What are your deal-breakers in a pre-made palette?

A ton of light shades, particularly if they are all variations of beige! I don’t like anything really bulky in size, because they take up a ton of room to store. The palette’s colors should coordinate, and I should see a few immediate, “Oooh, I want to try that combo” ideas.

— Christine


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Ryou Avatar

I don’t like how the shades are being used up unevenly — There always seems to be one shade I’m smitten with (and use a lot), and at least one shade that I don’t really care about (that I barely use).

Worse still is when the quality of the products in the same palette varies too much! >:

Nancy T Avatar

Numero uno is poor quality! After that, a bunch of shades that don’t even look cohesive by any stretch of the imagination or has shades that are just too samey, like that new CT quad the other day. And while not a 100% deal breaker, for the love of all that’s good, a matte or matte-like satin browbone and transition shade inclusion is very much appreciated! Oh, and I can do just fine without having offensive images on the palette’s case, too.

Mariella Avatar

Too many red shades – deep pinks, bright orange, red (the ABH Modern Renaissance palette is a perfect example), too many shades that are almost identical and, of course, a lot of poor quality shadows (I can overlook one or two if everything else is good but if much of the palette performs poorly, I will pass).

Marie-Estelle Avatar

Anything bulky or annoying to use. I like to keep my vanity clean with only my brushes on display (and maybe one mu item which has a stunning packaging) and the space available for extra makeup is limited. Plus, I know I would never use it a palette which such packaging.
Too many dark shades. A black, dark grey, dark purple, etc all look the same once applied on my eyelids. Plus it makes it hard to use on a daily. I don’t have this issue with light shades as I can go through them quite easy.
Not enough medium tones.
To many shades which swatch alike in general.
A lack of harmony in the color selection and display. This last point is less important to me if I already know the formula (like MUFE eyeshadows) and that the palette is compact enough to become a “partner” palette (that is how I considered the artist palette vol. 4 when I bought it… And I surprisingly use it a lot alone!)

LindaP Avatar

Deal breaker… A bad Temptalia review. 🙂

It’s true, there is so, so much bad quality out there lately. But really, if you think about it, how many variations of eyeshadow colors are there, really? Everything looks the same because it is the same. There are only so many tonal shades in the eyeshadow world. Sure they can vary a bit, but how much of a difference does it really make? In my experience, usually, a disappointing “not much,” especially if the quality is not there.

Once you have a decent variation and selection of neutrals, brights, and shimmers, there is no more except minor variations on a theme. With the palettes I now own, I, literally, have thousands of combinations to experiment with, start over then thousands more with mixing and matching. I’ve come to think it’s all enough already with the palettes. 🙂

Alys Avatar

You nailed it exactly! I don’t really get into eyeshadow, it seems to always irritate my eyes so I just pass. But one thing I’m a junkie about is nail polish. That is another area where if I see a shade that really wows me (ie doesn’t look like something I’ve already seen) I’ll often go for it. As long as it’s something I’d wear.

Naomi Avatar

When there is no matte and shimmery highlight shade, no transition shades, and only one or two crease shades (looking at you, naked 1). I wish some palettes would include a satin highlight shade! those are my favorites to use on the browbone. I don’t mind very much if a palette is predominately cool or warm or neutral toned. But I’m SO TIRED of palettes not including a cool toned transition shade but including cool toned crease shades!!!

Erica Avatar

No balance between shades and finishes. Too many shimmers and not enough mattes and vice versa. Too many dark, unwearable colors. Not enough base or transition colors

Debbie Avatar

How well the colors will work on me, with each other, and with other things in my collection are the key selling points. So a palette that has a massive amount of colors which will never be worn, a palette that has few go-togethers, a palette which needs too much help from the outside, and if swatching is possible lack of quality. For instance, the Mario palette is small, but it is well thought out and the shadows are beautiful, and work well with each other. It also travels well because of its size and compactness.

Celesta Avatar

I definitely need a palette to have a matte bone colored shade as well as a deep shade for the outer corners (doesn’t have to be black necessarily, just dark), and something matte to put in the crease. And I prefer a variety of colors and tones that can be used together in different ways.

