Saturday, 1 November 2014

Urban Decay Naked palette: so not a 'smoky eye tutorial'...

A long time ago I had a boyfriend who memorably likened my eye colour to that of 'foetid puddles'. The term that was on the tip of his tongue was of course 'hazel'. Never one to overstate a case, he also described my legs as 'serviceable'.  My mother, meanwhile, used to lament the fact that she was cursed with small eyes, instead of 'limpid pools'. I don't know the minimum size for an expanse of water to qualify as a pool, but swimming, paddling - and even some rock - pools are certainly bigger than a puddle. Like mother, like daughter, then... I do remember a green matte eyeshadow my mother owned - and which was an authorised plaything in childhood games of charades - but I am not sure she wore it much. Sadly, I think my father had convinced her that her eyes were too small to be noticed, with or without embellishment.

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...


Sun Fontaine said...

I Loooooooove the naked palettes and own all 3. They're especially great for traveling because you can achieve such versatile looks without having a billion containers. :)

Sun Fontaine said...

And I'm no make up artist - I never wear anything but eye shadow - but I always use 4 colors (sometimes across palettes). If you get the right brush set (i use a cheap smoky eye one from sephora), it's super easy!

Vanessa said...

Hi Sun,

All three palettes! Wow, you are a true fan. Do you have a favourite? And do you have cooler or warmer skin?

I assumed it was my 'ocular architecture' that precludes me from playing around with multi-zonal / -tonal looks - or my age, indeed. I must take a look again at the Lisa Eldridge video on eye makeup for women of a certain age - and maybe brushes would be a good investment anyway. ;)

Anonymous said...

I love the Naked eyeshadow pallettes. They are pigmented and stay on beautifully. Hannah has the one and two. I am not so keen on the shiny ones though, not for my deepset (sunk in head, no visible eyelid) eyes. I have the small Naked Basics box of six. Five totally matte and one slightly shimmery one called Venus, so I guess a shimmer is to be expected. They are in a bronzey kind of slightly rubberised box, far superior to the purple fuzzy one. And yes, I purchased it on Brian Air on my recent Eau de Magnolia trip. Hugs. CQ

Anonymous said...

Palette*. Tsk.

Unknown said...

I have the 3 and love it. I rarely use any other eye shadow. The brush that came with it is pretty good too. I definitely recommend using proper brushes, try the eco ones from Boots or have a look at TKMaxx, always lots of brush sets around.
And your eyes are fine, nothing wrong with them. Nice legs too :)

Tara said...

Vanessa, that ex was a fool! You have the most attractive, sparkling, mischievous eyes around! And I rarely register these things so your's must be exceptional :)

I do hear lots about the Naked palettes but I find cream eyeshadows easier to use. Have you looked into the Mac Masterclass brushes which you can use with your glasses on? If that's even an issue.

I have small eyelids but don't think I could be bothered with all the zonal stuff anyway. I think us small-lidders can get away with darker colours and heavier application. Although I think you're supposed to use pale colours if you want them to look bigger, I don't think they stand out as well. Perhaps it's me who is the "heavily made up old trollop"!

By the way, did you know smokey/smoky eye is the no.1 Googled beauty term?

Oh and how pretty you look in that pic even when being ghoulish for Halloween.

Anonymous said...

Ah, nice, I love the Naked palette, too! The only three colours I hardly ever use are Sidecar, Toasted and Creep but I might try the eyeliner thing with Creep now. Usually I go with Laura Mercier Caviar Stick in Khaki for both eyeliner and kajal.
From the palette, Virgin is good for highlightening and Naked as a base. And you are right, the best item befor applying any eyeshadow is the primer, I, too, had to google the word when I found them as samples in the Naked palette...
Sometimes I am overwhealmed with all this paraphernalia available out there...but then I think, hey, it's actually a form of art and "putting some eyes on" a way of 15 minutes meditation in the morning.
Have a nice weekend!

Tatiana said...

I must say I agree with Tara, that ex of yours was a huge fool! Not only do you have lovely eyes, you have intelligence and wit. Guys just don't know when they have it good.
I suffer from the same small eyed, droopy lid affliction. Lisa Eldridge refers to my eye type as a "hooded eye-lid". So I have hooded lids which are suffering from a middle aged crepey-ness. I usually only wear one or two colors at a time. I find the single thing that makes my eyes look larger is lengthening mascara. As much as I want volume, it's length that gets my eyes noticed.
I have very pale, rather neutral skin and I own Naked 1 and Naked 2. I find those pink colors in Naked 3 give me what I call rabbit eye. It looks as if my entire eye area is hung over, ill or I've been recently punched in the eye. My daughter who is a shade or so darker than me with yellowish undertones (does that make her warmer or cooler? I have no idea) loves Naked 1 and Naked 3.
I love that you use sponge tip applicators. I must admit that after having a collection of water color brushes, oil painting brushes, acrylic brushes and brushes for printmaking inks, I could not resist the urge to own a vast collection of make up brushes as well. For storage you might try standing up your applicators in an unused whiskey shot glass. That might keep them somewhat contained, yet visible.
I believe that make up ought to be fun. Sometimes I experiment with looks in the evening, just before washing my face before turning in for the night.

