You might be able to work in the beauty industry without an unflagging passion for makeup — but that isn't the case for me. Long before I was a beauty writer, I was penciling on wobbly "cat-eye" liner, dusting highlighter on every inch of my face, and collecting more matte liquid lipsticks than I could feasibly ever finish. Though my love affair with liner and mascara began in middle school — I was fortunate enough to come of age during emo music's height — this didn't include eyeshadow until I picked up Lime Crime's Venus palette, thanks to a friend's review, years later.
I'm not sure exactly who told me about it, though the conversation probably took place sometime in late 2015 or early 2016 (aka the year of grungy red eyeshadow). For those who don't know the cult favorite already, the Venus palette is stocked with warm neutrals, transitional peaches, and '90s-inspired scarlets. Save for the pale shimmer shade Aura, matte brown Icon, and grayish mauve Divine, the other five shadows in the eight-pan palette aren't your everyday colors. At all.
Instead, they felt like a challenge back when I first ordered the palette online. At the time, the palette — which is currently marked down to $26 from $38 — was the most expensive eyeshadow I'd ever bought. Luckily, it also turned out to be one of the best, and a defining moment in my own personal journey with makeup.
Even though red eyeshadow was, you know, incredibly popular at the time, it still felt like I was breaking every single beauty rule the moment I patted the matte burgundy Muse onto my lid. I'd grown up diligently swiping on noncommittal neutrals and dusty purple, the best color for my hazel eyes according to the quads I stole from my mom's beauty bag; I'd never imagined a cherry-tomato red or bright nectarine being able to make the green in my eyes pop.
Soon, "nontraditional" eyeshadow became second nature to me. I invested in higher-quality brushes so I could smoke it out, or pack the color into certain places on my lids. I watched YouTube tutorials on creating clean eyeshadow edges with tape. This rekindled energy trickled into other facets of my beauty routine — I splurged on non-drugstore mascara and tweezed, waxed, and filled my brows into Instagram perfection.
Things have changed since then. My brows are a bit less tamed these days, and I've since tossed my original Venus palette (after holding onto it for way too long). However, everything that the palette inspired in me — the joy of embracing color for no other reason than to have fun — is still there. And if you're looking for makeup that might kickstart your own journey with non-neutrals, I highly recommend grabbing Venus during Lime Crime's sale. It's still just as cool as it was years ago.
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