MissJae1908 Avatar

There must be a transition shade for my skin tone. I also won’t buy a palette that has too many white or ivory shades. Just not my cup of tea.

Kelsey Avatar

I don’t like it when colours lie too close in each others range. I don’t need a light brown, and then another light brown but slightly darker and with a slightly different undertone. I like it when palettes are diverse, but not unwearable. I like my palettes small (4-8 pans), colour coordinated and inspiring. I don’t want to grab another palette to finish my look, so a highlight and crease colour are always welcome as a palette staple. I don’t care that I have a ton of “creasey” dupes, I just want my palette to be user friendly.

Emily Avatar

Lipstick in little pans or cream anything really. It just grosses me out the idea of them getting all sticky and melty and little bits of powder falling on top of them.

Also lots of glittery/frosty shades, any bright colours e.g. blue, red etc (yup I’m boring – you can pry my neutrals from my cold dead hands!). In general, I don’t like buying palettes because I need to like every single shade (i may be one of the few people who loves the Surratt concept whole heartedly).

Also ugly packaging. In general, beauty for me is all about the experience of using the product – the time spent on me, indulging – so luxury and aesthetics matter, not gonna lie. A lot of the reason I stay away from certain brands is how they’re marketed (obvs that’s the point of marketing – to appeal to a particular demographic). But cutesy stuff like Urban Decay’s naked palettes with the cardboard packaging emblazoned with NAKED has never appealed to me. And Kat von D anything puts me off.

Emily Avatar

Just the marketing and packaging tbh. Sometimes it’s as simple as that. I’ve heard great things about her line but aesthetically, I’m not a fan (i think maybe became I associate her w/ excessive tattoos…and now I realise I sound a lot like my mum… yikes).

I think it’s just an example of marketing to a certain demographic – you win some, you lose some. There are a number of brands I avoid for the same reason. I absolutely admit that this isn’t a valid critique of the brand’s quality. But it’s not uncommon I think,

Bonnie Avatar

I agree to a point…I don’t actively avoid brands because of their aesthetic, but I just don’t notice some if they don’t appeal to me. I’m the opposite of you – the edgier the better for me to notice. UD, NYX, Kat Von D…all winners, except that KVD focuses a little too much on the red lip for my liking.

Olivia Avatar

I quite agree and you don’t need to be apologetic about it. I think we all at least subliminally need to be inspired by the person or image behind the products. So many so-called celebs for major cosmetic brands put me off. I would rather pay more for a product whose manufacturer puts their money in research and development. Sorry if this is too far off topic.

Leslie Avatar

Anything with all matte shades, orangey or ugly brown/beige colors, or anything with bronzer, which I don’t use. I love smooth, buttery eyeshadow with a touch of shimmer and unique colors. I like blush palettes with pinks and reds and maybe peach. No browns, please. 🙂

Wednesday Avatar

Deal breakers:
all shimmer shades; Some people look great with all over shimmer. I have hooded eyes so I like a mix of finishes and needs needs matte
too many light shades, too many dark shades: I have mature skin, both can be overly aging.
palettes that run very warm: does nothing for my complexion; makes me look sallow
too many orange/green/yellows: challenging on light olive skin
a B average at this point isn’t good enough.

Aj Avatar

Same here with too many light shades, I know I won’t use them all because a lot of them will look the same on my eyes. I don’t mind bulkiness if it’s a palette with colors I really like, but it still shouldn’t be overly bulky. I also don’t want too many glittery shades in a palette because I don’t use glittery shades on my eyes too often and I don’t want them to be barely touched.

Tarzi Avatar

I really wish that brands would put out less universal palettes, because they end up suiting people in the medium/mid-tone range (usually with a warm undertone) and it sucks for us at either end of the spectrum. I’m quite pale, so I really enjoy the UD Gwen Stefani palette for work-day neutrals, because I can actually use almost every shade in there without having to be super light-handed or delicate (which is nice, because early mornings + no glasses on + hooded eyes = not really capable of Advanced Techniques lol). But at the same time it sucks that there’s no alternatives for people with deeper skin who want that style of neutral palette, not without having to write off 1/4-1/2 of the entire palette. So something like smaller (9 or so shades) coordinated neutral sets for various skin tones/undertones would be awesome! I know it’s what Bobbi Brown tries to be, but I don’t really think they succeed (I don’t like their shadows and they test on animals, plus I don’t think they leave the true mid-tone neutral range enough).

