What do you like about single eyeshadows? What don't you like?

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Single Eyeshadows

I think you can get really creative if you’re someone who’ll purchase individual eyeshadows, since they’re a great way to fill in gaps in one’s collection or to get unusual shades (often from indies). The downside is figuring out how to organize them in a way that makes them most useful.

— Christine


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Lesley Avatar

I like that I can get exactly what I want with respect to color, finish and formula. I don’t like the fact that virtually all of them need to be ordered online because without swatching, it is hard for me to see how the shade will work on me. I don’t have so many that organization is a problem.

xamyx Avatar

I’ve recently decided against buying single eyeshadows anytime in the near future… I honestly find I don’t reach for them; if they’re in pots, they get buried amongst themselves wherever they’re housed, and those I’ve deported are arranged by color, and I can’t be bothered to pull multiple palettes when I have so many curated options to reach for on a whim… That said, I am working on my loose shadows/pigments this year, and I did cave and pick up a deep taupe CoverGirl single last week that I can use as a universal crease shade, or even a contour, which I keep with my everyday products (mascara, liquid eyeliner, brows, etc…).

Mariella Avatar

I like that I can pick and choose colours that appeal to me and not be stuck with shades I don’t like and won’t wear. I don’t like that usually, they are more costly per shadow than a palette would be and I also don’t like (strictly MY problem) that I choose the same sorts of colours over and over and OVER again (wanna guess how many dupes I have for shades like Sumptuous Olive or Satin Taupe?).

Mariella Avatar

I agree….sort of. But what I’ve finally learned is that once a shadow is applied to my eyelid, the slight differences are unnoticeable! Still doesn’t stop me always being drawn to the same sorts of shades. That’s the good thing about premade palettes – they sort of force me to try a wider variety of colours otherwise I’d have self-made palettes filled with shades like Sumptuous Olive, MUFE Reptile, Golden Khaki, Mac Satin Taupe, UD Stray Dog….all the same shades purchased over and over from different companies.

Mariella Avatar

At least with lipsticks, I go through them very quickly (well, relative to how slowly I finish other products). It almost embarrasses me (though this is a safe place to confess stuff like this because I know I’m not alone) but I’ve yet to finish off even ONE eyeshadow! Not a single one! But it doesn’t stop me from worrying that I might and if it’s LE or discontinued, then what do I do? (which is maybe a part of why I have so many dupes but only a part of it – I think I’m just drawn to the same shades again and again).

Helene Avatar

Not one? Ever?
Wow! I’ve finished a lot of eyeshadows. A long time ago I had one, maybe two quads or quints or even duos and I generally finished at least two shades in all of them. It was a looong time ago, though.
In recent years I have finished a great brow bone shade (from MUFE) and have almost finished two, also brow bone ones in Neutral Mattes from Viseart.
I rarely finish lipsticks, though, these days, I used to back when I had one, maybe two at a time. Yes, there were such a time, long ago. 🙂

Mariella Avatar

Maybe 40 or more years ago when I only used one eyeshadow. It was a grey shade from Revlon. This was long before eyeshadow primers so wearing shadow wasn’t the joyful experience it is these days so eyeshadow wasn’t my obsession like it is now and also, there wasn’t the wealth of wonderful colours to choose from. So I had only this one shadow from Revlon and that was it, I think. I did finish it and had to repurchase.

Helene Avatar

I remember when MAC and NARS arrived in a store near me. What an experience! Before that it was beige, grey and if I was lucky a greyish green. Of course YSL did have some lovely duos, but they were expensive. I think Estee Lauder had a nice duo, lilac and light beige, I loved it!
I recall a purple cream eyeshadow from NARS, it slid around so much I couldn’t use it, before primers as you said.
My first MAC eyeshadow was Sprout, a lovely spring green shade, I still have it, but it has a massive hard pan so I can’t use it, I keep it as it is such a lovely colour.
Right now I feel very old! 😀

Mariella Avatar

Now that I think of it (and because you mentioned Estee Lauder) I did have a few lovely shadows from Estee Lauder, one of which dates back from my highschool days. It was a beautiful deep purple and I got it again in a GWP palette from them a few years later (this was back in the day when companies kept products around for ages rather than discontinuing them before you could blink an eye). That palette also contained 2 lovely neutral shades – a slightly darker taupe-brown and then a lighter one. I probably still have all of those tucked away in a drawer somewhere because nostalgia sort of stopped me from putting them in the trash but I may have tossed them out a few years ago. I’ll have to check in the drawer in what used to be my daughter’s room. I wish I could remember the name of that purple shadow (the name had even rubbed off the bottom of the single container but it was still visible on the GWP palette, I think).

