Ben Nye Essential Eye Shadow Palette - review and swatches | KITSCH/SNITCH

Ben Nye Essential Eye Shadow Palette - review and swatches

December 9, 2013

I have been meaning to review this palette ever since I bought it in September at IMATS. I think I have taken photos of this palette twice (once when it was nice and new) but some how I keep accidentally deleting the photos off my laptop!

This is the Essential Eye Shadow Palette by Ben Nye and it is an all matte neutral palette. This contains 8 eyeshadows and 28 grams of product in total. I bought this for $45 from the Scotty's Makeup stall at IMATS, but this normally retails for $59.95 on their website. You can also find this palette at Camera Ready Cosmetics for a little bit cheaper (I don't know the shipping prices for either of these sites). I have my eye on the Ben Nye blush palette but I might wait and see if I end up going to IMATS next year so I can buy it on sale.

Ben Nye is more of a theatrical makeup brand that was started in the 60s by Ben Nye, who was a makeup artist in the film industry. You won't find these products in places like Myer or Priceline, but if you have any theatrical makeup supply shops around where you live, you may be able to find Ben Nye products there.

All of the Ben Nye palettes look the same, they are made of a sturdy cardboard with a black finish. This packaging does get very messy very quickly (almost like NARS packaging) and from the outside you can only tell what palette it is by looking at the barcode on the back. You can also see holes at the back of the palette, and I can only assume that this is for easy depotting of the shadows.

There isn't a mirror inside the palette, instead it has a sticker that has all the shade names (see photo below). The palette has a reletively strong magnetic closure. Each shadow also has BN stamped into the shadow.

l-r Vanilla, Shell, Cork, Mink Stole, Black, Graphite, Smokey Taupe, Black-Brown

The above photo is the shades swatched without a primer. In general I do find these shadows to be very smooth and pigmented, but strangely the black is probably the least pigmented of all of the shades when swatched (it is fine over a primer). I also find that the best pigmentation are with the midtones shades like Milk Stole, Graphite and Smokey Taupe. One thing that this palette does do well is that there are a nice mix of warm shades and cool taupey grey shades. Being matte shades, these also work well for doing eyebrows and contouring.

As all these shades are matte, I always apply these over a primer. I find that because these shades are quite pigmented they do tend to stick to the primer a little too well, which makes it hard to blend out the shades. I generally try to fix this by applying a thin layer of Shell all over my lid to make the darker shades blend more easily. I might start trying these without a primer to see how they last on their own.

I do really like these shades but there are two things about this palette that I don't like. The first is that Vanilla and Shell are too similar, sure Vanilla is white and Shell is off white, but you really don't need both shades, and I never use Vanilla. Secondly, there aren't any light-mid toned shades, this palette pretty much jumps from very light to dark shades without a flesh toned shade or a light taupe to fill that gap. Even though some of these shades seem like they swatch more mid toned in the photo above, I find that these shades do apply darker over a primer. I often find myself having to attempt to mix Shell and Cork or Shell and Smokey Taupe to make a light-mid toned shade, or I have to reach for another palette (which is really annoying!). This palette would be 100 times better (in my opinion) if they got rid of Vanilla and put in a light taupe shade similar to the shade Naked 2 in the Naked Basics palette.

Oh one last thing that I thought I should mention is that these shadows smell like paint. It's a little weird at first, but being theatrical makeup products I forgive the paint scent.

So that's it! This is a great palette to have if you are lacking matte neutrals in your collection, but sadly I don't find myself reaching for it too often because I mainly use light-mid toned shades all over my lid and this palette doesn't have any!

Let me know what you think about this palette if you own it and don't forget to enter my Christmas giveaway!


  1. In the pans the shade look a little unappealing but swatched the colours are lovely. I agree that it needs more midtones in the palette so you could use just this everyday!

    Sarah | More Than Adored

  2. Great review! I was tempted by some Ben Nye products at IMATS but resisted. I totally agree with you about the shade selection just from the swatches. Have you tried Make Up Store eyeshadows? I got mine at IMATS this year and they're amazing x x

  3. Wow, what a wonderful palette! I have a serious lack of matte shades in my collection, so this would be perfect :)


  4. I've always wanted to try Ben Nye products specially the powder. Never knew they are meant to be theatrical makeup.

  5. Thanks for the review! Most of these shades look a little dark for me.


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