The Gloss Report: nude eyeshadow palettes

Victoria Woodhall 23 February 2018
Any products in this article have been selected editorially however if you buy something we mention, we may earn commission

1 / 11

Gloss Report: nude Eyeshadow Palettes

The nude eye is a look that doesn't seem to be going anywhere, but for sculpting and shaping, a single shade just won't cut it. Step forward the nude eyeshadow palette - every woman's eye makeup essential. From an everyday 'awake' look to a dramatic smokey eye, a carefully curated tonal combination can take you from day to night, without you having to start from scratch.

When you find the right combination of shades, finishes and applicators in one magic box, you'll probably commit to it for life. But how many shades do you really need? Does it have shimmer in all the right places? Are there colours that you just know will never see the end of your brush? And does it even come with a brush?

We've tested the latest nude palettes for shade, pigment, finish, blendability, staying power and value for money. Here's what we thought...

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Maybelline ‘The Nudes’ Eyeshadow Palette, £11.99

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The promise: “Easy to apply and offers seamless blendability, allowing you to create layered, buildable makeup looks with depth, definition and expert results.”

We give it: 8/10

Review: “This palette is impressive for a budget option - it offers 12 colours all along the neutral spectrum with a mix of shimmer and matte so it’s really easy to create a number of different eye looks. The packaging is really slim and compact which makes it great for travelling - I recently took this on a city break with me to test it out and was really impressed with the colour payoff of the shadows. The shimmers give a nice subtle sheen without being too packed full of glitter and the matte shades are impressively pigmented. The stand out thing for me though is how easy the shadows are to blend due to their buttery soft consistency - they really are foolproof. My only gripe is overall the shadows have quite cool undertones, however this is just personal preference as I prefer warmer shades to blend through the crease as they suit my blue eyes a little better. Overall though I will definitely be reaching for this again.”

Reviewer: ATH

3 / 11

Models Own Barely There 2 Eyeshadow Palette, £14.99

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The promise: “Enhance your eyes with velvety shadows which are buildable and blendable.”

We give it: 6/10

Review: “I tend to wear a metallic nude shadow daily so this combo of 10 matte and shimmer shadows should suit me well, but although the compact itself is sleek, with a great sized mirror, I did find it slightly lacking. The shades are more on the rusty, tanned, dusky pink spectrum so were a little too deep for my liking - I prefer rose golds or more neutral shades. However, if you suit more of a taupe colour range then this is for you; so long as a sheer coverage is all you’re looking for. The texture is soft but slightly chalky, so you get quite a bit of excess, and the shadow itself isn’t very highly pigmented so you need to build a few layers if you want more than a sheer finish. They do blend beautifully, though, and I found myself using the shimmer shadows the most for an eye-brightening effect. Perfect for those who want a ‘barely there’ shadow - but a bit too subtle for an eyeshadow obsessive like me!”

Reviewer: JJ

4 / 11

By Terry Eye Designer Palette in #1 Smoky Nude, £69

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The promise: "Its luxurious formula allows nude application, smoky, or ultra-color on the entire lid and liner along the lash. Apply dry for natural coverage or wet for an intense watercolor print."

We give it: 7/10

Review: “This palette feels luxurious from the packaging to the product itself with By Terry’s signature design all over the casing. It has a good balance of day-to-night shades with golden colours that can be intensified with the smokey browns and greens. I found myself gravitating towards the bronzier shades and found that they all blended extremely well. To intensify for night, I used the darkest brown shade (wet) as an eyeliner and added a bit of the black to the wing by using the angled side of the brush provided. The brush itself has a nice natural side to help apply the shadows and then a synthetic brush for liner however I do feel that the latter could have been slightly shorter to provide more control. Overall I really liked the palette, the only downside is the price; there is a lot of competition from more affordable palettes.”

Reviewer: RM

5 / 11

MUA Pro 6 Shade Eyeshadow Palette - Natural Essentials, £3.50

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The promise: “Highly pigmented soft and silky matte eyeshadows.”

We give it: 9/10

Review: “One can never have too many nude palettes, in my opinion, so I’ve absorbed this one into my collection without hesitation. It’s had a particularly warm welcome as it brings something new to the table for me - all six shades are super matte. I love a matte finish, particularly on the eyes as it leaves the cheeks free for a little rosy dewiness. The texture manages to avoid any chalkiness, often associated with a matte eyeshadow, so it’s easy to apply and doesn’t crumb all down your face. Brownie points for that! The shades are great for me and (relatively) highly pigmented so they pack some impact though a couple are very similar so not sure I would need all 6. Staying power is good and for £3.50 I’m sold!”

Reviewer: GB

6 / 11

No7 Stay Perfect Eyeshadow Palette Nude, £15

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The promise: “High intensity colour with velvet-like textures that are crease proof, blend effortlessly and last all day.”

We give it: 8/10

Review: “Less nude, more chocolate box, this eight pan palette caters for all skintones in a scope of earthy shades, but you won’t find any smooth mattes in this this line-up - each shadow has a shimmery finish that’s more pearly than glittered, which is quite literally eye-catching but might be a detractor if you’re after something barely-there. The shadows are incredibly soft to blend and don’t crinkle on the lid during wear, and you can create lovely depth by teaming two or three together, but the spangle element does make this palette slightly less versatile - I’d reserve it for sheeny lidded evenings rather than daytime neutrals.”

