New dupes by Technic Cosmetics and W7 Makeup
Categories Makeup

New dupes by Technic Cosmetics and W7 Makeup

Preface: This post is purely informative and not sponsored. None of the brands mentioned gifted or paid me to talk about them.

Technic Cosmetics and W7, two British powerhouses for low-cost makeup, have recently released their eyeshadow dupes for ABH, Huda Beauty and even Kevyn Aucoin, and I have been waiting for them to become available outside of their respective websites (thus, to continental Europeans as well) to let you know all about it. I am *not* purchasing any of the mentioned products, still, there is some value in spreading information, is that not so?

Dupes for Anastasia Beverly Hills

Timeless curations do not go to waste. ABH palettes are probably the most duped ones out there, right after Urban Decay’s original ‘Naked’. Or so I would imagine. For the Winter holidays of 2021, Anastasia released ‘Primrose’, an updated take on the brand’s traditional elongated palettes, made slimmer and longer, as two of the usual dozen shades were turned into blushers. It took a while, but W7 has finally released ‘Rosé All Day’, their dupe for it, though the pink and purple shades seem darker than the original ones, going by images published to the brand’s social media. At least it is advertised as a multiuse palette, which is fairer than Anastasia’s calling ‘Primrose’ an all-in-one palette in spite of no second face product category being offered. There is no short degree of audacity in calling something decidedly not inclusive an all-in-one product.

I no longer buy from ABH so I would recommend the dupe every time, even more so considering the colour story consists of widely available shades. ‘Rosé All Day’ is available at W7’s website for £7.95. In the continent, you can buy it from Boozyshop for €10.49, but I’d recommend Maquillalia instead, where the palette sells for just €5.99!

Dupes for Huda Beauty

Both W7 and Technic fancy duping Huda Beauty palettes. This time, they chose different items to work with, the former the ‘Wild Obsessions’ series and the latter ‘Rose Quartz’, which was Huda’s large release of 2021.

Sadly, as a collector of Huda’s palettes, which might easily be my favourite of all time, I have not been able to purchase ‘Rose Quartz’ yet. Perhaps next year. ‘Unconditional’ is easily the most intriguing palette out of the bunch, as it seems very promising, though it’s three shades shorter. Technic even kept the odd formulation of pearls-of-pigment-suspended-in-balm for their rendition of the Love Stone shade, as they had done before for the texture’s shameless debut in Huda’s ‘Naughty Nude’. Kudos to Technic for testing their duping abilities to the limit!

As a collection, ‘Wild Obsessions’ includes four palettes. Three of them (‘Chameleon’, ‘Jaguar’ and ‘Python’) received the dupe treatment as ‘Toucan’, ‘Panther’ and ‘Python’, respectively. Huda’s ‘Tiger’ is conspicuously absent. I imagine three reasons as to why. Consisting of a mixture of warm neutrals and golds, W7 might have thought it easy to dismiss. Maybe the yellow-to-pink duochrome that takes a central position in the original palette was inconceivable to dupe for some reason. Or perhaps the dismissal has something to do with ‘Tiger’ being, at least at the time of release last year, an item that is exclusive to hudabeauty.com. (This being said, I did see it sell at Sephora Portugal for a good while.) I own all originals, so feel free to ask for my review or swatches in case you’re undecided.

W7’s ‘Jungle Colour’ series is available at the official website for £5.25. Keeping in with GBP, all three palettes cost you £15.75, while the Huda palettes are available from Boots at £27 apiece. You can buy them from Maquillalia at €3.49 apiece. As for Technic’s ‘Unconditional’, it is priced at £6 and I have yet to see it come to any continental stockist.

Dupes for Kevyn Aucoin

Finally, W7’s newest dupe release consists of four palettes dubbed ‘Amplify’ — Drama, Unmistakable, Knockout and Power Trip — each containing 5 pressed powders, of which 1 or 2 are shimmers or glitters, and a coordinating liquid eyeshadow. The palette layout immediately made me think of the Kevyn Aucoin‘s ‘The Emphasize Eye Design Palette’, and I was not wrong. W7’s colours are very much dead on dupes, judging from photographs only, or otherwise intentionally as similar as could be.

I am a bit confused as to the timing of release, seeing as Aucoin’s palettes are 3 years old at this point, and I see W7 tending to prefer recent high-end releases to dupe. Even if the bronze and purple shades are forever, the package design is, in my opinion, dated. The embedded compartment for the liquid eyeshadow is something we once saw appearing in holiday sets from Too Faced or Tarte, but even these brands learned to make trays removable and drawers reusable. Accordingly, I would have preferred to see W7 change the palette layout and keep the liquid eyeshadow separate while part of a bundle — as powder products far outlast non-powder ones, you will have to endure an empty, useless pocket after you have used up the liquid eyeshadow.

The ‘Amplify’ palettes are available at W7’s website for £5.95 and at Maquillalia for €3.99. I would recommend them only if you care about the liquid eyeshadow as well. Otherwise, you can purchase identical shades contained in other all-powder, affordable palettes.

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Favourite palettes of June
Categories Makeup

Favourite palettes of June

I know this post is arriving late on this, the hottest day of the year so far, still, I did not want to skip a month. For some unknown reason, June was lacking in excitement for eyeshadow palettes, and I found myself reaching for only a couple of them in a loop — so much so that, instead of the typical top three, only two palettes are worthy of being called monthly favourites this time. Could I have chosen a third one just for the maths? Yes, but that would have been insincere.

