Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance Eyeshadow Palette - review and swatches


I've been meaning to review this eyeshadow palette for ages - and indeed I've owned it for ages - so I'm glad that I'm finally sitting down to do that today.

It's currently on my Project Dent list so I've been using it every day for over a week, and while I've used it a lot before so I already knew how I felt about it, it's been nice to test it again after using my Marc Jacobs palettes consistently over the last few months. That way I can compare the formulas.

I hate to say it, but I prefer the Marc Jacobs. Yes this palette is great and I can see why so many people love it, but it's not my favourite formula and I know now that I won't be buying anymore ABH palettes for the time being. More on that below.

A short note on the packaging: I hate it. Yes it's better in person than it looks in photos because it has some weight to it and feels fancy, but I'll never understand why ABH chose to use felt - and also stuck with felt, despite many complaints.

It gets dirty so easily and it's harder to clean than most, and it's really not a nice experience to reach for a palette that looks as grubby as mine does now. Blurgh.

ABH claims/product details:

  • A present-day take on renaissance colours, this comprehensive eyeshadow palette presents a collection of 14 essential shades from neutral tones to berry hues
  • Each highly pigmented eyeshadow resists fading and creasing, bringing long-lasting modern elegance to your eye looks
  • RRP $75 AUD for 9.8g, but do wait for specials

The shades are described by ABH as follows:

  • Tempera: velvety beige with an ultra-matte finish
  • Golden Ochre: earthy yellow with an ultra-matte finish
  • Vermeer: iridescent shell with a metallic finish
  • Buon Fresco: antique lavender with an ultra-matte finish
  • Antique Bronze: metallic sable with a satin finish
  • Love Letter: raspberry with an ultra-matte finish
  • Cyprus Umber: dark coffee with an ultra-matte finish
  • Raw Sienna: neutral amber with an ultra-matte finish
  • Burnt Orange: deep orange with an ultra-matte finish
  • Primavera: shimmery gold with an ultra-matte finish
  • Red Ochre: sienna with an ultra-matte finish
  • Venetian Red: crimson with an ultra-matte finish
  • Warm Taupe: earthy gray with an ultra-matte finish
  • Realgar: brick with an ultra-matte finish

Below are the first six pans, direct sunlight:

The middle chunk (noting that Vermeer and Primavera are repeated:

The last chunk (noting that Antique Bronze and Venetian Red are repeated):

Now for swatches.

The first six shades, direct sunlight:

Tempera is a pale cream with peach undertones and a very slight sheen. It's soft, smooth and silky (if a little dry), and it applies and blends well. There's a reasonable amount of pigment to this shade but it's not the best cream I've used. I use this to set my eye primer and to brighten any darkness on the inner corners of my eyes, beside my nose.

Golden Ochre is a muted, mustard yellow-brown with a matte finish. It darkens a little on application but the yellow still shows through. It has a smooth, silky and creamy texture and it applies and blends well. I use this shadow in almost every eye look - it makes a great transition shade and I also think that it's not too warm so it balances out some of the warmer shades in this palette. 

Vermeer is a shimmering pearl with faint peach undertones and a frosted finish. It feels incredibly smooth and creamy to the touch, and it applies and blends well. I also like that it doesn't emphasise texture on my lids, and it looks beautiful on the eye. Still, I tend to reach for the gold highlight shade more often because I prefer a warmer highlight, so I don't use this shade enough. Must change this!

Raw Sienna is a medium, orange-yellow brown with a matte finish. It's smooth and silky in texture, if a little drier than some of the other shades. It applies and blends well, and I love this shade through the crease because it's warm without being too warm, so it pairs well with some of the super warm shadows in this palette. I use this colour a lot.

Burnt Orange in a medium orange brown with a matte finish. It has a smooth and creamy texture. I do love the colour of this shade but I tend not to use it as much because it's so warm. Still, it applies and blends well, and it's a beautiful shadow.

