5 Steps to Creating Your Perfect Custom Eyeshadow Palette

In the indie world, custom eyeshadow palettes are extremely popular. This makes a lot of sense – indies are known for their amazing single shadows. But, it can be overwhelming to put together your own custom palette, so we put together a small list of steps you can take to make the process a little easier! I’ll also describe the process I went through to create my current custom palette, which I have been absolutely loving.

Feel free to share your beautiful creations with us, too! I love seeing custom palettes, and I’m always so inspired by what others put together!

Step 0: Choose a color story for your custom eyeshadow palette.

Okay. So technically speaking, there’s six steps. But hear us out on this one! It’s so important. You know you want to create a custom eyeshadow palette, but where to start? The color story can really help you narrow down how to carry out the rest of the steps. You can find color story inspirations online – Pinterest and Instagram are great for this – or when you’re out on a walk (imagine a custom palette inspired by some neon lights!). You might be planning a dupe palette. Or, maybe you want to create a custom eyeshadow palette inspired by your favorite movie! Or maybe you want to construct a palette entirely around a single shade, or a rainbow!

Whatever it is, have a few pictures that embody the color story that you want to recreate. Chances are, since you are here reading this post, you’ve already got some of those. But keeping them handy throughout the whole process can help you start pairing eyeshadows together. This will also help you figure out what you don’t want in your eyeshadow palette. You’ll definitely find yourself wanting to go down color story tangents throughout this process. But remember that you can always create a new custom palette another day! Having these pictures (or the idea, or the… you get the gist!) in front of you will help you stay focused.

Oh, and one more thing – don’t be afraid to create color pairings you don’t usually see! Sometimes, a color pairing will really surprise you with how much you end up loving it.

My experience:

I wanted a bright rainbow palette that included a wide range of colors with a few neutrals thrown in there in case I wanted a quick easy look. I also knew I didn’t want any jewel tones.

Step 1: Decide what you want to use the custom eyeshadow palette for.

This step really builds off the first step, and you can also take them together. (Maybe I should have named them steps 1A and 1B.) Do you want to use this as an eyeshadow palette as a daily palette? A palette that you pair with one that you are currently panning? Do you want to explore some of your under-used eyeshadows in your collection? Or maybe you want an eyeshadow palette that really focuses on one color? Maybe you want to dupe a popular palette!

This step will help you decide on how large you want your eyeshadow palette to be. How much space are you willing to allow yourself to explore this particular theme/color story? The way you plan to use the eyeshadow palette can really help you figure this out. If you’re exploring a single color, then maybe six or nine shades will be enough for you! If you are duping a palette, then maybe you want to let the palette you are duping set the size of your custom eyeshadow palette. You might also be restricted by the size of the empty palettes you have.

Deciding what you want to use your palette for will also help you figure out if you need to balance your color story in a certain way. Maybe you want to throw in a few neutrals. Or maybe you really want to make sure you are using that bright yellow shadow you’ve been meaning to wear more often. You can also decide what finishes you want in your palette. All mattes? Mostly shimmer? Maybe you are a satin person. Either way, figuring out why you want to create this palette can guide your decisions while you put it together.

My experience:

I wanted my rainbow palette to be something I could reach for on a near-daily basis. So, I knew I wanted some neutrals in there, in case I needed something easy to put on. At the same time, I wanted my custom palette to be a focus palette for all the shadows I wasn’t reaching for. I ended up depotting an eyeshadow palette I had that I found myself rarely reaching for due to the way it was organized to use as a magnetic palette (and one of the shadows in that palette made its way into my custom palette!).

Step 2: Look in your own collection – do you already have shadows that could fit what you are looking for?

So you’ve decided on a color story, you know (about) how many shadows you want, and you’re ready to tackle the job of finally pulling those shadows together. Before you head to Instagram or brand websites, check your own collection first! You’re likely to have some shades that you will want to include in your palette.

You might decide that you want to depot some eyeshadows for this step, which can be difficult. There are a ton of great YouTube videos out there about depotting. Just know that cardboard packaging is almost always easier to depot out of, and you’ll likely need a few tools. At the same time, if you love your palettes and don’t want to touch them, that’s perfectly fine! Not everyone wants or feels the need to depot ready-made color stories. Follow your gut on the depotting question. (Also because it can take a while!)

If you already have shades you think you might want to include, great! That means fewer new eyeshadows that you will have to purchase, and more use out of your existing collection. This process can also help you see if you feel like you have any gaps in your collection.

custom eyeshadow palette example from indie mood
The custom eyeshadow palette that I created!

