What are the top three characteristics you want in an eyeshadow palette?

For me, something that’s cohesive (excepting brow bone/transition shades) and offers a good mix of light to dark shades. I’m not overly concerned with all shimmer vs. all matte, but some variety in finish is nice, too. Bonus: interesting or more complex shades!

— Christine


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Kuávsui Avatar

Either well-rounded with shading and highlighting shades and accent shades, or a well-curated smaller selection of shades that can pull together for a few good looks. I don’t like to have too many shades close to each other, and I find I hardly ever use lighter shades that are meant for browbone etc. I steer clear of mega palettes or anything beyond 12 shades to be honest, too much just seems lazy.

Alecto Avatar

Almost 100% interesting or complex shades. I don’t really have what I’d call a travel palette (except for a magnetic palette that I put singles into on a whim), so I rarely think of palettes in terms of cohesiveness or portability. It does appeal to me aesthetically to have multiple shades that work together in a palette, but I don’t need palettes to have complete looks in and of themselves — especially since brow bone and transition shades are NOT universal, and I’d expect a well-thought out palette would be deliberately made useful for as wide a range of skin tones as possible. I also don’t care one whit if it’s a “reasonable” mix of mattes and non-mattes, since I almost always pull from singles or other palettes to complete a look.

GUSnail Avatar

I prefer my palettes to be smaller, and focused on 1 or 2 color stories. I like them to have a mix of matte and shimmers, and light to dark. Bonus points for having matte transition colors.

AJ Avatar

Since I already have a lot of palettes, I don’t buy them often anymore, so these are the features that will push me over the edge:

1. Either a majority of colors I don’t have, or collects a bunch of colors that I have spread across a lot of palettes (ie, an all-green palette instead of having to create an all-green look from 5 different palettes).
2. Really high quality eye shadow formula.
3. Some really cool new finish or other aspect that makes it really stand out.

Nancy T Avatar

1.) Good to excellent quality. At least a B grade on this site, minimum. Oddly though, one of my favorite palettes ever, only garnered a B- here, UD Vice 3! Then again, I do use primer every time I wear e/s.
2.) Give me a cohesive palette, but make it interesting to use, too!
3.) Easy. I must love it! How well it applies in usage, how pigmented, blendable, and smooth the shades are, how it looks on me personally, these are all things I factor in.

Honorable mention: UNIQUE SHADES! (at least to my collection, if nothing else!)

Deborah S. Avatar

This is a great question and really made me stop and think before answering.
1. A mix of finishes in shades that I would wear and preferably more unique shades anchored with basic shades.
2. No mirror for me.
3. Less wasted, bulky packaging. I do travel a fair amount and even if I am just driving to my destination, I prefer to take smaller palettes. I don’t like having to carry an e/s palette outside of my makeup bag but some of the palettes are just so humongous that I have to put them somewhere else. Since I always take my computer and my CPAP machine, my palette gets bumped around in my bag. Lately I have been taking my little 6 pan Pony Glam palette and one pop of colour to augment it and that is it. For some reason, I don’t like taking my Viseart Theory palettes with me. I think I would worry about them breaking. They sort of go the opposite direction and appear to be somewhat flimsy when it comes to packaging but they are the right size for travel.

Tammy Avatar

It’s simply about the colors in the palette for me. I’m just automatically drawn to certain things, so I guess packaging does play a role, too. I tend to avoid peach/orange palettes ( Colour Pop seems to have a ton of these ) and anything too pink/rose colored like Lolita.

Z Avatar

Things I WANT in a palette: a well-performing black, something shimmery and light enough for a browbone highlight on my skin (so damn near white), a deep brown, some grungy jewel-toned metallics including a bluey teal, red, gold, and maybe a green, a cool neutral for my crease (gray or brown), and a more interesting deep matte like Melt’s Sour Diesel. Bonus points if there is a rich duochrome or two. And the most important part – not a single pinky/orangey/peachy matte in sight.

Z Avatar

crap…. I ran away with that and didn’t narrow anything down to just the top three. Can I count the color story as one? The rest would be cruelty free and not made in china – as said by some other commenters.

Mariella Avatar

Presupposing that the quality is good (since the question seems to be more about the “construction” of the palette), #1 – inclusion of a light beige (preferably with a bit of sheen) brow bone shade (my biggest complaint with the ABH Mario and Pat McGrath Bronze Ambition palettes I have); #2 – a good range of cooler toned neutral shadows, and #3 would be practical, easily usable, streamlined packaging without a lot of silliness and goo-gahs (hello, UD Game of Thrones palette – at my age, I do not need a pop-up Iron Throne in my e/s palette!)

Genevieve Avatar

For me, the three characteristics that I want in an eyeshadow palette are:
1. Shades that I will wear: no pinks, oranges, reds, blacks, whites, purples etc. Shades with coppers, golds, greens, taupes, olives, smoky blues, soft browns and champagne/pewter shades.
2. Mostly soft shimmers, with satin shades and not too many mattes (preferably zero)
3. An excellent rating from you Christine because then I know about the pigmentation, longevity and value for money.

Desirée Avatar

My top 3.
1. Good balance of light, mid-tones and dark shades. About 30 % lights, 50 % mid-tones and 20 % darks, ideally.
2. A good color story. It should be pretty and inspring to look at. Good colors story also includes muted colors or an overall muted appearance.
3. Cohesive. I don’t like when to many slots in the palette consists of matte light beige, a peach, a dark brown and a black. I already own those shades and they are not essential for every eye look.

Sienna Avatar

Agreed! I want dark shades and not just dark browns and a black. Darker shades of the lighter shades included in the palette. its the only way you can really make a decent spectrum

Gilad Avatar

1. Great quality (all the things Christine rates on)
2. Mix of textures in shades that work w/ my coloring, some that are unique/complex
3. Mix of light & medium value – I don’t need more than one med-dark one

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