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Let’s face it: Although the world needs another eyeshadow like a fish needs a bicycle, finding the best eyeshadow palettes that tick all your boxes is as satisfying as finally perfecting your capsule wardrobe. Of course, a solid single shadow suits the one-shade-and-done days just fine when we crave ease, but having a curated set of options before you—no digging around in your collection required—is a luxury all on its own. (Not to mention, a visual treat at the very least.) Everything you could ever want is at your fingertips; all that’s required is some strategic blending and a swipe of mascara to finish the look.

The hard part, however, is figuring out what exactly you hope to get out of a palette—then narrowing down from the thousands of options. To help mitigate the overwhelm, we’ve done the swatching and wear tests for you and through our trials, found 13 that were worth exploring. Ahead are editor-approved must-haves, plus expert tips from one of our favorite makeup artists to help you find your perfect palette.

The best eyeshadow palettes, at a glance

What to look for in an eyeshadow palette

Tyron Machhausen, Chanel makeup artist and beauty architect behind some of our favorite looks on Anne Hathaway, Margaret Qualley, and Tessa Thompson, shared some of his best tips on how to find the best eyeshadow palette that suits your needs.

For those new to the hunt, Machhausen suggests a starter palette in a neutral color range—something universally flattering. “This helps with familiarity when utilizing different shades offered in a pre-made palette. Go with a product that has a slightly more satiny or shimmery texture. These shadow types reflect the light, making it more forgiving to work with, and they are usually easier to blend.”

Once you’re comfortable with the application process and finding your colors, start incorporating mattes. (Ultra-mattes, according to him, require more precision.) “A fundamental variety of earth tones will be most useful and make sure that you also have a basic variety of shades. You’ll need medium hues to shade and contour, deeper tones for depth, and to build up intensity, and a highlighter color to enhance. This array of shades will enable you to create a multitude of different looks for any occasion and ensure that you get the most out of your new palette.”

What are the best shades for every eye color?

A soft-focus complexion is no doubt a signature of Macchausen’s work—but look closely at even the most natural of his looks and you’ll notice a throughline: his clients’ eyes are always the most striking feature, no matter how neutral the shadow.

“In general, I love to use browns and neutrals that are a bit on the warmer side for everyday use. The warmer shades work well with any skin tone and eye color and never look harsh.” Even so, don’t be afraid of color, he says—and never subscribe to this idea that only specific eye colors can wear certain shades. (It’s detrimental to creativity and a hindrance to self-expression; makeup is a personal affair, Macchausen stresses.)

If, however, you’re eager to explore beyond the neutrals and unsure of where to start, he advises referencing the color wheel: The color opposite of your eye color is the one that will make them pop. “Blue, green, and hazel eyes get a color boost if you use warm shades with hints of plum, orange, or red,” he suggests. “Brown eyes look amazing with warm browns, purple hues, golden shades, and blues.”

Shop the best eyeshadow palettes


Chanel Clair-Obscur Les Ombres 4 Multi-Effect Quadra Eyeshadow

Imagine the validation we felt when our daily go-to, “Clair-Obscur,” was one of makeup artist Tyron Machhausen’s “absolute favorites.” Chanel does exquisite color curations, but this quad of matte taupes and neutral browns is one we continue to reach for year after year, no matter how many new launches are sent our way. “I can create the most subtle, ‘no makeup,’ contoured eye look with this quad and I am also able to build a proper smoky eye that doesn’t look heavy,” Machhausen says. “It is versatile enough, depending on the application technique or brush, to be used as shadow, eyeliner, or contour.”

The formula, too, is noteworthy. Color payoff is vibrant—not quite matte, more satin-like on skin—yet utterly forgiving even for those who are perfecting their application and blending technique. (Which isn’t the norm in most demi-matte to ultra-matte formulas.) The texture is what makes these shades so easy to layer as well, making it the perfect palette for day to night, work to weekend, and everything in between.