Vanessa said...

Hi Val,

The correlation between perfumistas and owners of this palette is mounting...;) Interesting that you don't get on with the shiny ones - in the light of your comment I feel even more inclined to try the matte ones in my selection and just see how they compare. I am a bit like a magpie, drawn to shiny things! LOL at Brian Air...

Don't worry about misspelling 'palette' - I spelt it as 'pallet' a few times in the course of writing this post.

Vanessa said...

Hi Sabine,

Another blogger with a Naked palette, well, well. I can imagine the 3 working for you as you have pale colouring and hair. I am coming round to the view that brushes are the way to go. I just have to figure out which ones for the minimal functions I need to perform in my basic kind of application. An 'application' brush for sure.

And thanks for the vote of confidence in my various body parts!

Vanessa said...

Hi Tara,

No really, the ex was just being funny - he meant it kindly, and it is quite an apt analogy for my muddy irises. Maybe they can sparkle and be a muddy colour at the same time, hehe, and thanks for saying they do have 'un air de vivacite', which a fish wholesaler in Boulogne once told me is the sign of a good salmon. A big ask of a dead fish, you might think, but that is what he said.

I have used cream eyeshadows too with good results - notably the Max Factor Masterpiece ones that I saw in a Lisa Eldridge vid. I have worked my way through several tubes of 'Coffee' in the time I have known you. ;)

I haven't heard of a brush masterclass where you can keep your glasses on. How would you access your eyes if it is not a silly question?

I would never in a million years have said you had small eyelids - there is further proof of the magic of makeup! LOL at 'small lidders'. I quite agree that the conventional wisdom says we should use pale colours to make our eyes look bigger, but I find that too pale a shade makes me look lost and vaguely startled! As we agree on that one we can be trollops together, haha.

I did not know 'smoky eye' was a common search term. I wrote this post because I love the palette so much I was bursting to talk about it, and find out who else was executing complex looks with it - but there may be an unexpected spin off in terms of my Beauty blog ranking.

Kind of you to say I look pretty - can you spot the black eye though? I think it is my left one. And yes, I really did walk into a door, hehe.

Vanessa said...

Hi Anka,

I can't believe how many of us have a Naked palette - this is quite a revelation. Toasted is the one I use most - Sidecar is a little on the pale side, but borderline. We can both try Creep now as eyeliner and see how that works!

I had a go at using Virgin in the upper area below my brow - is that 'highlighting'?, only it looked a bit odd having colour that high up. Maybe I went too high, or maybe I am too old for highlighting to be appropriate, I don't know. I have yet to engage with Naked, but I really should have a go!

There is a lot of paraphernalia, you are absolutely right, but if someone said I could get away with a more composite look, and could show me what would be suitable for my age / skin colour / condition, I would be curious to try. In fact my offline friend Sharon - whom I introduced to Fracas and Roja Dove Scandal - has offered to give me a tutorial! She already puts eyes on another pal using her Urban Decay palette and describes her as a 'satisfied customer'. ;) Interestingly, she has Naked original and 3, which I didn't see as going together particularly well. Though Sun above has all three.

Odiferess said...

Pleasing to read a Vanessa style make up review and thank you for not actually saying it 'makes your eyes pop'. Working in a school environment I am constantly terrified of someone's eyes popping as a result of a badly aimed paper aeroplane.
I am a confirmed palette nut. I have had many. I'm currently awaiting the postal arrival of Yves Rocher's Christmas palette which promises to deliver some wearable shades and some colours that made me a bit concerned at the age of 13 in the height of Toyah Wilcox eye shadow. You see although I have (limpid puddle-like perhaps foetid) hazel eyes alike you, I also have bright red cheeks which don't look great with poster eye colour.
I might do a Toyah replication upon it's arrival and send you a picture.

Vanessa said...

Hi Odiferess,

I am sure that eye popping is a very real risk in a school environment, and you are right to discourage dangerous practices that might lead to such an incident. I must check out that Yves Rocher palette, especially to see what colours it contains at the wackier end of the spectrum. I would love to see a Toyah replication, and I am sure your cheeks will also look fetching, in a rosy apple kind of way.

Tara said...

The Masterclass brushes look like toothbrushes and you apply the make-up by sliding them in sideways under your glasses, I think. Not unlike the way you apply with your sponge applicators really. Pricey at £28 though.

I can only tell very slightly that you have gone for a black eye "effect" in that pic. You just look like a pretty to me!

