Monday, October 31, 2016

October Favorites

October was a really awesome makeup month for me. I started my one week, one palette challenge this month and have been having an absolute blast playing around with shadows that I've had for a while but have never really played with. I also have some rediscovered favorites, new favorites, and repurposed favorites. 

These are the items that stood out the most to me this month. 

theBalm Frat Boy blush:

I was actually considering decluttering this blush at the start of the month. I wasn't reaching for it, had only reached for it a handful of times, and was so into my warm mauve blushes that I thought this warm pink probably didn't look all that great on me. However, not wanting to declutter something I couldn't remember how it looked, I decided to try it one day. And as soon as I did, I no longer considered decluttering it. 

It really is the perfect pink blush for me. It's warm first and foremost, so it shows up on my skin. So many pink blushes look like absolutely nothing on me, and it's because the undertone is just too cool. The warmth of Frat Boy shows up on my skin and also really, really flatters it. My cheeks look healthy rather than looking like I've slathered them in blush, though the colors is still discernible. 

Second, and just as important, Frat Boy is semi-matte. I've got large pores and some texture to my skin, so shimmery blushes really aren't the best for me. On the whole, I don't like playing by "makeup rules" such as the age at which people should stop wearing shimmery eyeshadows or what seasons are most appropriate for certain colors. Screw that. I'll wear what I want to wear, full stop. So for a while I didn't care about my shimmery blushes and how they emphasized pores. But eventually, it started bothering me, and I felt it didn't look the best. I still don't love completely matte blushes on my skin because they can sometimes look a little flat and powery, but I adore mostly matte blushes with a slight sheen to them. That's what Frat Boy is for me. I've heard people say it's a matte blush, but I think it gives a healthy, subtle sheen that I love. 

Frat Boy went from my least used blush to my most used this month, and I'm really happy that I gave it a try before decluttering. 

Make Up For Ever Pearl:

The photo doesn't do it justice, but I've actually hit the pan of this eyeshadow and am close to clearing all the product out to the edge. 

This is Make Up For Ever Pearl. It was included in the Artist Palette Volume 1, and before a few months ago, it had never been touched. I actually didn't understand shadows like this that are stark white, and I really didn't get why the Volume 1 palette had so many light shadows that were, in my mind, unusable. 

I was never one to put a shadow in my inner corners because it just seemed like an extra step that I didn't need. And I honestly can't remember why one day I decided to try it, but I know I used Pearl because it was entirely unused and I wanted to try and get more use out of my shadows. 

Honestly, this has been the biggest lesson for me. I have had this eyeshadow sitting in my collection for at least a couple years, and it went entirely untouched. When I finally used it, I fell completely in love. Now it is easily my most used eyeshadow and is the only shadow in my collection where I have reached the pan (and these pans are deep). 

Not only that, but now I love to highlight the inner corners of my eyes. Yes, it's an extra step, but it's fun and pretty and I don't care. And Pearl is my absolute favorite color for this purpose. There have been a few days where I haven't used Pearl, and I've sincerely missed it. It will take me a while to clear out the entire pan, but I fully plan on purchasing a full-sized Pearl when I finish. 

Burberry lipstick in English Rose:

Along with Pearl, Burberry English Rose has been my biggest lesson in makeup purchases and makeup usage.

I purchased this lipstick a few years ago from Saks with my good friend. It was a really lovely experience, and my friend moved across the country a few months later. And I really miss her and wished she still lived close by. I haven't wanted to use up this lipstick because it reminds me of this really nice day I had with her. But that's just silly because I have the memory of that day and don't need to let this lipstick go to waste. 

I know it's gross to keep a lipstick for a few years, but it still smells exactly the same, so I know it hasn't gone bad yet. But, I also don't want to keep lipsticks much past the time I've had this one, so a couple months ago I decided to actively try to use it up. And just like Pearl, I have fallen hard for this lipstick. I have fallen so hard, in fact, that this lipstick looked close to new when I started trying to use it up, and now the above photos shows all that is left of it. 

