The Very Best Eye-Shadow Palettes for Beginners, According to Makeup Artists

Experimenting with makeup is an age-old pastime for me. Even though my mom didn't allow me to wear foundation, concealer, or any makeup that covered my skin until I was legally an adult, I always found a way to experiment with makeup with eye shadow. Growing up in the '90s and 2000s, I mostly adorned my eyelids with rhinestones and my favorite gold Covergirl eye shadow. That was my signature.

As my makeup world grew, I still loved adorning my eyes, but in college, I leaned into heavy, smudged, black eyeliner and loads of mascara. (Let's just say the photos from my college days are filled with raccoon eyes.) And these days, I get to chat with expert makeup artists regularly for tips on the best ways to accentuate the eyes. For this story, Kate Synnott, the creative director at Róen Beauty, and global makeup artist and Code8 brand trainer Sasha Ghodstinat gave me the deets on the best eye-shadow palettes for beginners.



How do I choose an eye-shadow palette?

In general, Synnott recommends going for the gold. "I always recommend golds for everyone. They work so well with every skin and eye color." Additionally, she says investing in a good palette and applying small amounts of product during application make more of a difference than focusing on the formula (aka mattes vs. creams).

Ghodstinat also suggests "investing in an eye palette that will have lighter, medium, and darker colors that will help you enhance your eyes." For example, she recommends plums and greens with a golden base color for brown eyes and browns, golds, and rose golds for blue and green eyes. "Any color opposite your eye color will create more of a contrast and will pop your eye color more," she says.

As for tools, both artists recommend using your fingers as a foolproof application option. But if you're looking for a tool, Synnott recommends Róen's Everything Eye Brush, which I can vouch for. I enjoy using it, especially if I want to line my under-eyes with eye shadow. (I've even used it to contour.)

Now that the beauty experts have weighed in, I've rounded up 19 palettes below that will make putting together eye looks a breeze even if you're just getting started.

1. Nyx Professional Makeup Ultimate Shadow Palette in Ultimate Queen

I love a pro-level palette at a drugstore price, especially when it's filled with 16 pigmented pieces featuring a range of neutral metallic, shimmer, and matte shades.

2. Róen Beauty Gold Lust Palette

This is currently my go-to eye-shadow palette. Not only is the color payoff amazing, but you can apply it with your fingers or a brush, and it doesn't irritate the eyes.

3. Victoria Beckham Beauty Smoky Eye Brick in Signature

Formulated with a hyaluronic acid powder complex, this hydrating palette with chocolate browns, clay reds, and deep plums can take your look from day to night. For application tips, I was lucky enough to get advice from Victoria Beckham herself. "For my everyday eye, I use the Signature Smoky Eye Brick, dusting the lightest shade all over my lid and up to my brow bone as a base," she says. "Next, I apply the pale pink shade in the center of my lid to add a subtle brightness. Then, I'll use the mid-tone brown just above the contour of my eye for a lifted look and blend any extra along my lash line to further amp up the smokiness."

For a final touch, the beauty icon and fashion designer says, "To complement my brown eyes, I use an angled brush to line my lashes with the darkest navy from the Royal Smoky Eye Brick, finishing with a small flick at the end." After the eyes are complete, selecting a lip color can feel like playing beauty chess. But Beckham has one more piece of advice: Go for a glossy lip that complements your complexion and enhances your natural lip tone.

My personal favorite these days is the Posh Gloss in Fizz. The color is the perfect nude to complement my deep-brown skin.

4. Westman Atelier Eye Pods Eyeshadow Trio

Creating a smokey eye isn't as difficult as it looks if you keep things simple. I love this cream-to-powder option because it's formulated with clean ingredients, and it comes in a trio to ensure you have the right colors to create a sultry eye look.

5. Uoma Beauty Black Magic Poise Color Palette

If you enjoy a mixture of neutrals, sparkle, and deep hues, this 10-piece palette has it all.

6. Chanel Les 4 Ombres Multi-Effect Quadra Eyeshadow

With two medium tones that add color and contour alongside a deep shade to add intensity and a light shade to highlight, this palette will help you create an easy, breezy eye look.

7. Cheekbone Beauty Sustainable Eyeshadow Pencil

This eye-shadow pencil isn't a palette, but I think it's a great place to start if you're looking to add eye color to your repertoire. The brand has six color options that go from neutral to bright, so you can create your very own pencil palette. For the best application, brand founder Jenn Harper recommends applying the pigment with a less-is-more approach and using a fluffy brush to blend the shadow out.



8. Valentino Color-Flip Multi-Look Eyeshadow Palette

With over 300 nearly five-star reviews, it's safe to say this eight-piece palette featuring satins, shimmers, and mattes is worth your coins.

9. Maybelline The Nudes Eye Shadow Palette

This 12-shade eye-shadow palette is a fan favorite. With a mix of bold beiges, beautiful bronzes, easy-going taupes, and a matte black, this palette can be used on your eyes and for contouring your face.

10. Dior The Diorshow 5 Couleurs Couture Eyeshadow Palette in Red Tartan

You might think reds and golds only work on brown eyes, but these brick and red tones will make blue eyes pop.

11. Byredo Metal Boosts in the Snow Eyeshadow Palette

For brown eyes, this lightweight, creamy palette (that has a fantastic color payoff, by the way) featuring an earthy green, a rich khaki with a glimmer of gold, and a matte dark blue/gray is a hot pick for a night out.

12. Code8 Iconoclast Eyeshadow Palette in Lustrous Corduroy

“Our Iconoclast eye-shadow palettes are the best to start with as they have six shades that are versatile with an amazing color payoff,” Ghodstinat shares.

13. Charlotte Tilbury Luxury Palette in Mesmerizing Maroon

Green eyes will wow with this four-step eye-shadow quad curated with buildable, non-creasing, rich purple and maroon shades.



14. Milani Gilded Terra Eyeshadow Palette

For the newbie looking for a more playful palette, this option filled with earth tones in mattes and shimmers is made for you.

15. Gucci Palette Beauté Des Yeux Floral Eyeshadow Palette

I love gorgeous packaging coupled with a product that delivers. Gucci's 12-piece gold-trimmed black palette with a vintage-inspired floral design comes with seven matte shades, three metallic shades, and two satin shades.

16. Urban Decay Mini Naked Eyeshadow Palette

Palettes can take up quite a bit of space, but Urban Decay took six of its beloved long-wear shades and made a neutral mini palette that can fit in your purse, makeup bag, or carry-on.

17. Patrick Ta Major Dimension Eyeshadow Palette

Rose-toned neutral shades complement a range of eye colors and can be used day or night, and this 12-piece palette boasting mattes, shimmers, and creamy formulas has it all.

18. Pat McGrath Labs Mothership II Eyeshadow Palette in Sublime

Leave it to Dame Pat McGrath to create a palette that complements all eye colors. I use this palette for special occasions and when I need a pick-me-up! For a more intense color, apply it wet.

19. Isamaya Industrial Colour Pigments Eyeshadow Palette

At first glance, this makeup-artist formulated palette might feel a little overwhelming. But because these formulas can be applied with your fingers or a brush, they're easy to work with no matter your skill level. And I think this is the ideal palette to let your creativity guide you.