My Favorite Makeup Palettes of 2018
I feel like 2018 was a banner year in the makeup industry. Especially when it comes to eye shadow palettes. It felt like every week there would be 2-3 new palette releases. It was a lot to keep up with. I purchased more makeup in 2018 that I think I ever have before - specifically palettes. I tried brands I’d never tried before and I worked with shades and tones that used to scare me a bit. This list was fairly easy for me to compile. I looked at the following criteria: How easy a palette was to use, the uniqueness of the color story, the formula, and if it was a palette I reached for again and again.
When I was compiling my list for this post it was a no-brainer for me what would take the top spot. The Melt Cosmetics Gemini palette was a serendipitous purchase for me. I am a Gemini. It was released right around my birthday. I was able to grab mine through the second restock with no issues (apparently the second restock sold out in 10 minutes!) and it features what are some of my all time favorite colors in a color story built from my dreams. I love yellow, mustard-y tones and green is my favorite color. These shades of green aren’t seen often in palettes which is what made the Gemini palette so unique. This was my first time trying Melt and I know a lot of people stated that the formula for this palette was different from their Melt stacks. I had nothing to compare it to, and for me the formula was great. The shadows are pigmented, they blend well and they don’t turn into a muddy mess on the eye as shades like this often can. You can create beautiful looks with minimal effort. This palette was restocked for one final time during the late Fall and Black Friday. I am soo glad I got mine when I did.
The first time I saw Soft Glam I literally rolled my eyes. It looked so….unseasoned chicken…so…basic. I figured after the Subculture debacle ABH was playing it safe - which they were. Because where Subculture was colorful and bold and daring Soft Glam is warm, neutral and easy to use. The photos ABH released did not do this palette justice. Once I started seeing reviews and the stunning looks that were created with it I came around. And it was while watching Emma from Emma’s Rectangle on YouTube create the prettiest 90’s-inspired grunge-y smokey eye that I was sold. This was the palette I used most this past summer. And when I wanted some color I would reach for Gemini but on most days I was all about that Soft Glam life. I can create a beautiful look in less than 5 minutes and it looks like I spent a ton of time blending my eye shadow. I have ABH Modern Renaissance and I was underwhelmed when I bought it. I didn’t and don’t think it lives up to the hype. It’s a good palette. But Soft Glam is a great palette.
Mel Thompson reviewed the Kevyn Aucoin NudePop Pro palette on her YouTube channel and the moment she held the palette up to the camera I wanted it. The color story is stunning. A blend of cool purple tones, nudes and vibrant glitters and shimmers it is a great introduction to the cool-toned eye shadow trend. The colors are not intimidating. They are pigmented but you don’t get a splat of color on your eye when you apply them. They need to be built up slightly and they blend beautifully. I was obsessed with this palette for a good month before I forced myself to use some of the nine million other palettes I purchased recently. This was originally limited edition but I believe it has now been made permanent.
Like the NudePop palette, the Dose of Colors Pretty Cool palette caught my eye because of it’s cool-toned color story. I purchased it in the Vault Collection Dose of Colors was selling for the holiday season (which is still available as I write this), which consisted of all five of their 5 pan matte gradient shadow palettes (I already owned Baked Browns but needed to replace it since I had accidentally dropped it late last year and was missing one of the shadows). I know the formula was going to be good based on my experience with Baked Browns, but my reservation was that, also like Baked Browns the shades would look a tad too similar on my eye. Couple that with the fact that all the shades are cool toned and you have a recipe for a muddy disaster. I needn’t have worried though because this palette is amazing. You won’t get a ton of varied looks from it unless you bring in other palettes since all of the shadows are matte. But- what you do get are really easy minimal effort maximum impact eye looks. Like Soft Glam this palette gets major points for the ease of use factor. Both palettes give you beautiful looks that can be put together in less than 10 minutes. And the Dose of Colors formula never disappoints. I love all of the other palettes within the collection as well but this one stands out for me because of the color story.
5. Too Faced Sugar Peach Wet & Dry Face & Eye Palette
This palette is a recent addition to my collection. I’ve owned it for less than a month. But it made this list easily. That’s how much I love it. Beautiful bronze-y peach shades that give either a subtle glow or massive shine depending on how you use it. I especially love using this when the rest of my makeup is minimal to give my skin an extra boost of glow. I will use Peach Honey as a bronzer, Peach Pop as a Blush, and Peach Pearl for my highlight. The only dud in this palette for me is Sugared Peach. The glitter particles flake off and go everywhere and the color base can make my medium deep skin look a bit sallow. But other than that this palette is a win for me. And it smells amazing! I usually am not the biggest fan of scented skincare or makeup but Too Faced has done a great job of not having their scented products be overwhelming. The scent doesn’t linger on the skin and it doesn’t irritate my sensitive skin either.