By my standards, I have a lot of lipsticks. By other people's standards, I have little. I have nine full-sized lipsticks and three minis. That's plenty for me, and honestly, a little more than I want. I want to finish this tube of English Rose because of its age, and it makes me a little sad to know that I can't repurchase it right away. As soon as I'm done with English Rose, I have two other lipsticks I would like to try to use up (again because of their age), and after I finish them, I might feel comfortable repurchasing English Rose. 

English Rose is just the perfect color for my warm-toned, olive skin. It is the perfect "my lips but better" color, and it goes with absolutely everything. That's not surprising to me because that's why I bought it in the first place, but somehow along the way, I forgot just how much I loved the color. 

I'm not someone who likes to play with lip color. Eyeshadow is the fun part for me, so there are really only a few colors that I really want in my collection. Part of me wishes that I wouldn't have fallen so much for this lipstick so that I could just get one out of my collection and not just to buy it again, but I'm also thrilled to discover how much I love it because it motivates me to get my lipstick collection to a place where I can comfortably use and finish everything and not get too overwhelmed. 

L'Oreal Brow Stylist Definer in Brunette:

This might seem really obvious, but brows really make a look! I have always had naturally think, full brows, and my biggest concern was always just cleaning them up. I never thought I needed to fill them in because they were already so thick. 

But one day I just decided to try it, and I bought the cheapest brow pencil I could find that was similar to the Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wizz. Now, this pencil isn't perfect. The product tends to clump off after a little bit of use, but I've been really happy with it for the most part. I think it has been a great intro brow product. 

More than anything, brows in general are my favorite this month. I'm fortunate that I have a nice natural shape to my brows and don't have to put a ton of effort into creating new brows, but even just combing them and slightly filling them in has made such a difference in my overall look. 

Once I finish this pencil, I would like to look into the NYX pencil and then maybe the Brow Wiz after that. However, I love this color so much that I wonder if it's worth putting up with the clumping. I don't know. It's probably not worth the clumping. 

Stila kajal eye liner in Topaz:

I don't even think this pencil is sold anymore, but I got mine a little less than a year ago. I was looking for a cream colored eyeliner to put on the water liner, and this seemed to be the prettiest color for what I was looking for. 

I've spent the better part of the last year trying to finish off some of the black eyeliners in my collection. I've never been a huge eyeliner collector, and even now only have one liquid liner, two full-sized pencil liners (one black and Stila Topaz) and three mini liners (one black, one bronze, and one gold). The only reason I have as many liners as I have now and why I needed to finish off some earlier this year is because I've gotten them with orders from Sephora. 

Since I have spent the better part of this year with a black water line, I thought it would be nice to try a cream colored one. And I really like it! On the whole, I like a black water line better, but I really like the openness the cream color gives my eyes. 

The Stila kajal eye liners are really creamy, which I like, but the staying power isn't the best. I've decided to try to use this up and then replace it with something that has slightly better staying power. 

Kat Von D Thunderstruck:

This was actually inspired by Jacquelyn Lovene (formerly FortWorthFamous) after she mentioned wanting to pick up Thunderstruck in the Sephora VIB sale as a face highlight. 

I really love this shadow and have used it as a face highlight before, but essentially forgot about it as a highlight since I have quite a few highlighters. I've been flirting with the idea of getting duo chrome highlighters for a while, so I thought I would first try some of the duo chrome shadows I have. And I've really been loving this shadow as a highlight. It really does give the skin a nice healthy, beautiful glow, and I can see it working for warm and cool skin tones. 

The only negative to using this as a face highlight is that I can see myself hitting the pan really soon. And I do really like Thunderstruck as an eyeshadow, so I wouldn't want to use the entire thing up on my face. But it certainly has been fun to use as a highlighter!

Benefit They're Real! and Kiko Extra Sculpt mascaras: 

Benefit They're Real! has been my favorite mascara for a few years now. I have flirted with the Benefit Rollerlash and Cover Girl Supersizer, but They're Real! is just my favorite. 