Primavera is a pale, warm gold with a frosted finish. It's not as pigmented as Vermeer and the texture is a tiny bit drier, but it still feels smooth and silky. It applies and blends well, and I use this shadow in almost every eye look because it's my favourite highlight shade in the palette. It doesn't emphasise texture on the lid and I like that I can wear it very lightly for a more subdued look.

Buon Fresco is a muted, medium lavender with grey undertones and a matte finish. In texture this is one of the drier shades in the palette but it's still silky and smooth. It applies and blends well, and I use this shadow a lot - indeed, it may well be the first shade that I finish. I like it because there's so much warmth in this palette that I always need to scale that back with something cool-toned, and this shade is what I often use to achieve that.

Antique Bronze is a warm bronze with a satin finish and a smooth, creamy texture. This is the one shadow that I don't think belongs in this palette - it's too flat and I don't think it works well with the other shades. It needs to be richer and perhaps have stronger red undertones, or even golden or plum undertones. It's just a dead shade and it does nothing for my brown eyes (whereas most bronzes do), which is disappointing because it's the only neutral shimmery lid colour. I do mix it with some of the other shades before application to liven it up, but I wish I didn't have to do that.

Red Ochre is a deep reddish brown with a matte finish. I like this shade in theory (I'm wearing it today) but in practice I don't reach for it often because I prefer paler, more natural eye looks. It's a little dry in texture and a bit flaky, but it still applies and blends well. This will suit those who love warm eye looks and a bit of drama.

Venetian Red is a warm, cherry red with a satin sheen. It's the driest and flakiest shadow in the palette, although it's still wearable and it blends well. Note that the pigmentation on this shadow isn't that strong, which I don't mind because I prefer softer eye looks, but I wanted to mention it all the same. This is the least-flattering shadow in the palette on me so I tend to only use it for detailing.

Love Letter is a medium-deep, berry pink with subtle cool undertones and a matte finish. This shadow is also dry and flaky, but it applies and blends well. I like this shade a lot more than Venetian Red - it's a lot more flattering on me, and it can look more neutral than you might think. I love this on the lid or run through the crease to add a bit of interest.

Cyprus Umber is a dark brown with cool undertones and a matte finish. It's smooth, silky and creamy in texture. I think this is a good shadow and it applies and blends well, although I personally don't reach for it often because I'm more likely to use Warm Taupe as someone else might use this shade. Still, it's a good eyeshadow and you need it in this palette to darken up the crease and outer v.

Warm Taupe is a medium taupe brown with a matte finish. It's smooth and silky, and it applies and blends well. I use this shadow almost every time I use this palette because it balances out the warmth of some of the other shades, and it also works for soft definition through the crease and outer v. I like that it's one of those effortless shadows that works with everything, and it's essential to this palette.

Realgar is a terracotta orange with a matte finish. It has a drier texture than some of the other shades but it applies and blends well. I love a good orange so I'm more likely to reach for this shade than I am the reds, although I don't use it that often. It has good pigmentation and it looks pretty on the eyes.

In sum

Overall I think this is a great palette and I can see why so many people love it. The shadows apply beautifully and they all blend well - which isn't a given with many shadows, but these are easy to work with.

Note that all the shades have some kick-back - no matter how careful I am with my brush - and while that doesn't bother me personally, it does bother some so that's something to keep in mind.

My main issue with this palette is that I have problems with longevity. No matter which primer I use, they tend to fade very quickly - and while they don't crease, they do diffuse and merge into each other not long after application. And while I'm someone who prefers a diffused look anyway, these go too far and they're liable to sheer out and fade/merge within an hour of application. I haven't seen many people comment on this so I wonder if it has something to do with the fact that I have hooded eyes, so there's a lot of rubbing that happens in my eye region throughout the day.

While I do enjoy this palette and I'm glad to own it, ABH doesn't make my HG formula and I prefer my Marc Jacobs and Kevyn Aucoin shadows: they're just as easy to work with, and they look better on me for longer.

Lovely, but not my favourite.

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