Tuesday, June 12, 2018

What I'm Not Buying: Urban Decay Born to Run Palette

Urban Decay's latest palette, Born to Run, is a travel-themed palette that looks like the brand's typical Vice palettes, but slightly repackaged. 

And I won't be buying. 

Born to Run costs $49 and has 21 eyeshadows. Urban Decay offers free shipping on orders over $50 before tax, which means that, at $49, Born to Run conveniently does not qualify for free shipping. At the time that I am writing this post, Urban Decay is offering a special promotion of free shipping and a sticker pack with this palette, but it is unclear how long this promotion will last. Domestic shipping starts at $8, and Urban Decay has no direct international shipping. They have partnered with MyUS for international shipping, and while the website claims that the shipping fees are "deeply discounted," I can only imagine that shipping rates are still incredibly high. Therefore, outside of the special promotion with free shipping, this palette will cost upwards of $60 with tax and shipping if ordered from Urban Decay. This will be lower when ordering from Sephora or buying in-store. 

I've heard a lot of buzz about this palette and heard several people say that they have not purchased makeup in a long time because nothing has been interesting to them, but they don't think they can resist Born to Run. And I have to admit that I don't particularly understand that. Yes, I think that it is a pretty array of shadows, but it looks like so many palettes that have been released lately, and, more importantly, like so many Urban Decay products that have been released in the past couple of years. 

Before I get into the actual product, I would like to talk about the name, theme, and packaging:

If you have ever dated online or had to fill out any questionnaire about yourself, you will know just just how not unique it is to say, "I love to travel." When people are asked what they wished they could do with their lives or what they would do if they had endless funds, the first answer is usually "travel." And yet there is this interesting concept we tell ourselves that only a few in the world people have "wanderlust" or are "born to run," and we are one of them. The reality is that most people feel that way. But we like thinking we are one of the few. Urban Decay is smart for tapping into this impulse, and the packaging of this palette certainly gives me feelings of longing for vacation and travel. 

But that is the entire idea. 

Looking at the packaging, I am nostalgic of the summers I spent in by the beach in Southern California, the road trips I have taken across the US, the afternoon I spent at a seaside restaurant in Sausalito (outside of San Francisco), the summer nights I had in Paris, and the lazy evenings in Tuscany I spent drinking wine with friends. These are all memories of mine that are evoked by the images on this palette's packaging, and these aren't even my photographs

This is some of the most well-done, manipulative packaging that I have seen in a while. Buying this palette would give me good feelings, and not just because it fulfills my desire to buy more makeup and get new things. The "born to run" concept makes me feel special and unique, and the packaging makes me feel worldly and adventurous. 

The irony here is that if we spent less money on makeup that we already own, we could put that money toward traveling more. This is something I try to think about when a new palette or makeup item comes out that I really want but know I don't need it because I have something either identical or comparable already in my collection. It seems like just $20 here, $50 there, but if I were to actually start a savings fund and move the money that I would have spent on makeup into it, how much would I have at the end of the year? 

At the end of 2017, I actually tallied how much I spent on makeup and skincare, and the number absolutely shocked and disgusted me. And this was last year, when I was writing this blog and buying considerably less than I used to. I definitely could have taken a nice vacation with the money that I spent on makeup. I'm curious to see what the number will look like at the end of 2018, because I have found a way to cut down on the cost of skincare, and I have no plans to buy significant makeup for the rest of the year. 

It is certainly worth thinking about what else you could buy with money spent on makeup that you don't need, and I think it's interesting that Urban Decay is almost baiting us with those possibilities but hoping that we will instead buy the eyeshadow palette because it will give us the illusion of traveling. 

Let's look at the palette:

When I first saw this, I immediately thought of the recent Urban Decay Heavy Metals palette:

As well as Vice 4:

And After Dark:

This is what I just don't understand about Urban Decay. They are trying to sell me a palette that they have already tried to sell to me three other times, including six months ago with the Heavy Metals palette. This is also why I don't understand people saying that they haven't been tempted by anything until they saw Born to Run. If you weren't tempted by Heavy Metals, why are you tempted by Born to Run? All of the shimmer shadows can be found in Heavy Metals, and all of the matte shades are found in Naked Heat:

and Naked Petite Heat:

It's almost as if Urban Decay only has 20 or so shadows and they keep recycling them in every single palette they release. Born to Run even includes Smog, which is in the Naked palette and has been in countless other Urban Decay palettes. It's a gorgeous shadow and one of my favorites from the brand, but no one needs seven pans of it across different palettes. 

Let's look at swatches:

I'll say this: Brands are slowly getting better about thinking about inclusivity and diversity in their marketing images, but it serves little purpose to show how swatches look on three different skin tones if they look nearly identical across the skin tones. This is obviously not how these shadows are going to look on various skin tones once applied to the eye. No one packs on pigment that much on an eyelid. 

