Thursday, June 23, 2016

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

The latest eyeshadow palette from Kat Von D Beauty--Serpentina--has been teased for months. I have to say, this marketing strategy is exceptionally unappealing to me, and I won't be purchasing.

I mentioned this in my post about the Too Faced Sweet Peach palette, but I find it exhausting when brands talk about their upcoming projects months in advance and tease customers with filtered images just to drum up hype.

I get that cosmetics is a business and that engaging in this kind of marketing is clearly in the best interest of the company, but that's why it is so important to be an informed consumer and ignore the hype.

I don't have the best relationship with Kat Von D as a brand. I find that they often have quality control issues (the Shade + Light blushes that were pulled from shelves and the three different batches of Lolita liquid lipstick are just two examples) and are frequently out of stock in most Sephora stores. I have never seen another brand at Sephora with as many stock issues as Kat Von D.

As far as products, I own the Monarch palette. I really loved it when I first bought it because some of the colors are astounding, but the more I used it, the more I hated having to deal with the immense fallout and glitter that would rain down my face. I also bought the Shade + Light eyeshadow palette, but found it very difficult to work with. The colors had so much intense pigmentation that I found they were difficult to blend out and look nice. I much preferred the performance of my Viseart Neutral Mattes palette, so I returned the Shade + Light. I also own the Metal Crush eyeshadow in Thunderstruck, and really love the uniqueness.

I can therefore say that while I like Thunderstruck, the KVD Beauty eyeshadow formula is not my favorite. However, I think KVD Beauty always has a really interesting shade selection, and when Serpentina was first teased, I was a little intrigued.

That all went away, however, when the first "official" image of the palette was released and it had a black and white filter over it.

This is just annoying. I honestly don't see the point in it, other than to get people to go crazy over hype wondering what it will look like. I saw this filtered photo and was so disgusted by this new trend of marketing that I decided that unless the palette was so perfect, so me, so everything I've always wanted but somehow didn't have, I would be passing on it.

Some of you may say it's silly to pass on an item over its marketing, but it is important to me to not support brands that feed off and promote the hype and fear of missing out mentality.

Anastasia Beverly Hills recently released the Modern Renaissance palette, which I personally believe is the best release of the season (review coming soon). The company released the first mention and image of the palette the day before it was available for purchase. That, in my opinion, is an appropriate way to do marketing. The palette is also extremely high quality, and reviews have all been positive. Because of its quality, the palette is selling extremely well, and the brand didn't need to rely on hype and craze.

It's worth mentioning, however, that the ABH palette is permanent while the Serpentina palette is limited edition. Created hype is so much more significant when the palette is limited edition. With the hype in place, hoards of people will likely buy this palette immediately, having been teased about it for so long, sites will crash, and the hype marketing will have worked. That also is not for me.

When actual images of Serpentina were released, the colors were indeed beautiful, but again an easy pass for me. I simply don't wear such intense purple, green, blue, or red shades on my eyes. This also is not a complete palette, though it doesn't seem like it's trying to be one. There are no transition shades, crease colors, or highlight shades.

It is worth noting that this palette would look incredible on people of color, and it would have been nice to see some darker transition and highlight shades to make a complete palette.

I think Serpentina would probably be a welcome and refreshing addition to a lot of people's collections who like color and jewel tones and don't mind pulling other palettes or shadows in to make a complete look. Personally, I don't have a ton of use for it, and the marketing was a major turn-off, so I won't be purchasing.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

What I'm Not Buying: Tarte x Grav3yardgirl Swamp Queen Palette

Tarte and YouTube personality Grav3yardgirl collaborated to make the Swamp Queen palette. I don't personally watch Grav3yardgirl's channel, so I don't know much about her or the significance of the shade names or palette aesthetics, but I will say that contrary to many other collaborations, it looks like Bunny put a ton of thought into this palette.

The palette looks kinda perfect to me. So perfect, in fact, that I already have all of the shades in it.

I really love the packaging and read that the antique look was inspired by Bunny's love for antique items and going to Uncommon Objects in Austin. I used to live in Austin, so this is a really lovely touch to me. Even without that personal connection, I find it to be a very unique look and I think it's interesting.

