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. 


  1. I'm learning from you!

    My first reaction: "Oh my goodness, that palette is so gorgeous! I've never tried anything from Zoeva, maybe I should start." Then I went to the product page and found this picture of the pigments separated from the packaging:

    Hmmm, as pigments alone, it looks an awful lot like the new Tarteist Pro, which I did buy and have been really enjoying:

    No wonder I thought this Zoeva one is so beautiful! But I don't need to buy it ;) You are rubbing off on me.

    1. Wow, this is such a nice comment! And good for you, Jaime! That also explains why I was so drawn to the Tartiest Pro! It's funny how we continually buy the same products over and over.

      The Zoeva palette is gorgeous, but I'm glad you're enjoying the Tartiest Pro so much!

      And thanks (always) for reading.