I cannot resist a pretty compact of pretty colours. Period. The holiday season is one of the trickiest times for me because every brand has a limited edition palette that screams “makes you pretty in an instant” … who can turn THAT claim down?

When I first started in makeup artistry, palettes offered me access to play with plenty of colours for fewer pennies PLUS they filled out my kit nicely. It started off as an easy way to build build build especially since, say, a single eyeshadow costs $18, but you can get up to 12 colours for, hhmmm, maybe $60. Yes, a single pot gives you more of one colour, but a palette gives several colours, just a bit less of each. The latter seems like the better option, right? When you’re working freelance, you save where you can.

Fast forward ten years later. While I still love a good palette, sometimes you can’t beat a full pot of a good thing. I can dust through MAC Shroom within a month of clients. Concealers and foundations – forget about it – a tube of this or a stick of that can last me less than two months during a slow period. And yes, while I can easily use up three or four colours in a palette, there is another six to eight, just hanging out, waiting to expire.

So what’s the right answer?!?! Palette or Pot?

Well, I personally think there is no right or wrong answer. Just a better way to shop and making the right choice between picking up a palette or grabbing a full pot/tube. Here are my guidelines for navigating your way through it all.

If you have a favourite anything: eyeshadow, liner, lipstick – always splurge and buy the whole, full-size, non-promotional tube/stick/whatever.

Yes, you might be tempted to get the gift set that includes three other colours of the same lipstick formulation in a smaller more portable size, but if those three other colours end up being pretty in the tube but whack with your complexion … you’ll have three non-wearable colours taking up space on your vanity and you’ll be shelling out another $20 bucks in no time to replace your favourite overused and done lippy (or shadow, or eyeliner …)

If you know in your heart, that you  practice makeup monogamy and can not, WILL not, break the habit … DO NOT BUY THE PALETTE.

As tempting as it is to think, “I’m really going to change this year and wear a  different cream eyeliner colour everyday” … but you’ve been rocking a soft shimmery brown since high school because brown is the only colour that you believe looks right on you … it’s a pass. Seriously. IT IS A PASS.

If you are completely new to makeup and looking to play and experiment, then a palette is a great way to get all the items you do need in complimentary colours for a foolproof look.

You’ll have plenty of options to test out new colours and combinations in one palette. The key here is to look for one that is well within your comfort zone (and budget too!). For example, if you’re looking to create some natural looks for the office and day to day life, you probably do not want to go with that spectacular MAC palette that has a matte bright green shadow and orange lip gloss.  Rather, you might want to try one of Urban Decay’s Naked Palettes for the eyes, or a Laura Mercier Colour to Go Portable Palette for the full face.

On the flip, if you’re comfortable with a little bit of makeup, but want to bring it and try something bolder for all your holiday parties, that’s when you can turn to some of the limited edition and holiday palettes that contain bolder colours, shimmers, and fun stuff that you will use only for special events.

Since you will be using them sparingly, buying in a palette as opposed to full-priced singles is a better ROI.  Again, stick with bold or metallic colours that are well within your comfort zone so you’re getting your bang for the buck. Think MAC Holiday Kits or the Shu-Uemura/Karl Lagerfeld collaboration and in my opinion … anything YSL. :)

If you are looking to add professional brushes to your makeup wardrobe – then yes – go with the kit or palette.

MAC always offers great brush sets in travel size every holiday season and its a great way to get access to professional brushes for half the price.

When in doubt, practice the 60/40 rule.

When looking and deciding on a palette, be sure that at least 60 percent of the products or colours in that palette are something you will use consistently – i.e., 6 of the 10 lipstick colours; 6 of the 10 shadows. In addition, compare the palette price to the price for each of the useable items at full price. You should be paying no more than 40% of what it would cost to buy that same 60% of products at full price.

So, do you know now? Palette or Pot?



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