What do you look for in an eyeshadow palette?

I personally like more shimmery than matte shades, but I like a variety in shimmer levels and still want a couple of mattes included (typically in more basic shades). I also prefer for pre-made palettes to be cohesive–that I can use it to create multiple looks without having to add in other products. It should be slim, travel-friendly, and sturdy. I don’t use palette mirrors, so a lack of mirror wouldn’t be a deal-breaker for me.

— Christine
We hope you'll consider supporting Temptalia by shopping through our links below. Thanks!

Compare Any Two Swatches

Curious how two shades compare to each other? Type in the shades below to get instant side-by-side swatches!

We hope you'll consider supporting Temptalia by shopping through our links below. Thanks!

66 Comments

Comments that do not adhere to our comment policy may be removed. Discussion and debate are highly encouraged but we expect community members to participate respectfully. Please keep discussion on-topic, and if you have general feedback, a product review request, an off-topic question, or need technical support, please contact us!

Please help us streamline the comments' section and be more efficient: double-check the post above for more basic information like pricing, availability, and so on to make sure your question wasn't answered already. Comments alerting us to typos or small errors in the post are appreciated (!) but will typically be removed after errors are fixed (unless a response is needed).

We appreciate enthusiasm for new releases but ask readers to please hold questions regarding if/when a review will be posted as we can't commit to or guarantee product reviews. We don't want to set expectations and then disappoint readers as even products that are swatched don't always end up being reviewed due to time constraints and changes in priorities! Thank you for understanding!

Comments on this post are closed.
We hope you'll consider supporting Temptalia by shopping through our links below. Thanks!

1. High quality shadows that can last on my oily lids
2. Mostly pops of color (preferably more unique colors ) with a few neutrals
3. Mix of mattes, satins, shimmers

Cohesiveness!!! When I look at it, I want to see eye looks POP out at me right away! Also needs to be in a sturdy housing, nothing flimsy, especially if it’s pricier. I also like a variety of finishes, unless of course the palette is say, by Viseart, Tom Ford, or even another specialized foiled or matte palette. In those cases, I already know that it’ll be the same or similar finish throughout the palette.

Agree with you Christine – everything in one palette is definitely preferred. For me, a lot of options or just too big a variety of colors and I lose interest.

I don’t really buy palettes. I just have my own customized MAC one with all the shades I own by them. But for a premade, if I were to buy one, and maybe if they did a better job of this I’d be more likely to buy one…I’d want a sizeble browbone shade. Having 15 to 20 shades and then one browbone color? Um get real. I’d also like a variety of finishes. A few transitionary shades (not just one). And all colors work with each other. The combo/choice of colors have to be appealing. I hate purple so a palette without that shade would appeal to me haha!

My daughter has the chocolate bar palette and I was like finally, some company gets that you need a sizeable browbone color. However it does have a nasty purple in it lol. Kat Von D has palettes with a nice size browbone color. But naked 3 all those colors yet one browbone and not enough contrast amongst colors. I just don’t get it! Lol

I have brown eyes, and aside from reds, purple is the most flattering… It all really depends on the overall coloring of an individual. I have yet to find a purple I can’t wear!

I would have to disagree as well. I have brown eyes, and while I love blue eyeshadow- I can’t always make that work appropriate. I love purple on my eyes and it’s usually work appropriate for me.

Wow split down the middle of hating and loving purple!! I was going to say on a fair skin, yet cool tone complexion with green eyes deepest roses and purples look amazing- I have mixed these with green and got amazing Maleficent vibes going! Lol like purple gel liner and smudged purple shadow under the bottom lash while deep green and greenish gold looks awesome- and not just on my green eyes but on a friend with brown cool skin tones also. I couldn’t believe the orange and purple looking so great from the PB&J palette!! Want!!!

