Sunday 19 November 2017

The beauty panel: Whet your palette

A dud-free palette is a cosmetic delight, says our beauty expert, who has five of the panellists' faultless favourites

Pictured, from left: Urban Decay Naked Palette in Smoky; essence all about nude; Clarins 5-Colour Eyeshadow Palette in Pretty Day; Mac Eye Shadow x 15 in Warm Neutral; YSL Couture Palette in Metal Clash
Pictured, from left: Urban Decay Naked Palette in Smoky; essence all about nude; Clarins 5-Colour Eyeshadow Palette in Pretty Day; Mac Eye Shadow x 15 in Warm Neutral; YSL Couture Palette in Metal Clash

Sarah Caden

There is something undeniably satisfying about a make-up palette. Maybe little rows of pristine pans of colour bring out the child in us, and evoke memories of brand-new paint-pots and school pencil cases, but we all love a pretty palette. The problem with palettes, though, is the dud factor.

A pretty line-up of pigments is no good if you can't or won't wear half of them. And that might not just be a colouring issue, it could also be the case that, while you aspire to the know-how that will allow you to wear several eyeshadow shades at once, you just don't have that skill level. So, our top palettes today aren't just easy on the eye, but they're easy to apply to the eye, too.

If you're the type who won't read instruction booklets, you need to avert said eyes now. Four out of five of the palettes on this page have knacky notes on how to achieve impeccable effects with minimal effort. Aside from helpful tips, though, these palettes scored well on the selection of shades in each, and on the complementary nature of the colours. They also did well on blendability, because without that, you'll look very much like the kid who's been at the paint pots, rather than a palette master.

Best Overall

Urban Decay Naked Palette in Smoky, €46, Debenhams; House of Fraser, Dundrum Town Centre, D16

The Naked palettes have become make-up must-haves, and this one, the fourth in the series, is already a best-seller. The last twist was prettily pink, but this is a tougher, bolder selection of 12 colours, ranging from pale highlighters to grey and brown mid-shades, and dramatic navy and black. The double-ended brush is far superior to the usual ones included with a palette, with one end working really well in the crease of the eye. "The enclosed booklet demonstrates four different looks," said one panellist, "and once I got the hang of those, I had the hang of mixing other shades. A cinch, really, and every variation is a winner."

Best Eyes Right

Essence all about nude, €4.99, Dunnes Stores and Penneys

Three different looks are described on the back of the palette, which comes at a pleasing price. The colours are very subtly different from one another, but there is a variation in textures, ranging from matt to metallic. In terms of quality, obviously these don't have the intensity or staying power of some others, but you can't beat the price. "Karl Lagerfeld would love the greige-ness," one panellist said. "And he'd be knocked sideways by the value."

Best Day to Night

Clarins 5-Colour Eyeshadow Palette in Pretty Day, €38, Clarins counters nationwide

This is a classic and universally flattering palette of five shades that can work for day or night. In fact, it's the perfect day-to-night palette, and neat enough to throw into your bag if you know you're going straight out from work. The highlighter is matt, which matters if you're older and shimmer makes the delicate skin around the eye area look more crepey. There are two deep colours - one matt, one satin - so that allows you go from subtle to dramatic with ease. "It's so easy to get gorgeous effects from these five colours," one panellist said. "A simple stunner."

Best Eye Essentials

Mac Eye Shadow x 15 in Warm Neutral, €75, Brown Thomas and BT2

You won't carry this around in your bag for touch-ups, but it's an impressive selection of staple shades that might allow you declutter - read cull - the rest of your eyeshadow collection. Also available in a "Cool Neutral" option, composed of colours that range from grey and lavender, to charcoal and black. "This could become the backbone of my routine," said a panellist. "There are no duds; it's an instant essential."

Best Heavy Metal

YSL Couture Palette in Metal Clash, €55, YSL counters nationwide

In a season that leans very much towards nudes, this is a bold palette of colours, and they create a more elegant effect than you might expect. Which is a way of saying that you shouldn't be put off by the plum colour. The enclosed pamphlet tells you how to make the three 'colour' shades work around the highlighter and the base colours, and sort of demystifies the palette. "Amazingly, the plum ended up being my favourite of the colours," a panellist said. "The beaten-silver case is so cool and, unusually, the included mini brushes aren't half bad."


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