Reviewer: AH

7 / 11

Primark Nudes PS… Eyeshadow Collection, £8

Available at Primark stores

The promise: “The ultimate nude eye palette to help you create a plethora of makeup looks.”

We give it: 8.5/10

Review: “From purse-friendly activewear to Harry Potter PJs, you can find pretty much anything under Primark’s roof. While its beauty offering used to leave much to be desired, it’s come leaps and bounds over the past year - particularly its makeup selection - and this new nude palette is further proof of that. Containing a whopping 28 shadows for just £8, finishes range from mattes to shimmers and shades from creams to dark browns. Staying power is impressive - they didn’t sink into my lids or fine lines come the end of the day, they layered well and while other palettes I’ve tried before have provided greater colour payoff, they didn’t offer the same staggering level of choice. There isn't a brush included, so I’ve deducted a point there, but as far as variety goes, it’s certainly one to pop into your basket along with your Alice Liveing leggings  and Gryffindor socks during your next shop.”

Reviewer: AM

8 / 11

Pur Secret Crush Palette in Rose, £19.20

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The promise: "Eight nude shimmers and velvety satins in one palette."

We give it: 7/10

Review: “Pur has embraced the rose gold trend wholeheartedly with this palette, choosing the shade for the casing (a cute tin, though I had issues with getting mine to shut again once it was open and had to enlist an elastic band) as well as some of the shades within. With two paler shades (one shimmer, one matte), four shimmery rose, copper and golden shades plus two deeper matte shadows, it lends itself to a shimmering evening look more than your everyday makeup. The shadows are highly pigmented and indeed velvety soft, with strong staying power - I only wish there was a wider variation of shades as the four metallic shades are all a little too similar; a lighter, golden beige would have been a welcome addition. The fluffy brush in the palette is great for covering your whole lid, but you’ll want something with more precision if you’re blending a few shades.”

Reviewer: JJ

9 / 11

MAC Eye Shadow x15 palette in Warm Neutral, £49.50

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The promise: "A carefully selected palette of 15 warm shades that can create endless looks."

We give it: 9/10

Review: “A MAC eyeshadow is a staple in just about every woman’s beauty arsenal - and I can surely say it’s been in mine for nearly as long as I can remember. But with so many shades available it can be quite overwhelming to make your choices. Not with this palette however; MAC has carefully chosen 15 of their warm nude shades that can take you all the way through the day and straight into the evening. The palette features some of my all time favourites such as Honey Lust and Amber Lights and some new favourites too: Creative Copper is just beautiful. The pigmentation of the shadows is great and when worn with a good eyeshadow primer, the staying power is incredible too. MAC eyeshadows are raved about so much, and this really is why.”

Reviewer: LP

10 / 11

Stila Eyes are the Window Shadow Palette in Soul, £30

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The promise: "Create endless uniquely beautiful looks...12 luxurious eyeshadows to enhance your inner beauty."

We give it: 9/10

Review: “I always used to be a big fan of Stila and this has rekindled my love affair. Whether you are after subtle definition for workday eyewear or something more dramatic for a night out, then this is perfect handbag material. There are some great matte shades if you want to sculpt your eyelids and create more of a ‘socket’, and there are also some slightly more dramatic shimmering bronzes and taupes that would give just the right amount of glamour for workwear without being OTT and just the right amount of pizzazz for a beautiful evening eye without looking boring. If, however you are after the full smokey eye shebang, then you can do that too. There’s a deep, deep brown with bronzed flecks throughout it as well as an almost-black for a more rock chick eye or something that represents eyeliner. All the colours blend seamlessly and judging by my use of the colour Peace recently (a delicate fawn shade), which lasted right through from morning application, though work meetings, lunchtime run and into the afternoon, the staying power is great too. The only downside? Where’s the blimmin’ brush?”

Reviewer: ST

11 / 11

Urban Decay Naked Palette, £39.50

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The promise: "Loaded with 12 bronze-hued shadows in an amazing range of textures, only Naked proves that neutral is anything but boring. Amazing colour payout. Sparkle that doesn’t fall. Colour that stays on your lids. And a velvety, suede-like smoothness and blendability."

We give it: 9/10

Review: “It's the original smokey eye palette (and the first of six in the Naked collection) and there’s so much to be said for this. I’ve had it in my eyeshadow collection for years and often find myself gravitating towards it whenever I want a smokey eye. It offers such a great range of colour, both shimmer and matte, to help you create a perfect amount of 'smokiness.' The eyeshadows are so pigmented and buttery-smooth allowing them to blend out beautifully. I find myself staying away from Creep and Gunmetal and only tend to use Virgin as a brow highlight, however the palette offers so many diverse looks from a golden smokey eye to a more intense look with the use of Hustle and Darkhorse. You also get a dual-ended brush; it has a flat side which is perfect for applying the shadow and then a fluffy brush on the other side for blending. The brush also washes really well and so far none of the hairs have fallen out.

"The only downside is the magnetic closure; it does open rather too easily, so you have to be quite careful when travelling with it (they have improved the design with the other five Naked palettes). I would highly recommend trying this palette if you haven’t already.”

Reviewer: RM