If you have a lot of single eyeshadows in your makeup collection, you probably know the struggle: you can’t seem to find a way to organize your single eyeshadows in a way that makes sense for your everyday life. I’ve reorganized my single eyeshadows so many times I’ve lost count, each time trying a new strategy. The results were typically either palettes that were beautiful, but not functional enough, or palettes that had functionality, but made me feel uninspired. Today, I’m going to let you know how I built the palette that I’m finally happy with, explain the logic I used to build it so you can apply it to your own shadows, swatch each eyeshadow, and finally provide a few examples of the color combinations from the palette.
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My Everyday Eyeshadow Palette
About the Palette
The palette I use is the Altair Marble Large Palette. It holds 28 eyeshadows and includes a mirror, which makes it great for travel. It’s also very high-quality cardboard and has a great magnet, as well. The magnet is strong enough that the shadows are held securely, but not so strong that you have to fight to get the shadows out of the palette. The palette costs $19.95 and you can purchase it through Altair’s website or on Amazon. If $19.95 is too much for your budget, I also like the ColourPop magnetic palettes, but they’re not as high-quality, they don’t come with a mirror, and the large palette only holds 24 shadows. Still, for $10 that’s not bad at all.
The single eyeshadows in my palette are mostly MAC, ColourPop, and Makeup Geek because I feel they typically give the best balance between quality and affordability. I also have a lot of Anastasia Beverly Hills shadows in the palette, but I purchased all of them during ABH’s Black Friday sales because they cost more than I’m willing to pay for a single shadow at full price. There’s also one Ofra shadow in here that I received in an Ipsy bag, and unfortunately it doesn’t have the name anywhere on the eyeshadow pan. I think it might be Syrup, but I’m not sure.
My Thought Process
Let’s start out by talking about what I was trying to accomplish with this palette. First of all, I wanted the palette to be a one-and-done type of thing. I wanted to have every eyeshadow I would regularly use in one palette. For me, this means a combination of true neutrals, some shadows that straddle the border between neutral and color, and a few shadows that are more colorful but can easily be incorporated into an everyday look. The eyeshadows in this last category are also part of what keeps the palette visually exciting for me.
Second, I wanted to create a palette that had a good mixture of mattes and shimmers. I’ve tried creating all matte palettes before, although they were in quads or smaller 12-pan palettes. It just doesn’t work for me. I don’t wear shimmer every day, but I wear it enough that it made me reach for other palettes when I tried to make an all matte palette.
I also wanted to create a logical assortment of transition shades, crease shades, lid shades, deepening/liner shades, and inner corner highlight shades. This is where there will be a lot of variety from person to person if you’re trying to create your own palette. Skin tone and eye color are the most obvious reasons why you and I might choose different eyeshadows, but something that will probably also factor into your shade selection is the way you do your makeup. You might not like highlighting your inner corners, or you might prefer to wear more smokey, sultry looks on a regular basis. That’s going to play into which colors you choose to include in your palette. I’ll talk about this a little bit more later on in the post.
Finally, the palette needed to be aesthetically pleasing. This meant that I spent a loooot of time swatching and rearranging the palette. I’m annoying af when it comes to the way my palettes are organized. I need the colors to be clustered in a way that makes logical sense to me when I’m trying to put a look together, and the colors need to flow in every direction without becoming too similar to each other. You know how sometimes you’ll look at a palette and everything is similar in tone and depth, and it makes you start to wonder why some of the shades are even in the palette because they almost look like dupes for each other? Yeah, I didn’t want that. On the other hand, I also didn’t want to have too much contrast between shades, which can be very jarring on the eyes. For this reason, I tried not to jump around a lot between depth and undertone, which helped to keep the palette looking more harmonious. The downside to this is that it meant I had to leave out a couple of eyeshadows that I love because they just looked super out of place in the palette.
To keep this bit relatively simple and clear, I’ve decided to break the methodology down into two sections. First, I’m going to explain how I chose the eyeshadows for this palette, and then I’m going to talk about the logic I used to organize the eyeshadows.
How I Chose the Eyeshadows
Deciding which shadows to include in this palette was really difficult, and there were a few shades that I love that I just couldn’t find a place for in this palette. Ultimately, I decided to go about this whole process by determining which shades I use the most, which shades would pair well with those to create a complete look, and then throwing in a few shades that I don’t use as much as I would like to, but that could work with the other shadows in the palette.
