This is how make-up palettes got good

A new wave of do-it-all palettes are making their way on to the scene and they’re more considered, time-saving and useful than ever

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By Elle Turner on

I, for one, stockpile make-up like it's going out of fashion. I love nothing more than a rifle through a mound of the stuff – unless, of course, I'm time-pushed, drowned in choice and at a loss as to what to put on my face. In fact, in an age when we've reached "peak stuff"  (and then some), more and more of us are looking to organise, minimise and streamline our lives and our make-up. This bodes well for the new wave of do-it-all palettes that are slipping into the collections of our favourite brands. Kicked off by the likes of Charlotte Tilbury and Bobbi Brown, and with the aim of offering a product that's thought through, multi-functional and, most of all, easy, they're an all-in-one solution that take the hassle out of getting ready.

It's true that palettes have not always been this way. You'd be forgiven for swearing off them due to past encounters, paying over the odds for a hodgepodge of shades that were often not all wearable (Sea Foam, anyone?), confusing (colours that didn't work comprehensively together) and unintuitive (what to put where?). No longer. Take, for instance, Charlotte Tilbury’s Instant Look In A Palette – seven considered shades, numbered and labelled to indicate where to put them (eyes, cheeks, face) and what they do (brighten, enhance, bronze, highlight), this palette offers ease and takes away the guesswork. Or Bobbi Brown’s On Trend Eyes & Cheeks Palette – a collection of well-chosen shades that work together and can be mixed and matched to create myriad looks, with simple neutrals for daytime, a bit of sparkle to take you into the evening and cheek options to tick off bronzer, blusher and highlighter. It's a clever balancing act that provides choice without feeling overwhelming. The shades are multi-functional, too. “You can use the bronzer as an eyeshadow, the highlighter can add shimmer to your eyelids, blusher will create a fun pop of colour on eyes and deeper shades work well for smoky eyes, but double up as eyeliners, too,” says Bobbi Brown's PRO artist Zara Findlay, so one palette is able to do all number of jobs.

But, more than that, they're portable. "We live in a world where we're constantly on the go and need to be ready for all situations," says Findlay. "A palette that has everything all in one place allows modern-day women to easily take everything they need with them" – be it for deskside touch-ups, commuter makeovers or a post-gym spruce. It makes taking your stash away on holiday infinitely easier, too.

Then there's the cost. "There’s a perceived value bonus when you buy a palette, as it looks like you’re getting a lot for your money," explains Anna-Marie Solowij, beauty expert and co-founder of Beauty Mart. That's not to say they can't be expensive – they can. But, compared with buying each shade individually, you'll often find that they offer a considerable saving, especially if you compare the value of the items you'd instead be using – eyeshadow, blusher, bronzer, eyeliner etc – against that of a single palette.

So, there you have it. A solution that delivers on our need for calm, saves time and takes the faff out of getting ready in the morning.

5 of the best

Charlotte Tilbury Instant Look In A Palette

The undisputed queen of palettes, Charlotte Tilbury's whole premise is to deliver women with the equivalent of an at-home make-up artist – products so considerately put together, they do the work for you. Pair her Instant Eye Palette with your foundation and mascara, and you have all bases covered. Plus, it comes in three versions – natural, seductive and glow – so you can take your pick. 


NYX Professional Makeup Contour Intuitive Palette

Aptly named, NYX's Intuitive palette provides nine shades to work over all occasions. This one doesn't come with suggestions, so use it however you feel. The paler highlighters on the left would work over eyes for a fresher daytime look, then the smoky and shimmery shades dial it up for the evening. And there's a universally flattering blusher included, too.


Bobbi Brown Bobbi On Trend Eyes & Cheeks Palette

Comprised of 16 shades (12 for eyes and four for cheeks), this delivers slightly less on the minimism front. But the selection of user-friendly colours are all very wearable (no rogues at all) and again offer an endless variety of looks for all occasions in one compact, portable place.


Stila Perfect Me Perfect Hue Eye & Cheek PalettE

In terms of value for money, you can't beat Stila's selection of silky, pigmented, buildable shades. The palette comes in four versions – fair, light, tan and deep – to suit all skintones and offers up five eyeshadows and two blushers, all beautifully chosen. 


Nars NARSissist Cheek Studio Palette

Technically a dedicated cheek palette, you can use this however you like. The bronzer will work through most brows, the soft pinks blend beautifully over eyes and cheeks, and the highligher can be used to brighten tired eyes. 



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