Pale Barley was an eyeshadow destined for my collection. It wasn't a matter of if, only when. I was prepared to hold out for quite some time given the 28471 similar shades already in my possession, but I figured there was no point in waiting any longer. It'd been a couple of years, it cost as much as my typical Friday dinner and dessert out, if not less, and it wasn't like I was easing off on the non-luxe makeup purchases anyway. Yes ... the workings of a cosmetics junkie's mind. Frightful, I know.
I remember reading a blog post a while ago that compared Maybelline Silken Taupe to Pale Barley. In fact, that was one of my primary motivations for buying Silken Taupe last year. Now that I have both, I really don't see how the two are similar. Silken Taupe is more of a pale, silver-purple. I found these particular reviews of Pale Barley helpful and definitely persuasive prior to purchasing: Kate at gh0stparties, Christine at Temptalia, Trang of Delicate Hummingbird (miss her blog), and Reika of Front Row Beauty.
l-r: Burberry Pale Barley, NARS Kalahari, Urban Decay YDK, Rimmel Smokey Quartz, bareMinerals A-Ha
Bottom to top: Burberry Pale Barley, NARS Kalahari, Urban Decay YDK, Rimmel Smokey Quartz, bareMinerals A-Ha
About the multitude of similar shades I mentioned. I picked out four of the closest I could find after briefly rummaging through my makeup drawers. I realise that to most sane and rational human beings, all the eyeshadows look the same. But they're not, I promise. There are differences, as minute as they may seem.
Burberry Pale Barley (No.22) is the most dirty yellow, with a slightly ashy appearance. I'd describe it as a darkened beige that can be built up to a medium brown base with a gold pearl overlay.
NARS Kalahari (from the And God Created the Woman eyeshadow palette, or the left side of the Kalahari duo) is more shimmery, with an almost flaky glitter. It's warmer, more golden and bronze than the cooler, tad more pewter Pale Barley. I think it's the more beautiful shade, but due to a somewhat crumbly yet dry texture, it's a lot more difficult to work with than the buttery smooth, superbly blendable Pale Barley.
Urban Decay YDK (from the Naked2 palette) is even more metallic than NARS Kahalari, but with more of a silvery thread running through it. It's also slightly more coppery than both Pale Barley and Kahalari.
Rimmel Glam'Eyes Mono Eyeshadow in Smokey Quartz is warmer, more brown and a little darker than Pale Barley. It differentiates itself from the rest with a hint of mauve.
bareMinerals A-Ha (from The Epiphany duo) is warmest still, more coppery/bronze, more metallic and reflective than Pale Barley without being shimmery or glittery.
Did I need Pale Barley? Probably not. I'm at the stage of makeup accumulation where there is no "need". For someone that might just be starting out with makeup or who has relatively minimal products, I think it's well worth the splurge to buy something like Pale Barley than a multitude of cheaper eyeshadows that might be similar in shade, but incomparable in terms of quality.
Do I consider Pale Barley a worthy addition to my stash? Sure. But at the same time, I don't find the colour to be so beautiful and unique that I can't picture myself living without it. I think what makes it special is the subtle gold overlay and how it falls in a near-perfect place between warm and cool. On medium and darker skin tones, I can see how it could be too light. I was afraid that it'd blend into my skin tone and hardly be visible, but it's pleasingly dark enough to serve as an easy, fuss-free all-over lid colour. If I wanted to add more depth and definition, I'd have to place a much darker shade closer to the lash line and blend upwards.
Pale Barley is a very well-made, high quality eyeshadow. The solid-feeling, gunmetal Burberry check packaging is, of course, a major part of its appeal and reflective of an elevated price tag. I can't fault the pigmentation, texture or application. I experienced hardly any fallout. It's an ideal everyday shade that leans more on the subdued side both colour-wise and with its soft, sophisticated sheen.