I like to only have one mascara at a time, so having They're Real! again has been quite a treat. However, it is not a perfect mascara. I love the brush and love how it gets the outside edges of my lashes, but it is a real pain to get off. Most nights I'm flat out not able to get it off all the way, even when I think I have, and I'll wake up with raccoon eyes. 

The Kiko Extra Sculpt was recommended to me, and as a standalone mascara, I hate this. I could not apply it to my lashes without getting mascara all over my eyelids. I was really bummed, because it was about $15, and I felt it was a total waste. 

However, paired with the They're Real! mascara, the Extra Sculpt is really nice. I gives my lashes an extra oomph of volume that I really love. Attached to another mascara and applied away from the base of the lashes, I actually really like the effect that it gives. Even though this was a dud for me originally, I'm glad I've been able to find a way to make it work and get some use out of it. 

Tokyomilk Dark perfume in Novacaine:

This perfume was recommended to me by a friend (the same friend I mentioned before, actually). She said, "It smells like Christmas!" Immediately I thought that meant it would be really heavy on cinnamon, like Big Red gum, and I didn't think I would like that. 

But she and I have very similar perfume presences (Flowerbomb, Prada Candy, and LaVinila Coconut Vanilla), so I thought I would give it a chance. I got this as a sample in a Sephora order, and I absolutely love it. And I absolutely agreed with her—it does smell like Christmas, at least what I associate with Christmas. She and I are originally from the desert, and I can't help but wonder if there's a note that reminds us of Christmas in the desert. Apart from that, yes, it does have a cinnamon scent to it, but it is sophisticated and not too spicy. 

This is absolutely a perfume that I would love to buy full-sized, but I have so many perfumes right now that I might have to wait a little. 

Sunday, October 30, 2016

One Week, One Palette: Too Faced Chocolate Bon Bons

For the fourth week of my one week, one palette project, I decided to go with a palette that has an interesting history with me. 

The Too Faced Chocolate Bon Bons palette absolutely did not appeal to me when I first saw promo pictures. In fact, it not only didn't appeal to me, but I actually thought it was a fake, joke item. The packaging was just too sickeningly sweet for me to think would be an actual makeup item targeted to grown women. 

When I saw the colors inside and noticed that they were primarily cool-toned, I was even less interested. But after seeing review after review and getting caught up in the hype, I bought it. I used it once, maybe twice, and sold it. And something happened that had never happened to me before once I had decluttered: I actually missed it. 

I started wearing pinks a lot and really loved how it flattered my skin and eye color. I kept thinking about Bon Bons, and on a particularly bad day when I was able to justify emotionally shopping (something I no longer do), I purchased this palette again. 

I used every color in the palette this week and think I actually have a really good grasp on my feelings about it. I didn't have to bring in other shadows this week, except for Make Up For Ever Pearl (my absolute favorite inner corner highlight) on a few days. 

Below are six looks I did last week:

Look 1:

Cafe Au Lait on the lid, Almond Truffle blended in the crease, Dark Truffle padded onto the outer corner, Satin Sheet on the inner corner, and Divinity on the brow bone. 

Look 2:

Sprinkles on the lid, Almond Truffle blended in the crease, Totally  Fetch padded onto the outer corner and blended into the crease, Satin Sheets on the inner corner, and Divinity on the brow bone.

Look 3:

Molasses Chip on the lid, Mocha blended into the crease, Bordeaux padded onto the outer corner and blended into the crease, Make Up For Ever Pearl on the inner corner, and Divinity on the brow bone.

Look 4:

Earl Gray on the inner and outer lid, Satin Sheets on the center of the lid, Pecan Praline and Mocha blended into the crease, Bordeaux blended to deepen the crease, Make Up For Ever Pearl on the inner corner, Divinity on the brow bone, and Black Currant on the lower lash line. 

Look 5:

Satin Sheets on the lid, Almond Truffle blended in the crease, and Cashew Chew on the brow bone.

Look 6:

Cotton Candy on the lid, Almond Truffle blended into the crease, Black Currant padded onto the outer corner, Satin Sheets on the inner corner, and Divinity on the brow bone. 