Other than that I hate when an otherwise neutral palette throws in a pop of colour that doesn’t really make sense i.e. Too Faced’s token purple/blue/green in with a bunch of golds and browns. I’m never sure how I’m supposed to use them, other than as liner…

Ashley Avatar

Too many dark colors, no matte highlight, no dark mattes, no shimmery skin tone color, no shimmer highkight, no warm transition shades, too many cool tone colors. I do wish all pallettes were like the chocolate bar ones where the colors you would use more have bigger pans. I also dislike where the shadows are too close without any barrier so the dust gets into each other. I’m also not a huge fan of all matte or all shimmer pallettes. Also quality is king. If the shadows are low quality (( fallout and creasing) Im not buying it.

Astrild Avatar

The lack of a matte highlight shade or transition shades is a totally deal-breaker for me. I don’t like palettes that I have to use in conjuction with other eyeshadows every time I use them. I don’t like too glittery or sparkly eyeshadows cause I know I don’t use them.

Marta Avatar

– if there are no shades in highlight/liner/crease categories, I would need other products and that’s too much fuss for me.
– theme gatherings, like all-neon, all-blue tones or all-shimmer products. I won’t reach for a palette just to grab one color from it.
– if any of the shades that make the palette catch my eye perform poorly (like the blue shade in the NARS TOUJOURS L’AMOUR).
– another nude palette
– over 20 shades in one palette. Over this number shades tend to get too close in color.
– bulky packaging
– no mirror (the palette has to be outstanding to overlook this)

Kelsey Avatar

I won’t consider any palette if it has too many dark, brassy (UD Smog or UD Half Baked) or bright colors. Also, I don’t consider after any palette with an UD Gunmetal-type shade. I just can’t make that shade work for me. I keep thinking about buying the LORAC Pro 1, but that Gunmetal shade scares me away.

Nicole Avatar

I agree with you Christine. For a while I felt like I was buying just about every palette that got a good grade. But, of course I started to feel like there is too much overlap. So, now I can be more selective. So, it’s nice to have deep, light and mid tone with a good quality shadow.

Mo Merrell Avatar

with my dark skin, too many light colors whether they are shimmer or matte are no go for me. I have to see some color and design of the palette. Anything too bulky is annoying to store

Diana Avatar

It is very hard to get in a pre-made palette all the colors I would use; and while some I’ll finish faster, some will stay unused. So I’ll have to add other palettes or single, and pile on shadow containers. I prefer a self-made palette with the colors I really use; if I finish one (which is hard, most likely will expire first) I can re-stock. I can then splurge on shadows I use every day and buy cheep options for colors/textures I will use twice a year.

Marielle Avatar

Deal breaker:
A fifty shade of beige palette! Specially if the beige shade are matt, because I’m deep even though the quality is great it turns ashy on me. I have so many eye palettes, that why now I’m more interested by on the go palettes (4 to 7 shade), I want it to be slim and if the coulour sellection and the quality are there I don’t mind to pay 60$ dollar for it.

Celia Avatar

Too much redundancy of any kind. I don’t like it if there are too many light shades, too many versions of brown, too much redundancy. I want a palette to represent what’s signature about the brand while offering something unique. Certainly when brands continually release extremely similar palettes that drives me bonkers. I want variation, innovation, quality, usability, and something special. When a palette feels samey, like everything is a mid-tone warm beige for example, I feel no inspiration. I want to immediately get ideas by looking at it and be able to discover surprising uses. Also not a huge fan of mixing the mediums like a mostly powder palette with a few cream options. The creams will never last as well as they would in single form and I don’t like shade contamination.

