Custom Eyeshadow Palettes – The Ultimate Guide | Part 1 – Palettes


So you want to build your own palette, eh? Pre-made eyeshadow palettes on the market not good enough for you, huh? You’re too good to have your eyeshadow combinations chosen for you, HUH?!

I’m kidding – custom eyeshadow palettes are fantastic, for a number of reasons, and I am 100% an advocate of them! They’ve only become popular outside of the makeup pro circles in the last couple of years -luckily for you and me, that means the budget offerings are only getting better and better.

Designing your own palette gives you freedom in a number of ways. Firstly, and most obviously, you can choose exactly which shadows to put in it – great if you’re into insane bright colours or only very neutral browns, lusting after one or two colours in several pre-made palettes, or you never used a black shadow in your life (I swear every pre-made palette has one). If you’re fickle or like to change up your looks often, it’s easy to pop shadows in and out depending on what you’re currently using. It’s also great if you travel a lot, because it cuts down on space while still giving you choice. Lastly, if you finish a shadow, you can just chuck out the empty pan and replace it – unlike, for example, with an Urban Decay Naked Palette, where you have to buy a whole new palette when you finish your favourite shade (mainly because UD don’t sell singles of their Naked shades).

Anyway, enough about that. In this post, I’m going to take you through the options for customisable palettes – looking at price, availability, versatility, all that good stuff. Look out for Part 2 – where we’ll be looking at your options for the actual eyeshadows.

FYI – when referring to availability, I’ll be concentrating on availability in the UK. I know some of these items may be easier or harder to get hold of in other countries, especially the USA.

BRAND: Z Palette
PRICE: £5.50 – £37.95
AVAILABILITY: BeautyBay, Amazon UK, Z Palette US website, Love Makeup, Cocktail Cosmetics

SIZING OPTIONS: Comes in 6 sizes
COLOUR RANGE: Small selection, but regularly release new limited designs
VERSATILITY: Excellent – fits any shaped pan

**UPDATE** Z Palette have recently had a marketing nightmare where they were rude to customers on social media and issued a poorly worded ‘apology’. For the moment I will no longer be supporting their brand, and highly suggest you look at other options listed below.

Let’s start with arguably the most famous customisable palette brand – Z Palette. This was the first brand I bought a custom palette from, and I must have liked it, because I bought a second one!

One of the things I love most about this brand is the clear lids – it makes it super easy to see what’s in your palettes, which is great if you have an insane single shadow collection (see swatch goddess @angelamarytanner). The super-strong magnetic base also means your shadows aren’t going to be sliding around in there if you’re travelling with it. They also come in varying sizes – from a tiny 3-capacity mini palette right up to the 35-capacity extra large palette. Each palette comes with mini magnets, so if your eyeshadows aren’t magnetized, you can still put them in the palette – this comes in super handy, especially if you are into depotting.

I’ve deducted one point from the rating due to the fact you can’t currently buy these in store within the UK – although they are quite widely available online – and also due to the price. They are very sturdy, but the pricing is a bit steep – probably because they were the first on the market. However, I’ve bought two so far, so I’m obviously not that put off!

BRAND: MAC Cosmetics- Modular Pro Palette
PRICE: £4-£8 (+£2 for the inserts)
AVAILABILITY: MAC UK website, House of Fraser, Selfridges, John Lewis, MAC stores / counters
SIZING OPTIONS: Comes in 4 sizes
COLOUR RANGE: Black, and only black
VERSATILITY: Designed to work with MAC eyeshadows – to use without a standard insert, you will need to magnetise your pans

A surprising affordable option from MAC – but this could be due to their palettes purposefully being designed to work with only their eyeshadows. They will work with other brands with a little work, though. The inserts annoy me slightly because I feel like they waste some of the space, but the actual palette isn’t magnetised, so to stop your shadows sliding around you do need an insert (or a bit of DIY work with some magnets). Despite the price, I’ve only given these 2/5 both due to the lack of magnets, and the cost of MAC eyeshadows – at £10 per pan, you’re better off getting a pre-made palette, which is only £49.50 for 15 shadows.

