Monday, February 19, 2018

What I'm Not Buying: Anastasia Beverly Hills Soft Glam

Anastasia Beverly Hills has released their latest palette, Soft Glam. 

And I won't be buying. 

So, like most people (I think, at least), my initial reaction to seeing this palette was: Oh, that's so pretty; I'm totally going to buy it. 

But then I looked at it again, sighed, and thought: What am I doing? I obviously have all of these colors several times over. 

I wouldn't call this palette "boring," because I know plenty of people who would love this color scheme. And when I think about the perfect "work-appropriate" (I still hate that term and that idea) palette for me, it would probably be this. But what I would call this palette is "common."

Let's look at it:

The story behind Soft Glam is that Norvina (ABH president) made the palette for her mother, Anastasia (ABH founder). Norvina said she created seven new shadows, used three from Modern Renaissance (Tempera, Burnt Orange, and Cypress Umber), and added her mother's two favorite ABH singles, Sienna and Orange Soda. She also included two other existing ABH shades, Noir and Dusty Rose.

And what that means is that if you're someone who really loves ABH palettes or singles, you could potentially already have half of this palette. And that's not even including the colors that you likely have elsewhere in your collection from other brands.

Let's look at the shadows as pigments:

As I said earlier, when I look at this color scheme, I think it's really pretty. I think ABH did a really fantastic job of creating a neutral color scheme that is slightly more interesting than 14 shades of brown. However, when I look at these pigments, there is not a single color that I don't already own. This is a palette that I think would be really great for someone new to makeup or someone who is looking to only own one palette. 

Back when my obsession with makeup first began, this is the kind of palette and color scheme that I think would have been perfect for me (though, of course, I didn't know my preferences at the time and wouldn't have known this would have been perfect for me). But considering the makeup collection that I have now (that I absolutely love), this palette would be such an unnecessary addition. 

Let's look at swatches:

What's interesting to me is that when I look at these swatches, Soft Glam seems to look similar to my duped/edited version of Modern Renaissance:

And with that said, I think that if Soft Glam swapped one of the light shimmery shades and one of the browns for the red tones in Modern Renaissance, this would have been the palette I wanted Modern Renaissance to be. 

Now, in terms of formula, following the (over)dramatic reaction to Subculture, Norvina has confirmed that ABH returned to the Modern Renaissance formula for Soft Glam:

This will always be something that I personally have to keep in mind whenever ABH releases a new palette. I very much did not like the Modern Renaissance formula. The complaints that so many people had with Subculture was how I felt about Modern Renaissance, though to a lesser degree. I found that the shimmers did not pack a punch and were quite subtle/sheer, and the mattes did not build and blend. Every look was very muddy on me, and I found myself never liking my makeup when I wore it. 

With that said, as you can see from my "duped" Modern Renaissance palette above, I included four ABH single shadows—Macaroon, Buon Fresco, Love Letter, and Dusty Rose. I really enjoy ABH single shadows and don't have the same problems whatsoever with them as I did with the shadows in Modern Renaissance. I own several more ABH shimmery singles, and they all pack an incredible punch and aren't sheer whatsoever. 

And while all of this boils down to personal preference, of course, I also feel like people have hyped the Modern Renaissance formula to something unreal. The hype is bigger than the product at this point, and I feel it necessary to say that when hype for an eyeshadow formula is this strong, the formula can almost never live up to it. I think Modern Renaissance was a very strong case of major influencers liking a product and then everyone else running with the hype. There's such a huge amount of influence among influencers (duh), and it's amazing how quickly a fan base can turn something innocuous into something larger than life. And that, in my opinion, is what happened with the Modern Renaissance formula. 

Interestingly, I haven't heard many people talk about Soft Glam, and I don't think that it's going to be nearly as hyped as Modern Renaissance or the Master Palette by Mario (which, for all the hype it had, is just a palette of browns). I wonder how much of that has to do with the Subculture release and reception or the color scheme of Soft Glam. 