Pros:

  • Travel-friendly compact
  • Includes two eyeshadow applicators (which may be controversial for beauty connoisseurs, but are incredibly useful in a pinch or for beginners in shadow application, placement, and blending!)
  • Soft yet pigment-rich shades
  • Easy-to-blend formulas
  • Great for day-to-night
  • Perfect for beginners and makeup minimalists

Cons:

  • Pricey
  • Only includes one finish: satin-matte


Pat McGrath Labs Mothership III Subversive Eyeshadow Palette

There’s a good reason why Pat McGrath is mother—and her makeup line is a living extension of her genius. Color payoff (which is super saturated and almost creamy in one swipe because of the emollient, pigment-intensive formulas), blendability, and lasting wear are consistent across all of her Mothership Palettes, but “Subversive” is the standout. It’s unique though not unapproachable; the diversity in shade range is what gives you incredible breadth and depth to play. Go full avant-garde Club Kid, or add an unexpected pop of color (and dimension!) to your usual smoky eye.

A tip: do take your night-out pictures with a flash when wearing this palette. You’ll be amazed at how the bejeweled violets and holographic finishes photograph.

Pros:

  • Beautiful packaging
     
     
  • High-impact pigmentation
  • Easy-to-blend formulas
  • Unique colors and finishes
  • Includes matte, metallic and glitter finishes
  • Can be used wet or dry
  • Perfect for makeup artists and connoisseurs

Cons:

  • Pricey
  • Large-scale palette isn’t ideal if space (at home or traveling) is a priority
  • Shadows are delicate—store well!


Neen The Zen Trio Pretty Shady Pressed Pigment Trio

Inspired by Machhausen’s advice, we zeroed in on shimmery formulas for this category. Less is more—especially for those new to eyeshadow or want to venture outside their signature single-shade looks—and this trio was just the palette we were searching for. All of these three-pan minis make it easy to explore different color stories in manageable amounts, but for the beginner, “The Zen Trio” is impossible to get wrong. The shades are perfectly neutral (not too cool, not too warm), offer a pretty shimmer (not glitter) for shine, and we love that the largest pan (seashell with a hint of peach) makes for a beautiful cheek highlight, too.

Pros:

  • Travel-friendly
  • Ultra-compact size
  • Clean formulation
  • Great color payoff
  • Zero to minimal fallout
  • Perfect for beginners and makeup minimalists

Cons:

  • Only includes one finish: shimmer

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E.l.f. Cosmetics Bite Size Eyeshadow Palette

Consider this the drugstore find of the century. A unicorn, even: the pigmentation is on par with plenty of your favorite prestige brands at Ulta and Sephora, and yet it’s only $3 a pop. If you’re new to shadows, building upon your current collection, (responsibly!) exploring new-to-you shades before investing in something pricier, or traveling (and precious about your palettes), this Bite Size quad is bite-sized perfection. Color payoff is impressive but applies best with your fingertips (which helps minimize any fallout), and we recommend using patting motions especially when working with deeper shades. There’s some patchiness, but nothing a solid eyeshadow base or patience while blending can’t fix.

Pros:

  • Travel-friendly
  • Ultra-compact size
  • Great color payoff
  • Includes matte and shimmer finishes
  • Perfect for beginners and makeup minimalists

Cons:

  • Some fallout
  • Minor inconsistencies in texture and finish across shades and palettes within the range
  • Some patchiness is expected from deeper mattes


Byredo Eyeshadow 5 Colors

You’ll notice that for some palettes, we were particular with the color story that made our list—but for these Byredo five-color palettes, all are worthy. Consider this a choose-your-own-adventure scenario: every version is thoughtfully created and even the more neutral options (like “Corp Colours”), boast an undeniable it-factor signature to the brand. We’re partial to “Sciomancer” for its rich jewel tones and adore “Syren” for its electric eccentricity, but truly, you can’t go wrong with the palette you choose. The gold pebble compact further puts this pick in a class of its own: this is an objet d’art you’ll want to pull out any given moment even if a touch-up isn’t necessary.

