The origins of eye makeup can likely be traced back to the ancient Egyptians, who lined rimmed their eyes with kohl (made from lead, ash, malachite and a few additional ingredients) for both aesthetic and practical purposes (kohl was believed to help reduce infections and glare from the bright sun). Fast forward to the early 20th century and beauty products began to be commercially manufactured, with the silent film era favoring bold looks like heavily kohl-rimmed and mascara-laden eyes. Early makeup inventors such as Max Factor, Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubinstein likely wouldn’t recognize modern liners and mascaras, let alone today’s eyeshadows — which are now offered in a bevy of affordable to luxury options in vibrant to shimmering colors.
Complete with a range of shades that often play nicely together, an eyeshadow palette is where a brand can really show off, though. “I love a well-curated palette in exciting colors I wouldn’t have necessarily chosen to buy separately or selected together,” says makeup artist Molly Greenwald. “They can spark inspiration and experimentation.”
And, there’s no better time than now to invest in one. “I think people are more adventurous than ever with their eye makeup since mouths have been masked for the most part,” says makeup artist Kira Nasrat. “I’ve seen a lot more requests for fun liners and more playful colors — everything from earthy shades to jewel tones.
For a truly standout effect, choose a shade that complements your eye color, says Marc Reagan, global director of artistry, education and events at Hourglass Cosmetics. He notes that skin tone also plays a factor in finding the most flattering shade, so it’s best to experiment to discover your perfect match.
How to find the best eyeshadow palette for your eye color
Blue Eyes: Use warm golden and rust shades to enhance the blue color. Even shades like burnt orange, golden brown and amber will make blue eyes pop.
Hazel Eyes: Think purple to amplify the green in hazel eyes. If you’re feeling extra bold, look for violet, amethyst, mauve and deep warm plum tones. For a softer look, try a dusty rose hue, says Reagan.
Green Eyes: Much like hazel eyes, green eyes shine with purple tones, but also look amazing with crimson, cranberry and burgundy shades for contrast. Rose gold is also a great option.
Brown Eyes: Brown is the most versatile eye color. “All colors complement brown eyes, so feel free to experiment to find which shades work best for you,” says Reagan.
If don’t see your favorite eyeshadow color listed, though, not to worry. “I tend to feel there really are no rules when you’re being creative,” Greenwald says. “I understand the value in those modalities to make it easier for some, and I definitely love using complementary or contrasting colors to pop the eyes, but I don’t think it’s anything that anyone needs to worry about adhering to.”
No matter what color in the rainbow you’re choosing for your eyelids, here are the 30 best eyeshadow palettes you can buy. For a beauty gift for the makeup lover in your life or even a beauty stocking stuffer, look no further.
Byredo Eyeshadow 5 Colours in Metal Boots In The Snow
“I love the new Byredo eyeshadow palette in Metal Boots in the Snow, and I’ve been particularly into the grungy silver/olive green shades,” Greenwald says. The palette includes five lightweight yet creamy shadows that are super easy to blend, particularly with fingertips, in glittery silver, rich khaki, blue-gray, earthy green and metallic silver tones. Mix and match to your heart’s content, or layer them all on for a bold look inspired by Byredo founder Ben Gorham. Plus, the palette comes in the chicest metal “rain drop” compact that’s meant to be shown off.
Pat McGrath Labs Mthrshp Mega: Celestial Odyssey Palette
No one has more fun with palettes than legendary artist Pat McGrath. Each collection pushes the boundaries of what eyeshadows can do, and this new Celestial Odyssey Palette does exactly that — complete with 18 shades that vary from glitter to iridescent sparkle to metallic and velvety matte finishes. Perfect for beginners and experts alike, the gemstone-inspired shades have impossibly creamy textures that are blendable and buildable. What’s more, the glittery tones are also exquisitely multi-dimensional and wearable even for daytime, making this one of the best glitter eyeshadow palettes around.