Brian Avatar

I find the freedom to create a custom palette a lot of fun. If I’m honest I typically will grab one or two pre made palettes(sometimes three) and make a look using a combo of shadows from them. But when I really have no idea what I’m going for I’ll grab my single shadow palettes. I also have a large magnetic palette full of “special” shadows from various brands like Devinah and Clionadh that I get a lot of use out of because very few palettes have anything comparable in them.
On the topic of storing/organizing my singles, I started out doing it by brand and just found that was really unhelpful and didnt lend itself to ease of use. I keep my mattes together organized by color and then same for satins(I own very few) and metallics/shimmers. With my “special” shades I group them by opacity for the most part, so the sheer glimmer/glittery shades all together and then the opaque shades all together. The sheer ones I don’t even bother trying to group by color because most are duo/multichrome and you can’t really tell what colors they are until they’re in use. The more opaque shades I group more by base color, some have an actual color base and some have a black base. And then within those groupings I group by dominant color.

Genevieve Avatar

I really like single eyeshadows because if you have a particular shade you have hit pan on in an eyeshadow palette, you can always buy the single colour to replace it.
Also if you just like one shade in a palette and the rest you can dupe, again you can buy the single.
There are so many brands these days that are offering high quality singles in a variety of shades and finishes and that can be so cost effective.
There is always the option of creating your own palettes with singles you just like and would definitely use.

The only down side to singles I can see is that sometimes they are tricky to open or hard to find in your makeup stash – but having an empty magnetic palette ensures that they are kept in good condition and easy to find.

Nina Avatar

I only use single eyeshadows. I like opening each separate color. There is no kickback to other colors that happen in a pallet or quad. I can carry just one or two with me. Yes, it’s more expensive to buy individual pans but it’s worth it to me. I’ve never seen a quad or palette that more than one or two colors appeal to me, so that’s a huge waste of money and they take up space.

Ana Maria Avatar

Single eyeshadows are my jam, and I never regretted that a couple of years ago I decided to stick to single shadows and a custom made palette.
I was always frustrated by pre-made palette were at least 2-3 shades remained unused. Or by the fact that I loved a color story, but the shades didn’t suit me. I hated having to open more than 1 palette or having to store multiple palettes.
In the end what I love about singles is that they allow me to select exactly the shades I use and suit me. I don’t waste a full palette, and when I finish a color I just buy one single item. If a new palette comes out and a love one shadow or 5, I can use temptalia website to find dupes.
Traveling? I just transfer a few shades in a smaller palette and I’m good to go.

What I most hate is that most big brands nowadays don’t invest in the quality of their singles, nor the selection. I see more indie brands having good single selections.
Also, buying singles is a higher cost per shadow than buying palettes usually. Personally I would always pay more for the perfect eyeshadow collection for me, but some prefer having multiple palettes and paying less even if some eyeshadows remain unused.

Hayley Avatar

I love that they usually look a lot more special that anything, even the luxuries like PMG. I’ve found a few dupes with the special shades and indies.
Sometimes it’s overwhelming though, trying to create looks since you don’t have something laid out like a premade palette.
Also gets expensive, and you rabbit hole. Oops. But I do love my singles more than my palettes now.

Helene Avatar

I like singles a lot, I didn’t use to, back then you could only buy them in compacts and some didn’t even have clear lids, so you had to open them to see the colour.
I like that I can organize palettes myself, in an order I find logical, I like that I can pick just the colours I’d need if going away and put them in a smaller compact.
I don’t like singles in compacts, I find I rarely reach for them, as I don’t find them immediately, and they are harder to store, in a way that makes them easy to find.

Agona Avatar

I’m not buying anymore either. I declutter some recently. I never use them and I find myself not really being able to put together a cohesive palette that I reuse. Maybe because I really only use 3 shades for a look typically when I’m using singles? I do enjoy one and done multi-chromes though.

Melissa Avatar

I love everything about them! I love getting the exact color I want, and more of it, as opposed to palettes. I have been disappointed to see palettes take the place of single shadows over the past 5 years or so. My coloring has virtually zero warmth to it, and I basically wear only saturated, cool-toned makeup colors, so 99% of palettes are going to contain wasted product for me. I also don’t usually blend tons of colors together with eye makeup – I like a one-and-done eyeshadow, or maybe one color over the lid with an accent color in the corner – so the need for a palette with colors that are coordinated to work together is unnecessary for me.

I LOVE the huge number of excellent indie eyeshadow makers that have emerged over the past decade – Clionadh, Terra Moon, JD Glow, etc., and I love the duo/multichrome formula they’ve pioneered and that with many of these brands you can essentially build your own palette with their singles. I have plenty of eyeshadow and won’t be buying more anytime soon, but I’ve pretty much decided that at this point, if I do ever purchase more, I’m ONLY buying indie singles (unless Pat McGrath ever rolls out more single shadows, or a fully cool-toned quad).

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