Wednesday, November 30, 2016

November Favorites

Personally, November could not have been more of a rollercoaster month for me. I felt sadness and fear in a way that I had never before experienced, and was disgusted to a level I didn't know was possible. But in the latter part of the month, I experienced such overwhelming joy. 

Makeup-wise, November was a great month. One week, one palette has been going great; I discovered new products that have shot to the position of all-time favorite; and I rediscovered some old favorites. 

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

My custom Inglot palette:

I used this palette the first week in November in my one week, one palette project, and I absolutely loved it. There was not a single look that I created that I didn't love, and it was incredibly difficult for me to put this away and move onto another palette. I love eyeshadow so much and really do love the majority of things in my collection, but using this palette for a week straight really showed me the negative side to having so many palettes. The fact that I won't be able to use this palette again until this round of my one week, one palette project is over kills me, especially because I have several more months to go. I'll probably sneak use on this palette here and there while engaging with this project because I just love the palette that much. 

Juvia's Place Masquerade Mini:

Using Juvia's Place Masquerade Mini in my one week, one palette project really was a turning point for me. I've always been terrified of color and stayed happily within my world of bronze, taupe, and rose gold, but challenging myself to use all colors in a palette has been really fun and enlightening. And I bought this palette because I was curious to see how I would like and use the colorful shadows.

 I cannot even express how much I loved this palette and how much fun it was to create all the different eye looks. Frankly, this is probably the most "all in one" palette I have because it has a ton of great shimmery neutrals, staple matte neutrals, and a variety of colors. It would also look incredible on a myriad of skin tones, and that is very unfortunately a rare trait. 

It Cosmetics CC+ Cream:

So, this product is great. I've heard people talk about this CC cream for ages and have even seen many people mention it as their go-to, all-time favorite foundation. But up until a few months ago, I only wore powder foundation, so I had no desire to try it. Added to that, It Cosmetics was only available at Ulta, and there are no Ulta locations where I live. 

But several weeks ago I went to Sephora to buy an eyeliner (that I hated and returned) and saw that they had a sample of the It Cosmetics CC+ Cream as a 100-point perk. I must have missed when Sephora started carrying It Cosmetics, but I was eager to try it, so I picked it up. 

And my goodness, I loved it. I loved absolutely everything about it. The color (Medium) matched my skin perfectly, the texture was lovely, the finish was gorgeous, and my skin just looked radiant and healthy. Now, to be completely honest, I have only tried a handful of liquid foundations. I've tried:
  • CoverGirl Clean Matte BB Cream (broke me out)
  • Milani Conceal and Perfect (all of the colors were too dark for my skin and the coverage made me look like I was wearing a mask)
  • MAC Face and Body (I loved the look of this, but it broke me out)
  • L'Oreal Infallible Pro Matte (mostly like this, but it is a touch too matte for my skin)
  • L'Oreal Infallible Pro Glow (way too shiny on its own, but I liked it mixed with the Pro Matte; however, it broke me out)
  • Maybelline Fit Me Matte and Poreless (I liked this the most out of everything in this list but hate that it doesn't have a pump and I have to pour it out) 
Without doubt, the It Cosmetics CC+ Cream is my absolute favorite. I do really like the Maybelline Matte and Poreless, but the color is slightly off, it clings to the dryness between my eyebrows, and it may have broken me out. I was using it in conjunction with a primer from Make Up For Ever that I think has been breaking me out, and I was also using it in a rotation with the L'Oreal Infallible foundations. The Pro Glow absolutely broke me out, so I can't be totally sure if the Maybelline one broke me out as well. 

Either way, the It Cosmetics CC+ Cream is essentially perfection on my skin for my specific skin type and what I like. However, It Cosmetics recently sold to L'Oreal for $1.2 billion, which I was very disappointed to see. I would not be surprised whatsoever if the quality of the CC+ Cream changes in the future under L'Oreal's control, but I really hope it doesn't. If the formula doesn't change, I would be happy using only this product in the future. I have no desire to look elsewhere for a foundation. 

Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed in Opal:

This was a really pleasant surprise for me this month. The infamous Opal highlighter from Becca has always been a disappointment for me. It's not disappointing in quality or performance—it has always been beautiful in that regard—but the color was never quite right for me. 

Originally I had been applying highlighter with a fan brush, and Opal always looked like it was an almost yellow-gold stripe across my cheeks. I much preferred Becca's Moonstone and have even hit pan on it. I never understood why everyone loved Opal so much, and I had all but decided to declutter it from my collection. 