Pros:

  • Standout packaging
  • Travel-friendly
  • Ultra-compact size
  • Great color payoff
  • Includes mix of matte, shimmer and/or glitter finishes (depending on your pick)
  • Perfect for makeup connoisseurs and collectors

Cons:

  • Pricey


Urban Decay Naked2 Basics Eyeshadow Palette

Most of us remember (and reminiscence over) the original Naked palettes, but the Basics—miniature versions of the velvet-flocked and metal tin cult favorites—are far more budget-friendly… and pragmatic, too. This edited (though far from limited) range is evidence that less is more; never has it been easier to mix and match for barely-there to smoky-eye looks. We love that it takes up minimal real estate, of course, but what we appreciate most is how Urban Decay made the cooler side of the spectrum approachable. Go too grey and you veer on the chalky side, but these taupe-toned browns give just enough warmth without appearing jarring on those with neutral or pink undertones.

Pros:

  • Travel-friendly
  • Ultra-compact size
  • Easy-to-blend formulas
  • Great for day-to-night
  • Perfect for makeup beginners and minimalists

Cons:

  • Best suited for cool or neutral skin tones
  • Some shades require layering to achieve full pigmentation
  • Only includes one finish: matte

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Charlotte Tilbury The Bella Sophia Luxury Eyeshadow Palette

If Urban Decay and Anastasia Beverly Hills were at the forefront of the maximalist eyeshadow palette craze (millennials will remember), Charlotte Tilbury’s curated quads—which launched by aesthetic rather than by color family, which was quite ahead for its time in hindsight—were the standouts of the luxury space. They’re just as impressive all these years later. “The Bella Sophia” was introduced to the line-up more recently, and for those who love warmer shades but don’t want to go the obvious rust or coppery routes, this russet and bronze-led quad is simply divine. We’re never one to push forth trends, but you subscribe to or enjoy experimenting with micro moments, this palette is the Mob Wife aesthetic in pigment form.

Pros:

  • Beautiful packaging
  • Great color payoff
  • Easy-to-blend formulas
  • Includes matte and metallic shades
  • Perfect for makeup beginners, minimalists and connoisseurs alike

Cons:

  • Pricey
  • Best suited for neutral or warm skin tones


Makeup by Mario Master Mattes Eyeshadow Palette

Mario Dedivanovic’s makeup line, like Pat MacGrath’s, is a bona fide example of perfect alignment between the artist and the physical manifestation of their work as tangible products. Yes, “Ethereal Eyes” is worth every penny (but it is hard to get a hold of and perpetually sold out at Sephora since it officially joined the ranks as a mainstay product)—and just as deserving of all the hype is “Master Mattes.” Pigmentation is rich, and the formula across all shades is so buttery that even the deeper browns blend like a dream. It’s an absolute must for any collection, to be honest—especially if you love neutrals or want to be able to add depth and definition to any glitter, metallic, or shimmer-based looks.

Pros:

  • Travel-friendly
  • Great color payoff
  • Easy-to-blend formulas
  • Zero to minimal fallout
  • Universally flattering shades
  • Perfect for makeup beginners, minimalists, artists, and connoisseurs alike

Cons:

 

  • Pricey
  • Only includes one finish: matte


Isamaya Wild Star Pressed Pigment Palette

Isamaya is made by and for the artists, and for those of us who simply love playing with makeup, it’s just as successful in evoking our most uninhibited, creative selves. This palette could’ve ranked high on our list for packaging alone—but we’re happy to report that the actual shadows (pressed pigments, technically) and unexpected versatility are what solidify its place on our list. You have your neutral mattes—the black and deeper brown are incredible when used dry and perform like liners applied wet—plus an array of easy-to-build metallics and stunning glitters. The color story may not seem intuitive at first glance, but these are shades that are universally flattering on all skin tones and surprisingly wearable, especially in small bursts above the iris, in your inner corner, or along your bottom lash line for a pop with a neutral lid look).

