When it comes to buying an eyeshadow palette, it’s all too easy to pick one that’s eye-catching to look at rather than eye-catching on you. You know how it goes – one or two shades are quickly used up, leaving you with a selection of untouched hues.
Sound familiar? Well, let that be a beauty mistake you can firmly put behind you. It’s high time you got your money’s worth. We’ve rounded up the best eyeshadow palettes filled with wearable and flattering shades to match every taste, want and need – including the ones that are going to enhance your eye colour.
For inspiration, we spoke to Caroline Barnes, Max Factor make-up artist ambassador. “When choosing colours to make your eyes pop, go for contrast rather than match,” she says. “This will bring your eye colour to life and it is often the colours opposite each other on the colour wheel.”
Those with brown eyes are the lucky ones as most shades will suit – play around and have fun with colour. Meanwhile, those with blue eyes should reach for peaches and taupes, while those with grey peepers will suit steely cool tones. Those with green and hazel eyes should go for purples and plums.
From large palettes fit for make-up pros to more manageable quads and trios, we put the latest eyeshadow palettes to the test.
How we tested
To make the cut the eyeshadows had to be highly pigmented, easy to layer and blend, feel comfortable to wear and stay in place all day. We’re sure you’ll find one here that’s more than easy on the eye for you.
The best eyeshadow palettes for 2021 are:
- Best overall – Anastasia Beverly Hills soft glam II mini eyeshadow palette: £30, Spacenk.com
- Best for golden hues – Dior 5 couleurs couture summer dune eyeshadow palette in mirage: £50, Johnlewis.com
- Best value – Pixi + Tina Yong tones and textures eyeshadow palette: £22, Lookfantastic.com
- Best for green or hazel eyes – Max Factor colour x-pert soft touch palette in crushed blooms: £11.84, Amazon.co.uk
- Best for day to night – Too Faced teddy bare eyeshadow palette: £28.80, Lookfantastic.com
- Best pink shades – Charlotte Tilbury luxury palette in pillow talk: £40, Johnlewis.com
- Best for blue eyes – Fenty Beauty snap shadows mix and match eyeshadow palette in peach: £21, Boots.com
- Best metallics – Urban Decay naked honey eyeshadow palette: £40.43, Feelunique.com
- Best for glam occasions – Huda Beauty naughty nude eyeshadow palette: £58, Feelunique.com
- Best luxury palette – Pat McGrath Labs mothership V eyeshadow palette bronze seduction: £115, Selfridges.com
- Best for daytime – Victoria Beckham Beauty smoky eye brick in signature: £50, Cultbeauty.co.uk
- Best wearable shimmers – Nars eyeshadow quad in orgasm: £41, Lookfantastic.com
- Best everyday nudes – L’Oréal Paris emotions of nude eyes and cheeks blushing palette: £14.99, Lookfantastic.com
- Best for giving as a gift – By Terry V.I.P expert n3. Paris mon amour palette: £48, Spacenk.com
- Best customisable palette – Hourglass curator 3-pan custom palette: from £12, Cultbeauty.co.uk
- Best neon palette – Nyx professional make-up ultimate shadow palette in festival: £16, Lookfantastic.com
- Best for a modern smoky eye – Clarins ombre 4 colour eyeshadow palette in jade graduation: £34, Boots.com
- Best for a bronze smoky eye – Chanel les 4 ombres multi-effect quadra eyeshadow in lumieres et vibrations: £47, Boots.com
- Best blue eyeshadow – Lancome hypnose palette in drama denim: £43.50, Feelunique.com
- Best colourful palette – Lottie London eyeshadow palette in raspberry ripple: £5, Asos.com
Anastasia Beverly Hills soft glam II mini eyeshadow palette
When you take the fan favourites from two previous Anastasia Beverly Hills eyeshadow palettes and put them into one, you get this brilliantly versatile and carefully edited combination of shades – so you know none are going to go unused. From velvety neutral mattes to a champagne shimmer, there are colours for work or play. Take it up a notch with a metallic chocolate shade perfect for creating smoky effects when the occasion calls for glamour, or throw in a high-fashion matte mulberry to take you out of your eyeshadow comfort zone. We found, with so many looks in one, we didn’t want to reach for anything else.
