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The best single eyeshadows

Sali Hughes
·2-min read

I’m obsessed with single eyeshadows. I love a big palette, I really do, but in much the same way as I love a beautiful white shirt I wear once before remembering I don’t iron, then rarely put on again. But there is no makeup easier, or more satisfying, than a single pan of powder eyeshadow in one chic, instantly face-improving tone of nudey brown nothingness. Add one eyeliner, and you have my everyday look since March – because in times of little joy and no lipstick under masks, a single shadow can carry a whole face.

I tried umpteen this summer, and decided that before I ruled MAC’s Soft Brown (more of a malted peach, and perfect with everything) my overall winner, I’d ask my readers on Instagram to tell me which eyeshadow they could use solely for the rest of their lives.

With barely a handful of dissenters (props to Stila’s Kitten (£13.50) and Surratt’s Zibeline (£18)), MAC accounted for some 95% of answers, and rightly so, since there’s simply no better brand for a single. The formulation is unimpeachable: designed with every skin tone in mind, very easily blendable (just a light touch with a clean brush feathers its bold pigment out to nothing), and available in a staggering array of colours. MAC is the Dulux paint chart of makeup.

Related: The 30 best facial skincare products for under £20 | Sali Hughes

So I dug out or bought the most-recommended by readers and wore them on rotation. Satin Taupe won the popular vote (since its level pegger, Patina, has been discontinued), and I can absolutely see why – the shimmery, silvery, mushroomy brown is elegant-looking and wearable, but for my face, a fraction too chilly and grey.

Similar in finish but a whole lot warmer, is Mulch, a deep, reddy brown like that very expensive hot chocolate you get in Christmas markets, only with a light thread of tinsel. I love it on all skin tones, but if you’re a shimmer-free zone, try Brown Script, which is similarly rich but softly matte; or Cork, which is satiny and less red.

Related: Why silk face masks are better for your skin | Sali Hughes

Another deserving hit was Wedge. This light-mid brown is truly idiot proof and can be splodged on clumsily without any adverse effect (its coolness also makes it terrific for filling in blonde or grey brows). Each is £15, perfectly sufficient for making something of your eyes in about 30 seconds, skill or no skill, and ideal against this season’s fashion trend for camel, tobacco and mink. Solitude is bliss.