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Beauty: large palettes

Two weeks ago a friend asked me to recommend some cheap eye palettes for her teenage daughter, who’s starting to play around with makeup. It was my most fun research in ages, and reminded me how women of all ages can benefit from the same attitude. Makeup should be about experimentation, and the joy of a big, affordable box of colour is that the risk-averse can sit in front of Crimewatch and finally give Debbie Harry blue eye shadow a spin, safe in the knowledge that about 35p is at stake. A large palette represents a sort of beauty tasting menu, a licence to broaden one’s horizons without committing to an expensive product that stands a good chance of being used only once a year.

There was a time when such palettes came only from Christmas catalogues, but the surge in wannabe makeup artists has caused brands to expand their palette portfolio all year round. Any beauty upstart will rightly tell you Sleek Makeup i-Divine palettes, £7.99 each, are essential. There are 12 colourways (each containing 12 shades), from nudes to neons, and every one’s a winner (Original is a good starting point for any skin tone). The pigment is unusually strong for cheap formulas and they blend well.

A newer contender is Zoeva, which does seven carefully conceived palettes of 10 quality eye shadows for €17.50 (about £12.40). I’m wearing Smoky, my favourite, here. Cheapest and great fun are Makeup Revolution palettes. The selection here is vast, with palettes containing up to 18 shades while never breaking the £8 barrier. It has upped its packaging game since launch, too, with sturdier cases and better design.

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