How's that for a click-baity post title, my dear readers? But hear me out, I think I'm onto something here. I will freely admit that I'm a neutral eyeshadow palette lover. After getting my greedy little paws on the Urban Decay Naked palette all those years ago, I fell down the rabbit hole of finding THE PERFECT neutral eyeshadow palette. There's just something about palettes as a make-up item that ticks all the right boxes for me: the packaging and design is often beautiful and well thought-out, they're wearable and practical for every day, they have variety for creating different looks, they often contain Limited Edition 'unique' shades, and the value for money is hard to beat. What's not to love?
I did manage to contain my initial purchasing craze quite a bit in the past year and a half, but still. In this wishlist post
back in 2014, I talked about lemming after the Naked Basics palette, which in the end I did manage to resist, but instead purchased a Physicians Formula matte quad in Canyon Classics (here
) - all because I was convinced I needed more basic mattes to compliment my neutral eye looks. Last year, I bought bareMinerals READY 8.0 palette in The Posh Neutrals (here
), because somehow bareMinerals' pressed eyeshadows became 'my thing'. And then I also got Makeup Revolution's Death By Chocolate large neutral palette (here
), because I didn't own any of the original Too Faced Chocolate Bars and thought that this drugstore version suited my color preferences much better.
ANYWAY - right now, I own 4 premade eyeshadow palettes (the two mentioned above + discontinued Stila E! On The Red Carpet and the currently panned theBalm Nude'Tude), and 3 larger magnetic palettes (two Z-Palettes, one old MAC 15 Pan) filled with singles and depots from other premade eyeshadow palettes I used to own. I also have one small Z-Palette and just a couple quads and quints. It doesn't seem like an excessive amount for a palette junkie like me (especially when you compare it to my Eyeshadow Palette Collection post
from 2014), and I can honestly say that one of my reasons for embarking on Pan That Palette 2016 challenge was to get as much use out of my Nude'Tude as possible within a year, and then promptly replace it with a shiny brand new palette. But now, I don't think that's gonna happen.
After using theBalm Nude'Tude almost daily for 4.5 months, I have a lot of thoughts and feels about eyeshadows in general and palettes in particular. Even though I've been blogging about beauty for 7 years now and have always loved wearing eyeshadow, I don't think I have ever had such a clear understanding of what works for me and what doesn't. You may remember me saying at the last Pan That Palette update (here
) that I wasn't happy with how three of the darkest shades (marked with an 'X' in the photo above) - Sophisticated, Silly and Sleek - would all end up looking the same shade of muddy charcoal once blended out on my eyes. In a palette with 5 dark shades (which I wear as either outer corner or lash line definition colors), I'm down to just 2 that I enjoy working with: Sexy mostly in the outer corner, Serious to line the eyes.
|Clockwise from top: Too Faced Sexpresso (from the old Natural Eye palette), Stila Captivate from the d/c In The Moment palette, theBalm Serious, theBalm Sleek, bareMinerals Apropos from The Truth quad, Inglot Matte 326.|
That discovery was quite interesting to me, because to the naked eye, Sophisticated, Silly and Sleek are all very different in the pan. That in turn got me thinking how I'm rarely very excited about any of those dark browns (or greys, or khakis, or plums...) in any of my neutral palettes, and I was hard pressed to come up with a favorite outer corner shade from the top of my head. I sat down at my vanity and laid out all my larger palettes, and decided to swatch some - not all - of those dark matte (or semi matte) shades to compare.
|L-R: theBalm Sleek, theBalm Serious, Inglot Matte 326, Too Faced Sexpresso, Stila Captivate, bareMinerals Apropos. Stila Captivate was the driest, least pigmented and most fall-out prone, and I've decided to declutter it.|
And SURPRISE SURPRISE: they're almost all the same. Even if they appear quite dissimilar in the pan, or even in my heavy, packed on swatch, once blended out on the eyes, they're virtually identical. But you know, maybe I could just ignore all the dark defining shades in the different eyeshadow palettes on the market, and instead concentrate on those shadows that I use a lot more - let's say, matte highlighting shades. Everyone agrees they're an absolute staple and a must-have in a well-balanced palette, am I right? Back to swatchy swatching, then.
