Review / How To: Urban Decay Naked Smoky Palette (+ a Word on Photography Apps)

So wow, hasn’t the internet been blowing up about this palette!? As a smoky eye lover, I was pretty excited when Urban Decay announced it.

However, I really wanted to be sensible about this rather large purchase ($54 at Sephora) so I thought about it carefully. I also wanted to swatch all the colors to see if there were any duds (I have found some UD shades to be really chalky and chunky in the past).

Last Friday I was in Burlington, VT and woke up in my hotel room with a sense of excitement. I knew today was the day. UD Naked Smoky day! I was going to see it in real life and maybe, if we were compatible, it would come home with me. Ahhhh!

Aaanyway, I looked it up online that morning and it looked like the Burlington Sephora didn’t have any in stock which was kind of horrifying but I decided to check it out anyway because I wanted to pick up some of the TooFaced Hangover Primer (which incidentally was NOT in stock). Wouldn’t you know it, when I walked in to the Sephora inside JCPenney the first thing I saw was a beautiful display piled high with light grey, beautiful boxes full of joy and happiness AHHH! Ok calm down Fran *deep breaths*

The SA asked if she could help and I said YES and asked to see the insides of the palette. She presented an open one to me like the precious treasure that it was – with reverence and deference and respectfully downcast eyes. As I swatched the shadows, I got more and more excited. They were gorgeous. Pigmented, smooth, buttery.. you know, I really never understood what that adjective meant with regards to makeup until that moment. But now I do.

Natch, I bought it. And it owns. Allow me to explain.

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So I don’t need to tell you guys about the Urban Decay Naked palette history. Everyone knows they’re the most popular “neutrals” palettes on the planet. This is actually my first one though! I had Naked Basics 2 but I never used it, I wasn’t a huge fan. But this one, I really love. Maybe that’s because I always gravitate towards a more dramatic eye look? Who knows. But anyway, let’s get to the swatchin’.

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Top to bottom: Thirteen, Combust [these are hard to see, they’re both very light], Whiskey, Password, Smolder, Black Market, Dagger, Slanted, Armor, Radar, Dirtysweet, High.

There’s a good mix of matte and shimmer shades here. Black Market is ALMOST matte, it’s got a very very light sheen to it that’s barely there. Password, Whiskey, Combust and Thirteen are all matte. The rest are shimmery. The only one that doesn’t really do it for me is High, it’s a little on the chunky side and therefore needs to be carefully worked with which isn’t really ideal for the inner corner (where I think High would be best used). The rest are just glorious and I love them all.

I have done three looks with this palette so far, I’ll talk them through one by one.

Look 1:

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For this one I laid down a base of Combust over the entire lid up to the browbone using the RT 200 brush (or any large shadow brush), then using the brush that came with the palette (the pointy end – from now on this brush will be called the NS brush) I added some of Armor to the inner corner, leaving the center of the lid bare, then with the other end of the NS brush I added Armor to the outer corner as well. I did this in a couple of layers, building up the color til I had as much pigmentation as I wanted. I also used the pointy end to wrap a little of Armor around under the lower lashline and smudged it out. I then used the blending brush end to blend Armor into Combust, but taking care not to blend too far into the center part of the lid. I then used a flat eyeshadow brush to add Dirtysweet to the center section, really laying down a decent amount of color. Back to the blending brush to blend those two colors at the edges, not completely, just so there were no harsh lines. I made sure that all the colors were nicely blended upwards and out at the outer corner. I added a little bit of Password to the outer corner, as a bit of a transition shade to make sure that Armor blended out smoothly. Then I carefully lined my upper lashline and lower lashline (leaving the center bare again) with the UD Perversion eyeliner but any black eyeliner will do just fine for this – it happens to be my favorite so that’s what I used. I again grabbed the pointy end and smudged that out, added mascara (IT Cosmetics Tightline) then I was done.

The advantage of doing this is that the center of your lid is lighter, meaning that your eyes stay more open looking especially if like me you have small, deep-set eyes. Plus it’s just a really cool effect!

Look 2:

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This one’s obviously a lot darker, and you can already see that it makes my eyes look more closed and small. I don’t really mind, it’s just something to note compared to the first look.

For this I laid down a base of black cream shadow – Maybelline Color Tattoo in Dramatic Black using my fingers and blending out with a MAC 217 just to make sure the colors really stood out and had something to stick to. I then used Password all over the lid fairly lightly then added Smolder over the top, both with the NS blending end, which is a really cool purpleish color. I then picked up some Black Market and blended that in little circles on the outer corner again with the blending end of the NS brush. I used Black Market to wrap around the lower outer lashline as well with the pointy end. I added a little bit of Slanted on the inner corner using the pointy end of the NS brush just to add some reflection and light. I again picked up the UD Perversion liner and lined my upper lashline and lower lashline/waterline, and then used the pointy end to smudge this out and pull a little out for a wing on the outer corner. I used a q-tip to clean up the outside corner,  giving the wing area a little more sharpness. Again with the same mascara and I was done.

