Looking for the best neutral eyeshadow palette? Neutrals are my favorites because they can be used for office looks as well as dramatic evening looks. I generally only wear neutrals since I find that they flatter my skin tone the most. I own all 3 UD Naked palettes as well as UD basics and a host of other palettes so I've quite a lot of experience when it comes to picking the best palettes for ones needs.
There no single universal best neutral eyeshadow palette for every single person because it really depends on your skin tone (warm or cool) and your preference for matte or shimmery textures. A palette that may be perfect for my very warm skin tone may look "too warm" on someone with a cooler skin tone.
Important things to keep in mind when evaluating neutral eye palettes is pigmentation and texture. I'm very spoiled as I generally wear UD shadows and as a result I'm quite picky. The individual colors in an eye palette should also work well together.
Ideally there should be a mix of matte and shimmery colors (since matte colors are ideal for crease use). There should also be a good "blending" color that can be used to blend out darker shadows. In addition there should also be shades that can be used as a highlighter on the brow bone and the inner corner of the eyes as well as general lid colors. The ideal palette should have all of these and be versatile, allowing you to create an unlimited number of looks.
Urban Decay Naked is my top pick for those with warmer skin tones while I think UD Naked 2 is best for cooler toned ladies. UD Basics is our best choice for those who only want matte shades. TF Natural At Night is a good pick if you want a mix of interesting neutrals (including olive-toned shades) while TF Natural Eyes contains a good mix of both cool and warm colors. Nars God Created Woman is recommended for those who want a compact palette while Smashbox Full Exposure (Travel Palette) is the ultimate compact palette (it's the size of my debit card) although the texture and pigmentation is the most chalkiest out of all of these palettes.
Three of my picks are Urban Decay eye shadows and the reason for that is because I have used all three and find them the best when it comes to neutral shadows. Below are our picks of the best neutral eyeshadow palettes.
Urban Decay Naked
Urban Decay Naked is my top pick for ladies with warm skin tones. I am a very warm NC20 with yellow undertones and the original Naked palette with the velvet cover is by far my favorite! I love all the colors, especially Half Baked and Smog for a super sexy bronze smokey eye look. I also love the color "Naked" as it is the perfect blending color while "Buck" is an gorgeous matte shade that is perfect for the crease.
In terms of pigmentation you absolutely cannot go wrong with this palette. The colors are so silky, soft and smooth. Before using this palette I only tried MAC shadows and the difference was like night and day. I have used a lot of high-end shadows and UD are by far my favorite in terms of pigmentation and silkiness.
Via Real Asian Beauty
The only thing that I don't like about this neutral palette is that the packaging is not very sturdy. I have owned my palette for around 7 years and the velvet cover with the mirror actually ripped off. I still have the palette and still use it but it doesn't have a cover anymore.
It also comes with a double sided 24/7 UD pencil. UD eye pencils are among the best I've tried and long-lasting on the waterline. Despite the high price I think this palette is worth it as it contains 12 colors and you'll be able to create tons of looks with it. It should also last for quite some time as I've had mine for years.
Urban Decay Naked 2
Urban Decay 2 is my favorite pick for cool toned ladies. The colors are definitely more cool and neutral compared to the original Urban Decay Naked which is way warmer. I also own this palette and the reason why I purchased it was because I was a collector (at the time). I do use it quite a bit but I find the colors in the original UD palette much more flattering for my skin tone,
Via The Beauty Look Book
Like the original UD palette, this one also contains Half Baked which is a gorgeous golden color. Tease is a dark brown that makes a great crease color. Bootycall is a lovely warm color with light sheen (not crazy glitter or over-the-top shimmer) that can be used on the brow bone and inner corner of the eye. There is also a matte highlighter color called Foxy that I don't find myself using very often as it's basically the same color of my skin tone.
In addition you also get a double sided brush which I can attest to is super durable as I've had mine for a few years. One side is great for applying color in the crease and even contouring the nose while the other is good for packing on shadow.
I really like the hard casing on this palette as it really protects the shadows and is super durable. I wish UD Naked came in this case instead of the velvet one.
Urban Decay Naked Basics
If you don't like shimmery shadows and want something that is completely matte then this is the palette you want. I also own this palette but honestly don't find myself reaching for it as much as I like shimmer. My favorite color in this palette is "Naked 2" which makes an excellent blending color for blending out a dark crease.