It's also worth mentioning how different the swatches look in the promotional images from the images Urban Decay released on their Instagram:

Granted, the lighting is not great in the above image, but you can still see that the swatches were applied very heavily (more than someone would put on their eye), and the colors are significantly less vibrant than in the promotional images. 

Born to Run not only looks like so many Urban Decay palettes, but it also looks like so many existing palettes in general. If you take out the four blue, green, and black shades, you have Huda Beauty Desert Dusk:

As well as Morphe x Jaclyn Hill:

It also looks like Tarte Be a Mermaid:

NYX Earth:

And Morphe 39A:

to name just a few. 

Honestly, it seems like the aspect of this palette that Urban Decay cared the most about and put care into was the packaging. Not just making it travel-themed, but in creating a different style of palette. I've heard so many people express excitement over the mirror in the palette, but that's just the mirror. It's not the actual product. The Heavy Metals palette was heavily criticized for the poor packaging, and it seems like Urban Decay decided to just redo that palette. They made some packaging upgrades and then added some of the traditional matte shades they throw into every palette to give the illusion that it is somehow different. It's not. It's the same thing that Urban Decay has been doing for years. 

And for the record, I like the packaging changes. I think the palette looks sleek, and it actually looks like the Sephora Pro palette packaging that I love. But new packaging is never a good enough reason to spend $50 to $60 on products that you already have. 

I think Born to Run falls short in a lot of ways, and two of the biggest are color selection and finishes. Something I think a lot of brands do poorly is the selection of matte shadows. Inevitably there will always be a color that a light-skinned person can use as a brow bone highlight and transition shade. These colors will always be neutral shades of beige. Typically there won't be equivalent shades for people with darker skin, which is exactly the case in Born to Run. Additionally, I am a person who likes colorful matte shadows. So if I'm going to be doing a green look, I'm not going to want to always blend it out with beiges and browns. One of my favorite palettes is Viseart Dark Matte:

because it gives me these rich and colorful tones within a matte finish. It would have been nice and refreshing to see Urban Decay include some matte blues, greens, olives, mustards, and other complementary shades for the more "colorful" shadows in this palette. Instead, they've given us the Naked palette and the Naked Heat plus some "colorful" shimmers from all of their other palettes. It's the same color scheme again and again, and it's boring. It's boring as a consumer, it's boring as a makeup lover, and it's even boring as an anti-haul blogger because I feel like I keep writing the same posts about "different" releases that are essentially the same. 

In my opinion, the best thing this palette has going for it is that the packaging makes me feel nostalgic for special times in my life. But that has zero to do with the product inside. I don't feel excited or inspired looking at this color scheme, and it almost makes me a little irritated because Urban Decay can't seem to do anything new. And when you look at the new palettes Jaclyn Hill curated for Morphe, it really shows how uninspired Urban Decay has been with all of their repeat releases. 

I have all of these shades already, and I don't need to have them in special, nostalgic-filled packaging. This is the kind of palette I feel most people would get tired of using after a couple weeks and would be ready to move on to the next thing because, while it is technically a new palette, the looks you'll be able to create aren't new. And at upwards of $50 or $60, that is way too much to spend on something that will be dull in such a short amount of time. This release is quite literally nothing new, and there is nothing about it that I feel excited by. So I won't be buying. 

Friday, June 8, 2018

I No Longer Support Kat Von D Beauty

This is a different kind of post, and it will be short. Yesterday, I learned that Kat Von D, creator and owner of Kat Von D Beauty, announced that she does not support vaccines and will not be vaccinating her child.

She has spread dangerous and unfounded propaganda about vaccines, and as a result, I can no longer support her or her brand. 

Vaccines benefit not only the vaccinated individual, but also the public at large. Without getting too much into the personal details of my health, I am vaccinated, but my immune system is weaker toward a few illnesses for which there are vaccines. Despite having these vaccinations, I still caught two very devastating illnesses as a child, and I was quarantined both times. 

One of these times, my pediatrician's office closed down the ENTIRE office during a normal business day and rerouted all of their patients to a different office just so that I could be seen. They obviously did not want me infecting all of the children too young to be vaccinated, and they took extreme precautions and measures so that I could been seen, including sterilizing the entire office before and after my visit. During my appointment, every single physician on staff observed me because they had not seen an active case of that particular illness throughout their careers. 

Now, as an adult, I am susceptible to these same illnesses if there is an outbreak caused by a non-vaccinated person. Choosing to not vaccinate a child is not only putting that child at extreme risk of devastating, debilitating, and deadly illnesses, but it is also unnecessarily compromising the health and safety of the public at large. People like me are at risk, as are those with compromised immune systems, as are children too young to receive vaccinations. 

