The Best Eyeshadow Palettes for a Bright, Sparkling Holiday Season

For Holiday Glam

The holidays are practically synonymous with soft glam, and no look is complete without a shimmery palette. (Not to mention they make great gifts.) London-based makeup artist Ammy Drammeh, whose work has been seen on faces like Michaela Coel, Harry Styles, and Adut Akech, favors the Dior Backstage Eye palette. “It’s become a staple in my kit. They are high pigment, have matte and shimmery finish and their shades are neutral. Perfect for a laidback or glamorous look.”

Other palettes worth adding to your rotation? Milani’s Gilded Nude Palette and the Curated 5-Pan Palette from Hourglass in shade Desert Earth. 

For Supercharged Color

Michael Anthony (who’s worked with stars like Ariana Grande and Paris Hilton), says he loves the NikkiTutorials x Beauty Bay palette because “the colors are super charged with pigment and the unique duo chrome shades have a lot going for them: they twinkle like a refined glitter and go on like a silky cream to powder formula!” Anthony notes the multifunctional appeal of this palette as well: “I’ve used these to highlight the cheekbones and brow bones and I love that they are semi-transparent which makes them really fun for layering,” he says. “I love that they are not exclusively for the eye.”

If you believe in going bold or staying home, then it wouldn’t hurt to add ABH’s Norvina Pro Pigment Palette and Juvia’s Place The Zulu Eyeshadow Palette to your collection as well.

For the Minimalist at Heart

Remi Odunsi, who has done makeup for Raveena and Ziwe, is a self-described minimalist. Accordingly, she explains, “my criteria for a good palette is anything with both matte and shimmery shades that also bring some pops of color.” The Amrezzy palette is her favorite thanks to its warm-toned variety, wet or dry.  “Best to put this one on before makeup or to use a kleenex on your face to avoid fallout,” she advises.

Ultra minimal and sleek, Glossier’s new Monochromes Trio will cover your matte and shimmer needs in a case that’s perfect for on-the-go touchups, while the Mineralist Sunlit Palette from BareMinerals comes with the only shadows you’ll need to create natural-looking depth to your eye.

For Earth Tones That Pop

Sheriff appreciates the Juvia’s Place palette’s range of vibrant and rich earth tones. Plus, she notes, “it won’t break the bank, as they’re each under $20 bucks!” Other palettes worth considering in this category are Ilia’s The Necessary Palette and Chanel’s Les 4 Ombres Quadra Eyeshadow in Blurry Green. 

For a Touch of Luxury 

What I love is how easily the shadows glide on with a makeup brush. This can be seen in the pigmentation of the eyeshadow which allows for the eye to pop! This is also true when combining colors, whether a smoky eye or building on three or more vivid colors,” says Erika La Pearl, who can’t get enough of Mthrshp Mega: Celestial Divinity Palette. “Pat McGrath has a variety of palettes with amazing shades which complement and enhance. Also, the packaging and quality is what draws and catches your attention. You feel like doing your very best and also making the client look ‘glamorous.’”

Makeup artist Yolonda Frederick, who works with Ciara, seconds these sentiments. “I’m a huge fan of reflective shadows. And Pat McGrath Labs’ Mthrship Mega: Celestial Divinity palette is a stunning collection of shimmery shadows with two or three contrasting matte colors. These luminescent shadows are richly pigmented with a buttery texture for a silky smooth application. This is hands down one of my favorite, most versatile palettes.”

For the All-In-One

Bob Scott, who works with designer Aurora James and Padma Lakshmi, among others, loves the Viseart palettes because “they come in all sorts of color combinations, from neutral to bright to pastel colors, with 16 shades in each compact. The color payoff is great and the formula is easy to blend.”

The Nars Climax Extreme Palette is another recent favorite for Scott due to its versatility. “Its selection of shades can work on anyone for daytime, nighttime, natural or deep and smoky.” Other palettes that will cover every eye look you can imagine: Beauty Bay’s Bright 42 Colour Palette and Morphe’s 35M Boss Mood Artistry Palette.

For the Perfect Smoky Eye 

Anthony says the Lorac Pro Palette Noir, along with the brand’s Pro Palette Soleil, are two of his favorites. “They are mesmerizing palettes that encompass a full spectrum of cool and warm neutral tones as well as matte and glittery foiled finishes, so they have been a sure bet for my kit. I really admire the amount of shades they have worked into such a compact and chic palette,” he says. “These are an excellent choice when you want some range—whether you’re daytime business Zooming with a neutral wash of color or making an appearance at a your favorite Zoom Party session in a clubbed out smoky eye, you have everything you need in the palm of your hand!” Also consider Fenty Beauty’s Snap Shadows Palette in Smoky and Chanel’s Les 4 Ombres Eyeshadow in Modern Glamour.

