SMART SHOPPING: 100 Eyeshadow Palettes Cost Breakdown

by - November 14, 2017

Recently, after all of the questions about Colourpop raising their prices at Sephora (not quite true), I really started thinking about the cost of different eyeshadows. In my opinion, being a smart consumer means thinking a little more deeply about what you're getting for your money than just the face value of what you're spending. I decided to do a cost breakdown based on the cost per pan and the cost per gram of 100 popular eyeshadow palettes that are from a wide range of price points. I decided to calculate these in US Dollars, because I think it gives the most accurate price comparison and I think we all have a pretty good idea of our local exchange rates in relation to USD.

This post may be a little bit long, but I do hope that you'll continue reading!
One thing that I've noticed in the past, but most specifically while putting together this post, is that a low price tag doesn't necessarily mean that you're getting a bargain. Yes, something may be cheaper as far as how much of your cash you hand them, but I think that just as important is what they hand you in return. A good example of where this matters is at the somewhere like a dollarstore. While you may see familiar brands that you know and trust there for just a dollar, it's important to compare the volume of what you're getting vs. at a grocery or box store because oftentimes the dollarstore can be more expensive in the long run. Know what I mean? This is also true for makeup.
For me, the value of a palette is much more complicated than the cost of it. Obviously, that does play a role, but when it comes to pretty much any makeup product you also have to think about quality, performance and shade selection. For me, there's really no comparing single eyeshadow pans to palettes, because I think the two are very different animals. With a palette, I think you also get some added benefit of a wider selection of shades, so while you may getting less of each shade, you're getting more options in one place. Unless you're someone who's only going to use one or two shades on a regular basis, I think the variety of a well chosen palette also adds to the value. 

Basically what I'm trying to say is that I don't think that this type of list is the be all and end all on value for your money. I think most of us are willing to spend a little more for a higher quality product that performs better and maybe has some higher quality packaging, right? Obviously, I only looked at the price per gram of these shadows, but the fact that the higher end palettes tend to be more expensive is definitely also impacted by the fact that they do spend more money on packaging, so that should also be taken into account.
From the list of palettes I chose, there were less than ten that fell into the range from $5-$10 per gram. As you can see, for the most part these are your much more luxury brands of makeup that I think we tend to expect higher prices from. That being said, I think that sometimes two products that are the same retail price can seem like the same value, and I think this list is proving that false. Until I did this, I put Natasha Denona palettes in the same category as Pat McGrath, but as you can see from the list they really aren't in the same ball park as far as cost per gram at all. 
In the $4-$5 range we're also seeing a lot less palettes listed, but I have to admit that I'm a little bit surprised that Bobbi Brown is coming in on the low end of the range while brands like TarteKylie Cosmetics and Buxom are actually coming up more expensive. For me, Bobbi Brown has always felt quite spendy, while I absolutely did think that the Tartelette Tease was an inexpensive option.
In the $3-$4 range is where the field really opens up and we're seeing a lot of your popular Sephora brands like Too FacedUrban Decay and Smashbox, but smattered in there are also brands like Natasha Denona and VISEART which a lot of people tend to think of as being very, very expensive brands since the actual price tag on their palettes is quite high. When you actually look at what you're getting for your money, you see they're actually quite on par with those brands that are generally considered more accessible.
The $2-$3 range is definitely quite a bit of the same, but the thing that really surprised me here was finding that the Maybelline City Mini Palettes are in the same price range as all of these high end shadows when it comes to cost per gram. I think this bears mentioning because I feel like we hold drugstore products to a lower standard of performance (though many absolutely exceed those expectations) because of the lower price tag. In this particular case, I don't think the Maybelline City Mini Palettes hold up nearly as well as I thought they did now knowing how expensive the actual shadows are.
The $1-$2 range is where I think we're really starting to see an interesting mixture of higher end brands with what we generally consider to be low cost brands. And, really, let's be clear... $1-$2 a gram is a very affordable eyeshadow, so I think it's interesting to see brands like Zoeva and Tarte mixed in there with brands like NYX and Colourpop
As we get into the palettes whose price point is less than $1 per gram, I don't think anyone is going to be surprised to see brands like Juvia's Place, BH CosmeticsMorphe and Makeup Revolution listed here. In fact, those four brands dominate the Top 20 most inexpensive palettes per gram with assists from other very affordable brands essencee.l.f. and Catrice. What actually surprises me most is seeing Violet Voss in this part of the list. I honestly don't think I was tempted by the VV Ride Or Die Holy Grail Palette until I did this cost breakdown. Now it's on my shopping list.

Honestly, I think that you should spend your money however you think is best for you, though I do think that in a world of social media that's constantly pushing new products down our throats we could do with some more hard numbers to counter all of the hype. Personally, I think I'm going to be a little bit more conscious of doing the math when I decide to buy palettes in the future and use this set of calculations as a bit of a guide to better understand how I'm spending my money so that I'm hopefully making smarter decisions for my collection. But, like I said, I'm not going to tell anyone how to spend their money or judge anyone for a majors splurge.

If these types of posts are something you'd like to see the in the future here on the blog, I'd love it if you'd leave me a comment and let me know. I already have one more similar post in the works, so keep an eye out for that. 

I plan on keeping an updated list here on the blog as new palettes are released and I think I'll personally be referring to it often as I make my buying choices. Check out the .pdf of the full spreadsheet at the link below, and if there are any palettes that you'd like me to add to this list, let me know in the comments!

Thanks so much for reading and I really hope this was helpful for you!

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