In today’s post, which I’ve been working on for over a week, I will be ranking all my eyeshadow palettes by Anastasia Beverly Hills (that do not go under the Norvina line).
Generally of a permanent nature within ABH’s catalogue, these have been around for years and have managed to keep themselves relevant, as multiple videos titled “the best eyeshadow palettes” attest to. Every September, as Autumn comes near in the Northern hemisphere, you can count on ‘Jackie Aina’ and ‘Soft Glam’ guest-starring in videos of seasonal recommendations. These two are the standard the beauty community holds autumnal colourways to.
Of the palettes included in this post, only a few are still widely available among stockists. For the sake of the ranking, I had no reservations about showcasing now-discontinued palettes as well — you might be able to find them being sold by private individuals or available via cheaper alternatives (whenever that is the case, I included a list of dupes.) There is also a meagre possibility ABH might re-release older palettes in the future, seeing as ‘Sultry’, which was released in 2018, was made available a second time for Black Friday 2020.
I own eight palettes: ‘Modern Renaissance’, ‘Sultry’, ‘Norvina’, ‘Prism’, ‘Soft Glam’, ‘Riviera’, and the collaborations with ‘Carli Bybel’ and ‘Jackie Aina’. All contain 14 shades plus a mirror and share the same external dimensions. As for the grams per shade, there is a minor discrepancy in weight across the collection. Likewise, all palettes are branded as being cruelty-free, but it should be noted only ‘Sultry’, ‘Prism’ and ‘Jackie Aina’ are effectively made in the USA, so I leave it to your judgment whether the remaining five can be qualified as cruelty-free when they are made in the PRC. If you already know how one of them performs, then you’re familiar with the lot; if you don’t, here’s your warning that ABH can be frustrating to work with, as all shades, regardless of finish, come with an intense fallout. I recommend doing your eyes first, before your face, which is what I always do.
In order to write this ranking, I wore all eyeshadow palettes once more and gave each some thought, as memory alone would not make for the most accurate review. My oldest examples are 3 years old now, and of course, they can’t be expected to perform as they did when they were unboxed for the very first time. Mustering as much objectivity as I could, I noted a universal consistency in shimmers and mattes alike, with only a few shades, in particular, representing a noticeable better or worse performance. There is some dryness to the eyeshadows, given their age, but it is nothing that cannot be fixed with the soft scraping of the outermost layer of product with the brush, or the use of a setting spray. Additionally, it goes without saying that I do enjoy the colour stories ABH offers, but my thoughts on a determined palette might be different, in 2022, than what they were back in 2019. Please do not interpret today’s thought as my immutable judgment since I purchased these palettes.
Find out how all eight palettes fare in my ranking below.
08. Jackie Aina
I could not make this post any more controversial by placing this very hyped, critically acclaimed, as you might say, palette towards the bottom of my ranking. Jackie Aina is universally praised for the curation behind her eponymous collaboration with Anastasia, and it is not hard to see why. Aina’s managed to capture the colours of Autumn, from those of the changing foliage to Halloween-appropriate purples, not forgetting the more rich, nigh decadent, berry shades. This is a gorgeous gem of a palette. It surprises me to see no apparent dupes for it were ever made, considering the commotion it caused in the digital beauty world.
While it is easy for me to appreciate the legacy of this ‘Jackie Aina’ palette, I would be lying if I told you it is indeed one of my favourites, in this ranking or outside of it. When all praises are sung, I find this colourway troublesome to play with, even if it is visually stimulating. Splitting it into quads does the trick, as far as combining shades goes, but it does not alter the fact the colours employed are too rich for my liking. Next time the weather turns cold, I know I will remember to keep it on my dressing table. Otherwise, purely thinking of how many times I have reached or foresee myself reaching for this palette, the ‘Jackie Aina’ must take last place.
Where to buy: N/A
‘Norvina’ ranks above ‘Jackie Aina’ merely because its colour story is friendlier to me and more used. If I were to score these palettes based on performance alone, then the latter would be way ahead of the former. In my humble opinion, ‘Norvina’ stands out as the worst ABH palette I own.
The shimmers are surprisingly comparable to those of Makeup Revolution in both feel and impact, where they do the job without bringing much light into the eyelid. They also represent a higher fallout than others in the permanent eye, causing me to clean my undereye a couple of times on a single application. While I love Revolution’s shimmers for what they are, practical and nice, it is disheartening to see a similar performance being given by much more expensive eyeshadows from a cult brand. Indeed, I prefer the Revolution shimmers, as they do not dirty my undereye that much.
I find myself unimpressed with ‘Norvina’. No single shade stands out. Though I found no exact dupes for it, this delicate, ever-blooming spring colour story can easily be duped with a couple of cheaper palettes. Though this palette was important in establishing Norvina Soare’s name and serves as a precursor to the line she would create within her mother’s brand, it is ultimately easy to dismiss.