What can I say about “Mother” (as she’s called in the makeup industry) and her eye shadow formula? This year marked my first time trying any Pat McGrath products and since my first purchase which was this and the La Vie en Rose palette, I have purchased tons more items from her. I own all of her minis except for one (which I should have bought but is now out of stock and I am kicking myself). I have yet to bite the bullet and buy one of her larger palettes because $125 for a palette still makes me gulp. BUT - having tried her minis I can attest to the fact that she has one of the best eye shadow formulas I have ever tried. The mattes are pigmented and blend like a dream, the metallics and shimmers are like nothing else I’ve tried. The caveat to this is that I wouldn’t characterize McGrath eye shadows are beginner friendly. If you don’t know how to handle super pigmented shadows and REALLY blingy shimmers and metallics you may have a hard time with these. That;s why I think coming out with mini palettes was genius on her part. They allow someone to play with a bit of each type of formula she has in her larger palettes. Of all of the minis I own my favorite for simple functionality is Bronze Ambition. First of all - it’s beautiful. But secondly you can create amazing looks using one a couple - or even just one - shade. It is a warm toned palette with universally flattering shades that are easy to apply. My one bit of advice - and I do this with all of me eye looks - and it was one of the best makeup tips I’ve ever heard: do your eye makeup FIRST. McGrath shimmers are no joke. And even with a wet brush you may experience a bit of fallout from the glitter particles.
It may seem slightly strange to have a BHCosmetics palette next to a Pat McGrath one on this list but what can I say? If you are sleeping on BH’s eye shadow palette formula please wake up. They have one of the best affordable formulas on the market today. The Royal Affair palette is new to my collection but it one me over with how deceptively versatile it is. I featured it in my Best Eye Shadow Palettes for the Holiday Season post. It’s become my go-to “throw on some makeup but still look really cute” palette. And if you want something a bit more colorful, or fancy, or dramatic, or different you can achieve all of that with it.
Another recent addition from my Best Eye Shadow Palette for the Holidays post. It’s rather funny but up until last month I didn’t own any Too Faced products with the exception of the Peach Perfect Mattifying Spray - which I love. They had some pretty awesome sales over the last couple of weeks and I took full advantage. I wasn’t going to even buy the Gingerbread Spice palette. I thought it was pretty but it reminded me of ABH Modern Renaissance a bit and didn’t seem all that unique. And then I watch Alicia aka KinkySweat’s review and I it needed to be mine. She did an amazing all pink eye look with this and I ordered the palette the very next day. The colors are rich and pigmented and I have created some gorgeous looks with it that make me excited to reach for it again and again. The stand out shade in this palette is Hot Toddy. Which in the pan looks like a simply hot pink shimmer. But it has the tiniest duochrome shift in it that is so unique and so stunning on the eye. Especially when paired with Gum Drop. I know for some Too Faced’s eye shadow formula can be hit or miss. Are these the best shadows I have ever tried? No. But I was really pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoy using this. So much so that I have since picked up the Chocolate Gold Bar palette and the Sugar Cookie mini palette. This palette is limited edition and sold out on Too Faced’s website. I also didn’t see it on Sephora or Ulta’s websites any longer. Hopefully if you were interested in this palette you were able to grab it while it was available.
I went back and forth about adding this palette to my list. Mainly because I wasn’t wowed by the formula. The way this palette has to be used is different from my preferred method of applying my eye shadows. Angelica Nyqkvist explained it perfectly in her review of the entire Paradise Collection (Blossom Passion is one of four palettes within the collection). The darker mattes don’t layer well over the lighter ones. So you wind up having to apply the shadows in reverse: darker first and blend out with the lighter. They aren’t insanely pigmented and do require some building up. You are probably going, “Okay so when do you get to the part about why it’s on your list?” The color story peeps. The color story. It’s beeeautiful. It was unlike anything else I owned at the time and it’s one of the prettiest palettes I’ve seen this year. The formula isn’t horrible. It’s okay. I would give it a C + or B- depending on the day and my mood while doing my makeup. But you can create beautiful looks with it. It simply takes a bit longer than if you were using say a ABH shadow. Despite the formula drawbacks I am still interest in picking up the Classical Paradise palette from the collection. Which is another beautiful color story. My hope for Ace Beaute is that they can bring their formula up to par with their color selections.