Saturday, June 17, 2017

What I'm Not Buying: Jaclyn Hill X Morphe Palette

Jaclyn Hill teamed up with Morphe for yet another collaboration—the Jaclyn Hill X Morphe Palette. 

And I won't be buying. 

This is an odd post because I feel like most consumers are going to be grouped in one of two groups:
  • Those who love Jaclyn Hill and will buy anything she had a hand in creating 
  • Those who aren't tempted by this palette at all

I belong to the second group. 

And I feel like this is an odd post because I don't think the majority of people are going to be evaluating whether they should buy this palette or not or if they think this will be a good buy for their money. I think most people will probably have already made up their minds on if they will be buying or not. 

For some background, Jaclyn Hill is an incredibly popular person who makes beauty videos on YouTube. She has collaborated on several products, most notably with Becca and Morphe. Morphe released the "Jaclyn Hill Favorites" palette a few years ago, which was a selection of Jaclyn's favorite shadows from Morphe's collection:

This newest palette, according to Jaclyn, took two years to make and has a brand new formula, so it is supposedly different from all other Morphe palettes and shadows. 

The palette has been teased for months (maybe even a year), and the release date kept getting pushed back. The palette was leaked earlier this year when a photo of a cake commissioned for a celebratory party surfaced: 

But Jaclyn insisted the palette looked different from the cake. 

When photo of the palette released, it was obvious that it was the same as the cake (down to the message on the lid). 

I personally think it's pretty terrible when people's work is leaked for the sake of hype and attention, and while I think Jacklyn lied by saying it was not the same, I can understand how much it must have sucked to work on a project and have the first reveal be from a damn cake. 

To be completely honest, this palette does not interest me at all, and despite the fact that it has a "new formula," I think this palette is a complete ripoff. 

Let me explain. 

This palette has 35 shadows, like most other Morphe palettes. And Morphe palettes with 35 shadows typically cost $23. 

This palette costs $38, which is a considerable increase. And, here's the thing. Morphe wants consumers to think that this palette is $15 more expensive because of this supposed "new formula," but the reality is that the $15 price increase is the "collaborating with Jaclyn Hill" fee. 

I've explained this many times before, but when brands collaborate with someone, they are selling the product in large part because of the name attached. Therefore, the name attached will earn a nice percentage of the profits. In these cases, brands have two options if they don't want to sacrifice on the profits they would normally earn without the collaborator. They can:

Lower the quality of the product so that it is cheaper to make but keep the price the same


Charge more.

It looks like Morphe chose the second option. 

But, wait, there's more. Morphe shipping rates are very high, especially considering how light the products are and that if the product comes broken and the buyer did not request to spend extra money on shipping to insure it, they will not replace the item. 

With shipping, the Jacklyn Hill X Morphe palette costs around $48 in the US, meaning that it is considerably higher for international customers. 

That is insane to me, especially considering that this is a Morphe palette. 

I have owned two Morphe palettes: 35T and 35OS. There is a store in NYC that sells Morphe palettes and allows you to swatch in store, so I purchased my palettes there. When I swatched in store, I was impressed with the shimmers (for the price), but as I've said before, it is really easy to make a shimmer that looks good swatched. I ended up decluttering the 35T and most of the 35OS. There are a few shadows from that palette that remain in my collection that I depotted and put in a custom palette. 

I am not a fan of Morphe. I don't like their business practices, I don't like some of the people they associate with, and I don't like their products. I think the quality of their shadows is quite poor, especially the matte shadows. Now, I understand the shadows in the Jaclyn Hill palette have been reformulated, and I think it's great that some reviews have said that the mattes are, for the most part, pretty okay. But, I highly, highly doubt that the mattes are as good as (or better than) ones that I have from Makeup Geek, Anastasia Beverly Hills, Kat Von D, Melt Cosmetics, Viseart, or even those in my Milani Earthly Elements palette. 

