Monday, January 12, 2015

Makeup Review: Anastasia Beverly Hills Contour Palette vs. Smashbox Step-By-Step Contour Kit





ProductsAnastasia Beverly Hills Contour Palette and Smashbox Step-By-Step Contour Kit

Review: I haven't done anything like this yet, but when I was looking around, I had a really hard time finding comparisons between these 2 contouring palettes and it drove me nuts! So, after a ton of deliberation, I decided to buy both and plan to return the one I don't like as much. Now, I have quite a few mental categories when it comes to powder products, so instead of rambling on and on like I normally do, I'm going to organize the shit out of this post and actually provide some pics for once so you can figure out which product is best for you. Also, I apologize for the shitty phone pics, but I work with what I got. And I didn't edit them, so they're as accurate as I could get with the equally shitty lighting in our house.


  • Appearance and packaging: First off, both palettes are a lot smaller than what you're thinking from the pics you see online. So, expect small things and be pleasantly surprised when you get them. The Anastasia palette has kind of an upscale cardboard-ish case with a magnetic seal, no mirror, helpful little notches under each removable pan, and magnets under each pan. Super handy for switching out colors!

    The Smashbox palette has a shiny, black plastic case that latches tightly shut and a mirror. Pans aren't easily removable. In this category, I would say they're tied. It just depends on your preferences. Do you want a mirror or do you want removable pans? Magnets and cardboardy or durable plastic? 


Both palettes squeezed onto a mousepad, for reference.

A tiny brush for a tiny palette! Ha. 

Anastasia. Little notches for easy pan removal

Smashbox. No tiny notches. :( Also, you can kinda compare with the above pic for pan size.
They are really similar. 

  • Colors: The Anastasia palette comes with 6 colors - 3 highlighters and 3 contouring shades/bronzers (there are a buttload more colors on Anastasia's site and you can customize your own palette if you want, but I'm reviewing the colors that come with the standard palette you can find in stores). The highlighters from left to right are Vanilla, Banana, and Sand. The contour colors from left to right are Java, Fawn, and Havana. All of them are matte, except for Sand, which has a slight shimmer/hint of glitter. None of them are completely neutral, except for maybe Sand, and either have pink or yellow undertones. Fawn is probably the most neutral of the 3 contour shades, but is also the lightest. In order to make the colors look more neutral on me, it takes me bit of mix-and-matching, but it's doable.
Bottom to top: Java, Fawn, Havana. 

Bottom to top: Vanilla, Banana, Sand


Bottom to top: Contour, bronzer, highlight
  • The Smashbox palette has 3 colors - contour, bronzer, highlight. The contour and bronzer shades are matte, the highlight has a very slight sheen and no discernible glitter. The bronzer is a bit on the warm side of the color spectrum, but I think with a light hand, most people could make it work. The contour is grayish brown neutral, and the highlight is more neutral than Anastasia's Banana when on the skin. It looks as though it would be more yellow, but it seems to blend in well on the 3 skintones I've tried it on.


    In this category, I'm torn. On one hand, I love having more color options. On the other hand, Anastasia's colors aren't all that neutral (meaning most non-makeup artist folks will usually just go for the 2 or so colors that work best for them) and none of the contour shades have hint of gray that I normally I look for in a contour shade, and that is a major fail for me when it comes to contouring products. You want to create a play of shadows and light on your face, and shadows aren't obvious brown. The Anastasia palette provides more versatility and an illusion of convenience, whereas Smashbox requires no thinking when it comes to application; follow the normal contouring pattern, and you're good. I don't think there's a clear winner here either, because it really depends on what you're looking for in a product. 
Bottom to top: Highlight, Banana

Bottom to top: Havana, SB Contour, Fawn. The pic sucks, but you can
kinda see that the SB contour shade is a bit more gray and oddly similar
to Fawn when swatched. 

  • Pigmentation/Color Pay-off: Honestly, neither palette is as pigmented as I expected out of a contouring product. Now, that could be intentional, because less pigmented colors are harder to overdo, and that is a major issue when it comes to contouring. It's so easy for people to overdo it and/or underblend it, and for fairer skinned people, it's obnoxiously easy to overdo it. However, when you're paying in the $40-50 price point, you want a lot of bang for your buck. I would say the pigmentation is acceptable, but it's not going to blow your mind or mimic the effect of cream contouring. They're pretty much equal in this category, but if I'm splitting hairs, I think Smashbox's contour color is a little more pigmented than Fawn, and Anastasia's Banana is more pigmented than Smashbox's highlight shade. But really, there wasn't a clear winner for me.
  • Texture/Powder Quality: While both products are very similar in powder texture, I think Smashbox's palette is a tiiiiny bit more finely milled and is a little more blendable as a result. However, it's not enough for me to go, "Oh man, you're missing out if you get the Anastasia palette over Smashbox's." But since there is a difference, however slight, I'll give this category to Smashbox.
  • Performance: They go on fine, they blend in fine with my makeup. I do think the Anastasia formulation sinks a bit more into fine lines, but it wasn't super noticeable on me. I did a half-and-half face for an entire day, and they both wore about the same on liquid foundation with finishing powder. Wear-time was at least a solid 8 hours for me. It's winter, and I wasn't sweating much, so I can't attest to oily or sweaty skin situations. But I'll give them a tie for this category.
  • Value: The Smashbox palette is $45 and the Anastasia palette is $40. You get a little angled brush with the Smashbox kit. It's softer than I was expecting and it's not a horrible brush, but it's just not that great for contouring. I would never, ever buy it on its own and would only use it for highlighting my nose or something. As you can see from the pics, the pan sizes are really similar. Smashbox's pans are only a tiny bit bigger.  There's not much of a difference in quality either, but you get so many more colors in the Anastasia kit. More product for less money, no extra gimmicky crap. Anastasia wins. 
In the end, Anastasia's overall value won me over, so I kept that palette and returned the Smashbox one. Plus, I do my friends' makeup for funsies, and it's nice to have extra colors that you can blend and adjust for different seasons and skin tones. But that's just me! 

NOTE: For people with talc allergies, Anastasia's palette has talc! So don't get it if this is a concern of yours. Not totally sure if Smashbox uses it as well, but for sure avoid Anastasia's.

Overall Rated Beauty Grade: B+ (both products)


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