What do you look for in a neutral eyeshadow palette?

I like a good range of depth and finish, though I don’t mind omission of very light mattes personally (even if they may work for my skin tone, I think they’re too limiting for a palette marketed for everyone). I want to be able to create a softer look as well as something more intense with shades that have a tonal coordination. It has to be high-quality because there’s no room for subpar neutral palettes when there are so many to choose from these days.

— Christine
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17 Comments

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Good quality shadows and functional packaging are givens. Preferably sturdy enough to travel with. A variety of tone depths, though I look for palettes that aren’t too heavy on very dark shades, as I have pale skin. Not too heavy on cool, medium-to-dark browns/taupes/grays, as these shades often go muddy on me. Not more than one black shade; I prefer none and rather have a dark brown, burgundy, or plum for deepening a look. I like at least one very light shade, preferably a shimmer, that I can use as a brow bone and inner corner highlight, and at least one or two good crease shades. In larger palettes, a variety of finishes. I mostly go for mixed undertones, neutral-to-warm undertones, or rosy or mauve neutrals. I also like smaller neutral palettes that are heavy on satins and/or shimmers in light and medium shades for easy one or two shade looks, such as MUFE Nudes You Need and Tarte ROTS Vol. 1 and 3.

I haven’t given a second glance to a neutral palette in at least a couple of years, haha. When I bought the two that I do have, I liked that the shades weren’t warm tones. Neutral and cool colors look good on me but warm tones really don’t. (And warm brown is my least favorite color in general so I don’t want it on my face.)

A range of colors in various finishes that allow me to create soft looks for day but I can deepen up for a more dramatic look for night. I agree I’m totally fine bringing in crease or browbone highlight shades that suit me and often keep a stash of singles on my vanity for that purpose

At this point, I feel badly for anyone attempting a neutral tone palette….there are he HG’s and then so many misses.

I prefer smaller/compact palettes (the smaller ND or Viseart Edit size). Sturdy but collector-quality packaging. Useful for everyday or travel. Range of undertones is more important to me than the requisite number of light/medium/deep. Stellar formula that will last through a variety of environmental changes (example seasonal changes, moving or travel from high to low humidity etc). Mix of matte, near-matte, satin and shimmer. NO pressed glitter. NO pigment unsafe for around eye (what, exactly, is the point?)

A fun element, although possibly a risk, is always welcome. (Like the coral shade in Sultry or the blue/brown shades in ND Bronze).

Satin formula! My Viseart palettes have a good, true satin formula. And an entire palette of them (i have the bridal with Paris Nudes on the list).

Nothing! I already have all the neutrals I need. ?
To me, neutral eyeshadows are the basic shades I use to help build most looks, composed of matte-to-satin browbone, transition, and deepening shades; they’re companions to other products (which often include more neutrals anyway) rather than something I’d exclusively use for a look. Palettes like Urban Decay’s Naked Basics line, KVD’s Shade & Light, and Smashbox’s Photo Edit trios.

I really like the 2 Smashbox trios I have – it makes applying eye makeup so much easier and almost more enjoyable when I don’t have a lot of time or have the inclination to figure out which of 20 shadows I can put together….

I want a good range of shades from mid tone to dark in mattes. I don’t use the bone shade in palettes, even though I have light skin. I don’t have the space to use it, so I use a mid tone with a fluffy brush to sheer it out as a transition shade. I don’t really like black eye shadow, so a dark brown/grey is preferable. I don’t like warm tones too much, so anything that is not orange/red, but instead grey, neutral/cool brown, or mauve. For example, I’d love it if the bottom row of Biba was a 5 pan. Neutral shimmers never seem to make me happy. I am very much a neutral matte/pop of shimmer color on the lid, so I’m fine with all matte and bringing in a shimmer I already have.

Because I will likely be using it to create a more sculpted pin-up style eye or as an auxiliary palette, it must offer a comprehensive range of depths in order for me to create that level of dimension and contrast of shades. And while I don’t exactly need for it to contain a matte or matte-like satin browbone shade, it certainly doesn’t hurt if one is in there! As for finishes, I’m up for anything other than PET glitter. Not a huge fan of mattes with floating glitter particles, either, but I can get them to work anyways. Oh, and NO strong fragrance, or worse, flavored with sodium saccharine!
My 3 favorite neutral palettes that I still consistently reach for are as follows: MAC Natural Vice, Lorac Unzipped and UD Naked 2.

I don’t really know what constitutes “neutral” anymore. I guess anything that isn’t a shade of blue, green or bright yellow? I wear glasses so my neutral shades need a bit of shimmer and some actual color. Matte brown and taupe disappear behind the lenses (they worked when I was still able to wear my contacts) and neutral for me now would be the shimmer shades of Viseart Minx. But frankly I consider coral, soft pink and even red to be neutral on my skin tone.