But then I purchased the Anastasia Beverly Hills 23 highlighter brush:

And on a whim decided to use Opal again. The combination of the It Cosmetics CC+ Cream and the application from the Anastasia brush made Opal an absolutely gorgeous highlight on my skin. I honestly can't even explain what really changed since the CC+ Cream is a fantastic color match for me, so it's not as though I'm wearing foundation that is darker than my actual skin tone. I have to assume it's the base the foundation gives my skin as well as the application the brush gives. 

I have a ton of highlighters (far too many at this point, unfortunately), and I haven't been able to use anything other than Opal since discovering how gorgeous it looks on my skin. I'm really glad I gave it another chance instead of just decluttering it because it is certainly a stunner. 

NARS Goulue Blush:

This blush was given to me by Sephora when I made VIB Rouge for the third or so year. Like many people in the makeup rehabilitation world, VIB Rouge status is an embarrassment for me, not a point of pride. I'm not sure if I will realistically ever not be VIB Rouge, however, because I spend a ton of money on skincare each year. My makeup purchases alone could have potentially pushed me over the Rouge edge, but skincare is really where most of my money is spent. 

So, Sephora gives me this eyeshadow-sized blush as a "thank you" for spending an absurd and alarming amount of money in a year's time. Great. When I received this, I was pretty happy with the state of my blush collection. I had all the colors that flattered me covered—rose bronze, pink, peach, and mauve—and wasn't interested in adding anything new. But before decluttering it, I decided to try it on, and I was surprised by how much I loved the color. 

I didn't have a color quite like it in my collection. On me, it is somewhere between pink and mauve. I decided to keep it in my collection and monitor how often I reach for it. If it didn't get used, I would declutter it within a few months. To my surprise, I've been reaching for this blush quite frequently. When I can't quite decide if I want a pink or mauve flush, I reach for this and am always happy with the result. 

This is currently the only NARS blush in my collection, but I have owned a handful of them in the past. NARS has one of my absolute favorite blush formulas, and I love the longevity of them. I considered purchasing a full-size of Goulue since it is listed as a limited edition product, but the reality is that I will likely never finish this mini size, so there is no need to spend the money to buy a backup. 

Garnier Anti-Dark Circle Eye Roller:

I haven't heard anyone talk about this product in years, but I wanted to give it a mention this month since I've recently purchased a new concealer and will be testing that.

My relationship with concealer has been really complicated. I'm fortunate in that I don't really have dark circles or extreme darkness under my eyes, but I still like to have a bit of coverage in that area. I'm unfortunate in that the skin under my eyes does not play well with most products. I've tried countless concealers (mid range and drug store) with various application methods, and all of them left the skin under my eyes looking dry, creased, or cakey. 

The last one I had tried was the Urban Decay corrector in Pink. The corrector in Peach was way too dark for me, and the Pink one seemed to be a good color match (and that was weird because of my warm olive undertones). While the color looked fine, the same thing happened with the skin under my eyes looking terrible. I felt so frustrated at my inability to find a product that worked when I remembered something I tried years ago and really liked: the Garnier Anti-Dark Circle Eye Roller. 

I don't know if it's the rollerball application that makes this product work so well on me, but I love it. It provides just enough coverage to correct the slight darkness under my eyes, doesn't crease, and never looks dry. I apply it directly onto my skin with the rollerball and then blend it in with the tip of a damp Beauty Blender. 

What's even more amazing about this product is that it looks incredible on my warm olive skin and also looks incredible on my friend with pale, cool-toned skin. I was sure that the undertones would be too warm for her, and when I first applied it, the color did look quite off, but as soon as I blended it in, it was a seamless transition that looked amazing. Based on that experience, I would assume this product could work well on several different skin tones. Or maybe she and I just have a Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Concealer going on. 

NARS Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base:

This product has an interesting story with me. I always heard people talk about this eyeshadow primer and say that it was the best. It took me years of consistent use to finish my Too Faced Shadow Insurance, and I never had any problem with it, so I was curious to see if the NARS one would really be that much better. 

I'm not a fan of how this product applies. The stopper is so severe that barely any product comes out with each dip, and I always have to dip it at least twice to cover both eyes. A few months into using it (keep in mind that it took years to finish the Too Faced primer), I was barely getting any product on the brush and I had to really dig to get anything. I watched a tutorial online about how to pull out the stopper with tweezers, and doing so ruined my Tweezerman tweezers. But with the stopper out, I was shocked to find there was so much product left in the tube that I could use it for another several months. So this primer really is a ripoff unless you plan to remove the stopper. 

