Megapost: Custom Palette Systems

I’ve had this post brewing for months and finally dusted it off in light of the recent controversy with Z Palette. If you don’t know about it, read about it here, here, and here. Um yeah… total gong show. 😮  Z Palette is probably the most well-known of any major custom palette systems, so their social media misstep has certainly opened the door for other players to secure a larger share of the market. People are now looking for Z Palette alternatives – let’s have a look at what the options are:

I’ll be showing what I own and also list some that I know about but do not own.  All prices are shown in Canadian dollars unless otherwise noted.  Warning: long post and lots of photos! 😎

Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m not a big fan of large format pre-made palettes (any palette with more than 5 colours, I consider “large format”). I won’t go into too much ranting but, typically I end up liking less half of the shades included in a pre-made (ie. “you take what we give you!”) palette. I feel like it’s such a waste when I only end up using 2 or 3 shades in any given pre-made palette. Enter LIBERATION, in the form of custom palettes! 😀

I’ll break down this overview into 2 categories:
1) Free-form custom palettes
2) Brand specific customizable palettes

Free-form Custom Palettes

These are basically flat magnetized surfaces that you can put any brand, shape, configuration into (provided they fit, size-wise). Some are made of cardboard, some plastic, some are metal. Anything goes!

Z Palette – $7 (mini), $19 (small), $23 (medium), $27 (large), $34 (dome), $38 (extra large), $59 (double sided)

The most famous of them all. These are made of sturdy cardboard material in a variety of solid colours and prints, with a clear window lid.

This is the taller palette that allows for domed baked products to be housed in them. Each palette comes with flat metal disk stickers that allow non-magnetic pans to stick.

The Z Palette has a wide distribution including Sephora and Makeup Geek collaborations.  It is one of a few brands that only offer empty palettes, and no makeup to refill them with.

The full consequences from the IG fiasco remains to be seen, but I’ve read that Makeup Geek is planning to discontinue ties with Z Palette.

Pros: lightweight, readily available, can see what’s inside, comes with metal stickers
Cons: not as travel friendly, expensive for what they are, being an ass on social media

Etsy – $20 – $60 depending on size, style, and material

This cost me ~$20.

This one I have is from the seller anothersoul who was the first and only seller of handmade customizable palettes for ages. Now there are a few of them but I can only vouch for anothersoul’s Book Of Shadows – this palette is well-made and the magnet is strong. And how cute is this mushroom pattern?! 😀

At one point I considered trying my hand at making my own palettes but eh… more effort than it’s worth!
Pros: lightweight, lots of unique design options
Cons: not as travel friendly, can’t see what’s inside, quality will vary depending on individual seller

Inglot Freedom System Flexi Palette – $32

Inglot falls in the unique category where they offer both free-form and pre-form palettes.

The one I own is the predecessor to the Flexi version – I bought it online from Poland (where Inglot is based) so I’m not sure if it’s still available. I like that this version has a mirror and snaps shut like a regular palette.

This is the Flexi now.

Pros: very sturdy construction, very strong magnet
Cons: not readily available, only one size, expensive

Make Up For Ever Metal Palette – $12 (S), $13 (M), $14 (L), $16 (XL)

MUFE also offers both free-form and pre-form palettes. The free-form ones they offer are made of metal (like Altoid tins) and come in various sizes. I own the largest size which I use for blushes. MUFE does sell foam inserts for the palettes with cut-outs for round refill pans but I opted not to get one so I can fit any size or shape of pans.

Pros: sturdy construction, inexpensive, strong magnet, protective sheet
Cons: online only, can’t see what’s inside, large palette not travel friendly

UNII – $29 USD

This is probably the most hardcore, nearly bullet-proof palette I own. It’s made of thick durable plastic with a secure locking clasp closure. Just think of it as the OtterBox case for makeup. However, I suspected the company stopped making these as every online source is “out of stock”.

The little flower shaped plastic piece is to place your thumb to hold the palette while in use. 💡

Pros: very sturdy construction, strong magnet, large mirror, secure closure
Cons: expensive, only one size, bulky, can’t see what’s inside, may not be available anymore 😦

DIY – varies
I like re-imagining uses for various things and these are a couple of DYIs I made for my depotted shadows:

Version 1: I found these plastic palettes from Ardene’s (accessories store) for $1 each and proceeded to depot the crappy eye shadows out of them and replaced them with my own. I added a magnet strip onto the palette and pans placed all of my depotted Revlon Wet & Dry shadows in them.

Version 2: I got these metal hinged flat tins from Solutions (aka Container Store) and they’re perfect for storing depotted pans. All I needed to do was add magnets to the back of the pans.

It’s similar quality to the MUFE palette and cost me around $3 per tin.

A few other free-form palettes worth mentioning but I do not own:

Nars Pro Palette – $14 USD (small), $18 USD (large)

When it was announced in 2015 that Nars was releasing these customizable palette system, I was so excited! Imagine my deflated excitement when I learned that these aren’t available in Canada. :/

Tarte Tarteist PRO Custom Magnetic Palette – $22

This is made of cardboard like the Z Palette and holds 16 eye shadows which is quite a bit. I like that it has a mirror inside – I just wish it was offered in solid colour covers.

Morphe Empty Magnetic Palettes – $5 – $18 USD

Also made of cardboard and looks very similar to the Z Palette but without the clear window cover.

Makeup Geek Travel Vault Palette – $13 USD

I only recently learned about this and now I want it! It looks well-made and fits a fair amount in there. When I finally place my order for MUG stuff, I’ll be sure to grab this. [Edit: I got this! Check it out here]

Ittsē Customizable Magnetic Makeup Palette – $22 USD

These look well-made and feature leatherette covering in different colours – on the outside they look like classic novels!

And, there are lots of un-branded ones online through Amazon and eBay – quality and price varies.

