cruelty free · Eyes

Huda Beauty Desert Dusk Eyeshadow Palette – A Review

Huda Beauty Desert Dusk Eyeshadow Palette

I don’t like to be too one-brand heavy on my blog and I know it is fairly recently that I posted my review on the Huda Beauty #FauxFilter Foundation but when mulling over what to post about, I kept drifting back to this. It was my favourite palette since I got it for Christmas (although more recently, the Lime Crime Venus XL has overtaken it) and it is the one that I have included in my hospital bag. Despite the Venus XL exciting me every time I use it, this has more staple shades and ones for more pared back, every day looks.

I picked up the Huda Beauty Rose Gold Palette in New York a little over a year ago when I spotted it in Sephora. Despite fairly mixed reviews, I loved it and it was one of my most reached for palettes of 2017. When I first saw pictures teasing the Desert Dusk palette, I instantly fell in love. The first thing that caught my eye was the three purples dead centre. When every brand was churning out warm eyeshadow palettes, this was something different. When you take a closer look though, the other shades in the palette are generally warm browns, reds and oranges. I was not complaining. Those are my favourite colours to work with. Immediately, I knew I needed this so I was over the moon to get it as a Christmas gift.

Huda Beauty Desert Dusk Eyeshadow Palette Inside

The palette itself is made of a sturdy cardboard with a flap over lid. It has a magnetic closure and I have travelled with it numerous times, with no issues. There is no enclosed brush which I am happy about as I rarely like them anyway. It features a great-sized mirror on the lid and then, for some reason I cannot understand, a sheer plastic sheet with a picture of Huda’s eyes on it. (You can see it in the photo at the top of this post). The only purpose for this, that I can tell is that you can hold it over your own eyes and laugh at how strange it looks. Obviously the novelty of this wears off quickly.
If you are familiar with Huda’s first palette, the Rose Gold, you will probably be happy that the quality of the packaging has improved since then. There were a lot of complaints about the lack of mirror and the fact that it had a sheer plastic lid that was very cheap and felt flimsy. Despite not having progressed to plastic or metal, I am very content with this new iteration of the packaging.

Huda Beauty claim that this palette is “filled with vibrant, highly-pigmented shades that reflect the exotic landscape of the Arabian desert“. It is said to be a “dynamic” palette featuring “18 shades in 4 unique textures“. They call it a “richly toned palette [that] features 18 versatile shades that can be layered in infinite ways to create a vast array of looks“.

There are four different finishes in this palette and Huda Beauty describe them as thus:
Eight mattes: highly pigmented for butter-like application and extended wear.
Six pressed pearls: purely pressed pearls for a high shimmer, velvet-y finish to add depth and shine.
Three duo-chrome toppers: a light-shifting formula with a duo-chrome effect.
One pure glitter: a pure glitter texture for a bold look.

As with the Venus XL palette, this has eighteen shades so I’m going to break them down into twos to describe them in detail. As I keep mentioning in my posts, I hate eyeshadow swatches because I feel they are no real reflection on how a shadow will perform on the eye. However, I include them so people get a better idea of the shades themselves. I swatch on the left with one swipe of a brush and on the right with one swipe of my finger. I do not use a base or primer. I usually list the brand’s description of each shade and then how I would describe the colour myself but I couldn’t find a description of each of the colours by Huda so these are my own interpretations of the shades.

Huda Beauty Desert Dusk Eyeshadow Palette 1 Desert Sand Dusk

Desert Sand is a pale, yellow-toned cream with a matte finish.
Musk is a cool-toned, medium taupe brown with a matte finish.

Huda Beauty Desert Dusk Eyeshadow Palette 1 Desert Sand Dusk Swatch

Desert Sand is just that little bit too dark and too yellow for me to use as a base shadow all over the lid. I have used it a few times but I have to go in with such a light hand because it is so wonderfully pigmented that it is more trouble than it is worth. This is a base best suited for medium skin tones. It would also work great all over the lid as a matte cream shade. I prefer something a little lighter though so this isn’t one I reach for.

