Sunday, July 24, 2016

Anastasia Beverly Hills - Modern Renaissance Eye Shadow Palette - Swatch & First Impressions!

When I think about the brand Anastasia Beverly Hills, the first thing I think of is not eye shadow. I think 'brows', then 'highlighters', then 'liquid lipsticks'...I don't think 'eye shadow'. Which is not to say they can't make good eye shadows/eye shadow palettes, I even own the Artist Palette, but it's not my go-to brand. So it was especially weird for me to fall head over heels for their brand new, first-ever permanent eye shadow palette: the Modern Renaissance palette.
Those colors! It's quite unique, especially in since the makeup palette world is saturated with neutrals, but even though it has some bright and different shades, such as the reds, it's a very wearable palette on it's own. I also loved the inspiration behind this palette; the shades and names are based off of the colors most used in Renaissance paintings. From the moment Anastasia Beverly Hills (ABH) released teaser images, I knew I had to have this palette. It released on the ABH website shortly after it was announced and I purchased it the first day it was available on
The Modern Renaissance palette has fourteen 0.7g/0.02oz shadows; it has more shades than previous ABH palettes (fourteen versus tweleve), but it is also more expensive at $42 (the other palettes were around $35). There's been some debate as to why the price was increased and a lot of people say that it's because this palette is permanent, but I think it's because ABH wanted to see if it would sell if it priced more comparably to other mid/high-end palette (like the ones from Urban Decay or Lorac). ABH said that if this palette does well, they'll likely come out with a cooler version, which I'm interested in seeing. While it is more expensive, I think it's justified since I find that shadows in the Modern Renaissance perform better than the ones in my Artist palette.
The front of the box looks exactly like the palette does; it's the same dusty rose color and it has the same lettering.
The back of the box lists all the ingredients and includes a color photo of the inside of the palette. This palette is cruelty-free, though it is not vegan (it uses carmine as a color additive). I looks like the formula of these shadows are mica-based, not talc (which is good), and they use dimethicone to give them a good slip and feel.
I'm not a big fan of the packaging; this is a cardboard palette with a magnetic closure, similar to the other ABH palettes, and it has a velvety covering, like the original Urban Decay Naked palette, which is really difficult to keep clean, especially in such a pale color. It's perfectly functional, but it doesn't feel as durable, nor as luxe, as some of my other, similarly priced palettes.
It also includes a double-ended brush; one end is a softer blending/crease brush and the other is a denser, rounded shading brush. It's a fairly nice brush, comparable to the brushes in the Urban Decay palettes, and I'll get some use out of it. I know it's silly, but I like it when palettes included brushes like this; I don't know if I'm just used to it at this point, but when I get a palette that doesn't (either a brush or something similar, like an eyeliner), I almost feel like it's missing something.
I know I already used this photo in my opening, but I wanted to talk a little more in-depth about the inside of the palette as a whole. The mirror is quite large and doesn't cause any warping or blurring (since it's also kind of heavy, I think it's made out of glass). The palette is generally organized light to dark, with the berry tones mixed in near the dark side. These photos were some of the first ones I took using my new light box, so they're not as polished as I would like them to be. I'm going to look at each shadow individually going from left to right, top to bottom and all of my swatches are done dry on bare, un-primed skin. Along with color descriptions and my first impressions of the shadows, I'm going to also try and include a little bit of info about the name (most of which will come from Wikipedia).
First is Tempera. Tempera is a painting medium consisting of  color pigments mixed with a binder (typically egg yolks, which is why it is also called 'egg tempera'). I used to use tempera paints quite a bit when I was younger, but it was a more modern formulation where all you had to do was add water to a powder. ABH describes Tempera as a 'velvety beige with an ultra-matte finish'. This is one of those shades that don't show up on me because of my skin tone (it's also a little on the sheer side); it functions best as a base layer to help with blending or as a highlight.
 Next is Golden Ochre. Ochre is a pigment from the earth that contains hydrated iron oxide and that ranges in color from yellow to orange to brown (most of the pigments named here are going to be various combinations of metal oxides). This color is described as an 'earthy yellow with an ultra-matte finish'. It's a very unique color and I don't have many colors in my collection similar to it. It performs well, especially for a matte, and it applies smoothly.

Vermeer is another shadow that doesn't show up well on me because of my skin tone; it's almost like a shimmery, slightly pink-toned version of Tempera. It's also one of the three non-matte shadows in this palette. ABH describes it as an 'iridescent shell with a metallic finish'. The name Vermeer, most likely refers to Johannes Vermeer, a Dutch painter. Because this has a metallic finish, it's not as sheer as Tempera, but again I think the best use for this would be as a highlight or to add a touch of shine.

