Urban Decay and Anastasia Beverly Hills are two brands whose eyeshadow palettes I continually buy but either only use a handful of times or never even swatch! And aside from the Too Faced Semi-Sweet Chocolate Bar palette, every Too Faced palette I’ve purchased afterwards has been neglected too!
Today, I’ll be posting swatches of all the palettes I have left from those three brands. At one time I owned more than these, but they were either partially depotted, sold, or are too old to use. Those retired products that I wanted to keep for collector purposes are stored away and will not be featured here.
With Urban Decay Naked palettes, I always want them badly and but then when I have them in my hand I just cannot bring myself to use them. I don’t know why! That’s how I’ve ended up giving away two of the original Naked palettes and the Naked Smokey.
Urban Decay Born to Run
This is one of the most well rounded palettes I own. It has light, medium, and deep depths of shades, warm and cool options, neutrals and colorful shades, mattes and shimmers/satins. I admire the versatility of this palette and the color story. Born to Run accomplished the goal as being a near perfect palette for those who are busy or traveling who want a lot of options in one palette. Born to Run feels lighter than the Naked palettes and it’s nice and compact. The shadows blend well and I can create a look fairly quickly. I get a decent amount of pigmentation with the first dip or two into the eyeshadow pans, but the shadows can be built up even more. Most looks I come up with are on the softer side, but Jet can give me more drama and smoke to a look. I have so many nice things to say about this, yet I have no explanation for why I’ve only used this palette one time prior to working on this post! As to why I don’t use it more often now, it’s because I’ve gotten way more into sparkly shimmers in the past year or so. Satins used to be my favorite formula in the beginning of my makeup journey, which this palette has plenty of, but now I always want a high impact shimmer on my lids. So, for my makeup style now, I prefer to use these shadows for everything else and then pop a multichrome on the lid or add another brand’s topper shade to give the look some oomph. Now that I’ve really given this palette a chance, I expect to use it more often.
I’ve seen this palette go on sale for half price several times (which is the price I bought mine for), but I think it’s actually worth the full price if this color story speaks to you and you don’t need impactful shimmers.
Urban Decay Naked Honey
I bought this palette and the ABH Jackie Aina palette on November 1st 2019 and both of them remained completely unused and even unswatched until I began this post! I wanted the Naked Honey for the packaging and at the time this was extremely hyped as one of the best Naked palettes since the original three. Plus, I was obsessed with the Queen shade which looked like it had a gorgeous olive green tinge to it in so many of the swatch photos I saw online. So, for those reasons, I bought this palette. It’s ironic that the green tinge in Queen is absolutely not visible on my skin. The outer packaging I’d been so in love with looked more dull in person than I expected. At the time this was released, monochromatic palettes were gaining popularity and I thought all these shades looked so beautiful, but I didn’t take into account the lack of depth and the fact that these aren’t different enough to really be worth me buying this at full price.
Sweet is the type of pale shade with a pink undertone I generally ignore in palettes unless it’s my only light/blending/highlighting shade option. Swarm will take the job of Sweet since it’s light enough and warmer, but even though it looks different in swatches from Keeper, on my eyes there is very little distinction between Swarm and Keeper. I could use them interchangeably. In swatches, it’s easy to see how Hive and Drip look like the same shade on me, with Hive just being a touch more yellow, though they’re both clearly warm toned browns. I believe these are intended to be midtone shades to add depth for those with skin tones lighter than mine, and I say this because these are too light to add any depth for my eyeshadow look. I could use these as brow bone transition shades because they’re still not far off from Swarm and Keeper. Sting is the only shade that I can use to create some shape but it’s still not dark enough for my taste. It’s darker than my typical mid-tone shade, but it’s also far from being as deepening of a shade as I want. So, I’ve come to realize that this palette doesn’t have as nice of a gradient for my skin tone as it would be for someone pale to maybe even light caramel. The mattes aren’t as pigmented as the Born to Run, but they’re still at a respectable quality and they’re blendable. I enjoyed using them, but to get the kind of look I prefer, I would basically have to use some variation of Swarm-Hive-Sting or Keeper-Sting every time. Regardless of the light to dark mattes I used, it would essentially turn out the same every time with just a different lid shade.
Speaking of lid shades, the shimmers are easy to differentiate in larger areas like a swatch, but if I actually use them next to each other on my lid, it’s hard to see a difference. In this situation, I actually don’t mind that because I usually have a maximum of two shimmers on lid: the main color and the highlighting color. I appreciate that these shades are legitimate shimmers and not satins like the Born to Run, but they still don’t have the full impact that I prefer, so I would only want to use one shimmer from this palette and supplement it by using another brand’s shadow as the highlighting shimmer anyway. I can use Golden next to Amber when I want a light-orange gold to transition into a more orange gold on the lid. I can use Honey when I want a yellow gold, Queen when I want a golden brown, or HBIC when I want a lighter golden brown than Queen.