I really enjoyed using this palette last week, and that actually surprised me. Having used the Nubain 2 palette by Juvia's Place last week and getting really rich, bold looks, I thought I was going to feel really disappointed by the subtlety of the looks this palette would create. And while I did wish I had some bolder looks, I also thought the looks this palette created were really pretty. 

There was only one real dud shade for me, and I was surprised that it wasn't Black Currant. It was Cashew Chew. I've heard many people say they really like this shadow, but it was absolutely nothing on me. It gave no pigmentation on my lid or even when repeatedly swatched on my hand. I've never been one to set my primer with an eyeshadow before layering other shadows, but that's the only purpose I can see for this shade, at least on my skin tone. 

Satin Sheets and Almond Truffle are my favorite shadows in the palette. Satin Sheets has been a longtime favorite of mine, and if Too Faced would release single shadows, I probably would have just bought that one shadow and not this entire palette. I used to own Too Faced's Boudoir Eyes palette and only used Satin Sheets. I decluttered the palette because I thought it was wasteful to keep it for only one shadow, so when it was released in Bon Bons, I had missed it enough to buy the palette. 

Almond Truffle took me by surprise. I typically like warm browns or peaches to blend out the crease, but since I thought Mocha was a little darker than what I wanted, I tried Almond Truffle one day (before I sold the original palette) and fell in love with it. This is also a shadow I would have purchased if it was released as a single, and I really missed it when I didn't have the palette. 

Colors that took me by surprise were Mocha and Bordeaux. I absolutely loved these colors in the crease, but I feel like they would only work well with Molasses Chip. I was most shocked by Black Currant. I actually like this shade! Too Faced is known for doing purples really poorly, so I figured this would be an absolute dud. It wasn't great—don't get me wrong—but it wasn't as awful as I was expecting. It worked fine on the lid and I think worked well with Cotton Candy, but I really loved it on the lower lash line. It gave off a gorgeous purple color with gold highlights, and it looked lovely as a little "pop" on the lash line. 

My favorite looks this week were probably look 2 and look 6, but I also really liked look 3. Actually, I liked all the looks I did this week, but those were my standout favorites. I feel like you have to embrace the pinks in order to really like Bon Bons, because otherwise, the palette is pretty boring, uninspiring, and doesn't really make sense. 

I've heard a lot of complaints that this palette has poor pigmentation. I don't have the same experience with them. From Too Faced, I have owned and decluttered the Chocolate Bar, Boudoir Eyes, and Natural Matte palettes, and have kept Chocolate Bon Bons and Peanut Butter and Jelly. From my experience, Bon Bons and PB&J have the best pigmentation from the brand. 

With that said, however, I think there are several shades (too many) that would probably only work (or at least work best) on lighter skin tones. I really love the shade Sprinkles because it gives a subtle pink gold sheen, but I can see this color potentially not working for darker skin tones. I can see the same happening with Cotton Candy, Cafe Au Lait, and Almond Truffle. 

Had I not challenged myself to use this palette all week and to use every shadow in the palette, I think I might have eventually decluttered this palette (again). It took me a while to try wearing pink on my eyes and to have the creativity to figure out what to pair with pink to make the looks more flattering. Had I not embraced the pinks, I probably would have been keeping this palette solely for Almond Truffle, Satin Sheets, and Molasses Chip. And that absolutely would not been worth it to me. But now I really love most shades in the palette and like all colors for the exception of Cashew Chew. 

I know I mention this every week, but I am going to again. Using this palette all week and using color combinations that I have never tried really helped curb any desire to buy new stuff. What I used to do before engaging in this project was to pull out a palette and do the one look I knew how to do and knew would look good. And then the next day I would pull out another palette and do the same thing. I thought I was doing something good because I was getting use out of all of my palettes, but I didn't really know any of my palettes. And that's the freaking point of a palette in general! You're supposed to be able to create several looks and have fun with it! Using a palette just for one or two looks is crazy. And discovering the versatility of my palettes has really been enlightening for me. And it makes me really not want to buy any more. 