Look 3:

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My husband was making me laugh with this – he wouldn’t get out of the background of my selfies! :3

So I toned it down a little for this one, just a little, there’s still some smoke there. I used the RT 200 brush again to do a base of Whiskey over the mobile lid, then used Radar over the whole lid with the blender end. Radar is a really cool reflective warm brown shade, I really like it. I picked up some Armor (probably my favorite shade, it’s a gorgeous cool greyish brown shimmer) for the outer corner to add some more depth then used the same shade to wrap under my outer corner lashline using the pointy end of the NS brush. I added some of Slanted in the inner corner, but it wasn’t really light enough so I also added some High. I own the UD 24/7 liner in Whiskey to match the eyeshadow shade so I used that to lightly line my upper and lower lashline and dragged it out again to form a bit of a wing – though now that I see the close-up pictures on my computer I could have done a better job of that! To finish off I added Thirteen on the browbone just to make sure that was looking all nice and bright.

I tried a new mascara with this look, the fancy one I got with this month’s boxycharm (MDMflow Greater Than Mascara) and lemme tell you, it is garbage. As you can see in the picture it basically does nothing. Not impressed at all. It’s expensive too! Glad I didn’t pay for it because it truly sucks. Boxycharm actually had to send out an email with a set of instructions on how to “prime” it (shake it and pump the wand a lot) but even with doing that, it’s bad. Bad bad bad!

So those are my three looks. The possibilities really are endless with this palette. It’s super versatile. I’m so happy I bought it. I can really see myself getting a lot of use out of this palette!

Now onto another thing I wanted to discuss. I was watching a beauty youtuber the other day as she talked through how she takes her selfies and how she edits them. She said that she relied a lot on an app called FaceTune to make her skin look flawless and get rid of imperfections, and to change the shape of her nose a little bit. This kinda surprised me and I knew I needed to check out this app myself, she was raving about it!

So I checked it out and let me tell you something: this app is evil. This app is the One Ring. It has the potential to be used for good but the point is that most of us don’t have the will to use it that way. I made an example for you guys.

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HOLY SHIT I LOOK AMAZING I NEED THIS APP FOR REAL LIFE

Pretty big difference and about 15 seconds of work. EVIL APP! My husband and I discussed whether it was even ethical to use it for blog pictures. I also talked it through with my dollies (friends on a forum where there’s a makeup/beauty thread) and the same conclusion was reached: that if the product being reviewed is being altered by an app like this, that’s bad and wrong. For example, if I’m reviewing a foundation and I use this app to blend out some imperfections then that’s really dishonest. A few people said that they like my blog BECAUSE I don’t do any of that stuff, I don’t over-edit my images (or really edit them at all tbh but that’s partly because I have no idea how) and they can see how these products look on a real person rather than someone who has ‘shopped their pictures to infinity. Is that to say that I won’t ever use it? No. I might use it to blur out an imperfection that’s unrelated to the product I’m discussing. For example if I do an eye look and have a pimple that is distractingly huge, or if my melasma is really dark, or if I have red marks or little baby hairs around my lip area (because I’m human) and I feel they detract from the lip product I’m reviewing, then I might minimally use this app or a similar one to bring those down a notch or two.

It would be so easy to use this app for every photo I take. My self-esteem is begging me to use it. I wish I could use it for everything and feel “right” about it, but I just don’t.

That is my promise to you, dear readers. I’ll never use an app like this to lie to you or stretch the truth. I’ll never give you unrealistic impressions or expectations about how a product will perform or look. My skin will never be perfect and the better work for me to do is to a) become more okay with that; b) improve my photography skills and c) improve my makeup application skills! I hope we can all learn and grow together.

Don’t judge those makeup bloggers for using apps like FaceTune. It’s so easy to understand why they do it. I get it, and I am sending them all a lot of love in the hope they can one day apply it to themselves, from themselves.

Until next time!

Love++
F&V

Beauty: May Favorites

May was a pretty good month for makeup really, I started my new job and started working on neutral, natural looks for every day wear. I thought I’d get sick of wearing makeup to work every day in about 3 days but I’m still loving it. I think for me just as I’m learning a new role it adds a little bit to my confidence and gives me an opportunity to try new stuff as well. Win win! Will I continue to wear makeup every day forever? Probably definitely not. I’ve also bought a few things that have really impressed me so let’s just crack on with it shall we?