When I finally finished it up, I decided the packaging was too much of a problem for me and I was not going to repurchase. I hadn't noticed much of a difference between it and my Too Faced primer other than the fact that on the rare occasion that I would fall asleep before removing my makeup, my eyeshadow looked incredible the next morning. I absolutely hate falling asleep before I have the opportunity to wash my face, but it was weirdly awesome to see my eyeshadow look incredible the next morning. 

I purchased three different primers to replace the NARS one: MAC Paint Pot in Painterly, Milani Eye Primer, and the Urban Decay Primer Potion in Anti-Againg. The Urban Decay primer was the worst for me and has since been returned, but the other two are fine enough. I like having a Paint Pot for the times when I want to put down a colored based on my eyelid, and the Milani one works fine for certain shadows. 

With the MAC and Milani primers, my eyeshadow looked good for the majority of the day, but I started noticing that at night the shadows started breaking down. And that was odd for me because it never happened with the NARS one. But it was using the Juvia's Place Masquerade palette that I really saw how much I missed the NARS primer. As I mentioned in that post, no matter what primer I tried with Masquerade, the shadows creased terribly by the six-hour mark. I haven't yet had the opportunity to try Masquerade with the NARS primer to compare, but I used the NARS primer with the Juvia's Place Nubian 2 palette, and I had no issues with creasing. 

I decided that as much as the packaging is not the most functional and kind of sucks, the product is still the best I have ever tried. I obviously never want to fall asleep with my makeup on and certainly don't care what I look like the next morning since it all gets washed off immediately anyway, but there is a certain confidence I have in knowing my eyeshadows will look amazing for hours on end until I decide I want to take them off. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

What I'm Not Buying: Kylie Cosmetics Kyshadow Holiday Palette

Kylie Cosmetics has released the latest in her rapidly growing makeup line: the Kyshaodw Holiday Palette. And like everything released by Kylie Cosmetics, the palette is likely to be a huge success. 

But I won't be buying. 

The one thing I can always credit Kylie Cosmetics with is that their color selection for eyeshadow palettes is always really pretty. Unfortunately, they are not unique or of the highest quality, especially considering the price. 

I've mentioned this in my other two posts about Kyshadow palettes, but I feel it always merits a mention. This palette costs $42 plus $9 for shipping within the US and $15 for international shipping. That makes this basic, easily replicated nine-shadow palette a minimum of $51. 

I mention this price every time, and every time I am still astonished by it. It absolutely, without doubt does not cost $9 to package and ship a small eyeshadow palette. It costs a fraction of that. So the only reason Kylie Cosmetics charges so much for shipping is to make more money off of each sale. The shipping cost is so high that it actually feels extortionate. 

I've mentioned before how turned-off I am by hype-driven marketing tactics. Though I wasn't the biggest fan of the Modern Renaissance palette by Anastasia Beverly Hills, I loved how the brand handled the release of it. The first time consumers learned of the palette was the day before it launched. Anastasia Beverly Hills released good quality, color corrected images, provided the price, and said the palette would be released the following day. There is no question that Modern Renaissance is a good quality product that most people love, and Anastasia Beverly Hills relied on the quality of the product rather than hype tactics. 

Kylie Cosmetics could not take a more different approach to marketing. These are typically the first images released of a new Kyshadow palette:

I can't even articulate how enraged these images make me. It's almost to the point where if I see a brand releases images with a black and white filter, I not only don't want to buy the product, but it is a major turnoff on the brand in general. 

These images tell us nothing. Just that the brand has a product in the works and that the product can be swatched heavily on an arm. That's it

This kind of marketing is very frustrating because, as I've mentioned countless times, releasing "teasers" of products without any helpful information begs for the consumers to make a premature decision on whether they will purchase based on their own created idea of what the product will be. And then when the actual product is shown, along with the helpful information of price and release date, consumers are more likely to purchase because they've already had it set in their mind that they would. And the reality is that this kind of marketing is unnecessary if the product is good. Modern Renaissance is the most popular palette I've seen in a while, and the brand relied fully on the quality of the product and word of mouth. 

Like the other two Kyshadow palettes, the most interesting thing about the Holiday Palette is the packaging:

As I've mentioned before, I like the look of the soft-drawn eyes, and while the drips aren't necessarily my preferred aesthetic, I like how they show the colors within the palette. 

Let's take a closer look at the colors:

Here are some swatches:

In typical Kylie Cosmetics fashion, the swatches are clearly applied heavily and are finger swatches. Finger swatches will always show the colors more brilliantly than what they will be when applied with a brush. And these swatches specifically look as though they were applied heavily with at least two applications. 