Pros:

 

  • Standout packaging (which can be reused as a pill case, jewelry box, and more after the shadows are done!)
  • Great color payoff
  • Easy-to-blend formulas
  • Zero to minimal fallout
  • Universally flattering shades
  • Includes mix of matte, shimmer and/or glitter finishes
  • Can be used wet or dry
  • Perfect for makeup artists, collectors and connoisseurs alike

Cons:

  • Pricey
     
  • Bulky packaging

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Mob Beauty Eyeshadow

It was love at first sight when we discovered Mob Beauty through makeup artist Erin Parsons, and we’re happy to report that the eyeshadows did not disappoint. It’s hardly surprising given that the brand’s co-founder Victor Casale was the former chief chemist and managing director of MAC, as well as co-founder and chief innovation officer of Cover FX: two brands known for their commitment to moving the beauty industry forward. Do go for this palette if you’re fluent in shadows or after following Machhausen’s tips, and you are ready to curate a collection of your own. Pigmentation is stunning on these shadows, and the assortment is exceptional. Neutrals are where they shine (no chalkiness or patchiness to be found!), and the statement shades are delicious to wear.

Pros:

  • Travel-friendly
  • Reusable and refillable
  • Great color payoff
  • Easy-to-blend formulas
  • Zero to minimal fallout
  • Universally flattering shades
  • Eyeshadow singles come in cream, matte, and metallic finishes
  • Perfect for makeup artists and connoisseurs
  • Eco-friendly

Cons:

  • May be hard to decide which shades to fill your palette with, so do take your time; you don’t have to fill it all at once!
  • Creasing with Cream Clay formulas (so do lock it in with a powder eyeshadow or sheer setting powder)


RMS Beauty Eyelights Luminous Cream Eyeshadow Trio

Originally $49, now $44

True, this isn’t technically a palette, but this set is a curated trio that takes up less space than most palettes—and its formula (clean by most standards and paraben-free) is best suited for a sterile aluminum tube packaging anyway. RMS makes two trios, but “Starlight” is the most universally flattering on all ages and skin tones—a rarity in softer, shimmer-based shadows—and requires minimal effort to wear well. Most astounding is how truly long-wear and crease-proof this formula was (even on oily eyelids); the luminous, reflective finish lasted all day long and was easy to deepen to take the look from AM to PM.

Pros:

  • Travel-friendly
  • Clean formulation
  • Great color payoff
  • Easy-to-blend texture
  • Crease-proof, long-wear finish
  • Universally flattering shades
  • Buildable formulas; layers easily for sheer shimmer to full-coverage metallic
  • Perfect for makeup minimalists, artists and connoisseurs alike
  • Eco-friendly; includes key to make sure you get every last bit out of the tube to maximize your shadow (and recycle properly, too)

Cons:

  • Dries quickly, so blend immediately!
  • Only includes one finish: shimmer


Danessa Myricks Groundwork Defining Neutrals Palette For Eyes, Brows, Face & Lips

If there was a palette that paletted, this is it. “Groundwork” is the do-it-all of multitaskers, featuring 10 shades in two textures each: velvety pomade (like a cream, but with greater grip and color payoff that can be used to set brows), and a pigment-locking powder that coordinates with the pomade. Use them wherever, however, to add color, contour, or definition on your eyes, brows, cheeks, and lips. For pro artists, this is a kit staple. For travelers, this is just as essential and quite the space saver; consider a third of your makeup routine taken care of just by packing this palette alone.

Pros:

  • Multipurpose—use for eyes, brows, face, and lips
  • Great color payoff
  • Easy-to-blend formulas
  • Universally flattering neutrals
  • Includes 10 shades in two textures each: creamy pomade and powder
  • Perfect for makeup artists and connoisseurs

Cons:

  • Pricey
  • Not suited for beginners

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About-Face Smokestick

These dual-ended sticks aren’t technically palettes either, but they do combine two shades in one component—just not in a pan each. Think of Smokesticks as a mini palette on the go in pencil form. One end is a cream crayon you can use all over the lids or as a liner, the other is a pre-dipped sponge applicator that delivers the perfect amount of powder eyeshadow to help set and smoke out your cream base. The color coordination cuts out the work of finding your perfect match, and if you’re out and about (or simply venturing into the beauty space as a newcomer), these grab-and-go stylos make creating a complete eye look a breeze. Simply scribble on and go.

 

Pros:

  • Travel-friendly
  • Ultra-compact
  • Great color payoff
  • Easy-to-blend formulas and just as easy to use—no brush needed
  • Includes cream and powder formulas
  • Perfect for makeup beginners, minimalists, and artists alike

Cons:

  • Limited color range

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