I've decided that I love cream shadows/bases that come in little glass pots. This might be a little premature, seeing as I only own two of these types of shadows and they're both from Benefit, but I'm fed up with powder shadows--they crease, go on patchily, and I seem to hit pan much more quickly with powder than cream shadows. That's why I'm obsessing over Stila's Smudge Pots and MAC's Paint Pots. They come in pretty, pretty colors, seem to double at shadows and liners, and come in pretty, pretty colors.
Stila Smudge Pots: I think the Smudge Pots are more of an eyeliner than the Paint Pots. They look like (and from what I've seen, are) gel/cream eyeliners. The main colors are Black, Bronze, Brown, Cobalt, Gray, Jade, and Pomegranate--not lots of colors, but the browns/bronzes are really pretty and their gray seems like the only actually neutral gray on the market. From what I've heard, these dry really quickly both on the lid and in the pot, which is great for long-lasting wear, but not so great for getting all the use out of a product, especially if it's $20 for .14 0z. I've heard the easiest way is to put a small amount of product in another tiny glass pot, and keep the original pot tightly sealed while you use up the product in the other pot. That way the majority of the shadow keeps from getting dried out. Even so, I have reservations about buying something that's practically guaranteed to dry out. Stila's Smudge Pots are $20 at sephora.com.
MAC Paint Pots: MAC definitely beats Stila in terms of color range (but I think they beat everyone in that category). They have a ton of neutral, base shades, some browns, black, and then some more fanciful colors (they also release LE paint pots with a lot of their collections). MAC's Paint Pots also cost less than Stila's, and you get more product (they're $16.50 for .17 oz), so in terms of price, the MAC shadows are a better deal. I think MAC's Paint Pots are more suited to being eyeshadows, whereas Stila's Smudge Pots are more like eyeliners. It seems to me that the MAC shadows are softer/creamier, which means that they're easier to blend across the eyelid, but they're still waterproof, which makes them perfectly suited to be liners. MAC Paint Pots, $16.50 at maccosmetics.com
So after hours of intense research, I have concluded this: MAC is slightly cheaper than Stila, and has a wider range of colors. But, if you mainly intend to use the pot as a liner, go with the Stila Smudge Pot. Since it's firmer, it'll be easier to get a precise line across the lid, and the Smudge Pots come in colors more suited to be liners than shadows. If you want to use to the pot as a shadow, go with the MAC Paint Pot. It's softer and more blendable, and comes in more neutral shades that would work perfectly as shadow bases, as well as a few more dramatic shades. Personally, I'm a fan of pencil liners, so I think I'll be picking up a Paint Pot sometime in the new future--I'll update you guys as soon as I do.
Stila Smudge Pot in Copper: makeupalley.com, in Gray: makeupalley.com, in Cobalt: makeupalley.com
MAC Paint Pot in Indianwood: makeupalley.com, in Bare Study: makeupalley.com, in Quite Natural: makeupalley.com