Though not a favourite of mine, I do think ‘Sultry’ should have never been discontinued. Cool-toned neutrals can be hard to get, as they are ever the minority. Every couple of years, we see them made into a trend, but why should some certain neutrals be considered ‘staples’, while others are deemed fashionable things? As we come in a wide range of possibilities when it comes to our complexion, the word ‘neutral’ becomes subject, likewise, to a whole array of interpretations.
A pop of coral, seemingly out of place among taupes and pewters, captures the eye and invites creativity — it’s no wonder Urban Decay would do something similar with Naked Reloaded. It is the tiniest bit of je ne sais quoi that makes it memorable amid a neutral colour story. This being said, the neutrals perform alright, as expected from ABH, which is I defend ‘Sultry’ ought to endure, as an option for those who are fans of either the brand or its typical formulation.
Personally, if in the mood for cool tones, I am more likely to reach for Natasha Denona‘s Glam palette or Colourpop‘s Stone Cold Fox oversized alternative, so I would be lying if I described it as an essential. The way I see it, it is not a matter of which one of these palettes is the objective best, but one of finding the best match for you. ‘Glam’ can be a bit redundant but is still available. ‘Stone Cold Fox’ can be intimidating in how large it is, but it’s got the silvers I feel ‘Sultry’ is missing. Lastly, if the aforementioned pop of coral is what’s catching your heart more than your eye, there are a few dupes available for ‘Sultry’.
‘Riviera’ was my very first palette from ABH. I remember at the time I did not find any of their other options appealing. Madness, I’m aware. I was immediately drawn to it because of the nautical-style packaging and yacht club fantasy-inspired promotional pictures. The canvas wrapping around the palette, in lieu of the velvet that is typical of ABH, may feel rough but looks so charming! The colour story is not what I would expect from such a palette. Instead of navy and royal blues and pops of red and gold, we meet with bright pinks, purple, yellow and teals — for the life of me, I cannot wrap my head around the final product.
The colour story is much more apt for 80’s or early 90’s visuals than charming looks to dazzle at the yacht club. In this context, it works. As a colourway, it is chaotic and challenging. As a palette, it is easy to combine any two colours together and blend their edges together with a shimmer in-between.
While I still do not think this palette makes much sense as a final product, or indeed for ABH and its branding, with its timeless appeal, I cannot deny how fun an item it is. The colours are pigmented; the shimmers are transformative. It is not an everyday kind of colourway for me, but I do enjoy a powerful pink and purple combination from time to time. It is not a palette I would take on vacation with me purely for the *vibes* of the packaging, but it serves as a unique addition to the ABH eyeshadow family, as well as to any personal collection.
04. Modern Renaissance
It is curious to observe the resurgence of the rosy palette, as observed in Melt’s Gemini II and Patrick Ta’s Major Dimension II when ‘Modern Renaissance’ has been around for years. A question I had in mind about it was whether ‘Modern Renaissance’ would be able to compete with them. After wearing it once more, I am still unsure of the answer.
A first glance at ‘Modern Renaissance’ tells me it is uninteresting and outdated. A deeper analysis, though, leads me to conclude that this is not so much the colours’ fault, but of the packaging. The same applies to ‘Norvina’ and ‘Soft Glam’, two other palettes covered in plush.
I was never a fan of ABH covering their palettes in this velvet-like texture, for even if it feels lush on the hands, it acts as a great magnet for dust and loose pigment particles, the very kind that flies off the eyeshadows within oh-so-effortlessly. It is certainly *a choice* for a brand like ABH to wrap their pressed shadows and pigments in a fabric that will get dirty with ease (I do not think that is a very distinguished look for the brand.) Anastasia’s permanent range would benefit from a makeover if made cleaner, more in line with what we are seeing from Makeup by Mario, perhaps. (It also would not hurt if they were made slimmer.)
Since it is all about the eyeshadows, then, I must reiterate my comment that ‘Modern Renaissance’ is outdated: it is a classic. It is natural that new palettes will be more exciting to the eye — if we take the novelty aside, we will spot similar pink and red shades in the ABH to what is being released, with the added bonus, in my opinion, of neutrals, burnt orange and a soft rose to balance out the rose depths. This is more than can be said of Melt’s Gemini II, as an example. Even if the palette is part of a duo and meant to be paired up with the previous iteration, the variety in ‘Modern Renaissance’ makes for a more reliable palette for a long period of time. If you are looking for a rosy palette, you might want to keep this in mind when perusing for one.
I own a dupe for ‘Modern Renaissance’, which is Wet n Wild‘s ‘Rosé in the Air’. The year is 2022, and I still cannot get over the fact it cost me €3 when I purchased it years ago! I would rather keep it over the ABH, as it is incredibly compact and with a similar payoff!
