Monday, January 2, 2017

What I'm Not Buying: Kat Von D Pastel Goth

On January 10, Kat Von D will release her newest eyeshadow palette, Pastel Goth. 

And I won't be buying. 

Typically, I like to wait until a palette releases and has garnered some reviews before I make these posts, but on the other hand, because of the current consumerist climate of "buy now, evaluate your purchases later," I think it's important to get my thoughts out there and put things into perspective before products some hyped products are even available. 

Kat Von D is an interesting brand in that pretty much all of her products are ridiculously hyped and the performance is either hit or miss. She has had some huge hits, such as:
  • Shade and Light Eye palette
  • Metal Crush eyeshadows
  • Mi Vida Loca Remix palette
  • Tattoo liner
  • Liquid lipsticks*

And some notable misses, such as:
  • Shade and Light blushes
  • Serpentina palette
  • Liquid lipsticks* 

*There have been serious quality control issues with liquid lipstick batches.

Generally speaking, Kat Von D has more hits than misses, but the brand also has a habit of releasing "permanent" items only to discontinue them at a later date. This includes pretty much all of her eyeshadow palettes, most notably Monarch and Chrysalis. Because of this, it doesn't feel to me personally that Kat Von D is an exceptionally stable brand. But, I think they are trying to move toward that. It was important to Kat Von D that her brand reflect her own vegan beliefs and lifestyle, and she has been working toward making the entire line vegan for over a year now. This could be why the brand has lacked permanent products, but that is only my guess. 

What's intriguing about Kat Von D is that the brand's releases are traditionally really interesting in concept. Kat also does all of the product artwork herself, which gives the brand an additional level of unique and "cool." I find that I am rarely uninterested in the latest launch from Kat Von D, especially when it's an eyeshadow palette. I've mentioned many times that eyeshadow and palettes specifically are my weakness, and Kat Von D releases will always get consideration from me. 

I am, however, getting a little concerned that Kat Von D could be turning into the next Too Faced or Tarte in pumping out products at an alarming pace. Just within the last year, and only in terms of eyeshadow palettes, Kat Von D has released:
  • Shade and Light Eye quads
  • Serpentina
  • Metal Matte
  • Alchemist
  • Pastel Goth 

That's a lot of releases for a brand that traditionally takes a while to develop and release a product, and I'll talk more about why this is a larger problem in a moment. 

I'm disappointed to say that Pastel Goth does not interest me whatsoever, and I feel the entire release is a missed opportunity for the brand. Kat Von D notoriously teases her latest products comically far in advance, so I'm not entirely sure when the concept of Pastel Goth was first introduced, but this was the fist image people were given:

I remember reading when this image was first released that people couldn't wait to buy the palette. And every time I read that kind of sentiment, I have to laugh. We are so well conditioned into wanting to get the latest and greatest that we make up our minds about something without even seeing the product or knowing the price. 

But then we saw the actual palette:

As well as the official "swatches" by Kat Von D:

I'll just say it—these swatches are garbage and clearly not an accurate depiction of the product. This is something that really, really frustrates me about a lot of brands, and Kat Von D in particular. At best these swatches have a ton of product piled onto the skin—far more than would be realistic to apply to one's eyelid—and at worst these swatches look straight-up photoshopped. They especially seem photoshopped since the colors look essentially the same on all three skin tones. And that's the point of swatching colors on multiple skin tones—to give an accurate depiction of how the product will look. 

Because the swatches are so heavy and unrealistic, I honestly don't have an idea of what these colors will look like on the eye. What I can say is that these colors don't look pastel. They actually look quite neon. And I get that a black and white shade fit the aesthetic of "pastel goth," but I also think that the person likely buying this palette already has black and white shadows in droves. I also expected this palette to be heavy on nuanced pastel pink, purple and blue shades, but that very well could be that my knowledge on the pastel goth aesthetic is limited. 

But for a themed palette, these colors seem to be quite... ordinary? Redone? Really, it reminded me most of the matte shades in the Kat Von D 2016 holiday palette, Metal Matte:

Even the ridiculous swatches look similar:

I mean, really, the only difference between Pastel Goth and Metal Matte is that Pastel Goth has a neon blue shade. Other than that, every shade is in the Metal Matte palette. And I'm not actually okay with that. If they were gonna make similar/repeat, why not just make the Metal Matte palette permanent? Or make separate mini metal and matte palettes? Why release a brand new palette with nearly the the exact shades as in a palette released just months earlier, stick a neon blue shade in it, and call it something new?

No, Kat Von D. No. This is dumb. You're selling snake oil at this point. 

And this is what I wanted to talk about before, in how I'm afraid that Kat Von D is the next Too Faced and Tarte in terms of releasing product after product that don't seem to have too much thought behind them and have subpar quality. My thought is—and this is pure speculation—that the bar has been raised in terms of brands needing to have something new to bring to beauty community every few months just to keep up with competitors. When I first started this blog, I didn't think there would be enough new products releasing for me to realistically keep things going on a regular basis, but I was surely proven wrong. And I don't even go looking for products! So far I've only written about items that have popped up in my everyday life and involvement within this community. 

