Worth the Hype? – Makeup Revolution Redemption Palettes

Worth the Hype? - Makeup Revolution Redemption Palettes

After a bit of a delay, I’m finally back with the third installment of Worth the Hype? and this week it’s all about Makeup Revolution’s Redemption eyeshadow palettes.

Makeup Revolution has taken the beauty blogging world by storm in the last year, with almost constant new product releases, a massive social media campaign and PR deals with seemingly every British blogger, but are their cheap-as-chips £4 palettes worth the hype they receive? Continue reading to find out… (but be warned, this is a very long and picture heavy post!)

If you’ve read any British beauty blog in the past year, chances are you’ve already heard of Makeup Revolution. This cruelty-free brand launched last March and rave reviews have littered the blogosphere ever since. They have hundreds of different products, the vast majority of which get extremely favourable reviews, right from their super-shimmery Vivid Baked Highlighter to their £1 Amazing Lipstick. You can buy Makeup Revolution products from Superdrug, both online and in-store, and from their own website.

By far the products that I see discussed most online are the Redemption eyeshadow palettes. These 12-shade palettes retail for just £4 each, and have been compared to brands such as Urban Decay, Laura Mercier and Sleek, just to name a few.

But just how good can 12 eyeshadows for £4 be? Prepare yourself for a swatch onslaught, and you can judge for yourself. The top row of swatches is without primer, and the bottom row is primed using my beloved NYX High Definition Eye Shadow Base.

Acid Brights

Acid Brights Palette

Acid Brights Swatches

I have only recently realised that this is a dupe of Sleek’s i-Divine Palette in Acid and I have to admit, I think if I’d known that before buying it I would have gone for the Sleek version instead. Acid Brights isn’t terrible, but it’s not the best. Shade #2 is a total dud, primer did pretty much nothing to improve the rubbish pigmentation. I’m also feeling the need to moan about #1 and #7 as well, over primer they came out patchy and lacking in as much saturation as I was expecting – in my experience it is very difficult to find a decent vegetarian dark pink or purple drugstore eyeshadow. Much to my disappointment carmine seems to be necessary to provide decent pigmentation and I can only really satisfy my purple craving by resorting to indie shadows. #8 is a downright weird colour, to me it looks like it has no place in this palette (I would have much preferred a red-orange shade, or perhaps an acid green) and was a little streaky over primer. #3 and #10 are two of the four neon shades in the palette and they weren’t as loud as I was expecting, they were chalky and my brush was struggling to pick up the pigment.

However, that’s not to say that there aren’t some nice colours in this palette. The other two neon shades, #4 and #9, are highly pigmented and apply well over primer. Although I rarely wear blue eyeshadow I am willing to make exceptions for #5 and #6, they are shimmery, soft and apply smoothly. #11 reminds me of the lovely silver Barry M Dazzle Dust; since Dazzle Dusts can be a bit of a bitch to use, I’m pretty happy to have a dupe in pressed form. #12 is a decent shimmery black, which seems to be a staple in every Redemption palette.

So, I’m saying that 6 of the 12 shades are hits, and the other 6 are misses. Perhaps if I’d paid double the price to buy the Sleek palette instead, I would have been rewarded with double the amount of hit shades?

Iconic 3

Iconic 3 Palette

Iconic 3 Swatches

When Urban Decay released their Naked 3 Palette, I lost my mind and nearly threw my vegetarianism out of the window because HOLY SHIT PINK AND BRONZE EYESHADOW. Thankfully my conscience (and my bank balance) got the better of me and I didn’t buy it. So of course, when I noticed that Makeup Revolution sold a vegetarian dupe of my most coveted Urban Decay palette, I had to get my paws on it. In fact, this was the first product I tried from Makeup Revolution.

This palette is much better in quality than Acid Brights. The colours all complement each other beautifully (although I should probably attribute that to Urban Decay and not Makeup Revolution) and there is much more consistency in quality.

Shade #1 is a mystery to me, I can’t work out if the pigmentation is lacking or if it just happens to be almost my exact skin colour. Either way, it’s a bit useless. #2 and #3 don’t show up brilliantly on my skin, they’re not the greatest ever shadows in terms of pigmentation but it probably doesn’t help that I’m just too damn pale to act as a good canvas for them. I have a strange love of #4 – it’s a matte dusky pink dancing on the border of brown, not at all the kind of colour I would usually be drawn to but I adore it. Surprisingly good pigmentation for a high street matte shadow.

The rest of the shades in the palette are shimmery and apply really well considering the low price. I think #6 deserves a special shout-out though, because it’s so. damn. beautiful. If I was to pick a favourite from this gorgeous palette, #6 would be it. It is rich in colour both with and without primer, and it applies perfectly. The colour is the perfect compromise between bronze and rose gold, which makes it extremely flattering. This shadow alone is worth buying the palette for!

