How To Use The Unused Shades In Your Eyeshadow Palettes

The majority of eyeshadow palettes in your stash probably look something like this… a few shades hit pan, a couple looking well-loved, and a fair few that are basically untouched. They might seem like a complete waste of space (literally), but actually there are plenty of ways to make the most of those under-appreciated shades and get the most out of every palette (which justifies purchasing more, right?). 

Your biggest, most eclectic eyeshadow palettes basically serve as a compact, on-the-go makeup collection, in a pinch. That’s right, those barely touched, never to be used again shades can actually do double duty as concealers, eyeliners, highlighters, and even lipsticks. 

Read on to find out how to make the most of the unused shades in your eyeshadow palettes. 

Matte white = Brow bone highlighter 

Draw a line of matte white eyeshadow beneath your brow bones and blend in with a fingertip to get rid of harsh lines. This technique has the effect of making your eyes look wider and emphasise the shape of your brow. Top tip: Avoid shimmer shades here as they will catch the light and look too stark. 

Try it with: PUR My Little Pony Eyeshadow Palette


Black = Eyeliner 

It’s a bit of a no-brainer, but a majorly underrated one. Dampen an angled liner brush (the moisture will help to create a more intense pigment) and trace as close to the lashline as possible. Make your line as thick or thin as you like, and blend out for a smoky, smudgy look. 

Try it with: theBalm Nudetude Eyeshadow Palette


Matte brown = Brow filler 

Back before brow pencils and pomades were even a thing, MUAs used eyeshadow to fill and define brows instead. Use a blunt angled liner brush and begin by applying product to the centre of your brow before diffusing it out. Top tip: To best match your natural brow colour, use cool-toned browns. 

Try it with: BH Cosmetics Modern Mattes 28 Colour Eyeshadow Palette


Matte orange = Undereye concealer 

Late night, early start, dark circles, and no concealer to hand? Don’t panic – this is where the unused orange shades in your palettes finally come into play. Orange is opposite blue in the colour wheel so it cancels it out – just be sure to add foundation on top to hide any obvious traces. 

Try it with: Viseart Neutral Mattes Eyeshadow Palette


Sparkly pink = Inner corner eye highlight 

Any sparkly colour a few shades lighter than your skintone will work perfectly as an inner highlight – a tried and tested MUA-approved hack for making eyes look bigger and brighter. Simply dab a fingertip into the powder and press into the inner corner of your eye. 

Try it with: Anastasia Beverly Hills Soft Glam Eyeshadow Palette


Reds and pinks = Lipstick 

Dip a damp lip brush in a matte red (or pink) and you’ve got instant lip colour. Apply just as you would regular lipstick, then blot lips together, and add gloss on top if you want a high-shine effect. Top tip: Go one step further and mix it with multiple shades to create your own custom colour. 

Try it with: Juvia’s Place The Festival Palette


Purple = Eyeshadow pop 

Use purple as an accent colour in a neutral eye look to make any eye colour pop. A sparkly plum accent on the centre of the lid, a dark matte burgundy in the crease, or a bright violet line to define the upper or lower lashlines adds instant vibrancy. 

Try it with: Violet Voss Hashtag Eyeshadow Palette


Blue = Undereye eyeliner 

For an edgy, modern (but subtle!) way to wear blue, use a small crease brush to skim colour across the lower waterline. Anyone can pull it off because it’s not as harsh as black and it’s much more eye-brightening than brown. 

Try it with: ZOEVA Opulence Eyeshadow Palette


Yellow = Bold eyeshadow 

You can see why yellow has a bad rep – it doesn’t exactly work in a regular smoky eye… Fortunately, bold, matte eyeshadow is bang on trend right now. Take a damp brush (to intensify pigment) and pack colour all over the lid, then keep the rest of your makeup minimal. 

Try it with: Anastasia Beverly Hills Subculture Eyeshadow Palette


Shimmery champagne = Highlighter 

With the help of a good fan brush, any shimmer eyeshadow will do double-duty as a highlighter – play it safe by dusting champagne, gold, or pearly pinks and nudes over your cheekbones, or opt for something a little daring (Jeffree Star-style) and use a bright blue or pink instead. 

Try it with: ZOEVA Basic Moment Palette