Brand Specific “Pre-Form” Customizable Palettes

These palette have slots / casings to hold each pan securely. Under this category, there are 2 sub-categories: palettes that ONLY work with its own brand of refill pans, or ones that can “jail break” from the brand. 😛 I’ll indicate which brands fall under each.

MAC Pro Palette – $6 (2 pan), $10 (4 pan), $10 (medium or large or double sided), $1 – $4 (inserts)

Probably the earliest customizable palette system available to the masses. I own both the old and new Pro Palette styles.

Old style on the left, new on the right.

The old ones were much more compact but were more susceptible to breaking. The hinge on my 15 pan is broken. But the old palette had a hack – removing the insert allowed them to be used as a free-form palette. MAC wised up and changed their palettes to be sold without the insert, and allowed customers to buy whatever style of insert they want. For the medium and larger palettes, one can opt to leave out the insert altogether and it becomes a free-form palette. 🙂

MAC dropped their prices for both their refills and palettes significantly in 2016, making them one of the more affordable palette options available on the market currently.  A filled 4 pan eye shadow palette from MAC costs $42 ($8 x 4 + $10). See the 4 pan in action here when I reviewed 4 of my favourite MAC shadows.

Old 4 pan on the left, new 4 pan on the right.

One thing to note: MAC palettes themselves are not magnetized, they have a metal base – the refill pans they sell is what contain the magnets. This is opposite of most other custom palette systems. So in order to use non-MAC refills with MAC palettes, one has to adhere magnets to the refill pans.

L o R, top to bottom: Ben Nye, Rouge Bunny Rouge, E.L.F., Anastasia Beverly Hills, Coastal Scents

All of these brands’ eye shadow refills fit MAC palettes (26mm pans): Makeup Geek, Morphe, Ofra, old E.L.F. singles, Coastal Scents Hot Pots, NYX, Anastasia Beverly Hills, Rouge Bunny Rouge, Ittsē, Ben Nye, MUD, and the new ColourPop pressed.

L o R, top to bottom: Milani, Body Shop, NYX, Smashbox, Annabelle (these are slated to be depotted!)

These eye shadow singles can be depotted and put into MAC palettes: old Milani, old The Body Shop, Annabelle, Smashbox, and Lancome. And I’m sure many more – the 26mm is pretty much the standard pan size for most single shadows.

Pros: Readily available, inexpensive, sturdy construction, slim size, can see what’s inside, can be used with other 26mm pans
Cons: Need to add magnets to non-MAC refill pans

Inglot Freedom System – $7 (1 square w/ mirror), $8 (1 square), $9 (1 blush), $10 (3 squares or 1 XL square), $11 (4 square), $12 (5 squares), $18 (4 blushes or 10 squares), $28 (20 squares), $42 (40 squares)

Inglot took the makeup world by storm with their Freedom System. The pre-form palettes have permanent dividers in them so users are restricted to use Inglot-sized rectangular pans in them.

Inglot used to sell round pans ages ago but they were phased out.

What’s great about the system is that palettes of the same dimensions are stackable to create a cube of palettes. Relative to other refills, the Inglot prices are a bit higher at $12 for an eye shadow and $14 for a blush. So a 4 pan palette filled with 4 eye shadows would cost $61.

I’d say the magnet in Inglot palettes are the strongest that I’ve come across. And please, for the love of all things holy, do not use anything to dig the pans out of the palette. Use a strong magnet to remove them, or else you will ding your pan! 😮
Pros: very strong magnet, can see what’s inside, sturdy construction, stackable
Cons: only fits Inglot pans, difficult to remove pans, bulky thick plastic, not readily available

Make Up For Ever Artist Custom Palette – $1 (Mono, Duo, Trio)

These plastic palettes only fit MUFE’s Artist pans (both eye shadows and blushes) which are larger than the standard 26mm pans. I find the rounded bulbous shape of the palette a bit odd – they’re not stackable and they’re difficult to store.

The pans pop out through little holes in the back – I use a nail dotting tool for this task. I love that MUFE is basically giving the cases away – it’s $1 for any size empty palette.

However, the refill pans cost a whopping $25 each if purchased individually but Sephora offers discounts if buying filled Duo or Trio palettes ($41 and $52 respectively). See this palette in action here where I reviewed the eye shadows.
Pros: sturdy construction, strong magnet, can see what’s inside, compact case, inexpensive
Cons: odd shaped palette, only fits MUFE pans

Urban Decay Nirvana Build Your Own Palette – $13

Urban Decay is probably the leader in pre-made eye shadow palettes but did you know that they do offer a customizable option? It holds 4 eye shadows – all of UD’s eye shadow singles made after 2012 can be popped out of the individual casing and put into this palette.

UD eye shadow singles cost $22 so to create a filled custom palette would cost $103! 😮 I don’t see any discounts to be had to build a quad now, but when I bought this palette originally, it came with 1 free shadow as an intro offer.

I find the UD casing to be quite clunky. Look at how much bigger it is compared to the Anastasia palette, and they hold the same amount of product.

Pros: Eye-catching, mirror inside
Cons: Bulky and cumbersome system, can’t see what’s inside, only works with UD singles, expensive to fill

Anastasia Beverly Hills Refillable Eye Palette – $10

Fairly new player in the customizable palette game. A filled 4 eye shadow palette is a bit pricey at $56, and that’s only if you purchase 4 refill pans at the same time. Sold separately, it would cost $74 ($16 x 4 + $10). The refill pans are the same size as MAC’s.

MAC on the left, Anastasia Beverly Hills on the right.