Musk is a pretty standard taupe. It stands out from most of the other shades in the palette because it is so cool-toned compared to all of the warm oranges and reds. These medium taupe shades are ideal for in the crease to add some dimension and will work with almost any other colour in the palette, however I actually love to wear it by itself in the crease with a simple winged liner for a more pin-up look, or to blend out black in the crease and outer corner for a really easy smoky look. While this isn’t the most eye-catching shade in the palette, it is a hard worker and the pigmentation is lovely – really blendable but also buildable.

Huda Beauty Desert Dusk Eyeshadow Palette 2 Eden Amber

Eden is a warm, light coral-peach with a matte finish.
Amber is a warm, deep terracotta with a matte finish.

Huda Beauty Desert Dusk Eyeshadow Palette 2 Eden Amber Swatch

Eden is a gorgeous warm shade that I love to use in the crease combined with the oranges or reds, or sometimes both. It is a soft, summery colour that diffuses the edges of the more extreme shades beautifully. Again the pigmentation and blendability is lovely. This isn’t the most pigmented shade straight off the bat but it does build up without hassle and I think for what I tend to use it for, it is perfect.

Amber is a stunning shadow that I have really fallen for. It is one that I love to use and it catches my eye each time I open the palette. These warm colours have been trending for so long now but I still adore them and think they’re so flattering on blue or green eyes. This is a favourite because it is a little darker than your average orange and red so can really add some definition.

Huda Beauty Desert Dusk Eyeshadow Palette 3 Blood Moon Oud

Blood Moon is a medium, orange-red copper with a pressed pearl finish.
Oud is a deep, chocolate brown with a matte finish.

Huda Beauty Desert Dusk Eyeshadow Palette 3 Blood Moon Oud Swatch

Blood Moon is a unique shade that actually does kind of remind me of the colour of blood, which is probably kind of gross. When I find myself doing a look where I want to pop a shimmer on the lid, I always toss up between this and Turkish Delight because they are quite similar – Turkish Delight is just more red, while this pulls more orange. I love the colour of both. Both of these pearlescent shadows are a little harder to work with than your average. I find that you really have to press them on and they have a tendency to crumble and fall down, leaving you with fall out on your face and some patchiness where you applied the colour. I have tried these with flat brushes and with my finger but both yield the same problem. They just take some patience and some building.

Oud is the darkest shade in the palette and a really beautiful one at that. I love a warm, chocolate-y brown and this works great to add depth and dimension to almost any eye look you create. The pigmentation is great and it blends beautifully (a trend that carries across all of the mattes in this palette) however my one wish is that this was maybe a shade or two darker (or that they included a black) as I find that if you blend this out, it can get a little lost among Amber and Saffron. If it was slightly darker it would add that real pop of definition that I find myself looking for.

Huda Beauty Desert Dusk Eyeshadow Palette 4 Celestial Nefertiti

Celestial is a warm, gold to pink duo-chrome topper.
Nefertiti is a warm, light gold with a pressed pearl finish.

Huda Beauty Desert Dusk Eyeshadow Palette 4 Celestial Nefertiti Swatch

Celestial is a gorgeous shadow that is really unique. This is the first duo-chrome topper in the palette and the formula is very silky and pigmented. When the light hits it looks either gold or pink which is stunning and doesn’t even translate in the photo. A great addition to the palette.

Nefertiti is another of the pressed pearl shadows like Blood Moon and Turkish Delight which I have already mentioned. I have the same problem with this shadow. It just doesn’t stick well to the skin which I think is quite evident in the swatch. I have tried to use this as an inner corner highlight quite a few times but find it crumbles away and you really have to keep layering it to impart any colour. I have tried using a small rounded brush as well as my finger but neither work better than the other. The colour is pretty but the formula of the pressed pearls is just a little more trouble than they’re worth.

Huda Beauty Desert Dusk Eyeshadow Palette 5 Twilight Amethyst

Twilight is a lavender to blue duo-chrome topper.
Amethyst is a warm, medium, pink-toned purple with a  matte finish.

Huda Beauty Desert Dusk Eyeshadow Palette 5 Twilight Amethyst Swatch

Twilight is another stunning shade. I have included it in a look near the end of this post if you want to see it in action. Again the texture is silky and it shifts from purple to blue. However, it is quite sheer. You can wear this alone for a very, very subtle sheen but I like to wet my brush with this (as I did in the look below) for maximum impact.

