Anti-Haul: Mauve/Plum/Purple Eyeshadow Palettes

Despite the flood of new eyeshadow palettes in the past few years, I own just a few: Modern Renaissance, Naked2 Basics, a nine-pan custom theBalm palette, and a magnetic palette containing, among other things, slightly less than half (five shades) of a depotted theBalm Nude ‘Tude. The newest palette in my collection is Modern Renaissance, which I bought in December 2016; the others are all at least three years old. Of course, by normal-person standards, this is a lot of eyeshadow. But by beauty-blogger standards (which is what we’re using here, right? cool), it’s almost nothing.

No, actually, this is a lot.

There are a few reasons for my (relative) restraint in this category. First, though I wear eyeshadow almost every day, I’m more of a wash-of-one-neutral-color person than a seven-different-shades-plus-liner-and-falsies person. I also prefer cream and liquid formulas to powders, especially in the current heat and humidity. And even if I were someone who made time to play with multiple eyeshadows every day, I doubt I’d own many more palettes than I already do, for the simple reason that the eyeshadow trends of the past few years haven’t been kind to cool-toned people. Most orange, red, and warm brown shadows make me look ill, yet it’s been difficult to find anything else.

However, the last couple of months have seen a trend toward purple and plum tones in palettes. This is very exciting for me: I’d be all over a palette full of plum, dusty rose, and mauve shades in matte and shimmer finishes, sort of a cooler-toned Naked 3. So far, none of the new offerings has embodied my ideal, but it’s still been hard to resist settling for something not-quite-perfect. So in the spirit of not settling—and in the spirit of our much-missed Lady of Consumption Reduction, Kimberly Clark—I’m going to write up a good old-fashioned anti-haul for some of the palettes that have come out in recent months. I know I’m not the only one who’s been wanting a purplish palette, so perhaps this post will help you as well. (All images taken from brand or Sephora websites; pardon the potato quality, but I wasn’t going to steal from Temptalia, so.)

1. Natasha Denona Mini Lila Palette ($25)

This one grabbed my attention immediately. Five Natasha Denona eyeshadows for $5 each, when her ten-pan palettes retail for $95? In exactly the color range I’ve been looking for? Sign me up! And I find huge palettes overwhelming (more on that later), so the small size was appealing, too. The more closely I looked at the shades, though, the clearer it became that this wasn’t exactly the color range I’d been looking for. First, the two browns are…weird. The matte brown has a yellow tone that doesn’t harmonize with the purples and plums; it seems like a lazy attempt to placate the YouTube beauty gurus who need that WARM TRANSITION SHADE, damn it! I wish this shade were a cool pinkish brown, like ABH Buon Fresco, or a taupe. The shimmery brown is a little better, but still not cool-toned enough for my taste. For that matter, the three purple shades look odd together, even excluding the browns. You’ve got a practically magenta matte, a purple-blue duochrome, and a brownish plum matte. I just can’t imagine many looks in which all five of these shades, or even a few of them, would play well together. It’s kind of extraordinary that such a small palette manages to be so disharmonious.

Remember, though, I’m viewing the palette from the perspective of a pale, cool-toned person. Makeup Withdrawal just posted a review of Mini Lila, and it looks great on her because the browns read almost as nudes. If warm browns don’t turn as orange on you as they do on me, this could be a decent option.

2. Anastasia Beverly Hills Norvina Palette ($42)

This is the big one, of course. It’s even featured on the cover of the Ulta catalog I received yesterday (side note: why is Ulta sending me physical catalogs? is it 1998?). I get a lot of use out of my Modern Renaissance palette, so I was excited to hear that ABH was making a purple-toned palette, but my heart dropped when I saw the first photos. Norvina has the problems of the Mini Lila palette on a larger scale: ABH just can’t jettison those warm brown transition shades, and the overall color scheme suffers as a result. I think the lavender packaging has fooled people into seeing the palette as cooler-toned overall than it really is, but it’s just Soft Glam with a couple of purples and plums thrown in. I’m also not a fan of ABH’s metallic formula, which is too thick and clumpy for my textured eyelids, and this palette contains seven metallics. I love Volatile and Passion, though, and it would be cool if they were available as singles (they’re not; I checked).
Also, do I really want an eyeshadow palette bearing the name of a woman who, when she received perfectly valid criticism about the Subculture palette, accused her customers of not being able to use makeup? Nah, I’m good.
Update, 8/17: I swatched Norvina at Ulta last weekend and was really disappointed in the matte shades. Not only are most of them even warmer-toned than they appear above, but some of them are also very patchy and/or powdery. From left to right, we have Soul, Incense, Love, Volatile, Passion, and Eccentric:

3. Lorac Pro Palette 4 ($44)

I’ve never tried anything from Lorac, mainly because I have a few irrational prejudices against the brand. First, “Lorac” is the founder’s name, Carol, spelled backwards; that’s lame. Second, Carol wants us to pronounce it as “luh-ROCK” instead of “LOR-ack.” Sorry, Carol, but I’m not going to disregard the conventions of English phonetics for you. Third, Carol did a bizarre, tone-deaf Reddit AMA a few years ago. (I’d highly recommend reading the ONTD post I’ve linked; it’s hilarious.) Fourth, I’m not sure what Lorac’s overall concept is supposed to be, and that bothers me. The packaging is drab and boring, and there doesn’t seem to be much imagination or creativity behind the products. Try harder, Carol!

Bias aside, though, this isn’t the palette for me. At 16 shades, it’s the largest on this list, and I find large palettes overwhelming. How anyone uses those 35-shade Morphe palettes without developing decision fatigue in 30 seconds, I have no idea. And I feel like a broken record here, but this is yet another “purple” palette with a bunch of warm-toned brown shades. Most of the shades are around the same level of saturation, too, and I can imagine them blending into a muddy wash. Then there’s that baffling matte black with glitter. I thought we weren’t doing matte blacks with glitter anymore. Shame on you, Carol.

4. Lime Crime Venus 3 Palette ($38)

The problem with any Lime Crime product is, it’s Lime Crime. When I first got into makeup, Lime Crime was notorious for the shady behavior of founder Doe Deere. I don’t think many makeup consumers these days are aware of Lime Crime’s sordid past, so here’s an EXTREMELY long list of Doe’s misdeeds, with receipts. (Selling repackaged pigments! Wearing a Hitler Halloween costume! Telling her followers to send nasty messages to Temptalia’s personal email! Releasing an offensive “China Doll” palette!) As recently as 2015, Lime Crime’s website was hacked and its customers’ credit card information stolen, but LC did nothing about the problem until it became public. Doe has stepped back from the brand in the last couple of years, but I’d still feel weird buying anything from Lime Crime, even in 2018. They just seem generally unwilling to acknowledge, let alone make amends for, their many mistakes.

So there’s that, but there’s also the weird color scheme of this palette. I realize that weird color schemes are Lime Crime’s thing, but what is that bright coral doing in an otherwise purple-toned palette with several muted colors? And a larger question: why do brands seem so eager to put bright blue-toned purples and brownish plums together in palettes? Those are two completely different color families, and I’m not crazy about how they look together.

5. Urban Decay Backtalk Palette ($46)

Oh man, was I ever excited about this one when I first heard about it. Urban Decay Vice Lipstick Backtalk, a dusty cool pink in the Comfort Matte formula, is one of my favorite lipsticks ever. It also happens to be the most popular lipstick in the massive Vice lineup (though as a lifelong hipster, I’m not super thrilled about this). As you can see, my tube of Backtalk is well-loved:

What could be better suited to my tastes than an entire palette based on Backtalk? Well, a lot of things, it turns out. The palette skews much warmer than I would have expected (WTF, the warm brown second from right, is aptly named). The quality of the eyeshadows also seems to vary: the shade Backtalk, i.e. the flagship shade of the whole palette, got a D- from Temptalia. And then there’s the fact that UD chose to make Backtalk an eye and face palette. This is apparently the post in which I reveal all my irrational prejudices, so let me confess that I have a prejudice against products that try to do more than one thing. Some people might find it convenient to have three blushes and a highlighter attached to their eyeshadow palette, but it just makes the palette look bulky to me. And why three blushes? Most of us, I’d assume, already have at least three blushes that go with the color scheme of this palette. And, if three blushes are really necessary, why are they all medium pinks? I have so many questions, but knowing the answers would probably just baffle and frustrate me further. ANYWAY.