Swear by It

I bought this palette years ago, upon a recommendation by Kathleen Lights (in this video right here). Admittedly, for a while, I was mad at myself for having done such a thing as to spend high-end money on a product that is considered drugstore when, at the time, there were plenty of Too Faced palettes calling my name — and though I feel I grew out of this brand, the point does stand. NYX and Milani being drugstore brands is a fact most difficult to wrap my head around. Nevertheless, I calmed my nerves and justified this palette’s hefty price with the reasoning that follows.

NYX’S ‘Swear by It’ palette contains 40 shades of eyeshadows within the red, yellow, green and blue colour families, supplemented by neutral options. Each pan contains exactly 1 gram of product. It is not advertised as vegan or cruelty-free, as it contains carmine.

It’s a very beautiful jewel-toned, Autumn-inspired palette, which includes shades of blue I am not sure I own elsewhere. The quality of it is great, that’s undeniable, but the so-called metallics are not very metallic at all, indeed they perform just like standard shimmers in what is, otherwise, a matte-heavy palette. Thus, I wore ‘Swear by It’ in conjunction with other palettes, mostly quints from Colourpop, so as to manage fully monochromatic looks, which are my favourite. This is not to say it needs external support; it suffices if your preferred look is something effective and down-to-Earth.

Am I regretful that I bought this palette? No, I can’t say I am. When all is said and done, ‘Swear by It’ is a beautiful palette that is inclusive of tones I do not own elsewhere, and I can justify its price tag when I consider the quality, shade range and weight together. The hefty price tag, though hardly apt for the drugstore, makes sense if you look at this palette’s characteristics as a whole and see it as a potential investment.

Ice Cream Dream

Even if the month of June was boring in palette numbers, it was much fun for me regarding looks. Out of my comfort zone, I felt like experimenting with bright colours and incorporated two or three different families in the same look. Yellow, orange and pink. Mint and lavender. Such combinations may not be brilliant and original, but they sure are different enough for me to get excited about. This I did mostly with Glamlite’s ‘Ice Cream Dream’ and the ABH Norvina palettes, all bursting with colour.

I could use an ‘Ice Cream Dream’ right now. The palette contains 30 shades inspired by popular ice cream flavours and scents, mattes and shimmers of both standard and marbled textures. It is vegan, cruelty-free and advertised as hypoallergenic. The lid is decorated with a cone foil and 3D sprinkles on top. To round off the cuteness, it comes boxed in a novelty ice cream truck package. The latter is currently sitting inside my wardrobe, but I used to have it on display for summer.

As someone who had Glamlite palettes before (‘Street Taco’ and ‘Viva Taco’), I found no difference in how ‘Ice Cream Dream’ performs, but the formulation must be different indeed, for it remains dry, while the oils in the others leaked around the cardboard. This is not necessarily indicative of danger, but it is bothersome nonetheless.

The colours are the stars of the show. I love how varied they are for a rainbow palette, combining pastels with deeper shades and neutrals, meaning someone like me, who does not make it a habit to combine different colours, can still do something more monochromatic or in combination with the neutrals. The pastels I definitely do not own elsewhere — if you are looking for affordable pastels to add to your collection, I would recommend the ‘Pastels’ palette by By Beauty Bay, which is currently on sale. Otherwise, Glamlite’s palette is a solid one, albeit more expensive, if you want the shimmers and additional shades too. I have a large collection of eyeshadow palettes and this one stands the test of time out of it being so different; I can imagine it being even more special if you keep your beauty collection more curated than mine.

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Shopping new palettes I already own #1
Categories Makeup

Shopping new palettes I already own #1

Disclaimer: the images used in this post come from official stockists for the mentioned brands. They do not belong to me.

In a post which might as well be the start of a new series, I present new(-ish) eyeshadow palettes I am not buying and the reasons why, this in spite of their nearly-irrisistible appeal. It is not an original idea of mine — indeed, so-called ‘anti-hauls’ are a common feature among the beautubers I am subscribed to — still I wanted to contribute to this ‘counter-newness’ rhetoric and thus be of help to my readers, as I point out older and/or cheaper alternatives that, while not fully duping new palettes, do evoke the same feel overall of new drops, and talk myself out of more items to wishlist at the same time.

It’s not just that I am going through a no-buy phase — I am very comfortable with the number of eyeshadow palettes I own, while simultaneously aware that said number is inflated when compared to an average makeup collection. Since I noticed a disparity in numbers for palettes coming in and palettes going out of my life last year, I have been more aware of my makeup-related spendings and how I may be contributing to problems of environmental waste, how active my part is in creating demand which, in turn, constitutes an increase in production and, overall, the financial waste that also comes with it and of which I’m the major victim.

This perspective of responsibility is fairly easy to have in what concerns every makeup product other than eyeshadow. It is, admittedly, my weakness, which is why a personal grip on it must be even tighter. Different formats (as in sizes or layouts) or an attachment to a particular intellectual property do justify owning two very similar items to me. It is… a choice. I didn’t say it was a smart one! For 2022, I decided to shop only from my top brands and on specific occasions, such as last call sales or other good deals. To summarise, if it’s not discounted, I’m not buying. This is the perspective that shall be maintained going into 2023.

