Picking the perfect eyeshadow palette can be overwhelming for a beginner; the packaging all looks really pretty and there are so many gorgeous colors! Don't even get me started on all the sparkly finishes! How do you know what to look for and which is the best option? I'm breaking it down in a couple simple steps and listing my top recommendations for the best neutral eyeshadow palettes for beginners. Trust me, you don't need to spend a fortune when you're first developing your makeup style!
FTC Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means we’ll receive a small referral fee from purchases at no cost to you. You can read our affiliate policy here.
Tips for Selecting the Best Palette
Before I list my favorites, here are my top 3 tips to help you get the most use out of your eyeshadow palettes:
1. Pick Neutrals
Many beginners are drawn to those gigantic palettes that contain “150 shades in every color of the rainbow…all for only $15!“, right? We've all been there. 🙂 I still remember my excitement over my first rainbow-colored set. I got it from ULTA and couldn't wait to play with all the colors.
In actuality, it's difficult to learn how to properly apply and blend all of those bright colors when you're a newbie to the world of makeup. It's best to start out with a neutral palette and learn how to master the basics before you attempt to blend purples and greens.
2. Avoid Too Much Sparkle.
I know, I know — sparkles are fun! They're glittery! They're eye-catching! It's also easy to go overboard with them. Again, learn the basics before you cover your entire eye with shimmer, and be subtle when you're applying the sparkly stuff! A good rule of thumb for beginners is to only use a light shimmer in the inner corner and near the brow bone as a highlighter.
If you aren't sure where the “inner corner” is or you're curious about other terms you've heard on YouTube tutorials, here's a reference guide I created to help you learn about eyeshadow placement.
3. Use Primer
As you experiment with makeup, you'll learn that some shadows are very “pigmented”, others go on very light, and some just don't have very good staying power at all. In the beginning you won't know the difference, but that's ok because a good primer will provide the perfect base for any eyeshadow application.
The only eyeshadow primer I recommend is Urban Decay's Eyshadow Primer Potion in the Original formula (the one in the light purple tube — make sure you get the original formula).
I've tried quite a few and it's simply the best there is. (Go to Sephora, ULTA, Amazon, or Urban Decay and read the reviews if you don't want to take my word. It's good stuff!!)
All the shadows I'm recommending are ones I own and use repeatedly. They're also inexpensive! Each palette costs less than $25. There are good options that cost more, but I wanted to keep it reasonable.
For online orders, I order my makeup from Amazon with my Amazon Prime Student account because I get free 2-day shipping. When I purchase in person, I buy at Walgreens or ULTA. You can return any item at those two stores as long as you have your receipt and it's within a certain period of time (maybe 30 days?). You can even return it if it's been opened and used!
Here are the Best Neutral Eyeshadow Palettes for Beginners
This palette is a great option for beginners because it's under $25 and very versatile! The matte colors are beautiful and the sparkly options have a subtle shimmer to them that isn't overpowering.
The bottom two rows have dual uses and and can also function as a highlighter, blush, or bronzer. I like that the colors are primarily taupe, with varying shades of brown and gold. The colors in this palette are sooooo beautiful, and they look good on every skin tone!
The best thing about the Carli Bybel Deluxe Palette is that it's certified vegan and cruelty-free. Carli is awesome and one of my favorite YouTubers!
(If that's more than you want to spend, you can still buy Carli's original palette on Amazon.)
Just like the name implies, this eyeshadow palette contains 35 individual taupe shades in one convenient palette. It costs less than $25 and you can usually get free shipping on it.
Seven of the options are matte and the rest are slightly shimmery. (Only a couple are really sparkly.) Overall, it's a really good beginner kit to help you test out a wide range of neutral colors and finishes. I love this palette!
Coastal Scents is well-known for making beginner palettes, and I'm pretty sure this is the first neutral eyeshadow palette I ever purchased. You can tell by how well-loved it is in the photo. 🙂
While this one doesn't contain a lasting amount of each color, it does contain tons of different color options so you can do lots of experimenting. It has 88 colors and they're a mix of matte + shimmery and smokey + neutral.
This one is also less than $25, so it's a great deal for newbies! I recommend this one if you have a burning need for lots of options. It's fun because you can experiment with silver and black tones one day, then try browns, then opt for purples, and then gold. There are so many combo options with this kit!
This is a good option if you prefer soft, pink-based neutral tones. The colors are subtle and easy to blend. I really love this palette for a sweet daytime look. It's not very pigmented, which means the colors aren't dark and won't look heavy on your skin. It's perfect if you prefer natural makeup!
At less than $10, this is the most affordable palette on the list. You should be able to find it at any drugstore, Target, or Walmart.
BONUS: ColourPop Cosmetics
I'm including ColourPop as a bonus on this list because their prices are pretty fantastic. You can order individual “pots” of color and pick and choose your favorites.
Each shadow is only $5 per “pot”, and they last a LONG time. Shipping is a flat-rate fee of $4.99 (or free if you spend more than $30). Their products are cruelty free, so they get bonus points for that. Be sure to sign up for their emails to get $5 off your first order!
Their “Roulette” matte black shade is one I really like for blending my eyeliner into my lashline. “Cornelious” is a beautiful mid-tone caramel brown color. “Fringe” is easily the color I use most! It's the lightest color shown below and the one I use to highlight my inner eye corner.
I hope this helps you make a more informed decision when you're picking out your first palette. Don't forget to check out my beginner eyeshadow placement guide here. It lists the most common eyeshadow placement terms and definitions, and the diagram is really helpful!
Let me know in the comments if you still have any questions about the best neutral eyeshadow palettes for beginners. If you follow along on my YouTube channel you'll see a lot of these palettes in action over there!
DISCLAIMER: Don't let the amount of wear and tear fool you into thinking one is better than the other. Some of these are more recent purchases, so they don't show as much use as ones I've owned for years.