Hourglass Cosmetics 5-Pan Palette
The pressed powder shades in this range are a thing of beauty, but the real game-changer in this new Hourglass palette is it’s eco-friendly packaging. The palette case is made of recyclable aluminum and post-consumer plastic (according to the brand, each case upcycles five virgin plastic bottles) and is designed so that each eyeshadow shade simply snaps in and out of it — meaning you never have to throw the unit away. You can customize your palette with a selection of 40 vegan shades in matte, shimmer, glitter and luminous satin finishes. “The customizable aspect is great in terms of waste reduction, because you won’t end up with a palette full of certain shades you’ll never use,” Reagan says.
Makeup by Mario Master Metals Eyeshadow Palette
If you’re looking for an eye shadow palette to shake things up, these liquid foil effect shadows are unlike anything on the market. Artist Mario Dedivanovic has perfected five super-fine iridescent shadows that give a molten metal look, and the gel-powder tech allows the shades to seamlessly glide on eyelids for all-day wear. One reviewer equates the experience of using the shades to “painting liquid metal” on their eyes.
Christian Louboutin Beauty Abracadabra La Palette
Louboutin’s foray into beauty is wildly unique and on-brand, and this new eyeshadow palette is a perfect example. The palette itself is designed to look like a Louboutin clutch and can be personalized for a special touch. You can select either a red or black case and choose from six refill options, plus mix and match as often as you’d like. Its compact size also makes it an ideal palette to take on the go for a chic night out.
Valentino Beauty Color-Flip Eyeshadow Palette
Another fashion house strutting its way into beauty regimes is Valentino. The brand has created a palette filled with eight highly-pigmented and easy-to-blend shadows in a range of finishes from matte to satin to shimmer. The palettes are designed to be filled with every shade you might need, including a midnight black, pearlescent shimmer, show-stopping gold, flattering rust and deep plum.
Revlon x Megan Thee Stallion Big Bad Palette
This brand new palette is one of the best drugstore eyeshadow palettes you can buy and was customized by Megan Thee Stallion herself. That alone is enough info to add this one to your cart, but if you really need more of an incentive, the 10 included “hottie hues” range from cool to warm shades and matte to shimmer finishes. The versatile dry and/or wet formulas build and blend to create soft or bold looks.
Charlotte Tilbury Luxury Palette in The Sophisticate
Charlotte Tilbury loves eye-enhancing products so much that she has an entire section dedicated to helping you find the right items to make your specific eye color pop. Deemed one of the best eyeshadow palettes for blue eyes from the brand, the Sophisticate quad features matte chocolate, taupe, tan and cream tones for a low-key everyday look. “When I want to create a super natural, no-makeup look or a smokey, neutral eye, this is my go-to palette,” says makeup artist Nasrat. “I use the lighter shades on the lids and the deeper tone (a gray) across the lash line and in the crease. It’s so subtle, yet smokey with depth.”
Almay Color-Enhancing Eyeshadow Palette
A more affordable alternative for highlighting your eye color, these curated, five-shadow palettes from Almay are some of the best drugstore eyeshadow palettes you can buy. They offer a paint-by-number-like experience for your eyelids, complete with a step-by-step guide for easy, foolproof application. The paperboard packaging is also sustainably sourced to help reduce waste in the environment.
Chantecaille Vanishing Species Collection
Since creating its Conservation Collections in 2006, Chantecaille has worked with 31 charities and raised over three million dollars for conservation groups — making it a great brand to support. Its Vanishing Species collection includes six stunning shadows inspired by endangered African animals, including cheetahs (signified by a warm champagne hue), elephants (represented by a shimmering taupe gray) and others. Uniquely, the shadows are separately packaged, with each case featuring an image of the animal captured by a wildlife photographer atop it.
The makeup gift set also comes with a Japanese artisan-crafted (vegan) brush, keepsake box and a limited-edition signed wildlife print by photographer Mark Drury. It’s truly the most special gift for the animal lover in your life.
Uoma Beauty Black Magic Color Palette
Founded by Nigerian-born beauty executive Sharon Chuter, Uoma Beauty is all about celebrating diversity and culture. This “Black Magic” palette features 10 high-octane shades in three textures — highly pigmented matte, sparkle and vibrant metallic — inspired by the rich history of Carnival. The unexpectedness of each shade makes this option one of best eyeshadow palette brands on the market.
