after being an early adopter of their original eyeshadows, i was slow to get on board with their revamped brand image. i could make up [haha! look at me pun!] an excuse and say that i'm always suspicious of brands with a lot of hype, or that the image of the brand had gotten much younger and it made me unsure of how the products would suit my middle-aged [i said it! where's my prize?] skin, and those things would be kind of true. but the real truth is that i'm lazy as hell and up until recently i couldn't get them from sephora or any other retailer in canada that has multiple brands available, and it's rare that i have to be really curious to plump for shipping from the u.s. to buy products from a single brand.
this year, however, which always had a minor presence at sephora, has gone whole hog, with virtually their entire range [save for a few exclusives to their own website] available online, and much of it available in store. i still dislike very matte liquid lipsticks [that's not a knock against their formula, about which i know almost nothing; i pretty much hate them all except armani's, which is being discontinued. boo.] and super-metallic highlighters emphasize my pores, but earlier this year they launched a collection of single shadows that really caught my eye. [omg, i am a punning machine!]
given the brand's younger, edgier vibe, i was a little surprised that the vast majority of the shadows were muted and neutral. there are a few brighter teals and purples, but no acid greens or yellows, no hot pinks or oranges. on the other hand, there is an excellent range of finishes- matte, satin, shimmer, metallic, glitter- and colours that are likely to suit a lot of skin tones. like pretty much every permanent eyeshadow collection on the planet, the selection leans warm, but, with eighty-four colours in the offing, there are a decent number of cooler options.
although you can purchase single shades for $16 each [as compared to $8 for mac singles], the most economical way to get them is by ordering in sets of 4, with a palette for $1 more, the combination of which gets you a $13 discount on checkout. that's a total of $52, for those of you who didn't come here to do math. a mac 4-pan palette, by comparison, costs $42. both the anastasia palette and shadows are just a little bit deeper- anastasia's shadows are 0.059oz vs mac's 0.05. again, if you didn't come here to math, that means that mac is about 5% cheaper taking the total weight into account. however, i'm going to assume that most people will look at the $10 difference. or just which one has colours they like more.
i picked four shades that i thought, based on the descriptions i saw online and the swatches i was able to do in store [not all the shades i selected were available at my local sephora], would make a decent combination. as it happens, i was a little off and some of them definitely don't meld all that well because of a difference in undertone. so my caution to those ordering would be: don't necessarily count on being able to pick a cohesive palette if you can't see the colours in person. that said, what's more important is how well the colours work in general.
the first shade i picked out was "legend", described as a "shimmery butter gold with white reflect". the finish seems typical of a traditional frost and i was a wee bit worried that it would be too close to mac "nylon". that worry stemmed not from the fact that i already had "nylon", but that i had it and returned it, because it was unforgiving on my crepe-y eyelids and made my eyes look puffy and tired. as it turns out, however, the anastasia shimmer formula is much kinder to me. it's got a visibly yellow base, which is indeed a buttery colour, and a very smooth frost finish. if my eyes are in rough shape, it's not the most flattering finish on me, but under normal circumstances, it smoothes everything out. the pigmentation is excellent and lasts forever. well, it lasts until i take it off, which is as close to forever as i want any eyeshadow to last.
since i don't have mac "nylon" anymore, i compared "legend" to rouge bunny rouge "unforgettable oriole". "unforgettable oriole" is much more of a white gold, while "legend" shines yellow.
|l to r :: legend, rbr unforgettable oriole|
second, i got "suede". this is described as a "satin gold beige". to be honest, i don't see a lot of difference between the finish of "suede" and "legend". yes, "legend" is more metallic, but "suede" still has a frosty quality that i'd say goes beyond satiny. nor would i say that this is a beige shade. it's a light golden apricot colour to my eye, with a golden shimmer. this one took a little more effort to build up, both in swatching and in use, and it always seemed to show more muted than it looked in the pan. it's a very nice lid colour, but took a bit more work than "legend" to look its best. the lasting time was good, but in hot weather, it did fade and lose its peachy warmth within about four hours.