Oh yes. I have the first Naturals palette and the middle color was THE best creamy frost without fallout. I used it for browbone, inner eye, powder hilighter long before there were so many awesome products. Also a lid sweep on “no makeup makeup” days. It is not made in a single and the combo of looks and formula were so perfect for me, dupes are not even an option.

HAHAHA I hate purple, too. I avoid most UD palettes for that reason. Also, purple eyeshadows are usually kind of tricky, so we’re dodging a bullet there!

Purple just doesn’t excite me and I look dead with it on. I am def not drawn in when they include purple. Now take the Lorac unzipped palette. All those golds. I can get with that. I just don’t own it bc I have so many bronzey/ gold colors I cannot justify buying more but that is a gorgeous palette!

I am not a purple/pink fan either. These colours just don’t work with my colouring. Palettes that have burgundy, orange or purple shades I don’t even look at.

And I love greens. I don’t know if it’s a color I look for in an eyeshadow but when I wear it, it is very pretty with my brown eyes. Purple I just cannot warm up to or make work. I like it on my daughter but she has dark brown hair and dark eyes. I have medium brown hair and brown eyes. I guess we all have those colors we are drawn towards or those we steer away from. But give me gold/bronzey/peachy/champagne colors any day of the week…sold!

For me, not even gold green. I have blue eyes and fair skin with cool undertones, and greens just aren’t flattering on me. The ones I tend to gravitate toward on my own “Oooh, that’s pretty” scale usually make me look like I have been punched. I often see them and think they are pretty colors, but they go to waste in palettes for me ? Peachy or Coppery tones do the best job of making my eye color pop, and I can pull off purples pretty well too. The biggest problem with purples is that so few companies do them well (formula wise).

I like palettes that I can use on their own, without having to reach for extra shades to complete a look. So a brow bone or highlighter shade is a must, as well as a deep shade for the outer corner or as a liner. I prefer a mix of shimmers and matte, and I also don’t care for mirrors. Finally, I like sleek designs that are easy to transport and store.

Depends on size
Smaller : I want a very concise set of colours that can be used together, rather than a theme e.g. all strong metalics or bright neons. Ideally either half and half matte and smimmer, or slightly more matte.

Larger : a well curated set of colours, more matte than shimmer and good gradations from light to dark. A couple of ‘surprise’ colours, so in a mostly natural/nude pallet a couple of brighter colours to mix it up.

Either way I want a minimal, non fussy and tightly spaced compact, I don’t see the point of a huge pallet with loads of space round each pan.

But most of all COOL colours, which is why I very rarely buy pallets and tend to make my own. There are always so many colours that I wouldn’t ever use that they stop being economically reasionable.

I like smallish palettes that I can take travelling. The perfect form of a palette for me is something like the Laura Mercier Eye Art Artists Palette…compact and lots inside.

This sounds like it would be a dream palette but I just can’t seem to find one that works for me. (Strawberry blond, green eyes, NW25ish). I would add that a mix of neutrals and colors are also important. I’d love suggestions if anyone has any.

Have you tried the Urban Decay Naked 3 palette? I think those pinky-brown shades would be gorg on green eyes!

Don’t make the palette overly warm or cool. My key complaint. I do not like either end of the spectrum. It doesn’t work for me.

At least 5 shadows and I like a balance of finishes sufficient to complete an entire look: 1 a light satin or matte highlight (but not too light), 2. a mid tone matte crease shade, 3. dark matte or satin outer crease shade 4. midtone shimmer mobile lid colour 5. light shimmer inner corner shade. Extra mid tone shades shimmer and matte are always a winner for me.

I think the recent trio of Viseart packaging represents what I would term to be a my perfect travel palette. For at home, the packaging doesn’t play into it really, just keep the bulk down, and I’m not a fan of cheap brittle plastic.