Some of the alternative palettes mentioned will be unavailable as of time of publishing, so is the nature of beauty releases and stocks nowadays. And yet, I wanted to include them still, as I blog from personal experience and personal experience includes my relationship with personal belongings. Perhaps you own the same palettes as me and will, likewise, conclude that you don’t need these new drops. Or you find yourself rediscovering old loves. Or decide to browse commercial websites in the hopes of finding them because they might be cheaper than what’s new at Sephora. There is so much that can be taken from a single person’s post or video, because we are not all looking for the same thing.

Patrick Ta ‘Major Dimension II’ & Melt ‘Gemini II’

As I have pointed out before, rosy eyeshadows have recently resurged in exciting new high-end options. Two of them that caught my eye are Patrick Ta‘s ‘Major Dimension II’ and ‘Gemini II’ by Melt Cosmetics. Like their names suggest, they constitute follow-ups of previously released palettes: Ta’s because it maintains the format of the first ‘Major Dimension’ palette and overall neutrality, though giving it a rosy tinge; Melt’s as it complements the highly-praised ‘Gemini’, though it somewhat repeats the array of greens.

Dismissing either palette is easy, starting with the price tag, but mostly due to the fact I am not interested in testing out these brands.

MUA to the stars Patrick Ta has been making waves in the digital beauty bubble with his own brand since launch, particularly for his cream products. While I cannot deny everyone else’s experience, or the appeal of his luxury-looking catalogue, it is easy to let go of the whole brand when I have no emotional affiliation with the creator nor his creations. I for sure do not appreciate how 2 pans out of 12 contain cream eyeshadows, as I am not hot on non-powder formulations. I know I would never get to wear them, and at over €60, I feel I can’t afford to buy something if I cannot (in theory) use in in its entirety.

As for Melt’s palette, though it is gorgeous (even more so than Ta’s), it seems like it only makes sense when paired up with the first ‘Gemini’, which I do not own. Most reviews emphasize the absence of tonal diversity across what’s mostly matte shades; an observation, I’d argue, also works for the original palette. Nevertheless, both palettes together make up for a beautiful, grunge colour story that speaks of both petals and thorns. Whenever I feel interested in what would eventually be my first palette from the brand, I remember stories of Melt eyeshadows breaking or “exploding” post opening, or even allegations of growing mould. Even if, in fairness, I do think people can unjustly read physical changes to the product propelled by drastic changes in temperatures and humidity (thus, a reaction to the environment) as something perilous, such stories are enough for me to keep Melt at bay.

Earlier this month, I wore Colourpop‘s ‘Cherry Crush’ palette, together with a liquid eyeshadow by Corazona. It was only when my makeup was done that I realised this combination gave me the same result I’d expect from the Patrick Ta or Melt. If you ignore the middle column, you will note a similarity between ‘Cherry Crush’ and ‘Major Dimension II’, notably between the right-hand column and the left-hand side, respectively. As for ‘Gemini II’, it does present a couple of light options that ‘Cherry Crush’ does not, but I would rather pull these from another palette than spend high-end money on colours I already own. The greens are not the main focus of the palette for me, and as such I have no need to “dupe” them.

ABH ‘Nouveau’

Last month, I posted a ranking for my palettes by Anastasia Beverly Hills. While I maintain my views on the palettes I own, I no longer feel like purchasing from the brand after learning of the links between founder Anastasia Soare and pro-Putin propaganda, this connection coming into light (in the beauty community, at least) after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. I do not want to put my money into this company, even if I had no alternatives to their makeup products. Fortunately, I do.

The brand new ‘Nouveau’ palette is a mostly neutral colour story peppered with military green, gold and what seems like a very pigmented lavender. While many beautubers cover it in their videos, others take it to social media to discuss dupes and alternatives, not just for monetary reasons, but as part of boycotting the brand. Known alternatives seem to be the newest Jaclyn Cosmetics palette and Sydney Grace’s ‘Tiny Marvels’ palette, made in collaboration with the late and fondly remembered Mel Thompson.

European access to these brands does not seem very straightforward, which might invalidate them as alternatives to ABH. Then again, neither is access to Colourpop, which I am able to get and extensively talk about. The big difference here is price, with Colourpop being the most affordable option, something to keep in mind considering there will be shipping costs and taxation upon arrival at customs for these brands. It’s possible that either W7 or Technic Cosmetics, both British drugstore brands, will release real dupes for it, as they are known to do.

Again, I turn to Colourpop and how prevailing it is my eyeshadow palette collection to dupe the vibes of the new ABH. This launch reminds me so much of ‘So Very Lovely’, not only because of the lavender, but also due to the proximity of the neutrals. All that is missing is that hint of olive green, which I own in ‘The Child’ palette. While the greens do not guarantee a perfect match, looking at ‘Nouveau’ made me consider how pretty it would be to pair up these Colourpop names.

I am also sure this palette can be easily duped using brands such as Makeup Revolution or Essence, but I have no sure example to present you with.

…and that summer colour story.

This section is not dedicated to one new palette in specific, but to colourway that appears to be popular for summer, every summer: a neutral palette with orange, blue, pink and yellow/gold extras. It’s easy to see why brands are keen on this curation, as it provides customers with neutral staples and fun, loud pops of colour at the same time, thus appealing to both “everyday” makeup lovers and colour fiends. The chosen shades are reminiscent of sea water and pool blue tiles, and the cold snacks that summer brings. These colours will “mature” as Autumn arrives but, for now, they remain loud and unapologetic.