My experience:

I decided to create this palette when my skin finally started to get a little better. I also wanted to start wearing colorful eyeshadow again. At the same time, I felt really lost in my eyeshadow collection. I wasn’t sure what I had (despite keeping an inventory), and I knew I had colors in the same family in various palettes. This made it even harder for me to know what to reach for. So, I went on a depotting spree and organized all my single shadows and what I depotted by color. I’ve never been happier with my collection. It also made it super easy for me to put together my rainbow palette, because I just pulled a few shades from each color family.

Step 3: Research a few options for the shadows you feel you are missing.

Now you’ve got a small group of shadows from which to build on that was already in your collection. Or maybe you found none in your collection that worked with your vision. That’s okay! Now is the time to dive into the world of indie eyeshadow. Go back to your list of finishes for this one – some brands are known for amazing mattes, others are famous for the multi-chromes. Knowing what shade and finish of eyeshadow you want can really help you narrow down what brands you look at. That’s really helpful when you are faced with hundreds of options!

To help you start, we’ve compiled some of our favorite single eyeshadow brands. You can also look at reviews on Instagram, YouTube, and Reddit. Generally, people who leave reviews on Instagram will hashtag their reviews with the name of the brand. You can learn which shadows blend best, or which ones really pack a punch with pigment. People also post a ton of swatches on Instagram, which can help you narrow down the brands and shadows you will be interested in.

Remember that you don’t need to try everything at once! It helps to pick up just a few shadows at a time so you can figure out which formulas you do or don’t like. Single shadows can add up in price, too. It helps to set a budget beforehand that you know you are willing to spend.

My experience:

My palette was made with using my current collection in mind. So, I didn’t end up feeling like I was missing anything. That being said, I took note of the distribution of shades in my collection (why did I have so many cool-toned browns??). That way, I could start looking for shadows that I felt were missing from my collection in general. (And, of course, I noted what I had way too much of!)

Step 4: Switch some shade options around until you are happy with the organization of the eyeshadows.

Now is the time to start making decisions! You probably have some extra shades listed down, or maybe you are torn between a few options. Your next step is to figure out which products to purchase. Remember, always double-check for potential dupes in your collection first.

If you are deciding on what shadows to buy, you can hold up shadows to your computer screen, or print some shades out. You can also swatch what you have and compare those swatches with online swatches. Of course, screens will never be a perfect representation of eyeshadow shades. But you can at least get an idea of what your grouping of shadows would look like together.

Don’t be afraid to keep moving things around! Take your time with this process – it can be really relaxing and really fun! Plus, this is where your creative juices can shine. Don’t put pressure on yourself to be 100% sure of your choices right off the bat. Remember that this is just one palette – you can continue switching around shades even when everything is in your hands! If you really aren’t sure between two choices and you have the budget, you can always pick up both. Or pick up one first, and then depending on how it goes, pick up the other!

My experience:

I definitely switched some shades around while I was putting together my palette! Some of the switching was due to size – I couldn’t fit all the shades into the palette. Some of it was due to color choices. I wanted a brighter green, a deeper purple, etc. It took me a few tries to end up with what I’ve got now! I would pull shadows out and then put them back in, group different shadows together outside of the palette, or set aside shadows I knew I wanted to have space for for sure to help move my process along.

another angle of the custom eyeshadow palette example from indie mood
Here’s another look at my custom eyeshadow palette!

Step 5: Put everything together and enjoy your new custom eyeshadow palette!

Well, you’ve got all your eyeshadows gathered up. Your order(s) has (have) arrived. It’s time to put everything together in your magnetic palette and start creating looks! Remember, it’s okay if your palette didn’t turn out exactly how you expected it to. Try to use it at least a few times and see if you feel like you need to change anything up. But I’m willing to bet that you’ll be quite happy with what you came up with!

Custom eyeshadow palettes are so fun, and you probably will want to keep trying to put some together, which is great! A lot of people who do custom palettes very often end up keeping their larger collection in some bigger magnetic palettes, with a few smaller magnetic palettes on hand that they can keep switching shades out. There are a lot of indie brands out there that create magnetic palettes, both large and small, for your eyeshadow storing purposes.

By the way, definitely keep a folder on your phone for all those pictures that inspire you. Having a set place to keep such pictures will give you a really easy place to start next time you want to put together another custom eyeshadow palette!

My experience:

I am so, so happy with the custom palette I put together! I reach for it almost every time I do my makeup. It makes me so happy that shades that used to just sit in my eyeshadow drawer are now getting used because I depotted them from their original packaging! I will definitely be continuing to re-arrange the shades I have a making use of custom palettes to dupe new palettes and use what I have.

We hope this post has helped you create a custom eyeshadow palette you love!

*This post is not sponsored. Some links and codes in this article are affiliated which give us a commission at no extra cost to you. For a full list of our discount codes and links, click here.

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