In terms of swatches, most that have surfaced from Jaclyn look like this:

The colors look like they pack a lot of pigment, which is something that I have found with a lot of Morphe shimmers. But I think it is also evident that the colors have been pressed incredibly hard into the skin. Looking at the brush in the second photo, for example, that is much, much more pressure than I would ever use on my eye. 

These swatches from Samantha Ravndahl look what I consider a little more true to life:

(Each color has been swatched twice. On the left, it is a finger swatch; on the right, a brush swatch.)

You can watch Samantha Ravndahl's review video here

Apparently Jaclyn recommends applying some of these shadows with a finger, which is not surprising considering the pigmentation in the above photos. A lot of foiled/metallic shadows apply better with a finger. I have some shadows by Natasha Denona that look like complete crap when applied with a brush and incredible applied with my finger. However, on the whole, I think most people would like a shadow to perform well with a brush. 

Let's look at the colors:

From my understanding, this is supposed to be Jaclyn's ultimate palette, or something like that. It's not meant to be an innovator or on trend or anything like that. It is literally just what her ideal custom palette would look like. 

And when I think about it like that, I realize that this palette looks a lot like all of my custom palettes as well, meaning I already have all these colors. 

Here are some of mine:

(I have two others that are all round pans, but I am still recovering from surgery and cannot stand long enough to take photographs of them.)

Let's look at the Jaclyn Hill X Morphe palette as just pigments:

Do you know what I see here? A whole lot of colors that look either the same or very similar. This is something that I find happens in a lot of Morphe palettes. Take the 35O for example:

This palette was SO hyped, in large part because of Jaclyn Hill, and for the exception of the last two columns, this palette just looks like a whole lot of browns to me that won't look all that different on the eye. That's the reason I decluttered the majority of the colors from the all-shimmer version of this palette: so many of them were duplicated in the palette. 

And, here's the thing. The Jaclyn Hill palette will be so hyped—it's already so hyped. And it will likely sell out. Or the Morphe website will crash. Or something like that. And that's because Jaclyn has a huge following of (primarily young and impressionable) viewers, I don't think it matters if the quality is meh, the colors are repetitive and generic, or if it is overpriced. People will buy this because it has Jaclyn's name attached to it. 

But for nearly $50, there are so many better palettes one could buy, like everyone's favorite: ABH Modern Renaissance:

Or Juvia's Place Masquerade:

I don't fit the targeted demographic of this palette, and this is an easy pass for me. I have all of these colors somewhere in my collection, and I certainly don't need or want a huge Morphe palette with all of them. So, I won't be buying. 

Sunday, June 11, 2017

What I'm Not Buying: Too Faced Glitter Bomb

I honestly don't even know if this can be considered Too Faced's "newest" release because I frankly cannot (and don't want to) keep up with their insane release schedule. Nonetheless, Glitter Bomb is a fairly new Too Faced release. 

And I won't be buying. 

I'm sure if you look through my anti-haul blog posts, the majority are likely to be about Too Faced palettes. And that's because Too Faced has been cranking out releases like crazy. And with each new release, the packaging and gimmick has increased and the quality has seriously declined. 

Too Faced was never my favorite brand, but there was a period of time where I would get really excited to see what they would come out with next, and I usually thought their releases were pretty good. Now, Too Faced is easily one of my least favorite brands. I own 5 depotted shadows from the Chocolate Bon Bons palette, and that's it. And based on the way they have been going, it doesn't look like I will be buying anything from them anytime soon. 

To be completely honest, when Glitter Bomb was announced, I just didn't even care. I knew I was't going to buy it, and it didn't even tempt me a little bit. And what's funny about that is that the concept of it should excite me. If you've read any of posts about my recent weekly and weekend looks, you'll know that I have been absolutely crazy for indie shadows, especially those that pack a metallic or glitter punch. I absolutely loathe glitter fallout, which is a constant concern with glitter shadows, but still. The very idea of a glitter-fused palette should excite me. But from Too Faced, it doesn't. 

