Friday, October 12, 2012

A Look Back at the Customizable Palette

I'd been cleaning up my makeup drawers and found a bunch of palettes that I no longer use. Periodically, I give out my less-used makeup to my best friends or my sisters in an effort to clear out my drawers. However, I tend to limit the giveaways to powder products. I want to be sure everyone is safe so I just throw away makeup that I think is too old to safely use, especially if they're cream products. In the past, I've taken to removing pans from their compacts and depotting eyeshadows or I would buy refill pans from certain brands and buy customizable palettes for them later on. One of the more popular fully-customizable palettes I've seen is the UNII palette.

The palette comes in different colors and with it you get a removable thumbgrip and a sheet magnet to use on the items that you would like to stick into the palette. The newer UNII palettes may be slightly different. Mine is shown below. I decided not to cut up the sheet and instead laid it on the bottom of the palette to keep it clean and I stuck my pans on to that instead.

My UNII palette has seen plenty of use and I've been able to keep pans of different shapes and sizes in it. I'm not particularly fond of the depotting process and have ruined a few items while attempting to get them out of compacts and such. Lately, I've only depotted sample items and I have mostly stopped buying eyeshadow singles because they're a pain to store.

In the past, Stila sold their eyeshadows and blushes in refill pans. You had to buy a separate compact or the single pan containers to keep them in. The UNII palette could accomodate 8 of those Stila pans as I've shown above. However, the Stila palettes are actually very nice. The later models, such as the black one I have below, are all plastic. The earlier ones were silver and had a pretty design on the outside. I've managed to collect a few three-pan palettes from Stila and I have a couple of 4-pan and a 6-pan palette as well. The 6-pan comes with a brush and there's a slot for it. As I use it for my Stila blushes though, I don't keep the eyeshadow brush with it.

The MAC Pro Palette is another popular choice. I have below the 15-pan and the 4-pan eyeshadow palettes. There is a 6-pan version for blushes but as I don't purchase MAC blushes, I never had need for one. I've heard that the Stila pans fit into those but I suspect that the MAC blushes are slightly larger? Don't quote me on that. Personally, I dislike the MAC palettes. The 15-pan is flimsy and doesn't have a mirror. I like to have a mirror and it would have room for a large mirror so that would have been great!

If you purchase MAC eyeshadow refills, you'll find that the magnet that they use isn't as good as some magnets you can buy at a crafts store. I don't have a lot of MAC eyeshadows but I did, at one point, attempt to press my powder shadows into one-inch pans and stick a magnet in the back so I could add it to this palette.

My MAC 4-pan palette has seen some use because it's a good size for travel. I could pick out four basic colors to use on weeklong trips. But I have complaints about how the pans sit in the palette. It is not easy to get them in and out.

As I sought a larger empty palette to use with blushes and bronzers, I was shown this Trish McEvoy Planner Page. This is an old model and the new planner pages look very different but the concept is the same. You buy pans of eyeshadows or blushes and you stick them to this magnetic palette and you put it into the brand's Makeup Planners. Since I don't actually own anything from Trish McEvoy, this was a one-off purchase and I use this planner page for my other makeup.

As you can see, I've managed to arrange my pans on it in various ways. I love how large the Trish McEvoy planner page is. With it, I'm able to arrange different bronzers and blushes so that I can swirl my brush around two or more of them at the same time and come up with unique shades. It comes with two dividers that you can move around. I use the dividers as a thumb grimp so I tend to leave one or both at the left side. This has been the most useful palette for me because of the size but I regret that it does not have a mirror.

Inspired by these old palettes, I set about a quick project to recycle an old Sugar palette that used to contain 6 pans. It had a concealer, blush, lip gloss, the Tropic Tan bronzer and two eyeshadows. But what I loved about the palette was the size of it (only very slightly smaller than the Trish McEvoy Large Planner Page) and the giant mirror that it had. The makeup was old so I tossed it all and ripped out the entire bottom. I stuck a sheet magnet on to it and behold, a new home for 11 pans of old Stila eyeshadow.

My own empty custom palette

My own custom palette with 11 Stila eyeshadows

Now I don't need all those little Stila palettes! It's nice to have the eyeshadows in one place. I suspect I'll get more use out of these now.

For travel, I've found that Aveda has the same concept in a smaller package. The one below is the Total Face Environmental Compact. It has room for two large square pans, 4 smaller rectangular pans or 8 small square pans of eyeshadow. You can mix and match, of course. I haven't tried Aveda makeup but I've used the palette for other things. It's easier to clean than the UNII palette and the magnet in it is really strong. If it's too small, there is another that's twice the size and accomodates twice as much.

Aveda Total Face Environmental Compact

Although I don't find them as customizable as a UNII palette or some of the other palettes I have shown, I do keep Laura Mercier and Bobbi Brown palettes. The Laura Mercier ones, because I do have a fair number of Laura Mercier makeup that will go into them. The Bobbi Brown one was given to me by a makeup artist and I have since acquired one or two more. However, it's only good for Bobbi Brown makeup.

Laura Mercier 6-pan palette filled with cake eyeliner

Bobbi Brown 6-pan palette with blushes, foundation and lip products

Is the customizable palette your thing? Is there one that you find particularly good?


  1. Hello. I like your post! Since I'm a fan of customizable palettes it was fun to read :-)

    Will I be able to store Laura Mercier products to Bobbi Brown customizable palettes by the way? Seems like they're the same size @.@

    1. Unfortunately, no. The bottom is different and they click into place differently so you cannot interchange brands. The Laura Mercier ones will only fit Laura products and the Bobbi Brown ones only work with Bobbi products. Sorry!

    2. Thank you for your reply. I guess I will go for Trish McEvoy empty page then. Did you purchase the large size page or the mini? The picture in the post seems like the large size palette but as I haven't seen the actual one before, I can't tell how big would the large or mini size be... Thanks!

    3. What I have is a large page. The new version of it (Large Makeup Wardrobing Page) is 5.88 x 7.88 x 1.38 inches in size and looks very similar. Just the backing is no longer transparent.

  2. Thank you for the info about the ability (or non-ability) to swap out different brands into different palettes!