Over the last year, Urban Decay’s Naked Palette has become one of the most sought after products in cosmetics history, joining the ranks of the original Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick or Lancome’s Chris Benz lipstick. Who would have thought a simple palette featuring, of all things, neutral eye colors, would cause such a frenzy! The original palette which had a duo sided eye liner (the current version has a full sized brush) quickly sold out across the board and still sells on eBay for about $100.
Still, let’s give credit where credit is due. The neutral eye shadow palette is not a new concept. Ultima II (Revlon) pioneered the “naked” concept by introducing the genius-before-its-time collection, the Nakeds, which was created by a young Kevyn Aucoin in the late 80’s or early 90’s. The natural look was taken to a new level by Bobbi Brown – who infused all her colors with brown tones. Currently, artist Ellis Faas has introduced a range of colors based on “human colors”, which are unusually flattering and easy to wear.
With all the options available, which palette is best for you and your budget? Personally, I’m normally against palettes that can’t be refilled since they are used unevenly, leaving most of the palette unused and then tossed into the cosmetic graveyard. However, while no palette is perfect, there are a few that are worth checking out. Here’s a guide to current Naked Palettes to help you decide which will best fit your needs.
Urban Decay Naked Palette
$48 ($230 value) | Limited Edition: No | Refillable: No
The Original. The palette that launched a thousand ships (or at least several thousand were shipped). UD Naked Palette is a nice option if you like shimmery shadows, since it is lacking a matte bone for a base and a matte black or dark brown. While I like this palette, it is not one that I reach for on a regular basis.
PROS: Variety of warm and cool shades, great quality shadows, full sized brush is actually useful.
CONS: Too much shimmer and an oddly matched Gunmetal shade throws off the balance. Not for those who want truly natural.
the SHADES: Virgin (nude satin), Sin (champagne shimmer), Naked (buff matte), Sidecar (beige sparkle), Buck (brown matte), Half Baked (bronze), Smog (golden brown shimmer), Darkhorse (bronze-plum shimmer), Toasted (taupe-bronze), Hustle (mocha shimmer), Creep (near-black metallic), Gunmetal (dark grey metallic)
Available At: UrbanDecay.com and Sephora.com
NYX Nude on Nude
$25 (20 eye shadows, 10 lip colors) | Limited Edition: No | Refillable: No
The Dupe – Almost. NYX is brilliant at duplicating trends at a remarkably un-trendy price. This Nude on Nude palette is filled with 20 neutral eye shadows and 10 various complimenting lip shades. While some of the eye colors are redundant or just plain useless, the bulk of this palette manages to create a variety of looks – from natural extreme to dramatic goth. Lower your expectations when it comes to color pay-off – the shadows are not heavily pigmented – although that makes this a great option for pale skin or those who don’t require a heavy application.
PROS: Nice price, large variety of shades.
CONS: Too many flat/gray colors, mediocre color pay-off.
the SHADES: (Top L-R) matte pale beige, pearl pale beige, matte flesh (pink/beige), shimmery pale copper, matte bone, matte medium taupe/gray, shimmery warm gunmetal, shimmery chocolate brown, pearl charcoal, matte charcoal black. (Botton L-R) matte white, pearl champagne, pearl sun gold, matte cool gray, matte cool brown, shimmery cool gunmetal, shimmery peach, shimmery copper, shimmery cool deep brown, pearl silver
Available at: NYXCosmetics.com
Stila Natural Eye Shadow Palette
$39 ($118 Value) | Limited Edition: Yes | Refillable: No
The Well Edited One. Recently introduced, Stila’s Natural Eye Shadow Palette offering has a nicely balanced shade selection – both warm and cool, shimmery and matte. With basic natural matte shades in bone, nude, taupe and black, this palette can easily take you from morning to night with a few swipes of a brush. The stand out dark shade is Luster, which is a very pretty black/brown/aubergine/stone shimmer that would make a lovely smokey eye. Although this palette also has a lot of shimmery shades – they are all so pretty that even those opposed to a little shine may change their mind. I normally don’t like palettes, but I may have to buy this one.
PROS: Good base shades, full sized waterproof liner to finish off the look.
CONS: A little heavy on the shimmer – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but for a “natural” palette, it could have used a few more matte or subtle shades.
the SHADES: Bare – matte ivory shade, Kitten – shimmery champagne, Bliss – matte beige pink, Sunset – shimmery canyon pink, Sandstone – matte light coco, Bubbly – shimmery pale gold, Gilded Gold – golden brown with shimmer, Luster – dark aubergine with gold shimmer, Night Sky – blue with shimmer, Ebony – black
Available at: StilaCosmetics.com and Sephora.com
Too Faced Matte Eye Shadow Collection
$36 ($73 Value) | Limited Edition: No | Refillable: No
★★★★★★★★★☆ (9/10) – Blind Review
The Most Natural. This is the perfect palette for those opposed to shimmer. The three color “stories”, browns, grays/navy and lilacs, make this a great rounded and truly natural palette. Too Faced also has a Smokey Eye Shadow Collection with a great balance of darker and more dramatic shimmer shadows, which make the perfect partner to this palette for those who may want to add more drama on occasion. Another benefit is the pale base colors are larger than the darker shades. This Matte Eye Shadow Collection gets the award for most natural – and I am going to get one to leave on my vanity.