BRAND: Nabla Cosmetics – Palette Liberty
PRICE: €6-10 (slightly more for limited edition designs)
AVAILABILITY: Nabla Cosmetics website

SIZING OPTIONS: 2 sizes – 6 or 12 pan
COLOUR RANGE: Black, with regular limited edition designs
VERSATILITY: Fits any shaped pan

Nabla is an Italian makeup brand I have ordered from before – I decided to get one of their small customisable palettes to use when I travel. If you buy 6 or 12 of their eyeshadows, you get the corresponding palette free, which I think is very kind of them! Their pans are slightly larger than a MAC or Makeup Geek pan though, so there will be some wasted space should you fill them with another brands’ shadows – though the magnets are as strong as the Z Palette so they won’t move around. Overall they’re a great option, though I have deducted one point due to a lack of sizing options, and the fact they’re only available online.

BRAND: Freedom Makeup London – Pro HD Palette
AVAILABILITY: TAM Beauty Website, Superdrug Website, Superdrug in-store
COLOUR RANGE: Black, and only black
VERSATILITY: Fits any shaped pan

While this palette only comes in one size at present, it is a very new release – the brand have promised to release more eyeshadow and face powder refills, so it stands to reason they may release other sized palettes in the future too. Unlike many of the other palettes mentioned here, this one also has a large mirror included on the inside – something to think about if you like a mirror in your palette!

It’s probably the most affordable option here, and easiest to get your hands on – I picked mine up in my local Superdrug. It doesn’t have a magnetic closure (although the lid closes firmly) but the magnets are strong and don’t let your pans move around. It’s made of sturdy black plastic and feels much more weighty than the other empty palettes I own.

BRAND: Coastal Scents
PRICE: $3.95 – $9.95
AVAILABILITY: Coastal Scents Website

COLOUR RANGE: Black, with a clear lid or built-in mirror
VERSATILITY: Fit standard MAC/Makeup Geek pans, and has a magnetized base

I recently purchased some a lot of Coastal Scents shadows during their Black Friday sale – they often have half price sales which make their single pan shadows 98 cents, and I have seen them offer half price deals on the empty palettes too. While they are affordable, I have to say that from the photos I’ve seen, they do look cheap. I like that they offer an option with a clear lid, but again I’m bothered by the wasted space from the insert.

BRAND: Tarte – Tarteist Pro Custom Palette
PRICE: £13

COLOUR RANGE: 2 designs
VERSATILITY: Fits any shape shadow

I’m giving this 3/5 because it’s limited edition, so I don’t know how much longer they will be available for – but every blogger I have seen talk about it really likes this palette. Perhaps they will bring out more sizes and patterns – but the Tarte single shadows aren’t available to ship the UK, so maybe that’s in their plans for the future.

PRICE: £4.99-£5.99
AVAILABILITY: Larger Boots stores, NYX UK Website
COLOUR RANGE: Black, and only black
VERSATILITY: Inserts fit standard NYX, MAC, Makeup Geek pans

As far as I can tell, these are only available in the larger Boots stores, along with the single NYX pans that fit in them. The NYX UK website has recently relaunched, and they are now available there too, if you don’t have a Boots store close to you. The single pans cost less than the ones in pots, which is nice, but the palettes I’ve seen are quite cheap-feeling cardboard. The USA website has plastic palettes listed too, so maybe we’ll get those over here soon. I’d say these are good if you’re in a pinch, or fancy trying out some NYX singles, but not my top pick.


BRAND: NARS – Pro Palette
PRICE: £12-£16
COLOUR RANGE: Black, and only black
VERSATILITY: Fits any shape shadow

This is pretty much NARS’ version of a Z Palette, with a solid lid and the logo printed on the inside and outside. I’m only rating it a 3 because I’d have thought a huge brand like NARS might be slightly more imaginative!

BRAND: Anothersoul – Book of Shadows
PRICE: £12.13 – £34.78 + shipping
AVAILABILITY: Anothersoul Etsy Shop
SIZING OPTIONS: 4 sizes, most are available double-sided
COLOUR RANGE: Literally millions
VERSATILITY: Fits any shape shadow

Although I have never bought anything from this store (probably due to the £20 shipping, although they offer shipping deals on more than one item), their name is banded around a lot in the makeup community as being affordable, high quality, unique palettes. They have over 3000 reviews on Etsy and a 5-star rating, so they must be doing something right! They are similar to Z Palettes in design (without the clear window in the lid), but the double-sided palettes in particular are much more affordable – plus they come in hundreds of patterns (OK, maybe millions was exaggerating a little).