Colourpop capitalized on this colourway last year not with one, but with two collaborations: Malibu Barbie, as well as Hello Kitty. The latter broke down the large Barbie palette into four monochromatic quads. For this year, they did somewhat update the concept through the ‘In the Springs collection’, though pinks were left behind. Makeup Revolution, on the other hand, is maintaining both pink and yellow in their recent collaboration with British reality show ‘Love Island’. The collection includes a large 18-pan palette named ‘I’ve got a Text’ and fashioned after the brand’s Forever Flawless line (housed in tin). The main difference between these palettes, beyond size, is the amount of yellow present in the blues, with the blues in Rev’s palette being closer to teal.

Once upon a time, I swore that I’d buy the full bundle should Colourpop collab with Barbie. That did not happen, for one reason or another. As for Rev’s collab, I was not even aware of the show’s existence, as a non-British person, and do not feel inclined to buy anything that is associated with properties or people I am not partial to, as I feel no pull in said names.

I realized I already own a few palettes from Colourpop which, when combined, give me about the same shades of colour (excluding the neutrals), all 2021 releases which are still available. From the Smoothie collection, ‘Strawberry Sweet’ offers that hot pink, together with three complementary options, while ‘On the Mango’ has both marigold and tangerine oranges. The blues are a bit trickier, even more so since blue is my least favourite colour to wear on the eyes, and thus the one colour that is seldom available within my collection. However, between the ‘High Tide’ and ‘Blue Moon’ palettes, both from Colourpop as well, I’m covered. As either palette can be depotted (the quads cannot), I shall have no problem taking any chosen shades with me, if I wish to live that summertime fantasy on-the-go.

Another alternative I feel matches the vibe of “the summer colourway” in a concise edition is the oldie ‘Not a Basic Peach’ by Wet n Wild. I never saw this palette being sold in Europe, but I managed to get it from Ebay last year. It is mostly a cocktail hour-inspired story with a pop of blue — but add a pink or two and your seasonal looks will be covered.

Colourpop is currently having a last call sale where you can buy from the Barbie and Smoothie collections. And if you are a fan of the show or do not care about such things, I would recommend ‘I’ve got a Text’ if you fancy the colour story and have no alternatives for it. Revolution is a top brand for me!

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Favourite palettes of May
Categories Makeup

Favourite palettes of May

For the first time since I started this monthly series (not to mention the blog), my top three eyeshadow palettes for the month share a motif — pink. While pink, especially soft shades of rose, is always welcome to my eyelids, it was my de facto go-to colour for this past month of May. It makes for a perfect transition between the watercolours of Spring and the deeper magentas and other warm colours of Summer. Already I’m feeling like embracing colour in all its glory.

Happily for myself and fortunately for my dear readers, all mentioned palettes are available for purchase or at least have not yet reached discontinued status.

Tasty Coconut

I Heart Revolution‘s ‘Tasty Coconut’ 18-pan palette is, without a doubt, my most used and loved palette of the month. Like her sisters in the Tasty line, it features mattes and shimmers housed in a plastic package, topped off with a silicone-smooth lid where the illustration is raised and detailed. It is cruelty-free and vegan. This palette comes with a mirror and no fragrance. In my opinion, the Tasty palettes share the same quality across the board, with easy to blend mattes and smooth shimmers, albeit with minor fallout. They are good choices for beginners and experienced makeup users alike.

‘Tasty Coconut’ includes a decent variety of colourways, allowing for a few monochromatic looks or combined ones. While I am, again, more partial to the pinks, I also enjoy the neutrals and the purples, which come with a warning against use in the immediate eye area, yet do not stain my skin. The only shade I think is missing is an intermediate green, as the shade ‘Palm’, though useful to compensate for the darkness of ‘Coir’, is more yellow-oriented than the latter.

I Heart Revolution’s Tasty Coconut palette external view.
I Heart Revolution’s Tasty Coconut palette internal view.

All in all, this is such a beautiful palette for summertime. It is one of those products that has got a fantasy attached to them, a whiff of a tropical breeze, something to include in your baggage ahead of a getaway.

If you are a fan of coconut, it might interest you to know IHR has recently expanded upon their tasty line: besides the previously released palette, you can now choose between a conditioning mascara, a coconut milk primer, a hydrating fixing spray, a brow oil and three nudie pink shades of lip gloss. (One sheet mask, tubs of lip scrub and lip mask and a baking powder have been available for some time, though the latter is more of a shade name than part of the collection’s branding).

As a helpful reminder, you do not have to buy any of Revolution’s products for full price (though the values are reasonable as they are), as sales are commonplace both at the official website and across stockists.

Garden Party

Wet n Wild’s Garden Party quad.

This palette is part of ‘Bloomin’, Wet n Wild‘s gorgeous, gorgeous Spring collection. I normally go for more standard size 9-to-18-pan palettes, but I cannot deny the quick and easy, not to mention portable, appeal of quads and quints. As far as trends go, I’m late to the game, as mini palettes were all the rage between 2020 and 2021, but that does not bother me. ‘Garden Party’ is a beautiful and concise rose colourway, comprised of two mattes with minor gold shimmer, one shimmer and one pressed glitter. Many people hate pressed glitter in their palettes, but I am not one of them, even if I understand the presence of one might render a quad into a trio. There is no indication of the quad being either vegan or cruelty-free, but it is made in the PRC, hence I think not.

The shimmery specks in the mattes do not bother me. I don’t think they’re visible upon application. They suffice in giving the eyelid a gradient effect. Finishing with the shimmer, you get a monochromatic and romantic look. There were times I was not satisfied with only these three colours and needed to pair up ‘Garden Party’ with the following top choice for May. The glitter is finely crushed but not the smoothest I have experienced, though I cannot speak of roughness either.