Friday, October 28, 2016

What I'm Not Buying: MAC Nutcracker Sweet Smoky Eye Compact Holiday 2016

MAC has released three eyeshadow palettes for the holiday season, in smoky, cool, and warm themes. While I was somewhat interested in each of the three and will touch on the other two in subsequent posts, I was most drawn to the Smoky palette. 

But I won't be buying.

I actually find it a bit odd that this is considered the "Smoky" palette.

This is the "Warm" palette:

And this is the "Cool" palette:

None of these palettes feel properly named or categorized to me. The "Smoky" palette feels the most objectively warm to me, the "Warm" palette seems like it leans pretty cool, and the "Cool" palette has the most smoky shades. 

So right off the bat this collection really confuses me. 

I'd like to have a little conversation about MAC before I get too far into this. MAC will always have a special place in my heart because it was the first makeup I ever purchased. I was 21 when I first bought makeup, and I bought it because I wanted to feel a little more feminine. I was a college athlete at the time, and I had been an athlete for the majority of my life. I felt I had this part of me that was so creative, artistic, and overtly feminine, but it was completely hidden throughout all the years I felt I had to fit into the athletic world. When I was 21 and in college, one girl on my team always looked like she came out of a magazine. I finally asked her how she did it and how she learned, and she told me to go to a MAC store and ask an artist to teach me how to do makeup. And I did, and I've been deeply in love with makeup ever since. 

On that first trip to MAC, I bought a paint pot, quad of eyeshadows, blush, lip gloss, eyeliner, mascara, and brush. I was ready. After that, I started watching YouTube videos, and at that time, people pretty much only talked about MAC. So my eyeshadow collection grew and grew. So did my blushes and lipsticks. Eventually the Naked palette by Urban Decay came out and the entire game was changed, and my MAC shadows were used less and less until I finally felt they were too old for me to comfortably use. 

I have since purchased four MAC singles: Amber Lights, Wookwinked, Cranberry, and Coppering and have the limited edition Nordstrom C'est Chick all-matte palette. 

Photo: Temptalia

And I again remember why I fell in love with MAC (and makeup in general) in the first place. 

But I have some conflicting feelings about MAC. I absolutely adore their Viva Glam campaign, and while I feel there are plenty of better representatives they could choose each year, I still love everything about Viva Glam and the MAC AIDS Fund. But then I am massively disappointed that their cruelty-free status has changed. I am currently not cruelty-free, but like to mostly support cruelty-free brands when possible. Seeing a brand like Kat Von D transition from cruelty-free to vegan is really inspiring and seems like a great step in the right direction. So seeing a previously cruelty-free brand give up that status feels backward. And then, of course, there was the cultural appropriation with no apology whatsoever. 

Something else that has always rubbed me the wrong way about MAC is their constant, incessant limited edition collections. I don't mind so much that they exist, but really dislike that the quality always seems to be lacking in favor of cute packaging or a gimmicky idea. Unfortunately, it looks like that may be the case with the Nutcracker palettes as well. 

The packaging is cute:

But the transition from round pans into rectangular seems to have compromised the quality. I looked at Temptalia's swatches and was very unimpressed. 

As I mentioned, I was most drawn to the "Smoky" palette because of its collection of warm shadows, but when I really consider each shade, there is nothing interesting or unique going on here. If fact, it looks really similar to the Jouer palette I wrote about recently:

Within my own collection, I have the Kat Von D Monarch palette:

And the Too Faced Peanut Butter and Jelly palette:

I'm certainly not hurting for warm-toned neutral shadows, and need chunky, glittery, patchy shadows even less. The Nutcracker Smoky palette costs $39.50 for nine shadows and a dual-ended brush. While this is certainly a less expensive price than what MAC has traditionally offered, I still don't think this is a good deal. From my own experience, MAC's holiday brushes are not at all of comparable quality to their permanent brush line, and I found mine to be scratchy and generally unpleasant to work with. And yes, you get nine shadows for $40, but they are not great quality. I think if this palette interested you, you would be better off buying nine MAC or Makeup Geek individual shadows for $45 because then the quality would at least be worth the price. 

