Figuring out which new, buzzy eye shadow palette to buy can be amongst the world’s toughest beauty decisions. It feels like every week, a new, must-have palette launches, accompanied by YouTube tutorials and Instagram ads starring your favorite influencers. In the past few weeks, Tarte’s High Tides and Good Vibes palette, BH Cosmetic’ Pisces Palette and an Etude House x Kit Kat palette (what?) all launched. Not to mention that Urban Decay just announced their new Naked Reloaded palette and a Game of Thrones collaboration palette.
Have you ever shelled out $50 for a palette you’ve heard oh-so-much about, then, six months later, realized you’ve only used the thing twice? This has happened to me more than once, and always makes me particularly grateful for Sephora’s very flexible return policy.
Of course, sometimes you stumble upon a true gem, something you end up wearing nearly every damn day. My number-one palette, by a long shot, is Charlotte Tilbury’s Pillow Talk Palette — I know it’s pricey, but I absolutely adore it. It has brown and pink tones that are ideal for day wear, but if you combine all the shades together, you create a color that makes the perfect pretty-yet-sultry, soft, smoky evening eye look. I can’t imagine my life without it, and find myself recommending it constantly to all my friends.
I was curious if other people had go-to palettes they couldn’t live without. So in an effort to navigate the glut, I went on Instagram and asked my followers to share their all-time favorites. They came through. Below, a list of their tried-and-true holy grail palettes. Who needs influencers when you know this many beauty obsessives?
Liza Rose Ciraldo-Batt, director of education at skin-care brand Dr. Loretta says she can’t live without her this bronze palette from Pat McGrath. It comes with six ultracreamy, intensely pigmented shades (copper, charcoal, gold, and Champagne). “The colors are incredibly pigmented and it’s perfect for both day and night,” Liza says. “I love her.”
Visual artist Olivia Kooyman is obsessed with Huda’s nine-pan, all-warm-brown-toned Huda Beauty palette. “I love the way warm browns open up my eyes and make me look more awake,” she said. “This palette basically gives you every brown shade you could ever want.”
My follower Emily F. and I have something in common: we both love using Fenty Beauty’s gorgeous duo highlighters as a pop-of-color eye shadow. “This palette looks the way Sour Patch Kids taste,” she says. “The colors are bright and unexpected, and whenever I wear it I feel like my face took a very small beach vacation.”
Makeup artist Shayna Goldberg recommended Charlotte Tilbury’s the Dolce Vita. This mini four-pan eye shadow palette is small but mighty, and includes copper-toned, bronze, and Champagne colors. “I love this palette for its versatility,” she said. “It has three matte shades, plus a glittery shade, which means you can use it to achieve an evening-glam or a soft day look. Plus, it offers warm and cool shades, so it works on pretty much anyone. The deeper shades are deep enough and pigmented enough to be worn as liner. It’s often the only palette I have to put in my set bag for touch-ups.”
Joelle, an associate visual editor, recommends Anastasia’s 14-shade neutral palette, whose colors range from warm and cool mattes to glamorous shimmers. “To preface,” she said, “I am really bad at eye makeup. And I love, love, love the Anastasia Beverly Hills Soft Glam palette. The first time I used it was for the Met Gala (sorry, just stay with me here), which meant I had absolutely no room for messiness. I did one quick swipe of the Rustic shade with a fluffy brush on my lids and on my bottom lash line with a detailer brush, and used the Fairy shade in the corner of my eye. That’s was it. Minimal to no fallout, and she stayed in place all night with no primer. I reach for it whenever I want a little color (Rose Pink is a favorite) without effort because, again, I don’t really know how to make one. Hours of watching Jaclyn Hill videos, be damned.”
Taylor, a university student, loves Ohii’s super creamy, ultrapretty Magic Hour palette. I get it: the twinkly, dusty mermaid shades look beautiful on lids. “The palette is so pigmented, pretty, easy to use, and you can create so many different looks with it!” she said.
Kelly, a law school student, is obsessed with her cruelty-free, vegan Zulu Eye Shadow Palette from Juvia’s Place. These six beautiful matte shades and three stunning shimmering metallic shades give her “the perfect pop of color against my skin tone and make me feel so happy when I’m getting glam.”
The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.
Every editorial product is independently selected. If you buy something through our links, New York may earn an affiliate commission.