Before I transitioned to a clean, cruelty-free makeup arsenal, I used to have a huge crush on Ubran Decay’s Naked Palette. At $52, it was more than I could afford to spend on one trip to the makeup store. At the same time, all makeup lovers know that a good neutral eye shadow palette is a must.
But what exactly makes a good neutral eye shadow palette? The answer is slightly different for every style and complexion. I’m glad I didn’t shell out for the Urban Decay palette—looking at it now, I realize I wouldn’t have even used at least three of the shades. Enter the customized, DIY neutral eyeshadow palette.
Before you even get started, think about the eyeshadows you turn to again and again—are they shimmery? Matte? What balance of formulas is best for you?
Are your favorite shadows warm (like tan) or cool (like gray) colors? The most flattering eyeshadows are in the same color temperature as your complexion. I have a somewhat warm (though light) olive complexion, and I cannot pull off blue-based eyeshadow (including some “black” shadows) to save my life. I dwell in tans and chocolate browns. How about you?
Here are my general recommendations for a basic nude eyeshadow kit:
1 Pearlescent cream tone—good for highlighting your brow bone.
1 Matte tone the color of your skin—perfect for creating a base or blending other colors
1 Multi-tasking medium tone (a few shades darker than your skin tone)—this color can be used on your moving eyelid or in the crease of your eyelid). This tone can be pearlescent or matte—your choice.
1 Dark tone (shimmery or matte)—this tone can be used to create smoky eyes or serve as a an eyeliner.
1 Wildcard (optional)—your wildcard isn’t necessarily a strictly “nude” color. Your wild card can be a color you apply to your moving eyelid that really highlights the color of your iris. For example, I love rose gold, shimmery shadow since it makes the green in my iris pop. To find your wildcard color, try shades that are the color-wheel opposite of your iris color. (Consult this guide to find your complimentary color.)
Canibalize kits you already own. I’ll admit to buying shadow quads because I really liked one of the colors and swore to myself that I would remember to dig for that palette when I needed that color. But let’s face it, it’s much more convenient to have all of your colors in the same place—especially when you have exactly seven minutes to apply your makeup before dashing out of the apartment every morning! Hence, the beauty of a unified palette.
Go “shopping” in your own makeup drawer for single colors from palettes that don’t get much use otherwise. Carefully de-pot them following these instructions. If your de-potting efforts fail (it happens!), not all is lost. Turn your pressed eyeshadow into a loose powder by breaking it up with a fork or tweezers and pouring it into an empty pot. (See below for why loose eyeshadow can be fabulous.)
To fill out your neutral palette, invest if a few eyeshadow pots. Many all-natural, cruelty-free, vegan beauty brands sell individual pots of loose eye shadow powder. (To name a few, Alima Pure and Modern Minerals have copious enticing options.) The beauty of loose powder is that you can blend multiple powders in an empty jar (always save your empty containers :)!). For example, if you buy a cream tone and a dark brown, you can mix a little of the darker shade with the lighter to get your medium tone.
Put everything in the same (easily accessible place). You’ve got a few options here. If you’ve de-potted a few shades, you can glue them beside one other in the same box (I used an old stationary box—not the ideal proportions, but maybe I’ll keep filling out my palette!). (Figure 1). If you’ve got several individual pots, you can find a box in which to store them all (Figure 2). If you’ve got a mix of de-potted shadows and pots, you can glue (or velcro!) the bottom of the pots to the base of the box beside the de-potted shades; you’ll want to keep the lids on pots when not in use (Figure 3).
Also in Get Glowing: Brightening 5-Minute Makeup Tutorial
Photos: Mary Hood, Urban Decay, McKinney75402 via Flickr