And I'll admit that the Kyshadow Holiday Palette has a pretty color scheme. It gives the illusion of being somewhat unique since it doesn't look like most of the warm-toned neutral palettes flooding the market recently, but when you look at the colors as pigments away from the packaging:

You can see that this is an overpriced, run-of-the-mill jewel-toned palette with some matte shades thrown in. This palette is so unoriginal, in fact, that I've come up with several palettes that have an incredibly similar color scheme.

There's Urban Decay Smoked ($49):

Lorac Pro Metal ($28):

Zoeva Mixed Metals ($26.50 plus shipping):

Zoeva Cool Spectrum ($40 plus shipping):

Estee Edit Gritty and Glow ($58, includes blush/highlight palette):

Photo: Temptalia

And Viseart Bijoux Royal ($80):

Photo: Temptalia

Admittedly, I don't have personal experience with a Kyshadow palette. I have, however, seen and read multiple reviews, and I find the most trustworthy reviewers are all in agreement: the quality is similar to Costal Scents, BH Cosmetics, and Morphe. The price tag, however, especially for nine shadows, is incredibly inflated considering the quality. I have owned palettes from Urban Decay, Lorac, Zoeva, and Viseart, and I can say that buying any of the above palettes would be a much better purchase than the Kyshadow palette. 

The only palettes listed above that would cost more than the Kyshadow palette are Zoeva Cool Spectrum (once shipping is counted), which includes 15 shadows; Estee Edit Gritty and Glow, which has enormous pan sizes, a ton of product, and includes a blush/highlight palette; and Viseart Bijoux Royal, which is of incredible quality and has 12 shadows. 

The palettes that are less expensive than the Kyshadow are Urban Decay Smoked, which has 10 shadows; Lorac Pro Metal, which has eight shadows but is less than $20 cheaper; and Zoeva Mixed Metals, which has 10 shadows. So, the palettes that are more expensive than the Kyshadow palette have significantly more to offer, and the palettes that are less expensive either also have more to offer or are substantial cheaper. When looking at the Kyshadow palette through this lens, it's really apparent how overpriced it is. 

Personally, out of all of these options, I would go with the Viseart Bijoux Royal palette. It wasn't marketed as a holiday palette, was released months ago, and isn't limited edition. And while it absolutely can be used any time of year, it also reminds me of the holidays in the best way. I think it's a gorgeous palette, and the reason I passed on it when it was first released was because of the inclusion of colors. At the time, I wasn't interested in much outside of gold and bronze, but now it is absolutely something that has caught my attention. I certainly don't need it, however, and will likely not purchase it. But it sure is pretty. 

Though limited edition and marketed as a holiday palette, the color scheme of the Kyshadow palette can be found in multiple permanent options. The limited edition "holiday" nature of this release is just another marketing tactic, making this palette feel as though it is seasonal and if you don't purchase it now, you won't have the perfect eyeshadow for the holiday season. But there is nothing innovative or exclusively holiday about jewel-toned shadows. And the Kyshadow palette is just an overpriced, mediocre quality jewel tone palette. I've mentioned before that arguably the biggest pull for consumers to the Kylie Cosmetics brand is the person behind it. And for young fans, it won't matter how overpriced or low quality an item is, if their favorite celebrity puts their name on a product, they will find a way to buy it. And as I've said, that's specifically why I am so annoyed at Kylie Cosmetics prices, specifically shipping costs. I imagine there are many young fans out there begging their parents for this palette, putting it on their holiday list, or saving up all their money to buy it. And for that effort and fan support, the palette should be amazing quality. Charging an exorbitant shipping fee on an already overpriced palette is therefore a really low, crappy move. It's taking advantage of mainly young fans, and I think that's pretty awful. Though pretty, the Kyshadow Holiday Palette is really nothing special. And I won't be buying. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

What I'm Not Buying: Benefit Galifornia Blush

The latest boxed blush from Benefit—Galifornia—is set to be released in December. 

And I won't be buying. 

Benefit boxed blushes are nostalgic for me. They were the beginning of me buying products just because they were hyped without any knowledge of my skin tone or understanding of what would be flattering. The first one I heard about was Coralista:

This was "the" blush many years ago. I discovered YouTube and the beauty community while studying abroad in the United Kingdom, and I still remember the feeling that ran through my body when I first heard about this blush and that I had to have it. I think I probably even had dreams about Coralista because I thought about it so much. 

