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How to Build the Perfect Palette For You

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We’ve all done it: you buy the latest eye shadow palette and think to yourself, “I’ll totally use that glittery lime green someday! You know, when I feel like switching it up.” Inevitably, the smokey browns and creams get scraped down to the metal while the ‘trendy’ shades languish in pristine condition.

Conventional palettes can be a great way to try new colors if you’re adventurous, and pre-made palettes do offer good value for beginners or for those who aren’t sure quite what they’re looking for, but custom palettes offer a truly individualized approach to your beauty regime. Most brands offer the opportunity to build your own palette. One of our favorites is the Inglot Freedom System (shown here).

The benefits of being able to hand-select your own shades for a custom palette are vast: you can be sure that all the shadows you select are exactly the shades and textures you need, and better yet, you aren’t wasting product—and money. When confronted by a rainbow of hues and finishes, keep the following in mind:

Consider the Quantity

Perhaps it goes without saying, but take the construction of the palette into consideration. Is there space for four shadows? Six? You’ll need to adjust accordingly. For a basic palette, you can get away with four shades: a highlight, a mid-tone for the lid, a darker crease shade, and a deep color to use as a powder liner, or for a night time smokey eye.

Shade Selection

It’s great to include the basics: a shade similar to your skin tone but a bit lighter for the browbone, a brown or navy for a more natural look, and a deep brown/black shade for your smokey eye. With these, you can deepen or lighten the look as you see fit. Taupe is a great neutral that softens and blends well with almost any other color, and you can’t go wrong with a bright shimmer for the inner corner of the eye. If you’re unsure about which shades go best with your eye color, refer to color theory for complementary colors.

Texture Collection

It’s nice to include a range of textures. Rely on something with a light to medium frost texture to add brightness to the inner corner, and get glitter if you’re daring (glitter is huge right now). A shimmer shadow can be great for blending out harsh lines.

If your skin is more mature, steer away from the glitter and limit the shimmer, as both can emphasize texture in the eyelid. Try to anchor your look in matte shadows and save the sheen for an accent.