For the way I like to do my eyes, I feel this palette is only missing another shimmer to attract more light into the eye. This being said, no, I would not prefer it in lieu of the glitter because, for a Sparrow, I can be quite the magpie. It would have been better if Wet n Wild had turned this quad into a quint instead.

This quad is available in Europe via Boozyshop.

Miss Bliss

Number three on this month’s podium is Colourpop‘s ‘Miss Bliss’ 9-pan palette, released two years ago as part of the Tie Dye collection, which is, surprisingly, still going strong in spite of poor, initial reviews.

Another mention with a pressed glitter, this palette combines orange and pink to wear mixed up or as trios. I bought all three Tie Dye palettes for 2020’s Black Week sale, thinking they would be great companions to their sisters in the monochromatic series that comes encased in plastic. I was not wrong — if ‘In a Trance‘ provided me with the two perfect shades to swap with the white and the glitter in the ‘Elsa‘ palette, while ‘Aura & Out’ (removed from the catalogue) makes for a bridge between ‘Uh-Huh Honey‘ and ‘Just my Luck‘, then ‘Miss Bliss’ proved useful in making up for what Wet n Wild’s ‘Garden Party’ is lacking!

Colourpop’s Miss Bliss palette external view.
Colourpop’s Miss Bliss palette internal view.

Again, just because my May was full of pink, that does not mean I do not care for the orange side of this palette. These are not unique shades either in my collection or Colourpop’s catalogue, but the mashing of the two colours together in a single palette may be of interest to neutral lovers who are looking for a bit of colour they can manage with ease. If pressed glitter is something that just gets on your nerves, you can always remove it, as Colourpop’s pans are more often than not magnetised.

Currently, ‘Miss Bliss’ is out of stock, but with an option for receiving restock notifications. As Colourpop had a 30% off sitewide sale between last week and yesterday, several eyeshadow palettes are currently out of stock.

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Ranking my Anastasia Beverly Hills palettes
Categories Makeup

Ranking my Anastasia Beverly Hills palettes

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.

Continue reading Ranking my Anastasia Beverly Hills palettes

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Essence Kissed by the Light illuminating powders
Categories Makeup

Essence Kissed by the Light illuminating powders

If there is one thing sister brands Essence and Catrice know how to do is cheek colours. Whenever either brand announces a new blusher, bronzer or highlighter, it gets instantly wishlisted. I always enjoy their powders regardless of where they’re made, as you really can’t get any better in terms of quality, quantity and price all combined. A recent Spring/Summer drop is the Kissed by the Light illuminating powders, which we’ll be looking at below.

Featuring a rising or setting sun design and combining three different colours, the duo is available in the Neapolitan ice cream-inspired ’01. Star Kissed’, and in the more monochromatic ’02. Sun Kissed’. Both pans contain 10g of product, housed in a clear packaging that is now classic for the brand, and are made in the PRC. Like all new releases, they’re vegan, but seeing as they come from the PRC they cannot entirely receive the label of cruelty-free. They are available at Notino and Maquillalia for a similar price, just shy of €5. I bought them in a BOGO-inspired sale.

Essence‘s description for the products acknowledges the fusion of highlighter, blusher and bronzer tones in a single design, ready to grab for a quick glow all-over the face or focused highlights. I pay little heed to product roles and labels regarding cheeks and thus wondered whether these would act multipurpose. On my complexion, at least, I do see both shades working as illuminating face powders for the Summer, but afterwards ’02. Sun Kissed’ should work only as a cheek topper along with bronze and terracotta blushers, while ’01. Star Kissed’ remains a nice pink highlighter on the high points of the face all year round.

Kissed by the Light duo swatches.

Looking around the edges of the design, and swatching the powders for this post, I noticed that two out of three shades do not run all the way down, but are an overspray that should disappear quickly enough, meaning the lightest shade available in each pan is the truer colour of the product as a whole. Even in my swatch photograph, you can see the patch where the pink is missing, behind my wrist. You ought to keep this in mind if this is a product you see yourself wearing until it’s panned.

While this realisation was a tad disappointing, I swatched the Kiss by the Light duo next to other highlighters by Essence and Catrice and was satisfied to find no exact dupes! Indeed, even the texture and overall finish of these powders are unlike what has been previously released — they’re more impactful than Essence’s ‘The Highlighter’ (not to be confused with ‘The Highlighter Luminous Glow‘, which it would seem has replaced it), but not as blinding as Catrice’s ‘More Than Glow‘ highlighters.

Kissed by the Light duo (right) compared to the Essence ‘The Highlighter’ (centre) and Catrice’s ‘More Than Glow’ highlighters (left).

The Kissed by the Light powders sit on the face as a subtle glow. I am very light-handed with my makeup and had to repeat the application in order to achieve a visible result all over. Once focused on the cheek, and in spite of the noticeable change in texture as captured in the image above, they appear to have the same impact as Essence’s (more) permanent highlighters.

Overall, I am pleased with my purchase and would recommend either powder or both for the summer months, according to your preference. Who doesn’t like a sunny radiance?