6. Viseart Amethyst Theory Palette ($45)

Let’s end with the palette that comes closest to my ideal. Viseart (another brand I’ve never tried) released Amethyst Theory in April of 2017, which is several geological eras ago in beauty-industry time, but I wasn’t aware of it before I started doing research for this post. To be honest, I’d probably buy this palette if it had good reviews. Unfortunately, the few reviews I’ve been able to find don’t speak highly of the formula. Temptalia gave the palette a B overall, and one of the shades received a D-. I still want to swatch this next time I’m at a Sephora that stocks Viseart, but I certainly won’t order it without seeing it in person. (Really, I’m just holding out for a ColourPop knockoff.)

From this survey of current palettes, we can conclude that brands just aren’t ready to let go of the warm tones that have been selling so well these past few years. (The exception is Viseart, which I see as less trend-driven than the other brands in this post, though I could easily be wrong about that.) This means that we’re seeing lots of palettes that feature an awkward combination of warm browns and cool purples/plums. I have a feeling that this transitional stage will be short-lived and the pendulum will continue to swing toward the cooler side of things. For now, all I can do is wait.

Have you picked up any of these palettes? What are you anti-hauling at the moment?

24 thoughts on “Anti-Haul: Mauve/Plum/Purple Eyeshadow Palettes

  1. I haven't picked up any of these because I, too, am fair and cool-toned, and usually go with 1-2 colors for my eyeshadow. I almost never buy palettes because they're way too warm toned and dark. But I did just pick up the Rouge Bunny Rouge Luna eyeshadow palette because I've heard such amazing things about their shadows over the last decade. And wow, yes the shadows are amazing and actually cool-toned! And there's a matte ivory shade (always a must for me as a base). I also picked up 2 of their lipsticks (Bloomingdales had the line at 50% off a few weeks ago) and those were meh. Too thin and a touch slippery for my tastes. But the shadows? Amazing.


  2. (had to read the AMA you've linked, and oh my…)I'm trying to not buy kind of the same palettes you've mentioned in your post. I recently decluttered most of my purple eyeshadows because I felt they're too colorful and too 2012 for my current style (some of them were from 2012 actually, so I thought it's also a good idea to get rid of old products). And now they're trendy again? I'm too stubborn to give in and buy some, lol. For mauves and dusty pinks, I own quite a lot (for example Naked 3 and the small Mac x9 palette with the burgundy color scheme) and can create certain looks in the vibe of Backtalk etc. so that my collection doesn't grow even more. My plan is to make all of my collection look used, and it's such a darn long way to get there. Plus, my makeup always looks the same, no matter what products I use. My glasses usually hide most details so that no one can tell which exact shades I use anyway.


  3. I totally agree with you on all accounts. My skin tone is neutral-warm and even I am bored with all the orange and reddish tones that have been coming out. Maybe for now – if you have a serious craving for purple/ cool toned / taupe shadows – you could look at some singles from good quality brands? I also totally agree on the norvina palette, it looks SO sloppy to me. It could’ve been so much more than it is! And I don’t know if you’ve seen YouTube tutorials or review but the looks that come out of this palette honestly aren’t great. I have both soft glam and modern renaissance and have to agree that the metallics are difficult to work with.


  4. This is an excellent post, it really captures my feelings toward all the purple and mauve palettes that have been coming out lately. I'm generally uninterested in most palettes that come out nowadays because they consistently pop in random warm toned shades that don't make sense to me. I'd like to suggest the Laura Mercier Artist palette to you if you want a cooler toned purple leaning palette. It's my favorite and most often used palette. Imo it's a better version of Norvina by ABH. I'd also like to point out that I have the Amethyst palette from Viseart and I like it a lot! I have an easy time working with all of the shades over eye primer. I don't think it's worth full price; personally, I'd say get it on sale.


