In August, Urban Decay announced via a celebrity-attended online “funeral”, that it would be discontinuing its original Naked palette (its many offshoots and franchises will remain). Gimmicky and self-aggrandising at first glance, perhaps, but one has to give Naked its dues – the iconic palette of 12 nude, high-quality matte and shimmer eyeshadows, has sold more than 30m units since it was launched eight years ago. Beauty fans are in mourning – eBay has seen an 83% increase in searches for the palette. No one understands better than I the impulse to grab a piece of bona fide beauty history, but I’m not sure I’ll feel the loss. Naked has been so influential (read copied) that there are, to my eye, better, or at least more practical versions available.
Smashbox makes some of the best eye palettes on the market. Its Cover Shot Minimalist palette (£24) is, like Naked, a cruelty-free, ethnically inclusive mix of matte and shimmer, but contains fewer shades (eight), which is to its credit since every one is useful (if you want the full monty, go for the excellent Full Exposure palette, £39.50). What I especially love about the Cover Shot range is that the two base shades are double sized, since they’re used over the whole eyelid and consequently run out first (almost everyone has one near empty shadow pan in an otherwise full palette). So simple, so smart, so woefully rare. It’s a brilliant piece of kit in a small, reduced-plastic palette, minus the crappy applicators other brands waste time on.
A wise buy is NYX Ultimate Shadow Palette in Warm Neutrals (£16). As the name signals, this is a warmer take on Naked, but the upper deck of the generous, 16-shade palette has lots of neutral tones to stop the whole thing looking rusty. The colour payoff is superb, and while I’m not convinced anyone needs this many nude shadows, at a quid a colour, who really cares?
If you’re looking for the Rolls-Royce of nude palettes, treat yourself to Viseart, long adored by makeup artists and now available here. Its Theory I Cashmere palette, £40, is a streamlined take on Naked – there are three each of the sublimely textured, densely pigmented and peerlessly blendable mattes and shimmers – but in this instance, less is more and a case of all killer, no filler.
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