Sunday, 13 February 2011

The Big Taupe Comparison

I mentioned a little while ago the idea of buying a few high street eyeshadows to compare to my growing collection of high end taupes. After a positive response, I took a trip to Boots and Superdrug to find some suitable candidates and came home with Max Factor Burnt Bark (£4.99), Bourjois Brun Nylon (£6.49) and No.7 eyeshadow in Mink (£8).

I wore each of the eyeshadows for at least a day to get an idea of the wear, texture and finish. Unfortunately, as soon as I swatched the No.7 eyeshadow in Mink , I realised I had picked up the wrong shade. I'm not sure whether the testers had been mixed up or whether it just looked darker in store but Mink is more oyster coloured than I was expecting. It's a pretty enough colour but I struggled to get it show on the lid and it is very shimmery. I much prefer the No.7 shade Wheatsheaf for a lighter neutral.

I have been considering purchasing Bourjois Ombre Stretch in Brun Nylon for such a long time. I think I have discounted it previously as it is similar to other colours that I own but as that was the whole point of this exercise, it went in the basket! This is a nice colour and lasts well. It's pigmented and applies well but if I have one gripe it's that the pan shape makes it more fiddly to load colour on a brush.

The Max Factor eyeshadow in Burnt Bark has been the real surprise find of this experiment. It's a lovely colour, it has a really buttery almost creamy texture, lasts well and isn't over the top shimmery. It's also a complete bargain at under a fiver! I have worn this eyeshadow a few times now and think it stands up well to the other more expensive eyeshadows I compared it to. It's certainly on a par with both Shu Uemura ME850 and MAC Style Snob.

1. MAC Satin Taupe
2. Le Metier de Beaute Pencil in Champagne
3. MAC Style Snob
4. Shu Uemura ME850 eyeshadow
5. Max Factor Burnt Bark
6. Kjaer Weis Wisdom
7. RBR Solstice Halcyon
8. Bourjois Brun Nylon
9. No.7 Mink
10. Bobbi Brown Taupe
11. Chanel Ombre d'Eau Splash

As well as the pan photographs, I've also included swatches of all of my taupe colours. I added the Le Metier pencil in Champagne (#2) and Chanel Ombre d'Eau in Splash (#11) for completeness. I also included Bobbi Brown Taupe eyeshadow which, despite the name, I consider as more of a cement colour. All of the swatch pictures can be clicked to enlarge for a better view.

Direct Sunlight

Direct Sunlight

I haven't included shade descriptions as I thought this might be too much as well as all of the swatch pictures but please feel free to ask for more detail. I'm also happy to take requests for any extra side by side swatches.


  1. What an awesome entry. Taupe is really one of the best eyeshadow colors--- one can never have enough =)

  2. Thank you for the comparisons! I have the Boots No. 7 shade and MAC's Satin Taupe -- taupe is the most versatile of colors! :)

  3. Thanks for this post, I'm going a bit taupe-crazy myself lately - it's just so damn wearable! I need to check out Burnt Bark and Style Snob :)

  4. This is very useful, thanks. Of these colours, I only have Satin Taupe. I will try to find Max Factor's Burnt Bark.

  5. Wow you have a lot ha. Its amazing how different they all look once swatched though. I have to say i love my MAC satin taupe its one of my favourite shadows xx

  6. Wow, taupe heaven :-)))
    And, yes, there's no denying it, I NEED the Shu one...Thanks for the hard work Jane, this comparison makes a great reference card!
    Nina x

  7. Oh, taupe goodness! From the ones you've swatched I only have the Satin Taupe and it's one of my faves. I looked for the Max Factor one in our stores but apparently we don't get this colour :/ Might check the Shu and RBR, thank you for your very helpful overview! x

  8. oh my what a great and helpful post!!! Just in time because I have been wanting some taupe in my life, now that I'm begginning with make-up. :))))

    thank you, those are fantastic suggestions of low-cost taupes..! I am so excited to go find the Bourjois and the Max Factor eyeshadows, now.. :) yay!!

  9. The Queen of Taupe does it again! Brilliant, useful post. Hate that Bobbi Brown Taupe, its n my list of "wish I hadn't purchased..." as its so brown and clunky and not at all taupe like to my eye. The MF one certainly holds its own in this impressive line up.

  10. Thats a really helpful post. A while back I started swatching my taupes but it was quite scary how similar they were, its like when I buy stuff I lose all concept of the shades I actually have! x

  11. Fab post - went and had a peek at Burnt Bark today. Already on the list! x

  12. Great post - my daughter is always amazed at how many shades of brown/taupe eyeshadow I manage to come home with! I love Mac's satin taupe & also patina is very similar and surprisingly buildable. Another gem of a find is Yaby's ES048 Bark which is a lovely matt taupe. I'd love UD's Nude pallet but their shadows make my eyes water & last about 10 minutes :o(
    Ali x

  13. That's a really helpful post!!!
    It's nice to see how they all compare to each other and makes me feel good about ordering Solstice Halcyon, despite owning the two MAC ones!!!
    Btw the Shu one swatches really well!!!
    Yay for (another) taupe fanatic! ;) Lol!


