Reddit support groups host whole threads on the subject (see Makeup Rehab for starters) and we get the guilts when we routinely fail to ‘hit pan’ - the proliferation of eyeshadow palette launches hitting shelves and our desks is mind-boggling, and we’ve got a case eye palette overwhelm.
It’s a nice situation to be in, granted, but with every much-hyped launch comes more confusion and we’re thrown into palette paralysis - does limited edition packaging merit another payday splurge? Will a palette aimed at professionals pay its way IRL? Are the shades in the latest must-have palette really that different to the shadows I already own? A bit like buying into a buzzy fashion trend and then getting home and realising that you either have ten near-identical things lurking in your wardrobe, or on the flipside making a magpie buy that doesn’t really fit your lifestyle, so dropping a not insignificant amount on a shiny new eye palette is often more for instant gratification than utility. Will we actually ever dip our brush into more than a few of a 28-strong shadow circus? Today’s column is fronted-loaded with questions I don’t have answers to, but while some of us have an Achilles heel where buying lipsticks or bronzers are concerned, these typically tend to be more readily used, and at least involve less packaging and in general less cash splurged in pursuit of something new and exciting (although that's not a hard and fast rule either).
Not that there’s anything wrong with buying a much anticipated new eye palette of course, but in a Marie Kondo culture, superfluous shadows can contribute to cosmetic clutter - to use Kondo’s much repeated mantra, if the supersize palette your splurged on isn’t sparking joy, it may be time to reassess your buying habits. The fact that a ‘Talk Me Out of It’ discussion exists within the Reddit Makeup Rehab thread speaks volumes where our compulsion to buy the latest product with a supposed waiting list is concerned, and eyeshadow palettes consistently crop up as the most irresistible cosmetic purchase of all - redditors share goals of limiting their palette arsenal to three, max, and making inventories of the shades they already own to avoid spur of the moment duplicate buys. It’s the kind of discipline I admire and I don’t think I’m there yet (I’m in the privileged position to get eye palette teasers before they launch and often fall hook, line and sinker), but an unscientific office survey revealed that we’re all feeling the palette excess. As such, and I do realise the irony in providing you with yet more palettes to look at, these are the eyeshadow palettes that earn their keep - whether they’re new but have settled seamlessly into our daily makeup routine or old faithfuls that consistently deliver, we’ve stripped back the bells and whistles and given you our personal bests. Let us know yours below.
Spendy, yes, but our Account Executive and professional in-house makeup artist Alex declares these shadows to be the “best quality eyeshadows I’ve found on the market”. They’re not just pro-appropriate either:
“They are so easy to blend they are the perfect pick for beginners for this reason, This colourway is especially beautiful because there are lots of transition shades and warm browns but also some really nice rose gold and bronze shimmers for evenings and special occasions. It’s easy to create an everyday and night out look just using these shades alone and in my experience they suit every skin tone and eye colour. This is the one palette that travels with me everywhere, and no matter the job, it never lets me down.”
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Zoeva Opulence Eyeshadow Palette, £18
This ten pan palette gets Digital Editor Judy’s vote:
“On first look I thought I’d only use the four golden shades in this palette, but the more I experiment with it the more I love the khaki green and the soft aubergine shades. Zoeva palettes are so slimline that they’re perfect for packing light, and the mix of tones means it works for both day and night, so it’s the only palette I need if I’m heading away for the weekend.”
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Fenty Moroccan Spice Eyeshadow Palette, £42
16 well thought out shades allows for “creativity but not overwhelm” in Senior Features Writer Ayesha’s view:
“The range of shadows gives you a mixture of looks that you'll actually try and I rate the choice of finishes - they’ve got the mattes and shimmers just right and the colour payoff is brilliant on dark skin. I use it for daytime but it’s my go-to ‘out out’ palette too.”
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Charlotte Tilbury The Uptown Girl Palette, £39
Night on 40 quid is steep for just four shadows, but if you wear them down to the ground it’s money well spent in Art Editor Sarah’s book:
“These eyeshadows can be really subtle if that’s what you’re after but they also build to a gorgeous rich intensity so I find that four shadows really is all that i need most of the time. The cool grey tones look particularly great on blondes and work well on very pale skin. Now It’s an eye palette investment that I definitely don’t regret!.”
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Bareminerals Gen Nude Palette in Neutral, £29
This high pigment, streamlined six pan palette is Head of Business Development Kully’s standby - the two velvety matte browns make for the perfect “nude” base for her skintone while the shimmers create iridescence while remaining grown-up rather than overly glittery. There’s not an occasion they don’t work for (clanging double negative there but it’s truth) and they won’t crease up on you either.
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Smashbox Cover Shot Palette in Smoky, £24
This is my main player in palette terms - its sleek design contains everything I ever feasibly require. An XL matte chocolate and cream provide staple base shades, with the sizing meaning that you won’t run out of the fundamentals too soon. A sooty black makes for a smudgy liner that pops when you add the spangly black on top, a jewel-like forest green and plum make for an eye-brightening smokey finish and a cool toned bronze and silver are brilliant for highlighting. Boom.
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Becca Ombre Rouge Eye Palette, £30
This in intern Emma’s standby - five generously sized buttery matte shadows that range from a pale apricot to a dark terracotta toned brown. The pigment is very strong which is refreshing for a ‘neutrals’ offering, meaning that you can build smoke and definition if required, and in the longevity stakes it’s hard to fault too - the colour stays true all day. It’s the makeup equivalent of a pair of jeans or a clean white shirt - simple but effective, with no jazz hands in terms of glitter or shimmer. It’s definitely a ‘luxe’ basic, but if you wear it everyday it’s worth it.
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MAC Burgundy x9 Palette, £26
Purple tones especially suit my hazel eyes - a wash of burgundy and I don’t have to do too much else to accentuate them, so this nine pan purpley offering is in the running for the perfect palette edit. The array of textures (satin, pearl, matte, lustre and some inbetweeners) means that you can create dimension and drama all within the same tonal family and the colour of payoff is intense yet they’re easy to blend. I’m yet to experience shadow fallout too. My only criticism would be that the shadow pans are very much on the petite size, especially for the price, but the extent to which I’ve used each and every one makes it worthwhile in my eyes. One to weigh up, hence why it’s on my ‘extras’ list’.
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