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Conquer those “Nude” Tricks with Clarins’ The Essentials Eye Palette

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When it comes to eye shadows, I’ve typically gravitated toward smoldering, smoky, seductress-worthy gray, charcoal, and gunmetal hues or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, toward really bold, bright, adventurous hues: richly pigmented jewel tones, galactic-feeling metallics, aquatic blues and teals, and lush, forest-worthy greens, and so forth. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a tropical climate, but I always thirst for color. When I hear of people whose wardrobes consist of mainly navy, gray, and black pieces, I’m positively mystified since my closet would look like the inside of a piñata by comparison. Needless to say, if you’d asked me 10 years ago if I owned any natural-looking eye shadows, I would’ve rolled my eyes and uttered something akin to “Boring!” As I’ve matured and my tastes have evolved, however, I’ve discovered the wonders of nude eye shadow hues. I now understand just how versatile nude eye shadows can be. For one, when rocking a bold lip color (a high-wattage orange, fuchsia or red), an understated and demure eye look is key in creating some balance — and neutral eye shadows are vital in creating such a subdued look. Similarly, when you have a low-key day and you’re going for a barely-there makeup look, nude shadows come in handy, allowing you to emphasize your natural eye shape, to add contour and depth, and to make those peepers look brighter and more awake. And, of course, they’re wonderful for blending and buffing with more colorful shadows, and they function as excellent base shades.

Every makeup junkie, then, understands the importance of having an expansive array of neutral eye shadows in different finishes — some velvety and satin, some soft and matte, and some frosted or glittery. For a while now, my go-to nude shadow palette has been Urban Decay’s Naked 2. Occasionally, I also rely on the LORAC Unzipped Palette or the Anastasia Beverly Hills She Wears It Well palette. But since there are so many ways in which neutral hues can be incorporated, I’m always looking out for new nude palettes.

I was excited, then, when Clarins launched the Clarins The Essentials Eye Palette ($45 at Clarins counters nationwide and Clarinsusa.com) in late November. This elongated palette features 10 eyeshadow shades ranging from a wispy, slightly peachy, matte creme brulée shade to a deep muddy brown with small bronze pearl particles. All of the shadows in the palette were formulated with natural minerals and infused with nourishing botanicals like rosehip oil (which is rich in antioxidants and fatty acids and works as an anti-inflammatory along with helping to stimulate collagen and elastin production) and meadowfoam seed oil (which helps fortify the skin’s moisture barrier, thereby locking in hydration) — in fact, 93% of the raw materials used in these formulas are all-natural, a conscious choice by Clarins to reduce its environmental footprint and encourage sustainable living while giving its loyal customers top-quality products.

Not only was it created using environmentally friendly standards and practices, the Essentials Eye Palette is also a testament to Clarins’ commitment to support the environment on a global scale. After partnering up with the PurProject organization, Clarins vowed to plant 10,000 trees in the Amazon area of Brazil, thereby helping the local Kuntanawa people, who have had their ecosystem threatened by deforestation. By purchasing this palette, then, Clarins fans are also supporting the brands’ environmental and philanthropic efforts.

In terms of the actual palette, it comes in an ultra chic case with red, brown, and gold horizontal stripes adorning the top lid. An elastic band along the base of the palette, meanwhile, extends upward and across the top lid, secure it in place and preventing the palette from opening inside your purse, suitcase, or makeup bag. When you remove this elastic band and flip open the top lid, you’ll find a handy mirror and a handy, double-ended brush made of birch wood from sustainable forests, cruelty-free pony hair, and recycled aluminum.

Now, let’s talk about the colors! Below, you’ll find the first four shades in the palette. Pictured below, all the way to the right, is an extremely subtle cream shade with a matte finish. It reminds me of creme brulée or perhaps a Kahlúa and cream cocktail, but it’s got slightly peachy undertones as opposed to golden ones. The second shade, meanwhile, has a lustrous satin finish and is more of a golden champagne hue with just the slightest pinkish tint. Its shimmering, feathery finish is reminiscent of buttercream frosting, which makes it feel really sweet and angelic. Next, there’s another satin shade — this time it’s a light, almost linen-like color with distinctly peach tones. Last but not least, there’s a very light toffee color with a matte finish that is an absolute dream shade.

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Now, let’s move on to the following four shades in the palette. Below, at far right,  we have a slightly iridescent pale gold color with brownish tones reminiscent of a lion’s mane. Next, there’s a honey-tinged, amber-y bronze shade with an all-over sheen and golden pearl particles. This is one of the loveliest shades in the palette since it straddles the line between a nude and a metallic, making it incredibly versatile. A deeper bronzed brown is pictured next to it, with light bronze and copper shimmer adding depth and dimension. At the far left, meanwhile, there’s a light tan shade reminiscent of cappuccino ice cream. This pale brown incorporates grayish undertones as opposed to the warmer ones that distinguish the shade pictured on the opposite end of the photo, and this cool finish is what makes it so different from the aforementioned shade. Tiny pink shimmer, meanwhile, keeps it consistent with the remaining of the palette.

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Pictured below, are the final two shades in the palette: one is a muted, coppery red clay hue with very subtle white gold shimmer; and the other is a deep espresso brown with reddish, coppery shimmer.

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As you can see, the palette features only two matte eye shadows, but they’re both really versatile — especially that toffee-meets-peanut camel color since it’s great for blending and diffusing other shades. The color gradation in this 10-shadow palette is also rather impressive, going from a barely discernible creamy shade to peachier champagne hues, light taupe and bronze tones, and rich browns and coppers. I do wish there were more of a strictly gold tone in the mix (be it an Etruscan gold, an antique-looking gold, or a sandy gold) and a nice caramel brown but, overall, the shade selection is thorough and spans a wide range.

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