Do you need your eyeshadow palettes to be cohesive?

I don’t want them to be chaotic, but cohesive to me is something that works harmoniously together–that doesn’t mean I need it to have the perfect brow bone or transition shade for my skin tone, though.

— Christine


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Joyce Avatar

Yes and no? I guess for me personally I prefer them to be cohesive but I understand palettes for professional artists don’t necessarily need to be that way, so I won’t critique a palette for that if that is its purpose.

I’m more inclined to purchase a cohesive palette but it’s not really a turn-off for me.

Cameron Avatar

A little bit. I can throw together a bunch of random colors myself. ? What I need the palette to be is inspiring as well as cohesive. I don’t need a brow bone shade or transition shade in my palettes either, as I don’t use the former and anything that is light enough serves as the latter. The benefit of low hanging eyebrows!

Rhonda Avatar

Whereas I need the opposite–they are only slightly hooded, but only about two eyeliner widths of lid show, same as when I was 20. My eyes are very deeply set, but I have a lot of acreage between the crease and brow bone, so I’m always looking for large amounts of transitions and brow bone shadows!

Lizzie - IsolatedColor Avatar

Nah. Cohesion is pleasing, but not mandatory. When people complain about not being able to make “a complete look” with a palette, I don’t relate to that problem. Don’t limit yourself to matte brown crease, matte lighter brown transition, and one shimmer on the lid! Just about every palette can give you at least one eye look if you’re willing to step outside the box a bit.
Also, it’s not difficult to open up a second palette if I want to. I always use a single shadow for setting my eye primer anyway. Some days, every shadow I use is from a different source, haha.

Wednesday Avatar

Same. I lose direction with chaotic palettes. I like to have a story, even if it is told in groupings within the palette. ND Safari is one of the most colourful palettes I own and use, but the story is told in lines and the shades are muted enough to not fight each other for dominance. Conversely, ND Love palette is far trickier and I don’t reach for it. The shades are too saturated for me (I should have figured that before I purchased it), and the combos are much more difficult to navigate and visualize.

Maggie Avatar

What is your impression of the texture and performance of the eyeshadow formula in ND Safari palette? I’ve always found the color scheme lovely but I’ve heard people say that the formula was powdery and blended away into nothing. Did you find you had to change the way you apply shadow with this palette?

Wednesday Avatar

Maggie: I have never had a problem with it. I did not purchase Safari until the year end sale in 2019 when I also purchased Biba. These palettes have become my core as I prefer the formula over all others and sometimes even PMG (not the special shades), because PMG is more pigmented and therefore more difficult to blow out imo. Please note, I have mature eyes and I always use an eye primer because my lids are very hooded. ABH primer is my go-to.

My success with the e/s palettes inspired me to purchase a lot more ND products and the brand holds the most consistent among my stash along with PMG.

I can only speak to my experience and I find the mattes perfect for my needs and tastes.

Liz Avatar

Not at all. I rarely use only one eyeshadow palette at a time. I recreate trends or inspiration I see online by pulling whatever I’ve got from wherever, so I use palettes more like individual shadows. I don’t care if they’re cohesive.

woodstock_schulz Avatar

I like a small to medium sized palette (12 shades max), and I don’t mind pulling another one to create an eye look, but I don’t want to have to start using multiple palettes to make a cohesive look. I like palettes that have a variety of colours and finishes that “go-together” for that reason.

kjh Avatar

Right before i scrolled down, i thought ‘but not chaotic,’ too. I’d like to see a ‘level of proficiency or difficulty scale’ added to the back of each palette. Basically tell the consumer how simple, versus difficult/complicated the palette would be. Is it obvious, or does it require some thought? Just a simple Beginner, Medium proficiency, and Advanced level. For warm neutrals or what we think of as a starter palette, it could be a B. M would require more thought or proficiency in application, such as highly varied color choice, mixed textures requiring multiple brushes, etc. A could mean that the palette was truly a challenge, geared/designed for pros, MUAs, highly developed skill sets. You could still buy what you want, regardless of the rating. Cos are already offering palettes geared to light, medium, darker skintones,*so why not rate them all by difficulty level? It may seem as if we know these things by looking, but we actually need use opinions, in the form of blogs and videos to get an idea. (We know why there is no difficulty level. Because they want to sell everything to all people, maximize sales by giving no guidance. It is a freeform art, after all.). Guidance would be nice, esp if we intend to give the palette as a gift.
* Though clearly not enough.

AJ Avatar

These days to catch my eye a palette either has to work cohesively together, or have a theme that makes sense — like the UD Moondust palette, I probably won’t ever use more than one of those colors at a time, but I’ve got all of them in one place. And like you, Christine, at this point in my makeup collecting life, I don’t really need a brown bone, transition, or a black — I’ve got all of those in other palettes. I’m really looking for unique colors or finishes I don’t already have, or a really inspiring color story presented in a high-quality formula.

Bridh Avatar

I like as many of the shades to work well together as possible, but I don’t need to be able to do my whole eye look with one palette. I have a nudes palette I love that I can do any base/transition shades with, and enough palettes and singles that I can mix and match from them if necessary.