I look for “my colors.” Warm greens, pinks and mauves, taupes and pewters, and maybe one or two outside my box colors. And also if there’s a highlight, transition, and crease shade for my skin tone. And then I consider whether it’s a fresh or redundant addition to my collection, wether it’s something I could use every day or travel with, etc. I’m usually very good about sticking to these rules. I will return palettes after a week or so if I realize I’m not reaching for it. I have custome palettes, so for a premade palette to find its place in my stash is quite a feat. Oh, unless it’s cheap! I’m always down for a new Sleek palette haha.

My answer is pretty much the same as Christine’s but I will say that there are times when I do use the mirrors included in most lids. If there’s no natural light in a hotel bathroom (almost always the case), I’ll perch at the window and use the mirror to do my makeup or at least check that it looks okay. I like a palette that is slim, travels well (by air), includes a matte shadow or two but plenty of satiny, sheen-y finishes and it’s a bonus if there are one or 2 bright shades along with a whole slew of neutrals. LORAC Pro2 is perfect, TooFaced Chocolate Bar or Chocolate Bon Bons are all pretty close to perfect and Naked 1 and 2 are also, though I’ll usually toss in a quad with 2 “colours” and maybe one or two other shadows I don’t want to leave behind (since it’s a quad anyway) if I’m travelling with Naked for more than 3 or 4 days.

I’m also more into shimmery shadows and usually mix+match mattes/shimmers together. What I look for first in an eyeshadow palette is if the quality of the product is on par (or better) than the singles. Second I look if the colours are (like you said) cohesive so I can create multiple looks (e.g. Naked by UD, MUFE Vol.1). Third most significant factor in my eyeshadow purchases is packaging. I need them to be sturdy/practical (for storage/travel) and to close properly (without letting in air) so the shadows don’t dry out quicker. Of course if the palette has a cute/sleek design that’s a bonus 😀

Generally I’m too picky to be tempted by most pre-made pallets so I make my own custom ones. It’s kind of weird. Even if it’s just one or two shades I don’t like, perform poorly, or even just doesn’t “fit” with the rest my OCD acts up, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, my wallet appreciates it!

That being said, the Urban Decay Smoked kit (not smokey naked) is the one I’ve used the most consistently.

Urban Decay Smoked is as close to perfect as I’ve found. There is a mix of neutral colors and very little fall out. I do wish they had included a shimmer or satin browbone/highlight color and maybe one or two midtone shades but I can usually supplement with my Dior Shimmer Powder 002.

I like palettes that have a good amount of colors for the price but are still compact enough to fit in a makeup bag. No mega palettes for me! Colorwise, I prefer neutrals with a few unique colors thrown in and more shimmers/metallics than mattes. Palette mirrors are too small for my terrible eyesight so I could care less if there’s a mirror or not.

Even before I realized I had hooded eyelids, I was never in to super sparkly or glittery shadows, even though I’m 100% into sparkly and glittery everywhere else! Now that I know how to apply shadow to my lids correctly, I would rather have all or mostly matte shades. It’s really difficult for me to bring myself to purchase any UD palettes for that reason, even though the colors are always gorgeous.

First, I look for palettes to have at least about half of the shades to be matte. Second, I prefer at least 1/3 of the palette to be pops of colors. The only time I wear a neutral look is if I’m running late and I just need something that I can easily apply, quickly, without much thought, but majority of the time I go for very colorful looks. Next, I look for palettes that don’t have a ton of repeats of what I already have, and last I look for either sturdy or more travel friendly packaging. I also like a good mix of warm and cool shades. I don’t mind having an all pop of color palette and having to bring in a neutral palette. The combo I’ve been using recently is the UD electric palette paired with the e.l.f. Mad for Matte palette!

So, with the new through the looking glass palette from UD, that will be a pass for me due to mostly shimmer/glitter shades and the fact that the packaging is a pain to deal with.

No more than one dark shade — I just can’t use them — and neutral to warm tones (without being brassy). I love buying the beautiful 12-pan palettes that all of the popular brands come out with, but they usually have too many dark shades for me.