EM Cosmetics Divine Skies in Venetian Rose
Michelle Phan’s rise to YouTube fame empowered those watching to feel beautiful and visible in the beauty space. Now through EM Cosmetics, Phan creates thoughtful, wearable products driven by her enthusiastic beauty community. This palette was inspired by romance, hence its flush-mimicking tones and sultry, soft brown hues. As the palette’s name suggests, the velvety shades are not only reminiscent of one of the most charming cities in the world but are also made in Italy.
Victoria Beckham Beauty Smoky Eye Brick in Signature
Inspired by Victoria Beckham’s signature smokey eye, this richly-pigmented palette is designed to make the oft-intimidating look a breeze with all the color you need. The eye bricks are also infused with Hyaluronic Acid Powder Complex, which helps the shades easily glide over eyelids for a seamless application.
Maybelline New York City Mini Eyeshadow Palettes
This mini eyeshadow palette from Maybelline features six shades for creating a bold eye — all while fitting inside a small clutch. It’s one of the best eyeshadow palettes for beginners, not only because it’s affordable but also super easy to use, thanks to the included number guide that instructs users where to place each shade on the eyelid for a full, dramatic look. It also comes in 13 different color options, with some priced at under $5 so you can collect them all guilt-free.
Urban Decay Naked3 Eyeshadow Palette
There’s hardly another eyeshadow palette on the market that’s as in-demand as Urban Decay’s Naked3 eyeshadow palette. Featuring 12 shades from shimmery nude pink to chocolate brown matte, the award-winning bestseller is versatile, easy to use and one of the best pink eyeshadow palettes available. “It has an amazing variety of lovely rose-hued colors; I get compliments daily on my eyeshadow,” said one reviewer.
Kevyn Aucoin Emphasize Eye Design Palette in Unblinking
Kevyn Aucoin’s namesake brand is known for its timeless makeup products, often invoking the late and great makeup artist’s most iconic looks. This versatile eyeshadow palette from the label features matte, chrome and satin shadows as well as an innovative cream foil shadow. You can even mix the powder with cream shadows for a customized metallic finish a la Christy Turlington in the ’90s.
Dior 5 Couleurs Couture Eyeshadow Palette
“I love this palette when I want to create a fun mermaid-inspired eye or just add a pop of blue or green on the lid,” says Nasrat. “The shades are so pretty to layer as well; the jewel tones are like jewelry for the eyes.” The five shades include four multi-dimensional, intense blue tones as well as one shimmery gold hue.
NYX Ultimate Utopia Shadow Palette
Priced at just $35, this 40-shade set from NYX is nearly impossible to pass up. It includes a range of vibrant, creamy hues to suit any taste, from foil gold to matte Twiggy-esque pastels. “The quality of these shadows rival those of my higher-end brand palettes,” said one reviewer. “I wasn’t disappointed with this product. It’s super easy to blend, plus I love the colors and that the shimmers are pigmented.”
Huda Beauty Naughty Nude Eyeshadow Palette
Beauty blogger and makeup artist Huda Kattan created her namesake brand with the mission of making beauty accessible to all. This dreamy 18-shade palette from the label certainly inspires with its velvety matte, shiny metallics and multi-reflective marble cream shadows. Both the textures and shades are wholly unique, making this one of the best pigmented eyeshadow palettes you can buy. “The matte shades are buttery soft and so pigmented that they blend effortlessly, and the shimmers are stunningly beautiful,” said one reviewer.
Gucci Palette Beauté Des Yeux Eyeshadow Palette
Gucci is all about embracing your individuality, and that’s precisely what this eyeshadow palette allows you to do. Express yourself with 12 highly-pigmented shades in a range of satins, mattes and metallics. Choose from a selection of nudes including chocolate brown and petal pink or bold shades like iridescent glitter silver, amethyst and celeste. And if the shades weren’t show-stopping enough, the stunning floral-print palette makes a forever keepsake thanks to its removable eyeshadow tray.
Patrick Ta Major Dimension Eyeshadow Palette
Complete with rich cream shadows as well as metallic and velvety-matte powders, this Patrick Ta palette is hyper-pigmented and a dream to blend. It’s also unique in that includes a combination of cool and warm tones, so you can create a flattering look for any eye color or skin tone. “If someone broke into my house and stole my entire makeup collection, this would be one of the first items I repurchased — it’s that good,” said one reviewer.
