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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Watercolour eyeshadow palettes for Spring
Categories Makeup

Watercolour eyeshadow palettes for Spring

Spring has sprung and my favourite YouTubers have already shared their eyeshadow seasonal staples. Amid them, are lots of pastels in varying degrees of brightness, the new ‘Pastel‘ midi size by Natasha Denona followed by its dupes, and the sempiternal ‘Mercury Retrograde‘ by Huda Beauty. But among new and old(er) releases, I have realised that my version of springtime eye looks is a bit different, even if I find the choices sensible.

For me, Spring is more about watercolour-like softness rather than creatively-done editorial pastels. In this post, you will find eyeshadow palettes recommendations curated around an overall colourway; each theme has three options of different brands so you can shop according to your market and budget. For the record, I am not saying all items inside a theme function as dupes, but instead that they convey the same colour story.

All featured items are recent and should be available across both European and American markets. If not, you might be able to find them through resellers for your region. Sadly, a couple of palettes, marked with an asterisk, have been discontinued, but I thought of including them anyway — maybe you already own a couple of these and this post is your reminder to bring them out for Spring!

Watercolour pinks and greens

The following palettes evoke the image of a fairytale garden that has not yet matured into the strength of Summer, with medium greens of olive undertones and pinks befitting of a ballerina, anchored in earthy neutrals. To me, this is the perfect portrait of springtime, where colour is starting to break through the grey, resilient but yet delicate.

Option #1: Lime Crime ‘Venus XL 2’

The palette that inspired this post. Hidden beneath the neon take on Venus is a treasure trove of roses, champagnes, peaches and terracottas coupled with seafoam greens.

Option #2: Huda Beauty ‘Sand’ and ‘Khaki’ Haze Obsessions

‘Sand’ is a pink take on neutral shades with a pop of burgundy. Though khaki shades make for only one-third of its namesake palette, they’re complemented with soft pink and gold and terracotta shades. You will find no repeating shades across both palettes, but rather complementary colours.

The two palettes combined cost as much as the Lime Crime.

Option #3: Colourpop ‘The Child™’ and ‘Blush Crush’

The Colourpop monochromatic 9-pans are a force to be reckoned with. Created in collaboration with The Mandalorian, ‘The Child™’ offers a range of olive greens and neutrals. ‘Blush Crush’ combines soft mauves with rose pinks, where no shade is too bright.

You can buy both palettes for the same money a single Huda would cost.

Watercolour sunrises

The break of dawn and the end of day are natural phenomena commonly present in eyeshadow colourways. Like it happens in nature, there’s a broad spectrum of shades in the colours which are visible to us. In other words, not all sunrise/sunset palettes are born alike. The ones featured below ditch the strong purples and reddish oranges in lieu of golden peaches, also offering a range of eyelid toppers which soften the look.

Option #1: Natasha Denona ‘Sunrise’

A palette that opens the door to summer, but not completely. Inspired by the phenomenon in its name, ‘Sunrise’ takes a light-to-medium approach to the colours involved. It is tamer than other sunrise palettes, preferring shades of peach and yellow and lilac toppers.

Option #2: Huda Beauty ‘Purple Haze’ Obsessions and ‘Wild Tiger’ Obsessions

The last palette of the Haze line featured above, ‘Purple’ combines a column of true purple with plum-pinks. The ‘Tiger’ palette is definitely a staple of warm colours with two golds and a duochrome in the centre.

The two palettes combined cost as much as the Natasha Denona. The ‘Tiger’ palette is also available in limited edition red packaging to celebrate this Lunar New Year.

Option #3: Colourpop ‘Sweet Talk’ and ‘So Very Lovely’*

‘Sweet Talk’ has been a communal staple for Spring for years and it’s easy to see why: its ripe shades of peach (or coral, depending on your perception), slowly introduce colour back into our lives after the bleakness of Winter. ‘So Very Lovely’ continues that romantic take on colour with a true coral, a pastel lavender and more warm neutrals.

You should be able buy both palettes for the same money a single Huda would cost.

(Not-so) watercolour purples and lilacs

Though I am not the biggest fan of purple and its cousins violet, lavender and lilac, there is something about this colour family that makes it a sensible choice for Spring, perhaps due to the proximity they have to the pinks and peaches already featured above. The selections below mix the softness I seek with deeper shades.

Option #1: Viseart ‘Violette Étendu’

Though inclusive of stronger shades of purple, ‘Violette’ offers eyelid toppers within the colour family and cool neutrals that translate into soft pinks on the eyelids.

Option #2: Colourpop ‘Lilac You a Lot’ and ‘Locket Down’*

In spite of its strict name, ‘Lilac’ brings lavenders and soft rose shades together with true lilacs to create a bouquet of soft purples. ‘Locket Down’ offers a more plum approach. Together, they transmit the vibes of the Viseart very well, though you don’t need to buy them as a combo.

You should be able to buy both palettes for a price that’s similar to the Viseart, depending on availability and sales.

Let me know if you have enjoyed this post format with close products instead of strict dupes and what other palettes you would like to see.

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Wishful Honey Whip Peptide Moisturizer
Categories Skincare

Wishful Honey Whip Peptide Moisturizer

As a grand lover of Huda Beauty makeup products, I felt obligated to try her skincare line as well, available under the Wishful brand. My first contact with the Yo Glow Enzyme Scrub, which one might deem Wishful’s flagship, could not have been prevented — samples are ubiquitous in every retailer, whether you ask for one or not. In fact, it is very likely there’s a sample for you hiding in your order right now.

My less-than-positive experience with the scrub did not deter my resolution to try more from the brand. The Honey Whip Peptide Moisturizer was the one thing I was most excited to try, and I bought a mini version last November. I have been integrating it as part of my skincare routine since against familiar products, with days off in-between, and I’m now content with my experience so that I can share it with you.

Though it sits white in its tub, the Honey Whip is translucent upon application and quickly absorbed into the skin. It’s only a tad more consistent than the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel, as the formulation demands it. It is scented, although, and unlike the majority of Huda’s products, the fragrance is subtle, only reminiscent of beeswax. The tub lists manuka honey, cica, peptides and collagen as the ingredients to the moisturizer’s richness, but you should know it also contains niacinamide and glycerin as a plus. (Two pluses?)

All good things aside, let us have a look at its claims. As per Huda’s shop, the Honey Whip serves to “firm, lift, repair, AND plump the skin, as well as reduce redness and even out your complexion.” It also states the product to be non-comedogenic. The plentiful recipe, combined with the lightweight formula make the Honey Whip a great staple for both daytime and nighttime routines. It feels like a powerful treatment for your skin, with noticeable changes in texture right away.

I identified only one disadvantage to the Honey Whip — on my skin, a consistent use for three days enhances the production of sebum, so while it’s true I notice no comedones forming right away, it does offset the balance of my skin. It becomes greasy to the touch and I do think an everyday use would give way to pimples (and I do exfoliate). I know I said a similar thing about the Nivea Cellular Luminous 630® serum, in spite of the difference in alcohols, so I guess it’s just the nature of my skin in its struggle for balance.

I have found my favourite way to use this moisturizer it’s more as an evening treatment, a little moment of pampering. With this in mind, my mini tub is still going strong. It will take a while before I need to repurchase it. It’s definitely reaching holy grail status for me.

Made in the South Korea, the Honey Whip Peptide Moisturizer is currently available as a full-size of 50gr for €43 or as a mini of 20gr for €19.

TL;DR

PROs
  • entire line is cruelty-free
  • sits well underneath makeup
  • rich recipe
  • good value for the mini
CONs
  • nope!

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