Amethyst is a lovely warm purple. Of all of the mattes, this probably takes the most building but it still builds very easily. At first I found it a little light but a few more layers creates the most gorgeous purple shade. Purples are notoriously difficult to create in the cosmetics world but I found this one a pleasant surprise. (Again this was used in the look at the bottom of this post!).

Huda Beauty Desert Dusk Eyeshadow Palette 6 Royal Retrograde

Royal is a warm, medium, plum-brown with a pressed pearl finish.
Retrograde is a red-brown to blue duo-chrome topper.

Huda Beauty Desert Dusk Eyeshadow Palette 6 Royal Retrograde Swatch

Royal is yet another pressed pearl and, not to sound like a broken record, you get the gist of how I feel about these shadows. I have tried incredible pearl shadows from other brands and funnily enough, a lot of brands can get their pearls and metallics so beautiful to work with but have trouble formulating really good mattes while Huda seem to have the opposite problem. These are just too dry and crumbly. With patience you can make them work but I don’t think the finish is worth the effort.

Retrograde is the third and final duo-chrome topper in this palette. Its formula is much like the other two and like Twilight, I prefer to use this with a wet brush for maximum impact. Used alone with a dry brush this is very subtle. This shifts from warm red-brown to a bright blue (similar to Mac’s Club eyeshadow or Blue Brown Pigment). I love colour shifts like that so I was always going to be a fan.

Huda Beauty Desert Dusk Eyeshadow Palette 7 Cashmere Angelic

Cashmere is a cool-toned, champagne-taupe with a pressed pearl finish.
Angelic is a warm, peachy-gold with a pressed pearl finish.

Huda Beauty Desert Dusk Eyeshadow Palette 7 Cashmere Angelic Swatch

Cashmere is another pressed pearl. You get the idea, I’d rather give it a miss. I think if this was a better formula, it would be a nice addition but it just isn’t workable.

Angelic is yet another pressed pearl. After taking these swatch photos, I actually went and tried this shadow again because it seemed to swatch so much better than the other pearls. Even looking at Cashmere and Angelic swatched side by side, the consistency looks different. Sadly they both perform the same – crumbly messes that are patchy on the eye. This is such a shame because I think the colour of Angelic is stunning. I wish it was created in the duo-chrome formula instead.

Huda Beauty Desert Dusk Eyeshadow Palette 8 Cosmo Turkish Delight

Cosmo is a gold, red and bronze pure glitter.
Turkish Delight is a warm, cranberry red with a pressed pearl finish.

Huda Beauty Desert Dusk Eyeshadow Palette 8 Cosmo Turkish Delight Swatch

Cosmo is a weird one. It is the only one in the palette that they label a “pure glitter” and to be honest, I don’t really see the appeal of it. It definitely catches your eye the second you open the palette because it is there sparkling away down the bottom but when you find the pressed pearls are hard to work with, it is hard to get excited about trying this. I gave it a go a few times, attempting to press it on with my finger but to no avail. The glitter goes everywhere and a few blinks later, it is all over your face with none left on your eye.
I have found that the way to get this to work is to use a sticky base (I use the MAC Clear Brow Set which is great for sticking all glitters, but I’m sure any glitter primer or glue would work too!) and ensure to cover your face with a tissue to prevent fall out sticking to your base (or do your eyes first!) You literally have to treat this as a loose glitter. It is pretty but I wouldn’t have been sad if they omitted this from the palette and gave us another amazing matte instead. I used it in a look further down this post so you can see how it looks when you do make it work.

Turkish Delight is, as I mentioned earlier, another pressed pearl. Blah, blah, crumbly, won’t stick etc. The colour is pretty but these just take too much work for too little pay off.

Huda Beauty Desert Dusk Eyeshadow Palette 9 Saffron Blazing

Saffron is a warm, deep red with a matte finish.
Blazing is a warm, deep orange with a matte finish.

Huda Beauty Desert Dusk Eyeshadow Palette 9 Saffron Blazing Swatch

Saffron is a gorgeous colour which swatched suprisingly badly considering I have never had an issue with its performance. I find that it has the same formula as the rest of the mattes in the palette and I love pairing it with Amber and Oud for an intense, dark, red-toned look.

Blazing is another stunner with that same great matte formula. This works with so many shades in this palette from all of the gorgeous warm colours to the lighter shimmer ones like Nefertiti and Celestial. I love an orange and while I probably have a thousand dupes for this in my collection, it is the perfect addition to this palette.