|Counterclockwise from the top: bareMinerals Five Star (from d/c The Finer Things palette), Too Faced Heaven (from the old Natural Eye palette), matte ivory from Physicians' Formula Canyon Classics quad, bareMinerals Seredipitous from The Truth quad, Stila Cinema (from d/c E! On The Red Carpet), Stila Desire (from d/c In The Moment palette).|
So yeah, okay, they're not all the same - with the exception of Too Faced Heaven and the lightest shade from Physicians' Formula Canyon Classics quad, which clearly are dupes. But again - once I blend them out on my eyes, the end result is pretty much the same. And before you guys say that matte off-white shades and matte dark browns don't make a palette, that often constitutes half of the shades provided. And I could easily continue this exercise with matte transition/ crease shades (except I'd have to split my comparison into cool, neutral and warm-toned; idea for another post, perhaps?) AS WELL AS any of the shimmery lid shades. Champagne, taupe, gold, bronze - you name it, I already have it (as evidenced in this
swatch post, for example).
|L-R: bareMinerals Five Star, Too Faced Heaven, Physicians' Formula Canyon Classics, bareMinerals Serendipitous, Stila Cinema, Stila Desire. All swatched better with a finger than a brush, the Stila shade from In The Moment palette was again the worst formula - but I'm keeping it for now.|
I guess you could always decide to simply collect these neutral eyeshadow palettes as pretty toys to take out once in a while and admire, but that's not the reason why I personally love and use make-up. Or you could just treat every palette as a completely separate being, without worrying about overlap between them and having multiple dupes of basic shades. But I value variety - I don't want to feel like I just spent my hard-earned money on the same thing all over again. And AGAIN.
I don't think I'll ever go back to purchasing those premade palettes; as you can see, I usually end up ripping them apart anyway, giving away shadows I don't like or have plenty of dupes for and keeping the remaining depots in my freeform magnetic palettes. With the amount of eyeshadow I own, I hardly see how a just-released neutral palette can possibly bring anything new to my collection.
Let's consider two eyeshadow palettes I've been lemming for a while: the Kat Von D Shade and Light Eye palette and the Tarte Tartelette in Bloom. As demonstrated above, I don't need any more matte highlighting or defining shades - that's already about 50-70% (depending on their actual depth on my fair skintone) of those palettes proven superfluous. Now for the lid/ medium depth shadows in between, I was mostly excited about playing with a matte warm rusty peach transition shade, and a rich reddish chocolate brown for the outer corner. A quick search on Temptalia, and I could easily get those two new-to-me shades of eyeshadow via MAC's single pans in Soft Brown, and maybe Swiss Chocolate. Or something from Makeup Geek. Or Inglot. Or Anastasia Beverly Hills.
But in the meantime, armed with my newly flexed swatchy critical analysis skill, I'm actually going to sit down and fish out some shades from my existing palettes that may fill that lemming before blindly ordering two more shadows for my already brimming collection. Like with my three most recent palette purchases - I actually already owned similar shades in other palettes in my stash. I had had dupes for all the four shades in PF Canyon Classics, and dupes for about 70% of the bareMinerals Posh Neutrals and Makeup Revolution Death by Chocolate. And judging by how quickly I'm able to use an entire pan up, that's enough eyeshadow for another decade. It really is.
So that's what I've been recently pondering about. I'm not actually vowing to never purchase another eyeshadow palette - some shadows get old and may need to be replaced eventually, or I may find myself a neutrals-only girl no longer and lusting after some colorful blues and greens. But for the foreseeable future, I'm not going to buy another palette, or most likely even a trio, quad or a quint. What is your opinion on neutral eyeshadow palettes? Is it something you love and will always be drawn to, or do you find them boring and repetitive? I'd love to hear your thoughts!
