Best eyeshadow palettes 2022: Get creative and perfect your look

Philippa Pearne
5 Jul 2022

Unlock a world of new looks with our favourite tried and tested eyeshadow palettes, and get inspired to be more creative with your makeup

Choosing an eyeshadow palette can be confusing. With so many brands, formulas and colours on the market, finding the best eyeshadow palette for you and your style can feel like a daunting task. And once you’ve navigated the minefield of which one to buy, you then have the problem of knowing how to actually use it to its full potential.

Whatever your budget and whatever your style, read on for a helping hand. In this article we’ll round up some of our favourite eyeshadow palettes, share our application advice for perfect results and add a few of our key shopping tips, too. By the time you’ve reached the end of this article you’ll be able to consider yourself an eyeshadow palette pro.

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Best eyeshadow palette: At a glance

How to choose the best eyeshadow palette for you

Why would I need an eyeshadow palette?

You don’t have to buy an eyeshadow palette: many people prefer a natural look and apply just a little mascara and a bit of base on their skin instead. However, if you love to make your eyes stand out, or you’re open to experimenting with new colours and trying a new eye makeup look, an eyeshadow palette is the purchase for you. Rather than the flatter finish you’ll get from using just one shade, eyeshadow palettes provide combinations of shades that complement each other, giving you the tools you need to create more three-dimensional eye makeup.

How do I know which one is best for me?

First, decide on what sort of colours you’re looking for in your palette. For example, you might be a fan of wearing neutral, earthy tones, or you may have a special occasion coming up that requires a more dramatic look, in which case you could go for smokier, darker shades. Or if you love bright colours, why not branch out to a jewel-toned palette. If you haven’t got a clue, that’s fine – many palettes contain a mixture of colour families. Whatever your requirement, though, have in mind a few colours that you know you want to try and that will give you a good starting point.

Formula is important, too – think about whether you prefer a shimmery finish that catches the light as you move, or if you like your eyelids to look more matte. Also, if you don’t have your own eye makeup brushes, choose a palette that houses at least one applicator to save on spending on brushes elsewhere. If you’re partial to applying your makeup on-the-go, make sure you opt for a palette that includes a mirror on the inner lid, too.

The other thing you need to factor in is how many colours you want to work with. Some palettes contain just a few colours, while others contain lots. If you’re prone to feeling a little overwhelmed when it comes to eyeshadows, keep it simple and go for an eyeshadow quad, or even a trio – sometimes it’s just easier if you’re limited on choice. On the other hand, some palettes can have up to 20 or more colours to choose from, and these are the perfect option if you love being spoiled for choice. It just depends on how much space you have in your makeup bag!

How do you use an eyeshadow palette?

It depends on the makeup finish you want to achieve, but if you’re using more than one colour, the general rule of thumb is as follows:

1. Wash the most neutral/natural shade all over your eyelids.

2. Next, apply a darker shade – perhaps a slate grey or smoky brown – into the creases of your eyes using a windscreen wiper motion. This will make your eyes look bigger and help to leave you with a flattering three-dimensional look. You can then use the same colour along your top and bottom lash lines too if you want some extra definition.

3. Take a light shimmery or pearly highlighter shade and apply it to the inner corners of your eyes for added radiance, and to finish, dab a pop of the most colourful shade into the very centre of each eyelid.

4. The final step is to blend the corners of each shade into the next so that your eyes look less paint-by-numbers, and the better the blend, the more professional a finish you’ll create.

How much should I spend?

How much you spend on your eyeshadow palette all depends on how many shades are included inside, the expertise behind the creation of the palette and the quality of the product itself.

If the palette feels sturdy and gives a firm “click” when you shut it, it should be a good-quality product that won’t open easily and spill inside your makeup bag. If it feels flimsy you don’t want to be spending any more than £10 or so.

If the palette has been created by a well-known makeup artist such as Charlotte Tilbury you should expect to pay a little more, but try not to be swayed by big fashion house brand names such as Chanel and Dior – there are plenty of really good-quality and long-lasting eyeshadow palettes available on the high street.

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The best eyeshadow palette to buy

1. Milani Ungilded Most Loved Mattes Eyeshadow Palette: The best matte eyeshadow palette

Price: £28 | Buy now from Boots

If you’re looking for an eyeshadow palette that lasts, this one won’t disappoint. Comprising 12 gorgeous shades, the super strong pigments mean that a little goes a long way. Just sweep it on once and there’ll be no need for a second layer.

