As the beauty community has grown over the past few years, brands have made a seemingly endless number of eyeshadow palettes. Let’s go over the best eyeshadow palettes for beginners, and why I consider them the best palettes for starting out.
Before we jump directly into product recommendations, let’s talk about why I recommend eyeshadow palettes (vs single shades) for beginners, and what you should look for in the palette you purchase.
What to Look for When Purchasing Your First Palette
Whether this is truly your first eyeshadow palette, or it’s your first “real” eyeshadow palette (you know, not a kiddie one from Claire’s), there are a few things I want to share and explain about eyeshadow to help you choose a great palette!
Eyeshadow Palettes vs Single Shadows
Eyeshadow comes in two main product types – individual shades that you can buy as single shadows and mix + match yourself, and eyeshadow palettes that contain multiple shades together in some sort of color scheme.
For beginners, I suggest opting for a palette instead of single shadows.
It might seem tempting to buy only 3-4 individual shades, especially when you haven’t worn makeup much in the past. However, it can be hard to choose shades that will look great when combined on the eye.
When you purchase a pre-made palette, you usually receive a variety of color choices that all work very well together within that palette’s color scheme. You don’t have to think about the formula interaction, the undertones of the shades, and color theory, like you might if you choose each shade individually.
There are many finishes and formulas of eyeshadows. The main two I want to focus on are mattes and shimmers.
If you want to learn about other eyeshadow finishes, including satins, glitters, metallics, and more information, check out my ultimate guide to eyeshadow.
Matte eyeshadows are flat shades that have no shimmer in the formula. They are typically the base of a makeup look.
Shimmer eyeshadows are sparkly shades that add dimension and, well, shimmer to the eyes. They can be worn alone, but are most often worn on top of matte shades.
When you’re searching for your first eyeshadow palette, I would suggest finding a palette that has 3 to 5 matte shades of varying colors. Aim to have a light shade, a dark shade, and 1 to 3 mid-toned shades.
Additionally, I would aim to have around 2-3 shimmers in a palette for dimension. I recommend looking for a lighter shimmer, and a couple mid-toned shimmer shades. These aren’t absolutely necessary, but they are a lot of fun and will bring your look together.
There are mega palettes, mini palettes, and every size palette in between.
When you’re just starting out, you should look for a small to medium sized palette – anything with 4 to 15 shades.
If you have less than 4 shades, you probably won’t have enough to practice with and create more than one or two different eyeshadow looks. On the other hand, if you have dozens of shades to choose from, you could suffer from the “too many jams” problem, where you are overwhelmed with too many choices and don’t actually use most of the shades in the palette.
Neutral eyeshadows are a great option for beginners. They are very wearable for all occasions, and are easier to learn with because they hide mistakes better than say, a bright hot pink shade.
If you want to jump right into colorful eyeshadows, I suggest looking at Colourpop’s 9 pan palettes and rainbow palettes. Check out this post to see what eyeshadows look best with different eye colors.
TL;DR: What to Look For
A 4-15 shade eyeshadow palette with a neutral color scheme and a mix of matte and shimmer shades.
The Best Eyeshadow Palettes for Beginners
Going Coconuts by ColourPop
If you’ve been here for a while, it’s no secret that ColourPop is one of my favorite brands. Their makeup is affordable, high quality, and there are many options that you’re bound to find a palette that is perfect for you.
Tons of palettes are available from Colourpop! Even though I have one main suggestion, this section includes an assortment of palettes to choose from.
My number one recommendation, one of the very best eyeshadow palettes for beginners, is Going Coconuts. This 9-shade palette is full of true neutral shades, including 4 mattes, 4 shimmers, and 1 sequin shade – a great variety. Going Coconuts is best suited for fair to medium-dark skin tones.
Shop Going Coconuts at ColourPop
If you have a dark to deep skin tone, Going Coconuts might not be the best choice for you. Instead I’d suggest Wild Child, a similar palette with deeper shades. It has the same ColourPop formula I love, with shades that are better suited for deeper skin tones.
Shop Wild Child at ColourPop
Soft Glam by Anastasia Beverly Hills
If you’re looking for a single high end eyeshadow palette that you can wear for almost any occasion, Soft Glam by ABH is the answer.
This palette was inspired by bridal makeup, and truly embodies the “soft glam” vibes. There are several beautiful brown neutrals, a variety of champagne and gold toned shimmers, and a few shades that lean on the pink side.
If you’re looking for something like this but smaller, there is a mini version of Soft Glam available here.
Bite Sized Eyeshadows by e.l.f. Cosmetics
If you’re looking to spend as little on eyeshadow as possible or just want a mini palette, go for e.l.f.!
These “Bite Sized” palettes contain 4 shades, most with 2 mattes and 2 shimmers.
I recommend either the “Cream & Sugar” palette, or the slightly deeper “Truffles” option. Both contain neutral mattes and shimmers, perfect for beginners. Since these palettes are so inexpensive (have I mentioned that they are only $3?) I’d get them both, and use them together for more variety!
Tartlette In Bloom by Tarte Cosmetics
A solid, pigmented clay eyeshadow formula in an amazing, heavy duty packaging? Yes, please! Tartlette in Bloom is a 12 shade palette with an incredible 9 mattes and 3 shimmers.
I’ll be honest, the shimmers aren’t my favorite formula (they are subtle, so if you’re into that, awesome!) but the mattes are fantastic. While some of the shades might look similar in the pan, they have diverse undertones – allowing you to create a warm toned OR cool toned look with one palette.
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It feels as if there are an infinite number of palettes on the market, and it’s hard to determine what the true best eyeshadow palettes for beginners are, just due to the sheer number of available palettes to choose from.
I thought about giving 10 or 15 best palettes for beginners in this list, but I know as a beginner I was overwhelmed by the massive number of choices I had. I’m confident that this small list includes options that would all be fantastic palettes for beginners.
If you’re interested in having more suggestions for best eyeshadow palettes for beginners, whether it is additional neutral palettes or something more colorful, please let me know in a comment below!
What was your favorite “beginner” eyeshadow palette? I had an e.l.f Cosmetics palette that no longer exists, then I moved to a much larger palette from Morphe.