TL;DR

PROs
  • vegan
  • inexpensive
  • cute for the summer
CONs
  • 2 out of 3 shades are an overspray

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Ole Henriksen Lemonade Smoothing Scrub™
Categories Skincare

Ole Henriksen Lemonade Smoothing Scrub™

Last week, I gave myself a lemony refresher so I could properly review this Ole Henriksen scrub. Facial exfoliation is usually a task I relegate to cheaper products that just do the trick, so I admit I had not used the Lemonade Smoothing Scrub™ in a while. The beckoning question which follows can be only one: is it worth the moolah?

Ole Henriksen is one of those cult brands that elicits buzz among beauty connoiseurs and lovers alike. As such, it is no wonder that I first became acquainted with it through the videos of my favourite YouTubers before the brand had even dawned on my Sephora. I was going through a *scrub* phase when it did and figured I ought to give the Lemonade Smoothing Scrub™ a try, in lieu of the more popular Banana Bright™ Eye Crème. Such is the folly of youth, my friends — what kind of person exchanges sweet bananas for sour lemons?

The exfoliator comes in a soft scrub that is yellow-coloured and lemon-scented. It is not the most pleasant of citric notes, as it smells more like the peels left on your kitchen counter than it resembles the sparkling jar of lemonade you just made, but it’s not entirely off-putting either. I applied it as I always do: in the shower, when my skin is wet and my pores open and it’s easy to thoroughly wash it off. As far as the experience itself goes, I’ve nothing to report — apply, wait, rinse, you’re done.

Let’s talk ingredients, then. The Lemonade Smoothing Scrub™ contains glycolic and lactic acids, the always-amazing glycerin and soothing chamomile flower extract. Seeing as this scrub is “inspired by a refreshing glass of lemonade on a hot summer day”, in Henriksen’s words, I find it peculiar that it does not include citric acid anywhere, just the fruit extract. In fact, pretty much all lemon-branded substances, such as lemon and bergamot peel oils and limonene, seem to exist purely for fragrance. More on that in the following paragraph. As a last, happy note, I want to mention the licorice root extract that is included in the formula.

Here is where things go wrong for me. AHAs (the glycolic and lactic acid), which are the cornerstone of this product, the exfoliators per se, are to be employed with wisdom. It is senseless to expect a peeling to be the most nourishing action anyone can perform on their face as part of their care routine, since this product category is meant to remove dead skin cells and general roughness. Indeed, a couple of weekly exfoliations are recommended depending on your skin type, a form of self-care that should extend to the body and feet. (I exfoliate my skin twice a week, which I believe to be the recommendation for mixed skin.) With this in mind, you should know AHAs increase your skin’s photosensitivity, which is why an extra deal of care under the sun is recommended upon using such products.

Why ally phototoxic, allergenic and sensitizer substances with the AHAs? It is not like these two classes must walk hand in hand. For example, while the Wishful Yo Glow AHA & BHA Facial Enzyme Scrub feels rougher on the skin and includes alcohol (no small amount of it, methinks, if it makes my flesh crawl right upon taking a whiff), it contains more and more varied fruit and flower extracts, such as blueberry, camellia, sweet almond, among many more. Quite honestly a superior recipe. Of course it’s not only about quantity, it’s about quality too. Antioxidant, antibacterial and even anti-comedogenic qualities, to be more precise. (Funny enough, you know what acid the Wishful does contain which the Lemonade Scrub doesn’t? Citric.) I would rather repurchase the Yo Glow — just embrace the alcohol. Cheers!

So when all of this mumbo-jumbo is said and done, what do I make of the Ole Henriksen Lemonade Smoothing Scrub™? It is honestly no more beneficial to me, in my humble, amateurish opinion, than the cheaper gel scrubs I am used to. Those perform their cleaning duties, which is all I can ask for in something from the supermarket. I have so much more to learn about cosmetics and ingredients. But had I known the littlest at the time, I would never have bought this product. It’s a mass of glorified lemon peels left overnight in a bucket and shoved inside an overpriced tube at those first rays of sun in the morning. I cannot recommend it even if you are not on a budget, and I am sincerely more appalled now that I’m done writing this post than I was in the beginning. Just why did I do this to myself? Shoulda chosen the bananas instead.

Have you tried this scrub by Ole Henriksen? If so, do you agree or disagree? Do share your thoughts in the commments section.

TL;DR

PROs
  • plesant and refreshing
  • it works
CONs
  • you deserve to be loved, honey.

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Favourite palettes of April
Categories Makeup

Favourite palettes of April

Before sharing this month’s favourite eyeshadows with you, a note.

Upon realising that it would be very likely that I might include products made by Colourpop in my monthly favourites henceforth, given my profound adoration for the brand (bridled only by one’s limited funds), and given the short calendar for which their products are live in the catalogue before getting replaced with new releases, a decision had to be made. Either I would exclude the brand as a whole, in which case my reviews and recommendations would not be totally sincere; or I would present alternatives to now-discontinued items whenever possible — I chose the latter, as I believe it to be a more useful option.

Looking at these palettes might rekindle your love for nearly-forgotten palettes or give you new ways of playing with your collection. Likewise, seldom is a colourway unique, so presenting discontinued palettes could also pique your interest in seeking a similar enough alternative. I will give you other options whenever I know these to be available, even if I cannot vouch for their duping or overall qualities from personal experience. To my fellow Europeans, I will link you to stockists operating within our continent.

On a Wing

Starting off with Colourpop, this quint was released as part of a set for Black Week 2021 (If Hue Like). ‘On a Wing’ features two plum mattes, as well as a midtone which translates into mauve on the lid, and two lilac shimmers. Following an intuitive use of all colours, the end result is soft with a touch of vampy. It is probably my favourite purple palette ever, as I have never felt so comfortable wearing purple lids while out in public. The quality is ever the same one from Colourpop, nailing the ease of deposition, strong pigmentation and efficient glitz trifecta.

