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How to Make the Most of Your Makeup Palettes

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Oct 2, 2020 • 3 min read

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Makeup palettes are a great way to try a lot of shades in one compact package, but we often end up using one color and neglecting the rest. When you know how to use a face palette properly, you can get the most out of them. Remember that with, as with all types of makeup, your skincare comes first—moisturize your face well before applying any makeup.



Bobbi Brown Teaches Makeup and BeautyBobbi Brown Teaches Makeup and Beauty

Bobbi Brown teaches you the tips, tricks, and techniques for applying simple, natural makeup that makes you feel beautiful in your own skin.

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How to Use an Eyeshadow Palette

An eyeshadow palette is ideal for layering multiple complementary shades. Makeup artist Bobbi Brown’s basic eye look involves three shadows: light, medium, and dark neutral shades (in a matte or flat finish), all of which are geared toward your skin tone. When shopping for an eye palette, look for shades that complement your skin and remember that you should only use black mascara.

  • Light: a pale bone or ivory-colored shadow, taupe, and a chestnut brown
  • Medium-to-tan: a taupe, chestnut brown, and an espresso brown
  • Dark/Deep: medium brown, dark brown, and a deep brown/black shadow

When applying your eyeshadows, use the below as a general guideline:

  • Lightest shadow: used all over the lid as a base to nix excess oil and even out the tone of your eyelid
  • Mid-tone shadow: used on the visible lid below the crease for depth
  • Darkest shadow: used for extra definition along the lash line or when you’re creating a smoky eye

A fourth dark shade can be added for a smoky eye, and you can play around with texture since eyeshadows come in matte, or flat, and shimmer finishes. If you want your eyeshadow to complement your eye color, you can refer to the rule of contrast—cool colors contrast with warm, which is why a blue eyeshadow or navy eyeliner looks so striking on brown eyes.

  • Blue eyes: Most dark colors will bring attention to blue eyes. Bobbi likes the look of a black, smudgy liner against blue eyes. If you want a more glam look, a gold shimmer works well, too.
  • Green eyes: Bronze, copper, and gold or rose gold tones really play up green eyes. Gunmetal gray and silver are also attention-grabbing.
  • Brown and hazel eyes: Blue, violet, emerald—any vibrant jewel-toned color—looks great against brown eyes since brown is a neutral color. Adding color contrasts against brown eyes makes them appear brighter. Rose gold and copper tones also brighten up hazel eyes.

How to Use a Contour Palette

Although you can contour your face with two different shades of concealer, highlighter, bronzer, or foundation, a contour kit or highlighter palette will provide you with all the shades you need, in the same textures. Use a shade darker than your natural skin color to add shadow to cheekbones and anywhere else you’d like to sculpt and use a shade lighter than your skin tone on the areas of your face that naturally reflect light, such as the top of your cheekbones and your browbone. A rosy shade on the apples of your cheeks can help blend everything together.

You can learn more about contouring with our guide here.

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How to Use a Color Correcting Palette

Most palettes tend to include similar colors that play well together, but a color correcting palette is a different thing altogether. A good color correcting palette will include completely different shades of concealer designed to neutralize colors on the opposite side of the color wheel. Look for green to neutralize red, peach for dark circles, and yellow for discoloration. Layer your color correcting concealer underneath foundation, so that the bright colors won’t actually be visible once your makeup is on.

How to Use a Lip Palette

Lip palettes are especially useful for blending together the perfect lip color: Some days you may want an orangey-red, while others call for a brick red. Lip palettes also allow you to create an ombré lip: Line the outside of your lips with a darker shade, and the center of your lips with a lighter color and then blend the two with a lip brush. Learn more about different brushes in our guide to makeup brushes here.

Want to Learn More About Makeup and Beauty?

Whether you already know a blush brush from a bronzer brush or are simply looking for tips on bringing glamour into your daily routine, navigating the beauty industry takes knowledge, skill, and practical experience. No one knows their way around a makeup bag better than Bobbi Brown, the makeup artist who built a career and a multi-million dollar brand with one simple philosophy: Be who you are. In Bobbi Brown’s MasterClass on Makeup and Beauty, learn how to do the perfect smoky eye, find the best makeup routine for the workplace, and hear Bobbi’s advice for aspiring makeup artists.

Get the MasterClass Annual Membership for exclusive access to video lessons taught by masters, including Bobbi Brown, RuPaul, Anna Wintour, Marc Jacobs, Diane von Furstenberg, and more.


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