Beginner’s Buying Guide: Neutral Eyeshadow Palettes

I remember the first time I went into Sephora, I had no idea what I was doing. I couldn’t tell one brand from another, it was bright, and there was loud music playing. I don’t even think I bought eyeshadow. I just bought a concealer that a friendly associated showed me how to use, along with the most neutral lipstick another friendly associate could find. Also, I tried not to get lost.

Nowadays, I can wander into Sephora, swatch hella products, and know exactly what I want. So that others may avoid the sensory overload I experienced during my first Sephora visit, I wanted to start a “beginners” series that’s more of a buying guide than a how-to. You can find amazing beginner eyeshadow tutorials all over YouTube, so I won’t be adding to that behemoth. I would, however, like to make a few recommendations for those who like palettes and want to go beyond a single eyeshadow look. Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with single eyeshadow looks, but for those who like getting a bit of a bargain, palettes are typically more cost-efficient purchases than a single eyeshadow, particularly if you want to do more than one look.

I’ve rounded up the neutral palettes I use most often, and have listed them below with links and swatches for your convenience. As always, none of the links are affiliate, and I make no money when you make a purchase using said links.

Too Faced Natural Eyes Eyeshadow Palette ($38)

Image Description: Exterior of Too Faced Natural Eyes Palette.
Image Description: Too Faced Natural Eyes palette. It is well-loved.
Image Description: Each row of the Too Faced Natural Eyes Palette swatched.

I bought this a couple of years ago, and so I do not have the new one with the fancy packaging (and, I believe, reformulations). I don’t understand why the reformulations happened, because this palette was amazing already, and its size made it perfect for travel. Why, Too Faced, why? That said, the reviews are generally positive for this palette, so I don’t see too much harm in recommending this newer version of a very beginner-friendly palette. Sweep “Cashmere Bunny” into the crease and along the lower lash line and dab “Push-Up” all over the lid. Done!

If you’re feeling bold, you can deepen the outer corner with “Erotica” and run “Sexpresso” along the outside portion of your lower lash line.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Soft Glam Eyeshadow Palette ($42)

Image description: Exterior of ABH Soft Glam palette.
Image Description: The ABH Soft Glam palette.
Image Description: Top row of ABH Soft Glam swatches, swatched top to bottom on my arm from left to right in the palette.
Image Description: Swatches of bottom row of ABH Soft Glam. Swatches are top to bottom on my arm corresponding to left to right in the palette.

I know this can seem really daunting because there are 14 shades, but I promise that this is not a difficult palette to use. “Rustic” is a fabulous matte shade to go in the crease, and I love putting “Rose Pink” on the inner third of my lid, and “Sultry” on the rest. Blend everything together with an eyeshadow blending brush and you’re good to go. This palette is also great because you can practice different looks and see which techniques and color combinations work best for you. There are also dozens of tutorials and ideas on YouTube, so you’ll be able to find lots of inspiration for new looks.

Side note: If you can get your hands on the ABH Sultry palette, I think that one is even more beginner friendly. It was, however, limited edition.

Pat McGrath Labs MTHRSHP Subliminal Platinum Bronze Palette ($65)

Image Description: The Pat McGrath Mthrshp Subliminal Platinum Bronze palette exterior.
Image Description: The shades of the PMG Platinum Bronze palette.
Image Description: Swatches of the PMG Platinum Bronze palette that are completely out of order. Sorry!

Pat McGrath’s Bronze Ambition mini MTHRSHP palette usually gets all the hype, but I like cool tones, so I’m going to recommend the Platinum Bronze (especially since the ABH Soft Glam palette is plenty warm). “Sextrovert” and “Telepathic Taupe” can both create perfect one-shade looks, but you can always make it more dramatic by putting “Platinze” on the inner corner and blending Deep Velvet into the outer corner.

PYT Beauty No BS Eyeshadow Palette ($32)

Image Description: Exterior of the PYT Beauty No B.S. palette.
Image Description: The PYT palette
Image Description: Swatches of the PYT palette: base matte, base shimmer, followed by three mattes, and then three shimmers.

PYT Beauty is a “clean” beauty brand. I use “clean” in quotations because there do not appear to be universally agreed upon guidelines for what constitutes clean products in cosmetics. That said, this is a lovely palette. You do have to build up the shimmers a bit, but once you do, it’s easy to get a natural glam look. I usually take the light brown matte shade and sweep that throughout my crease. Then I add a few layers of the lightest shimmer shade (not the shimmer base shade; the one that’s third from the bottom in the swatches picture above). I blend them together with a brush, and then that’s it!

Note: PYT Beauty is not carried at Sephora currently. I ordered mine from Credo Beauty.

Recommended eyeliner for neutral looks: Marc Jacobs Beauty Highliner Gel Eye Crayon Eyeliner in (Earth)quake 41 ($25).

Recommended brush: Sonia G Worker Pro ($30) (seriously, best eyeshadow brush ever)

Image Description: All the neutral eyeshadow palettes featured in this post.

Thanks so much for reading! What are your favorite beginner-friendly neutral eyeshadow palettes? Are there any other categories you’d like to see beginner buying guides for?

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