Deborah S. Avatar

Deal Breakers- Too bulky packaging. I travel a fair amount and need to have a palette that will fit in smaller space.
Too cutesy packaging. Okay, when I was 15-20 maybe packaging that was cutesy was fun but I am 62 now and for about 40 of those years I would have preferred the packaging to be classy and beautiful. I really don’t like sexualized names and since I have at least a similar shade for almost all shades there is no reason to buy something that you are embarrassed to tell someone what shade you are wearing!
Let’s face it, most shades have been done before so there is no reason to buy a palette that gets terrible reviews from Christine. I need to have a decent transition shade, brow bone shade, matte crease shade and a darker shade for deepening the outer V. I don’t care if it is black but something that would go with the palette tone. Some times I will look at a palette and see shades that I would never wear but I have recently found that many of those shades can be used under another shade to make the color pop or make the look more cohesive so that is not always a deal breaker for me. And finally, having said all that, I do still get sucked into the hype sometimes but I am getting better about that and walking away for a day or two and then revisiting whether I really see value in the palette. If it was limited edition and it is gone when I go back then I figure I wasn’t meant to have it!!

Alys Avatar

I loathe the sexualized names! I’m 37 and maybe I’m a “prude” but I find it unnecessary. UD recently released a shade called “bump” (it’s white, like a “bump” of cocaine.) I though that was so vile.

Erin Avatar

I agree with you but being very fair I disagree on the amount of light shades. I need a lot of light and medium shades. While I prefer how dark shades look being pale, deep set in the eye region, with a slight hood to the eye too many dark shades at once make me look a panda. I don’t like it when there is nothing but overly warm browns or yellows but that is just because they make me look sick.

Shannon. N Avatar

For me to have a pallet be ALL IN ONE, (as in I do NOT have to pull in anything else) I need: A matte bone shade (To set my eye primer) a matte medium preferably warm brown (For my base crease shade) a deep dark matte brown (To deepen up the outer V/crease) and a shimmery highlight shade.

I would also Enjoy a shimmery mossy green but thats just me 😛

I do not like having like 30 eye shadows in one pallet, that overwhelms me to be honest. 9 is like. My ideal.

If the pallet is JUST shimmers. That’s a deal breaker for my severely hooded/monolided eyes.

I also don’t like to support pallets that aren’t inclusive towards dark skinned woc.

Also like Nancy said, if the imagery is offensive to women, people of colour, I’m not going to buy it or use it. simple as that.

Sarah Avatar

Variations of beige! You hit the nail on the head there, Christine. They’re just kind of useless. I want mattes that perform well, aka “blend in the crease without getting patchy,” and at least 75% of shades to be ones I’ll gravitate towards, more if it’s an expensive palette. It’s why I haven’t gotten any of the Naked palettes but want the Too Faced Chocolate Bar (or its I <3 Makeup dupe)–I prefer some colorful shades rather than a dozen neutrals!

Cassie Avatar

I love makeup and have several pallets so when companies come out with the same “boring” neutral pallet again and again, I’m likely to pass (The recent Lorac (Mega)Pro pallets). I want something that interests me, or at the very least doesn’t look like shades I have several times over.

Things I do appreciate in pallets: a cream/ivory brow bone shade (something my skin tone which I understand not everyone has my skin tone). A sparkly/shiny inner corner highlight/lid shade. A dark matte shade (something cohesive with the pallet). A transition shade and crease shade that fit with the dark matte shade.

Nusayba Avatar

Palettes with a lot of pale shades or a lot more duds in a drugstore store one. At this point with so many neutrals I have, having a few night colours is something that really grabs my attention.

Donya Avatar

There are a number of ways I can answer this but since others have said one aspect about what they “like”, I will go with deal breakers for exclusion. “Palettes with cream anything” – a HUGE no go for me.

As a freshman in high school, I would sit on the floor at my friend’s house with a mirror propped up on the wall and put on and take off makeup – how I learned. back then, there would be giant kits in cardboard boxes with cream lipsticks, blushes, powder next to it – no matter how neat you are, it gets mucky. Does anyone like these? I still see some – recently, Tarte put out a couple. I don’t get it.

