Since October 2018, when I received my first Boxycharm monthly makeup subscription box, I have become slightly makeup obsessed. I think it’s fun to try new things and see what different looks I can come up with. I am a person who for years – years! – considered a combo foundation/powder, mascara, and Chapstick all I needed. So to make the leap into doing real makeup looks has been fun and (at times) frustrating. I have purchased 18 eyeshadow palettes since I first got into doing my makeup and have found there is a vast difference in quality, usability, color, and powder formula among all my palettes.
I thought it would be fun to rank my palettes from worst to best, and include why I ranked them the way I did. This is completely my own opinion based on how I used these palettes, and I purchased everything here with my own money. Also, I am 40 and go to a regular job, so I try to stick with striking but wearable eye looks. I can’t go to work all Instagram glam, so I would say my eye looks are in the “glowy but not hoey” category (to borrow a Tati Westbrook term). Ok, here we go!
My Eyeshadow Palettes Ranked from Worst to Best:
18. Essence Spice Up Your Life Eyeshadow Palette, $9.99 ulta.com
I bought this on a whim at Ulta when I first started buying eyeshadow palettes. I liked the way the colors looked and for $10, who can argue? The problem is that when I used them, there was nothing there.
In the palette the colors look beautiful, but they are fluffy and powdery and blow away before I can get anything done on my eyes. They were also patchy. I also have trouble using this for a full eye look because they are almost all shimmers – so I have no mattes to blend underneath. Putting straight shimmers on my 40-year-old eyelids is a no go! I don’t ever reach for this palette because my first few times of using it were so disappointing.
17. Pur Festival Palette, $36 ulta.com
I got this in a Boxycharm box, and I was really excited . . . until it arrived. I just find it really hard to get a look using just this palette. Plus, the sparkly shades are actually glittery and I am used to more shimmer/duo chrome/foil shades. The glitter shades (bottom right and middle right) are actually . . . greasy? That’s the best way I can think of to describe them. After I put them on my lids, it feels like I am wearing Vaseline which is not a good feeling. Also, I felt like the greasy glitters accentuated my eye creases. Also: not good.
To me, the shades in here don’t seem to “go together” that well. There are only a couple matte shades, and I really am at a loss for how to layer the matte colors they give you with the shimmer or glitter shades. Overall, I just found this palette really difficult to get a nice look with, which is why I ranked it so low. Could be my lack of experience and not the palette’s fault . . . but I can’t be sure.
16. Tarte Rainforest of the Sea, Vol. 3, $36 Sephora.com
This little guy was another Boxycharm item that I thought I would love until I had it. The problem with it is that it’s boring. All the colors are similar and they’re all shimmer. Again, my 40 year old eyelids do not like 8 shimmer shades packed on, those little eyelid creases just can’t handle that.
Plus, with the colors being so neutral, there’s no where to go with a look. I can’t darken my outer edges and have a nice crease color . . . because the colors are so close in shade. That dark brown you see in the photo above on the right isn’t really dark when I put it on my skin.
On the Sephora website, they list it as a “highlighting” eye palette, so maybe I’m using it wrong? Plus it’s actually packed with good ingredients and has no parabens, phthalates, mineral oil, triclosan, or gluten, so you could do way worse. I do like the design of the palette and the nice big mirror in the lid, but if I’m not actually using it that stuff doesn’t matter so much, right? I really wanted to love this palette but I. Just. Don’t. Sad face.
15. Suva Protégé, $34 suvabeauty.odoo.com
Is this an eye palette? Or a highlight palette? Orrrr both? I’m actually not sure what the hell it’s all supposed to do which is why I have a hard time using it.
The colors are pretty. I just haven’t found a “look” I can do with this palette that makes sense to me, so I don’t really find myself grabbing it because I have so many others that are better and do make sense to me. Sorry, Suva, it’s not you . . . I think it’s me.
14. Juvia’s Place Saharan, $20 ulta.com
The shadows are gorgeous. The price is amazing. The pan size is ginormous. So, what’s the problem? Actually, the colors are too pigmented. That’s right, I don’t use this palette much because I’m scared of it. These colors are intense and I’m afraid I’ll come off that that old wrinkled lady with the garish eye makeup but nobody wants to tell her because she thinks it’s beautiful.
It’s actually nothing against this palette at all, it’s fabulous! I just don’t know if I have the skill or the skin to pull this off and not look like a freak. Maybe I will take some more time to play with it and see if I can calm my poor makeup nerves enough to come up with something that is wearable on the daily.
