I too have a bit of a hang up about my eyes - they are so small that I have to pay a premium for contact lenses, for example - and I don't often brave the world without makeup. But where I differ from my mother is in my firm belief in the transformational power of eyeshadow. Without makeup I have 'no eyes', as ex-Mr Bonkers and I used to joke, but with makeup I magically do; I would often speak of going to 'put my eyes on'. That said, my use of eyeshadow is woefully basic, as I don't seem to have the conventional ocular architecture you see in makeup videos. My lids are narrow and crepey, you see. The area above my eyes is also a bit crepey, and the socket between them is so shallow that there are no clearly defined zones to address with different shades - as per a classic smoky eye look, for which this palette is famously suited. The whole area is a bit like a rumpled, crinkly picnic rug spread over bumpy terrain (my eyeballs!).
|Source: Wikimedia Commons ~ Kenneth Allen|
But this palette called my name regardless. A brand called Urban Decay was, after all, always going to appeal to someone with eyes the colour of anything foetid. I first saw it in an in-flight magazine, but took a while to work up to a purchase: as a frequent traveller, I have long been drawn to the convenience of having so many colours in one product, but have held back till now, concerned that I wouldn't like enough of the shades in the selection to get full value. In the end I bit the bullet and asked my sister-in-law for the Naked palette last Christmas, and it has been in heavy rotation ever since.
Right off the bat I will say that this, the original Naked palette, is a capsule wardrobe of eyeshadows for those with warm, 'autumnal' colouring, and mostly comprises shades of gold, bronze, brown and taupe. Cooler complexions may fare better with Naked 3, which takes a rose gold theme and runs with it. Naked 2 is somewhere in between, with somewhat lighter, cooler neutrals that already lean a bit to the pink side. To its credit, Urban Decay has been good at minimising crossover between the palettes, so I could imagine people buying 1 and 2 or 2 and 3, but despite the talk in some quarters of the trio of palettes being 'universally flattering', I doubt if all three would suit one person.
|Source: Carmen_Lo via Fragrantica|
For myself, I'll probably stick with my original choice, but if I was feeling flush, I would be curious to dabble in Naked 2, which reportedly has five unique shades and only one direct overlap with the first palette (the shimmery gold, Half Baked).
Now I haven't attempted a look featuring several shades for the topographical reasons outlined - or rather 'not outlined' above ;). However I have been utterly mesmerised by the many smoky eye tutorials on YouTube based on this palette - where serious make up buffs manage to incorporate 4 or 5 colours in a single wear! And despite my limited application technique, I have got huge use out of seven of the twelve shades already, the others being too light, too dark - or too matte. In the spirit of scientific inquiry, I should perhaps at least give these a go sometime. Turns out that the black shade, for example, fetchingly named 'Creep' - which I rejected right off the bat thinking it was a rather Goth-looking colour for an eyeshadow - is in fact mainly intended to be used as an eyeliner. That's how ignorant I am of such things, haha...So I could try using it in place of a kohl pencil, say.
And now, a word on the packaging: I am not a fan of the furry cover, it must be said, which reminds me of flock wallpaper in 70s Indian restaurants. I much prefer the metallic tins adopted for Naked 2 and 3. Then the set comes with a (single-ended) brush - another alien concept to me - but one which I am gradually psyching myself up to embrace. For the world of make up brushes - with their Masonic-style serial numbers such as MAC 217, 239 etc - strikes me as involving another layer of arcane complexity beyond the already somewhat tricky business of choosing flattering colours and wacking them on your eyelid. I have just looked on the MAC site in fact and there are different brushes for all the separate activities listed: application, blending, contouring, highlighting, shading and lining. Why, there's even some for 'separating'!
|Baerbel helpfully holding up the Urban Decay brush|
And of course this multiple brush imperative goes hand in hand with composite, multi-zonal looks - for those blessed with zones - like the smoky eye. I know this in theory, but it is something in the far, far corner of my peripheral vision. Me, I just buy packs of sponge applicators, notionally assigning one eyeshadow colour per side. My bathroom is overrun with dozens of the little blighters, like so many discarded matches. I try to perch them on ledges so the colour doesn't transfer onto things, and am constantly knocking them off again. They regularly fall into the bath, adding an unintentional swatch of colour to its clinically white sides on the way down. Now...I know that Katie Puckrik, who has acted as a bit of a makeup mentor to me in recent years, would be appalled by this. Her twin bete noires are superannuated makeup and accessories (she's very hot on hygiene), AND age-inappropriate sparkliness (aka mica malfunctions). Readers of a nervous disposition may wish not to click on this earlier post about the shameful secrets of my makeup bag - though I have rerun a photo from it at the end of this post, on account of its amusing Hallowe'en theme!
Personally, I think the Naked palette stays the right side of a glitterfest: 10 of the 12 colours are shimmery / metallic shades, but the effect is quite subtle when applied. Moreover, shades that look a bit dark in the pan - am thinking of Hustle, Dark Horse and Gunmetal - are actually quite a bit lighter and more wearable than I imagined. They seem to soften down once they have been on for a while. And by that I don't even mean that they wear off quickly, just that the colour seems to settle in and be at the correct register for your own eyes. I know, I know, I sound like some strange Urban Decay Moonie, but that really has been my experience. Then some people consider the colours in the original Naked palette to be better suited to heavier evening looks than daytime, but I wouldn't say so. Maybe I am just an overly made up old trollop though!
And the subject of eyeshadow 'wearing off' brings me neatly round to the subject of primer. Like brushes, I am dimly aware of primer in the context of makeup. I am more familiar with both in the context of painting and decorating, to be fair, but I have heard the term. I even clocked the little tube of primer that came with my Naked palette, and promptly stuck it back in its box and shoved it in the wardrobe. If you had asked me what primer was for, I would have said 'stopping your eyeshadow running away'? But hey, I may have oily skin, but not on my eyelids particularly - we are not talking Laurel Canyon in a mud slide here. But in preparation for writing this post I did google the function of primer, and found that it enhances the colour of your eyeshadow as well. And no, I categorically refuse to say 'makes it pop'. Though as an unwanted spin off, primer makes it harder to remove the eyeshadow at night, without a lot of tugging and dragging, which as we all know, is to be avoided in the eye area. I have now worn primer under my chosen eyeshadow two days running, and it certainly keeps it in place, but I think it would have stayed put anyway, so that's a step I probably shan't bother with in future.
As for the shades themselves, for the full lowdown I commend you to read a proper review! by a blogger called Pretty Gossip. My own personal favourites from the original Naked palette are as follows:
Toasted - a definite taupe, not unlike MAC Satin Taupe, with a pinky undertone
Sidecar - a lighter, pinky taupe
Smog - a metallic bronze
Half Baked - a metallic gold
Hustle - a soft brown with slight shimmer and a lilac undertone
Dark Horse - a true dark brown with a slight shimmer
Gunmetal - a metallic blue grey
The last three are all examples of shades that soften to a very wearable tone, or seem to! If I could customise this collection, however, I would lose the matte shades and replace them with an olive-y green and a mauve (like MAC Green Smoke and Frozen Violet - or a shimmery version of MAC Shale). Then I probably wouldn't need to use anything else ever again...!
|Me with a shiner - another take on the smoky eye!|
PS The winner of the anniversary draw will be announced soon! I'll probably call time on it at midnight tomorrow...