And yes, more beauty traffic could be definite coincidental pay-off from this post with "smoky eye" in the title. Actually I think a make-up maven might say your palette gives a good "colour pay-off" aside from the dreaded "pop".

Vanessa said...

Hi Tatiana,

Thanks so much for your detailed and interesting comment about your own eyeshadow MO. As you can see in my reply to Tara, I didn't have a problem with the puddle analogy - I thought it was kind of endearing, in fact, given his dark sense of humour. ;)

Now I can also relate to your hooded eye issue, because I had hooded eyes in my 20s. Then as I got older the skin sort of sunk into my head and the hood disappeared. The whole area is even crepe-ier as a result though, because of what I can best describe as this 'hood implosion'. Sorry, that doesn't sound too cheery! So maybe I have traded extra crepe for less hood.

Yes, yes, yes, I am with you on the lengthening mascara - I found that out for myself but it is only now you say it that I realise that is what I do. Favourites are Benefit 'They're Real' and Max Factor Masterpiece, though I seem to have a ton of different brands on the go. Sometimes I will use one as a base layer, then lengthen that again with another one. Dr Hauschka + Masterpiece, say.

I laughed at what you call 'rabbit eye' in connection with the colours in 3. That is exactly what I was trying to say above to Tara in my reply, but you hit the nail on the head. I have slightly olive skin, so too cool a pink is a disaster. It is the 2 palette I would get next if I treated myself. Re your daughter, I think yellowish undertones (which I have) makes her warmer.

Thanks for the storage idea for my applicators - sounds like a much better solution to this delicate balancing act I have got going on.

Vanessa said...

Aha - thanks for this extra info. It has just occurred to me that I wear glasses for long sight, so I actually wouldn't have them on ever to apply makeup. These brushes might not apply to me then.

Kind of you to say so about the eye. I tried to vaguely match the actual black eye with a 'black eye look', all tied in with the Hallowe'en theme. From what you say, it seems to have worked!

Love your quote from a 'make-up maven' - I have heard that term 'colour pay-off', but I doubt very much you will hear it from my lips!

Tatiana said...

Max Factor!! I envy you. They've stopped distributing Max Factor to the US. It used to be my favorite brand of mascara. Not only was it good, it was reasonably priced. Every other mascara I've truly fallen in love with has been priced in the stratosphere.
I love to keep all my make up brushes, applicators and anything long and skinny in polycarbonate glasses. I used to use small pint paint cans, but found I couldn't see small things that disappeared into the bottoms. Glass is nice for that see through factor. Of course a klutz like myself needs everything made of unbreakable materials, thus the polycarb.

Undina said...

I know people who like Naked sets :)
In my early 20s I experimented with multi-color eye-shadow application so much that now I'm glad we didn't have too many cameras back then so I mostly I have only painful memories of how it looked (but I enjoyed it a lot back then!).
Then for many years I loved buying eye shadows planning to use them... But with each year I find less and less occasions to wear those and I frankly do not see any benefits to my look when I apply them. But I still like those sets and my heart skips a bit when I see those in brown-beige-gold palette...

Vanessa said...

Hi Undina,

"I know people who like Naked sets ;)"

I seem to be falling over them at the moment, hehe. And I say, I would like to have seen some of your multi-colour eyeshadow looks back in the day - maybe they were more successful than you fear - you certainly have lovely eyes for them - but by the same token, they may not need any enhancement. Birgit is another person who doesn't wear eyeshadow, for example.

I know what you mean about the brown-beige-gold palettes looking tempting. I feel that way about those Bobbi Brown shimmer bricks, though I am not really in the market for a bronzer as such. Maybe I am missing a trick.

Vanessa said...

Oh Tatiana, I am sorry for your loss (of access to Max Factor)! I thought that brand was available the world over. I like the sound of your polycarbonate glasses - I am not sure I have seen such things, but I could always try regular glass until such times as I have my first breakage...;)

Sun Fontaine said...

The first 2 i prefer over the third, but it could be that I don't give 3 enough love and haven't tried as much out. I have no idea if I have cooler or warmer skin... That's how lacking my make up knowledge is... I mostly wear purples, pinks, browns, silver's and greys if that's any indication!

As for multizonal looks - being half Korean I don't have as deep set eyes as many caucasians, so I just employ more of the above eye area, all the way up to the highlight under the brow. I think that you are selling yourself short with your age and ocular structure argument! Your eyes look wonderful!

Vanessa said...

Hi Sun,

Interesting to hear your leanings between palettes. No one has ever officially told me what type my skin is, but I know that cool, bluey red lipsticks look diabolical on me, so from that I deduce that I must have a yellow undertone to my complexion.

I see what you mean about going up under the brow. I did in fact watch an amazing makeup tutorial by an Asian girl who deployed a similar MO and the look she created looked incredibly pretty on her.

Thanks for the kind words about my ocular structure, hehe.

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