The ABH empty palette is nearly identical to the MAC 4 pan and the same price – the key difference is that the palette itself is magnetized, not the refill pans, MAC is the reverse. I am testing my Anastasia palette right now and will do a review soon. 😉  [Edit: review is up, here]
Pros: Inexpensive, sturdy construction, slim size, can see what’s inside, easy to remove pans, strong magnets, can be used with other 26mm pans
Cons: Not as readily available, only one size

Shu Uemura Atelier Palettes – $9 (Mono), $11 (Duo), $17 (Quad), $29 (Octo)

The clear Lucite style on the right are the older version and the white ones on the left are the newer style.

Very compact and great for creating curated palettes – the palettes can fit either eye shadows or blushes. They did at one point offer a free-form palette but they revised their palettes a few years ago and it’s no longer available. There’s no magnet or adhesive to hold the pans in place – the pans sit in a tray which slides in, and is held securely by a groove in the palette.

I only own the Duo 2 pan palettes but they sell a larger pans including a new Octo palette which can hold 8 eye shadows or 4 blush pans. Refills cost $19 for an eye shadow and $22 for blush.
Pros: Sturdy construction, slim & compact size, can see what’s inside
Cons: Expensive, can only use with Shu Uemura pans

Note: Many Japanese brands offer customizable / refillable palettes (and that’s one of the reasons why I love Japanese cosmetics!) On my trip last year, I picked up Addiction, Majolica Majorca, and Esprique which are all custom palettes.

Surratt Beauty Artistique Custom Palette Case – $18 (Petite), $24 (Grande)

I reviewed this here. It’s not my favourite system due to its lack of locking mechanism for the pans – it’s not magnetized nor do they snap in – they will just fall out if you turn the palette upside down unless you apply an adhesive.

Mine is the Petite size and can fit 4 shadows, or 2 blushes, or 2 shadows and 1 blush. A filled Surratt Petite case would set you back ranging from $88 – $106 depending on which products you choose to fill it with.
Pros: Compact, includes mirror, pretty holographic shimmer cover
Cons: Not secure for refill pans, thinner plastic, expensive for the quality

Buxom Customizable Eyeshadow Bar Palette

I reviewed the “Look All You Want” version here. I couldn’t find the empty palette casing selling separately but a filled case which includes 6 shades costs $50 which is great value (Sephora claims $105 value and each refill costs $15 so the case would be worth $15).

Pros: Sturdy construction, mirror, good value
Cons: Can’t see what’s inside, bulky packaging, can only bit Buxom refills

Coastal Scents Custom Palettes – $3.95 (4 pan), $5.95 USD (12 pan clear lid or mirrored), $9.95 (28 pan clear or solid lid)

A great inexpensive option – I just wish it doesn’t have the Coastal Scents logo on the cover. 😛 These fit all of the 26mm pans mentioned under MAC. My rating below is pertaining to the 12 pan mirrored version which I own. Coastal Scents sells their own refills which are called Hot Pots – I own a few of them and they’re decent quality for the price: only $1.95 USD each.

The Coastal Scents case is quite similar to the Inglot free-form one I showed above, only larger.

Pros: Sturdy construction, large mirror, inexpensive
Cons: Can’t see what’s inside, weak magnets
Morphe also offers a pre-form custom palette, which holds 28 eye shadow pans. It’s made of plastic just like the Coastal Scents one – probably made at the same factory.

Anna Sui Makeup Palette – $17.60

The one on the left is the previous model to the new version on the right that was released in the Fall of 2016. I suppose you could say the new version is free-form, but I tried to fit some of my 26mm refill pans in it without much success. It’s much better to buy the Anna Sui pans to use with this palette, which can hold 6 pans (refill pans are ~$13 each).
Pros: Sturdy construction, mirror, compact, pretty design
Cons: Can’t see what’s inside, expensive

ArtDeco Beauty Box – $13 (Duo), $15 (Trio or Quattro), $19 (Quadrat), $26 (Magnum)

These can hold any of ArtDeco’s pan products including eye shadows, blushes, cream concealers, brow powder. If you haven’t seen ArtDeco refill pans in person, know that they’re TINY – small ones (eye products at 0.8g) cost $9 and large ones (cheek products at 5g) are $15.
Pros: Sturdy construction, mirror, very compact
Cons: Can’t see what’s inside, only fits ArtDeco pans

E.L.F. Elements Custom Compact – $1

This has been discontinued but I’ll mention it because I’m sure they are still available at discount stores and online. They fit the standard 26mm pans and cost only $1.

The size and construction of the e.l.f. is identical to the old MAC 4 pan palettes, only without the clear lid. It’s a bummer these are discontinued!

Pros: Sturdy construction, mirror, inexpensive
Cons: Can’t see what’s inside, discontinued

Sephora Colorful Eyeshadow Custom Palette Case – $15 (3 pan), $18 (6 pan) [now on clearance for $11 – $15]

It used to be that when you purchased 2 of the Sephora Colorful single shadows, Sephora gave you the smaller case for free.

The configuration of the larger palette is fairly compact but the smaller one is silly – there’s so much excess space – why only 3 pans and not 4? 😕

These are being phased out, but Sephora is continuing to sell the single refill shadows. I guess they just expect people to buy their collab version of the Z Palette – notice how they include the little key to dig out the palette from the original casing:

I wonder if Sephora will continue with the Z Palette relationship?

Pros: Sturdy construction, large mirror, easy to remove pans
Cons: Can’t see what’s inside, bulky container, discontinued

Maison Jacynthe Compact – $17 (Medium), $29 (Large)

This is a Canadian brand and it’s worth mentioning as they have an Inglot-esque refill system, only it is made of wood and aluminum. I reviewed the case and the products here.
Pros: Sturdy construction, distinct looking
Cons: Can’t see what’s inside, bulky container, expensive

I do not own these but worth mentioning:

Bobbi Brown – $12

A very minimalistic interlocking system with options of 2 to 6 pans. Her eye shadow and blushes are the same size so either will fit. It’s kind of weird that no matter what size the empty palette, they’re all the same price.