And when I was finally back in the US, I marched into an Ulta to buy my coveted blush and was astonished by the price tag: $30. That price was unheard of for me at the time, especially for a blush. Other than Coralista, the only blushes people talked about were from MAC, and those were about $10 cheaper. But I bought Coralista with no questions asked. I knew it was going to be the best blush in the world and I would look just amazing and somehow everything in my life would be okay because I finally had this blush. 

I took it home and swatched it. It looked like nothing on my skin. And even though I saw that, did I believe it? Nope. It's so beautiful! I told myself. I applied it on my cheeks the next day. It looked like nothing other than a pore-enhancer on me. It's so beautiful! I told myself still. I looked at my cheeks within an hour of having applied my makeup and saw that I had no blush on my cheeks. So the next time, I applied layer after layer and really "built" it up to the point where my pores were extra noticeable. And when people would ask for blush recommendations, I would always tell them about Coralista. It's so beautiful! I would tell them. 

And, yes. On my friend who has cool-toned, pale skin, this blush looks beautiful. On me, with warm, olive skin, this blush looks like nothing. It took me a long time to realize that the majority of people I was watching on YouTube who were hyping these blushes (along with NARS Deep Throat and MAC Well Dressed) had cool-toned skin. They also had light skin. I have light to medium skin, and the majority of Benefit boxed blushes look like nothing on me. So it's hard for me to imagine what they would look like on skin tones darker than mine. My assumption is that Benefit has created a line of blushes that heavily skew toward the fairest of skin. And that's disappointing, to say the least. 

So, my Coralista ended up with my aforementioned friend. And she loves it. 

While I was still in denial about Coralista, Benefit released Bella Bamba:

All anyone had to say about this blush was that the shade was "watermelon," and I was all over it. I made the rookie mistake of swatching this on the back of my hand instead of applying it onto my cheeks (which was actually a marked improvement over what I did with Coralista), thought the color was pretty, and bought it. This one actually showed up on my skin (again, a marked improvement over Coralista), but I could tell immediately upon first use that it wasn't a very high quality product, especially compared to my other blushes. Whenever I would tap my brush into it, the product would crumple in the pan and fly everywhere. I would always somehow apply too much, the application was patchy, and a few hours into my day, the product was totally gone. 

This never happened with my other blushes, which were from NARS, MAC, and Tarte. 

Other Benefit blushes I considered purchasing were Dandelion:

This looked even less like nothing when I swatched it, and I thankfully couldn't justify the price on something that was very much nothing


This also looked like a whole lot of nothing on me. 


Again, nothing.


Emphasized my pores terribly. 

And Dallas:

I looked at this one recently, actually. I had been on the hunt for a perfect rose bronze blush for a natural look. Many people recommended Dallas, but they were the same Benefit-loving crew: pale and cool-toned. I decided to try it on, and I laughed at the results. After all this time, I still hadn't learned. It looked like nothing on me. 

And now there's Galifornia, which, I have to admit, looks really cool in the pan:

This image of Galifornia was one of the first that surfaced:

And I wonder if the gold in the top photo is an overspray or it this picture just has exceptionally bad lighting. 

If it is an overspray, I find that really obnoxious. The only reason for overspray is decorative, and most people wipe it off immediately anyway because it taints the color and performance of the actual product. Oversprays are just another way that companies put more energy into the packaging to make a product look pretty so people will buy it than into the actual quality of the product. 

Like all Benefit boxed blushes, Galifornia is scented. This one is supposed to be "pink grapefruit vanilla." Personally, I hated the scents of Coralista and Bella Bamba. They felt cheap to me rather than sophisticated and luxurious. So for me, the scent isn't anything enticing or exciting. 

And as for color, it seems as though Galifornia will be a warm pink blush. And as far as blushes go, that's about as unique as a pink lipstick. And I think Benefit knows this (about all of their blush colors), which is why the blushes are scented and the packaging is really cute. It makes people want to collect them because they are pretty instead of high quality. 

Personally, I already have a perfect warm pink blush for my skin, theBalm Frat Boy:

I've mentioned this before, but the idea that shades of blush are nuanced enough to be noticed when applied sheerly onto the skin is ridiculous. Most blushes within a color family will look essentially the same when applied to the skin, so there is little need for more than a few colors in an entire collection. Personally, since cutting down my blush collection, I've been really happy. I can look at my eye look and think, "Should I wear pink, peach, rose, or mauve?" Once I've figured that out, I only have one blush to grab for. And I never find myself wanting more or feeling like I'm missing out. 