Like so many other brands, I always get excited to see what MAC will bring out during the holidays. This year I was generally less disappointed than most years, but the quality still left a lot to be desired. And within the Smoky palette, I already had all of the colors in better performing shadows. And I won't be buying. 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

What I'm Not Buying: NARS Give in Take Dual-Intensity Eye and Cheek Palette Holiday 2016

For the holiday season, NARS has released an eye and cheek palette in their dual-intensity formula that contains six eyeshadows, two blushes, and a highlighter.

And I won't be buying 

When I first became interested in makeup over seven years ago, NARS was one of my favorite brands. I was ALL about their eyeshadows (they were my luxurious, expensive shadows) and would only wear their blushes. More recently, I've enjoyed the eyeshadow primer and absolutely love the Audacious lipsticks. So on the whole, I am a NARS fan. 

But I don't think they ever do palettes well. At all. 

When the dual-intensity shadows released, I was really interested in trying them. Swatches seemed a bit hit or miss though, and for $29 each, that was too much money for me to spend on a gamble. Including the dual-intensity eyeshadows in a palette always felt like the best way to try the shadows, however, I'm always so disappointed by the quality and color selection. 

And this palette is no different.  

The eyeshadow portion of the Give in Take palette:

Photo: Temptalia

Looks exactly like the NARS And God Created Woman palette:

Photo: Makeup and Beauty Blog

The And God Created Woman palette came with a small brush and deluxe sample of the eyeshadow primer and it cost $59. That is a staggering price tag for shadows this small. It's hard to tell in this photo, but this was a tiny palette. On the whole, the And God Created Woman palette did not receive favorable reviews, and many people have included it in their product regrets. The quality and size, they said, were not worth the high price. 

Let's talk about the positives. 

Like the And God Created Woman palette, the Give in Take palette is $59, but the shadows are 0.07 ounces, which is actually more product than a traditional Dual-Intensity eyeshadow at 0.05 ounces. The Give in Take palette also includes three face products at 0.12 ounces each. So, in terms of NARS's previous offerings, this palette actually is a good price. 

Like all NARS holiday offerings, the packaging of the Give in Take palette is lovely. 

But the palette itself doesn't make a ton of sense to me. 

Photo: Temptalia 

The eyeshadows in this are very cool-toned, but the blushes are warm. It's hard for me to imagine a nice smokey eye with a warm peach or warm pink blush. 

Personally, these colors are just not for me. They remind me of the shimmery version of the Urban Decay Naked 2 Basics palette:

The colors in the Give in Take palette feel too similar to me. It seems like there are only three distinct colors in it. There's the light wash of color, the brown, and the gray/black. As a warm-toned eyeshadow lover, this color selection makes the palette an easy pass for me. Nonetheless, even if I liked cool-toned eyeshadows, swatches of this palette did not impress me. The Dual-Intensity eyeshadows are supposed to be sheerer when applied dry, but then intensify when used wet. The colors seemed to be especially sheer in the dry swatches, which is a little disappointing. 

It could be argued that most eyeshadows perform in this "dual-intensity" way, and there are plenty of formulas where the shadows still work great dry. I'm not a huge fan of wetting my eyeshadows. Taking that extra step is annoying for me, and if you spray water directly into the eyeshadow pan, your eyeshadow is likely to develop hard pan and become unusable. So thinking I could only get nice pigmentation out of the shadows if used wet is a huge con for me. 

Despite being disappointed yearly at NARS's holiday offerings, I still look forward to seeing what they will put out each year. On the one hand, warm eyeshadows have dominated the market for the last couple years, so it's nice to see a brand put out cool-toned shadows, but on the other hand, these colors are so plain and basic that they become uninteresting. Adding warm-toned blushes just makes this palette feel oddly disjointed. While I applaud NARS for making an actual value palette, I'm left disappointed overall. Hopefully they will release a palette in the future that's filled with unique colors that perform great. Until then, I won't be buying. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

What I'm Not Buying: Jouer Essential Matte and Shimmer Eyeshadow Palette

Jouer Cosmetics has released the Essential Matte and Shimmer Eyeshadow Palette, which has 12 "essential" shadows. 

