Day pass
To touch up your makeup throughout the day, a combo palette is best. You can stash it in your desk or throw it in your handbag, says Franchie Pir, makeup artist and owner of PIR Cosmetics in Toronto. “Look for a palette with lots of basic shades that you can wear with most outfits.”Opt for one that contains at least two neutral eyeshadows, a lipstick and a lip gloss. Try: Bobbi Brown Neutral Lip and Eye Palette; Hard Candy 6 Pack Compact in Flushed; Rocket City Cosmic Cocktail Face Palette.

Night shift
For your evening clutch, a lip palette is best. “Your lips are often the only thing you touch up in the evening,”says makeup artist Bobbi Brown. Choose a compact that contains a wide selection of lipstick hues: warm and cool shades including a soft pinky-beige and a vibrant red, and a couple of sheer lipsticks or tinted glosses. Whether you’re wearing a cocktail dress or a pair of jeans, you’ll be sure to have a shade to match. Try: Anna Sui Christmas Lip Palette;; Revlon Skinlights Custom LipColours.

Road trip
For a romantic weekend escape or to toss in your gym bag, select a makeup sampler that duplicates the key items in your cosmetics bag: a cream foundation, a concealer, a creamy blush that can double as lip colour, and three eyeshadows-a dark colour to line your eyes or create a smoky look, a creamy beige or light grey and a sheer, girlie shade like lilac or mint. Try: Bobbi Brown Brilliant Lip Palette; Lauren Hutton’s Face Disc in Olive; M.A.C 8 Face; Nars Artist Palette in Lust for Life; Yves Saint Laurent Variation Couleurs Make-up Palette.

Colour code
“When you’re selecting a palette, follow the 50/50 rule,”says Prescriptives colour designer Poppy King. “You should be able to wear at least half the colours in the palette to make it a worthwhile purchase.”When in doubt, choose light shades, advises PIR Cosmetics’ Feanchie Pir. “You can always make them look darker by smudging them over a dark eyeliner. But you can’t lighten dark shadows if that’s all your palette contains.”

To choose the right eye and lip shades for your skin tone, follow these tips from Bobbi Brown:

If you have fair skin, choose soft, pastel tones or bright blues and greens for eyes, and reds for lips. Try: Vasanti Eye & Lip Palette. For medium-coloured skin, select sheer pinks and soft browns that can be blended together on your eyes, lips and cheeks. Try: Sephora All Over Book Palette in Shades of Pink. For dark skin, try pale pinks and burgundies that can be combined to achieve various intensities. Try: Yves Saint Laurent Gold Celebration Palette. For olive skin, opt for pinkish-brown shades for eyes and cheeks, and sheer red glosses for the lips. Try: Urban Decay Face Case in Sell Out.

Photo courtesy of Scott Barnes