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Are Eyeshadow Palettes Worth It? The Info to Help You Decide

Are eyeshadow palettes worth it? It’s actually a loaded question.

If we were talking just about price per shadow, then yes, eyeshadow palettes are almost always worth it—at least as opposed to paying full price for every shade. But it’s more complicated than that because you need to consider things like whether or not you’d use all the shades.

We’ll talk more about how to calculate price per shadow below, as well as the other things you should consider.

Price Per Eyeshadow

When deciding whether a palette is worth it, the first thing to consider is price per shadow. Then, you can compare it to how much people pay for single eyeshadows.

A green and purple shifting glittery shade
If you want a truly spectacular shade like Crown Glass from Clionadh, you’ll have to pay $25 for it. Source.

Single eyeshadows have an incredible price range, going as high as $25. But the price range that I’d consider affordable is from $3–$5. (You can find Coastal Scents’ Hot Pots for $2.95 [though I don’t recommend], Looxie shadows for $3 on sale—which they usually are—and Colourpop shadows for $4.50.)

So, if you’re paying less than $3–$5 per shadow, yes, palettes are worth it—at least as opposed to buying the whole palette in theoretical or actual singles. And almost all palettes wind up fitting into this price range.

You can calculate that using super simple math.


Cost of eyeshadow palette / number of eyeshadows = price per shadow

If the price per shadow strikes you as affordable, you’ve made it to your first step in determining whether or not you can consider an eyeshadow palette worth it.

There are more steps if you want to fully answer this question. But let’s review the price per shadow of some famous palettes first.

Price Per Eyeshadow for Some Famous Palettes

As you can see, all but the large Natasha Denona Palette fall into the “affordable” range.

But It’s More Than That…Other Things to Consider

You can’t just consider price per shadow if you want to do a true analysis of the value of a palette. There are other factors, and some of them have an actual price tag attached.

1. How Many Shadows Would You Use?

This is the most important factor to consider. In fact, I might replace the cost per shadow formula with a cost per shadow I’d use formula:

Cost of eyeshadow palette / number of eyeshadows I’d use = price per shadow

Let’s use a palette I found immediately attractive as an example: the Flight Club palette from Menagerie Cosmetics.

An all purple 12 pan palette.
Isn’t she looooovelyyyyy? Isn’t she wonderful? Source.

I drooled over this palette the moment I saw it. Let’s calculate price per shadow:

38.95 / 12 = 3.24

All right! At $3.24 a shadow, the price seems right.

But next, I made myself take a hard look at each individual shadow. See, I have deep-set eyes and don’t like the way I look when I wear dark colors. And I count five shades I would barely get any use out of.

Let’s use our formula now:

38.95 / 7 = 5.56

At $5.56 a shade, it’s certainly less affordable, now, isn’t it? Now I’m better equipped to truly assess if the palette is a good value or not.

Spoiler: I might still buy it. And it’s because of the next item on our list of things to consider.

2. Is the Color Story Inspirational?

Talking in terms of single shadows is all well and good, but what if you’re not a person who would ever buy singles because they just don’t inspire you the way a palette does? What if it’s the color selection in palettes that just makes your heart sing?

At this point, we stop being able to truly put dollars and cents on the value of a palette. If it’s all the colors together that inspires you, perhaps that alone makes it worth the amount of money a brand wants from their palette.

One word of warning, though—don’t be beguiled by one stand-out shadow that really draws your attention and makes you believe the palette is original because of that. Let’s take the Viseart Paris Love Letter Etendu palette, for instance.

A largely neutral palette with a pop of spring green
Anything stand out? Source.

Imagine that someone covered up that green. Do you feel the same about the palette? Do you, in fact, already own this palette in a different iteration?

If so, know it’s an option to check out a company famous for its singles, like Sydney Grace or Lethal Cosmetics, and just buy yourself a green to use with the shadows you already have.

But, on the other hand, if you simply want a one-and-done color story without fussing with singles, it might still be worth it for you to buy the palette.

3. How Special Are the Shadows?

Another thing to consider is how special the shadows you’re purchasing are. Maybe you’re paying seven dollars a shadow in a palette but you’d use every single shade because you don’t have anything else like it. Or maybe a palette has a few shades the likes of which you’ve never seen before.

Pat McGrath palettes are like this for a lot of people. They’re $125 dollars, and with ten shades, that means each shade comes in at $12.50! That’s way more than most palettes out there. But Pat McGrath palettes contain spectacular multichromes and shifty shades that are original to many folks’ collections, and those shades make it worth it to some.

Or take the indie brand Adept Cosmetics. Their Plain Jane palette ($62 for 12 shades) comes in at $5.62 a pan, which is on the high side. But every single shade in the palette is a sparkly duochrome or multichrome, so it’s likely this is an entire palette of special shades for the general public.

The originality found in these palettes may make them worth it to you, even at a high price tag.

4. What’s the Price Per Gram?

One last thing to consider is bang for your buck. Throughout most of this post, we’ve considered cost per shadow without actually talking about how much shadow you’re getting. Some pans are more packed with product than others.

Take, for instance, Natasha Denona palettes. She has two sizes that her 15 pan palettes come in—one is $129 a palette and one is $65. The reason for the difference is how much shadow you get in each eyeshadow pan.

The palettes that cost $129, or $8.60 a shadow, contain 2.26 grams per shadow. The smaller palettes have 1.89 grams per pan, and those are $4.33 a shade—a lot cheaper, and now you know why. You get way more product in those more expensive palettes.

But here’s the thing you have to ask yourself.

How often you go through an entire eyeshadow? How often have you thought, “Oh, if only I had more of this particular eyeshadow shade”?

Most of us never will. In fact, some folks do something called a project pan. That’s where they focus on using the shadow so much they can see the part of the pan through the shadow, just to make sure they’re using the things they have to their full extent. And you know what? Many project pans fail, since it’s so hard to use a product up even when you focus on doing so.

So I don’t find price per gram to be a particularly compelling consideration, personally, but if you’re heavy handed and are planning on making the palette a real workhorse, you might.


And there you have it. Are eyeshadow palettes worth it? Many times the answer is yes.

They’re almost certainly more affordable, if that’s what you mean by worth it. As a rule, eyeshadows, per shadow, cost less per when compared to buying all singles.

But you have to take more things into account than just cost per shadow. Will you use all the shadows? Are you more inclined to use a palette because of the way the colors look together? Are the shades you’re getting truly something special? Are you getting a lot of product?

All these factors come together when buying a palette, and all should be considered.