One of the great things about eyeshadow palettes is that there’s something out there for everyone. Whether you prefer subtle mattes or bold shimmers, classic neutrals or bold colors, there’s a palette to suit your needs. Personally, I prefer palettes that are predominantly neutral, with strategic pops of color. And while I usually opt for shimmery shades, I feel that a few basic matte shades are key for most eyeshadow looks.
A few years ago, a “Perfect Palette Tag” was circulating YouTube. Even though I don’t have a YouTube channel of my own, I thought that recreating the tag for my blog would be a fun way to share some of my favorite eyeshadow palettes with you!
Most of the palettes in this post hold a special place in my heart. I could easily have picked two or three palettes for each category, but in the interest of brevity (and not being repetitive) I restricted myself to one palette per question.
Best Packaging: Marc Jacobs Style Eye-Con (The Lolita)
There’s a reason Marc Jacobs is a designer. Everything that man creates is beautiful. Between the sleek black packaging and the shiny silver clasp, the Marc Jacobs Style Eye-Con palettes are works of art. I own the “Lolita” palette, which is full of neutrals, though there are a few others in the collection with much brighter colors. This one contains three matte shades, three shimmery shades, and one glitter shade. The matte shades are decent, but in general the formula isn’t the greatest I’ve ever worked with. (That glitter shade in the center causes some major fallout!) I probably wouldn’t recommend this to anyone other than avid makeup collectors, but I love having this as a beautiful designer addition to my collection.
Best Color Payoff: Kat Von D Shade and Light Eye Contour Palette
One of the more recent additions to my palette collection, the Kat Von D Shade and Light Eye Contour Palette blew me away with the pigmentation and creaminess of its shadows. You only need the lightest touch of your brush to pick up enough product for your look. Despite being an all-matte palette, the shades are easy to work with and blend seamlessly. Application isn’t patchy in the slightest. I’ve been thoroughly impressed with this palette so far.
Most Versatile: Lorac Pro Palette
The Lorac Pro Palette is a great piece for any makeup-lover, regardless of how extensive your collection is. With eight matte and eight shimmery shadows, it contains just about any eyeshadow color you could need for an eye look, including a couple of fun pops of copper and purple. I’ve used this palette tons and tons over the years. (You can see that my mirror is cracked from the time I accidentally sat on it…) My only beef is that some of the matte shades are quite powdery, and kick up a lot of product when you dip your brush in. It doesn’t affect the application, but I feel like it’s wasteful.
Best for Traveling: Hourglass Modernist (Obscura)
I hemmed and hawed about which palette to choose for this category. There were several I considered, but ultimately I wanted something that was compact and versatile. Enter the Hourglass Modernist palette in Obscura. Before purchasing this, I debated a long time. Much longer than I’ve debated any other eyeshadow palette. The Modernist palettes come in a range of colors and finishes. One is all matte, some are all shimmer. This palette contains two matte brown shades, a pearly highlight, and two mid-tone shimmery shades. I love this palette because you can keep things light and natural, or opt for something darker and smokier. Additionally, the choice of the two matte browns means that your look can be warmer or cooler. This palette is quite small—about the size of my iPhone 5, which means that it doesn’t take up a lot of space in my makeup bag. And the final bonus? It has a sizable mirror, which makes it great for traveling.
Biggest Regret: Bobbi Brown Nude on Nude
I don’t even have a photo to share of the Bobbi Brown Nude on Nude palette, because I’ve just given it away to a coworker. Bobbi Brown’s products are iconic, and I’d heard so many great things about her eyeshadows. I thought that this palette would be a great way to test out the range, but I was so so disappointed. First off, most of the shades had terrible color payoff. The blended okay, but never built up to my desired intensity. Second, the four metallic shades in the palette were virtually indistinguishable from one another. And finally, the three sparkle shades were impossible to use without getting everywhere. With less than half the shadows in the palette being useable, it just wasn’t worth my frustration. I gifted it to a coworker in the hopes that it would find a better home.
Best Color Names: Tartelette Palette
I feel like, four or five years ago, it was all the rage for makeup brands to give their eyeshadows slightly suggestive names. At this point, that trope is just kind of tired… So when the first Tartelette palette was released, I was thrilled to see that they’d selected names that honored the strong women in our lives. With names like, “free spirit,” “bombshell,” and “power player,” it makes the feminist in me smile. While I believe that no woman needs to wear makeup, I can also appreciate that enhancing the facets of your personality that you want to accentuate through makeup, is one of the many, many perks of being a lady. (Which is not to say that men can’t enjoy makeup either! Makeup for everyone!)
Least Used: NARSissist
I want to love this palette… I really do. But I just don’t reach for it as often as I should. The color selection is gorgeous, but I find the quality of the individual shades to be inconsistent. Several of them lack color payoff, and I just never found the time to experiment with the best way to use this. It’s best for days when you want to create a subtle smokey eye, and the sheer formula makes it easier to build up color slowly. When my cousin Nicole visited this spring, she inspired me to use it more, but after a month or so, I forgot about it again. After writing this post, I’ve decided to leave it out on my vanity in hopes of getting more use out of it.
Most Used: Tartelette in Bloom
My most used palette varies widely from month to month. (Or even week to week…) However, I cannot get over how much I love this palette. It’s too early to call it “holy grail,” but it’s definitely headed that way. In my full review of the palette, I mentioned how much I loved that every single shade in this palette is totally wearable. There isn’t a single shade that I look at and go, “Eh… I won’t get much use out of that one.” And that’s not something I can say for any of the other palettes in my collection. Whether you’re going for a natural or dramatic look, something shimmery or matte, warm or cool, the Tartelette in Bloom palette has you covered. The only reason this didn’t make it into the “most versatile” category is because it lacks pops of color, and you’re limited to three shimmer shades. Love, love, love.
Most Loved: Urban Decay Naked 2
I struggled to choose a palette for this category, because so many of the items in my collection hold a special place in my heart. However, I ended up selecting my Naked 2 palette because it (along with the original Naked palette) was one of the first high-end products I ever purchased. You can see how battered this one is after all these years. (The pans actually fall out of the palette if it’s turned upside down, and the black shade is completely shattered… oops.) I distinctly remember discovering the beauty-blogging community during my junior year of college and envying all of the girls with the incredible makeup collections. When I finally saved up the money to buy myself the two Naked palettes for my birthday senior year, I was ecstatic. Using this palette takes me back to my early days of makeup, and reminds me of how much I’ve grown.
Desert Island: Too Faced Chocolate Bar
While going through this tag, there was one palette that could have fit into just about any category. (Except least used/biggest regret, obviously!) And that’s the original Too Faced Chocolate Bar Palette. Designed to look (and smell!) like a chocolate bar, it’s chock-full of gorgeous neutrals and fun pops in a variety of finishes. Time and time again, this is the palette I reach for on days when I don’t know what to wear. And unless I’m trying something new, this is the palette I bring on my travels. The formulation of the shadows is great, and it contains just about every color I could possibly ask for (with the exception of a true matte black). There are a handful of weird shades (like that bright pink, matte shade in the center) that I don’t get much use of, but in general, this is my perfect palette. (Though… we’ll see whether or not the Tartelette in Bloom palette surpasses this one. I seriously cannot get enough of it!)
Hopefully, this was a fun read! I know I always love to hear which products people are loving. Thanks so much to all of you for reading! Be sure to let me know which palettes I should check out next!