Overall, this is a nice palette with quality that isn’t mind blowing but it’s at least good. I’d rate it 7 out of 10 (or 6 out of 10 if we take my personal preferences into account). This palette essentially gives me different tones of the same look. That was entirely my fault for not paying close enough attention to the color story.
Urban Decay Naked Heat
This is one palette I realized fairly quickly was giving me too similar of looks, but I held onto it far too long. I’m actually shocked this palette is still in circulation because I haven’t heard anyone talk about this in literal years. As shown in the swatches, there are many similar colors. Low Blow is my favorite of the first four shades to use as my starting color. Although I usually like an orange crease in a shade like He Devil, I prefer to use Cayenne. I’m limited on deepening shades, so En Fuego is for more colorful warm looks and Ashes for more neutral looks. However, I wish both of those were darker. For my shimmery lid shade, I never want to reach for Dirty Talk or Scorched while Lumbre is in this palette. That golden orange is my kind of shade, though it’s still not as vibrant as I wish. Wetting my brush and/or using my finger to apply or using glitter primer only goes so far. It really just comes down to the ingredient list with the type of shimmers Urban Decay uses (or doesn’t use).
I do like Ember. It’s a rich warm brown with enough bronze shimmer to keep it from looking flat.
I’ve wanted to sell this palette for so long but the going rate for this is so low that I decided to just keep it. However, I’m trying to condense my collection to just things I love and will use. I think this is a pretty palette but I’ve only used it a handful of times over the years and although the quality is nice, I have a ton of shades like these but in even better formulas, so I will not be keeping this for much longer if I can help it.
Urban Decay Game of Thrones Palette (DISCONTINUED)
I’m a major fan of Game of Thrones, minus the 8th season that I pretend doesn’t exist. At the time that this collection was released, I was thoroughly unimpressed by the color story of the palette and the bulky packaging. So, I skipped buying it until it came to Hautelook six months later at the $29 price instead of the original $65. The Winterfell shade was broken and created quite the mess inside the slot where the palette comes out, but I was able to save enough of it to repress and cleaned out the inner portion so the remnants of that shimmer wouldn’t continually mix with the other shades.
I find it so funny that I didn’t use this palette and continued to think the color story was ugly until I finally took it off display to use for this blog post. I looked at it for the first time in over a year and it was as if I was seeing it for the first time. The shades are beautiful! Most of these are absolutely my type of colors! I honestly don’t know how I ever thought this was ugly. If this palette had been released for the first time in 2021, I likely would have dropped the full $65 on it. It’s amazing how time can change one’s perspective on things. Plus, I actually don’t mind the bulkiness anymore because it looks nice next to the other book-looking palettes I have on display.
My best guess for not liking it initially is because there are quite a few neutral shimmers, which I tend to not gravitate towards. There are also a fair amount of light shades, but my issue with lighter eyeshadows on the market is that I don’t like how many of them look like there’s color to them in the pans, yet they just look white on my lids. I’ll take a light pink, a light purple, a light peach, etc. as long as it looks like an actual color on my eye and not “whitish-( insert color)” or white with a tinge of another color. I expected these lighter shades to be the kind I don’t like, so I’m happy they’re better.
Urban Decay Stoned Vibes Mini Eyeshadow Palette
This was a birthday gift from one of my best friends. One of the complaints I’ve had about Urban Decay shimmers is that they aren’t punchy enough for my style. These shimmers are more of my taste, however, the base color of these shades are so vibrant in the pans, but the marbled silver makes each color a lot lighter when actually applied to the skin. Seeker would be so much prettier if more of the purple flecks of shimmer could show through, as well as the lighter and darker blue. Energy is also still pretty, as I can still see some of the gold shimmer with the green, so I don’t mind as much that these two shades are lighter. However, Radiate changes to a light pink which I really don’t care for. This is the reason that even though the Full Size Stoned Vibes palette has been on sale for 50% off, I decided not to get it. I love the shades in the pans but those aren’t the colors that end up on the eyes. As for this palette, I’ll continue to use it and will pretty much have the same 2-3 mattes in the crease (Attraction with Eclipse or Optimist with Eclipse) with either Seeker and Energy. The mattes blend well, but I only like to use Optimist as a shade to blend edges, Eclipse as my deepening shade, and Attraction in the crease of a warmer toned look. The only times I’ve continued to use Energy is when I’ve patted a separate multichrome shadow on top.
