It's a well known fact that Urban Decay make great eyeshadow palettes. Their latest is Smoked, which is part of their AW12 range, and it's another corker. Designed to give you (almost) everything you need for a great smoky eye, it contains 10 shades of UD's famously smooth and blendable eyeshadow, a black Perversion 24/7 eye pencil and a mini Primer Potion. Just add mascara, and you've got the perfect big night out eye look sorted.
The Smoked palette nestles inside packaging almost like a clutch bag - black, sparkling fabric with a semi-hard casing which is securely closed with a zip running around the edges. This style of packaging was introduced with the Midnight Emergency palette, and I really like it - much more durable than the Naked or Naked2 palettes.
Alongside the palette itself, you get a mini sized tube of the indispensable Primer Potion, and a look book, which features step-by-step instructions to create a variety of smoky looks.
Left to right: Kinky, Freestyle, Mushroom, Backdoor, Blackout
Kinky is a pale vanilla nude, which is pretty much the same shade as my skin - you can barely see it on the left hand edge of the photo above. Freestyle is a little warmer and deeper. Mushroom is a gorgeous taupe neutral with a purplish cast (although I already have it in my Mariposa palette). Backdoor is a deep brown (and the name makes me snigger a little), and Blackout should be no surprise to any UD fan - it's included in many a palette, being a useful rich matte black.
Left to right: Barlust, Rockstar, Evidence, Loaded, Asphalt
Barlust is a lovely reddish copper brown. Rockstar is a deep, richly shimmery purple, which feels almost a little greasy, such is its smoothness and high pigmentation. Evidence goes on as a sheer blue-grey with bright blue flash. Loaded is just as pigmented as Rockstar, and is a beautiful blackened green. Asphalt is a shimmering pewter.
And finally - I recreated one of the looks from the look book to see how easy they were for someone who's far from an expert in smoky. This is the Rockstar look - it uses Perversion 24/7 pencil, and Kinky, Freestyle, Rockstar, Asphalt, and Blackout shadows.
One of the techniques introduced is "downblending". It helps when trying to blend a darker shadow into a lighter one (as I've done in the crease here), and helps avoid over-blending and muddying the colour. To downblend, you take a super soft fluffy brush, dip it into the lighter colour (Rockstar here, being blended into Asphalt) and lightly sweep in a downwards motion across the join between the two colours. Worked a treat. I'll definitely be using the technique again.
Overall, I like this palette, not least because I'm a bit inept when it comes to smoky, and it's hugely useful to have the combination of some pretty specific directions and the products those instructions refer to. That said, if you are a seasoned Urban Decay fan, you might not find these shadows particularly unique amongst your collection - particularly given that three of the shades (Rockstar, Loaded and Mushroom) are amongst the most popular shades offered by the brand. At £35, this isn't exactly the cheapest palette in the world, and it represents a little less value than the Naked or Naked 2 palettes, each of which have 12 shadows, brush and primer or lipgloss included for a mere pound more.
Find it at BeautyBay now. Are you tempted? And how are your smoky shadow skills?
Disclosure: PR sample