The palette truly lives up to its name in terms of basics. It has a highlighting color (Venus), a transition/blending shade (Naked 2) and Faint which is can be used as a crease color or perhaps even all over the lid if you want a dramatic look. The black color Crave is super intense. There is also this color named W.O.S that I have to admit that I've never used. I suppose it could be used as a blending color but I prefer Naked 2 for that purpose.
Via From Head To Toe
If you want a palette that is matte and compact then this is definitely the best neutral palette for you. It only contains six shadows compared to the regular sized UD palettes which have 12 colors. It's also super tiny which means it's perfect for tossing in your purse or travel bag.
Too Faced Natural At Night Palette
This is an underrated palette in my opinion. It's nowhere near as popular as TF's Natural Eyes palette. Perhaps it's the shimmer that makes it not as popular but really is one of my all-time favorites.
The colors that I wear the most are the top colors which are "Full Moon", "Nightcap" and "Cocoa Star". Yes, Full Moon is a shimmery color but I don't find the fall out bad at all, especially if you tap the shadow onto your lids. The color is beautiful and much more subtle compared to UD Half Baked. I absolutely love "Nightcap" as a crease color and have not been able to find a dupe for it. What makes it different is that it has a very strong yellow undertone. I find it very flattering on my skin tone.
The colors in this palette are very unique. Moon Stone is a very unique color that is hard for me to describe but it veers on the olive side while Night Fever is a smoky color with an olive tone to it.
Nars God Created Woman
This is the first and only Nars palette I've ever tried. I generally used mostly UD shadows but couldn't pass this one up when I saw it was available. The colors that I use the most are Kalahari all over the lid (I hit the pan on that one) and Galapagos smoked out in the outer corner or sometimes even in the crease (even though it does have shimmer).
Coconut Grove is a very dark color that's great for when I want to look sultry. I find it too dark for a daytime look but it can be used as a liner as well. I love Alhambra which makes a good highlighter. The texture of Nars shadows are great but honestly they are not quite as buttery as Urban Decay.
What makes this neutral eye palette great is it's super compact size. It also comes with a mini primer and very high quality shadow brush. The only thing I don't like about Nars packaging is that it's not super durable. I accidentally broke the lid on this palette and did the same on some of my Nars blushes. The hinges aren't super strong but I have to admit that I am very hard on my makeup.
I would recommend anyone who wants a very compact neutral eye palette or just wants to try out various Nars eye shadows as you get much more value buying a compact like this instead of purchasing the shadows individually.
Too Faced Natural Eye Palette
This neutral eye shadow palette has been one of Too Faced's most popular. It has a good mix of both cool and warm toned colors. Honey and Cocoa Pot are definitely warm while Push Up and Erotica are more cool. Push Up makes a great blending shade. Honey Pot is a gorgeous golden shade that is very similar to UD's Half Baked. I honestly can't tell the difference between these two colors.
There are a few highlighting shades including Heaven which is matte and Silk Teddy.
Smashbox Mini Full Exposure
When it comes to portability absolutely nothing beats Smashbox's Mini Full Exposure Palette. It's even smaller than the Nars God Created Woman Palette and its thinness is incredible. It's by far the thinnest palette I have ever used and it could easily fit inside my jeans pocket. It's literally the size of a credit card. This palette was literally a life saver for me when I was travelling back and forth, had absolutely room but just needed a small palette that would have most of the colors I needed.
I actually hit the pan on the gold shade (the second shade in the top row from the left) which is a lovely lid color. For the crease color I would use one of the two matte brown colors and for highlight I gravitated towards the third color in the top row (a shimmery champagne color). The only thing this neutral eye shadow palette is missing is a matte black color for liner.
The major con with this palette is that its texture and pigmentation simply cannot hold a candle compared to UD, Too Faced or Nars. The texture was dry, chalkier and with much less pigmentation. I expected the quality of Smashbox shadows to be much higher since it is a department store brand. At the time when I was using this palette I just needed some color, any type of color to make my eyes look awake and this was the most convenient palette to bring along. Quality of the shadow is not great but I was able to make it work with a bit of eye primer underneath.
If you are absolutely cramped for space and value portability over all else I would recommend this palette. However, if you have extra room and value pigmentation then I would skip it.