I Tried 4 Palettes, All For Your Own Good

I love a good makeup palette as much as the next girl, but to me the ideal palette is small and efficient. The last thing I want is a big bulky palette full of dozens of eye shadow shades taking up space. I would much rather have a palette that is barely larger than my hand and that can serve multiple purposes. This way I can throw it in my purse along with a makeup brush and my favorite lipstick and run out the door, knowing that I have options while I'm running around all day.

I've gathered a few of these useful makeup palettes. One of them is handy for giving my face some quick definition while making it less shiny in the summertime heat (plus it's a steal at under $10!). Another serves all of my contouring and strobing needs. Some of the palettes are quite minimal and streamlined while one has everything I need for a dramatic evening look. Maybe you're traveling and you need a small palette that works for lots of different occasions. Maybe you're looking for something to keep in your desk at work for touch-ups. Maybe you want a palette that can take you from day to night in minutes. Whatever your makeup needs are while you're on-the-go, one of these palettes is for you.

If You're On a Budget: e.l.f. Contour Palette

This palette seems simple but it's actually quite the workhorse. Obviously it's great for contouring and highlighting, but I've also found that it can also come in handy for eye shadow, brow shadow, and even lending a matte finish to my makeup.

Here's a swatch of the four shades from lightest to darkest:

This compact is easy to throw in a bag and go. I usually bring a brush, as well, but you could just use your fingers in a pinch. It takes less than five minutes to dab on the brighter shades to highlight and the darker shades to contour.

Here's my face after quickly using the e.l.f. Contour Palette:

I use the lightest shade above my cheekbones and brow bone, and the darkest under my cheeks. I also like to use the second-lightest shade to take away excess shine from my T-zone (a life-saver in the summer).

Elf Contour Palette, $6, Elf Cosmetics

If You Want An Easy Glow: Urban Decay Naked Flushed

Ever wake up late and rush to work, only to look in the mirror and realize you look like you're half-dead? Keep this streamlined palette in your bag for emergency moments like that when you desperately need to add a bit of color, warmth and light to your face.

Here's swatches of the bronzer, highlighter and blush:

And here's what it looks like on me:

Flushed is the perfect name for this palette, since the three shades really do combine to give you a warm summer glow.

Urban Decay Naked Flushed, $34, Ulta

If You Want to Contour Like a Kardashian: Becca Lowlight/Highlight Perfecting Palette

This is a great choice for those who want to contour but want a little more impact than the e.l.f. palette provides.

Here's swatches of the highlighter and bronzer:

The highlighter has lots of gold shimmer and the bronzer is deeply pigmented. Here's how it looks on me after quickly swiping each shade on using my Becca The One Perfecting Brush.

I love how the highlighter makes my skin look lit from within while the bronzer adds definition.

Becca Low Light High Light Palette, $42, Becca Cosmetics

If You Want a Full Face of Makeup: Tarte Energy Noir Clay Palette

This gorgeous palette is for those who want to be able to do a full face of makeup while on the go.

It's compact but it has everything you need: eight eye shadow shades, a shimmering champagne highlighter, and a peach blush.

Left to right in the above row are the eye shadow shades (Full Moon, Charged Up, Dark Drive, Stone Unturned, Up Too Slate, Misty Mauve, Power Plum, and Lunar Eclipse) and the bottom row is the highlighter (Crystal Spark) and blush (Unearthed):

The highlighter can easily be applied with a finger but you'll want to bring a small eye shadow brush and a compact fluffy brush for the blush.

Using the built-in mirror, I had an evening-ready look in just a few minutes. (I used Power Plum on my eyes.) I love the idea of bringing this palette on a trip because you can easily do a low key look for day and then ramp it up for night. The only other makeup you'll need to pack is mascara and lipstick. And that's really the goal that one wants to achieve with an on-the-go palette.

Tarte Clay Palette, $42, Tarte Cosmetics

Images: Kelly Dougher