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Bobbi Brown Neons & Nudes Collection — ‘Cause Opposites Attract!

The ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus  contended that, “All things come into being by conflict of opposites, and the sum of things (“the whole”) flows like a stream.”  Different variations of this duality paradigm have been explored by countless civilizations, religions, and schools of philosophy. The yin-and-yang construct, after all, emphasizes how balance is achieved only upon the convergence of light and dark, fast and slow, soft and hard, feminine and masculine, gentle and tough, warm and cold. This age-old interplay of contrasts seems to have influenced the creation of the Bobbi Brown Neons & Nudes Collection, an array of limited-edition cosmetics in either soft neutral hues or bright vibrant shades.

The “nude” in the Neons & Nudes Collection is mainly the result of the six-color Ultra Nude Eye Palette ($45 at BobbiBrownCosmetics.com), Bobbi Brown’s response to the extremely popular Urban Decay Naked and Naked 2 palettes, and the new Uber Beige Lip Color ($23 at BobbiBrownCosmetics.com), a moisturizing, ultra creamy, light tawny color with a smooth satin finish. The “neon” portion of the equation, meanwhile, is derived from the richly pigmented Neon Pink Lip Color, a shade similar to that of the gowns worn by Kristen Wiig and company in the Bridesmaids movie poster, and the Atomic Orange Lip Color , a clean, electrifying safflower hue ($23 each at BobbiBrownCosmetics.com), along with the new Bluebell Eye Shadow ($21 at BobbiBrownCosmetics.com), an electric blue worthy of a Debbie Gibson video, and the Ultra Violet Shimmer Wash Eye Shadow ($21 at BobbiBrownCosmetics.com), a clean reddish violet shade reminiscent of an amethyst starling’s plumage.

Those wanting a sprinkle of neon flash, a glaze-like veil of dynamic color, meanwhile, can coat their lips with the tangerine-toned Citrus Lip Gloss ($23 at BobbiBrownCosmetics.com), the bright fuchsia Cosmic Pink Lip Gloss ($23 at BobbiBrownCosmetics.com), or the cosmic-feeling Ultra Violet Lip Gloss ($23 at BobbiBrownCosmetics.com).

After the jump, you’ll find close-up shots of the products in the collection, along with swatches and in-depth reviews covering everything from their pigmentation and texture to their overall performance.


Even for a neutral palette, the Bobbi Brown Ultra Nude Eye Palette ($45 at BobbiBrownCosmetics.com) feels rather muted and bland, the makeup equivalent of a scoop of mushrooms positioned next to a cup of brown rice. Unlike the Urban Decay Naked Palette, for instance, which balances the bevy of cream and taupe tones with a full-bodied burgundy-plum hue, an edgy gunmetal, and a near-black metallic grey, the Bobbi Brown Ultra Nude Eye Palette  concentrates on one very narrow portion of the color spectrum, with the only real contrast being provided by the Cocoa Berry Shimmer Wash Eyeshadow, the darkest of the six shadows in the palette. Simply put: if you’re looking for some excitement in this palette, one avant-garde texture or hue, you’ll be sorely disappointed.

That being said, what you will find is an extremely versatile collection of desert-worthy tones in textures ranging from matte and velvety to satin with a hint of shimmer to rich and saturated with pearly bits. Also of note: the palette tackles both the cool and warm sides of the earthy tone spectrum, so that certain shades appear to have more of a grayish base (among them the Chino Eye Shadow, a cool taupe-ish beige reminiscent of wild shiitake mushrooms , and the Stone Eye Shadow, a grayish medium-toned brown with a matte texture), while others boast warmer golden undertones (as with the Champagne Truffle Shimmer Wash Eyeshadow, a beachy golden nude with  a touch of golden glitter, and the Pink Chandelier Metallic Eyeshadow, a light rose gold hue saturated with golden micro glitter).

If you have a tentative approach to makeup and tend to shy away from too much color, this palette may prove to be a saving grace. Otherwise, count on the Ultra Nude Eye Palette to help you brighten and prep lids for whatever statement-making look you hope to achieve, tempering the intensity of any aquatic, rosy, neon, purple, metallic, or smokey shadows and liners you opt to use.