Yeah, I'm with you Monika. But I've taken it even further-I'm not buying anymore eyeshadows period. I barely use them these days, and if I do wear shadow it's usually a cream or shadow stick. Easier, faster and stays put better for me.ReplyDelete
I definitely see where you're coming from, Tracy - even though I love playing with powder shadows, I'd still consider them an 'extra' step in a make-up routine. I'm sure creams and crayons will get a lot more use around here once the tiny human arrives in October. Ha - I'll probably be lucky if I manage even that :DDelete
Second what Tracy said. I so rarely wear eyeshadows now anyway (which by the way, has a LOT to do with the 'tiny human' situation, so your creams and crayons might not even get much love, either!) so I have stopped buying them even though I sometimes see a shade or two that tempt me! I've been off palettes though for years - maybe I never really was 'on' them, it just always seemed like I would only wear 1-2 shades regularly and like you, I buy makeup to wear it, and I also like variety - so I think you're plan here is a good one :)Delete
This is an interesting discovery! I have a similar attitude toward makeup. It's not a collector's item for me or a luxurious treat; I want it all to be useful and functional. Nothing wrong with people who feel differently, but that attitude definitely determines how I value things and what I want to own. I don't have any of the classic or most popular neutrals palettes, but I do have more than enough neutrals among all the eyeshadows I own to accomplish anything I want!ReplyDelete
I think that I have a natural proclivity towards collecting, but now as an adult, I don't want to keep hoarding stuff and need to develop a more critical attitude towards the things I own. I think if I sat down and started comparing and contrasting my neutral eyeshadow palettes two or three years ago, I probably wouldn't have amassed - and then decluttered - this many.Delete
I also have some issues with nude and basic eyeshadow palettes. My skin tone (light neutral) absorbs nearly every kind of taupe. Pink, orange, gold, bronze, white and grey are the worst shades for me. I came to the result that medium to dark shades are the best for me. Thinking of neutrals these are browns with red or plum undertones, neutral browns, dark taupes, anthracite ... As I don't like using light eyeshadows (they make me look sick and enlarge my outstanding eyes), I was looking for an eyeshadow palettes with one matte vanilla shade, several non-taupe midtone shades and lots of dark shades. Hopelessly most palettes are the opposite. They contain either a lot of light and some dark shades or only light and medium shades.ReplyDelete
I was really surprised by the Naked Basics Palette after seeing and reading a lot of reviews on different skin tones and ethnies. I have bought one but I am not contented with it. I cannot use Venus, W.O.S. and Foxy look the same, Naked2 disappears, Faint is good and Crave so black. I ended up using only Foxy (browbone) and Faint (lid), because Crave was too black and hard to handle. Now I dunno what to do with that palette, but I can not give it away because it costed 29€ (approx 35$)
Soon I realized that there is no perfect palette for me and my skin tone. I can wear only 50% of the shades neutral palettes usually contain. I thought a lot about creating my own palette with INGLOT eyeshadows, but I'm missing an empty palette for 4 or 6 eyeshadows which is travel-safe. Speaking of travelling I have serious problems in packing because I still don't own any palette I can use without additional monos (usually I'm missing a vanilla shade and/or dark brown), but I don't like packing monos either.
Now I'm having a lot of blah palettes and about 100 mono eyeshadows (60% are coloured, 40% neutrals and browns) and I dunno what to do. I also realized, that I use smokey eye shades 80% of all days... I only come back to neutrals when I meet up with professionals or when my skin is too red to use green, blue or purple ^^"
I think you're right that you dont need palettes, but what do you usually pack when you travel? I don't even think that you need more than 1-2 neutral palettes at all.
Hi Lila! When I travel, I usually either pack a neutral quad, like my Dior Earth Reflections, or I take a small Z-Palette filled with various depots I'm liking at the moment. I would suggest that magnetic palette to you too - you could try depotting some of your monos or maybe even palettes and combine those pans into the Z-Palette for your perfect color combos.Delete
I think I'm opposite when it comes to eyeshadow depth preferences - those darker shades that seem to really work for you tend to look very dramatic and overpowering on my fair skin. I don't feel very comfortable in a smokey eyes, unless it's done with medium depth shades. Kudos to you for rocking bolder and colorful looks!
I have depotted some eyeshadows, but I don't use them. I don't get used to that "messy" and irregular look of Z-Palettes or self made palettes. Therefore it was totaly redundant to depot my eyeshadows :-/Delete
Finally I gave up searching for a perfect refillable system which contains all eyeshadow shades I usually use. Most MAC Eyeshadows don't work well on my skin tone, INGLOT and Kiko offers neutrals but not the colourful ones. We don't gave Make Up For Ever here.
I understand the point. I feel as much uncomfortable with light eyeshadows. Give some colourful shades a try, perhaps you also get used to it. Cheers!