(As an aside, I recently made a huge move, and as a gift before I left, I received, of all things, Subculture. I have used it a few times and agree with the consensus that it is one of the most pigmented but challenging palettes I have ever worked with. Yet, oddly enough, I've found it easier to use than Modern Renaissance.)

Overall, I think Soft Glam is a more interesting and usable palette than Modern Renaissance (except, of course, that it's missing those standout red shades), but I think, in general, the hype has died down for the "Modern Renaissance formula." I don't think Soft Glam will receive any of the same hype despite having the same formula. 

Let's look at Soft Glam again:

Going back to what I said at the top of this post, I think Soft Glam is quite "common." I know I certainly have all of these colors in my duped/edited Modern Renaissance palette above, but it also looks like so many palettes that most people probably already have. 

It looks like the new Viseart Tryst palette:

Too Faced Natural Love:

Lorac Mega Pro 3:

Colourpop She:

Colourpop You Had Me at Hello:

Too Faced Chocolate Bon Bons:

Urban Decay Naked 3:

theBalm Meet Matt(e) Trimony:

And Tarte Tartelette in Bloom:

At this point, there are just too many options available that most people have already purchased to make Soft Glam tempting for me. And I have to say that I'm actually pretty surprised by the release altogether. While I haven't always liked or wanted to buy a new ABH palette, there was usually an interesting element to their palettes that elevated the makeup landscape. Reds and berries quickly became the focus of so many palettes following the success of Modern Renaissance (and Lime Crime Venus before that), and I wouldn't be surprised if brands starting coming out with palettes that have similar color schemes to Subculture and Prism, incorporating more rustic tones like yellows and greens. 

But Soft Glam just doesn't bring anything new to the table. Half of it is literally repeat shades from other palettes or the ABH singles line, and the other half is made up of shades so neutral that almost every neutral palette has them. And what's even stranger to me is that in a palette called "Soft Glam" that pulls seven shades from the ABH line, Pink Champagne is not included. I know Pink Champagne is in a lot of existing ABH palettes, but if you're going to pull half the palette from existing shades, you might as well put in your bestseller that essentially embodies the entire theme of the palette. 

The main reason I can think that most people will use to justify purchasing this palette is that it has all the neutrals that they really like (and already own) in the "Modern Renaissance formula." And for $42 (plus tax and shipping), that doesn't seem like a good enough reason to buy an entire palette that you know you don't need. 

While it's nice that Norvina wanted to make a palette for her mother, this doesn't feel like a palette for the typical ABH audience. And, in the end of it, I'm not ragging on ABH for creating this palette. I think that most brands should have a staple neutral palette that the casual makeup consumer can buy or a palette that would be perfect for someone first getting into makeup. At this point (and this may be an unpopular opinion), I don't think brands need to cater toward the makeup-addicted anymore.  There are people who have literally dozens of palettes, even more than 100, who complain that brands aren't coming out with things they haven't seen before. I think it would be quite challenging at this point for any brand to do that. 

And I hope they don't. 

And that's because I don't like the level of (over)saturation that we're at, and I really don't like that brands are charging upwards of $50+ for a product that is essentially "disposable." Consumers, I think, need to chill out a bit and curb their makeup and new product addiction. And in return, it would be great if brands stopped pumping out new products every few weeks or months. 

In my opinion, brands should have fantastic, high-quality core products and only focus on inclusivity for new campaigns. Instead of releasing a new eyeshadow palette every few months, wouldn't it be fantastic if brands evaluated their current lines and determined how much of it was inclusive? And then, when they found areas where inclusivity is lacking, they spent the time formulating products to fill this gap? 

If ABH wants to have a staple "neutral palette," fine. That doesn't mean that I need to buy it. I already have all of these colors in my collection, and instead of lusting after or buying a new palette simply because it is new, I should just use those colors that I already have. And if I'm tired of them, buying them in new packaging isn't going to make me all of a sudden love them. I definitely don't need to add Soft Glam to my collection, so I won't be buying. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

What I'm Not Buying: Jeffree Star Blood Sugar Palette

Jeffree Star Cosmetics has released their third eyeshadow palette, Blood Sugar. 