I’ve always wanted to build my own BB palette – I only have one eye shadow so far (hey, everyone starts somewhere… 😉 ) and last time I asked about the palette at Nordstrom, they were all sold out. [Edit: I finally got my hands on it! Check it out here]

NYX Custom Pro Palette – $11 (4 pan eye shadow), $17 (9 pan eye shadow) $18 (6 pan blush / highlight / contour)

The palette is made of cardboard, and eye shadows are offered in a wide selection of shades and finishes (refills range from $5 – $8 each depending on the finish).

I won this in a giveaway! 🙂

I own the Highlight & Contour Pro Palette (which came filled) – I love the idea that each of the pans can be replaced if I were to use up 1 shade.

ColourPop Pressed Powder Shadow Palette

Brand spanking new and generating a lot of buzz. As far as I can see, ColourPop doesn’t sell the empty palette alone. The filled palette with 4 pre-selected shades cost $18 USD which is a very good value. The pans can be popped out – refills are only $5 each. [Edit: according to Amy of TheMakeupCase, if you purchase 4 refill pans, ColourPop gives you a free empty palette! Limit 2 free empty palette per order.]  [Edit 2: I won this in a giveaway!]

Here’s a cost comparison between some of the pre-form palettes mentioned:

Here is a comparison of some of the palettes mentioned in this post to show relative palette sizes, as well as a look at the various refill pan sizes.

L to R: 26mm (MAC etc), 33mm (Sephora) 36mm (MUFE Artist), 38mm (MAC Pro Longwear shadows), 44mm (MAC blush)

So you’re probably going to ask me which custom palette system I’d recommend! 😛 For the free-form palettes, I still really like the Z Palette – I use mine daily.  But I won’t buy any more palettes from them now. If you’re boycotting Z Palette, I would say the MUG, Tarte and Morphe ones are good alternatives.  For the pre-form customizable palettes, MAC is still the best all-rounder for me.  Overall, I’m encouraged that makeup brands seem to be moving toward offering customizable palette options. I would love to see drugstore brands start offering custom palettes (Annabelle did at one point) – wouldn’t it be amazing to see Maybelline customizable palettes?

Are you a fan of customizable palettes?  Have I missed any custom palette systems that you know of?

* Hoping no one asks me what shade is in so-and-so palette… ^^’

143 thoughts on “Megapost: Custom Palette Systems

    1. What do you use to press them with? I have a few shattered eye shadows and lots of loose mineral ones and pigments. I’m worried about them crumbling… I’ve read so many methods from alcohol to glycerin. I just don’t want to affect the performance of them.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I will say this over and over: the amount of work and dedication you put into each of your posts is absokutrly amazing! Somehow you can make this adult ADD (undiagnosed, highly suspected lol!) having adult read long blog posts. So informative and appreciated. Now, excuse me while I go buy some stuff. Merci.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw thanks Belinda! 🙂 I’m glad you found this useful. I really enjoy researching and putting this post together! 🙂 I’m now tempted to go shopping for stuff… XD I really want MUG refills and that palette! What do you have your eye on?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The MUG palette is what has my eyes sparkling lol. I didn’t even know it existed! It reminds me of a premade lux palette without the conformity, you know?

        Liked by 1 person

          1. I agree And thank you so much for this awesome post!

            The one thing that was missing and I would kill to find is a smaller less space wasting custom empty pallet for urban decay singles?

            They are a nightmare to depot( I’ve ruined several) to use in a Z palette and they do not fit the Mac or Anastasia palette,they are slightly larger. The nirvana pallet is gigantic, wastes space and you still have to use the little plastic tub that the eyeshadow pot is in.
            Is there any alternative?!
            Please Enail me if so. Thanks


            1. Thank you! 🙂

              Those UD pans are terrible! I haven’t been able to find an alternative. The depth of their pans are also taller than MAC or ABH pans. I think your best bet is actually the z palette in the dome style as it is taller. I’ve given up on UD Nirvana palette entirely!


  2. Too much custom palettes but I don’t own even one. I tried depotting my eyeshadows and when I saw a tiny-tiny dint on the pan, I was disappointed and never reached for it since then. I like single shadows mainly to carry around in my purse but I’ve always been tempted to buy the z-palette everytime I passed by Sephora. Still wanting to get one for myself though. This post is very cool! Now I know what I will need. 😍👍🏻

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    1. I love being able to choose my own shades in the customizable palettes! Some of the ones I showed I use weekly but some I’ve forgotten about simply because I have TOO much makeup! 😛 But I’m inspired to pull them back out to use. Maybe pick up a smaller/ cheaper empty palette and see how you like it? Even those NYX ones are a good option.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah.. and that’s another reason why I’m hesitant of getting one coz i’ll end up forgetting to use the other shadows.. but I want one for blushes.. maybe a small empty palette is good to start with.. then I might end up like you with so many palettes in the end.. haha

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve never been able to bring myself to pay Z Palette prices before the controversy and even less so now! I do have one mini trio that I got at the Beauty Bay event, the last one I bought was a similar style and size one which I bought off ebay ( to the Large Z palette, and what would have cost me almost £30 cost me £8, and I can’t fault the quality, I wish I’d picked up a different finish as it’s prone to finger marks, but that was my choice, the palette is the same!
    I also have my eye on the makeup geek one, I think it would be a great option for me depotting my MUG shadows for travelling and give me enough of a choice – I’ve been waiting for some shadows to come back in stock on Beauty Bay, and was planning on getting it at the same time.
    That little elf palette looks great, I’ve got the larger style old MAC palette and the shape of the corners looks identical!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes there are lots of eBay / Amazon versions. Sadly, I do like the Z Palette concept – just wished they handled things better. I’ll keep what Z Palettes I own now but I won’t buy any more.

