It seems like everyone is talking about Urban Decay's Naked Basics eye shadow palette. Several readers emailed over the weekend asking if I saw/tried the palette and if I have ideas for a better alternative. Now, I didn't see the palette in person. That would have required visiting an actual store and facing Christmas shoppers. In New Jersey. I'm not that brave. Thus, all the knowledge I have of the Naked Basics palette comes from online photos (Urban Decay's website has good closeups). I'm not buying it. Three of the shades in the palette are very light. Too light to be anything but an invisible base color. That's half of the palette, which is reason enough for me to skip it. While it is very convenient to have a light base, a taupe, a dark brown, and a black all in one place I still feel this is a redundant product. How many matte black eye shadows do you already have?
Now, I do have a couple of much-loved alternatives. These are not duplicates and are far from bargain shopping, but I feel they're superior options as far as quality matte neutrals are concerned. First is Louise Young Essential Eye Shadow Palette. All five colors are matte and the quality is superb. I've had it for about a year and a half and I consider it a must-have. It travels with me and I use it as the foundation for many looks (£30.00 on louiseyoungcosmetics.com).
My other "basic" palette is not technically all matte- there are a couple of satin-finish eye shadows, but since there's no visible shimmer (see swatches) and the colors are basic and neutral, I use it in a similar way and regard it as a basic item. This is Hourglass Volume 6 eye palette ($58 at Barneys)
I don't know of many navy blue matte eye shadows, so this makes the Hourglass palette indispensable for me.
So there you have it: a luxurious option for basic mattes. You can see my full reviews of these palettes via the links above.
Top photo by Philippe Gabriel.