On the whole, Benefit doesn't impress me. I do like a couple of their mascaras, but that's it. The brand doesn't feel as though they accept and celebrate a myriad of skin tones, which is disappointing and makes me not interested in the brand. I have not tried a single blush from Benefit that worked for my skin tone or skin type, and I am frankly no longer interested in trying any further. 

I'm sure many people will enjoy Galifornia, like the packaging and scent, and think the color is pretty. But these same people will likely have several—dozens, even—blushes that look exactly the same as Galifornia and likely perform better. With blush especially I think it's important to really evaluate your collection and see what you already have. If you have a pink blush that looks killer on you in a formula that you love, you really don't need other pink blushes. I love my blush in Frat Boy and have zero desire or need for Galifornia. And I won't be buying. 

Sunday, November 27, 2016

One Week, One Palette: Zoeva Cocoa Blend

For the eighth week of my one week, one palette project, I chose to use one of my favorite staple, workhorse palettes: Zoeva Cocoa Blend.

This is an interesting palette for me because it's close to what I would consider to be a "perfect" neutral palette for warm skin tones, but it is also so neutral that it is easily replicated and gets forgotten about in my collection. 

Most people consider the Too Faced Chocolate Bar or Urban Decay Naked to be their ultimate or all-time favorite neutral palette, but for me and my specific skin tone, it's the Cocoa Blend. But, since it is so neutral, I was really hoping that by the end of the week I could come to terms with the fact that I already own these colors in my collection and be able to declutter it. 

Top, from left: Bitter Start, Sweeter End, Warm Notes, Subtle Blend, and Beans Are White
Bottom, from left: Pure Ganache, Substitute For Love, Freshly Toasted, Infusion, and Delicate Acidity

I used every color in this palette last week, and for the exception of Make Up For Ever Pearl—which I used on the inner corner ever day—I did not need to bring in any additional shadows. 

Below are six looks I did last week.

Look 1:

Base: MAC Paint Pot in Painterly

Pure Ganache on the first half of the lid, Warm notes on the second half of the lid, Substitute For Love and Freshly Toasted blended into the crease, and Bitter Start on the brow bone.

Look 2:

Primer: Milani Eyeshadow Primer

Pure Ganache on the lid, Substitute For Love and Freshly Toasted blended into the crease, Infusion padded onto the outer corner, and Bitter Start on the brow bone. 

Look 3:

Primer: NARS Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base

Subtle Blend on the lid, Freshly Toasted blended into the crease, Warm Notes blended into the crease over Freshly Toasted, and Bitter Start on the brow bone. 

Look 4:

Primer: NARS Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base

Delicate Acidity on the lid, Substitute For Love and Freshly Toasted blended into the crease, Beans Are White padded onto the outer corner, and Bitter Start on the brow bone. 

Look 5:

Primer: NARS Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base

Sweeter End on the lid, Substitute For Love and Freshly Toasted blended into the crease, Subtle Blend padded onto the outer corner, and Bitter Start on the brow bone.

Look 6:

Primer: NARS Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base

Warm Notes on the lid, Freshly Toasted blended into the crease, Infusion padded onto the outer corner, and Bitter Start on the brow bone. 

The reason I included the bases/primers I used this week is because I used MAC Painterly on the first day and I absolutely hated the way the shadows looked. I was convinced that I was going to declutter the palette after using it the first day, and I didn't even want to continue using it for the rest of the week because I really thought I wasn't going to enjoy it. When applied over Painterly, I felt the pigmentation was lacking and the shadows were very difficult to blend. This was unexpected for me since I remembered really loving the shadows and being incredibly impressed with them. As I mentioned in my last one week, one palette post, I had run out of my favorite primer, the NARS Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base, and knew I needed to repurchase it. Once I started using that primer, the shadows were gorgeous and exactly as I remembered them. And then it occurred to me that I had only ever used these shadows with the NARS primer

I don't think Painterly is a bad primer, and I don't think the NARS primer is markedly better than most primers with most shadows. The Milani Eyeshadow Primer worked beautifully with the Cocoa Blend shadows, and I couldn't really tell a difference between that primer and the one from NARS. This may be a case of Zoeva shadows not playing well Painterly. 

Once I transitioned to the different primers, I quickly remembered why I loved this palette so much. It really is close to being the perfect neutral palette for me. I say "close to" perfect because the two black shades—Beans Are White and Infusion—perform essentially the same, and I think one of those shades should have been substituted for a cooler-toned milk chocolate brown shade. I would have also substituted Sweeter End for a more intense shimmer that could be worn on the inner corner. 

