What makes an eyeshadow palette versatile to you?

I like palettes with a theme – and I actually find that the ones I use the most may be something like all jewel-tones, even though I’ll have to use another set of shades for mattes or more contrast. I like some variety in finish, e.g. not all mattes or not all metallics and enough difference in color or depth so nothing gets muddied easily.

— Christine


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Nancy T Avatar

Cohesiveness is super important to me. That all the shades somehow work together, but without them being too monotone. No, instead I do want to see distinct contrasts in finish most of the time, and shades always. With Chanel Empriente du Desert for example, the finish is the same, but the tones differ enough to get a look that has plenty of dimension and definition. Same goes for Lorac Unzipped, KVD Metal Matte and ABH MR palettes. And this is also what I love about UD Vice 3, as well.

Erica Avatar

I’m not the biggest palette person but I won’t buy one unless it can be used by itself and doesn’t require other shadows or palette to make it work. What makes one perfect…a mix of colors and a mix of finishes that can create many looks. I have not purchased many palettes bc it lacks transition shades or there are far too many colors I would not use. For ex. it was 3 or 4 out of 15 shadows that are purple. Uggh no thanks! I love the Modern Renaissance palette. First those two red/burgundy shades caught my eye. Then it has a mix of mattes and shimmers. Such a pretty and versatile palette.

MissJae1908 Avatar

I totally agree! The Modern Renaissance Palette is amazing. I haven’t felt this strongly about a palette in a long time. I almost feel like I need a backup.

Tracey E. Avatar

For me, an eyeshadow palette is most versatile when it has good pigmentation and contains shades that compliment one another without the need to go outside the palette for another shade or a different finish. If the palette has a variety of finishes (matte, satin, metallic, shimmerwash, etc.), It is versatile if the brand does those well. I will not buy a palette that has excessive number of shimmerwash eyeshadows (known for their fallout)0 or contains shades that lack in pigmentation.

Roxi Avatar

If a palette is designed with the consciousness that not everyone is porcelain white, then I can almost always say the result would be versatile for any individuals too. So generally, a few different shades of earthy mattes (most people can get their different transition and crease shades then), a few different shades of shimmery lid colors (instead of only very light shimmers), and not too many creams or (pale) highlights to waste space.

CeeBee Avatar

Tones and finishes that work well with each other, especially if they’re little bit unusual or not just however many pans that are all variations of the same shade. I also like a mix of cool and warm colours that can be blended as desired and some true neutrals for balance. A theme can be great, as long as it’s cohesive and meaningful and shades aren’t just being chucked in to take up space.

Zoeva Rose Gold and Morphe 35F are probably my most versatile palettes 🙂

Rachel R. Avatar

Sorry, I probably way overthought this… I am a eyeshadow palette addict, so please forgive me.

One way is variety: If it has mix of neutrals and colors; a mix of light, medium, and dark shades; and a mix of finishes. I like for the shadows to all work together cohesively, and I need to be able to get several different looks out of the palette without having to pull in any other shadows. Some examples for me are Too Faced Chocolate Bar, Semi-Sweet, and Bon Bons; KVD Metal Matte; ABH Modern Renaissance and Self-Made; Urban Decay x Gwen Stefani. (Extra points if the palette is travel-friendly.)

I also consider an eyeshadow palette versatile if I can use it on my face as well as my eyes. For example, UD Naked Basics is really versatile for me. Even though there are only 6 shadows and they are all neutrals, I can do a lot with them. Besides a half dozen different eye looks, I can use Venus as a face highlighter, Naked2 as face contour, and Faint as brow powder. Crave when wet makes a great eyeliner. If I take Naked Basics, a blush, a mascara, and a powder foundation on a trip, I’m set.

The third way is if it works well with a lot of my other palettes::

* I don’t really care for UD Naked 2 Basics or Ultimate Basics when used by themselves. However, I still consider them really versatile, because they are perfect for using with ALL of my brights palettes and loose indie shadows. I do love UD x Gwen Stefani and Naked Basics (original) on their own, but they are also fabulous for augmenting the rest of my collection.

*I don’t use UD Moondust Palette alone, but it’s really versatile for me because it seems to work with anything else I use. I think this is due to the variety of colors and the ways they can be worn: Pressed over a sticky base for a super-sparkly lid, layered over each other for complexity, patted lightly with a fingertip to top other shadows, or as eyeliner. I find myself using this palette all the time.

previouslypc Avatar

I had to reply because I had exactly the same thought as you! I consider my matte palettes with shades that can be used for multiple purposes to be my most versatile. My go-to in this category is the Saucebox Etude palette (I can basically do my whole face with this, including–with a light hand–blush!), although I’ve been using my theBalm Meet Matte Trimony palette for the past couple of weeks and fallen in love with the matte red and purple shades. I like that these kind of palettes can compliment most any single shades, because I also have lots of loose indie shadows. They can also be used to create something new with my most-used palettes. These are my real work-horse palettes, and so, for me, the most versatile.