Below, you’ll find swatches of al six shades in the Ultra Nude Palette (from left to right): Cocoa Berry Shimmer Wash Eye Shadow; Champagne Truffle Shimmer Wash Eye Shadow; Stone Eye Shadow; Pink Chandelier Metallic Eye Shadow; Praline Shimmer Wash Eye Shadow; and Chino Eye Shadow.

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If the Ultra Nude Eye Palette offers the meat and potatoes portion of the Neons and Nudes meal, the Ultra Violet Shimmer Wash ($21 at BobbiBrownCosmetics.com) and  Bluebell Eye Shadow ($21 at BobbiBrownCosmetics.com) stand as exciting flambé dishes, exciting pans of flaming saganaki. In their sleek cases, the colors look bright, bold, and adventurous, worthy of a laser light show or a fireworks extravaganza.

The Bluebell Eye Shadow resembles the British bloom after which it was named and yet there’s less of a violet component here, so that the predominant color is a clean electric blue worthy of an Avatar character. In theory, this eye shadow has all the makings of a makeup triumph and yet it falls way short of its lofty goal. See, because the color is so incredibly sheer, some serious layering is required in order to reach the desired intensity. However, the eye shadow’s formula prevents the pigment from properly adhering to the skin. When I swatched the color on my arm, I found it quite difficult to enrich the hue; when I attempted to do so on the eyelids, the feat proved nearly impossible. I even attempted dampening my eye shadow brush and then applying the color to my lids (usually a surefire technique) but even this approach proved faulty. Even if some color did adhere to the eyelid, once I integrated a second eye shadow color, brushing it into the crease, the Bluebell Eye Shadow either moved out of its position, sliding with every stroke of the brush, or it was covered to the point of oblivion.

The Ultra Violet Shimmer Wash shadow, meanwhile, has a cosmic, nebula-esque quality to it, both because of its reddish violet tone and the fine specks of star-like glitter sprinkled throughout. I found that the Ultra Violet Shimmer Wash eye shadow more effectively bound to the skin on my lids and yet the result was surprisingly muted, a tremulous whisper compared to such firm, assertive options as the Urban Decay Fishnet Deluxe Eyeshadow or the Estée Lauder Pure Color Surreal Violet Five Color Eyeshadow Palette.

I was so enamored with these two shades and had such extraordinary expectations of them that I was crushed when they didn’t deliver. If only Bobbi Brown had really gone for it and worked to make these colors as richly pigmented as they look in their compacts! Such a missed opportunity!

Nevertheless, below you’ll find swatches of the Bluebell and Ultra Violet eye shadows:

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There are multiple reasons why makeup hounds like me adore  Bobbi Brown Lip Colors ($23 at BobbiBrownCosmetics.com) — they’re usually saturated with color, they have a sophisticated satin finish that never looks dull or flat, they feel comfortable on the pout, and they moisturize and protect lips thanks to their beeswax, vitamin C, and vitamin E content.

For Spring 2012, Bobbi Brown introduced three new Lip Color shades: Atomic Orange, Neon Pink, and Uber Beige. Admittedly, I was most excited about the Atomic Orange hue but it sold out before I managed to get my hands on it (insert sad face here). Still, both the Neon Pink and Uber Beige shades exceeded even my highest expectations. The Neon Pink is as bright and magical as the centaurettes in Disney’s Fantasia movie, as feminine as a Chinese Hibiscus blossom. The Uber Beige meanwhile is a creamy nude hue with lovely caramel and toffee tones.

Both Lip Color shades feel moist and pleasant on the pout, so that they don’t leave your lips feeling dry or flaky, and they last a significant amount of time without  cracking or losing their luster.

Below, you’ll find swatches of the Uber Beige and Neon Pink shades.

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Three new shades of  Bobbi Brown Lip Gloss ($23 at BobbiBrownCosmetics.com) complete the collection: Citrus, an orange popsicle color that delivers a similarly icy finish to lips; Cosmic Pink, a sheer magenta hue that will appeal to Malibu Barbies and ’80s lovers alike; and Ultra Violet, which coats the pout with a violet pink color worthy of Barney the Dinosaur.

The colors look dazzling in their tubes but keep in mind that these are sheer glosses so that, on the skin, they look leaps and bounds softer. In fact, given their degree of sheerness and the fact that their pigment is layered over naturally pink lips, the color payoff is minimal here, making these less intimidating to those who sheer away from color but, simultaneously, less satisfying for those who do seek to bathe their pouts in neon nefariousness.

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