Ideally, if I’m using only one palette, I’d want neutrals with pops of color (and for me, those would be more jewel toned shades of purple, blue, teal, or emerald). I prefer a matte highlight and a matte crease/transition shade, but a few satins and shimmers are also a must. Light, medium, and dark shades for a variety of looks from natural, professional, and dramatic. Slim packaging that travels well.

It depends on what I want the palette for. Always, it has to be a formula that won’t bother my sensitive eyes. Fortunately, more and more shadows these days fit the bill. Generally, a palette needs colors and finishes that I like and will use. For home use, I don’t really care whether I can get a complete look with a palette. The shadows have to be good quality because of my super-oily eyelids. Even when using primer, I need quality to prevent creasing. I like intense pigmentation. I prefer dramatic looks, and prefer to sheer shadows out rather than build them up. Decent packaging that won’t instantly fall apart. Not too many mid- and deep- toned cool browns, as I can’t wear them together, or they’ll go muddy on my fair skin. No cream products.

For travel: I look for a versatile palette with a variety of brown and nude neutrals from which I can get several complete eye looks. I prefer mostly warm and neutral undertones for the shadows. Even better if there are a few pops of color. Also, a variety of finishes, leaning more towards shimmers. Sturdy packaging and a mirror. I take permanent items, so they’re easy to replace if lost or stolen. Some of my favorites for travel are Too Faced Chocolate Bar or Semi-Sweet; Too Faced Cat Eyes, UD Naked Basics, and UD Naked 3.

All matte palette: I don’t wear a ton of mattes, so when I go specifically for a mattes palette, I’m picky. I want them very blendable. No patchiness. I usually look for neutrals, as I use mattes mostly to augment shimmery brights palettes. Again, high quality, high pigmentation, good packaging, variety of shades. For brights mattes, I look for brights to use with my shimmer palettes, and with rich or buildable pigmentation. Some of my favorites are UD Naked Basics, Tarte Tartelette and Tartelette in Bloom, e.l.f. Mad for Mattes, and Morphe Picasso.

Collecting: I love to collect eye shadow palettes, so pretty, cute, nerdy, and/or LE packaging plays a big part when buying to collect. I have to be able to use the ones I collect, though, so I still want good quality. I very rarely buy a palette just for packaging, unless it’s inexpensive and I really, really like the design. 🙂

Very good point on the only traveling with items from the permanent line! I learned that the hard way and traveled with a limited edition palette(can’t remember which one). Needless to say it shattered and I ended up buying a new one off of eBay and paying 5 times what I originally paid. Awful!!!!

I really want “utility” shades as well as some nice lid colors. By that I mean, something for the brow bone, a nice crease color or two and something dark enough for liner. I really don’t care about a brush or a mirror. I’d rather spend the money on good shadows in a nice sturdy package that travels well.

I like palettes with a lot of color choices that include a variety of shimmer and matte shades, bright and a little out there to neutral and very wearable. It’s nice good quality brushes are included, since it’s so convenient, but it’s not like I don’t have my own so I can take it or leave it. One thing I don’t really like is if there’s an included eyeliner – I don’t know why, but it makes me feel pressured to use the one that’s included instead of one I might actually prefer for the look.

I look for a comprehensive set of colors that will work seamlessly together so that I can create a look with little effort. I also look for product with good pigmentation and little to no fallout. Solid packaging that makes sense and will not fall apart easily is a good selling point. I do not care if there is a brush or applicator included since I have my own.

I look for an entire look, that means shades for: brow bone, inner corner, transition, lid, outer V, some pop of color (even neutral since I love neutral eyeshadow palettes).
I always look for see all the palette swatched in attemp to see the looks the I can create and also if it is too similar with something that I already have. I don´t mind to have some repeat shades since the looks that I can create is kind unique.