And I won't be buying. 

I actually received a ton of requests to write about this palette, and I just wanted to thank those who reached out to me. I'd also like to encourage others to let me know of new products that you would be interested in having me discuss.

This is the third palette by Jeffree Star Cosmetics, and it is the first one that has a color scheme that I personally am drawn to. If you've read my blog for any amount of time, you know that I have been crazy for pink, mauve, purple, and red shades for several months now, and I don't see that changing any time soon.

So you would think that when I saw Blood Sugar that I would totally fall for it, right? Well, not really.

Let's take a look at the palette:

Let's take this row by row. 

In row one, there is nothing new and exciting for me personally. In theory, I think this is a good row to have in a palette because there are plenty of neutral and transition shades, but I have every shadow in this row a few times over. 

Row two is slightly more interesting, but again, I have all of these shades. The most interesting shadows for me are the hot pink and the neon purple, but I have both of these shadows in the Sephora Pro Editorial palette. I have also the hot pink in the Urban Decay Electric palette and the neon purple with Colourpop 143.

Row three has the most unique shades overall, I guess, but there also appears to be quite a bit of repetition here. On the eyes, I don't feel like there will be much distinction between the various red and purple shades. 

Let's look at swatches:

Image credit: Trendmood1

I'd like to take a moment to talk swatches. I watched Jeffree Star's video where he announced and unveiled this palette, and I thought it was really odd that he only swatched a few colors and didn't provide swatches for the rest. He mentioned in the video that he doesn't like finger swatches and finds them to be a little pointless in terms of accurately displaying the quality of a shadow, and I agree with that, but then he proceeded to finger swatch a few of the colors and "ooh" and "aah" over them. 

As of right now, there are no "official" swatches of Blood Sugar on the Jeffree Star Cosmetics or Beautylish websites, and I have to say that I find that odd. Yes, swatches are incredibly manipulative (and we'll talk about the ones above in a moment), but they are also a necessary evil in a lot of ways so that people can get some idea of what the shadows are going to look like. For example, "Sweetener," which is the third shadow in the middle row, is the first color swatched in the photo above. In the pan, this looks to be a traditional gold shade, but swatched, it looks like a pinkish gold. 

I'm not going to speculate as to why Jeffree Star Cosmetics did not provide swatches, I just wanted to point out that I personally find it odd. In terms of the swatches provided by Trendmood, it is pretty clear that the swatches were applied with a finger, were applied with a lot of pressure, and in some (or all) cases, were swatched multiple times. The most obvious multiple applications are the third and eighth swatches on the bottom row. This makes it difficult to gauge anything about how the shadows will perform, because the swatches are applied in a way that no one would actually wear them. 

Regardless, when I look at these swatches, I still come to the same conclusions about the colors. Swatches four through nine on the bottom row look incredibly similar to each other; I already have a hot pink and neon purple; and everything else is a neutral that I already have a few times over. 

The color scheme is nothing new. I am drawn to it, of course, because I really like these shades, but that doesn't mean I don't already have all those colors. In fact, I have them all in my two favorite palettes in my collection.

There's my duped Just Peachy Mattes:

And "duped" (loosely defined at this point) Desert Dusk:

These colors are also in Lime Crime Venus:

Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance:
And my duped/reimagined version of it:

Huda Beauty Rose Gold:

And Huda Beauty Mauve Obsessions:

And if the only shade that you don't already own is a matte red, consider picking up a single. Like Superpill Love Plus:

Or Make Up For Ever Tomato:

Let's talk price. Blood Sugar retails for $52 and contains 18 shadows. The pans of these shadows are considerably smaller than other pans by Jeffree Star Cosmetics, which, in my opinion, is a positive thing. However, Blood Sugar also has a $7 price increase from the brand's other palettes that contained 10 shades with large pans. Shipping from Jeffree Star Cosmetics seems to be around $6 for domestic orders, and it doesn't appear that there is ever an option for free shipping. So including tax, this palette is going to cost around $60. 