13. NYX Off Tropic, $20 ulta.com
This Off Tropic palette worried me at first (shimmer green? shimmer orange?) but once I worked with it a little, it was less scary. There are actually some really nice looks in here! I did notice a bit of fading and creasing as I wore these throughout the day which is why I only ranked it at #13.
Overall the quality was not the worst (especially for a palette I purchased at Walmart – at the time I didn’t really know the brand so I didn’t know if they were good quality or not!)
12. Morphe 15D Day Slayer Artistry Palette, $16 morphe.com
I’ve heard so much about Morphe eye palettes and also their brushes, so I was excited for this palette, but I don’t “love it” love it. For me, this palette is decent. It consists of warm browns, bronzes and oranges, so I think I will use it a LOT in the fall, but for summer I am not pulling it out much just because I don’t really want to create looks featuring these colors yet.
Check back in with me when the leaves are turning color and everyone else is sprinkling pumpkin spice on their face as a bronzer and I might be using it a lot more often. The quality of the shadows I’ve used from it so far are good and the colors are definitely pretty, so I am just holding out for the right season on this one.
11. L’oreal Silver Couture Eye Shadow Quad 110, $8.97 Walmart.com
I picked up this silver eyeshadow quad from Walmart because I was desperate for grey/silver eyeshadows. This was the only thing I could find in the entire makeup section that offered some form of grey! Everything (and I mean that) was either neutrals or browns. When I got home, I searched Google to see if any company offered a grey eye palette, and I will show you what I found in #10, the Kara Beauty palette.
As for this little shadow quad, I actually like it much more than I thought I would. To the touch, the shadows are really soft and buttery. The sparkle shades make nice toppers for using the matte grey shades from the Kara Smoky palette. Overall, I thought this was a really nice set of silver shadows. My only gripe is that $9 seems a bit much for just 4 shadows, especially at the drugstore.
10. Kara Beauty Smoky Grey, $22.99 ilovekara.com
I am so over browns, tans, browns, neutrals. I need wearable shades, but sheesh . . . I also don’t want boring! So after purchasing the L’oreal quad above, I found Kara Beauty offered an entire palette featuring just grey shadows. And better yet, the palette has 15 shades in oversized pans, so the value for what you spend is good.
I did notice one day I did a grey eye look and it looked very blue-ish to me, which wouldn’t be bad if I wanted blue . . . but I didn’t. However, the next time I achieved a very nice grey smoky eye, which was exactly what I was looking for so I would say this palette met my expectations. Since hardly any other brands offer this, I am happy with these shadows.
9. Ace Beaute Classical Paradise, $34.99 acebeaute.com
I ordered this palette online after I had been using the Ace Grandiose Palette and loving it, which is at #6 on this list. Just like the Grandiose, the formula is awesome and easy to use. I do have a little trouble with the colors – some, like the greens, yellows and deep reds are exotic and I have to be ok with a bold look for the day if I pull this palette out.
There are both mattes and shimmers in the palette, so I have found that I can create a complete look with just this palette and it turns out well.
8. Natasha Denona Mini Sunset, $25 Sephora.com
Ahhh, Natasha Denona. I will never spend $129 on one of her regular sized palettes (kinda like Pat McGrath palettes, eek!), so these little minis are perfect for someone who wants to try her shadows for a (comparably) reasonable price. I like this sunset mini because I can do the tan over the whole lid, the brown in my crease and then finish with the shimmer shades and voila! A complete eye look. I do have to say, though . . . are they so amazing that nothing else compares? Actually, no. I have spent less on palettes on this list that I like more. So I am not sure why her eye shadows are priced so high compared to other makeup brands? To me they’re just “good,” so maybe we’re partly paying for the name.
7. In Between the Upside Down, $35, on sale now for $30 misfitbeautyco.com
Yes, I am obsessed with Stranger Things. I even had a dream about Hopper during the second season that my family still teases me mercilessly about. What can I say, I have a teeny crush.
So when I saw this eyeshadow palette reviewed on Youtuber Nadi’s channel (PopLuxe), I ordered it during the video. I have to say, I ended up being really impressed with these shadows. My only one “complaint” (and it’s not even really a complaint) is that some of these shadows are so bold that I am unsure how to wear them.
I have done several eye looks using these and loved how they turned out. I even used that very green “Hawkins” shade together with the “Eggo” sparkle yellow and it turned out really nice. I do have to mix an eye look with other palettes, though since most of these are shimmers.
6. Ace Beaute Grandiose Palette, $24.99 acebeaute.com
This was my very first palette. It came in the October 2018 Boxy and I absolutely adore these shadows. They are gorgeous. They are very soft and easy to blend. My only tiny issue is that I don’t always feel bold enough for a red/burgundy eye look, so I have to be in the right mood to use this palette.