I also do not Need a mirror
No matte eyeshadows
Beige Gold Brown colours, a darker Brown for lining because I Do not like eyeliners very much

It has to be long lasting, buildable, and look good/compliments my green eyes and cool complexion. Creamy lovely pigmented colors are a must ❤️Lorac❤️Chocolate Bar❤️KVD❤️

I like a variety of finishes, although as I age I find too much shimmer less appealing. I always look for at least one highlight and one or two transition shades. Having a couple vivid pops of color is nice too. Quality of housing is also important – how depressing to get a great quality palette in a flimsier case (looking at you, Ben Nye). Super flimsy packaging always has me wondering how the product will age. Bonus points for shades I can effectively smoke out as lower-lash liners. Duration of wear is also crucial. I usually read tons of reviews before purchase unless the brand is Viseart or KVD, which haven’t let me down yet.

I look for colours that would work with my complexion: some shades of blue, green (including an olive and khaki shades), greys, a few neutrals and golds.
The shades would be highly pigmented with a mixture of satin and slightly shimmery finishes. I don’t really like glitter or too many mattes.
The casing would be sturdy without being bulky and a good mirror.

I like for them to include a good variety of neutral and pops of color, and a good balance of matte and shimmer shades, with more than just a variety of matte brown shades for the mattes and more than just bronzes golds for the shimmers. also some satin shadows mixed in there, and sturdy packaging. I also try to make sure there’s not too many repeats in my collection and that they’re good quality, as I have very oily eyelids and even with a primer I need quality to prevent creasing. also blend able (not patchy) and decently pigmented, not overly so and not NOT pigmented. I’m really picky!! too faced seems to work well for me except I haven’t been loving the palettes they put out lately except maybe the peanut butter and jelly palette but not enough to purchase it.

I look for a palette that feeds into my laziness. In other words, one that includes a complete eye look. Although I have many different palettes and am a complete makeup junkie. I like working one palette at a time.
In addition, I want to be able to use all the shadows and hit pan at the same time.
I love a deeply pigmented shadow within the palette.
I don’t want fallout.
I also want a palette that will NOT be discontinued. i.e. I LOVE Stila’s “In The Know” palette and it has lasted me a couple of years. Recently the shadows hit pan and I wanted to repurchase. I can’t because Stila discontinued it!
My new go-to is Mally’s “Nude Attitude” palette. Neutral shadows that can be used everyday and with a bit of a heavier hand, can be used into the evening.

My dream palette would be compact and sturdy enough to take with me on trips or even to work. And yes with a mirror in it and as cute and beautiful as a button like the Too Faced Sweet Peaches and Sugar Pop palettes. Teehee! It would have a good mix of colors and finishes to take me from day to play. ?? Ideally I would love to look at it and instantly see combinations (as somebody else already said), be wholistic (I don’t have to open up my other stash to finish a look) and balanced with a couple of brow colors, a number of transition and crease colors and a good amount of lid colors and that those colors could be worked interchangeably. I’m a color gurl and don’t like brown neutral’s they look horrific on me, I look like I had a collision with a mud truck! NOT flattering. Any browns need to be very warm to work for me (veering orange or yellow or even somehow pink! Lol) So I prefer color and neutralized colors in my ideal palette. Ms Chocoholic I am NOT! Lolol! I nice mix of matte, shimmer, foiled and duochrome would be awesome with some really unique color hits are perfection. And only one or 2 darks that must have some color to it (i.e., Grape Day by Morphe or Taboo or Bitten by Makeup Geek) would be great but no more than that. Also I’d LOVE a little guide for at least 5 or 6!eye looks for the palette. AND my dream would be to have 6 more blank one’s so I could come up with some more looks to write into the blank guide. And maybe share between customers as a cute Instagram game. Lol! ?

