If there’s one thing that I can never seem to get enough of, and am always on the hunt for, it’s the perfect, neutral eyeshadow palette. Although I’d dabbled in my teens and at uni, my love affair with makeup really started in my early 20s when Bobbi Brown was launched and that was me done; Bobbi Brown is all about enhancing your natural beauty which absolutely resonated with me and prompted me to spend most of my twenties buying every shade of taupe, greige, beige and brown eyeshadow that I could get my mitts on!
As a redhead, with pink undertones, I was encouraged towards the cooler end of the colour spectrum (by makeup artists) and there I faithfully stayed until probably my mid 30s where I played around with greys, bronzes and warmer browns realising that they worked equally well with my bluey/grey eyes. As a 44-year-old make up addict the love is still real and despite the growing mound of neutral palettes in my collection, I still can’t resist a new launch, convincing myself that it’s just so different to the other bazillion that I have! Saying that, I’ve noticed that I’ve been reaching for the same handful of palettes over the last few months, some old, some new, and I think that they’re useful palettes to have in your makeup arsenal. So, if you’re looking to expand your collection or are new to playing with makeup and looking for a versatile all-rounder that will cover your options, here are my current favourite, neutral eyeshadow palettes.
MAC quad $20 per pan
Let’s start with a customizable option as MAC was one of the first to give us the option to curate our own palette and I think that they’re still a great starting point today; particularly if you’re relatively new to eyeshadow and feel overwhelmed with a larger palette where you know that you’ll use a few at most and waste the rest. MAC has a great range with multiple finishes from true matte, to satin, lustre, pearl and frost and everything else in between. Whilst not my absolute favourite formula, they’re loved by makeup artists everywhere, have got decent colour pay off and shades to cover every corner of the spectrum so you’ll always find what you’re looking for there.
I put together a handy little quad a couple of years ago and it’s still going strong. I’ve got Brulé (a satin, soft creamy-beige) Wedge, (a matte soft muted beige-taupe), Satin Taupe (a frost taupe with silver shimmer) and Woodwinked (a veluxe pearl warm antique gold). I love this little palette for its versatility, have taken it on weekends away and holiday and it’s covered all bases easily; Brulé is a great base colour for fair skin, Wedge is a great crease colour for a bit of extra definition and can be intensified for a pretty soft eye, Satin Taupe is a curious taupe shimmer with purpley/silver undertones which looks different on everybody and is a great colour to wash over the lid for an easy look and Woodwinked is my fave out of the four and is a beautiful warm gold which you can wear in the crease to warm up a look or on its own with a darker shade to smoke it up. It’s almost got a duo chrome quality that looks like two different shades when you blend it in to the crease and is just gorgeous.
Tom Ford Cocoa Mirage $122
The price is not for the faint hearted but I absolutely adore this palette, if only for the ridiculously stunning packaging alone. The quality is beautiful, the pans are huge (so you feel slightly placated by the price) and they are just buttery smooth and pigmented, so you can’t stuff up! Three out of the four shadows are matte shades which appeals to me as you can do a very naturally defined look all the way up to a full on smokey eye, with the chocolately shimmer shade a nice option for an evening look to up the ante. As you can see this palette does lean on the warmer side (the chocolate shimmer almost has reddish undertones) so if you’re wedded to cooler tones, this one might not be for you.
Nars Erdem Collection Fleur Fatale Palette $71
And on the subject of slightly cooler tones, I’ve been really loving this new (limited edition) palette for when I’m looking to move away from the purely matte and wanting to create a pretty, shimmery eye. I’m a fan of Nars shadows so was expecting a lot (with this one) and wasn’t disappointed. Aside from the packaging (which is stunning and just what you would expect from a collab with the experimental fashion designer Erdem), I love that it’s an interesting mix of greys, bronzes and plum so you can really do anything from a single wash of shimmery loveliness over the lid to a bolder eye with the deep grey or plum shades for an evening out. I have mainly used the four shades on the left-hand side of the palette to date, creating a pretty, subtle shimmery eye that works for a day in the office (with lots of mascara) but definitely intend to play with the deeper shades so that I can dial up the drama.
Urban Decay Naked2 Basics Eyeshadow Palette – $47
Staying on the cooler side of things, this little beauty is a corker. It’s small, travel friendly and one that I’ve carted around for many trips as it’s just great for creating a basic, matte, neutral eye. The shadows are silky smooth so lovely to apply, allowing you to apply just a sheer wash for a subtle look or layered up for a more dramatic effect. I have bluey/grey eyes, so this really works for me (with its neutral, grey and brown shades) when I want to play up the grey in my eyes and do a super quick look for a day at work. If this looks too cool for you but you like the idea of a versatile little compact, try the Naked Basics palette as the shades are on the warmer side.
Tarte Tartelette Amazonian Clay Matte Palette – $69
I bought this after watching Monika Blunder (celeb makeup artist in LA) using it on a model (on YouTube) and absolutely love it! The palette’s sturdy with an awesome mirror, the quality of the shadows is amazing, and it has everything from a pale/yellowy beige to a deep black. I also like that you have three rows of complimentary colours that you can use to pull together a look, so the guesswork is taken out of it; a warmer brown row, a pinkier, mauve row and a brown and greige row for those cooler moments. They are a little powdery, so I tap off any excess to avoid any drop down, but find that with one exception they are very easy to blend. Best Friend is the only problem child in this palette; it’s a medium purple tone that I find a little bit patchy and trickier to blend but as it’s not a shade that I reach for often it doesn’t bother me, and I wholly recommend this palette if you want to extend your neutral collection.
Tarte Tartelette in Bloom – $69
And finally, and still in the Tarte family, my absolute favourite at the moment – and one which I recommend to anybody who wants to buy an all-rounder is Tartelette in Bloom. There are no duds in this one, it’s just a beautifully curated line up of nine matte and three shimmery shades ranging from light beige and peaches to golds, bronze and deep browns. It’s on the slightly warmer side but has a good mix of neutral shades, is just really wearable and I reach for it most days at the moment. Simple matte brown eye using the deeper shades as eyeliners? Tick. Bronzey, coppery brown all over as a pretty wash? Tick.
So, there are my current faves. Which are yours as I’m always up for trying new palettes on for size?!