Bonnie Avatar

Naked Basics really is everything. Small enough to throw in a bag and leave room for colors! But it’s perfect for adding depth or light to other looks. I like to use a really striking color from NYX or BH and then put that dark brown (sorry, I don’t know the names of the individual shades) in the crease above. Just showcases the color and my own deep green sparklers 🙂

Mariella Avatar

I like a range of colours and finishes. Something like the ABH Mario palette would have been perfect for me if it had included one or two lighter shades, along the lines of MAC Blanc Type and Phloof or Dazzlelight – a matte/satin shade and something a bit more shimmery. The Lorac Pro2 palette is a good example – all the sorts of neutral shades I rely on most, some mattes, some shimmers and a bit of colour thrown in. An all bright or all jewel toned palette (like the new Smashbox Cover Shot Bold assortment) would never work for me at all as I really rely on neutrals with just a hit or two of colour.

Debbie Avatar

Do the shades look like something that I will actually wear in real life? Can I make at least three or four looks from it at a glance? Is the formula good? Is there enough variety so that I will not get bored easily?

Ana Maria Avatar

For me only palettes you build on your own are versatile. I can just add my basic everyday shades, the exact shades that compliment my undertone, then maybe add 2-3 pops of color, play around with my ideal combination of mattes, satins and shimmers.

Stephanie Avatar

Not all light shades, not all dark shades, and enough color/finish variation to do anything from neutral to colorful to sparkly looks while remaining cohesive. Also, I prefer when a palette has at least one matte base shade, one matte transition shade, and one matte crease shade (and those of us with deep set and/or hooded eyes will understand why)…and something I can use as a browbone highlight (whether shimmery or matte). KVD Metal Matte is a perfect example of what I consider to be a versatile palette.

Of course, I’m not opposed to buying less versatile palettes if color is involved (UD Electric) or if I intend to use it mainly as a companion to other palettes (UD Moondust on the sparkly/colorful end, Naked/Naked 2 Basics on the neutral/workhorse shade end).

Eileen Avatar

I like a set of colors (4-6 is the sweet spot for me) that work well together without necessarily being monochromatic. And, I enjoy an occasional “wild card” color because it can transform a palette from pretty to stunning–so long as you know how to use it 🙂 I like a variety of finishes and prefer that the base/lid color be satiny. The ability to mix or layer the colors is paramount as I’m big on well-blended, smooth transitions and I love to personalize colors to suit my needs. I like a palette to have an overall theme/mood because it makes it easy to create a flattering and fashionable look without having to rummage around my stash looking for colors that will be “just right”. It saves a lot of time when there’s not a lot of time to spare.

Glenda Avatar

I strongly prefer mattes, but also like a bit of a satin finish (no shimmers if at all possible — I know). I do like a splash of color (a deep green or teal, purple).
No metallic colors just not for me.

LindaP Avatar

This is my first year buying pre-made palettes. I’ve owned a few quints and quads through the years (are those considered palettes?), but mostly I used singles, or made up my own MAC combos.

That said, after settling on Viseart as my go-to, I have zero problem having all four palettes of 12 shades each open at once. To me, it’s one big love fest of shades, finishes, and colors. Since Viseart comes in themes that do not mix finish texture in their larger size palettes (but do in the smaller Theory offering) you have to go consult multiple palettes to mix mattes and shimmers. They are so compact, it’s not a burden to work with them.

For me, I remain so pleased with the result every day that it’s like eyeshadow Xmas every morning to open them all up and decide what to do!

Wajiha Avatar

Even though I do reach for multiple palettes or singles for my looks, I like palettes I can get multiple full looks out of … basically if I’m in a hurry I can just throw that in my bag and know I’m covered for most eye shadow needs. I also like having unique colours or textures across palettes so every one of them should offer something different. That said, still guilty of buying things only because they looked pretty 😀

LaMaitresse Avatar

I agree with Christine, a balance of mattes, satins and metallics, or the finishes the brand uses for their palettes, and a sense of planning if you will with the colours so it’s fairly easy to create eye looks and I don’t have to have the skills of the late Kevyn Aucoin to create a nice eye in 15 minutes.

Helena Avatar

I feel like what makes a palette “versatile” for me is the opposite of what other people want: No redundant, basic shades! Unless it’s a strictly neutral workhorse palette (like KVD’s Shade & Light, which I love), no dupable black, white, or ivory for me. I don’t want a dozen versions of beige when a. I only need one that I like best and b. I’d rather have something unique/interesting taking up the palette space. Then, it works well with the rest of my palettes and singles.