In terms of price, in some ways I think it's in line with similar products from other brands, but in other ways, I think it's overpriced. I personally would not pay upwards of $60 for this palette when I think of palettes like Kat Von D Mi Vida Loca Remix and Saint and Sinner that had similar prices. I also find it to be a negative that Jeffree Star Cosmetics products are not sold in stores, so consumers aren't able to see it in person and try it out before purchasing. However, Jeffree Star Cosmetics does accept returns, unlike other online-only brands like Colourpop and Kylie Cosmetics. 

I think the main reason for the price increase, however, is the packaging:

Jeffree Star said that he wanted the case to look like a vintage doctor's bag:

I don't think this is necessarily the worst packaging, and I find it better than something like Urban Decay Heavy Metals or even anything by Natasha Denona, but I personally will always choose to have a less expensive product over extravagant packaging. 

I'm also personally not a huge fan of the theme of this palette and find it to be a bit muddled and confused. Typically this isn't something that I really care all that much about, but because the theme is the cause for the packaging and that is the reason for the price increase, I feel it is worth mentioning. Jeffree said he wanted it to have a "doctor/dentist" theme, which is why there are shade names like "Cavity", "O Positive", and "Root Canal." (Personally, like Jeffree, I have had a lot of dental work done, but because of that, I really hate the dentistry-related names). But what's odd is that there are also names like "Candy Floss," which is another name for cotton candy, "Cherry Soda," and "Cake Mix." I suppose I could suspend disbelief and think that those names relate because they cause cavities, but even then I think it's a stretch. 

Like I said, theming really isn't a huge thing for me normally, and I'm fine with my Viseart Dark Matte palette that doesn't have any names whatsoever, but if the theme and packaging are what's driving up the price, I feel like those things should be really well executed, which I don't think is true with Blood Sugar. 

Now, in a post about Jeffree Star Cosmetics, I feel it necessary to acknowledge his problematic behavior. I delved into this in my anti-haul post on his Androgyny palette, and I would encourage you to read that post if you don't know what I'm talking about. 

Since I wrote that post, Jeffree Star made a video addressing his past racist actions. From what I remember about the video, Jeffree says that the videos showcasing his racist words and actions 12 years ago do not represent the person he is now and that the past can never be erased. That I recall, he doesn't actually apologize. However, as I discussed (with screenshots) in the Androgyny post, he has relatively recently called women "rats" and threatened physical abuse toward them. Jeffree acknowledged in the same video that he reacts harshly to certain things and that he is working on not doing that. From the little that I have seen (I don't actively follow his social media), it seems like Jeffree has dialed back on lashing out with really upsetting and disgusting language. 

With all of that said, it's not up to me to decide if his "apology" should be accepted. I put apology in quotes because, although he did acknowledge his racist behavior and condemn it, he didn't actually apologize (that I remember). It's not up to anyone outside of the affected community to decide how the affected community should feel. I don't subscribe to Jeffree's channel, and I'm not going to buy Blood Sugar, and that is my personal choice. 

Bringing it back to this palette, I do think that it's pretty and certainly the one I like the most from this brand. But when I consider my makeup collection as a whole, upwards of $60 is way too much to pay for colors that I already have simply because they are in a special case that is bulky and not quite properly themed. This is a palette that I have no doubt that I could entirely dupe with what I already have in my collection, and for the exception of a few slightly unique shades, I would say most people could do the same. 

In terms of the formula, I will be transparent and say that I personally have never tried the Jeffree Star Cosmetics formula. I have read and watched dozens of reviews that conclude that the formula is fine, but nothing all that special or groundbreaking. I don't advocate for buying products and colors that you already own because you want to "try out the formula" as I find that just to be an excuse we tell ourselves to justify buying something new and hyped that we know we don't need. The Jeffree Star Cosmetics formula has never been hyped, so that's just one less thing to be tempted over.