I don't have a single face palette in my collection. They're not for me. I also don't have any eyeshadow palettes that have face products included. It has never been an aesthetic that I've enjoyed or something that I felt I needed. So, immediately upon seeing this palette, I felt it could be an easy pass.

But then I started looking at the eyeshadows. And they are really all my favorite kind of shades. A gold, burnt orange, taupe purple--I love them. I also really liked the color of the bronzer, but I would use it as an eyeshadow instead. All things considered, I really wanted to purchase this palette, but in the end, I'm not going to.

I saw and read several reviews that talked about the glitter fallout in some of the shades, specifically the highlight shade (gator wings) and the dark brown with glitter eyeshadow (sippy sippy). Sippy sippy reminds me a lot of shades like NARS Galapagos, where they are absolutely stunning in the pan, but don't translate whatsoever on the eye.

In Allura Beauty's live swatches video, once Sippy sippy is applied, she lightly blows over the shade, and all the glitter falls away, leaving a matte brown shadow. What makes the shade interesting and pretty is the glitter infusion, so I was disappointed that it would all essentially fall out over my face.

I also heard that while the highlight shade (gator wings) is gorgeous, the glitter fallout is very intense, and that is not something I would want for a face highlight or an eyeshadow.

As far as the eyeshadow, the top two rows are easily duped with my Zoeva Cocoa Blend palette, and the bottom row is duped in my Morphe 35T and Tartelette palettes.

The blush is pretty, but not terribly unique. On my skin, it would likely look like any other peachy-pink blush.

With a critical eye, I certainly don't need this palette. I still think it is lovely and one of the best YouTube collaborations I have seen, but I can't justify adding it to my collection.

Monday, June 20, 2016

What I'm Not Buying: Lorac Pro 3 Palette

Photo: Temptalia

The Lorac Pro palettes have always intrigued me. When the first Pro launched, I wanted it desperately, but could not find it in store anywhere. I called store after store, and after a few months, I finally gave up and moved on to other things. 

The Lorac Pro 2 came out, but almost all reviews claimed that it was a cool-toned palette (it's not), so I chose not to buy for a while. I recently purchased the Pro 2, however, and really love the quality. The shadows are soft and blend well, much like the ABH Modern Renaissance. 

When I saw the first images for the Pro 3, I was immediately intrigued, but wondered if it would have the same problems as the Mega Pro 2. That palette, to me, had way too many light shades that I feared would look exactly the same when applied to the lid. Though there were some interesting shades in the Mega Pro 2, the redundant light shades kept me from purchasing.

I saw swatches of the Pro 3, and I have to say that I'm not impressed. Several of the colors look like they have minimal differences, and this is especially not a versatile palette for darker skin tones, which is highly disappointing. If you don't have a very large eyeshadow collection, like really light neutral colors, and aren't looking for a ton of variety, this might be worth looking into IF the quality was the same as the other Pro palettes.

The appeal of this palette seems to be the rosy shades, but I have plenty of those shades that I already enjoy. There's L'Oreal Amber Rush, Makeup Geek Grandstand, Rose from Lorac Pro 2, several shades from the Morphe 35T, and the Lorac Unzipped. 

With all of those colors in my collection, there is no need for this palette. Added to that, several reviews I've read/seen recently have commented that the texture of the Pro 3 shades does not seem to be the same as the other Pro palettes. This is something that seems to be happening often in the cosmetics industry, and it is really disappointing. It also feels deceptive, whether intentional or not, to lure customers in with an outstanding formula and then use the trusted name with a lesser formula for the same price. 

It's exciting that brands like Anastasia Beverley Hills have improved their shadow formula, so it's especially disappointing to see brands decline in quality. With all things considered, I won't be purchasing the Pro 3. 

Sunday, June 19, 2016

What I'm Not Buying: Jeffree Star Beauty Killer Palette

Jeffree Star Cosmetics, known largely for liquid lipsticks, has recently launched an eyeshadow palette. I won't be buying it. 

Upon first glance, there are definitely several shades I would be interested in, specifically Princess, Violence, Rich Bitch, Courtney, and Confession. I could also get use out of Vanity, China White, and Black Rainbow. That leaves only two shades--the hot pink and shimmery blue--that I wouldn't use, at least not regularly. 

