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No matter whether your vibe is simple and clean or bold and dramatic, a good eyeshadow palette is an invaluable addition to any makeup bag. Housing multiple shades—and often even finishes—in one convenient compact, a palette offers complete versatility and the opportunity to create endless makeup looks. “When you look at a palette with an open mind, the possibilities can be endless. You can use the darker colors as a liner, you can use the lighter colors as a brow bone highlighter, all of the colors in a palette really can be used in so many different ways,” says celebrity makeup artist and beauty expert Neil Scibelli.
Not to mention that it takes up so much less space than owning countless single shadows (ideal when you’re on a kick to KonMari your beauty stash). Plus, there’s a palette out there for every makeup preference, not to mention every budget.
To help you narrow it down, check out this list of best eyeshadow palettes for every occasion, budget, and look.
Best Overall: NARS Voyageur Eyeshadow Palette
There may only be six shades in this palette, but make no mistake about it—the six are next level versatile. They’re flattering on an array of eye colors and skin tones, and really do get the job done to create plenty of different looks, even though they all are fairly neutral. We reach for it time and time again, for both every day and special occasion wear, and have even hit pan (AKA used up all the shadow) a few times, a makeup rarity.
Best Warm-Toned: Urban Decay Naked Heat Eyeshadow Palette
There’s arguably no palette out there with more of a cult following than the OG Urban Decay Naked, which has spawned countless new variations on the theme since its launch over a decade ago. For fans of any and every warm shade, this iteration is choice. It houses a dozen colors, ranging from pale peach to deep terra cotta, with a mix of matte, shimmer, and metallic finishes that can be mixed and matched in any number of ways. Each shadow is buttery and blendable and touts a unique pigment infusion system to ensure the color is vibrant and long-lasting. Don’t think you’ll use all 12? Check out the mini version, which streamlines the options down to six.
When Byrdie contributing writer Ashley Rebecca tested this palette, she never looked back. "With excellent color payoff and an easy-to-blend formula, it’s absolutely worth incorporating into your beauty routine," she says.
Runner-Up, Best Warm-Toned: Natasha Denona Bronze Eyeshadow Palette
Creamy mattes, chromes, metallics, and shimmers make up this palette, which boasts 15 warm shades. You have your standard copper and champagne tones, as well as a few more unexpected options, think a metallic purple and deep eggplant (though they all have warm undertones). Still, all of the hues work beautifully on a wide range of complexions. Scibelli is a big fan, noting that all of the colors are beautiful and can be used in a multitude of ways.
Best Cool Toned: Smashbox Cover Shot Eye Palette
Prefer your colors on the cool side? This palette offers eight takes on the theme, ranging from pale pink to deep plum. Pigmented and blend-able, they also all mix and layer together nicely, always a good thing when it comes to getting maximum versatility from any palette.
Best Budget: Essence Like Wild Nature Earth Eyeshadow Palette
This palette is easy on the wallet but doesn’t skimp on shade options or shadow quality. We like the nine neutral, earth-tones in this one, though there are three other versions, each inspired by a different element—air, fire, and water—with a set of shades that corresponds with each. For this price, we say pick up all four.
Runner-Up, Best Budget: Lamora Eyeshadow Palette
This is one of the bestselling eyeshadow palettes on Amazon, and it's no surprise why. It features 16 pigment-rich shades ranging from rose gold to dark brown with finishes that run the gamut—metallic, satin, matte, you name it.
Best Drugstore: NYX Professional Makeup Ultimate Utopia Shadow Palette
Not only is this one of our favorite drugstore options, but it’s also one of our favorites for offering plenty of versatility, drugstore brand or not. We’re talking an impressive array of 40 shades, in all kinds of colors and finishes. No matter what kind of eye makeup look you’re going for, we guarantee you’ll be able to create it with this palette.
Best Golds: Marc Jacobs Beauty Eye-Conic Multi-Finish Eye Palette
Those who love a gilded lid will appreciate that this palette offers an array of gold tones. More specifically, three takes on the shade, plus two accompanying darker and two accompanying lighter tones. We also like the range of textures, whose totally spot-on descriptions take a cue from the fashion world: buttery matte velvet, shimmer satin, sparkly silk, and metallic lamé.
