Saturday, December 29, 2012

Battle of the Beige

In the past couple of weeks, I have acquired two new neutral palettes. I have been playing with both of them extensively for the past couple of days.

It's time to put them head to head:
Urban Decay Naked Basics vs. Coastal Scents Go Palette Cairo

Obviously, it is not fair to expect the same quality of shadow from a palette that cost $8.96 and a palette that cost $27.00. So, instead, we are going to compare whether a higher or lower end palette is giving you more bang for your buck.

You can go on other blogs are probably get really beautiful swatches that show the richness of each color as it builds up on your skin. I am not going to do that. Instead, I am going to be a wee more methodological about my swatches. Every swatch has exactly two swipes of my eyeshadow brush. No more, no less. In my opinion, that is going to give you a much more honest depiction of what the product actually looks like when you try to swipe it on your face. It's also worth noting that all of these were swatched dry-- you are going to get more pigmentation if you use the product while wet.

Urban Decay Naked Basics

Urban Decay Naked Basics Outside
Urban Decay Naked Basics Inside
Finish: This palette contains five matte shadows and one demi-matte.

The first, lightest color (Venus) has a slight shimmer, but all the rest are matte.
Cost: $27.00
Number of colors: 6
Size per color: 0.05oz
Overall size: 0.3 oz
Cost per ounce: $90.00
Urban Decay Naked Basics Swatches- dry, two strokes of color each
Overall impression: Fuck, this is a great palette. All the colors are crazy smooth and almost creamy feeling. All the brushstrokes are not faded around the edges at all. As you can see, the lighter colors are not super pigmented, but because they are so rich and lovely, it actually works really nice and looks beautiful, but natural on my actual eyes. (It also appears like they are less pigmented than they are, since the second and third color are pretty close to my skin tone.) At first, I thought it was strange that there was a shimmery color (Venus, the lightest shade) in a supposedly all-matte palette, but it looks so great in the inner corner of my eyes that I am having a pretty hard time being upset about it. I have been using the NYX jumbo eyeshadow pencil in milk to highlight the inner corners of my eyes, and this eyeshadow absolutely blows that pencil out of the water (and I LOVE that pencil). I like that so many of the colors are on the lighter side of things because, in my opinion, a neutral palette is an everyday kind of palette. Having variety in lighter shades allows you to create depth and shape without necessarily creating drama.

Coast Scents Go Palette Cairo
Coastal Scents Go Palette Cairo Box
Coastal Scents Go Palette Cairo Outside
Coastal Scents Go Palette Cairo Inside
Finish: I would say that there are arguably four matte shades, one demi-matte, four shimmers and two outright glitters. However, it is a bit of a gradient, so others might classify the shadows slightly differently.
Top row: matte, shimmer, shimmer, glitter
Middle row: shimmer (metallic), shimmer (metallic), shimmer, glitter
Bottom row: demi-matte, matte, matte, matte
Cost: $8.96
Number of colors: 12
Size per color: 0.023
Overall size: 0.28 oz
Cost per ounce: $32.00 (For comparison, my favorite drugstore makeup, the Maybelline Stylish Smokes Eyeshadow Quad, costs $6.25 for 0.17oz, which translates to $36.76 per ounce.)
Swatched top row. Don't worry, it's not the picture. These colors didn't show up in real life either. (The fact that the lighting is hideous, though, is the picture. Sorry.)
Swatched middle row.
Swatched bottom row.
Overall impression: I was quite disappointed by how comparatively poor the pigment showed up. You can see in the swatches that, at the very center, it is much darker than it is along the edges. This is clear on your eyes as well, making your makeup look a lot less precise. The makeup also has a lot more graininess, which is also visible after your makeup has been applied. The light colors have absolutely no pigment to speak of. Furthermore, when I attempted to swatch beyond two swipes (which is what you see in the pictures), no amount of heavy handedness produced any meaningful color.

I also think that there are some practical limitations to the colors selected. The Urban Decay palette has lots of light-ish, tan colors. The only colors that show up at all in the Coastal Scents palette are quite dark. If you are a lady of color, that probably will not be too unnatural looking, but, for my coloring, most of the stuff is too dark for a whole look. (And if I am going to do dramatic makeup, I sure as hell am not going to do it using brown.)

I was also a tad peeved about the way that Coastal Scents advertised their pigmentation. Look at that first row of swatches that I took, as opposed to the ones on their website.

My swatches vs. the swatches that Coastal Scents provides on their website.
That is simply not an accurate portrayal of the actual colors you get. No matter how thick you layer it on, you will not be able to achieve that kind of pigmentation. What's more, the colors look to be photoshopped, but they photoshopped them to be a little bit crooked, as if it was a natural line that someone drew. I like the idea of including swatches on the website, but if the swatches aren't accurate it's misleading, not helpful.

From my perspective, the Urban Decay palette still comes out on top in terms of quality by a lot because you need less makeup to achieve pigmentation (meaning the same mass of eyeshadow will last you longer), it is smoother and easy to apply, and it just looks more attractive on your face (the Urban Decay palette makes it look like I have mad eyeshadow skills, but it's really just the quality of the product). The point of eyeshadow, usually, is to do something with your makeup that looks attractive. If the product you have isn't helping achieve that goal, it doesn't matter that it is much less expensive.

With all of that being said, the Coastal Scents palette is a third of the cost of the Urban Decay palette, and that is not a trivial pricing difference. Some people plan on using a neutral palette multiple times a week and it is seriously going to get used. If you are NOT one of those people, it might not be worth it to you to spring for the higher end palette. If you use the shadows wet and put more effort into achieving pigmentation, the Coast Scents palette would be perfectly acceptable for occasional wear. (Plus, who doesn't love silver eye shadow?!)

Still, I feel comfortable concluding that the Urban Decay palette gives much more bang for your buck than a less expensive alternative.


  1. I've been using NYX Jumbo eye pencil in Milk as well. I use that on my lower water line. It blends so nicely with my Smashbox palette.
    Is there any fall-out with either of these palettes? I've been eyeing UD Naked for a while (no pun intended) but I've been fearful of paying a lot for a shadow that may not be so precise. I've never used Coastal Scents shadows either. Thanks for the review!

    1. If you use a primer for the Urban Decay, it pretty much stays completely put.

      If you are not sure, though, you can always grab it from Sephora since they have a fab return policy. (I think UD themselves have a good return policy as well.)

    2. I really need to get my hands on a good primer. The UD primer makes my eyes water, which I find to be really strange. Good idea on the return policy. That is so important when looking to try new makeup. I've learned that the hard way, too!


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  2. Replies
    1. Are you talking about your cheeks?

  3. Replies
    1. Mattes will blend better than shimmers, so that is probably part of it. On your cheeks, if you contour with a shimmer you will look like your face is dirty.

  4. So whats the point of shimmery and glittery makeup?

  5. Great comparison! So happy I bought the UD!

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