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Why makeup palettes have hidden drawbacks

Updated: Jan 11

The global beauty market is predicted to grow to record levels after a Covid-induced slump in 2020. Soaring sales are being driven in part by an insatiable desire for luxury products and cosmetics that include an ever-proliferating array of makeup palettes.

Often gorgeously packaged and boasting eye-popping colour themes, you would be forgiven for thinking a palette delivers above and beyond individually retailed single-colour products.

makeup palettes

Sold in a range of sizes, from quads to mega bundles that can include over 100 pigments, it is easy to fall for this type of makeup. After all, you are getting so much for your money - right?


While highly collectable, not to mention a top gift option for beauty lovers, the makeup palette is a staple of almost every cosmetics haul.

And the ever-popular eyeshadow palette isn't the only big seller. All-in-one options, which include cosmetics for the face and lips as well as the eyes, and the burgeoning face palette, often containing contour pigments, are claiming a bigger share of the beauty market. In financially stressed times, multi-purpose cosmetic options can feel like a real bargain.

If you have ever trawled online retailers for a single eyeshadow shade, you will know how limited your options are. Especially when it comes to powdered products. So, palettes can seem like a lifesaver.

Star-studded collaborations, trendy theme names that press all the right buttons and, of course, packaging that wouldn't look out of place if displayed like an ornament all ensure the makeup palette is a best-seller.

As with any product, there are pros and cons to cosmetic purchases.

While the all-in-one palette can save you tons of cash, if you can find a colour theme that complements your skin tone and meets your make-up preferences, the eyeshadow palette isn't always such a good buy.

eyeshadow palette

What's Wrong with Eyeshadow Palettes?

If you are searching for products that will create a particular look, a quad comprising matching shades is probably all you need. But, for just a little bit more cash, you can bag 18, 24, 32 or even 40-plus stand-out shades. All packaged in appealing palettes that boast the WOW factor. What's not to love?

Well, plenty.

Unless you are a collector, here are some of the reasons why bigger palettes may not be such a good buy:

  1. How many of the pigments are you likely to use? Be honest with yourself. What is the point of spending more cash on something that just looks better when, in all honesty, you are only going to use a few of the shades? Take a look at the palettes you currently own and count the number of pigments you have never used or only tried once. Bigger isn't always better.

  2. Not enough mattes. This is a huge issue and something that can easily be overlooked in the rush to snap up a bargain. We've seen palettes offering just one or two matte shades, with all the others being shimmers and foils. If you look at the colour themes offered in a palette, ask yourself if the included mattes will provide adequate base and transition shades. With eyeshadow increasingly being used as a liner, consider if a shimmering shade is really suitable for your skin. Those with mature skin should be particularly cautious.

  3. Eyeshadow palettes take up more space than you may realise. As well as posing a storage headache, they are less portable than single products. How many eyeshadow palettes do you own that won't fit into a cosmetics bag? If you are a frequent traveller or like touching up your makeup on the go, a smaller product can be the better buy.

  4. It's not environmentally friendly to be hoarding products you never use.

While empty palettes are easy to source, pigments to put in them are harder to come by. Custom palettes aren't cheap, either. But... They are the future. Imagine being able to pack a palette with products you know you are going to use. An offering that combines pans containing everything from foundation to shadows is the ultimate solution.

all-in-one makeup palette

Makeup Palettes and the Drawbacks of All-In-One Products

A simple book-style palette manufactured from compressed cardboard and containing nearly everything you need to look gorgeous is often a great buy. Lightweight and portable, this type of product is also easy to store. An added bonus is that it will save you the expense and inconvenience of purchasing multiple cosmetics.

But, step into the world of concertinaed plastic all-in-one makeup kits and you may hit a snag or two.

We've sample purchased a couple of best-selling palettes and found issues you are unlikely to discover until it is too late.

Problems include:

  1. They are heavy. Even very small palettes can weigh too much to make them a viable option for travel, especially air travel. Bear this in mind when viewing product descriptions that use the term 'travel'. It could merely be a reference to the dinky size.

  2. Too many shimmering eyeshadows.

  3. Products that are partially inaccessible. Pull-out and lift-up drawers may look good in marketing images but wait until you try to use make-up in the back row.

  4. Applicators not fit for purpose. Many of the cheaper sets include sponge-tipped applicators rather than brushes.

  5. Pan sizes that are too small to effectively use. This issue is mostly confined to contour products.

  6. Difficult to open quickly.

As well as all the drawbacks listed above, multi-purpose cosmetics don't always deliver when it comes to quality. Shadows, for example, may offer poor coverage or excessive fallout.

What disappointed us about the products we purchased was that there was always something missing that would have made a kit more useable. For example, one contained everything except mascara. Another omitted eyeliner. So, even if you buy a set that purports to include everything, you may still need to make additional purchases.

makeup set

Use-By Dates

Pressed powder palettes have a good shelf life, but it's not ever-lasting. Once opened, you can expect products to maintain their pigmentation and quality for a year. For hygiene purposes, even if you are rigorous when it comes to cleaning brushes, a palette should be replaced after 12 months.

A collector, of course, is unlikely to part with a palette. However, if you buy cosmetics to use them, it is sensible to recognise you may not get the most out of a purchase in just a year.

It's Not All Negative

Makeup palettes can deliver value for money. Savvy purchases are those that meet your needs while also reducing the amount you need to spend.

What to consider:

  1. Does the palette include enough mattes?

  2. Will you use all the themes in the palette? You may have been drawn to a product by one or two stand-out nudes, but what about the carnival theme that comes with it?

  3. Is it easy to use and portable?

  4. Would it be more cost-effective to buy a single shade, if that is all you are looking for?

makeup buying infographic

Of course, not all make-up palettes are equal. Some will always be better than others. The challenge is finding one that you will get plenty of use out of.

About the Author: Belinda Bennett is a collector of eyeshadow palettes and the Editor of REGIME beauty magazine.



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2 Yorum

28 Oca 2023

Great tips. I travel a lot, so I do like multi-purpose palettes. Quads are my faves, but I do have a couple of bigger palettes. I absolutely agree that we should choose colors that complements our skin tone and makeup preferences.



28 Oca 2023

This is interesting to know about these drawbacks. I bought for my partner all-in-one and it was good.

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