I also think that Blood Sugar might fall into the same problems that Urban Decay Naked Heat faced, which is that despite having several colors, there won't be too many distinct looks that can be created with the color scheme. I'm assuming there will be a gold look, a pink look, and a red look, and everything else will be a variation of one of those three. That's certainly true of my duped Desert Dusk palette (pictured above), but I still completely love that palette because it is made up of so many of my favorite single shadows. 

And finally, it appears that Jeffree Star Cosmetics is using the false scarcity marketing tactic with this palette. This is something that many brands do, and is essentially how Kylie Cosmetics built their entire brand, but it's where the brand has a very small initial release so that it can sell out of stock almost instantly and create a false sense of scarcity, causing people to jump onto buying it because they don't want to miss out on what must be an incredible product because it sold out so quickly. Sure enough, Blood Sugar sold out shortly after its release, and now Jeffree Star Cosmetics is accepting pre-orders on the second launch. I understand that Jeffree Star Cosmetics has a rabid fan base, but there just really isn't anything all that special about this palette to justify the feeling of fear of missing out. On the eyes, this palette will look just like any of the palettes mentioned above, and you could achieve the same kind of looks by buying only a few single shadows. 

I certainly don't need any more palettes, especially when I own at least three already that dupe all of Blood Sugar. This is a color scheme that we have already seen a dozen times over, and it's even repeated throughout its own palette. I don't need any more of these shades, and I won't be buying. 

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

What I'm Not Buying: Urban Decay Naked Petite Heat

Urban Decay has announced their latest Naked Basics palette, which is a mini mostly matte version of their Naked Heat palette: Naked Petite Heat. 

And I won't be buying. 

I'm excited to write this post and I feel like things could get a little feisty because this is, without doubt, the most jaw-dropping "we don't need this" eyeshadow palette release I have seen in some time. 

First, I would like to thank one of my readers for alerting me to this palette on Instagram. I would share their name, but their Instagram account is private, so I want to respect their privacy. I really love it when people tag me in posts about new product releases because sometimes I miss the unveiling of new releases. So, thank you.

Onto Naked Petite Heat. So, I'm confused here. This is obviously a Naked Basics palette:

But for some reason Urban Decay is not calling it that and not branding it in their Basics line. It's in the exact same packaging and has the same layout of five matte shades and one shimmer. Clearly Urban Decay is trying some rebranding and riding the coattails of their Naked Heat palette (my anti-haul post on that can be found here), but let's call this palette what it is: the warm-toned version of Naked Basics:

And if there is one thing that the makeup industry desperately needs, it's a warm-toned mostly matte palette. 

Sarcasm aside, what I don't understand is that Urban Decay has already given us this palette. And not just in Naked Heat:

(Which, by the way, despite the fact that the two palettes have different shade names, it seems pretty clear that the shades in Naked Petite Heat are the same as the mattes in Naked Heat, but we'll get to that in a bit.)

Urban Decay also already gave us that with the Naked Ultimate Basics palette:

Specifically, the first four shadows on the bottom row:

I suppose the reasoning behind not calling Petite Heat a "Basics" palette is that they already gave consumers the "Ultimate Basics" palette, so if they released another Basics palette it would somehow invalidate the claim that it was the "ultimate" palette?

I don't know; that's the best I can come up with. 

Let's look at swatches:

Do you know what I see when I look at these swatches? Literally every other warm-toned palette that has been released in the past two years. 

I literally laughed when I saw this palette because I just could not believe that after Urban Decay was already so late to the game with releasing Naked Heat that they would release yet another warm-toned palette when there's no one hurting for warm-toned neutrals. 

Let's look at the colors as pigments:

When you strip the shadows away from their packaging, I see three boring neutrals and three slightly less boring neutrals. The last three shadows would have been interesting a few years ago, but because of all the palettes that have been released since then, this is just more of the same now. 

So, let's look at all these other palettes, shall we?

