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What Is an Eyeshadow Palette?

By T. Alaine
Updated Feb 23, 2024
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An eyeshadow palette is a case used to organize individual eyeshadow pans into one convenient location. Palettes are available in a wide variety of sizes and can contain anywhere from a few select shadows to dozens of shades. Cosmetics companies often sell pre-filled options stocked with coordinating colors and textures, but it is also possible to customize an eyeshadow palette. Whether an eyeshadow palette contains minimal shadows for creating one or two looks or enough shadows to create any look imaginable, it is an organized, convenient way to access all necessary shadows at once.

One version of an eyeshadow palette is a small case containing a few colors to create a specific look. Drugstore palettes often fall into this category, offering three or four colors in one case that are meant to be worn together. This type of palette is usually organized by look, boasting a few different colors or shades specifically selected to complement each other. Small, portable palettes such as these typically contain a lid color, highlight, crease color, and a darker shade for lining the eyes. These simple palettes are good for makeup beginners or people who have trouble selecting complementary shades.

Bigger versions of the pre-stocked eyeshadow palette contain more colors and can create more color combinations and different makeup looks. It is common for these larger palettes to contain shades from every color as well as neutrals. Large palettes are usually organized by color or texture to make it easy to find the desired shade and compare it with other shadow options. Casual makeup wearers generally do not need an eyeshadow palette this extensive. Makeup artists and eyeshadow enthusiasts, however, will benefit from having a huge selection of shadows all neatly organized in one palette.

Some palettes may be devoted entirely to one color family. For example, a neutral eyeshadow palette will contain several shades of brown, gray, cream, taupe, and perhaps peach, pink, or metallics. People with extensive makeup collections may have an eyeshadow palette devoted to multiple shades of the same color. An eyeshadow palette for blue tones, for instance, might contain shades of turquoise, teal, navy, royal, or pale blues in multiple textures such as matte, shimmer, or glitter.

Customizable eyeshadow palettes allow individuals to select unique color combinations according to their own makeup needs or preferences. Individual pans of eyeshadow are purchased and placed in an empty case to create a one of a kind palette. Some palette cases have dividers inside to hold the pans in place, whereas others are open and accommodate any shape or size shadow pan. The colors in a customizable eyeshadow palette are generally complementary, but can be diverse enough to create multiple makeup looks.

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