However, if I was less… colourful with my choices, I could see wanting one or two palettes that I could basically do everything with. And for that I’d want them very cohesive.

TropicalCowgirl Avatar

I have a smaller customized palette with cool and warm transition shades that I use with every palette. So I appreciate cohesiveness. I use my highlighter as a brow color. I stay away from something chaotic. I think ND Gold and UD OG Naked were the only ones that had almost everything I needed depending on the time of the year. Except a nice green for a color pop.

Nancy T Avatar

It certainly helps! I do prefer something that I can just look at and see all kinds of looks pop out to me instead of a bunch of randomness and as Christine said, chaos. This has had the effect of my not jumping on board immediately with a few really great quality palettes. I’d look at them and just feel confused by their utter lack of cohesiveness. Of note, I definitely don’t care about browbone shades, and sometimes even a transition shade, although I prefer it having at least one shade I can use as such.

DVa Avatar

So important to be cohesive.
Perhaps to my detriment as I have a comfort zone.
I used to be a designer so balance is so important to me; chaos, shudder…
I’m not sure the reasoning behind some palettes, if it’s they’re trying to fill too many pans or just trying to appeal to a wider range of consumers?

Pearl Avatar

For me, chaotic is what the ABH norvina mega palettes were awhile ago and that was a complete deterrent so yes, I prefer coordinated and cohesive versus just a plethora of varied shades and finishes. They don’t have to have all of the placements (crease, lid, etc.) but I do like colour stories that make sense and don’t leave me too much on my own.

Sarah Avatar

Nope, I usually only use 1-2 shades per look anyways, so I don’t need all the colors in a palette to complement each other.

I like some sense of organization within a palette though. Either similar shades close together or shades grouped by quad ideas (like with Anastasia palettes)

Genevieve Avatar

Yes and no – I do like some kind of cohesion in the palette, because it does make it easier to see which shades are complementary and work well together. On the other hand, I like such specific shades that rarely do I use all the shades (and never the matte ones) and tend to pick out the ones that I am wanting to use randomly.

brendacr1 Avatar

A cohesive palette comes into play for me when I am travelling (or was) . Otherwise I don’t mind pulling from different palettes to bring my eye look alive. But as a few have said I don’t need a black, brow or transition shade to be in a palette I already have plenty of those. Interesting colors is what draws me in and if they are in a smaller or larger palette so be it, and you can arrange it any way you want.

Rhonda Avatar

I have a lot of space from my crease to my eyebrows. I like a deep, medium and lighter transition because if it isn’t there, I end up going through all the light shades before any of the others.
For instance, I would swear to buy $50 worth of product every quarter–if Urban Decay would only put “Booty Call” out as a single. It is exactly the color of my eyelids. I know, it’s boring, but it’s what I use for daywear.
And acid green, fuchsia, and fluorescents aren’t for me, so if a palette has too many, why buy it. Don’t get me wrong, I love deep shades and duo-chromes are great, if they aren’t too dark. Lemon yellow? No thank you, madame.

Rachel R. Avatar

No, I don’t need them to be. I’m pretty good at putting colors together. If I like what is in the palette, then I don’t mind bringing in another palette or some singles. It kind of just depends on the palette.

Some — like the new Makeup Revolution TNBC palettes — just look like random shades thrown together, and I don’t care for that type of thing. But I enjoy something like the KVD Saint + Sinner Palette that seems kind of random at first, then surprises you when the shades actually work really well together.

I also don’t mind specialized palettes like PML Nocturnal Nirvana, UD Moondust, or KVD Alchemist, which I bought specifically to use with other palettes, and not to use alone to make a look.

Shelly Avatar

So Christine…Ever since you wrote that article about breaking palettes up visually in three consecutive colors at a time…that’s all I see now with every palette I look at!!! In fact I can’t unsee it no matter what!!! I don’t know if this answers the question…

Helene Avatar

Need? Not really but it helps. 🙂
As others have said, I don’t need a palette to contain all of the transition and so on shades, if I was new to makeup I would probably want a palette that was sort of one stop and go, as it is I prefer to have either a palette for browbone and the rest, or use singles. I absolutely do not want every palette to have a black, something discussed here some weeks ago.
I like when the pans are in a rainbow order and if there are more than one pan of the same colour I want them to go from light to dark.
I don’t like chaotic disorder in a palette I think the Norvina mega palettes falls into this category.
After reading my answer I see that I probably want cohesive palettes, oops 🙂

Gilad Avatar

Yes. Cohesive and usable: I want a palette to please my eye when I open it and for the colors to work well together, and with my coloring. I want lots of lid shades (lt-med satin/shimmer) at least one color to use as crease/transition which for me means medium depth and matte. At this point in my collecting, I look for shades/textures I don’t have – increasingly hard to find (play violins). Not sure if there”ll ever a palette again that meets all these criteria!

Jen Avatar

It’s the overall color story of a palette that will catch my eye first and be the biggest selling point for me so cohesiveness is important. I don’t need to be told specifically what shade is for what purpose, and I don’t have any expectations for brow bone or crease colors, but I also don’t appreciate being thrown to the sticks.


I look for proper transition colors, but if there are other factors(assortment of lid shimmers,etc) I can just go “off palette” for a transition color.

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