Best Nudes: Huda Beauty The New Nude Eyeshadow Palette
Whoever said nude shadows were boring never met this palette. It totally mixes up the neutral shade game via an array of finishes, that easily work for both day and night. The shades have both cool and warm tones, so there’s a little something for everyone, and the textures are particularly impressive.
There are 10 creamy mattes, packed with aloe and coconut oil to make them extra buttery. Four reflective colors have pearlized flecks for a chromatic finish, while the two glitter tones boast silicones that ensure their adherence and radiance. Rounding out the line-up is a concealer shade that can be layered underneath any of the others to make the pigment really pop, and a pearl shade that can be layered over any of the mattes.
Best Brights: Ace Beaute Slice of Paradise Palette
For those who love to experiment with vibrant shadows, this set of 12 brights is choice. The rainbow-inspired colors are bold, fun, and saturated, and include all kinds of options not usually found in many palettes, think a kelly green and tangerine orange. Finely-milled and pressed, they also all pack intense color pay-off.
Runner-Up, Best Brights: BH Cosmetics Take Me Back To Brazil 35 Color Pressed Pigment Palette
To truly make your eyelids stand out in a crowd, add neon pops of color with the help of this 35-pan eyeshadow palette. It’s a great collection to have in your makeup arsenal to add dimension and flashy, vivid hues to your look.
Best Shimmer: Revlon X WW84 The Wonder Woman Face and Eye Palette
Get your glimmer on with these 10 extra-shimmery shades. Creamy and blendable, the application is beautiful. Plus, many of the shades can easily pull double duty as a highlighter.
Dust them on with a brush for a more subdued effect, or pack on with your fingers to punch up the intensity.
Runner-Up, Best Shimmer: Urban Decay Stoned Vibes Eyeshadow Palette
All that glitters is this newbie palette. Yes, Urban Decay nails the palette game yet again. This time it’s with a line-up of 12 shades, eight boasting a precious stone-esque shimmer (and similarly inspired gorgeous jewel tones). Speaking of precious stones, the formula is infused with actual tourmaline, a crystal known for blocking negative energy. Good vibes only.
Best Textures: UOMA Beauty Black Magic Carnival Color Palette
The 10 shades in this palette offer plenty of variety when it comes to both texture and color. There are some wearable neutrals choice for every day, alongside bold shades perfect for experimenting with trendier looks. And the textures can’t be beaten, with velvety mattes, shimmers, and full-on metallics that further up the versatility factor. Not to mention that they’re all long-lasting and water-resistant.
Eyeshadow palettes are the way to go for anyone looking for a one-stop-shop for all of their eye makeup needs. Of the many picks out there, the Nars Voyageur Eyeshadow Palette takes the gold, with its line-up of six wearable-yet-versatile shades. For those who want tons of options, the NYX Professional Makeup Ultimate Utopia Shadow Palette is a drugstore must-buy that boasts a whopping array of 40 hues. The Lamora Eyeshadow Palette is an Amazon fan favorite, and also earns our vote for the best affordable option. And if you love to go bright and bold with your eye makeup, you’ll love the Ace Beaute Slice of Paradise Palette.
What to Look For in an Eyeshadow Palette
Colors You’ll Actually Wear
This may sound simple, but knowing which colors work for you is the most helpful thing to look for, says Scibelli. Sure, there may be one or two colors that you’re not sure about, but seek out a palette where the majority of the hues are ones that you know you’ll use.
A Range of Tones
That being said, ensuring there’s a mix of light, medium, and dark colors is also important, especially if you want to make the most of your palette. Look for ones that have a very light color that can be used as a brow bone highlighter, a medium tone for lids, and a deeper color for the crease or to use as liner, recommends Scibelli.
How long does an eyeshadow palette last?
How do you clean an eyeshadow palette?
To clean up any shadow residue around the borders of the palette, Scibelli advises wiping down the edges with a makeup wipe. To clean the actual shadows, lightly scrape the top off with a disposable mascara wand and dust off that layer, or, try spritzing a tiny bit of alcohol over the shadows, he says.
How do you fix a broken eyeshadow palette?
“Add some rubbing alcohol to create a paste-like texture, then use a flat butter knife to pat it back down into its pan and let it dry overnight,” advises Scibelli. FYI, if you have sensitive eyes, skip this (the alcohol can potentially be irritating) and replace the shadow or palette entirely.