The entire anti-vaccination "movement" was created by a false claim that vaccines cause autism, and there is zero evidence over countless scientific research studies to support this claim. Furthermore, as a person who has autistic family members, friends, and other beloved people in my life, I find it appalling that someone would rather put their child at risk of debilitating illnesses or even death for fear that they would be like these beloved people in my life. 

This is an ignorant, selfish, and irresponsible decision by Kat Von D, and sharing this choice on such a huge public platform is incredibly dangerous.

I am writing this blog post because, until yesterday, I was a fan of Kat Von D Beauty. I have written a ton of posts on new Kat Von D products, and I own several products from the brand as well. I even purchased Pastel Goth because Kat Von D posted "No mi presidente" on her Instagram and the comments were flooded with trolls saying that they would never purchase from her brand again. I do not support the current US administration or any of their actions, and I wanted to show my support for Kat Von D for posting such a strong statement.

But I can no longer support Kat Von D or her brand. To be anti-vaccine is to put the public's health in danger because you are uninformed and don't want to believe scholarly, scientific facts. Putting that ignorant mindset on public display could have incredibly dangerous ramifications.

I have yet to decide what I am going to do with the Kat Von D Beauty products that I already own, but I will no longer be purchasing from Kat Von D Beauty, recommending any products from Kat Von D Beauty, or showcasing any products from Kat Von D Beauty that I have previously purchased on this blog.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

What I'm Not Buying: Lunar Beauty Life's a Drag Palette

YouTube personality MannyMUA has created his own brand, Lunar Beauty, and the brand recently launched it's first (and as of now only) product, Life's a Drag. 

And I won't be buying. 

I wasn't planning on writing a post on this palette because I don't typically write about brands that emerge from YouTube personalities, for the exception of Makeup Geek, which has been an established brand for several years. I didn't write about Laura Lee's Cat's Pajamas palette or Tati's "vitamins," and there have been dozens of YouTube collaborations that I have passed over as well. But I do feel there's a bit to talk about with this product, so here we are. 

I should also establish upfront for new readers that this is an anti-haul blog. It is a blog that is meant to encourage smart consumerism and critical thinking as relates to makeup purchases. If you're a diehard Manny fan hoping that I'm going to gush about this palette and not be critical, you're in the wrong place. 

Life's a Drag costs $45 for 14 eyeshadows. The brand is online only, so you won't be able to test products in-store, and the only return policy is for products that arrive broken. This means that if you purchase this palette, not having been able to test it first, and you don't like it or think the quality is poor, you will not be able to return it. There is no shipping information available on Lunar Beauty's website, which leads me to believe that there is no free shipping. I am also not sure if Lunar Beauty ships internationally as this information is also not included on the website. So, with what I assume shipping costs will be plus tax, I imagine that the true cost of this palette will be between $50 and $55.

Let's look at it:

Something that I found odd when looking at Lunar Beauty's website is that there is no actual picture of this palette. There are only pictures of broken shadow pans:

but no actual picture of the palette. And I find that exceptionally odd. 

Before I delve into all the reasons that I personally will not be buying this palette, I do want to talk about some of the palette's positives features. 

I really love that this palette is called "Life's a Drag" and that is celebrates drag culture. I think a drag queen would have perhaps been a better ambassador for this message, but I think that Manny has done a lot for men who wear makeup in terms of having a platform and large following and showcasing his love of makeup and skillset.  

I also like that the palette is somewhat inclusive. I say "somewhat" because I do feel the neutral colors cater toward light skin tones, and I feel some of the beige tones could have been replaced for shades that work well for deeper skin tones. But in the "About" section of Lunar Beauty's website, it says, "Lunar Beauty is a cosmetics line for men, women, and everyone in between." I appreciate the inclusivity among genders, though I don't know if stating "men" first was potentially the right move (I'll talk more on this later in the post). 

Finally, I like that Manny included six colorful shadows in this palette and didn't make the entire thing a basic neutral palette the way that most people do when they start a brand and feel they need to play it somewhat safe. And when you consider Manny's palette when he collaborated with Makeup Geek:

I think the inclusion of colorful shadows was a smart choice (we will get into this more later in the post).

Let's look at the shadows as pigments:

When you consider that the inspiration behind this palette is drag makeup, it makes sense to include neutral and colorful shades. However, I think any new brand (and even existing brands) have to consider that their audience likely has neutral shadows at this point. And I think the challenge then becomes how to create a new product that is not a "complete" palette and isn't giving people more of what they already own. 

And when I look at these shadows as pigments, I'm really only interested in the colorful ones. And even then, it's the yellow and green. The rest of the palette just looks so incredibly boring to me, and it's the majority of the palette. I don't need yet another matte black or white, and I certainly don't need that many brown shades that don't look very different once blended on the eye. 