  14. What an interesting post. Do you think you're now converted to more highstreet makeup like Max Factor?

    I find I get such a guilty thrill whenever I use the more expensive items in my collection, even when the quality is similiar. Only exception is Nyx, since it takes me so much effort to aquire!

  15. Thanks so much for this Jane. I love a good taupe interestingly the ones I am drawn to are the Satin Taupe (which I have) the Shu and the RBR. I think for my eyelids I need something with a bit of a sheen and not a flat. Thanks for your hard work. Jan x

  16. Thank you for all your comments. I really hope this post will be a useful reference.

    @Dovey: I think that’s pretty much my moto too, I don’t think I can explain away the list of taupes otherwise (and this obviously doesn’t include all the ones hiding in palettes!).

    @Makeup Magpie: I really like Satin Taupe too. I don’t think I *need* anymore but I’m not sure it will stop me looking!

    @Kat: Burnt Bark is lovely, I’m not sure I would have found it if it wasn’t for this experiment but I’m so pleased I did. Sadly Style Snob was a limited edition but it’s worthwhile looking out for it in blog sales etc.

    @Simone: I’m glad it’s been useful. I think it is particular helpful if you have or know one of the colours as a reference.

    @nicoletta: Satin Taupe is lovely, it’s such a rich shade. I agree, most of them look more similar in the pan than they do swatched. I have no good excuse for the sheer number though ;)

    @Nina: The Shu is lovely! I’m very pleased I got that one to add to my little *cough* collection! Hopefully my swatches will prevent someone needing quite as many to find the perfect taupe.

  17. @Klara: I really like Satin Taupe. What a shame you don’t have Burnt Bark. I will email you about that ;). I rate the RBR and Shu highly too.

    @dust bunnies and make-up: I’d love to know how you get on with either the Bourjois or Max Factor. Max Factor or on 3 for 2 at the moment in both Boots and Superdrug so it might be a good time to investigate!

    @Debbie: I don’t mind the Bobbi colour, I’ve used it as a crease colour and even for a bit of contouring on the face but to me it’s not a taupe colour at all. It’s good for definition but it’s not a colour I would wear on the lid on it’s own. The MF is extremely good and I’ll be interested to try other shades too see if they’re the same in terms of pigment. Not sure if I can turn my back on the highend but it was interesting to challenge myself to try some more budget friendly versions.

    @Replica: Ha ha! I know what you mean. There are definitely some duplications in my taupe collections. I missed out any that are in difficult to get palettes do there are definitely more in my stash. It’s hard not to be drawn to similar kinds of colours though, isn’t it?

    @Product Pixie: Burnt Bark is lovely. I want to have a look at more of their makeup now. 3 for 2, don’t mind if I do!

  18. @Ali Larkin: It’s funny you should mention Patina. I almost included it but I consider it more ashy gold than taupe. On reflection, it probably would have been useful to include for reference to the other shades. I’ve never tried Yaby, is the one you mentioned available as an individual eyeshadow? I’ve only their palettes I think. Not that I really need more of course ;)

    @Tina: I look forward to hearing what you think of Solstice. It’s definitely different from the others I own. I’m very pleased with Shu eyeshadow, it’s such a nice formula too. I’m pleased you enjoyed my taupe fanaticism ;)

    @Cassie: Oooh, good question. I’m very pleased with the MF and I know there are some gems to be found on the highstreet. I’m not sure I can give up the luxury factor of some of my favourite highend brands though. Definitely a guilty pleasure. I will however be going back for another look!

    @Jan: I’m glad the swatches are useful. Quite a few of the ones I have do have shimmer, in fact I find the more expensive ones usually have the most refined and subtle sheen. The Kjaer Weis looks almost matte but there’s a subtle little something in there that stops it looking completely flat on the lid. You can tell I’m a bit obsessed right?! Lol

    Jane x

  19. Fantastic suggestions and the comparisons are so helpful! I especially like the Max Factor and the Bourjois one :) x

  20. Thank you, I'm pleased it was helpful. I really like both Max Factor eyeshadow and I'm very happy I discovered it as part of my taupe experiment! x

  21. Hi - I bought the Yaby one as a single pan refill but it looks like they're currently out of stock :( though it could be in their preset neutral pallette.
    I think I might just pick up the Max Factor one this weekend & give it a go... a girl's got to have a hobby?


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