Urban Decay’s Smoked Eyeshadow palette ($49 at Sephora, UrbanDecay.com) features ten eyeshadows (all from the permanent range), a full-fize Perversion pencil eyeliner, a small tube of Primer Potion and a rather thick and detailed “get the look” type bookley. This palette is designed to be the perfect set for doing a smoky eye, so most of the colors lean dark, especially compared to the Naked palettes.
As you’ve heard before, the new Urban Decay formula is even better than the old one. These rate among the best for pigmentation, blendability and general creaminess. They work so well you don’t need top-notch application skills to get great looks. There’s a range of finishes here, but only one shade that even comes close to having a little micro-glitter, which will come as a relief to those of you who don’t care for glitter shades.
- Kinky is a matte ivory with yellow undertones. It’s surprisingly opaque for a pale matte color and nicely creamy – not powdery or chalky at all. It applies to the lid better than it swatches.
- Freestyle is a very light matte apricot or pale peach – again, it has very good pigmentation, especially for a light matte.
- Mushroom is a shimmery gray-brown taupe that’s very rich and definitely one of the strongest shades in the set. It’s highly pigmented, buttery and easy to work with in every way.
- Backdoor is a matte deep brown which is again very pigmented – enough to be used as a soft eyeliner. It blends beautifully, which makes it perfect for smoking out a look.
- Blackout is very opaque – not the very deepest black shadow I’ve ever tested, but certainly deep enough to be used as a soft eyeliner (it works excellently for smudging out Perversion). I actually use it for lining a lot because I’m too lazy to want to clean off eye pencil at the end of the day! It’s also great for subtly deepening another color because it blends so well.
- Barlust is a metallic medium brown with neutral undertones – like Mushroom, it’s a medium tone, but one of the lighter colors in this one, aside from the two pale mattes which I use as highlighter color or bases.
- Rockstar is shimmery purple, just a tad plummy and on the cool side – like Mushroom and Barlust, it’s very rich and pigmented.
- Evidence is a satin-finish medium blue, and is the weakest color in the group: pigmentation and color payoff are great, but it takes more effort to get to them because this one’s a little bit dry and hard to work with. It’s still a good color, it’s just not as great as some of the others.
- Loaded is a metallic deep emerald with a black base and may be the most pigmented shadow in this palette – a little goes a long way!
- Asphalt is deep gray shimmer with a little bit of micro-glitter, but I experienced no fallout. It can tend to sheer out a little, but otherwise works very well.
The Perversion liner is a very smooth, very deep matte black that glides on easily and stays put. It’s the right combination of creamy enough to glide, but dry enough not to smudge. It wears well on the waterline, too.
The “Get the look” book that comes with this one is more useful than most. In addition to really detailed explanations on how to do various smoky looks, it has a glossary of terms like “down blending” which is pretty educational. Note, however, that the book contains some typos. For example, you’ll be told to do something to the lower lash line, and then the next step tells you to repeat that step on the lower lash line – it’s usually pretty obvious what it means (upper lash line?), but it can be a bit confusing.
The bottom line
As far as quality goes, this palette is superb. Everything in it is very good or better. I also like to judge a palette’s usefulness as a standalone item, and this one’s a little tricky in that regard. Urban Decay recommends sticking to matte shadows for a neutral, natural look and then adding some “smoke” when you leave the office. But what if you don’t like matte, or you have deepset eyes and matte shadows just make them recede right into your skull? Well, you can do some lighter looks by applying Kinky as a base, and then gently sheering on colors like Mushroom or Barlust on the lid, and then using darker colors to contour as usual:
But that may seem like a lot of trouble when you could just use a palette with lighter colors instead. You may also miss a shimmery highlight color – the only colors pale enough to highlight are both matte. So this is a very good palette for smoky looks, and you can make it work for lighter looks, but you may not feel it’s as versatile as you’d like.
Also worth noting: you get 0.03 ounces of shadow in each pan instead of the 0.05 ounces you may have come to expect from the Naked palettes, but this one is only $1 less than the Nakeds. That means you’re getting considerably less for your money, compared to those palettes. It’s still a good deal overall, compared to buying each shade individually (plus Perversion), it’s just not as good a deal as the other palettes.
The packaging is a sort of plasticy-fabricy texture with a zipper that goes around three sides. It has a place to stash your Perversion liner, but not the primer.