Best for a touch of shimmer: Charlotte Tilbury Luxury Palette of Pearls in Celestial Pearl
Some well-placed shimmer on the eyes instantly adds a touch of elegance to an understated makeup look. There is a general rule when it comes to shimmer, however: it must be finely milled, subtle shimmer. Glitter, while glorious in its own right, creates an entirely different feel. The shimmer in this pearlescent palette is just right, adding interest without stealing the show. Use a single color as a wash over your entire eyelid or add further embellishment by buffing the matte shade into the natural crease of your eyes for further definition.
Best for dialing up the glow: Hourglass Ambient Lighting Edit in Universe
Available in two colorways – punchier pigments for deeper complexions and a more muted selection for paler skin tones – this palette is really all about glow. There is a bronzer, a highlighter, a setting powder and two shades of blush made from very finely milled powders that settle onto the skin like a soft veil. The lighter highlight shade looks beautiful blended into the inner corners of the eyes on bare skin, too.
Best for high-impact color: Huda Beauty Obsessions Eyeshadow Palette in Chocolate
Huda Kattan’s compact eyeshadow palettes are temptingly collectible and, with 15 shade variations, you can easily build up a wardrobe of complementary colors to experiment with. Chocolate is a particular favorite and comprises nine shades of warm tones – including deep plums and terracottas in matte and shimmer finishes – that look incredible on deeper skin tones and can be used multiple ways. For a foolproof approach, buff a dark shade into the roots of the lashes and blend a lighter shade over the entire lid. Then press one of the metallic shades onto the center of your eyelid and apply two coats of mascara.
Best for a modern smoky eye: Victoria Beckham Beauty Smoky Eye Brick
A traditional smoky eye might be built on cool-toned shades of black and gray but, for many complexions, this sooty blackness is too harsh. The warm brown and taupe shades in this palm-sized palette are a more flattering choice for most skin tones, with the pigments enhancing most natural eye colors and proving far more forgiving when it comes to blending. If you have very dark skin, or just want a punchier color payoff, mist your eyeshadow brush with water before brushing it over the powders. Otherwise, normal smoky-eye rules apply: keep the dark shades close to your lash line and reduce the intensity of color as you work outwards. The palest shade also works well as a subtle brow-bone highlight.
Best for highlighting: Pat McGrath Labs Skin Fetish Sublime Skin Highlighting Trio
Highlighter is enjoying a moment again as we collectively come to the realization that nothing else bestows glow quite like it. Pat McGrath Labs’ highlighting trio has earnt a cult following because it delivers a strobe-like effect in just one swipe and achieves a creamy finish with a powder formula. There are three shades to choose from, so you can tailor the highlight for your look, dusting a fine sheen over collarbones as well if they’re on display. Also genius: this heavily pigmented product can be successfully layered on almost every skin tone.
Best for versatile layering: Kjaer Weis The Cheek Collective in Happy
Versatility is the hallmark of an excellent palette. And, just as the name implies, this cheek palette gives skin a mini flush of joy and a spring in your step. Ever better: it contains three creamy shades to add pigment, glow or shape – and they require zero skill to apply. Use your fingertips to pat the pinker tones onto the tops of your cheeks, and the taupe tone to add warmth and contour where shadows naturally fall on your face. Don’t just stop at your cheeks, either: apply one of the colors onto your lips for a subtle lip stain and buff a thin layer onto eyelids to bring everything together.
Best for perfecting your skin: Surratt Beauty Perfectionniste Concealer Palette
Professional makeup artists will always use a couple of shades of concealer to dial up the light in specific areas – this is a trick worth repeating at home if you want the effect of truly flawless skin, and this palette makes it so easy. Available in six variations, there is literally an option for everyone, but the rules of application remain the same, regardless of the shade. Apply the light, creamy color to your undereye area to counteract blue tones, and use the shade that matches your natural skin coloring the closest to conceal breakouts and redness elsewhere on your face. Applying the color with your fingertip will allow you to build up the coverage in layers, while using a concealer brush (such as Rae Morris Jishaku 20 Vegan Concealer Brush) will provide an opaque finish. The brightening powder goes on invisibly, but a light dusting will truly set your concealer in place all day long.
Best for blending: Westman Atelier Eye Pods in Rendezvous
While not technically a palette, these stackable eye pods are just as convenient and versatile. Use a fingertip or a small, fluffy brush to blend the velvet-like colors onto lids, either solo or layered up. They feel smooth on the skin and won’t crease or smudge, even if you have oily eyelids. Try applying Bonne Chance (a smoky emerald) or Frappé (metallic purple) as an eyeliner over a wash of Bisou. Dampen a flat liner brush (such as Sisley Eyeliner Brush) with a face mist and use it to stamp the powder in a soft line, up and outwards from the outer corners of your eyes.