Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Sleek Garden of Eden review, and a Laura Mercier African Violet 'dupe'

As soon as I saw this palette I knew it had to be mine - it contained both green, purple(ish) and gold eyeshadows from my favourite highstreet brand - Sleek. Luckily, it was both inexpensive (£7.99) and easily accessible (at my local Superdrug) - instant gratification is excellent isn't it?

I obviously forgot to take a picture before I stuck my fingers in it

I googled swatches of this palette online and found perfectly even, neat, pigmented swatches that made it look like Garden of Eden could compete with Inglot in terms of quality. However when I swatched this palette myself I found quite a few dud colours: essentially all the non-metallic shades, to some extent, were chalky and unpigmented. This is obviously rather frustrating as all the beautifully perfect swatches I saw online are somewhat misleading for the sake of aesthetics.

All of my swatches are done with a clean finger over bare skin, and the photos were taken in indirect sunlight.

Technically all of the shadows have individual names that came printed on a loose transparent card in the palette, but I threw it away because it cluttered the palette and would get so dusty and grubby after a week. So I'm just going to refer to the shadows by their colours and/or position in the palette.

The first four metallic colours on the top row are all excellent quality - pigmented, soft and blend-able, don't let my messy swatches throw you off: these colours are great. The last two matte-ish colours were awful quality - they were so hard and un-pigmented I actually had to scrape a layer of them off into a powder just to get them to show up on my arm for these swatches. The penultimate shade was a particular shame as it is a rather unique colour - mauve-grey with gold glitter.

The same was true for the first and last colours (again, both matte-ish) of the bottom row - the last colour, a matte dark green, was particularly surprising as I have a similar colour in my Sleek Dark Mattes palette which had great pigmentation and texture. The second colour, a lime green, was smack bang on average quality in terms of texture and pigmentation.

Below I've shown the vertical Garden of Eden swatches with similar colours from my collection in horizontal swatches. The dark green is from the Sleek Dark Mattes palette - proof that Sleek is capable of making excellent quality matte shades.

The second similar colour is Laura Mercier's African Violet - a shade that is particularly in vogue right now - although I personally would not call this a dupe as it is not identical in colour or texture (let alone ease of application and wear time which I haven't even tested) but it is certainly a very, very similar alternative.

Above you can see African Violet is violet in direct sunlight whereas Sleek is significantly browner. Below African Violet almost looks like a mix between the two Sleek shades however is is pinker than both and most importantly has golden shimmer rather than just having a simple overall metallic sheen.

Below is another photo which shows the main differences: the Sleek shade is darker and browner and African Violet has a distinct gold shimmer.

Considering that this whole Sleek palette is only £7.99 while a Laura Mercier single is £18.50 this is a great alternative for someone who isn't sure if African Violet is their favourite colour, or is on a budget. Especially if that person is based in the UK as the only other close alternatives or 'dupes'  for African Violet are from US indie companies which, while lovely, take a while to ship and require international postage (plus 20% VAT and handling charges for any order over £15).

Note the scraping I had to do on the matte shades to get them to swatch

Overall I think the palette is well worth it's price as it contains 7 great quality metallic shadows in an interesting and unique colour scheme. Also, it's perfect colour scheme to transition into Spring!

The obvious downside of this palette are the dud matte shades, but maybe with some scraping, a primer, sticky base and a stiff brush a patient and could make them work - I am just not that person. The only other thing I dislike about this palette is the tacky and altogether useless sponge applicator - it's a waste of space and lowers the aesthetics of the palette, but then again even high end luxury brands like Guerlain and Lancome insist on including them so I can't judge Sleek too harshly for this.

The Sleek Dark Mattes paltte for comparison

The Dark Mattes palette was a much more consistent palette in terms of quality with no obvious duds, I'd highly recommend it to anyone who likes matte colours or is looking to branch out into somewhat muted colours.

The newer one is the less grubby looking one obviously.

A far as application goes the metallic shades in Garden of Eden were easy to apply and blend - they didn't give opaque coverage when just patted on over a regular eyeshadow primer (Urban Decay Primer Potion) but if applied over a sticky base (like Pixie Epoxy) or wet they would probably give opaque coverage with a foiled effect.

I applied the green metallics to one eye; the colours were vivid and true to pan, while being clearly distinguishable individual shades on the eye even when blended together. The other pink and gold eye was obviously less bright and gave a sheerer wash of colour - this lent itself well to a relatively subtle neutral eye. Again the colours applied and blended together well, however I found that the two pinks when blended together were extremely similar. These colours could all also be built up to full opacity or foiled over a sticky base or used wet.

Overall, if we disclude the D-F quality mattes I'd rate this palette at a solid B - overall good, in some ways excellent but let down by a few average qualities. Not bad for £7.99!

Saskia X

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