How to make the most of your eyeshadow palette

Received a make-up palette for Christmas? Not sure what to do with it? Tory Frost has some excellent advice 

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By Tory Frost on

Did you get a new eyeshadow palette for Christmas? At least five of my friends and family did. But, while opening up a package of glittering, shimmering or just soothingly complementary colours can make a grown woman squeal, the next few weeks often prove a letdown. Tell me honestly: do your old palettes look a bit like a Boxing Day chocolate box? All the best ones gone, with a pile of Topics or Bounties untouched? When it comes to eyeshadow, most of us fall back on a few safe shades, leaving a pricey purchase sorely underused. So, here’s how you can make the most of your new (or old) eyeshadow palette, on a post-Christmas budget. 


Before a new palette goes in your make-up bag, find half an hour to play with the shades. I usually do this on a quiet Sunday night. Grab some clean brushes (more on them later), gentle face wipes or eye make-up remover (Clarins is great; Simple is better value) and go to town. Try every single shade on your lids – even if you don’t like the look of them. Often the darkest or sparkliest will provide just a wash of colour, and you might find them more wearable than you think.


If you promise not to tell my bank manager, I’ll tell you a secret: you only "need" two eyeshadow brushes. I’m afraid neither of them came with your palette, so promptly bin those and get yourself a decent flat brush to lay down colour and another, fluffier brush to blend. For the former, I rather like the Look Good Feel Better Eye Shading Brush, as it has a nice solid handle, good-length bristles and 10 per cent goes to charity. It’s only £7. For blending, I favour the Smashbox #10 Crease Brush at £20 or the Zoeva Luxe Soft Crease Brush for £8.99 – honestly, there’s not a lot of difference between them.



Searching YouTube for your palette of choice will almost always bring up someone putting it to good use, to give you ideas on how to use the different shades together. The brand themselves might also have good tutorials nowadays – use them. Don’t be put off by how full-on some of the looks will be – you can always dial them down by using fewer shades or less product on your own face. Check out The Pool's YouTube page for plenty of ideas. 


Don’t forget eyeshadow colours are designed to mix well with each other. If you like the colour of a shimmer shade, but it’s too much for daytime, there will almost always be another colour you can mix it with to find your perfect tone or (I hate this word) hue. Likewise, you can up the intensity of shades by adding in some of the darkest. Make-up should be fun and this part feels like a school art lesson – a total skive.


I’m a lover of cheap palettes – they give some of the best-value make-up on the high street and offer endless hours of play – but, to a certain extent, you always get what you pay for. Cheaper formulas will usually be a bit dustier, meaning product drops off your brush or skin as you apply it. But there are a few tricks to combat that: always tap the excess off your brush and do your under-eye concealer afterwards, so you can clean up any mess without ruining your make-up. Cheaper shadows might take a bit longer to blend, too – pop a neutral cream shadow, like the excellent value Maybelline Colour Tattoos, or a crayon, like Rimmel Scandaleyes Shadow Stick, on as a base first, to make this quicker and longer-lasting.


And if you didn’t get a palette in your stocking, here are a few cheapies I adore: 


Make Up Revolution Ultra 32 Shade Palette in Flawless Matte

Is this not Farrow & Ball in a make-up palette? These are some of the prettiest matte colours I’ve found at a great price. A quick wash of any of these shade gives you an easy "your lids, but better", crease-free finish. Stroke a darker tone along your eye crease for definition. 


Zoeva Rose Golden Palette

This palette has a great mix of high-impact matte and shimmer shades, meaning it gives both day and night options. I’m a lover of Reflective Elegance combined with Copper is King for a metallic eye – super trendy, I swear.


H&M Eye Shadow Palette in Smoky Essentials

H&M Beauty is bargainous for the quality and these palettes of nine punchy shades are no exception. If the shimmer factor’s a little high for you here, or the cold tones aren’t your thing, try the Smoky Nudes option instead.



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