The 12 Best Neutral Eyeshadow Palettes Ever

Also known as the most versatile product in your makeup bag.

A Model is seen applying nude eyeshadow at Arwa al Banawi show at Dubai Design District on October 26, 2017 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
(Image credit: Rosdiana Ciaravolo/Getty Images for MAC)

Just like fashion, makeup trends come and go. The ‘80s were all about neon eyeshadow, the ‘90s saw ultra-thin brows, and let us forget the fake tan craze of the early aughts. But one makeup look that’s been a staple through the decades: Neutral eyeshadow. We’re talking about the nudes, taupes, browns, and blacks that complement every skin tone. Think of neutral eyeshadow palettes as the makeup equivalent of a white button-up—a classic that can be used over and over again for a variety of looks. 

Given the timelessness of nude eyeshadow palettes, it should come as no surprise that makeup artists reach for them time and time again. “In my personal experience with neutral eyeshadow palettes, they are remarkably versatile and I have a habit of blending and utilizing all the shades,” says Celebrity Makeup Artist and Omnia Pro Executive Makeup Artist Dominique Lerma. The beauty pro explains that her staples consist of just three neutral shades: a cream color to use across the lid and brow; a light brown or caramel-colored brown to add definition in the crease; and an espresso shade to smoke out the outer corners. “The result of using the right tools and intentional technique is remarkable, and that’s only using three eyeshadow shades,” she adds. 

Whether you take after Lerma and love a defined, everyday look, or tend to mix and match all kinds of colors, you can’t deny that a great neutral eyeshadow palette is a necessity in your makeup bag. If you’re looking to refresh your selection, or don’t have one yet (no shade—pun intended), you’ve come to the right place. We’ve consulted the experts on exactly how to weed out the best palette for you and got their favorites. From Charlotte Tilbury’s The Sophisticate to the cult-favorite Urban Decay Naked, these are the best neutral eyeshadow palettes ever.

What to Look For in a Nude Eyeshadow Palette

  • Tones

First and foremost, the most important factor to consider when shopping for your next favorite neutral eyeshadow palette is the tones and shades it offers. For Cassandra Garcia, Bobbi Brown’s Global Makeup Artist, something nude-colored is a must to start the eye with, then make sure there’s a taupe shade. “I love a taupe shade to make sure I have my soft defining shade for my crease and under the eye,” she says. 

Meanwhile, Lerma recommends a wide range of brown shades. “When I am on the hunt for a new eyeshadow palette, “I like to look for one that carries a few matte neutral brown, warm brown, and rust-colored shades,” she explains.

  • Finishes

This one may boil down to personal preference, but having a variety of eyeshadow finishes will ensure you can create any look your heart desires. I, for one, am a huge fan of glitter eyeshadows but I also recognize the power of matte shades. In fact, according to Lerma, “Matte eyeshadows tend to be the most universal shades and can be used for a daily eyeshadow look and are perfect for creating a primed eye.” 

Pro tip: Choose a brown shade that's two to three shades darker than your skin tone and go over your crease in a windshield motion. This will create major depth to the eye and is what Lerma called “a primed eye.” She adds, “This technique is an old makeup hack and has been used by educators for decades.”  

Best Neutral Eyeshadow Palettes

Meet the Makeup Experts

Dominique Lerma

Dominique Lerma a Hollywood bred Internationally published Makeup Artist and Beauty Educator, known for her ability to create flawless complexions and innovative beauty looks. She grew her love for makeup artistry at a very ripe age and began beautifying faces for her fellow classmates at her all girl parochial high school. Her self taught passion flourished while she was given the opportunity of working with the world reknowned Mac Cosmetics and soon became a Viva Glam Ambassador. Her 9 years in the beauty industry has landed her on the pages of Instyle, Nylon, Runway, and Photo Vogue Italia. Dominique’s vast resume includes Beauty, editorial, celebrity, advertising, rebranding and bridal. She serves as a Beauty Educator for Frankie Rose Cosmetics and is a bilingual traveling sales representative for both Enzo Milano Professional Hair Styling Tools and Royal Langnickel Brush. Her creative expertise consists of Makeup artistry, hairstyling and men’s grooming. 

Portrait of Cassandra Garcia, pro makeup artist
Cassandra Garcia

Cassandra Garcia is a New York-based makeup artist. As an optimist and naturally curious person, Garcia is at ease working across all types of mediums and creating a broad range of looks, whether it’s an effortlessly undone or an iconic red carpet moment. Her celebrity clients include Kate McKinnon, Aidy Bryant, Heidi Gardner, and Vanessa Bayer, and her work can be found in publications such as Glamour, Marie Claire, GQ, and Hollywood Reporter. In addition, brands such as Reem Acra, Cynthia Rowley, Jenny Packham, Tibi, and Veronica Beard have called on Garcia’s expertise for runway looks. Garcia represents Bobbi Brown Cosmetics as its resident editorial makeup artist. 

Brooke Knappenberger
Associate Commerce Editor

Brooke Knappenberger is the Associate Commerce Editor at Marie Claire, where she writes across the board from fashion and beauty to books and celebrities. As a pop culture junkie, Brooke obsessively consumes and writes about the latest movie releases, streaming TV shows, and celebrity scandals. She has over three years of experience writing on fashion, beauty, and entertainment and her work has appeared on Looper, NickiSwift, The Sun US, and Vox Magazine of Columbia, Missouri. Brooke obtained her Bachelor's Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism with an emphasis on Magazine Editing and has a minor in Textile and Apparel Management.