      The MUG ones are my next ones to purchase, along with their refills! I’m so late on those… I guess I’ll just have to bite the bullet on the price conversion. My key concern is trying to not buy repeats of colours I already own – but let’s be real, I likely will buy a taupe colour! XD

      Yes, the elf ones are great – why were they discontinued! 😮

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You have a lot of eyeshadows! I like the fact you have loads of singles. I have mostly palettes and there’s very few I rate highly overall. Can’t believe how they responded on social media. I never use companies that can’t take criticism, shows bad form from them x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Isn’t it terrible how Z Palette conducted themselves? I just wish they would own up to their behaviour instead of excuses.

      I’m all about the singles! But, I do run the risk of repeating the same shades again and again (as is evident by all the taupes…) And I agree, I haven’t found “The One” pre-made palette that I’m willing to ditch everything and use only that. I’m even toying with depotting some of the pre-made palettes I have now and only keeping the few shades I like from them.

      By the way, I poured all of the Seventeen eye shadow into a jar and it works perfectly as a loose shadow. I’m wearing it today and it’s lovely! Thank you so much! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It is. I hate beauty, travel, any company that argues back or can’t take criticism. The only whole palette I reach for is the Abh palette. Aaw great. I’m glad it works well as a loose shadow as it looked a pretty colour😊 So far I’ve used three of the face masks you sent me and the bath and body works lip glosses. It’s made me really want to go in a Sephora and B&BW’s x


        1. It’s not easy working in customer service / PR, but they should know bottom line to not act like an ass on social media! Geez. 😮
          I’m glad you’re enjoying them! I have to plan my next vacation to the UK for shopping, haha! 😉

          Liked by 1 person

          1. No definitely not an easy job but it’s like company suicide doing that on social media lol. Haha that’s how I might plan my next trip. I’m undecided for my next vacation so if you have any ideas x

            Liked by 1 person

  5. With the ColourPop palette, if you buy 4 of the single pressed shadows you get the palette for free. You can get up to 2 palettes per order. I got 5 of their pressed shadows so they sent me the empty palette free. I just stick them in my Z palette though (FYI, Z palette has a collab with Ulta too).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, good to know about the ColourPop! I looked on the site but I didn’t see the palette available on its own. Thank you – I’ll edit my post!

      Meh, Ulta is dead to me, if they choose to ignore us Canadians, then I ignore them! (j/k, sorta 😛 )


      1. Yeah the ColourPop palette you can only get if you order 4 of the pressed shadows.

        Ulta has been upping their game. They’re starting to carry more brands that Sephora does (Lancôme, Nars) and starting next month they’re going to start carrying MAC! 😱


        1. I saw the announcement about MAC at Ulta – very interesting! I guess it’ll be good to get the Ulta rewards when you buy MAC. We have MAC at Nordstrom and Hudson’s Bay here (it’s like Macy’s) besides the stand-alone MAC stores.


          1. We have MAC at Dillard’s here in Florida (maybe some Macy’s too) and stand-alone MAC stores. They just redid the MAC section at the Dillard’s by me. I prefer the stand-alone stores though or ordering online since MAC has their own rewards program.


  6. This is like another planet my stash …….
    this is so your language ……..
    here coming from the girl with maybe three palettes ?
    MAYBE 4
    OMG ……….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, this type of post to my JAM! I love the research and the organizing. 😛 It’s very time consuming though, so I’m SPENT! 😉 I’m not posting another blog post this week! 😛

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I can IMAGINE ………….
        IT’S TOTALLY another world and so Visually STUNNING …..
        could u please look in ur messages when you have a brief moment cohost …

        Liked by 1 person

  7. That’s crazy that unii might not be around any more! Back in the day zpalette and unii were the only options! So glad the world is expanding and there are more choices.
    What the heck is wrong with zpalette?!? People are losing their ever loving minds I tell you!
    I’m bookmarking this post for future reference. So informative!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. 2013?! Holy cow. I keep getting magnetic palettes in my “Suggested for you” section on Amazon. I’ll have to start paying attention to see what brands are popping up.


  8. I love how you always clearly go to so much effort for your posts; you can see you put plenty of effort into testing and research.

    I didn’t even know there were so many customize-able palettes on the market! This was very informative. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank Nadine! I was surprised there were so many customizable options now too. It used to be so limited – too bad for Z Palette, they will learn the hard way that people will choose an alternative.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Cons: being an asshole on social media… that is funny! Sad, but still made me lol. I actually really like the MAC palette. For a while they were sold out online so I couldn’t get the 2nd one I needed. I should probably get one now while I can. I do have a Z Palette and really like it. It is a little bulky though, but I really like being able to see what’s inside. That’s very important to me. Otherwise I forget what I have. Thanks for the roundup! I’ve got to do some depotting soon and need to get myself another palette. I was about to get another Z Palette until I read about them on IG. Horrible.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was so happy when MAC dropped their prices on the palettes! I like how they have clear lids too, and fit a lot of stuff in there.
      Yup, no more Z Palettes for me either – thank goodness there are so many options out there!


  10. My best friend passed along the small square Z palette to me since they bought the larger ones. It only houses the Cubic blush that I won from your giveaway last year. I probably won’t add anything else to it because I have enough (pre-made) palettes to hold me over.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Make Up Designory had a pre-form palette system too, but it’s been years since I got mine. Also, European drugstore brand Essence just came out with a pre-form system too. The palettes are 1.59 or 1.99 a pop for a 4 or 8 pan palette respectively and the eyeshadows cost 1.59 each, with 20 available shades. They also do face products for these palettes, but I have yet to spot those. I actually prefer premade palettes as I find I don’t use my homemade palettes as much. And while I agree with you on MAC being a good contender: that only goes if you’re in North America. They have yet to drop their prices over here. A MAC single pan retails for €13.50 over here still.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve always wanted to try Make Up Designory but never had the chance to – do you like their eye shadows?
      Oh we have Essence available here in Canada but a limited selection. That’s so great they offer customizable options! I hope they will come here eventually.
      Too bad MAC still haven’t dropped their prices in the EU – very strange why they haven’t!