And I won't be buying. 

To be honest, I have not heard of Jouer Cosmetics outside of YouTube, and there has never been a product from this brand that has been so hyped, so raved about, or so unique as to pique my interest. And this same goes with this bland, basic, overdone palette. 

The Essential Matte and Shimmer palette is $40 and contains 0.59 ounces of product. This is a pretty standard pice for a mid-range palette of this size, however, as I've mentioned before, part of that charge is for the convenience of looking at a product and being able to test it in-store. There are a few retailers that sell Jouer, but they are smaller boutiques or salons and are not as readily accessible as Sephora, Ulta, or department stores. 

The palette contains five shimmer and seven matte shadows. Jouer individual shadows are $22 each, which is why many people are praising the price of the Essential Matte and Shimmer palette, but the singles are also 0.077 ounces a piece. Each shadow in the Essential Matte and Shimmer palette is 0.049 ounces. 

Looking at the shadows as pigments without presentation or packaging shows that the palette is nothing special:

These are the most basic of basic champagnes and browns with a random orange thrown in. 

This palette looks like it was absolutely made with fair skin tones only in mind, and it doesn't seem as though it would be a diverse palette for really any skin tone. 

Looking at the promotional swatch photos, I was not impressed.

I always appreciate when a brand releases promotional swatch photos with several different skin tones represented, but these photos also show the limitations of the light color scheme. 

Frankly I'm surprised there has been much of any buzz about this palette, but then the buzz I have seen has largely been created by people who were sent PR packages. And that doesn't surprise me. But this palette is not only boring, it is so overdone. Jouer is several years too late on releasing a palette like this. 

That is not to say that some people won't like this color scheme. I'm sure plenty of people would like a palette that gives them several very natural looks with a few deeper shades if they want to be a little more daring and bold. But there are many other options at this point that are easily accessible that I can't see the people who want this kind of palette and don't already own several alternatives buying it from Jouer's site. 

This palette looks like Stila Eyes Are the Window to the Mind:

Stila In the Know:

Lorac Nude Necessities:

And the Urban Decay Naked Ultimate Basics:

The swatches I have seen of the Essential Matte and Shimmer palette from reviewers (not the Jouer promo pictures) have not been the best. The swatches either looked like several layers of product had been applied to the skin to make it look even or they looked powdery and patchy. This palette is just too expensive for average shadow quality and low accessibility. 

Honestly, this was an incredibly easy pass for me. There is just truly nothing here that interests me even a little. I could certainly see this palette appealing to those who are new to makeup and don't have very basic shadows, but as I said, there are so many alternatives to this palette within the same price range that I don't see why this palette would be very desirable. 

From my personal collection, I much prefer the Ciate London Pretty Palette for solid neutrals with a twist of something interesting:

Overall, I don't think the Essential Matte and Shimmer palette is worth its price tag, and I don't think the palette value is as high as people are claiming. For me, this palette would be a wasteful purchase that I would hardly every use. I would have much preferred if Jouer came out with an innovative collection of colors or at least a palette that follows the current trends of rosy, berry, and red shades. The Essential Matte and Shimmer palette might contain shades that are "essential" to certain skin tones, but they are so "essential" that most people already own them. I certainly don't need another natural palette with nothing all that interesting going on, and I won't be buying. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

What I'm Not Buying: Morphe x KathleenLights Palette

Morphe and mega popular YouTube personality KathleenLights have collaborated on a limited edition eyeshadow palette that releases today. 

And I won't be buying. 

I actually feel a little conflicted about this post because I really, really like Kathleen and think this collaboration is something that she has done with her audience in mind. But I don't like Morphe, and I'll get to that in a bit. 

Kathleen is no stranger to collaborations. So far she has collaborated with Makeup Geek on a highlighter palette:

Ofra on two liquid lipsticks:

Colourpop three times, for a lipstick and eyeliner collection:

And two eyeshadow collections:

Where the night is

Where the light is

I purchased the Where the light is collection when I placed by very first Colourpop order. This was actually the first time I had heard of Kathleen, and I purchased the eyeshadows simply because I thought they were beautiful. I ended up not being the biggest fan of Colourpop's formula, but my favorite shadows were the ones in Kathleen's quad. 