03. Carli Bybel
I remember when the ‘Carli Bybel’ came out. It was very much overlooked by the beauty community and even reviewed in a bad light. You can’t please everyone. And yet, I wonder if people were not unfair in how they received this palette. In my experience, the beauty community tends to be very walled in, its expectations not really reflecting those of the major audience which resides outside of this bubble, the people that do not drink in every new makeup release and buy makeup as an extra commodity instead of collecting it in a feverish thirst.
This is not to say the community’s point of view is not valid — rather, it is to say different publics uphold different standards and expectations, and do not “consume” makeup the same way. For those part of the beauty bubble, the ‘Carli Bybel’ palette may not be unique in its execution, similar to several Colourpop palettes smashed together, and the shimmers might be “weak”. But if you consider facts such as Colourpop not being available for purchase outside of the USA, and that there is such a thing as lid toppers or washes of colour, which come with their own niche of public, it is not hard to see why ‘Carli Bybel’ matters.
If the ‘Jackie Aina’ palette is praised, and rightly so, for being a perfect encapsulation of Autumn and a season staple, I believe the ‘Carli Bybel’ should be given the same honour as a Springtime palette, from a couple of peachy options to a stunning pink-to-blue duochrome. I very much enjoy the layout of this palette. You will notice it is organised in two rows, the top one lending itself to cooler tones of blue and lavender, while the bottom row radiates warmth in peach, gold and magenta. Thus, it requires no effort in selecting which shades to wear, if you choose to focus on a mood. With its standard fourteen shades, ‘Carli Bybel’ is more versatile than other palettes in the ABH line, while capable of maintaining the predominant neutrality of its colours.
I do have similar shades somewhere in my Colourpop palettes. However, if I was not privileged enough to get Colourpop as an importation, I would have trouble duping it with cheap alternatives, especially the shimmers, which remind me of Viseart Paris. ‘Carli Bybel’ is a beautiful palette all around and so deserving of my top three.
Where to buy: N/A.
The limited-edition ‘Prism’ palette is all over the place. It comes with neutrals, white, black, dark and bright colours. In truth, it should result in a very unappealing palette but, for me, it is quite the contrary. This palette combines the comfort of friendly neutrals with the magic of shades which are seldom seen. Plus, the black velvet cover is, for the first time ever, agreeable and luxurious.
I love the rusty bronze looks these neutrals give, a subgenre that may very well be my favourite. They pair up nicely with my (also neutral) Luminescent Eye Shades from Chantecaille, making me feel effortlessly like a million quid, and is that not the one true makeup fantasy? Though I admit the other shades, the colourful shades, can be tricky to place, they also represent, for the most part, colours I do not think I own in any other palette, and I for one am not averse to using two palettes together. The neon yellow is lovely as an inner corner highlight, just the tiniest bit of unexpectedness and fun.
I cannot describe how much or even why I adore this palette the way I do — I just do. Nevertheless, I can see why it would be fated to be limited-edition, as I doubt it has got any mass appeal. I am happy I was lucky to buy one before they were gone. Sometimes I imagine how nice it would be if I could depot all my ABH shades in order to re-arrange them in a single (or couple) of magnetic palettes — I would not be able to do it to ‘Prism’.
Where to buy: N/A.
Dupes: N/A, but it figures W7’s Imperio tried to go there.
01. Soft Glam
Does it surprise anyone that the neutral palette would reign supreme? I fully embrace how boring I am when it comes to makeup with pride. ‘Soft Glam’ could have no position in my ranking other than the very top. What can I say about it that has not been said before? From true neutrals to bronzes, to gold and rose, we’ve got all the shades we need for the whole year. Yes, it is true the colourway bears a strong resemblance to the natural palette of the changing leaves of Autumn, but it also makes me think of sunny days and the Summer heat, just like the golds and smokey-prone shades make me think of the Winter holidays and special dinners in any month.
I have nothing negative to say about this palette other than, maybe, the fallout of the eyeshadows; but like I said above, this is commonplace for ABH. Nothing you can’t clean off the top of your cheeks. This is not just *a* special palette. It is *the* special palette if you are in the market for a high-end staple that does luxurious in how it looks, applies, and wears. It’s the one purchase that will make you feel special or a birthday gift to remember. If you can (or want to) own only one expensive eyeshadow palette in your collection, ‘Soft Glam’ is a great contender for that coveted spot.
Where to buy: ABH, ABH (mini), Beauty Bay (Deluxe Trio), Beauty Bay (standalone), Beauty Bay (mini edition), Cult Beauty, Cult Beauty (mini), Notino.
Dupes: CColor Prestige (CColor), Makeup Revolution Reloaded Velvet Rose (Maquillalia, Beauty Bay, Notino, Makeup Revolution), Maybelline Nudes of New York (Notino), W7 Romanced (Boozyshop, Maquillalia, Notino), Wet n Wild My Glamour Squad (Notino).
What ABH palette is your top pick? Let me know in the comment section.