Dior 5 couleurs couture summer dune collection eyeshadow palette in mirage
Best: For golden hues
Get your hands on this dreamy limited-edition palette with multi-tonal warm, metallic shades of luminous gold, copper and bronze. The Dior range of eyeshadow palettes are highly pigmented, creamy and easy-to-blend, meaning they always create a flawless finish – and this summer palette is no exception. We found that the shimmering shades look more natural than they appear in the palette, making them perfect for matching with a sun-kissed complexion.
Pixi + Tina Yong tones and textures eyeshadow palette
You can’t beat Pixi’s collaboration with make-up artist and influencer Tina Yong for such a wide selection of wearable shades. There are 25 long-lasting hues, from natural, everyday neutrals to chocolate mattes and metallics that suit all skin tones and eye colours. There are even some pops of bold colour in-between to encourage you to experiment with your beauty look. We found there really is a shade for every occasion in this palette, and all at such a reasonable price.
Max Factor colour x-pert soft touch palette in crushed blooms
Best: For green or hazel eyes
Think back to your school art lessons and you’ll remember purple is a complementary colour to green on the colour wheel. The same colour theory works for your eyeshadow choices too, so shades from pretty spring lilacs to richer deep plums are really going to make green or hazel eyes pop. This quad’s powder-to-cream range of shades stay in place all day and will make your eyes stand out, whether used as single washes of colour or blended together using the clever diagram on the back for guidance.
Too Faced teddy bare eyeshadow palette
Best: For day to night
Enriched with cinnamon and manuka honey for their soothing and anti-inflammatory properties, the first thing you notice about this slim-line palette when you open it up is its sweet fragrance. It contains 10 matte shades, with two of the most wearable ones being double the size, as well as four metallics to add a bit of sparkle. But what makes this palette really stand out are the two multi-dimensional metallic hues that add a wow factor to lids with their varying types of pigments and pearl sheens.
Charlotte Tilbury luxury palette in pillow talk
Best: For pink shades
Inspired by the brand’s iconic pinky-nude lipstick of the same name, this palette contains four stunning, romantic shades that will work with all skin tones and complement all eye colours. A champagne pink, dusky rose, matte brown and rose gold make up the quad of eyeshadows – all are ultra pigmented, super blendable and stay in place without fallout.
Fenty Beauty snap shadows mix and match eyeshadow palette in peach
Best: For blue eyes
There’s a palette to suit every taste and skin tone in Rihanna’s collection and, while these six warm, peachy nudes will work for everyone, they really make blue eyes pop. The packaging is designed so two palettes can cleverly snap together back to back, letting you combine sets to create your own bespoke collection. Smooth, super blendable and going nowhere once you’ve applied them, what’s not to love?
Urban Decay naked honey eyeshadow palette
Best: For metallics
The naked collection of palettes from Urban Decay are famous in the beauty world for always combining wearable colours to make light work of layering and blending. That includes this palette of 12 mixed mattes, metallics and shimmers. The true gold, bronze and copper shades in this can’t be beaten if you’re looking for show-stopping molten metallics, and they look particularly beautiful on sun-kissed complexions.
Huda Beauty naughty nude eyeshadow palette
Best: For glam occasions
It’s almost impossible to pick a favourite from Huda Kattan’s brilliant eyeshadow palette collection, as there truly is one for every taste. If you really have to twist our arm, this one gets first place as we always reach for it when the occasion calls for glamour or an after-dark smoky eye. There are 18 shades to pick from in various finishes, from velvety soft mattes to high shine metallics, but it’s the reflective marble finishes that are the most fun to experiment with.
Pat McGrath Labs mothership V eyeshadow palette bronze seduction
Best for: Luxury palette
The eyeshadow palettes from Pat McGrath, the most influential make-up artist on the planet (according to Anna Wintour), are collector’s items for beauty obsessives. They’re almost too fabulous to put a make-up brush anywhere near, but, we couldn’t help ourselves as these shades offer such beautiful, multi-toned and textured combinations. Snyone that knows anything about make-up will know you’re wearing Pat McGrath Labs.
Victoria Beckham Beauty smokey eye brick in signature
Best: For daytime
The design of Victoria Beckham’s eyeshadow palettes are as chic as the lady herself. They’re no bigger than a credit card and housed in a beautiful brass compact. But, what makes it truly stand out from the crowd is the pressed technology that allows for all four shades to sit together in one large pan. This one is our favourite out of the entire range, as it creates a classic contoured look perfect for everyday wear with a neutral beige base, soft peach, deep brown and medium taupe. However, the “royal” palette isn’t far behind with its show-stopping electric blue shades.
