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Budget vs Blowout: Nude Eyeshadow Palettes

May 24th 2016 / Anna Hunter


We pit Urban Decay Naked against the new Max Factor Nude offering

In the ring: Urban Decay Naked Eyeshadow Palette vs. Max Factor Eyeshadow Palette in Cappuccino Nudes

The vital stats:

Urban Decay Naked Eyeshadow Palette, £38.50

Press release promise: “It’s the palette that revolutionized neutrals forever. Loaded with 12 bronze-hued shadows in an amazing range of textures, Naked proves that neutral is anything but boring.”

“From the palest champagne to the grittiest gunmetal, it’s all here. Whether you’re going for a laid-back, beachy vibe or black-tie drama, you’ll definitely look better Naked. Every shade features our Pigment Infusion System™, a vehicle for colour that holds tightly to pigment and gives the formula its glide. The proprietary blend of ingredients allows colour to weave itself through the eyeshadow formula. What does all that mean? Amazing colour payout. Sparkle that doesn’t fall. Colour that stays on your lids. And a velvety, suede-like smoothness and blendability.”

Max Factor Eyeshadow Palette in Cappuccino Nudes, £14.99

Press release promise: “Cappuccino nudes is suited to all skin tones. With eight shades per palette, the hues range from light to dark, allowing you to take makeup artistry into your own hands.”

“The palette contains a mixture of matte and shimmer finish shadows, allowing for sculpting and highlighting the contours of the eye. Dark shades add definition, while subtly contouring. The silky smooth baked formula has a high concentration of pearls and pigments, resulting in superior colour payoff and shine. Enriched with skin conditioners and emollients, the shadows deliver smooth colour and texture with staying power.”

The battle: Keeping it relatively real has been a makeup ‘trend’ for many a season, and nude eyeshadow palettes have mushroomed as the heavy smokey eye fades and more nuanced, tonal shading comes to the fore. A palette that fuses both ‘barely there’ and ‘earthy and sexy’ is surely the holy grail of grown up makeup versatility, and it makes carting around a sack of complimentary shadows obsolete. You know those makeup kits that always seem to have at least two wild card colours that you never use? That’s not this lot. The humble nude eyeshadow palette is here to serve your every mood, requirement and occasion. So how do you go about selecting a ‘do it all’ box of nudes? Take your seat ringside…

First round: We’re pitching a heavyweight veteran against a lightweight new kid on the block here; this should be an interesting fight. Sizing things up, Naked boasts 12 shadows, with each shade working out at roughly £3.20, while Max Factor’s eight shades come in at approximately £1.87 per hue. Max Factor’s shadows are larger in the pan, but as we all know, size ain’t everything, and Urban Decay’s pigments pack a serious punch (i.e, you need less, they last longer). That being said, Max Factor’s velvety shadows are impressively intense, especially as shades deepen towards the smokier end of the palette.

Packaging wise, Urban Decay triumphs from the outset, with plush, sleek chocolate casing and a large, wide internal mirror that allows you to see the whole upper half of your face (one squinty eye isn’t much use). Max Factor’s hardware on the other hand is far more simple, but also handbag friendly; a transparent lid and light case make it a no brainer choice for travelling or buffing on makeup in the work loos.

As for accessories, again Urban Decay has the edge. It’s a rare thing that the applicator that accompanies a product or palette is high quality enough to rival a standalone, professional quality brush, but UD have done it. The double ended applicator and buffer is sturdy, wand-like and offers superior blending power. Max Factor on the other hand is in the corner on this one; the sponges were loose on my dual ended applicator, with made precise application rather tricky.

Second round: The all-day road test is go. Seeing as both palettes are designed to flatter all colourings, I got busy with each and every shade, using neutral, putty like hues with darker liner for daytime and adding shimmer for evening.

Given that Max Factor has a slimmer lineup, it nails finishes and shade graduation on the head; there’s a well balanced mix of shimmer, matte even a sprinkle of glitter, and the colours range from ivory to deep, rich brown. If neutral basics fit your bill, Cappuccino will have you covered, and happily the shadows apply seamlessly once you’ve recruited a good brush. The well matched shades make blending, highlighting and defining a doddle, and while there wasn’t much product fallout on initial application, I did notice that the colour had a faded a little by lunchtime. The fact that the palette is so easy to cart around negates the hassle of touching up, but it’s something to bear in mind if you’re busy.

Urban Decay on the other hand has quite the Naked party going on; everything from rose-flecked bronze to sheeny dark grey and smudgy ebony is on show, as is befitting of such a costly makeup investment. Colours apply very strong, so you’ll need to take time to blend them out, but your payoff is that they last all day, without any discernable creasing or drifting. The sheer number of shadows doesn’t allow for the ‘paint by number’ simplicity of Max Factor’s Nude competitor, you’ve got to think about the look you’re after a bit more intently, but the options are truly endless, and I could quite happily live in harmony with this particular palette until the end of my days. Cheesy but true.

Third round: The true test is whether you’re prone to playing it safe and going with what you know, or if you’re more likely to tire easily of the same old colourways. Both camps have their appeal, not to mention seductive vs. scary price points, but the bottom line comes down to whether you desire something ‘all singing all dancing’ as is the case with Urban Decay, or if actually you want something functional that you can bring your own brushes to, for which Max Factor would likely suit you. Close call.

The winner: For me, it’s UD all the way. It’s extravagant, there's no doubt about it, but it’s up there with possessions I’d rescue if my house were burning down. Any other shadow in my arsenal is just a bonus, and the fact that it’s the whole package in terms of human rather than borrower sized mirror and spot on accompanying apparatus furthers its merits. It’s just in another league, but if you can’t justify the cost, Max Factor has it’s own thing going on that’s just as alluring if you’re content to sacrifice the add ons.

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