BRAND: MiniMint Palette
PRICE: £4.45 – £8.09 + shipping
AVAILABILITY: MiniMint Etsy Shop

COLOUR RANGE: Endless – and all unique
VERSATILITY: Fits any shape shadow

These are similar to Anothersoul palettes, but with a few less options for sizing. However, the USP of these is that every one is unique, and you can also request a custom palette if there are no designs available in the store you like. Shipping to the UK is £10, which is quite reasonable among US Etsy shops.

BRAND: CrowdColour
PRICE: £9.99 – £15.99 + shipping
AVAILABILITY: CrowdColour Etsy Shop

COLOUR RANGE: A few options, but you can order a custom design
VERSATILITY: Fits any shape shadow

CrowdColour launched this year after a successful crowdfunding campaign – they are essentially Z Palettes with a solid lid instead of a window, but this means you can have your own design printed on a black or white one from only £11, which I think is a lovely idea. They’re based in Wales, so shipping is only £2.95 – I think I’ve decided where my next palette is coming from!

BRAND: GlamTech
PRICE: £8.09 – £27.50 + shipping
AVAILABILITY: GlamTech Etsy Shop

COLOUR RANGE: All palettes are customisable in a number of ways
VERSATILITY: Fits any shape shadow

GlamTech have standard rectangular palettes reminiscent of the Inglot Freedom System – with slide-off lids instead of flap ones – but they also do various shaped palettes including lips and flowers. They’re also fully customisable, with options for base colours and printing on the lids – you can even have the names of your shadows printed on there! I like that they all have clear lids and are made of sturdy plastic – they look like they could be the sturdiest palettes in this entire list.

BRAND: Inglot – Freedom System
PRICE: £5.50-£29
AVAILABILITY: Inglot website

SIZING OPTIONS: 23 sizes across various product combinations
COLOUR RANGE: Black, and one white single
VERSATILITY: Fits only Inglot shadows

This product isn’t quite like the others here, as it’s made only for Inglot products – but definitely worth a mention anyway. For a pro makeup brand, I really think the prices are affordable – £5 per shadow, so cheaper to buy in the UK than Makeup Geek! They have a really slick build-your-own-palette section on their website, where you can choose from eyeshadow singles and trios, brow waxes and powders, lipsticks, concealers, and solid perfumes. If you’re looking to create your perfect palette but aren’t fussed about trying different brands, or you really want to streamline your makeup, you could do a lot worse than this!

To summarise…

So I’m sure you’re all dying to know my favourites..

Currently I own two large Z Palettes (one black, one lilac), a small Nabla Liberty 6-pan palette, which I use when I travel, and a Freedom Pro HD Palette, which stores my single highlighter pans.

My Z Palettes are my favourite – although I will admit they are expensive for what they are – down to the clear lids, the slim design, and the strong magnets. The Freedom one is nice too but if I had more than one, I’d be forever opening them to see which one I wanted – suits me fine to just keep my highlighters in though. I’d also be concerned about travelling with it, in case the large mirror broke, but some may prefer the inclusion of a mirror. I really rate the Nabla palettes as well, but the OCD in me is bothered by the extra space left around the edges when I put my Makeup Geek shadows in it!

If I was to buy more (let’s face it, at some point I will), I’d probably go for CrowdColour – I like the idea of having my own design on the front. Anothersoul, MiniMint and GlamTech would also be a possibility but I’m not sure I can justify paying £10-£20 for shipping! I’d definitely buy a Z Palette again, and I’m curious to see if Freedom add more sizes and designs to their line, as they are the most affordable of all. I’m considering more Nabla palettes (having seen the gorgeous limited edition designs they currently have available), as well as an Inglot palette – maybe I’ll treat myself in the new year!

Thanks for reading!
Which is your favourite? Leave me a comment and let me know!

*All photographs of palettes (except ones with my watermark) are taken from their respective companies’ websites, and copyright belongs exclusively to them.

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