How To Use The Neglected Shades In Your Palettes

by Melodi Erdogan

Most average eyeshadow palettes in your beauty cupboard probably look something like this: A few shades have hit pan, maybe a couple others are getting there, and at least a handful are practically untouched. So what do you do with all those unused colors in your eyeshadow palette? They probably seem useless and unwearable compared to your beloved favorites, but from my experiences it's those under-appreciated shades that can be multi-tasking, unique, and that will ultimately maximize the use of your product.

Eyeshadow palettes don't often run cheap. Most of us (excluding those who are absolutely obsessed with makeup and buy whole palettes for just one color), are buying a palette for a curated selection of shades that blend effortlessly, look beautiful together, and make application as easy as possible. While every palette has its stand-out shades, those other seemingly random hues can be utilized just as much. From the bright white to the true gray, these colors can be adopted in a variety of ways to not only enhance your beauty skills but also expand the use of that palette.

Below are my neglected eyeshadow palette shades, plus some directions on how to ultimately appreciate and use every single one of them. Because instead of picking a few favorites, we all deserve to love every single color.


White eyeshadow always seemed a little too harsh for me. Not only is it pretty bright as compared to the darker or more colorful shades in a palette, but it's also just... so plain. And plain eyeshadow is nothing to get excited about, right?

White eyeshadow is actually a great staple shade for highlighting areas of your face. It might not have the same effect as your favorite sparkling highlighter, but swiping a little white shadow on your brow bone, inner eye, or even Cupid's bow can give you a bright, light-enhancing look. Plus, it's also a foolproof first step for a blended eye look, as it will ensure those other colors go on brightly and blend easily.


Just like white eyeshadow, black is kind of plain and difficult to imagine wearing unless you're going for a gothic smoky look.

In reality, black is just as useful as white eyeshadow. You can line your peepers with it much like you would do with gel eyeliner: Take a thin, angled eye brush and line away. This will define your eyes and make them look bigger and brighter. Plus, if you're not exactly a winged eyeliner guru, using shadow is great since you can just blend it away. Get ready to make black part of your everyday makeup routine.


That grayish, silver color is pretty, but doesn't seem super wearable. It's too dark for a day at the office, and too boring for a night out. So, where else are you going to wear it?

I admit that a dark gunmetal shade can be pretty intimidating. But once you get past the dark color, you can seriously rock the hue. Just be sure to blend, blend, blend. The dark pigment of gunmetal will mean a little can go a long way. So take a small brush, line your eyes, and blend until you have your desired intensity.

Sparkly Pink

Pink eyeshadow sounds like an '80s makeup look that should have never happened. While there's nothing wrong with the shade in and of itself, it's not exactly a conventional shadow to rock around the eyes.

However, you'd be surprised by how well a sparkly pink shadow can open up your inner eyes. I'm a sucker for a good highlight, and a super sparkly light shade like this brings so much light and brightness to the eye when placed in the inner corners.

Matte Brown

Talk about a boring shade. Matte brown? Unless 2016 has officially become 1998, brown eyeshadow can easily and willingly be neglected.

Sure, matte brown is a very '90s beauty shade, but that means it's ideal for contouring. Instead of spending extra on a separate contouring kit, consider opting for the matte brown shade in your palette. With a small brush, lightly work it into areas of your face where you want more definition, like your nose, cheeks, and hair line. You'll look contoured in minutes.


Gold is a gorgeous hue, and it makes for some pretty accenting in makeup. But only in small doses, right?

This one's for all my fellow glitter lovers: Throw on that gold shadow and just rock it! A finely milled gold can give off a gorgeous metallic sheen that'd be perfect for everyday or nights out. You can apply it according to your tastes for a soft, glowing look or some intense metallic pigmentation.


Unless you're going for a haven't-slept-in-days look, red eyeshadow is probably something you intentionally avoid. It's a harsh, generally uncommon hue for around the eyes, and is seemingly impossible to pair with any kind of beauty look that isn't "high school emo."

It's all lies! Not only do crimson shades look great in lip colors, but they look beautiful as shadows as well. The purple-based red one I have looks super pretty when lined around my eyes with an otherwise nude makeup look. Using it as an accent, possibly with brown shadows or even grays, would also create a similarly dramatic look. Red eyeshadow, FTW.


This is another '80s eyeshadow shade that's certainly a great hue for clothes and accessories. But on your eyelids? It's not exactly something you come across on a daily basis.

Yes, blue eyeshadow is very '80s, but in a totally trendy way. You can rock a blue shade under your eyes in reverse smoky eye style and fall in love with the brightness and uniqueness of the hue.

There you have it. While you may have thought these shades were doomed to be ignored forever, hopefully these tips and tricks will help broaden your creativity and expand the use of your palettes. Don't forget to be creative. Makeup is what you make of it!

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Images: Melodi Erodogan