Maybe I’m being too loose with the term “palette” since most of my favourites are just quads – but I suppose they fall under the umbrella of palettes? To me, a palette is anything more than a duo – so trios, quads, and quints all qualify. What I’m trying to say is that I do not like large scale pre-made palettes. I know that within a palette, I will always end up with at least one dud, and the more shades within a palette, the higher the odds are that I will end up with many duds (so no, I do not own any of the Urban Decay Naked palettes!)
My criteria for a good palette is one that I like most, if not all, of the shades, and one that I can create a nearly complete eye look from. They’re great for travelling and those days when I just want a one stop shop for my eye shadow look. Here are my favourite pre-made eye shadow palettes.
MAC Bare My Soul: Eye Shadow X4 (Romantico, Bare My Soul, Friendly, When In Rio) – $52
I’m m sorry to start off with a limited edition palette but this one is SO good that I just had to include it. Normally, I don’t go for pre-made MAC palettes – I own just 3 of them – sometimes the quality are not always as good as their singles. Besides, MAC sells pan form of their eye shadows and empty palettes, it’s a no-brainer to build my own. But, this one launched in the Temperature Rising collection in summer of 2013 and was just special enough for me to pay attention. It has all shimmery shades but they are each high quality and this palette alone would almost complete an eye look. I would maybe need a matte transition shade for blending but that’s not a big deal.
My favourite shades in this palette are Romantico and Friendly. The green in When In Rio doesn’t actually doesn’t apply all that green – it’s a duochrome with a strong dark brown base.
Illamasqua Neutral Palette (Stealth, Vintage, Wolf, Obsidian) – $45 (was purchased at The Bay but the brand is no longer available in North America – online only)
Trust me to purchase literally the most tame palette that Illamasqua has ever released. But it’s a fantastic basic – 3 matte shades (off-white, brown and a black = the Trifecta) and a stunning antique gold shimmery shade makes this a one palette wonder.
I often just wear Vintage on its own all over the lid, and then use Stealth as a brow bone highlight and call it a day. I remember the makeup artists at the Illamasqua counter would rave about Obsidian as being the blackest black, but I find it slightly grey, and quite a dry formula. Wolf makes a great liner for a smudgy look.
Lancome Color Design Eye Brightening All-In-One Five Shadow & Liner Palette Taupe Craze 001 – $57 (department stores)
This was a gift from a friend and it was instant love! The shades are all very wearable and as a stand alone palette, this one has it all (sorry there are no individual shade names in this palette but there are placement guidelines): 1 all-over base (I use this as my brow bone highlight), 2 lid (my favourite shade of this palette – so glad they made it the biggest pan), 3 crease (or transition shade which is matte), 4 highlight (this is way too shimmery for brow bone highlight, I like this for inner corner), 5 liner (or for the crease).
The quality of these eye shadows are very buttery – the only downside is that the shimmers tend to have some fall-out. I do wish they have made the crease shade larger and less of the “highlight” which is a bit sheer.
Estee Lauder Pure Color 5 Colour Eyeshadow Palette 08 Bronze Dunes $50 (I believe EL has discontinued these palettes! The new “Sculpting” 5 pans are probably worth a look, the closest colours are “Rebel Metal” and “Defiant Nude”)
The warmness of this palette put me off at first, but I learned to make it work by lightly dusting the matte brown shade on my lid and then blending the warm coppery shade on top, concentrating it in the inner corner.
The mattes in this palette are fantastic. The formula of these shadows are a little more on the dry side, but the wear time of these shadows are the longest out of all of the palettes featured in this post. I bring this palette on work trips when I know that I will have long days. The only annoying thing about this palette is how difficult it is to open!
Elizabeth Arden Color Intrigue Eyeshadow Quad Sueded Browns – $15 (Winners – I’m not sure if these are still available at counters but they’re on EA’s site)
Best $15 spent. This palette is pigmented and versatile. And compact size is, well, very compact. The top 2 shades are satins without any visible shimmer, and the bottom 2 shades have a very refined shimmer to them.
The eye shadow quality is absolutely amazing – very blendable and long wearing. I’m going to make a bold statement: I think this is my top pick out of the palettes shown in this post. I was so pleased with this find at Winners that I trekked all over town in hopes that other locations would stock more colours – my perseverance paid off: I also scored the Neutral Cashmeres and Velvet Plumtones. They’re all fantastic but Sueded Browns is my favourite for a go to single palette look.
Those are my favourite pre-made eye shadow palettes – let me know what yours are!