PROS: All matte shades in a well edited color selection. Good light/dark ratio.
CONS: Bulky packaging – slimmer than the original palettes and pretty, but still too large.
the SHADES: (All Matte) Soft tan, ivory, pale pink, light warm brown, dark brown, gray, deep blue, violet mauve, charcoal gray
Available at: Exclusively at Sephora.com
Smashbox Softbox Eye Palette
$48 ($181 value) | Limited Edition: Yes | Refillable: No
★★★★★★★★★☆ (9/10) – Blind Review
The Truly Natural. This set features a well thought out palette of warm, brightening shades to create a variety of natural looks. Void of any overly shimmery or dark colors, this palette still allows for the creation of multi-dimensional eye looks that won’t overwhelm even the greenest of artists. With the eye shadow base, two cream liners and a duo ended (useful) brush, its a shame that Softbox is limited edition.
PROS: Coordinating warm and slightly cool shades make for a flattering palette for all but the darkest skin tones.
CONS: Limited edition – otherwise would make a nice staple. Should also have a dark matte brown cream liner vs. a shimmery taupe.
the SHADES: Nectar (matte peach), Vanilla (matte warm ivory), Flirt (pink beige shimmer with silver flecks), Lucky Penny (copper shimmer), Sugar (pink shimmer), Stone (matte taupe), Sienna (warm brown with bronze shimmer), Nude (matte soft caramel), Truffle (plum taupe shimmer), Cream Liner in Bronze (deep bronze) and Taupe (silvery taupe), Photo Finish Lid Primer
Available at: Smashbox.com
Tarte NeutralEYES Volume II Natural Eye Palette
$44 ($212 value) | Limited Edition: No | Refillable: Yes (Not all colors available)
The Sensible Choice. The shades in this palette are a notch above natural with a good balance between matte and shimmery shades. The addition of an olive and plum shade are also appreciated since they are easy to wear neutrals that give most eye colors a little character without being overwhelming. In addition to a well thought out palette, this also includes a deluxe primer, brush and full sized liner – and does not have parabens, sulfates, etc. The packaging is very cheesy and garish – which I find ironic since the palette is very conservative, which makes an interesting contrast. Tarte also sells refills in other shades (not the same as the colors in the palette) so you can replace or change out colors as they run out or when it strikes your fancy.
PROS: Refillable. Shades from the Femme Naturale palette have more shimmery shades if you prefer.
CONS: Leans more toward the cool, paler side. Tacky packaging.
the SHADES: Matte ivory beige, matte pale pink, matte pale peach, matte taupe, matte dark brown, pale peach pink sheen, pale peach shimmer, olive khaki sheen, mute plum sheen, and golden brown sheen
Available at: TarteCosmetics.com, Sephora.com
Lancome Color Design 5 Shadow & Liner Palette in Taupe Craze
$48 | Limited Edition: No | Refillable: No
Monster Favorite. While I’m not a fan of non-refillable palettes, I purchased this palette without thinking twice. With the perfect bone with a touch of pink and just a smidgen of shimmer, a warm(!) medium tone brown and a dark chocolate shimmer smoke/liner shade – I was sold. Those are colors I covet and use almost every time I wear makeup. The high shimmer colors are also gorgeous and easy to wear, although slightly redundant. Similar to the cult Shu Uemura shimmery stone color with a little more warmth, they really give the eye a lovely shine without being too silver or garish. With this perfectly edited palette, you can create a super natural looks, shape brows, do a smokey eye or just add a swipe of shimmer. Every time I open this palette, I love it even more.
PROS: All the colors will get used, good ratios, great color payoff.
CONS: A little pricey. Also has lots of shimmer – although in a good way.
the SHADES: Semi-matte pale creamy peach, soft taupe high shimmer, matte taupe brown, pale quartz high shimmer, dark chocolate brown shimmer
Bobbi Brown Sand Tortoise Shell Eye Palette $60
$60 | Limited Edition: Yes | Refillable: No
the CHICEST. I still think Bobbi Brown cosmetics are the easiest to wear and have the best natural and wearable color selection and is often my first recommendation to first time makeup wearers. Which is why I find it strange that I don’t like her palettes more. The colors are almost always too gray, too similar or too shimmery. These Tortoise Shell palettes are better, more contrasting and still simple – although I would still love to see a palette that is a bit warmer still. The presentation is my personal favorite – with a tiered compact and pretty tortoise shell finish, these touches make this worth the extra money.
PROS: Chic and portable packaging, nice balance of textures, new shades
CONS: Still too neutral and almost monotone at first glance.
the SHADES: Ivory (creamy white), Terracotta (warm golden nude), Hot Stone (medium brown), Desert Sand Metallic (golden beige), Antique Rose (warm pink nude), Sandy Rose Metallic (brown bronze), Black Chocolate (black brown), Gold Bar Sparkle (pale gold)