Lunar Beauty included this photo in their promotional images:

And while I think it's an odd choice as I personally don't find this photo all that pleasing and it doesn't make me want to buy the product, I do think it's interesting that in the front, there are all these individual colors, and in the back, it's just a sea of brown. 

Lunar Beauty also does not include any swatches of this palette on their website, which I again think is a rather odd choice, and the only somewhat "official" swatches I could find were from Manny's YouTube channel:

When I look at these swatches, it feels like Life's a Drag is a combination of Manny's collaboration with Makeup Geek:

and Huda Beauty's Electric Obsessions palette:

(Or Bad Habit's dupe of this palette, After Shock):

And it is absolutely worth stating at this point that if you already own the Manny and Makeup Geek collaboration palette, you already own the majority of Life's a Drag. It makes sense, of course, because a person is always going to be drawn to their favorite shades, especially if they are trying to create a "complete" palette, which it seems like Manny is trying to do. But, when you own a brand, it's a disservice to your customers to keep selling the same shades over and over again and expect your customers to buy them. This is not just an issue with Manny—many brands do this, even (especially?) those that are very established, like Too Faced, Tarte, Urban Decay, and now Colourpop. Hell, Too Faced recently came out with the THIRD version of their "Natural Eyes" palette, and Huda Beauty just lightly tweaked their Rose Gold palette and rereleased it like it was an entirely new product. 

This is something that happens all the time. And that is where we need to step in as the consumer, recognize this tactic, and not buy into it. It is very, very likely that the target demographic for Life's a Drag is the same as the Makeup Geek palette: Manny's fanbase. I don't say that to insult Manny or his fans, but I don't think the average makeup consumer looking for a predominately neutral palette with a few pops of color, or even someone wanting to do drag makeup, is going to go to Lunar Beauty instead of all of the other well-established brands. The people who are going to be drawn to this palette are other YouTube personalities who want to either "support" Manny (and therefore not be critical of the palette) or who want the buy the palette simply to increase their own engagement. And, of course, Manny's fanbase.  

And if these fans are so diehard that they will buy anything that Manny releases, chances are they already bought the majority of this palette already with the Makeup Geek palette. 

Life's a Drag also reminds me of Dose of Colors Eyescrean:

BH Cosmetics Festival:

Juvia's Place Festival:

Juvia's Place Zulu:

And Juvia's Place Douce:

While all of the above palettes reminded me a bit of Life's a Drag, I have to admit that I find the color schemes of all of them more interesting. And, for the exception of the Dose of Colors palette, all of the palettes are considerably less expensive than Life's a Drag. 

If you're drawn to the color scheme of Life's a Drag and not just to the person who created it, chances are you already have all of the neutral shadows in your collection and you could just buy one of these other palettes or eyeshadow singles from brands like Sugarpill, Make Up For Ever, Makeup Geek (their new pressed pigments), Coloured Raine, etc. 

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't state why I personally don't want to support Manny or his brand. A year and a half ago (and, yes, I do acknowledge that this happened a little bit ago), Manny said in this video:
"There is no denying the fact that Morphe has good shadows, like, there's no denying it. I know a lot of people try to talk shit about Morphe and say, like, 'It's chalk and doesn't even work.' At the end of the day you can literally swatch it, put it on your eyes, and you'll see that they work. If you know what you're doing, they work. No tea, no shade to other shit-talkers that can't use Morphe shadows. Maybe if you knew how to do makeup, you could use them."
Meanwhile, Manny has an affiliate code with Morphe in the description box of that video.

Shortly after those comments were made, I posted this anti-haul post on the Morphe X KathleenLights palette. And regarding Manny's comments, I wrote:
"Makeup on the whole is a tool to be used for enjoyment and to make people feel good about themselves. It is a tool that every gender utilizes, but statistics have shown that the vast majority of cosmetic consumers are women. So having a man tell his audience that is primary made up of young women that if they don't like a, frankly, mediocre eyeshadow formula then they are bad at eyeshadow is disgusting and is another example of men systematically putting women down. His language was elitist and gross, and is especially unsettling because women are the main users and consumers of makeup. He is a man speaking to a primarily female audience in a female-dominated industry/hobby, and he is still putting women down. So having MannyMUA be a loud, obnoxious mouthpiece shill for Morphe does not make me ever want to support Morphe. They should be denouncing his comments, not celebrating them. If MannyMUA is the kind of spokesperson Morphe wants for their brand, then they are not a company I want to support."
To my knowledge, Manny has never apologized for that statement, and as you can see, the video is still live, that part of the video is still included, and there is no edit in the description box to say that he is sorry for making such statements.

