With so many makeup palettes on the market, all offering an array of hues, pigment intensities, and textures, it’s hard to know where to look. Do you head to Sephora and shell out for the latest from luxe brands, or do you mosey on over to your local drugstore and scoop up a much more reasonably priced palette that very well may offer the exact same results you’re looking for? To splurge or not to splurge — doesn’t that always seem like the question? We reached out to celebrity makeup artists to find out what they use on their clients, and as it turns out, they’re big fans of the cheaper contenders. Here, some of the drugstore eye shadow palettes pros keep in their stash.
If you’re looking for a neutral eye shadow palette, celebrity makeup artist Shira Aaron suggests going with this one by e.l.f. It contains 18 pans of highly-pigmented matte, satin, and shimmer shades, all with a smooth texture. “The blendable shadows are easy to apply, long lasting, and also cruelty free and vegan so you can feel good on the inside while you look fabulous on the outside!” she says.
To use, Aaron suggests applying a light shade over your entire lid, then adding a medium shade to the creases of the eye to create a contour. Next, apply the darkest shade along the lash line in outer corners of the eyes to create depth. “Doing this will creates a smokey eye that can take you from day to night,” she says.
These monochromatic palettes have four different finishes to play with — matte, satin, metallic and glitter — offering the versatility that celebrity makeup artist Robyn Fisher needs for her clients. “If you dare, check out ‘Thrill Seeker,’ which is a beautiful aqua/mossy color that adds pop from the fairest of blondes to the darkest of ebony complexions,” she says. “‘Individualist’ is a more natural quad with four perfectly warm brown tones.”
Fisher recommends applying with your ring finger for a sheer smudge of color on your eyelid or dampening a firm brush and patting the shadow on for a more opaque, dramatic effect. “These silky shades are easy to blend and impossible to make mistakes with, so they’re must-haves in my summer makeup kit!”
Celebrity makeup artists Brandy Gomez-Duplessis is a major fan of NYX products because of their quality formulas. “I love that they’re highly pigmented and that the colors blend very well with either an eye shadow brush or just your finger,” she says. “The colors wear very well on all skin tones, and when I want to give my client a soft, washed-out eye, it’s very easy to use a ring finger or the tip of a beauty blender to pat the shadow on the lid.” With 16 shadows, ranging from light champagne to warm chocolate brown, this eye shadow palette is great for creating everyday looks.
Vinnetta Scrivo, a celebrity makeup artist who’s worked with Martha Stewart, swears by this palette specifically for its built-in primer. “The color is long-lasting and does not crease, the texture is soft and light but with dense pigment, and it’s full of rich, earthy tones that look good on anyone!” she says. “I also love that it is paraben-free!” The five warm tones can be played up or down, depending on the occasion.
Celebrity makeup artist Meredith Baraf has had this palette for about a year and is officially obsessed. “The shadows are buttery in texture so they glide onto the eye and blend with ease, which means application is super easy,” she says. “The color payoff is perfection — they have just the right amount of pigment and the shadows layer beautifully, so it’s easy to take a look from natural to dramatic.” Pro tip: Baraf suggests using the darker shades as eyeliner in a pinch or for a winged look.
Makeup artist Hillary Kline has been hooked on this eye shadow palette for a few months because she finds the pigments strong enough to stand on their own, yet easy enough to blend together. “The texture of these shadows are great and I love how vibrant the shades are, ranging from mattes to shimmers to metallics,” she says, adding that the best way to apply these shadows is with a fluffy brush for blending. But if you’re going for a bolder eye look, use a firmer brush to really pack on the pigment, she notes.
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