Robert Avatar

Too many nudes (unless it is a specifically neutral/nude tones palette, ofc) are the ultimate nope for me. A palette has to be special, it has to have some mesmerizing colors that catch my eye, they have to be a bit unique. Lately all palettes have maybe one nice unique shade on idk 30 colors and it’s like… emh, why? Why would I then not buy just singles and as only palette a neutral one? Because it seems to me lately palettes are all simply neutral tones + 1 special color. Well, then I buy a single similar to that? Why spending 40 dollars on something to then have 300 different shades of beige between all the pallettes owned?

Aeri Avatar

A mix of cream and powder products – I hate when the powder gets in the cream, and most of the time the creams dry out. Also super-bulky packaging. If I LOVE the palette it may not stop me, but tearing it apart and putting it in a Z-palette sure is a pain!

Glenda Avatar

Glitter. Who needs glitter in a palette. I’m also not fond of shimmers, strongly prefer mattes so if there’s too many shimmers, I won’t buy. A couple is okay, but a palette full, nope. Also I want one or two shades with a pop of color and the rest of the colors need to be workable.

Bon Bon Avatar

Mine is 12+ colors from my favorite, UD, and there’s only three-four that I use. I’ve changed over to eye shadow wands and apply so much quicker, using two and highlight the brow and eyelid, I then use the darker one in my crease and outer lids. I can make the crease lighter and the rest darker by applying more shade. Don’t know that I’ll ever go back to powder.

Bon Bon Avatar

Mally brand with the shades being smiley quarts and moonlight. I just read the side of tubes and it states they are “shadow stick extra”. They were recommended to me as wands. I love them and until you remove makeup, they stay on. You have 45 seconds after application to blend or adjust before it’s set until removal. Love them.

Hildegard Avatar

Poor quality, lack of variety in the eyeshadows that make the palette, a poorly cohesive selection of shades and too many colours I know I can’t use. If I’m buying an eyeshadow palette I want to be able to wear each and every single colour included.

I don’t mind themed palettes, I just wish they truly explored the range of shades they’re offering. I also dislike it when they don’t include a mirror and/or a brush in the bigger palettes (if I travel I don’t want to pack extra brushes).

Robin Avatar

Shades that are too dark and/or too vibrant; shades that I will never use, like bright blue, like deep dark charcoal.
Not to mention the fact that palettes packaging are usually far too bulky. And why would I pay for shades I don’t like.

Cheryl Avatar

I’m like you Genevieve, Same coloring and dont wear pinks, , reds or purple or orange, they all make me look sick. And on my mature eyes, no shimmer,

Lea Avatar

I have to admit laughing to myself reading the comments. If someone stumbled into this comment and didn’t know the people who come here, you’d think none of us liked or owned a palette with all the things that we don’t want or make it a no-buy! I think we all know that not to be the case.

Sophia B. Avatar

There seems to be a huge trend for all/almost all matte pallets these days, and the colors leaning super warm toned (oranges and reds). I really like the way cool tones look on my complexion and shimmery and satin shadows! I just bought one of the nars x sarah moon duos b/c I love taupey silvery purples.
So…biggest complaint is that there isn’t enough variety in the marketplace. Everyone is putting out the same thing. Boring.

Joanna Avatar

Exactly what Christine said. To many beige colours that all look the same ( I’m talking about you UD Gwen Stefani palette and UD ultimate basic palette) and if the quality is crap then that will clinched the deal shut. I like a palette to have variety in colours and finishes.

Lulle Avatar

The only real deal breaker for me is poor shadow quality. Other things that usually make me give up are, too many similar shades that will all look the same on the eye once blended, and too many red-based shades. That last one has been the main reason I didn’t purchase a lot of the most recent popular palette releases: Modern Renaissance, Chanel fall palette, ABH Mario, Lorac Mega Pro 3, etc… Red-based shades seem to be having their moment right now, but they just don’t look good on me.