For Precious Jewel Tones

I’m in love with [Huda Beauty’s] Naughty Palette which came out for the holiday,” Sheriff says. “It is filled with a wonderful range of mattes, shimmers and glittery shadows in wonderful jewel and earth tones.” Too Faced’s That’s My Jam Palette and Milani’s Gilded Jewel Palette can also add a wonderfully decadent effect to any makeup look.

For the Avant-Garde

Makeup artist Marcelo Gutierrez, the go-to makeup artist for Christopher John Rogers’ shows, says the Pat McGrath Labs Mothership III is his most-used palette. “I love all of the Pat McGrath eye shadow palettes. They really are worth the investment! The colors are so unique, rich in pigment, easy to use and she has some of the most unique finishes that have now become so signature to the brand.” 

For another palette that features a unique selection of vibrant hues, check out Byredo’s 5 Colours Palette in Syren.

For Day-to-Night Wear

Delina Medhin, who has worked with Issa Rae, says she loves the Stupid Love Eyeshadow by Haus Laboratories because “it has colors in there for both everyday and fun so you can have fun with it but also do everyday glam.” Other options for a bit of everyday sparkle are the Voyageur Eyeshadow Palette from Nars and Urban Decay’s Naked2 Basics.


For Those Who Favor a Cult Fave

Odunsi calls the Lorac Pro Palette an “oldie but goodie,” adding that the brand’s selection is “great because they go on smooth, have great pigment and don’t leave a lot of fall out. The Original Pro Palette (#1) is a nice cool-toned eye palette, especially if your vibe is chill and you like more muted colors. This one has shimmer, matte and muted color variety. Solid for a nice chill slay!” A couple of additional cult-faves you’ve likely seen in tutorials: the iconic Urban Decay Naked Palette (now Reloaded) and Charlotte Tilbury’s Starry Eyes To Hypnotise Palette.

VOGUE

Fighting Shine? You Need One Of These Setting Powders

Setting powder has long been a staple in most make-up bags, despite getting significantly less love than some other hero products. While it’s unparalleled in its ability to set make-up and prevent oiliness, the drawbacks of creasing, flashback in photos and an overly matte finish are undeniable. That said, the best setting powders can fix make-up, control shine, conceal breakouts, and are far easier to work with than thick, creamy textures. For example, make-up artists usually advise that those who wish to try contouring for the first time use a powder contour, not a cream kit, as it’s easier to layer and buff to seamless perfection, and there’s little more effective against an oily T-zone than a sheer veil of the translucent stuff.

But with the advent of “glass skin” and our general preoccupation with looking dewy at all times, powder has fallen by the wayside. Perhaps it’s down to unwelcome associations with “baking”, the technique invented by drag queens and popularised by the Instagram make-up set, which involves using hefty amounts of powder to affix make-up. Or maybe it’s just a natural casualty of the pursuit of round-the-clock radiance. Happily, powder formulas have advanced at a rate of knots in recent months. BECCA Hydra Mist Set & Refresh Powder is formulated with 50 per cent water and glycerine, meaning that, despite resembling a loose powder, it feels more cooling than chalky once applied. Likewise, By Terry Hyaluronic Hydra Powder is infused with skincare favourite hyaluronic acid. The HA microspheres attract water and so help to “blur” and “fill” imperfections, without looking ashy or settling into creases. It’s gossamer-light, so don’t be perturbed by the opaque white colour, as it settles to a soft-focus effect on all skin tones.

Glossier Wowder is delivered in a Korean-inspired cushion compact, with the powder sitting beneath a sheer layer of netted film. Simply press and swirl your brush over the centre to pick up a light dusting of the kaolin clay infused formula (that’s to mop up oil), and dust all over. Meanwhile, Vitamin E helps to keep the powder feeling silky rather than dry on the skin – nobody wants a patchy effect. Beauty Pie One Powder Wonder looks almost sparkling in the pressed compact, but buffs onto skin with a believable luminosity that helps to tackle dehydration and the appearance of large pores, making it ideal if you need all-day hold but still want a candelit glow.