  5. What a coincidence, I was going to suggest that she look at Rouge Bunny Rouge refill single eyeshadows and make up her own palette–both the colors and the texture are so lovely.


  6. Oooooh, I got so many thoughts about these products… But first, let me say that my friend just bought me Nabla's Soul Bloom palette for my birthday! Did you see this palette? Is it cool-toned? I am not sure, as I'm really bad at figuring out undertones. But I'm SO Excited, hahaha. Re: Viseart, I seem to be the only person who's distrustful of this brand… The Petit Pro palette is so greasy and creasy. Re: Temptalia, I love her but I don't pay attention to her grades anymore… My favorite eyeshadow at the moment, Dose of Colors Wild & Free, got a D from her. And Melt She's in Parties, that creased on me in 3 seconds, received a much better grade. So instead of a \”be-all-end-all,\” Temptalia is in the \”just your opinion, man\” category for me. Re: Lime Crime… Not to defend Doe, but I am not sure if her Hitler Halloween costume is proof that she's a bigot. The reason being, I grew up in Russia, and in the 2000s Hitler jokes and memes were extremely popular there. (Even though the USSR had suffered massively in the Second World War.) I think in the 2000s, dark shock humor was generally in vogue (see the James Gunn situation.) As for the China Doll palette, the cultural appropriation discussion was absolutely non-existent in Russia when I was growing up. So on some level, I can see why she was so perplexed at the criticisms, as it might have been a framing that she had never encountered before. So yeah, while I don't want to excuse her insensitivity, the Russian context might explain some of it.


  7. Neutral-ish, taupe-y purples are one of my favourite eyeshadow category and there truly is such a dearth of these shades on the market! I've been making due with an all-matte Guerlain quad (which is obviously exorbitantly expensive, and which I got with points) and a depotted Wet N Wild shadow that has seen better days. I'd like some more shimmers and variety in shades, so I am definitely on the lookout for something in this colour family as well.I really like the purples and plums in the Norvina palette (and think I'd get enough use out of it to justify the more boring shades), but some of the reviews have put me off it. I'm not saying I'm definitely not going to buy it, but if I do I'm sure I'll be unfashionably late. My last palette purchase was also Modern Renaissance, and that was more than 6 months after it came out, so I am very much on schedule here.I believe emilynoel83 actually reviewed the Viseart palette really well, so I'm surprised that Temptalia's review differs so much. I mostly use her website for shade references, though, so I can't actually say if I trust her reviews or not.


  8. Oh man, Rouge Bunny Rouge! I remember when they were all over the blogosphere about five years ago, but you never hear about them these days. I've never tried anything from RBR, but I've heard great things about the quality of their eyeshadows, and they really have some beautiful shades. Unfortunately, $17 is more than I'm willing to pay for a single eyeshadow at this point in my life, but maybe when I have more disposable income!


  9. Oh my, INDEED. \”What's your advice for getting into the beauty industry?\” \”Yes!\” The shades of purple that I associate with 2012 (around when I got into eyeshadow) are taupey or grayish purples like NARS Lhasa. It seems like 2018 purples are either brighter and bluer or darker and browner than the purples of six years ago. I think Passion from the Norvina palette comes closest to the kind of shade I'm looking for at the moment.


  10. Now I had to search for images of Lhasa and it's totally my cup of tea even though I did my declutter, which is a bit confusing. It would match my other favorites from that era, Mac Satin Taupe and Vex, really well (I'm using my third pan of each of those, this must be true love). But I've probably still got a dupe. The whole taupe trend was so good.


  11. I've seen a few YouTube tutorials using Norvina, and the colors look so weird together. I'm sure part of this is the BGs' lack of creativity (I think all the videos I've seen involve an orange crease, rose-gold lid, and purple lower lashline), but it's also just an awkward color story.I've been looking into singles, but it would just be so nice to have a whole palette for an easy plum look. Sigh.