Bobbi Brown Cosmetics Essential Multicolor Eye Shadow Palette in Bold Burgundy
Bobbi Brown has perfected the art form of enhancing the wearer’s natural beauty, especially with this easy-to-use palette. The neutral eyeshadow collection creates an effortless eye look with its five flattering shades that effortlessly blend for a soft finish. The crimson and deep brown shades are particularly eye-popping for green and hazel eyes, too.
Mac Cosmetics Art Library: Nude Model
Mac has mastered timeless, color-popping eyeshadows, and this Nude Model palette (created by one of Mac’s pro artists) is one of the brand’s bestsellers — and one of the best eyeshadow palettes of all time. “This is my go-to palette for all things neutral with a touch of glam,” says Keri Blair, senior national artist at Mac Cosmetics. “What makes it so versatile and easy to use is the carefully curated color selection that works on almost all skin tones, as well as its mix of shadow textures that allow you to build a dimensional eye all in one palette.”
ILIA The Necessary Eyeshadow Palette
Making clean beauty look luxurious, ILIA’s six-shade palette delivers richly pigmented shades in an assortment of matte, satin and metallic finishes. Made with jojoba seed oil and Vitamin E, these velvety shadows nurture lids while delivering big color payoff — sans talc, chemicals and toxins. “Gorgeous formula, great pigmentation, cohesive color story,” one concise reviewer wrote.
Roen Mood 4Ever Palette
If you want a palette so foolproof and flattering that you can apply it on-the-go even without the help of a mirror, this is for you. The four-shadow palette from Roen is beloved for its unique illuminating effect that adds both drama and depth. Wear each shade alone or layer and mix all the shades for a sparkly, dimensional look. Oh, and the shades are vegan and free of talc, parabens and gluten.
Glossier Monochromes Trio
Glossier’s newest eyeshadow trio is a celebration of monochromatic tones, with each palette coming in three finishes: matte, satin and metallic. The flawless shades can be used alone or paired together for a bolder look. And each tin is recyclable and refillable; just pop out any empty eyeshadow trio and replace it with a fresh one. “If you aren’t into eyeshadow or a bit scared to use it, I highly recommend one of these pallets,” one reviewer says. “It’s a fun way to use eyeshadow that isn’t overwhelming.”
Fenty Beauty Snap Shadows Mix & Match Eyeshadow Palette
Snag this Rihanna-approved palette featuring a range of rich and bendable shades in matte, shimmer, and glitter finishes. Having trouble narrowing down which portable mini palette you’ll take on the road? No problem — you can snap any two palettes together to customize your dream combo.
Chanel Les 4 Ombres in Candeur Et Provocation
This luxe palette features pigment-rich formulas, which were inspired by threads from the iconic Chanel tweed. The four tones offer endless possibilities, with one medium brown shade to contour, a deep cranberry tone for a pop of color and two versatile rose-inspired hues. “This palette looks great on just about everyone,” says Nasrat. “I love how you can create a soft, sweet rosy eye look to a dramatic cranberry eye.”
Rare Beauty Discovery Eyeshadow Palette in Came To Play
This just-launched palette from Selena Gomez’s makeup line features a collection of berry- and rose-based shades perfect for anyone — but even more so for those with green, hazel and brown eyes. The seven shades come in a range of finishes, from matte to duo-chrome to 3D glitter, for a mix-and-match adventure. Gomez said she created this palette for a fun, colorful look, so be like Selena and experiment with the wearable shades before a night out on the town.
Simihaze Beauty AM/PM Magnetic Eye Quad
Created by twin sisters Simi and Haze, Simihaze Beauty is a celebration of fun and expressive makeup. The AM/PM quad is designed to take you from day to night with its playful mix of matte and shimmer pigments, which can be enhanced in depth when mixed with water (matte powders turn into creamy, full-coverage paints and shimmer powders morph into holographic foil shades). It’s also made to fit right in the palm of your hand, making it the perfect travel companion.