There's the Kat Von D Shade and Light Eye palette, of course:

Specifically the warm quad:

And speaking of Kat Von D quads, there's also the Shade and Light Eye Quad in Rust:

There's Viseart Neutral Matte:

Specifically this section:

Viseart Dark Matte:

Which offers a similar, but more interesting quad:

And Viseart Warm Matte:

There's also the Melt Rust Stack:

Coloured Raine Beauty Rust:

Dose of Colors Baked Browns:

And Sassy Siennas:

Huda Beauty Obsessions Warm Brown:

Morphe x Jaclyn Hill:

Specifically, this section:

At the drugstore, theres's one of my all-time favorite palettes, Milani Earthly Elements:

And, of course, there's Colourpop Yes, Please!:

Off the bat I'm going to say that I think Naked Petite Heat is overpriced and that you can get more and better for cheaper. Naked Petite Heat is $29 before tax and shipping. If you buy through Urban Decay, there is only free shipping on orders over $50, so Petite Heat alone wouldn't be enough to qualify. Shipping is also $8, which is steep, epically for something this small. If you include shipping, this palette now costs $37, and that's not including tax. For upwards of $40, I do not think Naked Petite Heat is worth it. I would instead recommend Colourpop Yes, Please! for $16 and $6 shipping. Yes, Please! offers all of the colors in Petite Heat plus several more interesting shades and textures. 

In my opinion, this release from Urban Decay is redundant and unnecessary. If you have any of the above palettes, you have Naked Petite Heat already. The only people who I can really see wanting this are those who want to complete their Naked Basics collections or who want to have both Naked Heat palettes. That's it. Because there are so many other options available at this point that you either have these colors if you want them or you don't want them. 

Typically, in a post about a product like this, I would talk about how this is bringing absolutely nothing new or innovative to the makeup community. I would also mention that it's a product that perpetuates the idea of continually buying what you already own because a different brand releases it, it is part of a serial line, or because the layout is slightly different from what you already own. 

And all of that remains true about Naked Petite Heat. In fact, it looks like Urban Decay went out of their way to rename all the shadows in this palette so that people who already own Naked Heat will buy these exact shadows again. Urban Decay is not the only brand to do that, but this is one of the more blatant examples of it that I've seen. 

But also, I'm personally at a point in my consumer journey where I am not yearning for a brand to come out with something that I haven't seen before. Because I just don't want any more. And frankly, I don't know if it's even possible for a brand to do that at this point since there are only so many colors and I own almost all of them. 

This is something I would like to talk about. For a while now I've had fatigue from all of the makeup products that are being released at rapid fire. And it's something that I'm starting to see other people talk about as well. People have mentioned that a new product is launching weekly, but it really seems like it's happening multiple times a week and maybe even daily. It's too much and no one can keep up with that, mentally or financially, unless they are a beauty influencer who needs daily content. The market is so oversaturated that I feel exhausted by all of it. It's no longer exciting for me, and I guess you could say that I have burnt myself out. 

And this palette is an excellent example of unnecessary consumerism. It's a color scheme that is so overdone that it's laughable and is literally a part of two existing Urban Decay palettes (both of which are permanent). This is so obviously just a lazy release from Urban Decay and one that they know will sell. It makes me appreciate brands like Kat Von D and Anastasia Beverly Hills more because they don't have a new eyeshadow palette released every month. When they do release a palette (I'm talking more Kat Von D here), it feels like it was done so with purpose rather than trying to capitalize on a current trend. 

I do believe that there are people who would love to have Naked Petite Heat. I'm sure they love to do really warm looks and they like the idea of how compact this palette is. Thing is, it really doesn't matter how compact something is unless you are the type of person to literally carry your makeup in your purse or if you travel a considerable amount. Otherwise, we both know that you already have all of these shades and you are just bored and wanting to try something new. 

For me, I'm tired of all of these releases, especially ones like Naked Petite Heat, which is recycling old colors and releasing a product simply for the sake of it. I don't need or want this palette, so I won't be buying.