Of course, the “go big or go home” option is surely Laura Mercier Loose Setting Powder Glow. A brand already beloved by make-up artists for its classic translucent setting powders, this latest offering sits somewhere between the original formula and a highlighter. Infused with pearl pigments and micro-refined silica, it offers an incredibly light-reflecting finish that still grips onto make-up for dear life.

Aside from the additions of microspheres and luxurious-sounding crushed gem particles, one thing that makes 2020’s powders better is the notable absence of talc. Apart from the health concerns around the inclusion of talcum powder in beauty, many cosmetic chemists have chosen to remove it from their products altogether as the finish is resolutely chalky. In the ’90s, super-matte was considered chic, but now that dewy skin is in, talc is fast becoming a thing of the past in beauty circles. Instead, additions like silk, peptides and collagens (like the hydrating and firming complex found in It Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores Pressed Powder) offer a healthier-looking fix that still helps tackle shine.

The powder revolution is in no way limited to base, as a slew of recent lip launches demonstrates. Giorgio Armani Lip Magnet gives a featherweight wash of colour over the lips with a finish that resembles the effect created by that classic make-up artist trick: blotting a richly pigmented lipstick. Likewise, MAC Powder Kiss lipsticks offer a softly diffused, just-been-kissed look, while Chanel Lip Powder Duocombines a hydrating balm with a loose pigment powder for effortless texture.

Blurring but not masking, hydrating but not greasy, and shine controlling while still offering a healthy glow, powder can finally sit in that sweet spot between functional and fun. And remember, when it comes to powder – if in doubt, buff it out.

See Vogue’s edit of the best setting powders below…

Pat McGrath Labs 

A swish of this setting powder will leave skin glowy and radiant, while getting rid of any unwanted shine. It feels feather-light and imparts a soft-focus veil over skin thanks to amino acid pigments that work with your skin rather than against it.

Buy at Selfridges $50

Glossier

Since Glossier is a brand dedicated to dewy skin, the launch of Wowder was somewhat unexpected. The loose, light-reflecting powder won’t leave you without a glow though, it’s designed to set make-up whilst maintaining a radiant complexion.

Buy on their website $27

IT Cosmetics

Perfect for top-ups on the go thanks to the mirror inside the compact, IT Cosmetics’s Bye Bye Pores Pressed Powder blurs imperfections and is enriched with a blend of peptides, silk, collagen and antioxidants.

Buy at Selfridges $26

Kevyn Aucoin

Thanks to microspheres in this silky smooth powder, expect any surface imperfections blurred without the hefty “powdery” finish, and skin to remain shine-free for longer.

Buy at BeautyBay $32

MAC

If an oily T-zone is your nemesis, look to MAC’s classic Blot Powder for long-lasting matte. With a good shade range and an impressive shine-combatting formula, it offers decent coverage without looking caked-on or flat.

Buy on their website $24

Bobbi Brown

Bobbi Brown’s Sheer Finish Loose Powder is lightweight enough that you can barely tell you’re wearing it, plus, its oil-free formula is enriched with vitamin E for comfortable wear. Great for setting make-up that you need to last all day.

Buy on their website $30

Chanel

A glow isn’t the first thing you’d associate with powder, but Chanel has somehow created a formula that reduces shine while retaining radiance with its Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Powder. Natural-looking, flattering and the best setting powder for when you need to add a subtle hint of warmth to a pale complexion.

Buy on their website $40

Charlotte Tilbury

Promising to diffuse light over skin to boost radiance, this loose powder from the queen of red carpet make-up is formulated with tsubaki oil and squalane to nourish and strengthen skin. Plus, it smells like rose.

Buy on their website $33

Hourglass

Hourglass’s Ambient Lighting Powder is a cult classic for good reason – you can fake a full night’s sleep with the luminous, diffusing, flawless finish it creates. It’s like having your own Instagram filter in your make-up bag.

Buy at SpaceNK $45

Laura Mercier

A finely-milled and lightweight powder, Laura Mercier’s Translucent Loose Setting Powder Glow acts as the perfect finishing touch for make-up. Highly pigmented, only a small amount is needed each time, so one pot will keep you going for ages.

Buy at Cult Beauty $30

Beauty Pie

Blurring, radiance-boosting and pore-diffusing, this all-in-one powder is suitable for all skin types, and won’t ever settle into creases.

Buy on their website $26

La Mer 

Formulated with the brand’s patented Miracle Broth, which is made up of hydrating marine ingredients, La Mer’s finishing powder might be expensive, but it certainly does the job well. It’s translucent enough to be imperceptible on the skin, so you can look forward to the most flawless finish.

Buy at SpaceNK $75

VOGUE article