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We can never have too much makeup and there’s no such thing as makeup hoarding (right?). Because the best makeup palettes are all of the makeup palettes.
We kid. Yes, we’ll agree without question that it is totally necessary to complete our eyeshadow collection with every Urban Decay Naked palette that comes out. But once we add these comprehensive palettes to our arsenal, what we once deemed so necessary often gets neglected in favor of our go-to products. And because of that, any weekend trip or vacation requires a gargantuan bag of tons of makeup containers instead of something that really could be solved in one palette. But you’re not going to need 287 combinations of lip colors, are you? Not really.
You could, however, get tons of mileage out of any of these compact, purposeful palettes for your daily look, on-the-go touch-up squad, or your “low maintenance” vacation look.
This palette really will give your face that certain je ne sais quoi. It Cosmetics has quickly risen in the ranks of top companies over the past few years, and this collection includes their Sunshine in a Compact Matte Bronzer, Perfect Lighting Luminizer, Bye Bye Pores Blush, and award-winning Bye Bye Pores Pressed Poreless Finish Airbrush Pressed Powder. Plus, the pretty pink compact looks so cute in your makeup bag. (It Cosmetics Je Ne Sais Quoi Complexion Perfection, $42; at Ulta)
Consider this baby your high beams in a compact. These four highlighting colors can give you any wattage you please, just swipe accordingly and glow on. (e.l.f. Studio Shimmer Palette, $3; at e.l.f.)
If you haven’t fully delved into strobing yet, this Hourglass palette should be your Strobing 101 material. With three shimmery colors, this palette paints a golden sunset on your complexion. (Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette, $62; Sephora)
Learn to contour from the definitive PRO of contouring before his time, Kevyn Aucoin. With a handy how-to guide inside, you can use these 6 shadows to not only contour the heck out of your face as naturally or as glam as you want, but you get some choice brow definers in there, too. (KEVYN AUCOIN The Contour Book The Art of Sculpting + Defining, $50; Sephora)
Color theory masters can use these six colors to nix redness, uneven spots, under-eye circles, and pretty much any blemish your brush can reach. Also, if anyone spots this in your makeup bag, they’ll be really intimidated that you know how to use one of these. (NYX Color Correcting Concealer Palette, $11.99; at Ulta)
For those who know what they like and stick to it, Smashbox wants you to have options to “branch out” with texture. Four colors—each one with a shiny and a matte texture—make this eye palette your day-to-night crusader. (Smashbox Full Exposure Travel Palette, $25; at Sephora)
If there is a feature on your face that makes a statement in and of itself, it’s your set of brows. Learn them, groom them, perfect them. This palette gives you all the tools you’ll need (and some stencils) to create brows so killer that you won’t want to bother with any other makeup. (Too Faced Brow Envy Brow Shaping & Defining Kit, $39; at Sephora)
… But in case you’re the kind of perfectionist that leaves no feature unblended, this “No Makeup Makeup” palette is an Instagram filter in your pocket. With a handy guide to create three looks, who knew wearing “no makeup” could be this glam? (Too Faced The Secret To No Makeup Makeup, $35.10; at Too Faced)
Did you really think we could get through this list without any Urban Decay? The Naked empire is pretty much running the palette game now, and their Naked Ultimate Basics is all you need to complete the perfect eye. The cherry on top is how compact it is. (Naked Ultimate Basics, $54; at Urban Decay)
Tarte has been on fire with their new lines lately, and this pretty palette is perfect for a weekend getaway somewhere fancy like Vegas. And just try to not be obsessed with how awesome the outside of the compact is. We’re a sucker for packaging. (Tarte Make Believe In Yourself: Eye & Cheek Palette, $40; at Sephora)
Originally published July 2015. Updated March 2017.