  12. Stashy! You always impress me with all the products you own. I wanted to try Addiction cosmetics for a long time but unfortunately it is not available in Malaysia. I think there are more Z palette dupes out there with cheaper price. I saw one Instagram seller from Malaysia sells Wild Peach Palette (A Philippine Cosmetic Brand) and the packaging and quality seem great. You can try to get them too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! 🙂
      I must confess that I still haven’t opened the Addiction palette I bought last year. It’s sitting safely in my basket of “to try makeup” 😳 It’s almost like a shrine…
      I just looked up “Wild Peach Palette” and it does look VERY similar to the Z Palette – thanks for letting me know!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Wow such a great and detailed post!! I’m a fan od the Z-palettes, where I’ve got all my single eyeshadows. Soon I need to order another one beacuse I’ve to much stuff around that I need to organize in one or more palettes. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I hadn’t seen the Z Platte drama before, definitely won’t be buying from them again. I do have a couple of theirs already, one has some soap and glory and my UD book of shadows in it as they were so bulky and the other has some lip ones from the same s&g set. I keep meaning to get a new one so I can organise use some of the older palettes I have where I’ve hit pan or don’t like some of the colours to make some room in my stash. The MUG one looks so good and have been tempted by etsy before as i don’t know how many are easy to get here in the UK. I hadn’t thought of getting a cheap palette and DIYing it, might give that a go with an old one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. S&G sells refills? Or you depotted the palette? I’m thinking of depotting some of my pre-made palettes and only keep the colours I use.
      I know, the MUG one is my top pick for myself – so long, Z Palette!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I got a Christmas set in 2015 that was basically the pans in a very cheap, thin plastic surround and a big bulky case thing with lip, eye and face products so I took them all out. I think I’ll have to be on the lookout for the MUG one, I haven’t tried their eyeshadows yet and have an order planned so it would be perfect for that.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Oh that’s good the S&G was easy to depot. I’m thinking of trying my hands at depotting a TheBalm palette because they’re in cardboard packaging. But I’m worried… I’m thinking of trying theBalm Voyage palette first… I hate having those cream products in there.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I’d be interested to see how it goes with the balm voyage palette. I like the palette, having the cream in there doesn’t bother me, but I don’t get on with quite a few of the colours so have thought about spotting the few i like and get rid of the rest.


  15. What an awesome post! Love, love! My favorite palette of all time is actually Stila’s old metal ones with a mirror and little pinholes to pop the pans back out (I only have the 4-pans, not the larger ones, boo) but they only fit Stila pans. They were PERFECT in every way, apart from that little snag.

    For now, I just us the new MAC Pro Palettes. They’re inexpensive and work pretty well. I don’t like the sharp corners and lack of mirror, but OTOH you can see through the lid.

    I just looked up the Z Palette controversy and LMFAO. I looked into getting one years ago, but decided I hated that they seemed so cheap and flimsy, and were so stupidly expensive. So screw them. How dumb do you have to be to do that crap on your Twitter, anyway?

    Once, I picked up some cheap-o palettes on eBay, from either HK or China, naturally, that fit MAC pans. I used them for my NYX Hot Singles shadows. I think at some point I got sick of depotting those — they’re a PITA — and I never got back to them. But the palettes, while dirt cheap, actually weren’t too bad.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! 🙂

      I almost mentioned the Stila system but I’m a little bitter that I never picked up the palette before they were discontinued. I have a couple of the refil pans but I keep them in their individual containers. *pout* I did see one on Glambot a while back and toyed with getting it. 😉

      I do agree the MAC palettes have sharp edges. Somehow the sharp edges also make them look dated… I chalk it up to the iphone esthetics.

      Might have to test out one of those no-name Z Palette knock-offs. There’s really nothing proprietary or unique about how they’re made – cardboard, magnet and plastic! What depotting method to you use? Heat or alcohol / solvent or combination?

      Yeah, I think the owner of the Z Palette let her ego take over. That depotter apparatus isn’t revolutionary but in her mind, she had cured cancer. Couldn’t take criticism.


  16. Awesome post Stash. Very informative. I have to say I am surprised that there doesn’t seem to be too many palettes that have the clear window so you can see what’s in them. I have the MAC 4 shadow ones and I liked it for my stand alone MAC shadows. I still think the Z palette is one of the best but there’s no excuse for handling that the way they did. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I did notice that too, not a lot of palettes have the clear lid / window. I find them so useful!
      I’m curious to try out one of those no-name Z Palette knock-offs from eBay or Amazon out of curiosity. I mean, Z Palette’s construction isn’t proprietary, I can’t imagine they’d be that different. Yes, it’s terrible how they reacted – every brand / product gets criticized, they just couldn’t handle it?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Being nerdy is perfectly… perfect! 🙂

        I know what you mean about the process being almost more rewarding than the result. 😀 At the moment I feel the same way about my 3 out / 1 in book which my husband is in charge of. It’s all about the process…

        Liked by 1 person

  17. Finally had time to sit down and read this baby! You weren’t kidding when you called it a Megapost! I can tell that so much effort went into this post with all of the photos, pricing, and comparisons…amazing job!

    I LOVE the idea of customizable palettes, but a lot of them are SO expensive compared to premade palettes. For example, I love UD and Inglot shadows, but I am NOT paying $103 for a chunky UD palette, and even then $61 quad at Inglot I find a bit steep, especially when you compare it to, say, a UD Naked Palette which has 12 shades for $66. For me, it’s the value that gets me sucked into premade palettes. As long as I like about 80% of the shades in the palette, I feel like I can justify buying it 😛

    I also felt that Z Palette was the best of the custom palettes – I had been toying with the idea of getting one now that I seem to be buying more single shadows/blushes, but not since the controversy! I think I might get the Tarte instead, or MUG.