My favorite shadows in this palette are absolutely Substitute For Love and Freshly Toasted. They are gorgeous shadows that work beautifully with my skin tone. I would say they could potentially be some of my favorite shadows in my entire collection. Bitter Start is also one of my all-time favorite shadows for the brow bone. Pure Ganache, Warm Notes, and Subtle Blend are also favorites of mine. 

But—and here's the rub—these colors are not that unique. Substitute For Love reminds me a lot of Too Faced's Peanut Butter. Freshly Toasted reminds me of Makeup Geek Cocoa Bear. Pure Ganache is very similar to MAC's Amber Lights; Warm Notes is similar to MAC's Cranberry; and Subtle Blend is similar to several shadows I have from Morphe. Bitter Start is similar to shades in the Kat Von D Shade and Light Eye palette and a shade in the Viseart Neutral Matte palette. 

I enjoyed Sweeter End and have used it before (not last week) as a mixing shade for other colors, and really enjoyed it for that purpose. But I also enjoyed it last week as a subtle but pretty lid shade. Delicate Acidity was pretty and looked better in person than it did in the photo. I don't always love purples against my skin because of the cooler tones, but I received several compliments on the day I wore Delicate Acidity because it gave a pretty smoky effect. Beans Are White and Infusion were fine. I actually really loved the look of black paired with gold, which was surprisingly something I had never tried before, and it's something I would love to do again. 

So what do I do when I genuinely love six shadows in this palette and enjoy the other four but have duplicates for the six shadows that I love? If I decluttered this palette, would I miss it? For me, this is the kind of palette where I don't think to pull it out regularly because there is nothing flashy about it. Or when I pull it out, I would likely do a very basic look. But then when forced to use it for an entire week, I loved it! I was creative with it and did looks that I had never done before. I've thought about depotting some of the shadows and mixing them with some of my favorite singles, but then I could also see myself depotting all but one of the black shadows. And if that's the case, I might as well hang onto the entire thing as is. 

My favorite looks last week were definitely look 3 and 2, but I really enjoyed every look except for look 1. And I would probably have loved look 1 had it not been for the base I used. They certainly aren't as exciting as some of the looks I've done with my more colorful palettes, but I found them really pretty nonetheless. 

I have to say that I am really impressed with Zoeva. I purchased this palette online and paid over $15 for shipping to the US. Even with the high international shipping fee, this palette was still around $35. For ten shadows of this quality, I find that incredible. Sure, the packaging doesn't feel as expensive as some of the thicker cardboard or plastic cases, and it doesn't have a mirror, but the look of the packaging is really elegant, and I am happy with it overall. And I am thrilled to see a brand put more concern and cost into the product than into the packaging and yet still have the packaging look nice. Zoeva does it right!

I honestly don't know if I would miss this palette if I decluttered it because I have so many duplicate shades in my collection. But there is something to be said sometimes about having all those "perfect" shades together in one palette. If I were to curate my own palette (if I had no other shadows), it would look very similar to Cocoa Blend with the exceptions I've noted above. I think this palette is a much better buy than the Too Faced Chocolate Bar or Urban Decay Naked palette or any other warm neutral palette. I really enjoyed using Cocoa Blend all week, and the only reason I'm excited to move on to another palette is because I'm craving a bit of variety. With that said, using Cocoa Blend exclusively for a week also showed me how versatile a simple neutral palette can be, which is helpful when feeling bored with a palette or collection of shadows. For the moment, I'm not going to declutter or depot this palette, and I will revisit it after the completion of this round of one week, one palette. I have so many palettes that this round won't be complete for a while, but as of right now, I think if I do anything, it is more likely that I would depot some of it than declutter. 

Saturday, November 26, 2016

What I'm Not Buying: Pat McGrath Labs Metalmorphosis 005 Everything Kit

Renounced makeup artist Pat McGrath has expanded her cosmetics line to include cream and metallic pigments in the Metalmorphosis Everything Kit. 

And I won't be buying. 

As I mentioned in my post about Pat McGrath Labs Lipstick Kits, I think because Pat McGrath is so respected in the makeup industry, it allows for her products to have an incredibly high price tag. And because the products are so hyped, they sell out quickly and people get the "hype anxiety" and think they need to get their hands on it. 

And while I think the concept of Pat McGrath Labs is really cool and interesting, I don't think they translate practically into everyday life. 