When I first saw the palette, I considered buying it. Knowing I could use the vast majority of shades was appealing to me, but I was mainly interested in Courtney, the matte transition/crease color. However, I was able to talk myself out of purchasing because I have all of those colors somewhere in my collection. 

Princess, a light lilac, looks pretty similar to my Makeup Geek shade in Phantom (which I love). 

Violence, a fuchsia purple, looks like shades in my Natasha Denona palette and Too Faced Peanut Butter and Jelly palette. 

Rich Bitch, a gold, looks like a shade in my Kat Von D Monarch palette as well as shades in my Morphe 35T palette.

Courtney, a warm matte transition color, looks like shades in my Viseart Neutral Mattes palette, Ciate London Pretty Palette, theBalm Meet Matte(Trimony) palette, and Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance palette. 

Confession, a burgundy shimmer, looks like shades in my Viseart Paris Nudes and Sultry Muse palettes. 

Violence, a blackened brown, looks like shades in the Tartelette or Tartelette in Bloom. 

China White, a matte white, is duped in nearly every single palette I own. 

Black Rainbow is the only color that I don't really have an exact dupe, however, I highly doubt that the rainbow glitter will adhere to the eye without a glitter glue or when blended out. In that event, it looks like every other matte black shade that I have. 

When reviews of the palette started coming out, the few people who I trusted, who didn't seem to have an agenda or want to please Jeffree, said that the mattes were difficult to blend and that Rich Bitch was very patchy. 

If you're interested in a more thorough review, I recommend Tarababyz and Stephanie Nicole

There are definitely some pretty shades in this palette, but there is nothing that I don't already have and want. This palette also doesn't have the "perfect" shade selection for me to want in one palette to merit purchasing shades I already have. 

The shade selection, plus the mediocre reviews, makes this an easy pass for me. 

Friday, June 17, 2016

Morphe 35T Palette Review and Swatches

Before I start this review, because of my own thoughts about this brand and their marketing tactics, it is important for me to say that I paid for this palette with my own money.

I say that because it was incredibly difficult for me to find any reviews that were not sponsored, did not have linked affiliate codes, or consist of PR samples. Because of that, I really couldn't (and didn't) trust the majority of reviews on this brand.

Morphe piqued my interest a few times, especially when there was mania surrounding the 35O palette, but the main palette that always intrigued me was the 35T. The shades, supposedly various shades of taupe, looked right up my alley.

However, I will say that Morphe looked to me to be the exact same cheap, mass-produced shadows as BH Cosmetics and Costal Scents, and I found it odd that nearly all reviews were raves. Then I saw that Stephanie Nicole did a fantastic brand review of Morphe where she surmised that they are likely private labeled Crown Brushes products. This, with the addition of shilling that was rampant across reviews, left much to be desired for me.

However, I was shopping in Ricky's NYC one day and saw some Morphe palettes. They had the 35T. Out of utter curiosity I swatched a few shades and honestly could not believe how beautiful they were. I knew then, without hesitation, that I needed to buy it and review for myself.

Morphe 35T

As an entire, cohesive palette, this is absolutely not a winner. But there are definitely a lot of gorgeous winner shades.

The best shades are the shimmers, though not all shimmers are great. The mattes, on the whole, are passes for me as I have significantly better mattes in my collection.

I have really enjoyed the look of most of the shimmers on my eyelids, and I would compare the color payoff to MAC shadows. They blended easily (with a good, non-Morphe matte shadow) and lasted all day with a primer. The shimmers, however, did give a ton of texture to my eyelid in a way that most shadows don't. Up close, my eyelids looked very old and crepey. I honestly have never seen my eyelids look that bad before. From far away, however, things looked great.

The matte shades were stiff and had little color payoff. I found myself consistently needing to reach for other mattes in my collection to complete my looks.

The 35T also lacks a lot of basic shades, such as a brow bone highlight shade, warm brown transition shades, and dark matte shades.

All swatches are on bare skin without primer.

Column 1

Column 2

Column 3

Column 4

Column 5

Column 6

Column 7

As you can see, most of the shimmer shades swatch very nicely. And the ones that look nice in swatches perform very similarly on a lid when applied with a brush. The ones that look patchy, stiff, and dry also perform that way on the lid. 