And this is also why I am mildly annoyed that Lunar Beauty says that it is a line for "men, women, and everyone in between." Now, I don't think that there was any conscious decision to put "men" first in this list. Manny is a man, so it makes sense that he would put "men" first, and he is also an ambassador for men who wear makeup. It is also so engrained in our culture to always put "men" first when discussing "men and women" that it also just seems like something pretty innocuous. But since, as I said in my post a year and a half ago, makeup is a primarily female-dominated industry/hobby, I think it could have gone a long way to place "women" at the top of the list of who this cosmetics line is for. And, yes, I see that it is a small, maybe even petty concern, but microagressions are real, and I think it's important to always be aware of them.

YouTube is rapidly shifting, and people aren't as easily able to make a ton of money off of making videos anymore. Video creators are now in a scramble of figuring out what to do, so many of them have placed a ton of ads on every single video and are begging for people to pay to let them to live a flexible lifestyle through platforms like Patreon. (I could write an entire post about Patreon, but largely I feel it's pretty insulting to ask audience members who have to work the "boring" jobs many of these creators don't want to then pay the creator each month out of their hard-earned paycheck. And only so that the creator can continue not working those "boring" jobs and getting to live their preferred lifestyle.) It seems like the YouTube cash bubble has indeed burst or is coming very close to bursting soon. And people are having to figure out what to do so that they can keep living their lavish lifestyles. Many of the creators with the largest followings have decided to create their own brands, but at this point, the market is already so saturated that unless they can bring something truly new to the table (new products or incredibly low prices), there just doesn't seem to be room for them.

The price of Life's a Drag, I feel, is frankly too high. It's a new brand with only one product; it's online only; and they don't allow returns. Ultimately, it's a palette that is not that unique. I can't speak to the quality of the shadows, but based on Manny's finger swatches, they look like have similar performance to shadows from Colourpop or Juvia's Place. I like both of those shadow formulas, so what I mean is that Lunar Beauty's shadows don't appear to be anything revolutionary. Essentially, the palette is made up of mostly basic neutrals and a few pops of color, and is a typical shadow formula. I don't need to pay upwards of $55 for that.

While I do think there are a few positive attributes to the Life's a Drag palette, especially when you compare it to products released by similar brands created by YouTube personalities, ultimately, there is just nothing all that unique, interesting, or special about this palette. So I won't be buying.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

What I'm Not Buying: Melt Cosmetics Gemini Palette

Melt Cosmetics has come out with a new palette, the first of which is not in stack form.

And I won't be buying.

To be completely honest, I did not think I was going to make this post. Because I really, really want the buy this palette. In fact, until last night, I had fully committed to the idea that I was going to purchase this palette, and I was perfectly okay with that because this is the kind of palette (I thought) I had been waiting for.

It's completely different from the majority of releases, and it's got a great color scheme that is also pretty neutral. At least that was what I was telling myself.

As I'm sure you've noticed, I have not been too active on the blog recently, and there are a number of reasons for that. The major highlights are that I've been working on some things for the blog behind the scenes, I've recently moved and my world has been in a certain amout of disarray, and I've been experiencing some health issues. But more than anything else, there just haven't been many releases that I've felt inclined to write about.

Many YouTube personalities have recently launched their own brands, and I am so far interested in none of them. Colourpop is coming out with more of the same; Urban Decay is pumping out a ton of products that I'm not interested in and can't even keep up with; and Too Faced is literally launching the third version of packaging on their same boring neutral palettes.

So there just hasn't been a lot for me to write about.

But then Melt announced the Gemini palette, and I became excited about makeup for the first time in months.

Let's look at it:

If you've been a longtime reader of my blog, you'll know that I am a huge lover of the Melt Rust Stack. This one stack replaced every single neutral matte palette in my collection because none could compare to it. I have also owned the Love Sick Stack, but ended up only keeping the color Love Sick. I really love Melt's matte shades, and while the shimmers aren't awful, I just don't like them nearly as much. 

Gemini is Melt's first palette not in stack form, and I think that makes a lot of sense from a practical standpoint. The stacks are truthfully a pain, and they are so delicate that it makes traveling with them difficult. Additionally, the stack format really only allows for four or five shadows, so having a typical palette format allows the brand to come out with something with 10 shadows. 

Most longtime readers will also know that I am a complete sucker for a good mustard shadow. My favorite mustard is Bobbi Brown Camel, but Melt Rubbish is a close second. So you can only imagine my joy when I saw that Melt has created yet another mustard with a much stronger yellow base. And that was the starting point of my brief love affair with Gemini. 

Let's look at the shadows as pigments:

Typically, I use images like this as a tool to show me how much I don't actually like or need a palette. However, in this case, this photo just reinforced how much I wanted this palette. It is perfect, I thought, and I am definitely going to buy it

But I'm not going to. Mainly because of the price. 