The Metalmorphosis 005 kit contains:
  • 4 metallic pigments in Gold, Silver, Bronze, and Copper
  • 4 cream pigments in Gold, Silver, Bronze, and Copper
  • Dual-ended marker in black
  • Mehran mixing liquid

And it costs a whopping $165. For four cream shadows, four pigments, an eyeliner, and mixing medium. Even for mid-range products (Pat McGrath Labs's cheap packaging keeps me from putting them fully in the luxury category), I think this kit is about $100 overpriced depending on how you look at it. Hear me out. 

In talking about price, it is worth noting that the metallic and cream pigments each contain 0.14 ounces of product. That's a TON of product. For the size, these pigments are comparable to other shadows that cost around $20 each. And when looking at it through that lens, the price point is pretty fair. 

But the reason I think the kit is overpriced is because the cream and metallic pigments are paired together. So you are not getting eight unique shades. And I think the amount of product included is actually a negative rather than a positive. Because of the entire concept of the kit, I think the average consumer will use a very small amount of product. Therefore hiking the price because of product size won't really work out in most people's favor.

The images associated with the Metalmorphosis kit, like all Pat McGrath images, are pretty stunning:

But like most Pat McGrath Labs items, unless you are an editorial makeup artist or really want to make yourself look like C-3PO, I don't really see the practicality. 

The kit works by applying a base of the cream pigment first followed by applying a layer of the metallic pigment mixed with the Mehran mixing liquid. I imagine the cream and metallic pigments can also be used alone, but the effect will be similar to most eyeshadows. 

The Pat McGrath pigment kits can be used as eyeshadow:


Lip color:

And face/body art:

And again, these images are so cool, and I would love to have them framed as art on my wall, but the product is just not at all practical in everyday life. 

To put things into perspective, I'd like to talk about the pigments themselves. 

As I've mentioned before, I like to look at pigments outside of their packaging to really get a grasp on the colors and not be sucked in to the presentation and group attractiveness effect. And yes, the metallic pigments are really stunning. But it's also important to realize that while they are beautiful, they are not unique colors whatsoever. They are gold, silver, bronze, and copper. Most people will have at least two, if not all, of these colors already. 

As for swatches, I've gotten used to being mesmerized by the incredible ones shown on the Pat McGrath Labs Instagram:

But seeing the pigments under regular, non-deceptive lighting shows an entirely different color payoff:

The colors are still beautiful, absolutely, but they look much more like regular foiled eyeshadows (like those from Makeup Geek) that can be purchased for less than half the price:

Going back to price, as I mentioned in my other Pat McGrath Labs post, the reason I always get hung up on price is because you can achieve the same or similar effect for significantly cheaper with other products. There are numerous online tutorials that show how you can achieve the "liquid metal" look of the Pat McGrath kits by mixing clear gloss or a mixing medium and a pigment. And the look is achieved at a fraction of the cost of the Metalmorphosis kit. 

My overall feeling on Pat McGrath Labs is complicated. On one hand, I really respect Pat McGrath as an artist and absolutely adore all the promotional/editorial photos that show her products. But on the other hand, the products are so avant-garde that they are not practical for every day use. And then they have an enormous price tag slapped onto them. And while I can appreciate that her products are generally innovative compared to what most popular brands are releasing, it's not as though they are so innovative—so unique—that the same effect cannot be achieved for significantly less money. Because of that, I don't really understand this brand. Based on their products, my assumption is that their target audience is solely editorial makeup artists, but some of their marketing directly opposes that. No average makeup-obsessed consumer (please note that I said "average makeup-obsessed consumer" and not "average makeup consumer") is ever going to use up 0.14 ounces of this kind of product (times 2), let alone use up that product in four different colors. The majority of the product is likely to get wasted (especially since part of it is cream and it will dry up/go bad), and for $165, that is a huge waste of money. 

Personally, I have plenty of beautiful eyeshadows in a number of finishes, including metallic, that I love. For special occasions and parties, like New Year's Eve, I can see this kit being a lot of fun. And if I was a person who loved to do avant-garde looks on myself and post them onto Instagram, I can see this being a product I would love and probably use often. But I'm just a woman who likes to wear makeup. I have plenty of foiled eyeshadows that give significant drama, and I don't need to spend a ridiculous amount of money to make my eyes look just a little bit more foiled. I like my eyeliner to be a very basic thin black line, so I would have no use for this product as a metallic eyeliner. I would never want metallic gold, silver, copper, or bronze lips, even though they look really cool in editorial photographs. And I won't ever create face/body art on myself. So for me, the Metalmorphosis kit would really only be used for eyeshadow. And as I said, I have plenty of shadows that already do the job perfectly well. The Metalmorphosis kit is therefore an easy pass for me, and I won't be buying.