This palette cost $23 in store. As I mentioned, as a full, cohesive palette, this one is not a winner in that the entire palette is not great. There are some great shades, though, and you may decided that there are enough good shades in the palette to justify the price. 

I was incredibly hesitant to try a Morphe product, but I was actually pleasantly surprised for the most part. This is a palette that I will keep in my collection, but it is a palette that I think of strictly for lid shades. 

For people expecting the top-notch quality promised by many reviewers out there, I think you will be disappointed. The quality of all the entire palette does not rival my mid-range shadows, but some shades do. 

I enjoy the shade selection in this palette, and I don't have many dupes for the shades. If you have dupes or are expecting the superior quality as promised, this is probably a pass. 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

What I'm Not Buying: Becca x Jaclyn Hill Champagne Collection

Becca teamed up once again with social media personality Jaclyn Hill to promote a champagne summer collection. Their first collaboration--the shimmering skin perfector Champagne Pop--was such a success that it is not surprising to see the two teaming up yet again.

I own several Becca products: Moonstone and Opal shimmering skin perfectors, Flowerchild and Wild Honey blushes, the backlight primer, and Ombre Rouge eyeshadow palette. It's fair to say that I have a pretty wide selection of Becca products and that I am also--clearly--a fan of this brand.

I absolutely love my Ombre Rouge palette, and when I first heard that this collection was going to include an eyeshadow palette, I'll admit I figured I would cave and purchase it. When I learned that the palette was going to include shimmer shades, I was gone. I had to have it.

But then I saw the swatches and was highly disappointed. Not only do I have a dude for every single shade, but I have multiple dupes of every single shade. Even then, I thought that with the Becca quality, I could justify it.

I read Temptalia's review and was surprised to see that the palette got a poor rating. Because I already had dupes of every shade, and with disappointing performance, I decided against purchasing and moved on.

But then Rita B. on YouTube (who I've been subscribed to for a while) made a pretty amazing video. As an even bigger fan of Becca eyeshadows, Rita was so incredibly disappointed by this palette that she did some digging and found that the palette had been produced in China (instead of the US, where all their previous eyeshadow palettes were made) and used a different, cheaper formula than their normal shadows. MrKongsMom also made a video that echoed similar sentiments.

I have a lot of feelings about this. First, and most obviously, this totally sucks. My best speculation (and this is purely speculation) is that in a collaboration, the company has to split its profits. Had they produced this eyeshadow palette with the same formula as their normal palettes, they would not see as much of a return because Jaclyn would get a share of the profits. So they cut costs by producing the palette with a significantly cheaper formula, but keep the price of the palette the same. They therefore don't spend as much money on manufacturing costs to be lost to Jaclyn.

I think that's a very likely scenario, but I don't have any concrete evidence to support this. I've read that Jaclyn made a statement and said that due to the demand and time constraints on making the palette, Becca outsourced to China and unbeknownst to all of them, the product was processed with cheaper ingredients. Do I believe this? Absolutely not.

While this all infuriates me, I have to say that I am happy that Becca pulled the palette and has offered refunds to everyone who purchased it. But it feels slightly too little, too late.

It's disappointing though that it took someone (or multiple people) "exposing" the situation for Becca to take any responsibility. The palette should have never been manufactured in China, and then it should have never been put on shelves for the same price as their high-quality palettes.

I am further disappointed that so many people who were sent PR samples raved about it. This is something that really grinds my gears. It is absolutely okay to give a negative review of a product. In fact, it makes consumers more trusting of a reviewer who gives honest criticisms. I'm not sure if it was because people wanted to be in good graces with Jaclyn or just didn't want to give a negative review to such a hyped product, but I think they would be embarrassed to have raved about a sub-par product that was then pulled from the shelves.

I've never purchased a collaboration product, but now I am extremely wary of them. I'm glad that there are some reviewers who will do the research and who are not afraid to speak truths about bad products, but they are very unfortunately few and far between.

So, I will not be purchasing anything from this collection. I didn't need it anyway, and knowing the quality is sub-par is disappointing to say the least.