What’s a better value to you: palettes or singles? Why?

Don’t get me wrong, I love singles, and I think if I was just a consumer, I’d get equal value out of palettes and singles because I enjoy mixing and matching a lot… but when I have that rare moment where I’m picking and choosing what to wear from ALL THE THINGS (not just what needs to be tested), I find I reach for palettes a majority of the time because they’re faster, easier, and still very enjoyable to use.

— Christine


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Celesta Avatar

I usually prefer palettes. They are much quicker to grab and I like that they’ve been specifically picked to go with each other, so there’s less room for your eyeshadow to become a disaster. I do have a small collection of singles that I love, but it took me a long time to curate them all. If I find a single that is unique I still buy it if I can think of different palettes that it would compliment.

Seraphine Avatar

Definitely palettes! I have a bunch of singles (mostly MAC, plus a few UD and Colourpop), but I reach for palettes 98% of the time because a good, cohesive palette can create several looks. And they’re great for travel. I’ve thought about turning my MAC singles into a palette, which would be convenient and I’d get a lot more use out of them, but they don’t pop out of their containers easily, like UD singles (which I did put into a palette). I asked a MAC store associate about it and he said he didn’t know how to depot them. So I didn’t pursue it any further.

Helene Avatar

There are depotting videos on you tube for MAC. I have depotted mine. If I’m not mistaken the singles container is in two parts, an outer and an inner. You take the inner one from the outer, not so easy to do, I don’t remember exactly how I did it. Then I used a candle to heat the bottom of the inner plastic container to loosen the glue and then you can remove the eye shadow in the metallic pan.
I don’t think I explained this very well, but it was a long time since I did this. When you do depot, take an eye shadow you don’t like too much, for practice.

Anne Avatar

Whether one prefers palettes or singles, I think at least two great matte powder singles are handy, if not essential, for anyone: A transition shade that is 2 shades darker than the skin tone and a flattering highlighting shade. With those two, you can supplement with almost almost anything, excepting an all-creams look. I find this to be particularly true for those of us who have pink undertones because most on the market are far too warm, and its impractical for us to expect a pre-made palette to include them.

satsumacaravan Avatar

Yep, I agree 100%. You almost have to ‘think in singles’ when you’ve got pink and blue undertones. I only have 1 palette that’s been curated by the manufacturer (naked 3, which has a few warm peach shades that are barely used). All my other shadows are singles, with most of them assembled into palettes curated by myself. I’ve got a sea of dark cool greys, cool mauves, cool dusty pinks, grey-browns, purple-blacks, platinums, some blue-greys, and an assortment of whites tinged with cool tones for highlighting. Despite the pinkness of these shadows, I routinely do a smoked-out look that most people think has no pink in it. But I couldn’t pull that off with oranges, yellows, lime greens, warm powder blues, warm reds, or even neutral beiges.

Anne Avatar

I, too, have only one pre-made palette. Singles have been the way to go for me as well. Your collection sounds very pretty and a lot like mine.
If anyone reading this is fair with pink undertones, wears mauves, and has difficulty finding an all-cool color palette, I highly recommend the DoC Marvelous Mauves palette. All mattes, great quality and very travel friendly. It’s at Ulta and is usually sold out. The on-line reviews for it are through the roof.

Mariella Avatar

It really depends on the palette. Some are not really good value at all (so I don’t buy ’em); others aren’t great value but still they appeal to me so I buy them in spite of their limited usefulness; others are amazing value and well-co-ordinated so that I don’t have to reach for any other shadows. Ounce for ounce, palettes do offer the best value, especially those where I will use every shadow, like Naked 1 and 2, but in some ways, I prefer singles that are sold “palette-ready” so there isn’t excess packaging and they are easier to put into something like a Z palette or an empty mid-sized MAC palette and to move around depending on my mood or if I’m travelling.

rachel c Avatar

Monetarily ($/oz) I do think palettes usually come out on top, but I personally prefer and buy far more singles. I’m more of a one-and-done kind of gal so I’d rather plump for a unique single than spend the same or more on a palette that I’m just going to want to depot (I hate when they come in bulky packaging) and still only use two shades from. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not that I’ll never buy a palette or quint or quad – I do own those things. It’s just that from a usage standpoint I tend to use one or two shades at a time, and thus tend to shop in a likewise manner. I’m in awe of people that can take a palette of ten shades and make an amazing look using seven of them at a time. My skills do not extend that far! 😛

Karine Avatar

Singles. Cause I much prefert to picke the colours I want/need and not pay for a lot of colour I dislike or have dupes for. All my singles are deported (or bought “pan only”).

Deirdre Saoirse Moen Avatar

That’s really hard because of my preferences. I like unique colors, and colors that aren’t (or weren’t until recently) available in palettes. I value colors and finishes I love, so I’d have to say singles, with the qualification that most of my look comes from palettes. But that extra zing? That’s a single almost always.

My current favorite single (for at least two more days, lol) is Devinah’s Menelaus.