Zoe Avatar

– Uneven color distribution (many lights and midtones, but no darks for instance)
– When similar colors aren’t positioned next to each other or in a spectrum (it makes it hard to compare shade variations and finishes when they are on opposite sides of the grid)
– Bulky or awkward packaging (like weird-shaped pans or lots of negative space)
– Slots for anything besides a brush (like for eyeliner or a lip product)
– Cream and Powder products next to each other, without a lid

Rachel R. Avatar

1) Crappy quality. 2) Strong floral or perfume scents. Food scents (like chocolate, vanilla, or fruit) are usually OK. 3) Too expensive for the quality/amount of product/for my budget. 4) Eye palettes: Too many cool-toned, medium-to-dark browns (they can go muddy on my fair skin). 5) Cheek and face palettes: Too many bronzers that are too dark and/or warm and/or shimmery for me to use. Too many dark highlighter shades. Contour palettes that run too warm. 6) Usually a mix of creams and powders with no separation between the two will be a deal breaker.

Gillian Avatar

I cannot stand a palette that is poor quality. MAC holiday or mini palettes are notorious for this and I’ve fallen for it twice!!
Naked3 isn’t so hot either, some of the colors are so pretty, but they are nothing but glitter, and not even good glitter.

PRNoir Avatar

My deal breakers are palettes with too many light shades or brown shades (looking at you tarte) that look similar, multiple glitter shades (too faced), and cream products in the palette. I typically can’t deal with heavily fragranced products, especially if the smell is floral. If a palette has a bunch of golds, I’ll pass. I don’t like palettes that are half warm and half cool, like the UD ultimate basics, they should done a concept similar to KVD shade and light quads. Most people aren’t going to get a lot of use out of the different under tone selection, to me it would’ve made more send to release smaller palettes similar to the regular UD basics and then had multiple smaller palettes come out.

Terry Avatar

First packaging and quality of the shadows has to be there espically at the price points of most palettes. then I look at col;or selection can I put several distinct looks together from one palette. Paying attention to skin tones would make me purchase more since I prefer cool tones. I actually bought a backup of the gwen Stefani palette since for me that was almost ideal a few less shimmers and more mattes and that would be perfect! MAC is one brand starting to pay attention to tones in a palette but if they would fix their quality. I find too that permanent type palettes have more use for me especially in quality.

Blue Avatar

I know I’m late to the party, but I’m so excited to have the chance to rant about this!

Reading through the comments, it seems like the off-white to light beige shadows in palettes are polarizing but I agree with Christine about too many of them being an easy deal breaker. It’s kind of odd buying eyeshadow these days because singles are less appealing because they’re incredibly expensive compared to the price per shadow in palettes, yet it’s very difficult to find a palette that fits well into your collection/preferences once you have a few. I consider myself someone who gets regular use from light beige colors, but between Naked I (two white-beiges), Naked Basics (THREE white-beiges–in other words half the palette–albeit in different undertones and finishes), and BoS 4 (two white-beiges) , I can say without exaggeration that I have enough of those types of colors to last me for years… And I’ve been steadily using them for years already. It’s at the point where it would take a lot for me to buy another palette that would add more than one to the pile. I’d honestly way rather see new launches with none at all, but I understand that having at least one helps give the palette the impression of being more complete or able to stand alone. I would also be more excited if they were doing edgier variations for the inevitable pale beige colors, like giving them weird duochrome effects. I’m just so tired of buying the same eyeshadow over and over. LOL.

I personally only like palettes that have one type of product, rather than attempting to be a whole look in a box. I’m way too picky for a full face palette to appeal to me. Everything in my collection is mix-and-match.

I only like palettes that have rectangular or circular pans. Other shapes look tacky to me, even for luxury priced products. Once I’ve hit pan on a thing or two, I also tend to depot, and rectangles are obviously the nicest to deal with in a Z palette.

Bonnie Avatar

I don’t care for mixed items…the blushes get in the eyeshadows, the eyeshadows get in the lip colors etc. And if blush/bronzer is actually going to be in a palette, it’s gotta be big so the blush brush doesn’t make a mess trying to get the blush or bronzer. Also, once I don’t like a brand, I won’t consider their palette. (Only 2 come to mind).

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