L’Oreal Infallible Pro-Matte Foundation

I heard good things about this makeup from a few different bloggers, and god knows and you ALL know that I love a good matte finish because I’m oily AF. And it has NOT disappointed me. I really, really love it. It’s a definite matte finish and it’s a medium to high coverage, I’d say high coverage. I don’t feel like it is too cakey on my skin but to be really honest with you I find that hard to avoid so others might feel that it’s a little cakey. If you are the kind of person who likes a very light to medium coverage foundation then take my opinions with a grain of salt on foundation, ok? Don’t say I didn’t warn you! I have very uneven skintone, huge pores and scars and blemishes so coverage is my main goal. Fair warning!

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Anyway I apply this (my shade is 101 shell beige) with either the Real Techniques buffing brush or Expert Face Brush. One thing I’ll say about this is that for better or worse it dries pretty fast so I have been doing my face in sections. The shade range is a little strange, admittedly. The shades tend towards yellow, it’s really only the two lighter shades (101 shell beige and 102 classic ivory) that have any pink tone to them at all. I picked up totally the wrong shade the first time because the yellow undertone was quite strong so I took it back to CVS and changed it over for this one. Much better. I’ve also been mixing this with my NARS Luminous Weightless Full Coverage foundation which gives a great effect, it just takes the edge off the matte-ness. That’s a trick I learned from YouTube beauty personality MannyMUA (marred by controversy as he currently is, I still like some of the things he does in his tutorials).

Unfortunately this one isn’t available in Australia yet. I hope they pick up their game because it’s really very good! I got it at CVS and it was around $15. If you’ve seen any of my instagram pictures in the last few weeks I can basically guarantee I’ve been wearing this foundation unless otherwise indicated.

MAC Mineralize SkinFinish Natural

So the people who let me talk their ears off about makeup will know that I’ve been trying to work out how to use bronzer for about a year now. I don’t get it. I bought the Too Faced Milk Chocolate Soleil bronzer because I thought well, I’m pale and it’s for pale people so hooray! But I think it’s actually a smidge pale for me so I still didn’t get it. But THIS!.. this….

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Last month I went to Burlington (the largest city in Vermont) to do some training with my work. I went to MAC and asked them to please for the love of god teach me how to use it. I explained what I’d tried already and what my problems were and the amazing girl at MAC was SO HELPFUL! She told me that what I should try was something like the Mineralize SkinFinish Natural in a deeper skin tone than my own, because it’s mostly matte but has a tiiiiiny sheen to it so it won’t make me look muddy or like I’ve rolled around in a pan of brownies. She put it on in a C-shape from above my temples to along my cheekbones and I absolutely loved the effect. I went back and bought it the next day. She also used a brush I wouldn’t have expected, kind of a flat paddle brush and she used the flat side of it so that was interesting. I didn’t buy the brush but I took note of what it looked like and bought an ELF equivalent which is fine (the Complexion Brush for those who are interested).

I took the bronzer home (the next day, actually) and have been playing with it and wearing it every so often and even though it’s still a learning curve I’m loving it!

You can get this from MAC in Australia and in the USA (shop online at the official site or in store only, accept no shoddy substitutes guys, don’t take the risk some of those fakes are very well done). It’s $32 here and $49 in Australia (!).

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Dat glow~

Stila Eyes are the Window – Soul palette

I bought this from Mecca online in Australia the day I put Luuka on the plane to go to America. It was a bad day. Mama needed something shiny. And boy, did this ever not disappoint. Look at it! It’s so beautiful! Ugh I love it.

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I loved that this had a good range of neutral, natural shades in both warm and cool tones. I have been trying to learn more natural looks because in the past with eyeshadows I’ve always been like “OOOH A BRIGHT BLUE YES I WILL DEFINITELY USE THAT EVERY SINGLE DAY” which is so stupid. So I loved the look of this! And I wasn’t disappointed (mostly). Here’s the inside of the palette:

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There’s 5 matte shadows and the rest are shimmery with one that I’d call a “glitter”. More on that later. To be honest, the mattes were a tiny bit disappointing. Not that they’re BAD per se, they just don’t go on as smoothly as some other matte shadows that I own. Here’s some swatches. Please keep in mind that I swatched these on my arm so yeah there are some teeny hairs there that you prob won’t have on your lids 🙂

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Top to bottom: light (hard to see), individual, being, heart, essence

So you can see what I mean, they’re a little chunky but I was strict with my swatching here, I just did two repeats of putting color on my fingertip and wiping it once on my arm. So I could have blended them a bit better but I wanted to be realistic. I still use them though, just not as often as the shimmery shades because CAN WE JUST TALK ABOUT THEM FOR A MINUTE. PLEASE. LOOK AT THEM.