Of course, an eye look can also be done with the brown/bronze colors, so you can get several looks just by using the colors they give you here. This brand’s formulas are awesome and their packaging is gorgeous, so you really can’t go wrong!
5. Juvia’s Place Warrior Palette, $20 ulta.com
Just like the other Juvia’s Place palette I have at #14, the pan size in the Warrior palette is huge and the shadows are really nice quality. While I found the other palette to be very bold color-wise, I feel that this one goes in the opposite direction: it’s very neutral tans and browns. Which is ok, if that’s the look you want. For years I pretty much thought browns and tans were all I could do, and now that I know otherwise – that classic look is a little boring to me. I want some color most days!
That’s just a personal thing though. I still like this palette and these colors, and if you’re into browns and tans, this is a great, affordable palette to get.
4. Anastasia Beverly Hills “Norvina,” $42 Sephora.com
The thing about the ABH Norvina Palette that bugs me is that I can’t wrestle it away from my 14-year-old daughter. She discovered the Rose Gold shade and is obsessed. But when I do get my hands on it, I like the pretty looks that can be created with it. The cover of the palette gives a hint that the color story will be revolving around lavender, and it does.
You can do pinks, purples, browns, and combo looks with this palette. There’s a nice mix of mattes, shimmers and foils that are amazing. The shadow formula is good and this palette is really easy to use (unlike some of the other ABH ones, I guess). I do find that the velvety cover is hard to keep clean. You can see in the first photo that mine has makeup stains on it. But who’s looking at our palettes, anyway?
3. Ciate Glitter Storm Palette, $30 Sephora.com
I was worried when I ordered this palette that I was falling for the pretty package and that the shadows inside wouldn’t be good. Boy, was I wrong! This palette is amazing. I took just this on a weekend away and not only does it travel well because of how sturdy it is, but it also let me do my full eye makeup for 3 days with no other palettes. Plus the whole lid is filled with a mirror.
The three sparkle shades in the top row are some of my all time favorite shadows! They just add a nice touch as a topper for any makeup look, and all I have to do is press them on with my finger. Every look I’ve done with this palette is beautiful, and the cool star glitter case is just a bonus!
2. Jeffree Star Blood Sugar Palette, $52 jeffreestarcosmetics.com
Ok, I admit: some of the shadow colors in this palette are terrifying. But I’ve actually done several “red” eye looks and they are beautiful. You definitely don’t want this palette if you are afraid of color! Some days I finish my eye look and I get really nervous because I am normally not an “out there” makeup person . . . but then I remember I had purple hair for a year, so red eye shadow? Sure.
I love that these shadows are super easy to work with and blending is a breeze. Plus, this palette has a TON of shadow. I have no idea how I would ever use it all. Some people may not love that the palette itself is huge, but I have no trouble fitting it and all my others in my one eye shadow palette drawer. It feels nice and sturdy, and would be super easy to travel with (I plan to take it with me on our New Orleans vacation in a week) because of the clasp closure.
I love the gold shimmer shades as toppers, the pure white as a base and the peachy/pinky shades because they make great transition colors. I have even started to use the darker colors on the outer corner of my eyes and they look nice. Love him or hate him, (I love him, BTW) Jeffree Star knows what the hell he’s doing.
1. Too Faced Natural Lust Palette, $59 Sephora.com
I debated about this palette for 3 weeks and put it in my basket on Sephora.com and then took it back out at least three times. I was so nervous to spend that much money on eyeshadow. I mean seriously, several years ago it was a struggle to buy groceries and now I wanted to spend $60 on something I’m wearing on my eyes?! But Oh. My. Gawd. These are gorgeous! I reach for this palette several times a week. Probably if I owned JUST this palette, I would be happy.
The colors are beautiful. They all blend beautifully and easily. It even comes with a booklet with several eye looks and how to achieve them, which I find SUPER helpful. The looks are easy and have turned out gorgeous every time I tried them. I even did the green/yellow look (on the left, below) and it was stunning. When strangers compliment my eye makeup, I know something must be right, and I’ve had that happen with these shadows.
The shimmery toppers are gorgeous and all I have to do is press them on with my finger. If I could be in love with eye shadow, I would be in love with this palette. Or, in Lust, I guess. Ha ha.
So, there you have it! My favorite eyeshadow palette that I own is the Too Faced Natural Lust Palette.
Do you have thoughts on any of the palettes I listed, or suggestions for me to try? The last thing I need is to buy more palettes, but geez there’s so many freaking beautiful ones that it’s hard to stop myself! Sound off in the comments! Thank you for reading and I’ll catch you next time!