Anastasia Beverly Hills
Past palettes I’ve owned from Anastasia Beverly Hills have been the Self-Made palette, Norvina, and Alyssa Edwards. One thing I’ve noticed about the brand’s eyeshadows is that the quality begins to diminish after a year. All the ones I’ve seen have a 12m open canister symbol, so they at least work well for the time frame intended. I don’t know if their eyeshadows are a vegan formula, but I’ve noticed the palettes that start to not blend as well for me are the ones that are vegan. They aren’t unusable, but I just notice the change after a year. Perhaps it’s a climate issue and the high humidity in Florida causes this to occur with vegan formulas. Or it could be an issue with the particular preservatives. I’m not sure. The Norvina Volume One has been the exception so far, but I will discuss that in more detail in that section.
Anastasia Beverly Hills Jackie Aina Palette
I regret not using this palette sooner, and I say that because I had way fewer purple eyeshadows at the time of purchase. I also had very few duochromes and no multichromes, so shades like Sponsored (goldish olive brown) and Trust Issues (iridescent white in the pan but yellow gold on the skin) would have been so much more impressive to me in 2019 than they are now. They’re still beautiful shades, which I appreciate. I just know I would have had a stronger reaction to this palette if I’d used it back then. There is also the issue of the mattes blending nicely, but I have a sneaking suspicion they would have performed even better if they weren’t 18 months old. While palettes do last longer if they stay unused in the box, I immediately took this out of the box when I bought it and have opened it several times to at least give it a look throughout the time of owning it. So, that exposure to air multiple times started the clock ticking, even though they hadn’t been used on my eyes til now.
I like all the looks I’ve created with this palette. I have to build up the shade Credit for it to deepen the outer corners the way I like and Ginger doesn’t show easily on my skin, but I like the color variety I get with Supreme, Pinker, Big Wig, and Edges. The shimmers are great. They are definitely a step up from Urban Decay’s shimmer formula. I like that the shimmer particles from ABH tend to be so small but very reflective. Zamn is the exception as those glitter particles are large. Trust Issues and Dwollahs are about medium sized.
I’ve seen this palette go on sale for $31. Something that may be an incentive to getting this palette is that I see similarities in the color stories between this palette and Pat Mcgrath’s $78 Celestial Divinity palette.
The shades aren’t identical, but they were similar enough for me to think about comparing them. If I paid closer attention to the shadows I have in my collection, I may have reconsidered buying Celestial Divinity since that was the later release.
Norvina Vol. 1 Palette
Oh, boy. The story behind this palette’s place in my collection involves so many emotional ups and downs.
On August 27th 2019, I cashed in 2000 Ulta Reward Program Points in exchange for $125, making this palette and the other items I bought in that order nearly free. I was on an emotional high when I got this palette a little over a week later. I took the palette photos and eye looks shown above on the very first day I had it with the intention of getting a blog post out as soon as possible.
One of the first things I noticed about the palette was the chalky smell, like cheap eyeshadows sometimes have. I was confused because the shadows blended so beautifully and performed so well, so I didn’t think there should have been anything wrong with the ingredients. There was quite a bit of kickup though that dispersed in the air and I did inhale a bit of the shadows. As the night went on, I started having sinus issues that turned into full on respiratory issues. This might sound alarming but I’d been having “incidents” involving excruciating internal pain, struggling to breathe, etc in the six months prior. I was on new medication as well (doctors couldn’t figure out the source of the problem but were giving me meds to try and treat some of the symptoms), which had side effects of their own. I couldn’t tell if I was having a reaction to the shadows or if the timing was coincidentally bad. I actually mentioned it to a friend on Discord.
And later that night I said this…
A little after midnight, I had an incident that wouldn’t stop. It was the worst one I’d ever had and I’ll spare the details but…it was horrific. They generally lasted 2-3 hours but six hours later it was showing no signs of stopping and I had to consider that this was urgent. By 6:30 am I couldn’t stand it anymore. I was physically exhausted from what my body was doing and the lack of sleep, among other things. I drove myself to the hospital (which was admittedly reckless in my condition). I was there for five days while they did tests and it was discovered that my gallbladder was inflamed and I had a ton of gallstones and they were were continuously getting lodged in ducts and it had seriously effected my liver function as well. In the space of those five days I had multiple tests run, my second endoscopy (the first one having only found stomach inflammation because my gallbladder wasn’t checked), and finally the surgery to remove my gallbladder. I was also very unlucky that my uvula had been damaged when I had to be intubated mid procedure when I stopped breathing properly (you can look up uvular necrosis but be warned it looks gross). It took about three weeks to fully heal and be able to eat normal meals again. While I didn’t think my medical issues and the palette were directly related, my liver was compromised by my gallbladder problem, so it’s possible I was having an allergic reaction and my liver wasn’t equipped to deal with the detox. I have no idea. All I know is that I was so freaked out by having to go to the hospital the day after using it that I didn’t touch the palette again until March 2021 when I began periodically working on this post.