Nars eyeshadow quad in orgasm
Best: Wearable shimmers
Just like the iconic blush it’s named after, this peachy-pink toned palette is another universally flattering offer from Nars. It contains three easy-to-wear shimmers in golden, light pink champagne and light cocoa, plus a matte coral. Use together or solo for eye-opening effects. We like to match the eyeshadow with the blush on the apples of our cheeks, which might just be our favourite new beauty look.
L’Oréal Paris emotions of nude eyes and cheeks blushing palette
Best: Everyday nudes
Packed with 16 matte, shimmer and glitter finishes in a range of shades, this versatile nude palette not only works well on lids but cheeks too, for a natural-looking flush of colour. Peaches, violets and golden shades are just some of the hues in this palette that we found were brilliant for creating more natural looks.
By Terry V.I.P expert n3. Paris mon amour palette
Best: For giving as a gift
Eyeshadow palettes don’t come much prettier than this one, which is inspired by the most romantic city in the world and embossed with iconic landmarks. From long-lasting soft mattes to metallics that can be used both dry and wet, you can easily create versatile looks that are fit for the office, date night or a fun-filled evening with friends. It makes a beautiful gift for a make-up lover or as a treat for yourself.
Hourglass curator 3-pan custom palette
Best: Customisable eyeshadow palette
Make unused shades in your palette a thing of the past with these new customisable three- or five-pan palettes. Choose from a vast collection of 40 shades (£28, Cultbeauty.co.uk), in matte, satin, metallic or shimmer finishes to make endless combinations to fill it with. Not only does it ensure no more waste but the sleek gold palettes are made from recycled tin and plastic and the single pans are recyclable aluminium. We’ve previously recommended the brand’s lipstick in our round-up of the best refillable beauty products.
Nyx professional makeup ultimate shadow palette in festival
Best: Neon palette
Whether you’ve got a festival in the diary or a summer shindig that calls for you to stand out from the crowd, you’ll love the selection of bright, neon and glittery shades that this palette has to offer. There are 16 matte, satin, shimmer and metallic eyeshadows to express yourself with and they’ll stay in place, no matter how late it gets. Go on, be bold!
Clarins ombre 4 colour eyeshadow palette in jade graduation
Best: For a modern smoky eye
If you’ve mastered the smoky eye technique, try being adventurous with this jewel-toned palette for a colourful twist. It has a line-up of six new colour combinations, housed in a lightweight mirrored compact that’s perfect for travel and touch-ups — not that you’ll need to reapply with these long-lasting shades. The pop of green will bring to life all irises, especially when paired with a nude lip to keep the focus on the eyes.
Chanel les 4 ombres multi-effect quadra eyeshadow in lumieres et vibrations
Best: For a bronze smoky eye
The classic luxe quads from Chanel never disappoint when it comes to putting well-matched shades together, and this one is no exception. We found it makes a timeless bronze smoky eye, which is as classic a make-up look as a bright red lip. In fact, we recommend putting the two together for old-fashioned Hollywood glamour. The coppery peach and antique gold shades also make stand-out solo hues.
Lancome hypnose palette in drama denim
Best for: Blue eyeshadows
If you’re looking to put some colour into your eyeshadow collection but don’t know where to start, may we suggest this shimmering palette of blues. There’s been a lot of love for this eyeshadow shade on Instagram this summer, and that’s because it’s much more wearable and universally flattering than people think. From natural daytime looks to dramatic high fashion experiments, Lancome has it all in its long-wearing and highly pigmented palette collection, but these denim shades are a stand-out for us for creating a softer wash of colour or a sultry smoky eye.
Lottie London eyeshadow palette in raspberry ripple
Best for: Colourful palette
Sometimes you just want to try a trend or experiment with colour without the hefty price tag of a luxury palette, and that’s where the Lottie London collection fits in: they’re fashion-forward hues that are well pigmented without breaking the bank. We fell for this raspberry-toned palette, with a mix of pink, berry and mauve shades that have been a big trend for 2021.
The verdict: Eyeshadow palettes
When factoring in price, performance and shade range, our best buy goes to the Anastasia Beverly Hills soft glam II mini eyeshadow palette. The careful edit creates versatile day-to-night looks with long-lasting, highly-pigmented pans. For beauty obsessives, all the Pat McGrath palettes are true collector’s items, with such unique shades. And for value, the Pixi + Tina Yong tones and textures eyeshadow palette wins hands down, with so many shades to choose from.
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