Normally, I'm not a fan of matte shadows, but when they are formulated like these (with more slip and adherence from the dimethicone), I actually enjoy using them. This is Buon Fresco, an 'antique lavender with an ultra-matte finish' and one of the colors in this palette that is also available as a single shadow. The name refers to a painting technique that translates to 'true fresco', or a mural painted on wet plaster (it's actually slightly more complicated than that, but that's the general idea). This is another unique color and it's a great transition shade to use with some of the brighter berry colors in this palette.
This was one of the shades that I had some issues with color accuracy, so I apologize for the discrepancy between the pan shot and the swatch. The swatch is more accurate color depth-wise, but the pan shot brings out the purple-undertones that this shade has. Antique Bronze is described as a 'metallic sable with a satin finish' and the name is pretty self-explanatory. This is a pretty standard bronze, but it performs well, is highly-pigmented, and complements the rest of the palette, especially with its slight purple undertone.
Love Letter was one of the shades in this palette that I was most excited for, but unfortunately, it ended up being one of the more disappointing ones. Bright purple/red pigments can be difficult to formulate, especially in a matte finish, so I wasn't expecting it to be perfect; for what it is, I think it performs okay, it's just not as good as some of the other shades. It's described as a 'raspberry with an ultra-matte finish' and it's another unique color. You can definitely work with it and build it up, it's just a bit more finicky and takes more time to blend.
 The last shade in the top row, Cyprus Umber, is also the darkest shade in this palette. Umber is a clay pigment composed of iron oxide and manganese oxide and Cyprus refers to the island where it is primarily sourced. With these warm, berry tones, I'm glad that ABH included a deep brown as the darkest shade instead of a black, which would be too harsh; it is described as a 'dark coffee with an ultra-matte finish'. This is another color where my pan shot and swatch look quite different; the color depth is more like my swatch, but the pan shot shows the warmer undertone. This color performed well, was highly pigmented, and makes an excellent crease color (especially when used in conjunction with the other shades in this palette).
 The first shade of the bottom row is Raw Sienna, described as a 'neutral amber with an ultra-matte finish'. Raw Sienna is a pigment, in it's raw state, that contains iron oxide and manganese oxide. When heated, it changes to a more reddish brown and is then called Burnt Sienna. This is another smooth and buttery, versatile shade, and the orange undertones will complement blue eyes well.

Next is Burnt Orange. Unfortunately, my camera washed it out quite a bit, so it looks really similar to Raw Sienna. It's definitely in the same shade range, but Burnt Orange is a lot more, well, orange! You can kind of see it in the pictures, but the difference is a lot more pronounced in real life. ABH describes is as a 'deep orange with an ultra-matte finish', but it's really more brown than orange (plus I have some burnt orange shades that are a lot deeper of an orange). I feel like ABH included these similar two shades (Raw Sienna and Burnt Orange) since the brown of Raw Sienna works better with the berry shades and the orange of Burnt Orange works better with the more orange/chocolate shades. This color is also available as a single shadow.
 Primavera is the third, and final (sort of, I'll get to that later), shimmery color in this palette. It's a beautiful pale gold/champagne highlight, which ABH describes as a 'shimmery gold dust with a metallic finish'. Primavera is the Italian word for 'Spring' and it is also the title of a tempera painting by Sandro Botticelli, an Italian Renaissance artist. It performs as well as you would expect a mid/high-end shimmer shadow and would make a great highlight or layering shade.
 Red Ochre is described as a 'sienna with an ultra-matte finish', which makes me wonder why they didn't just call it 'Burnt Sienna', though there is such a pigment as 'Red Ochre', which contains hematite, a type of iron oxide. Regardless! It's a deep reddish brown and it looks much more pigmented in person than in my swatch picture, though it is a little stiff in the pan so it takes more effort to blend.
 Next is Venetian Red, a 'crimson with an ultra-matte finish'. Out of all the mattes in this palette, this is the least matte; even in the swatch picture you can see a little bit of shimmer. I think is similar to some of Urban Decay's mattes, where it's actually more of a satin finish than a true matte. I'm happy they added a bit of shimmer to this color since, if it was a straight matte, it might have the same stiffness and blending issues that I had with Love Letter due to the purple/red pigments. Venetian Red is a pigment made from almost pure ferric oxide. It's also interesting to note that it tends to be on the unsaturated side, which gives this shade a good excuse for not being super intense.
In my (albeit minimal) research for this post, I discovered a very curious fact about the color taupe: while it's meaning has expanded to include many different shades of greyish-brown and brownish-grey, it originally comes from the French word for 'mole', and true taupe is the color of said moles. The taupe in this palette is lighter, and is a lot deeper than my picture shows (this is another instance where the swatch is more color accurate than the pan shot). A warm taupe is intriguing and surprisingly unique; most taupes I have lean more on the cool-toned side. This is another color that is available as single shadow.
The last color in this palette is Realgar, a 'brick with an ultra-matte finish'. Realgar is a red paint pigment derived from arsenic sulfide and is well known for being toxic. Along with being used in paints, realgar was used as a poison to kill rats, weeds, and insects and it was sprinkled around homes to repel snakes. ABH describes it as a brick color, but it's a lot more orange. With the explosion of orange-based shadows (such as the Too Faced PB&J palette or the Morphe 35O), this color isn't too unique, but it performs well and complements the other shadows in this palette.

Overall, I really like this palette! I am biased since I was immediately drawn to the colors, even before I had seen it in real life, but after swatching and playing with it a little, I do think it performs well and is quite comparable to other similarly priced palettes. The only shade that really gave me any trouble was Love Letter, which is unfortunate since that was one of the colors that interested me the most (not to mention that it's also one of the most unique colors here), but you can work with it, especially if you use it over a primer or base. If the colors in this palette interest you, I'd say go ahead and pick this up, but feel free to take your time and go check it out in person first since it's part of ABH permanant line and will hopefully be around for quite a while yet.

Thanks for reading! <3

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