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Top to bottom: kitten, affection, character, thought, peace, vitality, substance

Come ON! They’re so nice. I even feel like the swatches don’t do them justice. I love these eyeshadows. A few of my online friends had been going on about kitten for ages but I was like ‘who cares it’s a pale pearly shimmer meh’ until I got it and hooooly jeebus it’s really amazing, especially as an inner-corner highlight, it just wakes the eye up so much. It’s glorious. You may be able to tell that there’s one notably disappointing shade here, it’s called “character”. This shade if I’m honest is total garbage. That is actually three swipes of colour, the one exception, because it’s soooo pale and not pigmented at all. I don’t know why it’s even there. In the palette, it’s the right side on the second line so you would think it’d be really dark like it looks in the pan. The glitter in it (the one “glitter” shade) is also really chunky so yeah I just don’t like it but the rest are gorgeous and I use them all the time! “Thought” is also absolutely beautiful.

This is a great palette. In the USA it retails for about $49 (Sephora) and in Australia from Mecca it’s $72. A big investment but it’s wonderful and if you are in the market for a neutrals palette but don’t want totally matte shades I’d give it a look.

L’Oreal La Palette Nude 1

Not really interested in paying that much? Well if you’re in the USA this is a pretty good alternative (not yet avail in Australia, sorry, though as always I’m happy to post). This is a new product from L’Oreal and I think it’s great, it’s what I use most days for work.

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There are only three matte shades in this palette but they are great:

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Much easier to blend than the Stila mattes actually, but not quite as pigmented. They’re nice. They’re not named, but on the back they are numbered and the back of the palette also has a diagram of four different looks and how to create them with the palette which is cool and handy!

The shimmers, again, are even better. There’s 7 shimmer shades and they’re all gorgeous.

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The top two shades are kinda hard to see, sorry!

They’re sheeny without being glittery and they’re well pigmented so you don’t have to dig your brush in too much to get enough color to work with. They blend easily and there’s a mix of cool and warm colors, though I do think that this palette leans more warm.

I think that if you have been umming and ahhing over any of the Naked palettes by Urban Decay (as I did) but were baulking at the price, this is a good alternative though of course not a perfect dupe as the colors are different from all of the Naked palettes. This is a great all rounder palette. It set me back about $19 from CVS.

Rimmel Exaggerate lip liner in East End Snob

I wont’ go on too much about this one it’s pretty basic, it’s just a great nude-pink lipliner which was missing from my collection. I had bright pinks and red pinks and nudes but no nude pinks. A YouTuber said it’s a great dupe for the much coveted Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat in Pillow Talk and though I don’t own that particular product (I wish), I can see where they’re coming from.

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If you are like me and you have pigmented lips, then this is a great nude for you to line your lips or even overdraw them a little bit if that’s what you’re into. In the picture above I’m wearing it under a really similar shade – NARS Audacious lipstick in “Anita”.

In Australia you can get this for about $12 from Priceline and I got this one here in the USA from Walgreens for $6. Bargain mate.

Too Faced Primed & Poreless primer

So my favorite beauty YouTuber, vintageortacky, has been raving about this for ages now. I had a few primers to get through but I finally ran out of them so I invested whilst I was in Burlington. Holy god have mercy it is FANTASTIC.

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The first time I used it I thought it was a tiny bit .. sticky? Oily? I don’t know, but I was scared. It reminds me of a stickier Benefit POREfessional. But it went on nicely and made my foundation go on nicely as well. It wasn’t until I took a selfie after my makeup was done that I basically lost my mind. MY FACE WAS SO SMOOTH. I couldn’t see any of my scars or any big pores or .. anything. It’s seriously amazing. Check it!

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It’s not JUST the light, it’s because of the primer.

This. Primer. Is. Life. It has a slight tint and it says it can be used alone but I call bullshit, I don’t think that’s a thing and the product is a little sticky so I think that’d be weird. Probably don’t do that. It’s so good though! It’s like spakfilla (is this an Australian product?) – you put it on the wall to fill in any of the holes and dents and blemishes then you paint over the top and it’s all flawless and amazing ughhhhhhhhhh I lov it

It’s $39 from Mecca in Australia and $30 from Sephora here in the USA.

That’s it for May. I have a few plans for blog posts and I’m trying to do at least two a week while things are quiet and I’m on BudgetWatch. Let me know if there’s something you’d like to see on the blog or if you have questions/concerns etc.

Thanks for reading!

Love+++
F&V