Gemini retails for $58. Melt only offers free shipping on orders over $75, which means that if you buy any of their stacks or this palette, you still won't qualify for free shipping. Shipping is $7 domestically and $10 internationally, which makes Gemini $65 to $68 before tax. 

When you compare the cost of Gemini to other Melt Stacks, it actually seems like a great deal. (The Rust Stack is also $58 before tax and shipping and only has five shadows.) However, Gemini looks to come in cardboard packaging, which is considerably less expensive than the stack packaging. Gemini also doesn't have the "gimmick" factor of the stack packaging, so it puts the palette in direct competition with other brands that make similarly sized palettes. When compared to those palettes, Gemini is pretty overpriced. 

For me, the price was especially too high because when I really looked Gemini, I was most attracted to the four shadows on the right. When I considered the rest of the palette, I realized:
  • I hardly ever use black shadows
  • I have plenty of brow bone/transition shadows
  • I have a ton of warm browns, oranges, and dark browns

So, really, I just wanted the shimmery green, forrest green, olive, and mustard. 

Buying Gemini for only four shadows would mean that I have not learned any of the lessons I have discussed on this blog, especially (and here's the kicker) when I own all four of these shades already

Yep. There you have it. I was lusting after a palette for four shades that I already own. 

Upon this realization, I thought about why I didn't see that I already owned these shadows when that's usually the first thing I notice in other palettes. And I think it's because this is a palette that has a somewhat unique color scheme (as you will see further in this post it is really not that unique at all), and my brain just hasn't been trained yet to see that even these "unique" palettes are still filled with shades I already own. 

Let's look at swatches:

When I first saw these swatches, it felt like the air had been let out of my "I must buy this palette" mentality. There was absolutely no denying at this point that I already owned these shadows, and, frankly, that they just weren't as special as I thought they were by looking at promotional photos. 

Gemini is Anastasia Beverly Hills Subculture:

And the Bad Habit dupe of Subculture, Retro Love:

It's Lime Crime Venus II:

Those greens I was lusting after are in Viseart Dark Matte:

Gemini also looks a lot like Jeffree Star Androgyny:

And Zoeva Matte Spectrum:

And Makeup Revolution Reloaded Iconic Division: 

Really, Gemini is not especially unique. In fact, I think the biggest audience for it are people who wanted Subculture but decided not to buy because of the horrendous reviews. 

As for me, I once owned Venus II but decluttered it years ago because I was not in a place with my makeup preferences to really appreciate those tones. I've owned Viseart Dark Matte for years and absolutely love that palette. And if that's not enough, before I moved, I was gifted Subculture (though I am still undecided if I want to keep it). And that's not even counting all of my single shadows. 

For the exception of Viseart Dark Matte, all of these palettes are considerably less expensive than Gemini, which will cost you upwards of $70 with tax and shipping. And I think $7 per shadow is too high. 

I know I made this post mainly about me, but I did so to demonstrate that being more conscious about consumerism and training your brain to think more critically about purchases is a constant work in progress and something that takes time. Despite everything that I have learned and all the time I have devoted to thinking critically about why I'm not going to buy products, I still had a moment of "Pretty! Different! I'm gonna buy!" And had I purchased Gemini, I would have applied the shadows to my lids and had the sinking realization that these shades were not, in fact, different from what I already owned. 

Looking at the promotional photos of Gemini, I still think it's a gorgeous palette. And I'm glad to see more brands branching out from the boring and overdone neutrals and shades that are only geared toward light skin tones. It's exciting to see something different, especially something that is still cohesive and what most people would consider "wearable." But that doesn't mean that I need to spend $70 on a palette full of colors that I already own. 

The best way I can describe this feeling is to share a story about some palettes that I have recently purchased. I received a few requests to test some "dupe" palettes and form an opinion on the quality of the shadows. Traditionally speaking, I'm not a huge fan of brands that "dupe" popular palettes because I do think that it is an infringement on one's creative and intellectual property. But due to the requests, I did purchase some palettes from Hush to test. When the palettes arrived, I was drawn to these beautiful (but familiar) color schemes and was excited to work with the palettes. And do you know what happened? With every single look that I created (even though these were "new" palettes), I found myself so bored because they were looks that I've created a dozen times over with a dozen different palettes. 

Obviously in this example these are "dupe" palettes, so the entire idea is to be similar to existing ones, but there is also only so much that you can do with an entirely red-toned or orange-toned palette. And even if a palette is new, the look is not. And if you're able to create that exact look from shadows you already have in your collection, what's the point

I think I'm just at a place where the "new factor" isn't enough anymore. I need a product to actually be different, not just new. And Gemini would not be different for me. 