‘On a Wing’ external view.
Me wearing Colourpop’s ‘On a Wing’.

It is no longer available as of March 2022. Looking through my Colourpop collection, I found no perfect dupe, but Making Mauves and Flutter By may appeal to you, even though they are of a more neutral disposition.

You may find nearly identical shade dupes in two big Huda Beauty palettes combined: Mercury Retrograde and Naughty Nude. That if you already own them. If you do not, and they sound interesting nevertheless, there will be no trouble finding dupes for them if you reside in the USA. Closer to home, London’s W7 has duped both, under the names Total Eclipse and Racy, respectively, and both palettes together should cost you no more than €14.

Lemonade Craze

A three-year-oldie but a goodie, Maybelline‘s ‘Lemonade Craze’ combines pink, coral and yellow tones in what is a very light palette for everyday wear. Hardly packing a punch, these dozen shades are still easy to build up and blend and not without versatility, as you can mix between the three colour families or pair it up with another affordable palette, a personal favourite of mine.

‘Lemonade Craze’ external view.

‘Lemonade Craze’ contains 8 mattes and 4 shimmers, one of them (‘Citrus’) a soft pink-to-yellow duochrome. It is one of Maybelline’s best, losing only to ‘Nudes of New York‘. You should acknowledge the difference in layout between my palette and the one that’ll pop up in search results within the European market. I know not how this elongated shape came to be; my ‘Lemonade Craze’ simply looks different because I purchased it alongside its counterpart, ‘Soda Pop’, from a private seller. To the extent of my knowledge, the latter never came to Europe, and I truly wanted to own the duo.

It’s available to purchase at LookFantastic.

Mint Pastel Obsessions

My third and final eyeshadow palette for April is Huda Beauty‘s ‘Mint Pastel Obsessions’ from the brand’s 2020 Spring release. The mint/rose/lilac trio did not impress beauty lovers inhabiting the digital space back then, and while I cannot argue its performance falls short of the previous Nude Obsessions collection, or the Haze Obsessions that followed, I cannot, likewise, review it negatively. But I’m biased towards Miss Kattan’s collectibles.

The shades in ‘Mint’ may require a bit more of elbow grease, seeing as they’re pastels, but I would argue they are very much aligned with other light shades from the brand. Pigmented enough, the four mattes are far from the intense pigmentation which was advertised two years ago, but still good to work with. On the other hand, the five shimmers, two of them swirls of marble, serve poorly on their own atop a bare eyelid but bless a coloured one with the celestial elegance of a luxury topper. They are fun to combine with mattes of other colours — though I wore the coral options of ‘Lemonade Craze’ for the day, I finished the look with the marbled shimmers. Is there anything *cooler* than a mint and pink combo?

‘Mint’ external view.
‘Mint’ internal view.

Unfortunately, we come full circle when it comes to product availability, as ‘Mint’ has been discontinued. In lieu of it, I give you two affordable alternatives: the first is Colourpop’s Mint to Be 9-pan, which for me is a companion to Huda’s, as it contains complementary darker shades of mint; the second is W7‘s shameless colour dupe Soft Hues – Aquamarine. As I do not own this one, I have no candid opinion to give, yet, based on what I have seen, the mattes should not be far off, though the shimmers do not hold a candle to those of Huda’s. At a humble €3, though, it would be incredibly petty of me to complain.

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The Natasha Denona €6.99 dupe
Categories Makeup

The Natasha Denona €6.99 dupe

I am so excited to share this dupe discovery I made with you when passing the time in the company of my eyeshadow palettes. Recently, Makeup Revolution released a set of four 7-pan palettes originally made to be gifted when shopping from the official website and other stockists (Boozyshop allowed you to take your pick until the stock was gone; while Maquillalia is currently giving you the pink ‘Soft Luxe’ palette when you spend €80 throughout the catalogue). Nevertheless, you can shop these palettes on Revolution’s website, otherwise, there would be no point in writing this post.

The Revolution ‘Soft Focus’ palette contains 8 shades, including 3 mattes and 5 shimmers, arranged in a gradient. The mattes are embossed with a cushioned pattern that mimics the palette’s lid, this one coloured a shiny ballerina pink. It comes with a width-long mirror. The palette contains 9.6 grams of product and is cruelty-free. It retails for €6.99 and you can add it to your cart via this direct link, as the product appears to be hidden from search, though available.

Here is the exciting part: this inexpensive ‘Soft Focus’ palette is by no means perfect, but still fantastic dupe for Natasha Denona‘s ‘Glam’ midi-sized palette, which sells for a whopping €70. Of course, the chosen range reflects only part of what Denona’s 18-pan offers, with a few mid-tones and rosy shades left out. Nevertheless, Revolution offers you a full range of depth.

You can see my comparison swatches below. It’s in the shifting movement that you can spot the similarities, I feel like. The lightest shimmer and matte do not have a perfect companion in ‘Glam’, but the rest of the shades are pretty much there!

Glam and Soft Focus side by side.
Soft focus (top) versus Glam (bottom).

