How To Pick An Eyeshadow Palette You'll Actually Use

It's a common story: You buy an eyeshadow palette with visions of perfectly contoured smoky eyes. Then, you only end up using one of the shades. It happens to the best of us. You're stuck with a cosmetic pain in the ass that is not only costly, but also a waste of space in your makeup bag.

But maybe you have to go about the process in a different way. Just like the perfect red lipstick or a seamless foundation, it takes a little effort to find a shadow palette that will work for you. The secret? Pick a palette in the same shade range and finish as your go-to single shade, which will allow you to layer and build while still looking like yourself.

Ahead, we've created a handy guide to help point you in the right direction. Simply pick your everyday single shadow and keep clicking to see a palette that you'll love.

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Makeup aficionados know how great Stila's universally flattering Kitten shade is, in both the regular and super-shimmery finish seen here. If this, or something similar, is your go-to singular shade, you'll love...

Stila Magnificent Metal Foil Finish Eye Shadow in Kitten, $32, available at Sephora.
2 of 17 artist Charlotte Tilbury's quad in The Uptown Girl. Both of the lighter hues deliver the wash of shimmery beige you love, with two darker options that you can use to line or contour your eyes to smoky perfection.

Charlotte Tilbury Luxury Palette Colour-Coded Eyeshadow Palette in The Uptown Girl, $52, available at Nordstrom.
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Nothing beats an inky shadow stick when it comes to creating a smoldering eye look with ease. NYX's formula is a best-seller thanks to its great color payoff and lasting texture. So if you love that look, you should consider...

Nyx Cosmetics Jumbo Eye Pencil, $4.50, available at Nyx Cosmetics.
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...Urban Decay's cult-status smoky palette. The included brush adds a touch of convenience and the shades are easy to blend and layer.

Urban Decay Naked Smoky, $54, available at Sephora.
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Bobbi Brown's Bone is the perfect shade for the makeup minimalist. It perfectly complements a flick of liquid liner and brightens the eye area sans shimmer. If this, or something similar, is your beloved regular shade, you'll love...

Bobbi Brown
Eye Shadow in Bone, $24, available at Bobbi Brown.
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...this stunning palette of whites from Sonia Kashuk. From a stark, chalk white to a creamy shimmer, it's the right amount of variety for the minimalist who still wants options.

Sonia Kashuk Eye Palette in Sweet Nothings, $14.29, available at Target.
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Prefer a foolproof wash of rosy color? Then you probably have a good shimmery option in your makeup bag, like Josie Maran's Watercolor hues (check 'em out in all their glory, here). If metallics are your thing, you'll love...

Josie Maran
Coconut Watercolor Eyeshadow in Playa Del Pink, $18, available at Sephora.
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...Hourglass' palette in Monochrome. If you prefer a warm wash of color, this compact is perfect, because you'll get a soft, shimmery finish that you can customize to the time of day or occasion based on how much of each shade you use. They all work together, so it's foolproof, but still creates dimension.

Modernist Eyeshadow Palette in Monochrome, $58, available at Sephora.
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There's a lot to love about an earthy purple in stick form, like Clinique's best-selling Portly Plum. Here are two: The finish is soft (thanks to the texture) and it's subtle, but far from boring (because, plum). You know what else isn't boring?

Chubby Stick Shadow Tint For Eyes in Portly Plum, $17, available at Sephora.
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The also-earthy hues in Nyx's Golden Horizons. While they do have great color payoff when layered or applied with a wet brush, the shimmer in these shadows keeps them light and radiant. (And the purple will be perfect layered over your shadow stick for evening impact.)

Nyx Cosmetics Dream Catcher Palette in Golden Horizons, $15, available at Nyx Cosmetics.
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The holy grail of bright blue shadow: Electric Eel isn't for the faint of heart. But when done well, it's beautiful. If you like to add a pop of color to your lashline or over your entire lid, we have the perfect palette for you...

Eye Shadow in Electric Eel, $16, available at MAC.
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...Make Up For Ever's limited-edition Artist Palette. The brand's shadow collections are a red-carpet makeup artist's staple, because the colors are true and vibrant, making it easy to craft anything from a smoky eye to a thin line of electric color, anywhere you want.

Make Up For Ever 15 Artist Shadow Palette, $59, available at Sephora.
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Do you prefer deep, bronzy hues? Then you've probably tried, and loved, Laura Mercier's Black Karat, a single shadow that can achieve many looks, thanks to the wet or dry application option. And if you're looking for more of the same...

Laura Mercier
Baked Eye Colour Wet/Dry in Black Karat, $24, available at Sephora.
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...try Tom Ford's classic Titanium Smoke palette. This quad may look a bit intimidating, but it's simply your go-to bronze-flecked black broken into two shades (top left and bottom right), plus a matte black for depth (apply before the shimmer), and shimmery gray to brighten the inner corners of the eye. Trust us, if you can wear shimmering black, you can wear this!

Tom Ford Eyeshadow Quad in Titanium Smoke, $80, available at Nordstrom.
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You love bright color, long-lasting shadow, and the ease of cream. If this is you, then you've probably already discovered Maybelline's Color Tattoo hues. So why not look into...

Eye Studio Color Tattoo Eyeshadow in Painted Purple, $6.99, available at Ulta.
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...a tri-color shadow palette that lives in one pan? It will allow you the ease of a single shade with the ability to mix and blend to the right intensity. Plus, it's totally foolproof, since all the shades are simply brighter or softer versions of each other.

Sephora MicroSmooth Baked Eyeshadow Trio, $19, available at Sephora.
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