We like to think of customizable makeup palettes as the beauty world’s equivalent to In-N-Out Burger’s “secret” menu: You have the option to customize like crazy, as long as you know how to ask.
Let us explain. Buried in the recesses of many cosmetic brands' sites are options to buy blank compacts and fill them with the best possible shades to suit your skin tone and style. MAC, for example, offers more than 100 color options to fill its custom palettes, with anywhere from two to 30 empty spaces — and offers IRL help from its pros in-store, too.
And there's way more where that comes from: Chantecaille and Surratt both give options to make shadow and blush palettes. Over at NARS, you can hand-select cult classic blush (Orgasm), bronzing powder (Laguna), and shadows (Night Porter), along with contour, pressed powder, and shadows in its Pro Palette. And San Francisco-based eco brand ittsē offers vegan leather notebooks that can be filled with eye shadow, blush illuminator, bronzer, brow powder, and mattifier options — all made in the U.S.A.
Of course, DIY-ing palettes is an option both promising and daunting: Using a compact with no throwaway shades feels like a major win, but with so many options to choose from, building the thing can feel overwhelming. Which is why we enlisted the help of MAC Senior Artist John Stapleton, along with Kerrie Urban and Tasha Reiko Brown, makeup artists who work with celebs like Saoirse Ronan, Keira Knightley, and Jill Scott, for guidance.
Ahead, these pros offer guidelines for how to select the right shades, textures, and product types for your skin tone and lifestyle.