This is such a breath of fresh air. I think that large palettes are great for beginners to get a feel for colors that work on them, and I've been lucky that the palettes I have (Naked 2, Wet 'n' Wild Comfort Zone) have filled this need. Though I won't be buying any eyeshadow in the near future, I think that small palettes or singles that more narrowly suit me will be the way to go.ReplyDelete
I used to be so incredibly tempted by the Naked 2! And then surprise surprise, everyone stopped talking about it :P I definitely think that for a beginner, a larger palette is a great way to experiment with looks and figure out what they like best to invest in later on. I think at some point I had so many palettes that I would just do the same look over and over with every one, but because I was switching them around, I still felt like the looks were all different, lol.Delete
For me, I feel like convenience is a factor. I hate depotting and will never do it, so having two palettes that maybe have one or two overlap shades, and slightly different remaining shades, or different themes (e.g., cool and warm) isn't a big deal to me, and I'll use them equally. I tend to look at overall volume rather than fishing out dupes, but I do try not to buy too many that are very similar. It's fun to see the different perspectives and uses, even amongst junkies! Haha!ReplyDelete
I think over time, I became really obsessed with depotting shadows and creating my own combinations, especially in the small Z-Palette (post coming soon). But I think if you have a few palettes and use them independently, then it's definitely not a huge problem if there are some dupes here and there.Delete
I went through a similar analysis with my meagre-in-comparison eyeshadow collection and came to similar conclusions. For me, there's a separation between makeup products as objects and the way they work on the face -- oftentimes many, many things I already own basically achieve the same effect! I couldn't turn down my colleague's recent offer of the Lorac Pro palette for £15 though :DReplyDelete
I have the same feelings as you! I absolutely hate how all palettes have similar brow highlighter and dark shades. It seems like I'm just paying for repeats. The only thing that makes me weak in the knees is the beautiful composition of neutral palettes. Sigh...ReplyDelete
One of the lessons I've learned during my low-buy is that differences that look obvious in the pan can be invisible on the eye. Blogs focus so much on pan photos and arm swatches that it's easy to forget that one shimmery taupe looks much the same as another when actually worn. I'm lucky, though: I almost always wear neutral eyeshadows, but I also find them kind of boring, so it's easy for me not to go overboard with neutral palettes. Lipstick, on the other hand...oh boy.ReplyDelete
That's so true - I mean look at those dark shades in the Nude'Tude, they really look very different in the pan, but on my eyes? Those three all become muddy and grey :( I'm kinda feeling more vibrant shades for the outer corner, not all shades of charcoal!Delete
You know, I was in a similar lipstick situation, until I realized that I started buying the same shades again and again. At some point I think I had five dupes in a warm pink/ rosey red shade category.
I think this is an interesting observation Monika :) Like Larie, I'm not into depotting either, so I'd lean towards owning different palettes that may or may not have similar shades in them, simply because I prefer having them whole, and letting someone else do the legwork for me. That said, I also appreciate brands that do good quality singles that you can assemble and for this, I really like Make Up For Ever. That said, I don't wear a lot of bright coloured shadow these days, and I understand how neutral tones do tend to meld into each other after a while, which does lead to a certain feeling of disenchantment. It happens to me too. So, I'm not buying much anymore, as I already have a sizeable range to pick from in my stash. But I cannot deny that my head is turned often by the new things on offer, but only from certain brands. After all, I reason that some of the older stuff do need to go so there's always room for new ones hehe...ReplyDelete
I had the Naked Basics 2 and because i don´t like some of the colours i give the palette away and buy the two shades i like from Urban Decay as single eyeshadows. And i love my Mac Palettes, because you can buy a refill and have only colours you love in it :)ReplyDelete
I have enjoyed reading this blog + all the comments as I'm nodding along throughout. I'd say that the thinking that goes into creating this palette is such that they are "catch all" and can capture a broad majority of consumer's taste out there. As such, things are bound to be repeated, duplicated, if not on the pan at least similarly on the skin.ReplyDelete
I haven't bought any palettes for ages.. the ones I bought were Chanel Quads (and I do buy different tones of them), Dior, etc, but not larger palettes like UD. Even within those palettes that I owned, I notice a theme right away of pairing certain tones with each other. I think if I were to save my money, I'd go and purchase Suqqu palette, which to me, is a bit unique in terms of color pairings compared to palettes from Western brands. Good read, Monika!! Thanks for posting this.
YESSS!!! Finally someone who thinks like I do! I love eyeshadows over anything else (or maybe right up there with lip products) but I've never been much into palettes because I've always pretty much the same way. You have one palette for the season, you have them all. With very few exceptions of course. And it's not like they're not tempting with all the hype that surrounds every new palette release, but every time I do that same thing of trying to find dupes in my collection or I end up identifying the one or two shades that are actually attractive to me in that new palette and then just buy that shade if I don't already own it (which 80% of times I already do)ReplyDelete
I'm so happy to realize I'm not the only one who sees things this way!