I suppose my only other small gripe is that shades #11 and #12 seem to replicate the final two shades from the original Urban Decay Naked palette rather than Naked 3, which is a disappointment as the bronzed grey and black shades from Naked 3 look stunning (check out this blog post, you’ll see what I mean when you look at the swatches) and I’d love to try them. I figure that if Makeup Revolution are trying to dupe Naked 3, they may as well go all out and try to get the shades as similar as possible? Maybe I’m being overly picky, it is only a £4 eyeshadow palette after all.

Out of the 12 shades, I’d say that 9 of them are hits and 3 are misses. Not bad at all for less than a fiver.

Mermaids vs Unicorns

Mermaids vs Unicorns Palette

Mermaids vs Unicorns Swatches

I have to admit, I got a little bit too excited when this palette was released. Having hazel eyes, my go-to eyeshadow colours are usually green or purple, so when I saw that Makeup Revolution were releasing a half green, half purple palette I jumped for joy and immediately put it on my wishlist. I finally bought it a couple of days ago as a result of Superdrug’s current 3 for 2 on all cosmetics offer (I’ve taken advantage of the 3 for 2 three times now, whoops!) and these photos are the results of the first ever swatching session. I haven’t used this on my eyes yet, so these observations are only based on my first impressions from swatching.

#1 was a massive disappointment, both with and without primer. Especially considering it was the first eyeshadow I swatched from the palette, I immediately lost hope. Thankfully, shades #2, #3, #4 and #5 make up for it with their smooth, sparkly and super-pigmented formula. Of the four shadows #2 is my favourite; it’s a lovely emerald green, exactly the colour I imagine a mermaid’s tail to be! It also reminds me a lot of a less foiled version of Makeup Revolution’s Awesome Metals in Emerald Goddess, which is a stunner. #6 is an absolute beast, by far the most pigmented blue eyeshadow I’ve ever used! I only lightly grazed my brush over the surface and the colour saturation, even without primer, was incredible. If you’re in the market for a proper 1980’s blue eyeshadow, this is the one to go for. It might even be too pigmented, as a result I don’t think I’d ever wear this as eyeshadow but it would make a cracking liner.

Despite the first shade, I found the mermaid side of the palette to be really quite good. Unfortunately I can’t say the same for the unicorn side. Both on the Makeup Revolution website and on beauty blogs, the unicorn side gets described as being pink and purple dominated, but in reality that’s not the case. It seems to me that shades #10, #11 and #12 are continuations of the mermaid side, and shades #7, #8 and #9 were randomly chucked in to add diversity. This results in a bit of a mismatch of colours that don’t quite work together. I see exactly what Makeup Revolution were trying to do and I love the half-and-half concept, but it doesn’t work with this colour selection. Instead, I was left bitterly disappointed that I wasn’t able to indulge my inner unicorn with pretty purple shadows.

In the pan, #7 looks like the world’s most perfect aubergine shade (as you can tell from my blog name, I am a lover of all things aubergine) but it swatches as a chalky black base with more blue shimmer than purple. It’s slightly patchy and I won’t lie to you, I’m really not happy that the only ‘true’ purple in the palette isn’t purple at all. #8 is a lovely wine red shade with excellent pigmentation and smooth application, but it doesn’t go well with the rest of the palette. Although I like the colour, #9 looks even more out of place than #8 and unfortunately, it was a little streaky on application. #10 is a lovely, sparkly deep blue that applies well – I’m a big fan of this colour, but I can’t help but think it would fit in better with the mermaid shades. #11 is a slightly darker version of #10 with a dark grey base, and it applies evenly over primer. #12 is yet another sparkly black and, in my opinion, a complete waste of a pan. I now have three sparkly black eyeshadows between the Redemption palettes I have reviewed, and it seems especially out of place in this palette. Who on Earth thinks of the colour black when they think of unicorns?! I think about bright pink, purple and rainbows – about as far away from black as you can get! Why couldn’t we get a stunning royal purple or a fuchsia glitterbomb instead of a black? That would have fitted the concept much better.

I wouldn’t moan so much about the colour selection not matching the half-and-half mermaid and unicorn concept if Makeup Revolution didn’t go on about it so much in pretty much every single mention of the palette on social media. The way they’re raving about the “pinks and purples” of the unicorn side is really annoying me – there isn’t a purple in sight! I don’t necessarily think there’s anything wrong with the colours, I just don’t like the misleading way they’re being marketed. I do find it interesting that this is one of the few Makeup Revolution palettes that isn’t a dupe of something else and just so happens to have a mismatched colour range. Personally I think they should have called this the Peacock palette and swapped out #8 and #9 for purple shades, but that’s just me. I know I’m going on about it, but I feel as though I’ve been misled – I don’t really wear blue eyeshadow, had I known that this palette was blue-dominated I would never have bothered buying it, the three green shades (one of which is a dud) and the wine shade are not worth it in my opinion.

