How many shades do you have to use in a palette for it to be "worth it"?

The higher the price point, the more shades I’d have to like enough to use for it to be “worth it.” I don’t have to use every shade equally, though. I don’t know if there’s a color I wouldn’t wear at some point, so for me, I’m likely to use all shades to some degree. In a smaller format palette, like a quad, I would expect to use all shades, whereas as mega-sized palette, like 30 shades, if I can see enough color combos that I’d love to try, that works. I definitely think of palettes in terms of color combos more than individual shades.

— Christine


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Donna Avatar

I know with a 12 pan if I dislike or cannot wear 4 shades then it is a no a 6 pan it would have to be 4 shades I can wear. I don’t buy bigger than 12 pans.

Kuávsui Avatar

Every single one. Yep. I’m practically pre-empting myself from getting an eyeshadow palette, but so far it has worked for me – I mostly only use neutrals with some jewel tones and I have most of them as singles already.

realitygreene Avatar

For me it really depends on the palette, the brand, and the price. Take Colourpop for example – their shadows pop out of the palette so you can rearrange them and swap out shades you won’t use. So when I consider buying a CP palette, I tend to look at the shades in the palette as single shadows. This is why I am highly considering the All That palette and the Flutter By palette – I don’t have a lot of dupes in my collection for those kind of shades and would get use not only as full palettes, but as single shadows that I can swap around. I’m also considering the Blue Moon palette specifically for 3 shades in that palette – that’s enough for me to make that palette worth it because the price is so good and even if the other 6 shades were duds or I wouldn’t get much use out of them, getting 3 single shadows for $12 is a steal. I’m much more critical though when it comes to expensive palettes like the large Huda Beauty palettes or Melt Cosmetics. I want to know that I will use at least 75% of the palette.

Joyce Avatar

And this is the question I’ve been wrestling with for the past few years! I haven’t bought a new palette in so long because I know I won’t use even a simple majority of the colors. I’ve also realized I tend to want lots of light to mid-tone life shades so if a palette doesn’t have those, I immediately skip.

Nancy T Avatar

In a smaller 6 pan (ie; Viseart Theory) or less, all of the shades need to be ones I would use. With a 10-12 pan, at least 8 or 9, with the other 1 or 2 still getting occasional usage. 14 to 20 pans, at least 3/4 of the palette.
One disclaimer, though. If a palette is ultra high end like PMG or Natasha Denona, I had better love ALL the shades for that insane amount of dough!

Francesca Avatar

Since I used to buy middle-high end palettw. I force myself to use all shades, even if I don’t like the formula or the color, because to justify the bought I have to use everything. Sometimes this forces me to be “creative”, i.e to think about different tecniques and tools ti make a formula work Better or to try combination with shades of other palette… In this way I’ve found a use to almost everything (if there Is something I like less). Moreover I force myself to use all as more equally as possibile, that means set periodical rotation cycles of the shades. That the only way to make a palette worth: use all and equally… Ok maybe this could appear a Little crazy

Mags Avatar

I make an attempt to use everything at least once, just to make sure I don’t miss out on any color that may just pleasantly surprise me! However, most of the time I operate under the 2/3 rule. If I won’t realistically use at least 2/3 of the palette regularly, it’s not for me!

Gilad Avatar

I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to justify another palette, there are so many tests it has to pass at this point! – little overlap with the colors/textures I already have, shades I really like/know will suit me, ability to use all the shades (if under 10), and expectation of using almost all of them if it’s 10+ pans.

Ana Maria Avatar

At this point I need to use all the shades to consider a palette “worth it” and that’s why I only have a custom made palette. If I’m not using a shade or I’m using it twice a year, it’s not worth it. And I’m not talking about the money here; I’m talking about the resources consumed to make it, the waste generated (make-up is mostly non-recyclable) and the space it occupies, which are more important. Yes, eye shadows are a small thing, but that’s my principle of guiding my purchases lately.

Kira Avatar

For me, it’s more that if there are shades I don’t think I’ll use, it’s a deterrent. If there are two shades I won’t use, I won’t get a palette. I’ll consider getting a palette if there’s just one shade that I’ll rarely use if I really love the others.

Rachel R. Avatar

Fortunately, I like most colors and my coloring allows me to wear most shades, and I’m an adventurous color wearer, so that makes buying palettes much easier on me. Even really dark shades come in handy as eyeliners, as long as they aren’t the majority of a palette. Dud shades are more of a concern. I’m OK with using primer, glitter glue primer, or foiling a shade to make it usable.

Much depends on the price and size of the palette, and how unique the usable colors are. I’m more forgiving the more inexpensive the palette is. However, something like the pricier Viseart, PML, or Natasha Denona Palettes, I expect all the shades to be great quality and usable by me.

Typically, if it’s six pans or less, I want to be able to use all the shades, although I may not use them in equal amounts. Eight to 10 pans, I’ll excuse one or maybe two being unusable. Anything over 12 pans, I’ll excuse two or three.

Olga Avatar

I think of palettes the same as singles, since I mix and match anyway. So whether I buy one depends on the price divided by the number of shades I like. For example, I bought a colourpop palette because it had three shades I liked at $15, so 15/3 = $5 per shadow. That’s an okay price to me.

That said, if there are a lot of shades I don’t like, I often won’t buy just to avoid the clutter/bulk. I basically only have two pre-made palettes because most of the ones on the market consist of 60-90% of shades I’m not interested in. Singles and custom palettes workmuch better for me.

Carrie Avatar

I aim for 2/3 or – I’m so cool toned that realistically brands basically don’t make palettes where I can use all shades because even many “neutral” shades pull warm on me.

Genevieve Avatar

I guess it depends on the price – if it is an expensive palette, then every single shade would have to be used or 90% of it, otherwise I would say 80% to get my money’s worth. And it also depends upon the size of the palette – in an 8 pan, I would want to be able to use 7 of the shades (as I do in my favourite Lorac Pro Metals) or in a 12 pan, it would be 10 of the shades.

Bonnie Avatar

Pretty much the only shades I won’t use are those that blend into my skin. After I apply shadow base, that means ivory tones. Otherwise, I use almost every color. So most palettes are worth it so long as the quality is good.

Example, I’m using Persona Identity II right now. 11 out of 12 shades work for me. The ivory one, Kind, doesn’t show. but even that has some value as I can use it to smooth out edges of darker shades.

Erin Avatar

1/4-1/2 depending on size and price per shadow… This is why I used to love single shadows, I just wish they were more available, not just online, but if every brand that had palettes had singles of those shades…. (I could dream) I still have 5 XL Zpalettes… some colors like MACs nylon, wedge, embark, omega, satin taupe, amber lights, brule, cant be replaced, and I love being able to create a look with 4-6 shades, and toss them in a palette a bit bigger than a credit card, 1 or 2 brushes, and you can go from day to night and touch up even if you need to go from night to GLAM…
But currently I have around 20 PALETTES from 2019 that I havent worn or worn more than 1x, so I gotta get on that!!!

Celesta Avatar

The smaller the palette, the more shades I want to be able to use. If it’s a quad or 6-pan, I want to be able to use all the shades. If it’s 8-12 pans, I want to be able to use 80% or more. Anything beyond 12 pans I tend to steer clear of.

Jane Avatar

Honestly, few are “worth it” and I don’t judge a palette’s worth by how many colors I use (at least no consciously). I won’t purchase of palette though if I don’t feel that I’ll use at least four or more colors, no matter the palettes size.

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