If you're someone who has considerably less makeup than I do (first of all, good for you!), have nothing like these colors in your collection, and are very drawn to this palette, Gemini may actually be a great purchase for you. I still think it is overpriced compared to other palettes of similar size and quality (especially since Melt is an online brand and you can't try the products in-store), but if this is the exact color scheme you want, I can see it being a good purchase. If you're like me and own at least one of the above palettes as well as singles, it may be a good idea to take a step back and think about why you're really lusting after this particular palette and evaluate what, if any, value it will add to what you already own. If you're drawn to only a few colors, I would also recommend instead buying some single shadows from brands like Colourpop and Makeup Geek.  

Personally, I think that I may need to accept that I have almost every single possible shade (that I would want) already in my collection. There may be no new product that my collection can't duplicate. And that's okay. Because I can still love makeup and participate in the hobby without buying every new product.

Gemini, while beautiful, is just not something I need to add to my collection. It doesn't bring anything new to me, and it's very expensive to be the same as what I already have. I absolutely don't need Gemini, and I won't be buying.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

What I'm Not Buying: Kat Von D Anniversary Palette

To celebrate their 10th anniversary, Kat Von D has come out with an anniversary collection, which includes a palette. 

And I won't be buying. 

I've received a lot of requests to write about this palette, but I have to say that I'm a little cautious to do so because I have ended up with three Kat Von D palettes for which I have written anti-haul posts. 

Those include Pastel Goth, and my reason for purchasing can be found here:

Saint and Sinner, which I received as a gift:

And Metal Matte, which I also received as a gift: 

Out of all of these palettes, Pastel Goth is my favorite, and I am happy that I own it. However, I also find Pastel Goth to be very light (same with some of the matte shades in Metal Matte), which can make it difficult to work with. 

So even though I have no plan or desire to buy the anniversary palette, I also didn't have plans to own the above three palettes, and we can all see how that played out. However, I really can't see myself buying the new Kat Von D palette because it just looks so much like most Kat Von D palettes that have released in the past few years.

Let's take a look at it:
I think we can all agree that this is a beautiful palette, and I think (in promotional images) it looks like it was curated quite well. It has a mix of warm and cool tones as well as neutrals and colors. It feels evenly balanced. Unlike so many palettes releasing right now, it's not a neutral palette with one or two pops of color. It offers a really complementary color scheme. Even better, the colors are on trend, but aren't too trendy that they are essentially disposable. And, because it's Kat Von D, the artwork on the packaging is also gorgeous:

If I didn't own so many palettes, this would definitely be something that I would consider purchasing. But I do. And my guess is that if you're interested in this palette and have found your way to my blog, you probably do too. 

Let's look at swatches:

Lately, when I've seen swatches provided by a brand, it has made me want the palette less than I did before. But with these swatches, I have to admit that I am tempted. However, we all know by now that brand swatches are incredibly misleading. And I have to say that Kat Von D has always been one of the worst offenders with this. 

When I compare the above swatches to those provided by Instagram user @vspinkmelissa, there is quite a difference:

Image credit: @vspinkmelissa

I would assume that the bottom swatches were applied without primer, and I have said many times that I believe swatches to be generally unhelpful in terms of evaluating performance and quality, but I do think it's interesting to compare the way the actual colors looks. 

The swatches will of course look more complex and exciting in promotional images, but these two pictures, I think, are a great example of "expectations versus reality." That's not to say that the colors in the bottom swatches are't great; they just look different from the ones being advertised. 

When I look at the swatches in the bottom photo, I have to admit that there are not any that I don't already have or like enough to want to buy again. 

It makes sense to me that an anniversary palette would be filled with "classic" Kat Von D shades. But, this palette claims to have 16 new shades. And herein lies the "issue" with buying Kat Von D palettes: very often, if you buy one, you have the basic color scheme of many moving forward. 

At this point, I own several Kat Von D palettes:
  • Mi Vida Loca Remix
  • Metal Matte
  • Pastel Goth
  • Saint and Sinner

And have also owned but since decluttered:
  • Shade and Light Eye
  • Shade and Light Eye Quad in Plum
  • Monarch

Between all of these palettes, I definitely feel like I have covered the entirety of the anniversary palette color scheme a few times over.

In addition to the palettes listed above, this also looks like Serpentina:

And Star Studded:
As well as Colourpop Dream St.:

Juvia's Place Nubian 2:

Jaclyn Hill X Morphe:

Kylie Cosmetics Blue Honey:

Juvia's Place Festival:

And Elf Jewel Pop:

To name a few. 

