What is the perfect number of shades in an eyeshadow palette? Why?

Anything between 9 and 15 works well for me. I think 9 is great for more complementary palettes, but if I’m looking for something more cohesive, it’s usually 12-15 that gets there for me (while still offering a good variety in depth and finish).

— Christine
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24 Comments

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I think nine shades is perfect. Big enough for some variety, but small enough that you have to be very selective about shades to avoid dupes within the palette.

I agree, 9 or 15 is a great number! I do like the variety of having a few palettes with 4, but for trips, the larger sizes palettes give a lot more variety to serve up a variety of looks.

I prefer between 6 and 9 shades in a palette. I don’t use most of the shades from the larger palettes I own, so they go to waste. My most-used palettes include ColourPop 9-pans, Smashbox Cover Shot, Marc Jacobs Eye-Conic, etc.

I agree that 6-9 pans is ideal, as long as they are cohesive and work well together. When you start getting into 12 or more pans, at least a fourth of them wind up being variations on a beige, taupe or tan that I already own.

Though large palettes can sometimes be fun, especially if the color story is well thought out and all the shades coordinate well with each other, I honestly prefer smaller palettes for everyday. I can do a decent look with 4 shades but 6 is my sweet spot.

Personally, I love either quads and quints for ease of use and transport. I also love the 9 pan design that Huda, ColourPop and ABH use for that purpose, too. For larger palettes, 15 shades or less. Beyond 15 pans it begins to become overwhelming and too much “noise” for me.

Oh, that’s a toughie. I’d say anywhere from 5 to 8 or 12 shadows but sometimes, depending on the design of the packaging, 5 shadows can take up as much room as 10 shadows in a palette with better design. I love eyeshadow so a part of me tends to think (the more, the better) but then I will compare a lovely small quad (Chanel’s Empreinte du Desert) with a large one with bulky packaging (UD Game of Thrones) and the small one wins out every time but this isn’t always the case (the Naked Palettes and the LORAC Pro 2 are stellar examples of larger ones where every shade is a winner for me)

I don’t think there is one. That really depends on how I want to use the palette, how well the brand has selected the color and finish range, etc. Also, sometimes I buy an all -brights, -mattes, or -shimmers palette with no intention of using it as a stand-alone, so number of shades doesn’t matter. I will say mega-palettes with more than 25-30 shades start getting unwieldy and redundant, so I pass on those.

If I want something with smaller pans to keep in my purse for quick looks on the go, then 4-9 pans are best. I need a matte or satin crease shade or two, a brow bone highlight, a lid color or two, and a darker shade. But I don’t want it to take up too much room.

For travel, I’d say 9-20. I know that’s a big range, but so much depends on how the palette is set up, the length of the trip, and space constraints. I like to be able to get several different looks from a palette, and have a variety of shades and finishes. I need shades light enough for me to use in my crease and as a brow bone highlight. I need 1-2 darker defining shades that aren’t black. I like to have a good mix of mattes and shimmers, and preferably some good sparkly, duochrome, and metallic shades thrown in.

At home, it makes no difference. I can handle any size, and I don’t mind augmenting with other palette or singles. Again, I avoid huge mega-palettes, as they’re unwieldy, hard to store, and dupe their own shades too often.

I completely agree with 9-15 with my preference falling a little closer to 9 pans. I realize that in producing palettes you are trying to give enough options for the palette to be appealing to a lot of skin tones so I know that higher numbers of shades fits the bill but in a perfect world all palettes would be geared towards me and that would work with fewer shades.

I get overwhelmed with to many choices. I am now more or less into the formula. I love the Pat McGrath eye shadows.. I like them in a 4-6 pan palette. I love the larger ones but I feel I don’t get as much use out of them. I also love my Natasha Denona Gold, Biba and Sunset but the colors play well together and I am able to use almost any color combination to create lovely looks. When I get a 4 pan.. I feel like I can handle it and pull of an intended look.

Personally I find anywhere between 5 – 12 to be a perfect size for me, with an 8 pan of the right kind of shades to be ideal. As long as it doesn’t contain a black or white shade, it will add enough variety for me to complete a look with the one palette, which is what I prefer.
Overly large palettes are too difficult to store and often contain shades that you just don’t use. I have also noticed that brands often duplicate shades in the larger palettes too. It is much harder to find a consistent standard of quality across a larger palette as well.
I would much prefer a smaller palette of excellent quality than a larger one full of inconsistent duds.

4-6 is more than enough. I believe eyeshadow and, makeup in general, should be simple. Some occasions may call for a bolder or dressed up look but when one knows their best colors, it doesn’t have to be overdone or overly dramatic. The overly done colors can look juvenile and not age inappropriate on women over 30 and up. Just my opinion.

Lately I’ve been enjoying my Suqqu and TFord quads. I get nice natural looks with minimal effort.
I like the MJ and Kaleidos 7-pans and Viseart and PMG 6-pans in theory but don’t use them so much for some reason. Then the PMG 10-pan and Viseart 12-pans and ND 15-pans get a bit more use.

So basically I like a quad unless I’m in more creative mood and then I like substantially larger 10-15 pans or the occasional PMG 6-pan.

Sadly my ND 28s and viseart 30s barely get any love – they’re too overwhelming, I think.

Honestly, I’m more likely to reach for a PMG six-pan or a tidy little quad versus something massive like the older Urban Decay palettes — but I also have hooded eyes and limited lid space, so I’m unlikely to use more than three shades (max — and usually just one or two!) at a given time, which renders huge palettes more cumbersome than useful.

I definitely think I’m a select few that think this but I HATE quads! I don’t know why I just prefer palettes with at least 9 shadows but I definitely love my 18 Pan JSC palettes the most.

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