Alecto Avatar

Your answer sounds like it came straight from my head. My stash is *mostly* singles from indie companies — I couldn’t imagine makeup life without them; however … I almost always start with a palette when I do multi-color eye looks.

Nancy T Avatar

Palettes, hands down! There’s just no contest, really. As long as the palette is cohesive and well coordinated, I can get just about every shade I need for a look out of it. In fact, many looks. Singles tend to get a bit less thought about, which is a serious shame considering that they do cost more per ounce, and that they are much more likely to have been a special well planned for purchase.

Ana Maria Avatar

Singles, as I can only select shades I like, use and that actually look good on me.
Also, it’s easier to replace shades I finish faster (but mostly shades that expire 😆 ).
For my lifestyle and make-up style having a custom made 15 shadows MAC palette has worked best, and sometimes I use `back to MAC` to get free eyeshadows refills!

Nell Avatar

I have a two pan customizable palette from MAC, in which I have a transition shade and a brow highlight shade. Those are the most difficult to find in all my palettes. So that little palette comes out very time I do my makeup.

Kerri Avatar

I do basically the same thing but use the small makeup forever pan that holds a few more. With that, I can supplement any palette that is missing a basic shade I need.

Kitty Avatar

I’d have to say a DIY palette of singles — is that an “all of the above answer?”

I recently made a palette of SG single mattes that I use to help make my deep set eyes less noticeable; it has 5 separate shades: 1 for above the transition, 1 for the transition, 1 for the crease, and then 2 (either can be used, or none) for the outer V and deep crease. I also have a couple different single shadows that I can use for the inner corner and underneath the brow, in case an off-the-shelf palette I’m using doesn’t have a good color for that. (I should depot those two, but I just keep them as is.) This SG palette/inner-corner single combination is what I use for any other standalone single shadows I have (which are used on most of my lid), but can also fill in for any off-the-shelf palettes that are missing these essentials or have the wrong shades for those purposes.

Rachel R. Avatar

For me, it’s palettes. I’m lucky in that I like to wear almost all colors, and with my skin being so pale and neutral, I can pull them off. Cost per shadow, palettes are usually cheaper, and it’s easier and faster for me to reach for a palette instead of sorting through a bunch of singles. I’m not adverse to using a couple palettes together, though.

Phoebe Avatar

I rarely buy palettes and when I do, even if I like them, they end up collecting dust. Singles are so much better for me, I like to mix and match and I like to get specific colours that I will wear lots like cool neutrals and smoky colours, or ones I want to experiment with. Most palettes are, for me, only half usable and when I do use them I find I only need 1 colour out of it. I’ve even bought singles of eyeshadows (only my absolute favourites mind) I already have in palettes to avoid digging them out.

Jackie Avatar

I think in some cases, it depends on the brand. I like MAC singles better than their palettes. For some reason, the singles are better quality and last longer on the eye. Also, if I’m in a hurry I’ll just grab a single for a quick wash of color. But for the most part, I think palettes are easier for me to decide what look I want to create that day.

Shawne Avatar

I always reach for palettes over singles! I don’t have to think about what colors go good together, it’s just super convenient and ultimately less expensive than singles, which can get pretty pricey by themselves but the. You add in the cost of the magnetic palette to put them in and it turns into quite an investment. I can see the argument for both, but for me at this point in time I’m preferring palettes.

Genevieve Avatar

I have always been pretty much of a palette/quad/quint lover, but with all the beautiful colours in singles coming out from Sydney Grace, City Color and Coloured Raine etc at such a reasonable price, it has made me re-think about palettes. Most of the palettes out from the past few years (since Mod Ren) have been unsuitable for me, so purchasing the singles has made more sense in that I am getting the actual shades that I will use a lot of.

Jane Avatar

And when I said rare, you’ve hit it on the head with the exceptions (for me) and why I may change my habits should I find more time and be patient to receive the MUFE empty palettes and then the singles from wherever.

Alecto Avatar

I don’t think I can answer this question properly — I find singles indipensible for completing looks or for rounding out my stash with unusual colors and finishes, but I love the creativity kick I get from looking at groups of colors in a palette. One is peanut butter, and the other is chocolate.

Alison Avatar

It’s only this past year when green came back, but it took a while for the brands to create palettes, or they created palettes (I’m thinking Gemini here) where half the shades were not wearable for me, that I began to collect singles of the greens I wanted. So now I have separate Z-palettes of singles — for the greens and golds, the mauves and purples, and the cool beiges and wines. I still use some of my favorite palettes for sure. But I don’t have to angst when brands do palettes with warm neutrals and just a pop of the colors I would like. Or if a palette comes along and I’m drawn to its colors, I can quickly compare with the Z palette– do I have that shade already? It’s also helpful in keeping to a low buy because I am less inclined to buy a whole palette for two to three colors. I think this is a great strategy for people who don’t wear most of the warm tones.

Ariel Riley Avatar

Singles. At the most, I’ll put 3 shades on a lid. Usually just 2 and many times 1. I LOVE the looks everyone does with multiple shadows but I’m too ADHD to do them! It took me many years and many palettes to realize this, lol

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