  12. Wow, that Laura Mercier palette is very close to my ideal! I prefer to buy cruelty-free makeup when possible, but I'll definitely swatch the Artist palette when I get a chance.Re: Viseart, the problem with Temptalia's eyeshadow reviews is that she never uses primer. I understand her impulse to test the shadows as they are, without any extra help, but I can't imagine that many people these days actually use powder eyeshadow without primer. So I can imagine the Viseart shadows perform better than she says.


  13. I just looked up that Nabla palette and it looks a lot like Norvina to me: a few purples and plums among warm browns and corals. I think it will be great for the looks you enjoy doing, but I wouldn't say it's cool-toned overall.I get what you're saying about Doe Deere. Hell, the discussion about cultural appropriation didn't really take off in the US until a few years ago. I grew up in the '90s, when multiculturalism was big, and kids were encouraged to try activities and traditional costumes from other cultures. I often wonder how much of what I learned in school would be considered \”cultural appropriation\” now. When norms change so quickly, it's easy for people to be left behind and make stupid mistakes. And the US has a very specific discourse around race that other countries, especially countries with limited racial diversity, simply don't have. (Hence the MULTIPLE blackface scandals in kpop, but that's another story.)THAT SAID, even if Doe grew up in Russia, her company is American, and it's so weird to me that no one on her team told her that \”China Doll\” is an offensive phrase that would alienate customers of Asian descent. That tells me that she didn't employ many, if any, people of color. Did she ever actually apologize for the China Doll thing? I remember the statement in which she was like \”sorry not sorry, I didn't mean any harm by it,\” but I forget whether she made a real apology later.


  14. I also bought Modern Renaissance about six months after it came out! ABH is claiming that Norvina is limited edition, but I can't imagine they won't keep it around if it sells well.I need to look up more reviews of the Viseart palette. I don't trust Temptalia's reviews implicitly either (especially because she never uses primer to test eyeshadows, which I think is ridiculous). Looking at the Viseart color scheme again, though, I think I have most of those colors in singles and other palettes; it's just a matter of remembering to use them together.


  15. Perhaps I should have mentioned that I got my RBR refill single with a discount code provided by Wondegondigo to her readers. Also, the RBR single is one fourth of the eyeshadows I use: 2 Stila singles, 1 RBR, and 1 super fancy Tom Ford single–and it took me years to get this collection of four singles. So, I totally get what you mean about the price issue.


  16. \”Sorry, Carol, but I'm not going to disregard the conventions of English phonetics for you.\” I am dying at this whole post, which, although hilarious at times, is quite well-reasoned. You're right in the color combinations are just…odd. I haven't bought any of these because the shades just aren't calling to me, but there are plenty of other things I'm trying not to buy. I really need to try anti-hauling sometime! Thanks for the entertaining and informed post. 🙂


  17. Fair enough! And hey, I dropped $22 on a lip gloss recently; I'm certainly not averse to buying pricey makeup. I'm just more willing to spend that kind of money on lip products than on eye products, for whatever reason.


  18. My biggest issue with purple palettes (and I adore purple eyeshadow) is that they’re always a purple letdown. There’s a matte plum, a shimmery purple, and a lilac, then five nudes. For once, I would like a purple eyeshadow palette with no browns or nudes or random colors thrown in. Just purple. Why is that so hard? I’ve found some single shades from Nabla and Kiko Milano that are good and quite purple, but I’m disappointed in purple palettes on the whole.


  19. I understand that brands want to make palettes from which the average person can put together a full look (which is how I prefer to use palettes, too), so I don't get too upset about browns or nudes in a purple palette. But I think there's definitely room in the market for smaller palettes devoted to a single color family!


  20. That's a beautiful palette, but most of the colors are brighter than I'd like. For the record, I ended up buying a few singles from ColourPop to satisfy my plum/purple cravings, and I'm pretty happy with them! Review to come in like three years, probably…


  21. Happened to come across this stellarly written post the other day, looking for mauve palettes — and just wanted to express my appreciation for the wit and sharpness w/ which it’s written; not least correctly. A sheer pleasure to read. Pls keep it coming.


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