I like shadows that are truly on the “neutral” side of “neutral” – cool toned neutrals or those that are slightly warm but not pink, red or orange… I like there to be at least one lighter highlight/inner corner/lid brightening shade and a range of finishes – one or two matte shades but leaning a bit more heavily toward those with a sheen (so in a palette of 8 to 12 shadows, 2 or 3 mattes maximum works for me). The original Naked palette, Naked2, LORAC Pro2 and Viseart’s Cashmere little palette are examples of neutral palettes that I find pretty near perfect.

1. Good range of shades in multiple depths. Overall, I probably pick neutral palettes that have more lighter shades and only a couple of darker shades as I am pretty fair.
2. Mostly cool leaning shades as they works better with my skin tone but I can make warm tones work and need them if overall I am doing a warmer toned look.
3. Packaging suitable for traveling, meaning sturdy but not too heavy. I prefer not to have a mirror as I need to use a magnifying mirror and the mirror just adds more weight to the palette.
4. I find neutral palettes to be pretty boring so I don’t need a lot of them. They are work horses though so I want them to be good quality.
5. I prefer more matte leaning palettes for neutrals so wouldn’t want a palette that was half matte and half shimmers.
When my daughter and I went to Europe she took the KVD Shade and Light palette and that worked for both of us. I usually would prefer to bring maybe two or three singles and then work with whatever other palette I bring. A couple of singles are easier to store in your luggage and they will fit into little crevices . The KVD palette was bulky to pack. Now we aren’t using KVD and I keep hoping our nearest Sephora will stop putting it in store and add a different, more interesting line. It doesn’t look like the products are moving well and nothing new has been added in so long.

I like a paired down palette with a good mix of finishes and range of shades. I think 8 or 9 pans is ideal. There doesn’t have to be a matte beige shade, but if there is a shimmery champagne or pearly shade that’s good with me. No dupable shades within the palette.

That’s a very good question because I have been ‘into’ my neutral palettes over the past couple of years.
First of all, no matte white or black shades! Consistent beauty surveys have shown that these are the least used/wanted shades.
Secondly – I want the palette to be mixed in terms of undertones so that both cool and warm toned customers can wear the shades.
Thirdly – a good mix of lighter to darker shades, including a variety of finishes – satin, soft shimmer, metallic and a matte or two. Absolutely no glitters or non safe ingredients. The darker shades are to be the darker side of mid tone – to provide a contrast for softer, lighter mid tone shades. No reds, pinks or oranges.
Samples of shades I would include are: UD YDK, City Color Sandstorm and All Eyes on Me, a soft antique gold (PMG has a good one), Lorac’s Rose Gold, UD’s Smog and Ambush.

I love a good bronze nude eye in the summer, and more brownish in the winter. I rarely use actual eyeliner but instead I use a smudge brush so a good dark brown for sure. I must have a good matte brown and champagne shimmer or satin with a mix of other various neutrals. I even like copper, no orange! I love shimmers over my lid and can do without it one as I have a single of space cowboy. I love the brown mattes and shimmers isn ND gold and have really been loving the new ND bronze palette. I don’t mind a pop of color like a green, blue or something like gunmetal from Naked to smudge on my lower lash line.

My dream palette would be part CT greens, part ND Gold, part ND bronze, and part PML Bronze seduction. Then a cooler palette like PML Subliminal pulls cool on me and when I wear grays in the cooler months and paler, I reach for that. I’d love to have part of that mixed with Naked 2.

While I think I love almost all color stories, neutral and colorful (except teal and mint tones), my usage uncovers my real love – cool toned neutrals, skewing on the deeper side, with plenty of both matte and metallic textures. When I look at my 4 most-used palettes, they are very very similar…ABH Sultry, Huda Smoky Obsessions, Cargo Around the World, and BH mini Zodiac in Capricorn (I’m a Cancer). These palettes all feature silvers, grays, smoky browns, and black. I love my dark smoky eyes and the palettes that make them.

1. Something that has a matte highlight light enough for my skin tone. (I’m really pale)

2. A really deep, saturated black.

3. Mostly mattes. Maybe one or two shimmery lid shades And that’s it.

4. Something I can throw in my work bag but also has a decent mirror. I really like the size of the Millani Soft and Sultry Palette.

5. Has between 8-16 shades, with a range of cool warm and neutrals to mix and match.

6. Good quality. My favorite eyeshadows are Lime Crime and ABH. I like super pigmented stuff I don’t have to build or layer. I have no time for that.

If these are ever met, I would have the PERFECT palette

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