    The Sephora custom palettes look really nice…and it also reminds me that I need to buy myself some Sephora shadows, teehee! Too bad they’re being phased out now. I wonder if they discontinued their relationship with Z Palette, what the alternative would be?

    Back in the day, you used to be able to take the Inglot pans out by using the magnetic lid (I learned this from YouTube after trying to dig the pan out with a needle. Ahem, like you said, bad idea). ANYWAYS, when I bought the Inglot palette in Toronto, the SA asked me if I wanted to buy a magnet to take the pans out, I told her I could just use the lid, and she said she’s heard that from a few people. Well, it doesn’t work anymore! I even tried using the lid of an older Inglot palette to take out the pan of my new palette, and it didn’t work…so not sure what’s going on there. I’m annoyed, though!

    Also – I’m using my shiny new logo, all thanks to you! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! Nice logo! 😉

      Yes relative to re-made palettes, customizable options are typically more expensive to fill. But to me, if I use only 4 shades and end up with a palette of 12 shades, it’s such a waste of space and product. That’s not “value” to me. I do have to say though, that pre-made palettes often force me outside of my comfort zone by including some “out there” shades. 😉

      I could see Sephora making their own version of a Z Palette. They have been known to collab with brands and then do their own thing. Think Sephora by OPI polishes – then they did Formula X. (but no more Formula X polishes now – sob!)

      Heh, that Inglot “hack” with the magnet on the lid NEVER worked for me. I don’t know what those YouTubers were going on about. I always had to use a magnet off the fridge to remove mine – thank goodness I hardly ever remove them once they’re in the palette. 😛 It’s funny Inglot sells a magnet – by any chance, do you remember how much it was? #moneygrab XD

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I totally agree with you that if there are more shades in a pre-made palette you wouldn’t use compared to ones you would, there is no point in getting it.
        Good point about Sephora going off to do their own version of the Z Palette! What, did they completely get rid of the Formula X shadows?! I knew they were on sale during X-mas and was wondering what was going on…
        What, that’s so WEIRD that the Inglot hack never worked for you! The first two I bought definitely did work. I want to remove one of the pans I bought last year and switch it with one from an older palette, but we don’t even own any fridge magnets for me to take it out with, LOL. The Inglot magnet was $4.50 – serious money grab!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. How can you not own a fridge magnet!? 😮 Do you have one of those stainless steel fridge shrines? I love putting crap on our fridge… we still have a magnet from Jumbo Video! 😆

          No Sephora isn’t getting rid of their eye shadows, only their Formula X nail polishes. Not sure if they’re planning to replace them or out of the polish business altogether.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. LOL, yes, we have a stainless steel fridge and my SO refuses to put anything on it because he hates clutter. LOL, love that you still have a Jumbo Video magnet!
            Oops, I totally meant getting rid of their Formula X polishes, not shadows! Boo…I never got a chance to try their holo polishes!


    1. Thank you! Yes Inglot is more costly initially, but the pans do contain more product so they are worth it. Their palettes are SO well made, I imagine they would last a lifetime!


    1. I’m glad you found this informative!
      Yup, for me MAC is actually cheaper than Makeup Geek and ColourPop when I have to factor in exchange rate and shipping costs! 😛


  18. Omg the Zpalette gong show was all I ever heard about last week. I think they handled the negative feedback of their product in the most unprofessional way.

    Anyways – I have two MUFE palettes (the small and large ones) and absolutely love them. They work really well with a lot of my loose pans. Some pans don’t magnetize as well but I bought a strip of magnets from Amazon which I use on them.

    I also have the new Inglot freedom palette which is good too and the magnetic closure is so strong! I love it for travel. Downside is I can only use it for Inglot shadows.

    There are way more customizable palettes than I would have thought! Thank you for sharing some really good options.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I just don’t understand companies who can’t take criticism. It’s helpful to hear what customers have to say! If customers didn’t care, they wouldn’t provide feedback. And actually, I’ve learned something from all those comments – Walmart sells and induction cooktop and I might get it to help me depot my stuff! 😆

      I’m considering getting the MUG palette – it looks really well made!

      It’s so great that there are so many options now! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  19. This is huge and amazing ! I enjoyed looking at your collection !
    I was surprised by seeing these Ardene plastic palettes . I have never seen them before in store. i should check them out.
    i have some MAC palettes but not like these. Mine do not have a transparent lid. The lid is black and i find them very big and bulky (:

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I got the Ardene ones a while ago but they do often have small palettes like those, especially around holiday time.
      Hrmm I wonder which MAC palettes you have! I’d love to see pictures of them. Maybe you could do a post on them?


  20. Excellent post!! I don’t have a magnetic palette of any kind, but I would like to get one. I also really want to try MUG. I hope to place an order with them next month or something. I won’t be buying any z palettes, that’s for sure!!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Wow this is truly a megapost!
    I was disappointed when the z palette drama went down. Companies have absolutely no right to comment on their customers abilities, means, or position. I’ve been bullied enough in my lifetime and I won’t support businesses that do so. As soon as I find out I try to boycott them unless necessary. For makeup since there are so many brands out there (as you’ve shown) I will just go elsewhere.
    This will definitely be a post that I refer back to. I don’t have any depotted or individual products because I am relatively new on my makeup journey but I would like to get a mac palette. How do you think the new mac palette would fare in shipping? $6 per shadow vs I think $38 per shadow in New Zealand would still be cheaper to get it shipped from America and forwarded. I just worry about it getting smashed in postage.

    I saw you mentioned broken shadows and repressing above. I use this tutorial for repressing them.