it's closest to the limited edition [although released multiple times] mac colour "flip", which is a bit deeper and more orange. [the difference between the two is very evident in use.]
|l to r :: suede, mac flip [l.e.]|
the third shade i picked was "sangria", a gorgeous medium-deep plum-red, officially described as "satin iridescent cranberry". actually, that description is pretty dead on. this one did read as more of a satin finish, with that understated lustre that satin shadows are supposed to have. it's a pinky-red with enough brown in the base to make it palatable to those who fear the "rabbit eye" look. i honestly found it a little difficult to recreate the beautiful look this has in the pan or in the swatch when i was using it. when combined with warmer colours, it tends to look more brown. it really needs neutral cool to cool shades to bring out that cranberry-ness. once applied, it does stay consistent- whether it appears more brown or red- for many hours.
mac "star violet" is the closest thing i had, but it's lighter and there's more of a difference between the base and shimmer colour. "star violet" as a warmer plum-brown base with a cooler pink-red sheen, while "sangria" is a more straightforward shade. honestly, i'd recommend having both of these in your shadow arsenal.
|l to r :: sangria, mac star violet|
finally, i got "chocolate crumble", which is, like "legend" and "suede" a metallic finish shadow. and for the third time, the finish looks quite different. it's described as a "titanium smoky amethyst" and i honestly have no idea where they got that from. it is a medium chocolate brown with a cool platinum-silver sheen. the sheen really shows in application, which makes the shade appear lighter and cooler than you would guess looking at it in the pan. it's not available in my sephora store, so i took a chance based on swatches i found online and the description given, but it turns out that it is not a good match at all for the other shades i picked. it's much too cool to mesh with the overall warmth and it isn't dark enough to work as a crease shade. that's nothing against the shade itself, of course, just a caution about ordering online.
what does count against "chocolate crumble" is that, while it swatches beautifully, it has a tendency to sheer out very easily when applied. every time i've used it, once i've blended it with other shades, i've had to go back and "touch up" before i felt like i was finished. it also tends to fade a bit in the first hour of wear, although after that it remains fairly consistent, even in high heat and humidity. i had high hopes for this one, and while i do like it, it was a bit of a disappointment compared to its peers. that said, i have to admit that i didn't have anything close to this in my collection, because really frosty browns, especially cooler-toned ones, are kind of a rarity. so it might be worth picking this one up for its uniqueness alone.
so how to these babies look in practical use? well, let me show you a few examples...
ok, first off, the thing i want to emphasize about all of these looks is that you should be a little bit cautious about judging the texture based on my photos, because i am allergic to summer. seriously. look at my neck in the above photos and you can see the beginnings of a rash. that's what sunshine and high heat do to me. i have to work out where in my genealogy this vampire gene came from, but suffice it to say for the purposes of this post, textures look rougher than they otherwise would.
now, in terms of that first look, that is all the colours together, from lightest to darkest, going from "legend" in the inner corners to "chocolate crumble" in the outer v. i'll say this up front: these photos look better than it did in real life, where it appeared a tad muddy. the blush here is nars "day dream" with hourglass "diffused light" highlighter. the lipstick is guerlain "rouge parade".
being especially impressed with "legend", i thought i'd try featuring that one on the lids.
i used "sangria" and "chocolate crumble" [which shows mostly as a cool shimmer] in the crease. "legend" as you can see, is a full-wattage colour that pops through even on my hooded lids. the blush i used is dior "milly" and the lipstick is mac "plum bright".
finally, here's a look where i tried to focus on "chocolate crumble". it's on the outer half of the lids, while "suede" is on the inner half.
i actually used mac "dazzlelight" as a highlight in this look, since i found it more subdued and forgiving along the brow bone than "legend". the blush here is clinique "pansy pop" and the lipstick is mac "dish it up".
my overall impression of anastasia's new eyeshadow formula[s] is positive. i can very much see myself buying more. however, i know i am going to be more careful about selecting shades that i cannot see in person, and that i will allow some latitude within individual finishes.