Finding the right makeup palette that suits your style and needs can seem daunting with so many options on the market. The right palette has the shades you’ll reach for daily and pops of color to create fun looks. Follow these 10 tips to discover your perfect palette match:

Take Inventory of Your Current Makeup Collection

Before purchasing a new palette, evaluate what you already own. Look at the eyeshadows you use regularly and shades you rarely or never touch. Note finishes and formulas you love and ones that don’t work for you. Consider if you need more mattes, shimmers, colorful or neutral shades. Taking inventory helps determine what you’re missing so you can find a palette to fill the gaps.

When sorting your current collection, swatch eyeshadows side by side on your arm to see how similar some shades are. You may uncover dupes you didn’t realize you had. If you have a lot of shades that are almost identical, you likely don’t need those colors duplicated in a new palette.

Determine Your Go-To Makeup Look

Analyze what makeup looks you do most regularly. Are you typically a neutral eyeshadow lover? Do you stick to soft browns and taupes for an everyday go-to eye? Or do you prefer using pops of color on your eyes for fun looks? Even if you like to switch it up often, there’s likely a style you default to most days.

Once you know your makeup preferences, you can find a palette that has the shades and finishes you’ll actually use. Don’t get sucked into buying a palette for colors you rarely wear just because it looks pretty. Choose functional over flashy.

Consider Color Story and Layout

Study the color story of a palette – how the shades complement each other and create cohesive looks. The layout of the shadows is also key. Palettes arranged by color family or shade (light to dark) are easier to work with. You want a logical layout you understand intuitively for foolproof eyeshadow application.

Look for a color story and layout suited for your skill level too. If you’re new to eyeshadow, seek palettes with wearable neutrals that allow simple, gorgeous day-to-night looks. More advanced makeup lovers can go for palettes with brilliant shimmers and bold brights to get creative.

Seek High Performing Formulas

Eyeshadow performance varies greatly between brands and even within a brand’s lineup. Test out formulas before purchasing a palette if you can. Check reviews to learn about the formula too. Key factors that determine performance:

Pigmentation – How well the eyeshadows deposit color, especially with mattes. Richly pigmented shades appear true-to-pan.

Blendability – How smoothly and seamlessly shadows mix together. Easy to blend formulas create unified looks.

Staying Power – How long eyeshadows last on lids without fading or creasing. Long wear is a must for longevity.

High quality formulas apply like a dream while poor ones can be chalky and difficult to use. Invest in palettes known for impressive performance. You want shades you can blend beautifully.

Match to Your Eye Color

While you don’t have to stick to prescribed eye color rules, palettes with shades that make your eye color pop are always flattering. Consider:

Brown Eyes – Earth tones like bronze, taupe, khaki and terracotta make brown eyes shine. Purple shades also complement brown beautifully.

Blue Eyes – Warm copper, gold and peach shades look striking against blue. Plums and navy blues boost eye color too.

Green Eyes – Rich jewel tones like emerald, sapphire and amethyst flatter green eyes most. Neutral bronze and champagne shades also amplify green.

Hazel Eyes – Lavender, soft pink and mauve tones bring out the many flecks and colors in hazel eyes. Metallic champagne and bronze shades also enhance hazel.

Of course color preferences are personal. Use suggested shades as a starting point to help narrow your options. Test colors to see which you think make your eye color sparkle.

Try Before You Buy

The best way to gauge if a palette works for you is trying it in person. Swatch the formulas, create a mini eye look and assess wear over several hours if possible. Visit stores like Sephora and Ulta which allow testers. You can better judge color payoff, blendability, pigmentation and wear time.

If in-person shopping isn’t feasible, order palettes from brands with lenient return policies. Many companies allow returns of gently used makeup. Test the palette you purchase at home to determine if it’s a winner or destined for return. Don’t forget to sanitize any testers thoroughly before use.

Read Product Reviews

Product reviews offer valuable insight into a palette’s quality which visuals alone can’t provide. Read reviews on brand websites, Sephora, Ulta, makeup forums and beauty blogs. Look for real user photos showcasing eye looks too. Get a consensus of the formula, wear time, ease of use and overall satisfaction.

Seek out reviews of all shades in a palette as well. Often certain shades have issues that aren’t reflected in the overall rating. Some colors swatch poorly or apply unevenly though the palette as a whole gets rave reviews. Read detailed reviews weighing pros and cons to make an informed purchase.

Comparison Shop and Look for Deals

Shop around before purchasing a palette. Comparing prices between beauty retailers can yield significant savings, especially during sales. Sign up for brand emails and retailer loyalty programs to get alerts on discounts and promo codes.

Check beauty retailers like Nordstrom Rack, TJ Maxx and Marshalls for steep markdowns on makeup. You can often find prestige palettes for drugstore prices if you’re willing to hunt. These stores frequently offer discontinued or limited edition palettes for under retail value.

Think Versatile and Fills a Void

Choose a versatile palette fitting for day and night looks on a variety of occasions. It should include shades you see yourself using often and fills a gap in your current lineup. Having dupes of colors won’t add much value. Nor will a palette of shades you won’t realistically wear.

Before buying, envision the looks you can create and if it fulfills your needs. A versatile palette free of excess doubles in your collection is a sound investment you’ll love for years. Curate your makeup collection wisely.

Start Small if New to Eyeshadow

If you’re fresh to using eyeshadow, don’t buy an oversized palette right away. Large palettes often have similar shades and bright pops of color that are intimidating for beginners. Instead, try a petite palette or a few single pans from the drugstore to hone technique.

Small palettes from affordable brands like ELF Bite Size Eyeshadow, Wet n Wild and Colourpop allow you to practice applying, blending and layering shadow at low cost. Play with different formulas and finishes to determine preferences before purchasing higher end palettes.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I choose the right eyeshadow palette for my skin tone?

Consider palettes with colors that complement your skin’s undertones. Warm undertones look great with bronzes, golds, peach and terra cotta shades. Cool undertones pair well with plums, mauves, silvers and greys. Neutral and olive complexions suit both warm and cool shades.

What are the best eyeshadow palettes for beginners?

Great starter palettes have easy to blend neutral mattes and shimmers. Good beginner palette brands include Tarte, Urban Decay Naked Basics and Too Faced Born This Way. Affordable options are ELF Bite Size palettes and Colourpop 9-pans.

How do I choose between drugstore vs. high-end palettes?

High-end palettes typically have superior pigmentation and lasting power but cost more. Drugstore palettes offer good color payoff at a fraction of the price but may crease faster. Try affordable options first while learning technique before splurging on premium brands.

Should I get a bold or neutral palette?

Choose palettes that fit your comfort zone and typical look. Those new to color or who prefer subtle daytime looks tend to reach for neutral palettes most. If you love wearing bold, vivid shades, buy palettes with bright pops.

How do I depot eyeshadows from palettes I don’t use?

Use a flat iron or makeup spatula heated over a candle to heat and loosen the eyeshadow base, then pop out the pan. Place shadows in a magnetic palette for customization. Depotting allows creating a personalized palette of your favorite shades.


Finding the perfect eyeshadow palette takes some strategy but is worth the effort. Determine your needs, preferred colors, formulas and looks to create before purchasing. Test potential palettes in person when possible and read reviews. Seek versatile palettes to take your beauty look to the next level. With so many options, you can discover a palette that’s your ideal color match.