    But then some people have had the pressed item change colour or consistency from reacting to the alcohol. I’ve never had a problem but its just a warning. Sometimes I don’t your the piece of cloth to press the excess out, sometimes I just leave the lid slightly propped open for a few days so the alcohol evaporates by itself.
    Phew long comment 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for linking the how-to on pressing powders! I will have to test her method out – I have a bunch of loose powders that I’d like to press.

      You’re so right about companies having no right to comment on customers’ situation at ALL. Z Palette just showed how insecure it is about some run of the mill criticism – most bullying behaviour is about fear.

      I think the MAC palette would fare well in shipping! Each palette comes with its own cardboard box and they place plastic covers (the kind that you peel off) on the lid to prevent scratches. Does MAC not sell the palettes in New Zealand?

      I appreciate your long comment! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Kind of yes and no, in NZ w have MAC stores as stand alones and in department stores just like in America but 90% of the time they can be quite small or have limited ranges. There’s just one store in Auckland (which is 3/4 across the country to where I live in Christchurch) that sells what they call the pro items (eyeshadow refills, refillable palettes etc). I do really want to go on a holiday up there one day but If I brought a refillable palette up there the price mark up would be at least 2 or 3 times as buying it from America. Price gouging is rampant here because at every step of the shipping process the customs adds 15% fees, then when it’s sold as well, plus shop overheads.

        I think that tutorial might only work for if the product was already pressed. I don’t think products that came as loose powders have enough binding agents to keep them together. You could try though.

        Also, thank you for commenting on my blog, you were my original inspiration to start one, and my favorite blog to boot 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I went on the NZ MAC site and am shocked at how limited the selection is! Yes I can imagine how costly imported goods are there – every excuse for the retailers to pocket more money, they will tack it on! It’s similar here in Canada even though we’re literally attached to the U.S. 😛

          You make a good point about loose pigments that may not have binding agents. I’ll give it a test to see. Might have to get the special pressing medium which I’ve seen online.

          Oh what a sweet thing to say! I encourage everyone to start a blog – one of those “I wish I’d done it sooner” thing. It’s s form of self expression and a great outlet. 🙂 Congrats on starting a blog!


      1. Thank you! 🤗☺️ I want to because I feel having a Z palette is more useful than buying random palettes. Also I want to expand my collection into more variety and colors. I have a spare Z palette too but I am also looking for other options to a z palette so your post was really helpful.


  22. I did not know all of that about z palette!! Thats terrible! I don’t own one but probably won’t now! What a thorough and highly informative post. I would probably opt for the Morphe one that looks practical and affordable!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Hm… I am getting dotty here. I thought I’ve commented before and we had a conversation about the MAC and Shu Uemura palette. ?!?!? Maybe that was on one of our social media. Just popping in a comment to be safe 😛

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Holy crap girl – what an amazing post and resource! Thank you for compiling all of this – I can only imagine that this took a big chunk of your time. I had no idea there were so many options for custom palettes! I must admit that I love my Z palette but that whole Twitter debacle was just a very loud WTF. Some people should just never deal with customers ever. As a result I won’t purchase another palette from them but I’m so happy to know there are so many options out there!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, what a blast from the past, Maggie! 😉
      Yes, as much as I like the Z Palette I won’t be repurchasing. They just didn’t think through their actions.
      It’s fantastic that there are so many options out there! I was a bit surprised how many there were too.


  25. I agree, a Maybelline custom palette would be great. I have so many Sephora shadows that are just inside my makeup bag. I love them all and would love to be able to find a custom empty palette to fit them. Can you recommend any? Have the Sephora empty palettes been discontinued? I’m from Europe and can’t find them on my local site or the US site. I did ask Sephora US years ago. but they did not give me any type of useful answer. So far, my shadows are inside their original cases as I do not want them breaking. I have custom palettes from Kiko Milano Cosmetics and also FashionistA. The Kiko ones are square but FashionistA are round pans. Both have mirrors and Kiko is a magnetic closure and more. compact than FashionistA, although FashionistA is a slim palette (Kiko is a little thicker). I see Makeup Revolution have custom palettes (Obsession range) and Freedom Makeup London have one too. They are magnetic and pop in and out and are often on sale. FashionistA shadows pop in and out too. Kiko have a system where each individual shadow case has a tiny hole you put one end of an opened-out paperclip into and twist slightly to make the shadow come out. A little awkward to start with but great once you get used to it. Only 3 pans for 4€ but sometimes on sale. FashionistA has 4 pan and 6 pan versions (I have the 4 pan version). FashionistA is now sold through Makeup Academy cosmetics online store.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, the Sephora empty palettes have been discontinued now since Sephora only focus on the Z Palettes. The pan size of the Sephora shadows are an in between size so unfortunately, they won’t fit into the standard 26mm wells. I would recommend any of the free-form empty palettes listed in my post, like Z Palette, Inglot Flexi, MUFE, MUG etc that do not have set sizes, to fit your Sephora single shadows.
      I don’t have easy access to Kiko, FashionistA, or Makeup Revolution since I live in Canada. I’m glad to see more brands are offering customizable palettes!


  26. I see Primark have a custom palette range. Makeup Forever custom palettes are available where I am. Do they fit Sephora Collection shadows? They seem to have smaller pans, I don’t know though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t know the Primark ones – we don’t have Primark stores here but I’m willing to bet they are using the industry standard size pans which is 26mm. The Sephora pans are 33mm so they won’t fit. Your best bet really is to get empty palettes that don’t have wells, but instead just a flat sheet of magnet, like this MUG one:

      That way you can fit any size pan and any configuration in there.


    1. Hi, interesting question. I never thought about that. Since I own both, I pulled them out to investigate for you. Turns out the Bobbi Brown pans are slightly larger than the elf pans – so no, they’re not interchangeable.


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