We all know about Urban Decay’s Naked palettes and the craze they spawned. I am probably one of the few who’s immune to it. While I agree it is a good idea to have a set of neutrals, I wasn’t a big fan of their shadows and I thought there were too many shades (I plead insanity). It was only recently that I ‘saw the light’ and appreciate having a palette of this size.
My search for neutrals of course lead me to the Naked palettes, but better yet, the dupes. This is one advantage for those who are really late to the party. I decided quickly I’m not going to get the original – I may be wearing these more often but it won’t be an everyday affair so if there’s a cheaper option, why not?
I narrowed it down to Makeup Academy’s Undressed or Sleek’s Au Naturel, both popular and with glowing reviews. They are also based in Europe so that’s in my favour.
|Undressed from MUA’s website, actual shades are warmer|
|Au Naturel iDivine from Sleek’s website|
In the end I went for MUA because:
1. Undressed is supposedly a really close dupe of the Naked palette.
2. Au Naturel has a matte black which I don’t need. Based on pictures and swatches I found online, I know I wouldn’t go near the shade Toast, and a couple of their brown shades look a little too reddish for my complexion.
3. MUA is cheaper – ₤4 vs Sleek’s ₤10 (old blog reviews show they were ₤7.90 once?) So in case they didn’t work out it would hurt less.
It was actually a really hard decision despite the very attractive prices and I spent all night looking at swatches and reviews online until my brain turned to jelly. I like that Sleek has 8 mattes, including a grey which I’d like to have (not necessarily that particular shade, I just want a grey shadow because I have none). But some people wrote that the mattes aren’t great in texture/pigmentation, and that gave me the little push that I needed.
So what do I think of Undressed?
– There are some fallouts when applying, a bit more with certain shades than others.
– They will crease on me without a primer, but the colours last pretty long.
– Some of them are easier to blend than others.
– Pigmentation is generally excellent across the board. The 2 matte shades (#3 and #5) do have less colour payoff compared to the shimmery ones but they are not chalky. They take a little more work to show up.
The weakest shadow for me is #6, the Half Baked dupe. While it swatches beautifully on the back of my hand, it applies quite patchily on my lids. It is not an intense gold, quite sheer even when using a sponge applicator.
So again it’s the top row that may pose the most problems. But #1 is beautiful and applies so (this is not matte, but a pearl). #2 is very similar only it’s shimmery.
Having the right tools help as usual, but more so with these. I actually find a sponge applicator is excellent to pack on colour (yes, even the one included works fine). As for brushes, I find a dense brush that’s not too soft performs best. My shu is always reliable a usual, but my Sephora cream shadow 235 works better than my Bobbi Brown shadow brush, which lately just seems to refuse to perform on any kind of shadows??
These are not NARS or Burberry or [substitute your favourite high-end brand] shadows, they don’t have the same pigment/texture/blendability. But they are a fraction of the price – ₤4 translates to approximately 5 euros or US$6.5, and for that you get 9.6g of product with decent, workable and wearable quality.
If you’re looking for neutral palettes (more than 5 shades), here are a few worth looking at. Some come with primers or brushes along with the palette for the amount you pay. Note that I haven’t tried any of them and most brands are not accessible to me 😦
– MUA Heaven and Earth palette (12 colours)
– stila In the Know (10 all matte shadows! If you prefer shimmery try In the Light)
– Kat von D True Romance in Saint (8 colours)
– Laura Mercier Artist Palette for Eyes (12 colours)
– two faced Shadow Bonbons (12 colours)
– tarte NeutralEYES volume II natural eyes palette (10 colours)
– Mally In the Buff (11 colours with cream shadow base)
Special non-neutral mentions:
– Smashbox Studio Pop Eye palette: 16 Photo op shadows and 4 cream liners. I really like the photo op shadow formula. If you’re just starting out, you can consider the Masterclass palette where you have everything you need to do your whole face (except foundation and maybe mascara?) A bargain considering the amount you’re getting.
– INGLOT. If I have a shop nearby this is the first place I’d go. I’ll make my own (a set of matte neutrals to start and another shimmery palette with colours) and close the book on eyeshadow stash forever.
Big Splurge: Guerlain Ecrin 6 Couleurs palette. Beautiful colours and elegant combination. I believe these are made to be proudly displayed on a dresser, or to be carried with you if only to whip it out as a mirror.