I started by organizing every single one of the single shadows I own into color families, so all of my neutrals, all of my purples, etc. From there, I swatched each color family together and if two shades looked too similar to each other, I eliminated the one with the lower performing formula. I also eliminated any shades that I knew I wouldn’t reach for on a regular basis. For me, this was mostly shades of green or blue, and dark, smokey colors. With my super dark undereye circles, I struggle to use smokey colors without looking like I got punched in the eyes. I also don’t really like the way greens and blues look on me for the most part.
Once I narrowed down the eyeshadows to the colors I was likely to reach for on a regular basis, I started to think about the finish of each shadow. Not only did I consider matte and shimmer, I also considered how I would utilize the eyeshadow. Would I use it as a transition shade? A lid shade? A crease deepening shade? I didn’t want to end up with a palette full of only shimmery lid shades just because I thought they were pretty, so I made sure I was thinking about functionality as I started my next round of swatches. I ended up with 17 matte eyeshadows and 11 shimmer or satin eyeshadows. That means the palette is a little over 60% matte and just under 40% shimmer, which is a split I’m pretty satisfied with.
As a final step, I swatched eyeshadows in color combinations to try to create combinations that were versatile, but also were really easy for me to understand. What I mean by that is that I could just look at the shadows and easily determine “ok, this one would be the transition shade, this one would go on the lid, and either this one or that one could be a crease shade.” Once I felt like I had colors that fit all of my requirements, I started playing around with the layout of the palette.
How I Organized the Palette
Almost every grouping of four eyeshadows in this palette can function as a quad. This was an idea I picked up from Norvina, the president of Anastasia Beverly Hills and the genius behind their amazing eyeshadow palettes. I can’t remember where I saw it, probably Reddit or Twitter, but she talked about how in one of the ABH palettes (I believe it was Modern Renaissance, but I’m not sure) you could think of each little grouping of four shadows in the palette as a quad. If you were to cover up all of the shadows except for four with your hands, you would have one quad and then if you moved your hands over one row, it would create a new quad.
I love this method of organization because it makes it super easy to build a look without feeling lost or having to spend a lot of time thinking about the way the colors are going to interact. I also like this method because it avoids the more common method of organizing shadows from lightest to darkest. While I think that creates an aesthetically pleasing palette, especially if the colors are chosen thoughtfully, in my experience it can also lead to a lack of understanding of how the colors can work together. Arranging shadows by depth makes it harder to visualize a complete eyeshadow look because the colors you would want to use together are spread out across the palette and now you have to work through it like a puzzle to create something that you’re satisfied with.
Starting out, I knew I wanted to have either a row or a section that was purely just neutral brown tones. This is probably going to sound odd to a lot of you, but I really struggle with neutral shadows. I’ve always been very drawn to colorful makeup. I started out mostly wearing Urban Decay eyeshadows and eyeliners in their pre-Naked days, if that gives you any sort of indication of where my makeup roots are. As a result, I don’t purchase anywhere near enough brown shades. That used to not be a problem for me, but now that I actually wear more natural, neutral looks on a regular basis I’ve found myself struggling to pull together some staple shades, especially without reaching for colors from multiple palettes.
So, I grabbed some matte neutrals and used those for the basis of my palette. Like I explained before, I wanted to create a row that was solely neutral shades. I also wanted to make sure that the shades I chose were very versatile and could be incorporated into looks using different shadow placement techniques and color palettes. I laid out the top row of neutrals and used this for the basis of the entire palette’s layout.
From there, I started building quads based on the neutral row. I kept moving the eyeshadows around until I felt like I could make a quad in almost every direction. For the third row, I continued building quads, but I also wanted the shadows to make some sort of sense arranged as a row. Maybe not quads exactly, but similar color families and undertones. Finally, I played with the arrangement of the quads until they looked balanced to me. By this, I mean moving a darker shadow up to the row above it to create more or less contrast, etc.
That first column turned out to be sort of a “wildcard” column. I desperately wanted to include ColourPop’s Paper Tiger and Fortune Cookie, but they didn’t really fit anywhere else in the palette. However, once I saw Paper Tiger and Fortune Cookie next to each other, I fell in love with the color combo and decided to keep them together. They fit nicely in between MAC Blanc Type and ColourPop Now and Zen because it minimizes any color clashes that might happen.
This method may be a bit more complicated than what you want to do with your own palette, but I wanted to make sure I explained everything that went into making my palette so that you can pick and choose the ideas you want to apply to your own. Now let’s see some swatches!
Starting at the bottom, swatches move from left to right in the palette. All swatches are on bare skin, swatched with my finger.
I apologize for the awful lighting in these photos. It’s been overcast all day here!
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