Huda Beauty Desert Dusk Palette Orange

Here is one look I created using mainly the warm orange shades from this palette. The full product list is over on my Instagram. Apologies that the picture quality of these isn’t up to the same standard as usual. I spent ages creating the look and then couldn’t get my camera to work so had to take these with my phone.

Huda Beauty Desert Dusk Palette Orange Eye

And here is a close-up of the eye. I did use the pure glitter, Cosmo, to demonstrate how it worked. I think the pictures show how crumbly Nefertiti is on the inner corner. It looks very chunky and uneven.

The Rebel Lipstick Rogue Soother Irish Tattoo Tattooed Alternative Beauty Makeup Cosmetics Baby Parenting Lifestyle Blog Blogger Photo Swatch Swatches Photos Ireland Huda Beauty Desert Dusk Palette Purple Look Eye

Here is another look featuring the purple shades, again full breakdown is on Instagram and I’m back to good quality with these ones.

The Rebel Lipstick Rogue Soother Irish Tattoo Tattooed Alternative Beauty Makeup Cosmetics Baby Parenting Lifestyle Blog Blogger Photo Swatch Swatches Photos Ireland Huda Beauty Desert Dusk Palette Purple Look Eye
I put Royal on the outer corner but it pretty much completely blended away. I tried Angelic on the inner corner but it was taking so much building that I gave up and used Celestial instead. I used a wet brush with Twilight for that stunning duo-chrome effect.

To summarise, even though it is probably clear from that breakdown, I adore the matte shadows in this palette but could definitely pass on the pressed pearls and pure glitter. The duo-chromes are beautiful and I am glad that they were added as they are something a little different but I do recommend using a wet brush with them for maximum impact.
Bizarrely, reviews of this palette are really mixed with a lot of people claiming to hate the formula of the mattes. They are a drier formula than a lot of others in my collection but that is only obvious to the touch. I have never had any difficulty working with them on the eye. They all start with a good medium pigmentation but can be built up if it is stronger that you want. I have had no issues with blending them and the tones in this palette work beautifully together making buffing out a dream. I honestly think the bad reviews are unfounded.

HOWEVER, as much as I adore this palette, it is a rather expensive one and you need to really question whether it is worth the purchase, particularly if you are going to immediately overlook a number of shades, like the pressed pearls, as I do. There are only eight mattes in this palette and three pretty duo-chromes. Can you really justify the price for that? Obviously that is a personal question that you will have to make your own mind up on. I have absolutely no regrets owning this palette. As I said, I love it and I use it very regularly but then again, I got it as a Christmas gift and perhaps I would feel differently if I had forked out my hard earned cash on something that I only used about ten colours out of.

Because this is a rather pricey palette, I’m going to break it down and compare it to some other similar palettes.
The Desert Dusk palette features 18 shadows that contain 1.4g of product each for $65, making it  $2.58 per gram of eyeshadow.
The Lime Crime Venus XL features 18 shadows that contain 1.67g of product each for $56, making it $1.86 per gram of eyeshadow.
The ABH Modern Renaissance features 14 shadows that contain 0.56g of product each for $42, making it $5.36 per gram of eyeshadow.
The Kat Von D Shade & Light Eye Contour features 3 shadows that contain 2.26g of product each and 9 shadows that contain 1.13g of product each for $48, making it €2.83 per gram of eyeshadow.
So this palette falls in at around the same price as Kat Von D, more expensive than Lime Crime but considerably cheaper than Anastasia Beverly Hills!

In Ireland, the palette is available from the Brown Thomas Beauty Lounge or Brown Thomas website for €65 with €3.50 shipping.
In the UK and Ireland, it is available from the Cult Beauty website for £56/€64 with free UK delivery over £15 and free delivery to Ireland over £40.
In the UK, it is also available from Selfridges or the Selfridges website for £56 with £5 shipping.
In the US, it is available at Sephora or the Sephora website for $65+tax with free delivery over $50, or alternatively you can buy directly from the Huda Beauty website for $65+tax with free delivery over $75.


Nothing to Declare. The palette was a Christmas gift from family. No affiliate links were used.
Huda Beauty is cruelty-free.

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