s Bees spirit, these mineral-based shadows are made of 100% naturally derived ingredients, including squalane and jojoba seed oil for a nourishing feel; and they don’t contain irritating additives, like parabens, phthalates, synthetic fragrances, and talc. And they’ve been ophthalmologist-tested, as an added safety measure.
- Available shades: Blooming Desert, Countryside Lavender, Dusky Woods, Shimmering Nudes
6. Best Singles
If you’re looking for something more muted, take your pick among these jane iredale eyeshadow singles. Brights like frosty aqua and dusty purple occasionally pop up here, but the collection leans decidedly neutral — think pure matte white, frosty nude-pink, and a whole load of taupes and browns. Whatever the shade, these mineral shadows feel like pure luxury: They’re lightweight but highly pigmented, smooth and blendy, and crease-resistant for all-day wear.
- Available shades: 18
7. Best Sticks
Eyeshadow doesn’t get much simpler than these hypoallergenic Julep eyeshadow sticks. They’re super creamy and deposit tons of pigment, so they glide easily over your lids with minimal pulling and tugging — never a good thing, but an especially not-good thing for people with sensitive eyes. Then, you can use the soft sponge on the other side of the dual-sided stick to blend out the color. Since this is a waterproof cream-to-powder formula, rather than a traditional cream (read: greasy), these shadows are truly long-lasting and resistant to creasing and smudging. The shimmer shades can double as highlighters, too.
- Available shades: 25
8. Editor's Pick
Despite the dirt-evoking name, these Rituel de Fille eye soots are just about the cleanest pigments you can get — each “potion-like formula” is made with ethically sourced materials, like minerals, plant oils and extracts, and naturally derived powders for color. The smoky, smoldering effect and rich color payoff is where the “soot” comes in with these pigments, which you can wear as a shadow, liner, or lid primer (though no one’s stopping you from using yours as a cheek color, too). The texture lies somewhere between a powder and a cream, and since they’re made without wax, they won’t melt, crease, or fade.
- Available shades: 9