I have definitely become more selective in my palette purchases lately. It is more quality over quantity now, where as before it was about getting more shades for my dollar. The newest palettes from Viseart are a perfect example. Good quality is a MUST! I also want a cohesive palette. I want colors that “go” together. My OCD goes into overdrive when they have shades that dont seem to belong OR when they have pans haphazardly arranged (i.e. Dose of Colors Hidden Treasure palette). I don’t really mind all shimmer, especially since the Naked Basics 1 and 2 released, because they are good quality and extremely compact. I also don’t care if a palette has a mirror, since I rarely use them. My ideal palette is only as big as necessary, without a bunch of unused space and more times than not the brushes are useless in my opinion. I also prefer very sturdy hard plastic or metal, as opposed to cardboard (though I do have a few sturdy cardboard palettes) and I really love it when they have a reliable closure. I know this isnt a big deal for most people, but I really like when shade names are printed ON the actual palette, #1 because i despise those stupid plastic sheets and #2 because I freelance and it makes life easier after we do a trial run to go back in my notebook on the day of the event and see shade names instead of numbers. Is all of that really so much to ask??? LOL!!!

I love it when a palette has unique shades and there was some clear thought about the composition (i.e., which shades were included, which look nice together, etc). Urban Decay is pretty good at this, their Ammo palette is a perfect example of the kind of composition I like (except for the fact that it has no mattes!) It inspires me to get creative and think outside the box a bit.

I don’t have any particular things I look for… If a palette appeals to me, I buy it. I will pass on a palette if I have most of the shades, unless there’s something absolutely unique, and the others are ones I would likely repurchase at some point, as with MAC Nordstrom Now. However, I passed on several NARS palettes becauase I had 4-5/6-8, and the “exclusives” were near dupes to the permanent range.

As for finish and/or covesiveness, I can overlook shortcomings in large palettes, which I use mainly at home, but quads/quints really should be a one & done.

I love a good variety of different colors in a palette. It’s easier than just carrying a bag of tiny eyeshadows, especially when you aren’t home. It has to have my standard colors of purple, pinks, greens, eggshells, a few browns. As far as matte or not, to me it doesn’t make a difference. But it has to have a good staying power, for those super long days of double shifts. 🙂

I look to be able to create a full look. Transition shades, crease shades, and lid shades. The complete package.

Versatile shades( both mattes and shimmers), shades complementing each other so as to complete an eye look; finely milled, soft, not dusty, no/ minimal fall out, good pigmentation, solid packaging, mirror; and a dual ended brush having a good quality shader brush and a blending brush on each end. I personally love quads which i can carry in my bag for touchups. And ofcourse; good longevity and non crease character is a must.

I really love when it’s not that hard to get the color to show up on my eyelid. I also prefer it not flake off the brush onto my cheekbones as I am applying, but I have learned to work around that by doing eyeshadow before foundation. Also, a compact that isn’t super hard to open, but that does close. I hate having to chip my nail polish to open a makeup product. I am open to almost any color combo, at least once. My current faves are the UD Naked Basics and the NYX ombre palette in Brights – some really pretty green, yellow, and orange shades in there.

Variety of colors and finishes with mostly neutral to cool shades for the deeper shades. Lighter warmed toned shades are ok.

First thing I look for in an eyeshadow palette is if I’ll use all, or at least the majority of the shades. If I won’t, I’ll take what I liked as inspiration and look elsewhere or make my own custom palette. I like shimmery finishes but don’t mind matte, and need matte for transition shades so it’s fine if there’s a mix of finishes. Next is price, then packaging. I do love gorgeous packaging but if the shades are ones I just wouldn’t use (like Urban Decay Vice, for instance), it doesn’t matter how lovely the packaging is.

i saw a post on reddit talking about the trend too faced created about palettes having a certain smell and im all about an eyeshadow palette with red, white, browns (both warm and cool toned) that smells like red velvet cake

We try to approve comments within 24 hours (and reply to them within 72 hours) but can sometimes get behind and appreciate your patience! 🙂 If you have general feedback, product review requests, off-topic questions, or need technical support, please contact us directly. Thank you for your patience!