And now she is collaborating with Morphe:

I'll start by saying that I have extreme Morphe fatigue. I personally have owned two Morphe palettes (35T and 35OS), but I purchased them because I had the ability to swatch in-store at a retailer in New York. The shimmer foiled shadows are really beautiful, and even though they are not made of the best ingredients, I liked the shimmers enough to purchase. 

I did not buy these palettes because of all the big YouTube personalities shilling them. In fact, I did not want to ever purchase anything from Morphe because of that. I bought both palettes because I had easy access to them and they had my favorite kinds of colors. If I would have had to buy those palettes through the Moprhe website, I would have never purchased them. 

I don't agree with or appreciate Morphe's marketing tactics. It has certainly proved successful for them, but it has largely felt like manipulating what was supposed to be an authentic platform of your peers. The shilling was so bad that it got to the point where I would click out of a video if someone started talking about Morphe. Saying a Morphe palette is your "all-time favorite palette" when you also have the likes of Viseart, Kat Von D, MAC, and Makeup Geek is not only a joke, but feels like a blatant lie. It took Stephanie Nicole coming out with a video detailing Morphe and private labeling for people to stop the insistence that these were the greatest shadows of all time. 

I can pretty much guarantee that I won't ever purchase something from Morphe again because of these tactics. From my own personal experience, the Morphe shimmer shadows are on par with the foiled shadows from Makeup Geek, but have significantly less quality ingredients. The mattes are terrible. There is no subtle way to put it. The mattes are terrible. The only reason I purchased the 35OS was because it was a palette of my favorite types of warm colors and it only had the gorgeous foiled finish. 

Seeing that Kathleen collaborated with Morphe was a little disappointing for that reason. I also assumed that since it was a collaboration and they made somewhat special packaging for the palette that it would also raise costs:

To my surprise, the palette only costs $14.99, and watching Kathleen's video, it is obvious that she was really excited to have something available for her audience at a low price. 

The Morphe x KathleenLights palette is made up of existing Morphe singles, shadows taken from existing Morphe palettes, as well as a few custom colors chosen by Kathleen. What I really appreciated in Kathleen's video was that she did not say these were the greatest shadows of all time or that they were of professional quality or even that they would be easy to work with. 

She did, however, mention the color selection and said that she wanted the palette to be functional for a myriad of different skin tones. This is something that I have come to respect about Kathleen and her collaborations. She really seems to put a lot of energy into making sure that the products work for people other than just those with fair skin. 

I actually think Kathleen did a great job selecting colors for this palette. There seems like a lot of diversity in here while also maintaining quite a bit of cohesion. And unlike the majority of Morphe palettes, there don't seem to be a lot of repeat shades in this one. 

With all that said, I still will not be purchasing this palette. I have been rubbed the wrong way by Morphe too many times. I also find that the main shills of this brand are those who have a lot of negative attention surrounding them and seem to thrive off of controversy. All of that negativity and melodrama have left me very uninterested in this brand. 

This is actually a point I would like to expand upon. Recently MannyMUA said that if one does not like Morphe eyeshadows, then they are not good at eyeshadow/makeup application. 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. 

I think Kathleen probably had the best of intentions partnering with Morphe. I know that she wanted to produce a product that her audience could afford and that would be diverse and inclusive. I still don't think Morphe was the right company to work with because of all the negative attention surrounding them.  

The palette is probably worth $15. The shimmers will likely be lovely, and the mattes will be patchy, flaky, and hard to work with. But for $15, it's hard to complain too much, especially for 15 eyeshadows. And it wouldn't surprise me if Kathleen specifically selected Morphe's best performing matte shadows. I'm sure many people will purchase this palette specifically to support Kathleen and will enjoy her selection of colors. Personally, I am tired of the beauty industry being fused with greed and disparaging comments, and because of how deeply linked Morphe is to both qualities, I will not be purchasing.