I remember years ago when MAC was queen of the makeup world. People would get excited about MAC's special collections, sure, but most people were mainly talking about MAC's permanent line. And MAC didn't really release new permanent products often, so what people were talking about were products that essentially stood the test of time. And then the culture shifted, and now it is all about having these ridiculous collections, using giant IKEA Alex drawers to store said ridiculous collections, having an entire "beauty room" in one's house, and buying everything that every brand releases. And if the spending culture is to buy literally anything new, the incentive is high for companies to churn out new products at a rapid rate. And when brands are put under pressure to come out with something new as soon as possible every few months, innovation and quality are bound to decline

I believe it's ColourPop and Kylie Cosmetics' parent company—Seed Beauty—who essentially said they value rapid production over quality. They were praised in the industry for their marketing and business model, which they said was to churn out as much as possible as quickly as possible—without perfecting formulas—and see after the fact how well products sell and general consumer opinions. So to basically throw everything at the wall and see what sticks (or in this case, sells). They blatantly say they value rapid-fire releases over product quality, and I feel that is a huge middle finger to consumers. 

So now we are in a cycle where brands are churning out a ton of new products and we want to get the new thing everyone is talking about, so we end up spending and spending and amassing these enormous collections that we couldn't even begin to realistically work our way through. And to top it off, these products aren't even that good anymore. And I have to say that it's really disheartening. It's fun to look at new products and get excited by different color combinations and trends—that's how the fashion industry operates—but it takes the fun out of it when the market is flooded and all the products are subpar because production was rushed. 

Getting back to a point I made earlier, from the (likely highly edited) pictures of Pastel Goth that are available, the colors don't look very pastel. In fact, the swatches remind me quite a bit of the Urban Decay Electric Palette:

Photo: Temptalia

Only a little more subdued. 

For other actual pastel options, there's MAC Pastel Times Nine:

And MUA Pretty Pastels:

Photo: FleurdeForce

Overall, I'm really disappointed in this release. I'm disappointed in the color selection, the "pastel" nature of the shades, the similarity/repetition in Metal Matte, the ridiculous and unhelpful swatches, and the general marketing. And I really like Kat Von D as a brand! But this year...
  • The Shade and Light Eye quads underwhelmed me 
  • The Shade and Light blushes were pulled from shelves because of immensely poor quality 
  • Serpentina seemed to have extreme quality control issues with most reviews leaning negative
  • Metal Matte was too large and filled with colors I wouldn't use, and again reviews largely said the matte shades weren't up to other KVD quality
  • Alchemist was exactly like ABH Moonchild except with a fraction of product
  • And Pastel Goth doesn't spark intrigue or joy for me in any way

I'll be curious to see what actual swatches of Pastel Goth look like, especially since pastel shadows are notoriously difficult to work with. Even if the swatches are great (which, honestly, I would be surprised if they were), it wouldn't deter me from my decision to not buy. Maybe the actual colors won't look quite so similar to those in the Metal Matte palette, but on the eye, I assume the difference would be negligible. For $38, I think Pastel Goth just isn't interesting enough. If you look at it as a different take on an all-matte palette, then I suppose there is something intriguing there. Still, there just isn't enough to generate interest from me. 

I'll also be interested in reading reviews of this palette and seeing if the quality is up to par or not. It would be a shame if Kat Von D is the next brand to bite the dust of quality in favor of needing to play the rapid release game. Maybe it's time that consumers change the game a bit and stop playing by companies' rules. If you want me to buy something, it needs to be of fantastic quality and add something more to my comprehensive collection. If you want to throw mediocre crap at me every few months and expect me to buy, you'll lose me as a customer. But who knows, maybe the quality of Pastel Goth is fantastic. Even still, the shades are uninspiring to me and a repetition of shades in Metal Matte. I didn't buy Metal Matte, so there's no reason for me to think differently about Pastel Goth. 


  1. I DID buy MetalMattes as my first Kat Von D purchase, and I love it. If these are Kat's not so good mattes, I need to get Shade and Light, lol. I bring this up, though, to say that I got super excited when I saw the teaser for Pastel Goth! OMG Pastel shades that could supplement the MetalMatte! Except...even if the swatches are photoshopped to hell or fit a particular "pastel goth" aesthetic...they aren't companions to MetalMatte at all. You articulated exactly what my reaction was.

    1. I'm glad you love Metal Matte! I know a lot of people do. I didn't personally use the palette, but I heard the mattes were a different formula and not quite as good as the Shade and Light Eye mattes. Shade and Light is one of my favorite palettes, so it's worth checking out if you don't have solid neutral mattes. If you do, the palette may be redundant for you.

      I was excited for Pastel Goth too, but I think the colors are just too similar to what she has already done.

  2. Sorry for the third comment in one night, I'm sick in bed and your blog is captivating me right now.

    You hit the nail on the head. 2016 felt like a crazy year for makeup, there were just SO many new releases I'm pretty much burned out to the point where no new release piques my interest anymore (thank the Lord!) like you, the Sweet Peach hype pushed me over the edge and made me realise that so much of the beauty community on YouTube and Instagram is just an illusion - sponsors, affiliates, flash in the pan internet brands and horrible marketing from the brands.

  3. I think this is the most thorough review I've ever came across! Though, I'd like to mention what makes this pastel palette different than the others is that "pastel" Kat Von D created for the palette seems to me, look like it's inspired by the pastel medium; pastel chalk. On a traditional artist standpoint, I thought it was cleverly done. Thoooough not many people are artists and they may not understand the difference.

    I really admire that you show comparisons and you are so attentive to detail. You're an exceptional writer and I greatly admire that. 👏🏻