What’s more, the colours are true to what you see in the palette – so what you see is what you get – and the beautifully soft matte finish leaves eyelids looking luxuriously velvety and vivacious without a shimmer in sight. We love the shade names, too – from “Bust a Mauve”, a vibrant pink, and “Umber the Sun”, a burnt orange, to “Don’t Raisen Your Voice”, a daring browny-red, this palette is certainly bursting with personality. Our favourite combination? Salty Caramel swept into the creases of the eyes with My Daily Latte washed over the whole lid.

There’s no brush included, but with these matte formulas all you need is your finger to sweep on each shade. They go on easily, quickly and oh-so smoothly.

Key details – Shades: 12; Shelf life: 12 months; Cruelty-free: Yes; Brush: No; Mirror: Yes

Buy now from Boots

2. Nars Summer Unrated Eyeshadow Palette: The best luxury eyeshadow palette

Price: £50 | Buy now from Cult Beauty

Slide this Nars palette out of its sleek matte box and you’ll fall in love with its vibrant pink, reflective lid – and that’s even before you’ve seen what’s inside. The palette is reassuringly heavy and very sturdy, too: the sign of a good-quality palette that you know won’t crack or open on its own.

Lift the lid and the 16 shades are a mixture of shimmery, sparkly and matte in formula. “Love on Fire” is a beautiful glittery rose gold shade, but you can also dial it back with earthy tones such as “Isla”, “Laguna” or “Palmas”. There are few pretty pinks, purples and bronze tones, too, as well as a handy chocolate brown called “Fetish”, which will help to smoke up your eye makeup look.

You can’t really go wrong with a Nars eyeshadow so a palette full of them is just the trick. Whether you’re looking for a palette to accentuate your everyday look or add a bit of evening glamour, this one is worth every penny.

Key details – Shades: 16; Shelf life: 12 months; Brush: No; Mirror: Yes

Buy now from Cult Beauty

3. Beauty Bay Bright 42 Colour Palette: The best eyeshadow palette for shade variation

Price: £23 | Buy now from Beauty Bay

If you’re a fan of brights, or you want to branch out and experiment with more colour, this is the palette for you – it houses a whopping 42 shades in pretty much every colour of the rainbow.

The colour selection is spot on: there’s a mixture of shimmers and mattes, which is super handy considering not everyone wants just one or the other, and especially not in a palette this big. What’s more, the formulas are so bright and vibrant that you’ll feel instantly energised just opening it up, let alone when you actually apply them.

There’s a large mirror and literally a different colour for every day of the month and then some. The colours do stay put but, with such bright tones, using an eyeshadow primer first would be advisable as an extra insurance policy.

Key details – Shades: 42; Brush: No; Mirror: Yes

Buy now from Beauty Bay

4. Max Factor Colour Xpert Soft Touch Palette in Veiled Bronze: The best high street eyeshadow palette

Price: £11 | Buy now from Superdrug

If you want to keep things simple and you know exactly which combination of colours you’re looking for, this sultry, smoky palette is the perfect buy.

There may only be four colours to choose from but each one complements the other and creates a beautiful smoky finish if you follow our application instructions above. The colours are slightly glittery, so if you prefer more of a matte finish you may want to look elsewhere, but glamorous, statement looks are where this palette delivers.

It doesn’t include a brush, but you don’t need one: as the shades are a powder-to-cream formula you just dab it on with your finger for the best results. Powder-to-cream formulas ensure the colours are easier to blend and, with such an amazing colour pay-off, this palette is the quick, simple smoky eye all-in-one you’ve been looking for.

Key details – Shades: 4; Brush: No; Mirror: No

5. Charlotte Tilbury Luxury Palette in Pillow Talk: The best universal eyeshadow palette

Price: £43 | Buy now from Charlotte Tilbury

Produced by makeup artist extraordinaire Charlotte Tilbury, the shades in this oh-so popular Pillow Talk eyeshadow quad have been meticulously put together to flatter every skin tone.

There are four shades that each serve a purpose and are named as such. The ‘prime’ shade is a rose gold tone to wash all over your lids, the ‘enhance’ deeper pink colour is for layering on top and to use in the creases of your eyes, the ‘smoke’ shade - a browny-pink – is for smudging along your top and bottom lash lines, and finally the ‘pop’ colour – a sparkling pink – is to dab in the centre of your eyelid.

The overall look is beautiful and makes you feel like you’ve been done up by Charlotte Tilbury herself. We’ve been told she works very closely with her products so you’re actually not far off. The palette itself is sturdy and slim, too, so it makes the perfect handbag companion.

Key details – Shelf life: 30m; Shades: 4; Brush: No; Mirror: Yes

Buy now from Charlotte Tilbury

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