I’m happy to report that I now have no issues using this palette! I wish I could remember which purple shade caused the issue originally. I had notes somewhere at one point where I planned all the eye looks I intended to create, but I have no idea where it went or what shades I used in the 2019 pictures, so I did two fresh looks in 2021.
I have a lot of negative associations with this palette, but when I finally opened it up again recently, I felt joy. I felt inspired again. I thought of so many different color combinations I could create. That original excitement about having this palette finally returned. Unlike all prior ABH palettes, the shadows in Norvina Volume 1 hasn’t changed in performance, despite being a few months short of two years old. While I have decided to take the chance and continue to use this palette (at least one more time), the incident still scared me off from trying the other shadows in Norvina’s line. In fact, I’ve decided that I will no longer purchase Anastasia Beverly Hills and Norvina eyeshadows in the future. I prefer to purchase palettes with eyeshadows that can last me far longer than a year.
Too Faced Cosmetics
Too Faced Let It Snow, Girl Holiday Collection (Limited Edition/Discontinued)
After many low-quality Christmas releases, Too Faced earned the reputation of having cutely packaged holiday makeup with the quality inside not being on par with their permanent collections. I knew this, however, when I was strolling through Ulta and saw that the palette at least swatched well, I decided to buy it. I believe this was 50% off before Christmas and I think I got an additional 20% off, but I can’t remember for certain. I just know when I bought it was sometime between December 2019 and January 2020. Between needing yet another surgery (this time due to spinal issues) and quarantining due to the pandemic, I didn’t have much inspiration to test out the new makeup I was buying, even though I was depressed and continued making cosmetics purchases as a way to cheer myself up. But now I’m finally getting around to using this palette for the first time!
The quality is okay. I can make it work. The mattes are definitely not creamy and the shimmers have a rough texture. The bigger issue is that if I lay down one shade, it goes on the skin fine, but trying to blend another color on top of it is a struggle. Resting Wish Face is patchy on its own, but I definitely had a hard time getting the shade to stick on the outer corner of my eyes in the look below. The same happened with Chocolate Wasted except that it’s nice by itself but as a deepening up shade it did not want to layer on top of Obvious-Sleigh.
Snow Glowbe is a pressed Glitter, so I haven’t messed with that shade at all. While I know I can make this palette work and could see myself using it a few more times, I’m more likely to just put this in retirement. The packaging is cute, which was the main reason I bought it. I’d rather spend my time using better shadows though that bring me joy to use.
Too Faced Chocolate Gold
Ever since Jackie Aina sneak-peaked this palette, I wanted it. I was very stubborn about not purchasing it at full price though, which is why it was released in December 2017 yet I didn’t purchase it until November 2019. It gives me a rush to get a good deal. The palette alone retails for $49 but Ulta had a set that included the palette, a full size tube of Better Than Sex mascara, and full size tube of the Shadow Insurance primer for only $52. Combine that with a $10 off discount code, $125 point redemption, and $25 gift card, I ended up paying only $3 of my $161 order. And this is why I love shopping at Ulta.
The initial reason I didn’t try this palette right away was because I saw a clear fingerprint in the shade Decadent and it put me off the palette until now.
Because I’ve been using all my neglected palettes back to back, the first thing I noticed was that the Holla For a Dolla shade is extremely similar to Gilded Ganache from the original Too Faced Chocolate Bar palette. I think I prefer Holla For a Dolla because it looks slightly more green, but both of these are the kinds of shades I expected Queen from the Urban Decay Naked Honey palette to look like.
Another thing I noticed as I was creating looks from this palette is how similar the color story is to my Persona Cosmetics Identity Two palette. The Chocolate Gold palette was released two years before the Identity Two, so I wonder if Sona was inspired by it.
There are no exact dupes, but I could definitely get a similar look. It has been no secret that the Identity Two was poised to be my favorite palette of 2020. In comparing them, I definitely prefer the buttery texture and pigmentation of the Identity Two over Chocolate Gold. In each comparison I favor the Persona swatches except when it comes to Livin’ Lavish. I definitely prefer that bright warm purple over the somewhat dull colored Confident.
