Looking for an upgrade in your make-up routine? It’s time you considered a palette. We’re not talking about those ghastly old clunkers – all-in-one kits with fold-out extensions, tacky little drawers, and a whole rainbow of gritty colours – leave those for your toddler to play dress-up with. Make-up sets are clever, prettier and far more chic than they used to be.
A step up
“Today’s palettes represent a higher level of sophistication for a woman,” says Stafford Braganza, national make-up artist at Lancôme India, who finds palette use picking up quickly across the country. “A person usually starts off with a few single colours or products, develops her own preferences and looks for a palette only after she knows exactly what she wants. She’s the kind of person who’ll walk into a store and directly ask ‘What palettes do you have?’”
It’s probably why cosmetics brands have bent over backwards to comply in recent years. Buttery new textures, satiny finishes, trendy colours and new designs often debut as part of a seasonal palette. Many now cater to just key looks – blacks and greys for a smokey eye, metallics for foiled lids, neutrals, corals and on-trend pastels. “The variety comes not just in colours but in textures too,” Braganza says. “Say you want a purple eye look, a palette will have several shades and finishes rather than just the one colour that you may own.”
Fall’s Angles: MAC reserves their prettiest packaging for fall and the holiday season, like this one from 2012
Mixed and matched
At MAC, there’s an eye palette in almost every seasonal collection, and holiday palettes around Christmas tend to include “it” shades among lip and cheek products too. But it’s their customisable kits that make the most sense for an undecided beauty junkie. “It’s about individuality and not copy-paste,” explains Sonic Sarwate, senior makeup artist at MAC. “Every woman has different needs. A set palette may not work for everybody. So at MAC, we offer custom-made palettes for shadows, lip colours and blushes that let women make colour choices according to their skin tone, profession, attitude, occasions or mood.”
Electric eyes: Estée Lauder’s coveted Violet Underground palette pairs four hot hues with a black liner shade
Palettes of art
And if the colours alone aren’t enough to entice, there’s breathtaking packaging to make you melt. Guerlain’s six-colour eye kits have filigree metal casing. MAC’s holiday palettes last year came encased in plump clutches. Niche brand Chantecaille’s limited-edition eyeshadow palettes come embossed with intricate animal designs and a delicious overspray of gold dust. Estée Lauder’s Pure Color range sets intensely pigmented shades against gleaming gold. Nars did a Kabuki-themed collection in 2011 that was so coveted it sold out in a week. “Lots of make up companies also sign up with an artist, celebrity or fashion designer to produce new colours and limited edition packaging that becomes very coveted,” Braganza says. Lancôme’s own range has included tie-ups with Kate Winslet and Swarovski, and recently released palettes in collaboration with Lanvin’s Alber Elbaz.
For you too
If you’re serious about make-up (or if you’re just starting out and are overwhelmed – and who can blame you?), there are several reasons to pick a palette. They take the guesswork out of coordination. They’re a one-stop product for the key look of the season. And they often feature a colour, texture or combination you didn’t expect. Plus, they’re a great way to sample many products. “Keep palettes at home or carry them in purses to create new and different make-up looks that [go] from day to night, simple to playful, natural to sophisticated,” says Estée Lauder’s creative make-up director, Tom Pecheux. “It’s about introducing new colours for women to play with.”
Cover up job: Urban Decay’s Naked offers such high quality and value that it has become the world’s bestselling palette
Most palettes contain a set of two or more eye shadows or come in an easy-wear kit that includes several eye, cheek and lip colours. Brushes or applicators are often included too.
“Make sure you know what you want before you go looking for a palette,” says make-up artist Stafford Braganza. “A day look, something for the evening, or specific colours – browse through magazines or the Net and take along a sample image of what you like.”
Most beginners do well with powder finishes for eye shadow. But some palettes also offer cream and gel-based products. Pick a design that keeps powder and cream separate (especially if eye and lip colours are in the same palette); you don’t want eyeshadow dust in your nice cake of lipstick.
In love with a palette but like only three colours out of four? You may just find a new use for a colour you don’t like. Light shimmers make good cheek highlighters, dark shades can be used wet as eyeliner, and you can blend colours for a custom shade.
Animal instinct: Chantecaille’s limited edition palettes help raise funds for endangered species like Kenyan elephants and sea turtles
released for fall and holiday seasons usually contain darker, deeper shades. Summer palettes typically have lighter hues.
Most palettes offer only sponge-tip applicators, which are rubbish. You may want to invest in eyeshadow brushes separately.
“Don’t be too experimental,” Braganza says. “Start with neutrals for the day and take it from there.”
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From HT Brunch, August 25
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