As for the formula, ‘Soft Focus’ is very much in line with other Revolution palettes I own. I would say the shimmers are the standard formulation of those sold underneath the I Heart Revolution child brand, while the mattes perform better than those of the same brand. I find this formulation more user-friendly than that of Natasha Denona, which can be finicky or demanding of a more experienced hand. Indeed, I prefer the mattes in the Revolution alternative. They are a tad more powdery and easier to blend. Denona’s shimmers are creamier and more impactful, however swatching these side by side produced long swatch lines with ease, and you can always resort to a spray to amp up your eyeshadows.

Not only is ‘Soft Focus’ a great palette in itself, a jewel hidden behind heaps and heaps of other releases by the British powerhouse; it also provides a concise and inexpensive dupe for a much-beloved high-end staple. Even more so when cool-tone neutrals are not as widely available as their warm counterparts, a scarcity which permeates drugstores options.

I am hoping you found this suggestion useful and entertaining.

TL;DR

PROs
  • curated dupe for nd’s glam
  • cruelty-free
  • pretty packaging
CONs
  • does not dupe all shades
  • not as creamy as the nd

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Scholl Velvet Smooth™: comparing two models
Categories Footcare

Scholl Velvet Smooth™: comparing two models

When was the last time you cared for your feet? And I don’t mean getting that scheduled pedicure ahead of sandal season. I mean *really* considered that caring for your feet is, too, caring for your health? After all, everyone knows that patients with diabetes must be vigilant of their feet; and that toenail fungi are a fairly common occurrence. Stop for a moment and take a look at your feet. Consider the shoes you wear and *how* your feet rest inside and against them. The possibly long hours you spend standing up. The fact your entire weight sits on your feet, all the time. Perhaps now you see why footcare is an important health practice.

About three years ago, I was working in a health unit. Most of my hours were spent standing on my feet, either rushing to and fro or bedside to feed my palliative patients or do their hygiene. If between meals and writing charts I ended up spending an hour in a sitting position, I could count myself happy.

That’s when I bought the gadget which concerns this post — the Scholl Velvet Smooth™ electric foot file, for your heels and calluses. And guys, not only did it impact the look and feel of my feet from its first use, it also improved my general wellbeing upon continued use.

In the featured image above, you can see two foot files. That is because the white-and-blue one belongs to my mother, while the other with the solid blue body belongs to me. She just had to get one for herself, after seeing the results on my feet. I figured I would show you both models.

Scholl offers a variety of these foot files while seemingly maintaining the Velvet Smooth™ name for all of them. I have seen at least three different varieties. My model is called Wet & Dry, while a second one is named Express Pedi. As for my mother’s model, it appears to have no additional description other than the trademark. Both this anonymous foot file and Express Pedi are available in a hot pink alternative. All share the same body shape and working mechanism, with interchangeable roller heads covered in diamond crystals. These rollers are available in three colour-coded intensities. Here in Europe, shades of blue get increasingly deeper as the file’s work capacity goes from soft to regular, to extra. Additionally, there’s a bristle-covered roller for exfoliating dead skin cells.

The Velvet Smooth™ replacement files come in three different intensities.

So how do these two differ from one another?

Firstly, I should address the fact that both my mother’s gadget and Express Pedi appear to be quite the same thing, with the exception of a second speed being available in the former. As such, I will speak of the difference between hers and mine.

They do not charge the same, nor do they cover the same terrain, two aspects that might justify an increase in price towards my Wet & Dry, though this does not appear to be the case across several retailers I perused.

As suggested by its name, the Wet & Dry foot file can be used underneath running water, making it safe for use in the shower, while the regular file cannot. Though that is not how I personally use mine, there is a sense of extra safety knowing it can, as an electric device, withstand water. Secondly, the Wet & Dry is rechargeable — it comes with a horseshoe-shaped base that accommodates the file on top, a USB cable and an adapter. One single charge should be enough for some 5-6 uses, and I exfoliate my feet 2-3 times a week, as needed. As for the regular foot file, it works with four AA batteries. Depending on how eco-friendly you are, you might prefer the rechargeable option, as even rechargeable batteries must be… well, recharged.

A difference between the foot files which I saw no one else talk about is how they feel. My Wet & Dry model feels heavy enough on the hand, the weight shifting towards the roller head, which helps with not making it tiresome to hold. The body is covered in soft silicone, so it is very comfortable against my palm. On the other hand, my mother’s file feels cheaper all around, made of thin plastic. What is more, the batteries make this model heavier than the Wet & Dry — about twice as heavy, I would say. Even with its ergonomic format, it can get tiring to hold it when posed under the back of the heel.

In conclusion

If rough, callused skin is the battle to face, you can go no wrong with about any of the Velvet Smooth™ foot files, seeing as all of them use the same roller heads and, thus, create the same results. What you have to consider is what you value in a gadget in terms of energy and how you’d use it. In the shower, while the hair products act? Perhaps this is something you see yourself bringing on your next trip? If so, the Wet & Dry is your best option. Or do you just want something functional? Then, the regular foot file might be cheaper, depending on where you are shopping.

As a final note, I want to point out that the roller head refills are sold in packs of two and I do recommend buying them from Notino, where a bundle of six units usually costs about €24, whereas in the supermarket a pack (of two) sells for €14.

My wonderful experience with the Scholl Velvet Smooth™ foot file has left me curious about trying the nail file of the same line, which I hope I can someday.

TL;DR

WET & DRY
  • interchangeable rollers
  • 2 speeds
  • comfortable
  • rechargeable
  • waterproof
  • nope!
REGULAR
  • interchangeable rollers
  • 2 speeds
  • not so comfortable to use
  • not rechargeable
  • not waterproof

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