In all, I tried three "alternative" palettes and, as you can see, I still bought Naked2 (there's some bad math in there somewhere). HOWEVER, all of my 3 alternate palettes do have their virtues and, if I had it to do over again, I'm not entirely certain I'd have bought Naked2 after all. Observe:
1) NYX Nude on Nude($25)
The first lemming buster I purchased was NYX's Nude on Nude palette. At $25 for 20 shadows and 10 lipglosses, this one seems like a hell of a bargain. However, as you can see in the photo above, in the several months I've had this palette I haven't even tested all of the eyeshadow shades and none of the lipglosses have been so much as swatched. The colors in this palette lean too warm for me and I've found the pigmentation to be lacking. Lipglosses in palettes like this one just aren't portable for touch ups, so they never get used in my world. This was my first NYX palette and, it being kind of disappointing, I had low expectations of the Dark Shadows palette I wrote about the other day. The Dark Shadows palette, is, however, BAD ASS. So I wouldn't judge NYX as a whole on the basis of this one dud.
2)MUA Heaven and Earth Palette (Available for the super low price of 4 pounds if you're in the UK. For those of us in the US, about $15, inclusive of shipping, on ebay)
If you're committed to NOT buying Naked2 and you're only going to buy ONE Naked2 dupe (and really, that'd be the sensible way to go about this whole endeavor), then this is the dupe you should buy. Heaven and Earth includes 12 shades, most in the same taupe and gold range as Naked2, all of which are excellent in terms of pigmentation and wear time. They aren't as finely milled as Urban Decay's shades, the pans aren't quite as large as UD's, and there are no fun extras like UD's lipgloss and brush . . . however MUA's palette is excellent in terms of shade range and shadow quality and would make a workhorse of an addition to any makeup kit.
3) Physician's Formula Shimmer Strips in Nude ($10.95, however Physician's formula often goes on sale in drugstores for up to 40% off)
This sweet, tiny little palette is (if you live in the US), the easiest to find of the alternatives I tried as well as (potentially) the most affordable (I got mine for $6.57 during a 40% sale at CVS). I'd read reviews claiming that these shadows suffered from Weak Pigmentation Syndrome, but in my own use (and I'm kind of a stickler for pigmentation, I think), I found them to be adequate. They are sheer upon initial application, but they build quite nicely and work well over a primer/base/primer+base. The thing I like most about this palette is that there are THREE shades I'd classify as "taupe". I also quite like the inclusion of a black shade which, while it isn't the most pigmented black in my collection, functions well enough as a liner that if I were, say, traveling, I wouldn't feel the need to pack a second matte black along with this kit. This kit lacks in gold shades and wear time . . . but three pretty taupes for (as low as) $6.57? It wouldn't be a bad purchase at all (if purchased on sale).
And then we have Naked2, the lemming itself:
Pretty, innit? The shadows are smooth as butter. The pigmentation is off the charts. The wear time is excellent. These are QUALITY shadows in sturdy, metal packaging with an extremely functional brush (not pictured) and a large, usable mirror included. I can't fault this palette on technical terms at all. My issue is that, well, NONE of the shades actually read "taupe" to me. There are some pretty greys, several very pretty golds, a couple of useful highlight colors and an excellent, rich matte black . . . but "taupes"? Not really finding any here.
See . . . a "taupe" kit was what I was in the market for. The NYX palette has two taupes (top row fourth from left and bottom row fifth from left). The MUA palette has two as well (bottom row far left and third from left). The Physician's formula palette has THREE taupes: shadows three, four and five counting from the right. Naked2? Billed as "taupe and greige"? No taupes. Hrumph.
I also found Naked2's shades to cluster around the mid-tone area of the spectrum. That is to say, there are lots of medium toned lid/crease colors, but not a whole lot of contrast (save for the matte black and pale cream shades, which are more highlight/liner shades than lid or crease shades). I've achieved some very pretty looks with Naked2, don't get me wrong, but if high crease to lid contrast is what you're after, you probably won't be finding it here.
Moral of the story: eh, pick up the MUA and maybe the Physician's Formula (if you can find it on sale). Skip the NYX and you can probably live without Naked2 itself as well.