The anniversary palette is a whopping $52 before tax, which feels steep. To put that into perspective, the anniversary palette has 16 shadows compared to Saint and Sinner, which had 24 shadows and cost $60. So for an additional $8, Saint and Sinner had eight more shadows. Saint and Sinner has one-third more shadows, and by that measurement, it seems like a more appropriate price for the anniversary palette would be $40.  

But the thing that the anniversary palette has going for it that Saint and Sinner didn't is that the color scheme flows nicely and there seems to be some "sense" to it. When I first saw Saint and Sinner, I was not drawn to it whatsoever because the colors felt so random and unorganized. Even now, after being gifted Saint and Sinner, I find it difficult to look at it and feel inspired. I typically get too overwhelmed and don't even know where to start. So the fact that the anniversary palette is "curated" is certainly a positive, but that doesn't mean that the shades are not repetitive. 

Out of all of the Kat Von D palettes that I own, the ones that I think are the most unique are Mi Vida Loca Remix and Pastel Goth. Unfortunately, both of these palettes were limited edition, and it doesn't appear at this time that they will make another appearance. 

And this is another point I would like to make. The overwhelming majority of Kat Von D eyeshadow palettes are limited edition. At the time of the writing of this blog post, Kat Von D has seven eyeshadow palettes for sale at Sephora. They are:
  • Shade and Light Eye—permanent 
  • Shade and Light Glimmer—permanent 
  • Alchemist—permanent 
  • Shade and Light Eye Quads—on sale; discontinued 
  • Metal Matte Mini—limited edition 
  • I Am Divine—limited edition
  • 10-Year Anniversary Palette—limited edition

Nearly half of the palettes available are limited edition, and one palette/group of palettes has been discontinued. That means the brand only has three permanent palettes. Two of them are incredibly neutral and matte/shimmer versions of each other, and the other is only a quad of duochrome shadows that all have a white base. 

What's interesting about this is that when I personally think of Kat Von D as a brand, I think of bold colors, not the neutrals in the permanent line. That's because nearly every Kat Von D holiday release is a large palette filled with interesting color combinations. For years, while every other brand was trying to reinvent brown, Kat Von D was giving color. So it's curious, then, why the brand doesn't have a permanent colorful palette. And it's frustrating as a consumer that whenever the brand does release a "signature" colorful palette, it is limited edition. 

But let's talk about that. When a brand releases a limited edition product, it is for two main reasons:
  1. They don't think it's a product that will be a bestseller if it was permanent and people had as long as they wanted to make a decision on whether to buy.
  2. They know people WILL buy it if there is a perceived scarcity to it.
With Kat Von D specifically, they continue to release the same palette, just packaged slightly differently. And I think this is why they don't have a permanent colorful palette. Because if they did, people would be less likely to buy their limited edition colorful palettes. Added to that, Mi Vida Loca Remix is on most people's list of "one that got away" palettes. And because of this, people are more likely to buy limited edition Kat Von D palettes so that they don't have to feel they have missed out yet again. But I can't help but to think that Kat Von D could just bring back Mi Vida Loca Remix and make it permanent. I know that Kat Von D has become a vegan brand since that palette was for sale, so some of the shadows would need to be reformulated, but knowing how high the demand is for that palette, it baffles me why the brand doesn't just give consumers what they want. 

And my guess is that they don't rerelease that palette because then not as many people would buy the latest limited edition palette. Also, there's this strange phenomenon in taking pleasure in owning something that other people can't. I'll never forget watching a YouTube video where a woman was lamenting how the Too Faced Sweet Peach palette was ruined for her when Too Faced released it again. She said the main reason she liked it so much was because she felt special for owning an item other people wanted but couldn't have. (This same woman is thrilled that she owns Mi Vida Loca Remix and considers it one of her prized makeup products.) Now, there is a lot of honesty in what she said that I don't think many people would admit to. At the same time, it seems kind of petty to me to feel so elitist about a makeup item. The point of makeup is to give people confidence and inspire creativity. So to feel so great about owning a product specifically because other people can't seems a bit counterintuitive to me.  

Also, makeup is a moneymaking industry. So tactics that brands employ are always going to be in their best interests. As consumers, the best thing that we can do is just be critical with our thinking and smart with our purchasing decisions. I don't need another limited edition Kat Von D palette. Sure, I won't have the "10-Year Anniversary Palette," but I have other versions of it. And more versions are undoubtedly coming in the future. This is a palette of the moment, and when the moment passes, no one will talk about it anymore. If you want proof of that, think of how many people currently talk about the original Metal Matte palette. 

Although there is a lot about this palette that's interesting and appealing, I just don't need it, full stop. I have these colors already many times over, and I don't need any special "10th anniversary" packaging. For me, this palette would be a waste of $52 because, ultimately, it would just sit and get lost in the shuffle of all the other palettes that I already own and love. I don't need this palette, so I won't be buying.