Quality-wise, 9 of the shadows are hits and 3 are misses. Not bad at all if you’re a lover of blue eyeshadow.

Iconic Elements

Iconic Elements Palette

Iconic Elements Swatches

I spend at least 50% of my day praying that Lorac will suddenly announce that they’re now cruelty-free so I can buy their Pro Palette with a clear conscience, or that Urban Decay will bring out a carmine-free version of the Naked Basics palette. Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration, but for the last year I’ve had a serious hankering for nude matte eyeshadows. Matte eyeshadows just look so sophisticated, and now that I’m in my twenties (eep…) I should probably start going for the sophisticated look rather than the throw-on-every-colour-I-can-find look I loved during my teenage years.

When I spotted this in Superdrug the other day, I was intrigued but skeptical. On the one hand it was a selection of 11 lust-worthy matte eyeshadows for just £4, but on the other hand high street makeup brands are usually crap at matte shadows. I initially decided against buying it and I wandered around the shop a few times, browsing pretty much everything to find my free item (Mermaids vs Unicorns was a no-brainer, and I’d been lusting after Barry M’s Gelly Nail Paint in Blue Grape ever since my bestie sent me a picture of her awesome bright blue toenails) until a sales assistant told me to make my way to the till as they were about to close. I ran back to the Makeup Revolution stand and grabbed an Iconic Elements palette – it was free after all, it couldn’t be that bad.

I’m glad I picked this one up. The good quality is consistent throughout the palette, and there is a good selection of wearable colours. Although shades #1 and #2 aren’t showing up brilliantly on my arm, I can assure you that they are good shadows, I just had a similar problem to that of the Iconic 3 palette in that I’m too damn pale to show these shadows to their full potential. #3 is a gorgeous baby pink-leaning white shimmery shade, the only shade in the palette that isn’t matte. This is the colour that should have replaced #2 in the Iconic 3 palette, and it will look lovely as an inner eye corner highlight. #4 is the only dud of the palette for me, as it isn’t as pigmented as the other shades and it is a horrific yellowy brown colour, perfectly matching the colour my skin goes when it’s bruised. Not exactly a desirable look.

There isn’t much to say about the other shades except that they’re surprisingly soft and pigmented, considering they are matte shades being sold for such a low price. #5 and #8 are personal favourites, and I can see myself getting a lot of use out of them. I do have to have a quick chat about #12 though, because WOW, what an absolutely amazing black eyeshadow! I’ve never seen a matte black eyeshadow with so much pigment, there is literally no difference between the primed and unprimed swatches. This black could easily sell for £10 or more on its own and be well worth buying, it is seriously impressive.

Out of the 12 shades, 9 are hits and 3 are misses, although two of the misses are only because I’m too pale to show them up properly. 11 high quality eyeshadows, including a hyper-pigmented black shade, for just £4. That is a 24-karat bargain right there! Click here to see a FOTD post featuring this palette.

So, are they worth the hype?

Well… kind of.

It goes without saying that for less than £5, you cannot expect the best eyeshadows in the world, but due to the sheer amount of dupes they produce it’s difficult not to compare them to the likes of Urban Decay. The Redemption palettes certainly don’t get totally annihilated by the big brands, but there is a noticeable difference in quality between Makeup Revolution and even the more expensive high street beauty brands, Sleek being the brand that comes to mind first.

I would certainly pick up a Sleek i-Divine palette instead of a Makeup Revolution Redemption palette if I were forced to choose, and there are good reasons for this. Firstly, I don’t think the Makeup Revolution Redemption palettes are particularly imaginative. The vast majority of the Redemption palettes are dupes of higher end offerings, and when Makeup Revolution do come up with a more unique Redemption palette, there is a significant drop in standards, especially when it comes to colour coordination.

Sleek offer more variety than Makeup Revolution do; no two i-Divines look the same. The Redemption palettes share one of the problems of the i-Divines though – they include those stupid double-ended foam applicators. Can we please just close down the factories that make those absolutely crap applicators and make eyeshadow pans bigger instead?

Worth the Hype? - Makeup Revolution Redemption Palettes

Although less noticeable in the Iconic palettes, there is quite a lot of variation in the quality of shades within the same palette. All of the palettes featured in this post have at least one disastrous dud, one absolute pigment mother lode, and one or two shades which don’t quite match up with the rest. There is a clear distinction in quality between Makeup Revolution’s colourful Redemption palettes and their more natural Redemption palettes; they are definitely better at making nude colours.