Shelley Collins Avatar

Gee..I wish I had a utilitarian answer like most…but I’m just a sucker for looks and Prtty colours. So any palette that has those features I buy. So this collection of mine is kinda getting outta control ?

Genevieve Avatar

1. Shades that I will actually wear – cool toned taupes, vanilla, grey, greens, blues, olives, golds, dark browns. No pinks, purples, oranges, red, blacks etc.
2. Contrast between shades – in quite a few palettes I saw last year there was miminal difference between a few shades.
3. Like Christine stated – a variety of finishes: some shimmer, matte, satin – no glitter
4. Not a mega palette – these are too hard to store and often have shades I don’t use. So a 12 pan max is ideal.

ShariP Avatar

For me, if I like 3 shades, I’ll buy it, especially if it’s high end. Usually buying palettes is cheapest, so buying 3 shades by themselves would be more expensive than the palette. This explains why I have so much eyeshadow. Sometimes I’ll find that I love shades that I initially wasn’t interested in or I’ll like a combination of two or three mixed together to make my own unique shade. I don’t mind when I have to use a different palette to complete a look.

Laurie Avatar

I am invariably disappointed in palettes. The most luck I’ve ever had is with the Cargo Cool Neutral quad. I am actually on my second, although I believe it has been discontinued. Most palettes I admire from afar are too shimmery, too warm, or have an entire row or column devoted to lining shades. I’d rather have that line be shadows as I use a gel pencil. Even so, I bought so much makeup in 2016, including palettes … Christine, I blame you … that I’ve put myself on a ban for 2016.

Donna E. Avatar

I am also disappointed with most of the palettes offered. Most come with a mix of cool and warm tones. I can only use the cool ones so there goes half the palette. Because of my hooded lids the palette would need some mattes. I also like to pop a color on my lid. What I am doing now is using duochromes on my lids. I still haven’t found the perfect palette. Any suggestions would be welcomed.

Shannon. N Avatar

I need a pallet to have two matte crease shades, because i have severely hooded eyes, so I need something matte in the crease. I also need a matte cream shade on my brow bone/to set my eye primer.

I also like having a few metallic/shimmery lid/inner corner shades!! 🙂

If a pallet has these 3 things, it’s a versatile pallet for me!

MissJae1908 Avatar

1. I must have a transition shade for my skin tone. That’s non negotiable. I refuse to purchase palettes now-a-days that can’t give me a complete look. There’s too many awesome individual shadows where I can just make my own.

2. I have to be able to wear at least 90% for the palette. That means, I don’t want 5 ashy or matte white shades in a palette! It’s a waste of money when I can’t use those shades.

3. I love when a palette has a matte black, but I’ll except a deep plum or brown.

Madeline Avatar

My favorite palette right now is the Merry Macaroons Palette from Too Faced’s Holiday collection. I’ve heard a lot of crap about it but I’m here to tell you it’s fantastic. For $39 with a mini mascara, it’s a better deal than a lot of the palettes on the market, and if it’s not up to par with some higher end palettes, I didn’t notice. This palette is my go-to. The shades are neutral without being too basic, and it’s extremely versatile. Some of the shades lack pigmentation, but a primer and a good brush makes up for that. My main desire is for a palette to contain is decently pigmented, bendable eye shadows in wide, deep pans. Every eye look I create requires light base shades and deep crease shades, so variety in tone is big for me. I love metallic shades a lot, but mattes are just so versatile, a mix of both is the sweet spot for me. The thing that makes me buy a palette is cohesiveness and ease of use. If the colors are arranged in a way that makes sense and I can create at least four looks with it, that palette will most definitely catch my eye.

Bonnie Avatar

Quality, quality, quality. I will try almost any color/combos. I prefer them two (lid and crease) at a time, and often I am just lazy and pick two that lie next to each other in the palette. I can do one or many, but I favor the two shade look. I know that what I won’t reach for again, ever, is a palette that either doesn’t show up or the look doesn’t even make it to lunch. (I’m talking to you, Smashbox). During a work day, I usually go home for lunch, so I personally don’t mind having to do a quick touch-up, but there should be something there still. Right now I’ve been playing with BH Foil Eyes, which I got on a special deal from Ipsy.

And of course, Naked Basics is great on its own, or as a complement to anything, and it’s small enough to include everywhere you go.

Silvia Avatar

Bright colored or nudes but the palette needs to have everything included I don’t like to have to use two for an application. Good staying power, easy to blend, no chalky powder or too light that don’t even show as one I have by Almay. Beautiful colors!

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