I clearly have a type, as I do like the color story of Chocolate Gold. I liked the looks I was able to come up with and the quality was decent. It was definitely a step up from the Let it Snow palette in terms of texture and blendability. I would say this palette is of equal quality to the Urban Decay Naked Palettes, but Chocolate Gold has a better shade gradient and shimmers with a little more impact. The one downside is that now that I know how it compares to the Identity Two, I’m going to reach for that palette every time over this one.
Too Faced Original Chocolate Bar Palette
I knew this palette would be cool-toned but when I purchased it in March 2020 (one of those distraction-from-the-pain purchases) and swatched it for the first time, I realized it was way more cool toned than I thought. I didn’t think they looked as pretty on me as they did on everyone else I saw who had this palette. The one consolation I felt was that I only spent $25 on it due to the “Who Runs the World: Squirrels” set Too Faced had on their website which included this palette, a cute squirrel cosmetic pouch, Full Size Chocolate Gold Bronzer I could use as a highlighter, a mini Better Than Sex mascara, and a liquid lipstick. Aside from the initial swatches, I didn’t touch this palette again until 2021.
In all the eye looks, I had to switch to my Gerard Cosmetics Clean Canvas in White because I could not get most of the colorful shades to show anything but brown (and similar browns) on my eyes without it. On camera, Black Forest Truffle and Cherry Cordial only show the tiniest tinge of red-purple, but they look even more brown if I use a regular eyeshadow base.
Some of the looks I created turned out alright, and are definitely helped by that white eyeshadow base, but I’m still a bit disappointed that they don’t look the way I hoped on me. My friend, who is of light-medium complexion, always looks amazing while wearing these shadows. Every time I ask her what palette she used on her eyes, I’m shocked when she says the Chocolate Bar palette because the same shades on her do not look the same way on my eyes.
At one point I considered selling this palette, but because the market is absolutely flooded with these (and a lot of people are passing off fakes as the real thing too), these go for as low as $9 on Mercari.
I took the Semi-Sweet Palette out of retirement to compare the shades. In doing so, I noticed minor random things about the packaging. The Chocolate Bar has the weakest magnetic closure and the lid of the tin doesn’t lay flat. It remains propped upward like the Pat Mcgrath Celestial Divinity palette. The Semi-Sweet has a slightly stronger magnet and lays flatter back than its predecessor. The Chocolate Gold actually snaps closed and doesn’t rely on magnets at all, but I have to put my nail in the indented space to open it. The palette container/packaging, rather than tin, feels completely made of plastic and it opens flat back so that I can naturally hold it by the edge of the mirror and bring it closer to my face in a way that the others wouldn’t allow. The mirror also takes up the entire space under the lid cover instead of the much smaller sliver of mirror space in the other two palettes. I would actually use the mirror in the Chocolate Gold palette to do my eyeshadow makeup, but not the others.
I’m happy that I’ve finally given these ten unused palettes a chance. It has helped me to realize that the palettes I liked still don’t really stack up when compared to my indie brand shadows, even if it has the perfect color story for me. I intend to be even more selective with my eyeshadow palette choices in the future, particularly if they’re coming from a mainstream brand.
That’s everything! Have a great morning, afternoon, or night. Thank you for reading!
I’m glad you were able to recover from such a terrifying situation. I totally get not wanting to use the Norvina palette though, I’m sure it’s hard not to associate it with your surgery.
I also liked the Urban Decay born to run palette, it’s a well-curated color selection and it performed well for me too. It was just another one of those situations, like you mentioned, where I just still didn’t use it. I didn’t realize how similar the Jackie Aina and Pat Mcgrath palettes were. I know ABH warns about the shelf life, but it does seem strange that they expire so much faster than other brands.
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I appreciate your understanding on that. Thank you. ❤ And yes, I found it to be so strange as well because I watch declutter videos and I see them talk about how many years they've had their ABH palette and I wondered if they noticed any changes to theirs or just got used to the diminished quality. Then I wondered if it's a humidity issue, though I usually don't have issues with my palettes after a year except ABH, KVD, and Lorac. I recall there being one beauty youtuber I watch who mentioned ABH formulas not lasting, but I can't remember which one. I want to say Morgan Turner, but I don't know for sure.
Honestly, I think people with smaller eyeshadow collections probably get used to it. But for some of the larger collection declutters, they seem to make the decision based on swatches or just by looking at the palettes. So maybe they don’t even know the performance has changed.
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Great collection ! I still kind if want the stoned vibes mini . I do have the big version of it which was a birthday gift . It’s pretty but I always layer it on other shadows that I own.
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That’s a great tip, using a base color and then putting the shimmer on top! Thank you!
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No prob ! It worked wonders for some of my looks , plus I feel like it’ll give me mote incentive to use it as well😊✨
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