Having said all that, there is certainly a place for the Redemption palettes. People who would rather not use carmine in their cosmetics can get animal-friendly dupes of Urban Decay’s Naked palettes, and of course save a hell of a lot of money in the process. The affordability makes trends more accessible, especially to cash-strapped students like myself, pre-teens and teenagers who are just getting into makeup and those who simply don’t have a spare £40 to drop on little pots of screaming bright and rarely wearable neon eye colours. Oh, and of course they’d be great for dressing up too.

As for repurchasing, I’ll be holding off for a while. I have found the coloured palettes to be disappointing, and since I own two Iconic palettes and a real Naked palette, I’ve got way more brown eyeshadow than one student could ever need. Should Makeup Revolution release a really wacky, bold and different Redemption palette in the near future I may indulge, but for now I’m happy with what I have. I may investigate their Iconic Pro palettes at some point though, which look like brilliant dupes for Lorac’s Pro palettes. Unfortunately, Makeup Revolution seem to be releasing new products and failing to update their ingredients list as they go along, making it a pain for carmine-avoiders to buy from them online. I’ll have to check out the ingredients in Superdrug next time I go and see whether it’s worth lusting after them or not.

The bottom line is that for less than £5, you probably won’t find better quality for the money. However, don’t expect a high end miracle for a high street price; you will be thoroughly disappointed. Be reasonable in your expectations of these palettes and enjoy them for what they are – a cheap and cheerful way to indulge in the latest beauty trends without having to pay an extortionate price.

Phew, that was a long one – if you got all the way through this 3,193 (!) word post, congratulations! Pat yourself on the back, make a rewarding cup of tea and leave a comment below –  I’d love to hear your thoughts on Makeup Revolution’s Redemption palettes.

Next Saturday’s Worth the Hype? post will be all about Urban Decay’s Primer Potion, possibly the most divisive eyeshadow primer there is – holy grail to some, completely overrated to others. What will I make of it? Make sure to follow Poppy alla Norma on Bloglovin’ so you don’t miss out!

Until next time,


  • I really enjoyed this posts! I was debating if theses eyeshadows was actually worth buying but after reading this I think I’ll give them a go:)

    • Thank you, and thanks for commenting! They’re definitely worth a go for the price, especially the Iconic palettes.

  • Pingback: Makeup Revolution Amazing Lipstick - Rebel With Cause - Poppy alla Norma()

  • good news

    Hi! Great in-depth review and the images were really nice and helpful. I noticed you are quite committed to cruelty-free products and I have a few questions on the concept. I wonder if it is better to test new products on human beings instead? I doubt a lot of people would be willing to volunteer particularly with newer innovations. Are they verified alternatives to animal testing of unknown ingredient combinations that will ensure short and long-term safety of a product when used by human beings? I mean, if products require testing to ensure that people do not end up with swelling, cancer, birth defects, etc, trying it on a few animals for the safety of numerous final consumers seems reasonable… These are some things I have difficulty reconciling to the whole idea of no animal testing and I think the word ‘cruelty’ is quite harsh a description.

    • Hi there! Thank you for this thought-provoking comment, and I apologise sincerely for it taking me so long to reply!

      I have to admit, I have no scientific background and I am not an expert on alternatives to animal testing. In fact, that’s why I’ve never actually written a blog post on the subject. However, I do know that there are alternatives to animal testing out there that will ensure product safety just as efficiently, without harming any animals in the process. If you’re interested in finding out more about cruelty-free testing alternatives, this website explains them much more thoroughly than I ever could: http://www.neavs.org/alternatives/in-testing.

      My main issue with animal testing for cosmetics is that it just doesn’t seem necessary. Very few cosmetics being released in this day and age contain new ingredients, or indeed new ingredient combinations, and therefore cosmetics companies who test on animals now are effectively just testing ingredients that are known to be safe for the sake of it.

      Also, the nature of animal testing is appalling. Before I vowed never to purchase animal tested cosmetics, I always had mental images of pigs wearing lipstick and eyeshadow, or rabbits with super shiny hair after being shampooed, but that is so far away from the reality of testing. This post discusses the types of testing used on animals in detail: http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-experimentation/animals-used-experimentation-factsheets/product-testing-toxic-tragic/.

      The animals used are subjected to testing we would label as torture if it was used on humans, with no anaesthesia and slaughter awaiting them at the end. I think it is unjustifiable on something as inessential as cosmetics. I wear make-up for fun, but I’d get no fun from it if I were to use products I knew had resulted in such grave animal cruelty.

      This, however, is just my view on the subject and other people may reach their own conclusions. I respect that everyone has the right to their own opinion, and I certainly don’t vilify my friends and family who do use cosmetics that have been tested on animals. I do appreciate people trying to learn more on the subject though, so once again thank you for your comment 🙂

  • Sierra

    So refreshing to see a blogger who knows what she’s talking about and doesn’t just go “omg amazing, go buy these right now!”. Loved this review.