The Best Eyeshadow Palettes For Beginners

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So you’re ready to dip your toes into the whole wide world of eyeshadow — welcome! Eyeshadow is arguably the most transformative, and versatile, tool you can keep in your makeup kit. That said, there are literally thousands of eyeshadow palettes out there, with new ones being launched on what seems like a daily basis. So if you’re new to all this, what are the best eyeshadow palettes for beginners? If you’re a novice, you’ll want to start out with basic, complexion-complementing shades that can be worn on a daily basis; the best one for you will depend on your skin tone/undertone, but generally, cooler shades (like silver, mauve, and pale pink) work well on lighter skin tones, while warmer shades (like deep brown, gold, caramel, and bronze) look best on darker skin. While beginners may want to steer clear of neon-green and glittery fuchsia eyeshadows at first, there are some bolder shades that are easy to work with, like dark purple, forest green, Burgundy, and navy blue.

Any expert will extol the versatility of eyeshadow, so once you’ve mastered the basics, it’s time to experiment. The right color eyeshadow can also be used as contour, highlighter, or blush (for example, I find that mauve eyeshadows complement my super-pale skin better than most bronzers and blushes, while shimmery silver, champagne, and gold eyeshadows can be dabbed along your cheekbones for a light-reflecting finish). And once you’ve got your shading and blending techniques down, you can move onto bolder eyeshadow looks using more colorful eyeshadow palettes.

Go ahead and grab a set of the best makeup brushes for beginners, then pick up one of these novice-friendly eyeshadow palettes that you can buy on Amazon.

Editor’s Pick

As someone with very pale skin, ILIA’s The Necessary Eyeshadow Palette in ‘Cool Nude’ is my go-to everyday eyeshadow palette, thought the brand also makes a ‘Warm Nude’ version — equally gorgeous — that would complement darker skin tones beautifully. I use the grayish-mauve shade almost daily on my eye arch; the light-beige shade to sculpt my brow bone; and I reserve the darker shades for smoky looks (though I find that the dark brown shade makes a fab liner — just use your skinniest brush). The top right shade, meanwhile — a silvery-bronze metallic — is perhaps my favorite, as it can be used for both dramatic and everyday looks, depending on how it’s applied.

Whether worn together or combined, each of the shades in this sturdy palette are perfect for beginners and experts alike. The best part, too? I’ve had mine for well over a year and have barely made a dent, despite using it almost daily. (I’ve also dropped it on the floor several times and the shadow has never come out of the pan). A convenient built-in mirror makes for easy, on-the-go touchups, and the formula is nearly 100% naturally derived. What’s not to love?

Best Under $5

e.l.f’s Bite-Size Eyeshadows are the perfect starting point for beginners who aren’t ready to make an investment. All three palettes — ‘Pumpkin Pie’ (pictured), ‘Rose Water’, and ‘Truffle’ — are perfect for everyday use and just the right combination of dramatic and bold, with some shimmery, some matte shades. Choose the palette that suits your complexion best, but honestly, I wouldn’t blame you if you stocked up on all three; mixed and matched, you could create some seriously gorgeous looks with these. And at just $3 a pop, you seriously cannot beat the price.

Best Basic Palette For Most Skin Tones (Under $30)

Created by Black-owned beauty brand Mented Cosmetics, their Everyday Eye Shadow Palette was designed to be — just as it says in the name — the perfect everyday palette for all skin tones. Featuring a mix of beige, brown, and metallic shades (with a stunning Burgundy thrown in for good measure), this palette is absolutely perfect for understated looks, and they all complement one another wonderfully. When nighttime comes around, layer on the shimmering metallics (aptly named ‘First Date’ and ‘Second Date’). I also love that this palette is finished off with a massive mirror, which allows you to do your makeup anywhere — my preferred spot is right in front of my window (beginners take note: natural light is your best friend).

Best Basic Palette For Most Skin Tones (Under $25)

Honest Beauty’s Get It Together Eyeshadow Palette is another great choice for beginners looking for a versatile, everyday palette that could also lend itself to statement-making nighttime looks (when it comes to eyeshadow, it’s mostly about placement and how much product you layer on that that decides whether your look feels bold or natural). Also designed with a built-in mirror, this palette features a mix of matte and shimmery shades that would suit any skin tone, as well as a true black shade that can be used wet or dry as liner with a skinny, angled brush.

Best Shimmery Palette For Beginners

If you’re not afraid of shimmer, pick up one of Revlon’s So Fierce! Prismatic eyeshadow palettes (for a great tutorial, you can watch professional makeup artist Katie Jane Hughes use the palette, here). Though this palette does come in several bold iterations (my personal favorite is ‘Slight Flex’, which includes pink, champagne, and red-bronze shades with a bold emerald green), ‘That’s A Dub’ (pictured) and ‘Tantrum’ are quite neutral; beginners should have no problem playing around with these.

Best Cream Eyeshadow Palette For Beginners

Another impeccable offering from Revlon, their Illuminance Crème Shadow palettes are absolute classics (I used to use these in high school, and over a decade later, they still hold up). Being cream formulas, which means you can dab them on with your fingers and they’re incredibly easy to blend, it’s impossible to mess up with these, so they’re perfect for beginners. Though some of these palettes contain quite bright colors, the majority comprise everyday neutrals; there’s ‘Not Just Nudes’ (pictured), ‘Skinlights’ (four shades that could each be used as highlighter), ‘Khaki Suede’, an assortment of muted greens that would look gorgeous on tan skin, and ‘Twilight’, a mix of silvery grays that’d be perfect for a not-too-intense smoky eye.

Best Investment Palette For Beginners

If you’re a beginner looking to invest in a palette that will, one, last you a long time, and two, allow you to create an extensive variety of looks, Anastasia Beverly Hills’ Soft Glam palette is the way to go. It contains 14 neutral shades, each designed to complement one another (and all skin tones), which can be used separately or together for both minimal everyday looks and show-stopping glitzy eyes. You’ve got your light shades for highlighting; your dark and light browns, with varying undertones, for shading; black for lining; and so many stunning metallics for coating your lids.

The quality of ABH palettes are unparalleled, too; these buttery shadows are super-highly pigmented, so you only need to use a little bit of product to get your desired result (which again, is why these palettes tend to last so long).

Honorable Mention: Most User-Friendly

If you’re a real beginner — and you don’t have the time or energy to watch makeup tutorials online — Almay’s Intense i-Color Eyeshadow Palette spells out everything for you, making it impossible to mess up. These palettes contain a mix of five bold and neutral shades (each designed to complement different eye colors) that are numbered so you know in exactly which order to apply them. (The brand also includes detailed instructions.) Choose from options for blue, green, brown, and hazel eyes.

Also Consider: A Set Of Beginner-Friendly Eyeshadow Brushes

As they say, an artist is only as good as their tools. If you’re new to eyeshadow, you’re definitely going to want to stock up on some quality brushes; they’ll make a huge difference in your final result, especially when it comes to blending. I love Real Techniques brushes because they’re of professional quality, but they’re also quite affordable. The Everyday Eye Essentials set is perfect for beginners, as it includes all the eye-related makeup brushes you’ll ever need (including a brow brush). That said, if you’re looking for something a little more basic, you can get the brand’s Eye Shade & Blend set for less than $10, which includes three of the most commonly used eye makeup brushes for shading, blending, and lining.