Let's look at the palette:

The way this palette is supposed to work is that you apply either the white or black base shadows on the ends of the palette and then apply the glitter on top. I would also image that the Too Faced Glitter Glue would be required for these shadows to work, but a small sample of it is not included with the palette. (I just looked on the Sephora site, and, as expected, Sephora recommends using this palette with Too Faced Glitter Glue.)

I think the shadow colors are pretty, but to be completely honest, the most exciting thing to me about this palette is the packaging: 

And you better believe that Too Faced knows this as well. I normally find Too Faced packaging a little too kitschy and juvenile for me, but my inner girly girl cannot help but love the Las Vegas marquis nature of this packaging. But this is what Too Faced does. They think about what kind of packaging will lure people in, and they put all their efforts into that. And for the life of me I will never understand why they don't instead apply all that work into the formula and making sure that the product is incredible. 

The thing that really doesn't work for me about this palette is the general concept. This is a $45 palette, which is already not cheap, and it still requires a glitter glue or primer at least to make it work. On Reddit, I discovered a post by a user (makemeup_makeup) who swatched all but one of these shadows without primer or either of the base shadows. You can read that post here. These are those swatches:

(The blue swatch in the middle was swatched over the white base.)

As you can see, on their own, without one of the bases or a primer or glitter glue, these swatches are pretty mediocre. And, here's the thing. I have seen swatches of this palette over glitter glue and over bases. I've seen unrealistic swatches where the product is packed on to make it look as good as humanly possible. And even then, they look just okay. Just like normal shadows that I don't have to apply over a base and use with a sticky primer. And so, I guess I just don't really understand why I would pay $45 for the palette, pay an additional $20 for glitter glue, have to work with base colors and glitter top coats, all to achieve a look that I can get by applying one Makeup Geek foiled shadow. Or achieve a look that is less exquisite than something I can get with an indie shadow. 

The colors in this palette remind me a lot of the Urban Decay Afterdark palette:

As well as the Urban Decay Moondust palette:

And even the new Viseart Theory palettes in Amethyst:

And Nuance:

I do not own any of the above palettes, but they were each something that intrigued me for a while and are items I considered purchasing. And the reason I didn't purchase any of them is because I already have something suitable in my collection. In my anti-haul post on the Urban Decay Afterdark palette, I went through every single shadow in that palette and showed an exact (or close) duplicate that I had in my own collection. I just have all of these colors elsewhere in my collection, and I can guarantee that they are better quality than those in the Glitter Bomb palette. 

In terms of palettes in my collection, the only thing I have with a similar color scheme is the Coloured Raine Queen of Hearts palette:

And even then, I have an entire post about how I was able to find exact duplicate shadows for every single shade in that palette:

In all honesty, I think the concept of Glitter Bomb is nothing more than the latest gimmick from Too Faced. They have run the gamut for food-themed palettes with corresponding scents, are milking the Sweet Peach palette into an entire collection, and now are taking the approach inspired by the Kat Von D Alchemist palette and Pat McGrath Labs eyeshadow kits that looks should have many layers in the application process. And Kat Von D and Pat McGrath Labs, in my opinion, did it much better. 

The main appeal I can see for Glitter Bomb, especially when you consider other options available, is just to get the latest thing from Too Faced. And for me personally, that's no where near good enough to shell out $45 and add yet another palette to my collection. This palette is nothing new (Moondust is essentially the same concept), and it is just the next product in the line of disposable releases from Too Faced. I highly doubt anyone will be talking about this palette a month from now, and by then, Too Faced is guaranteed to have released several more items anyway. This palette (and every other palette) is disposable to Too Faced, so I don't see why it would be anything other for consumers. I don't think this is a great quality product, I think there are better and cheaper alternatives, and I won't be buying. 

Saturday, June 10, 2017

What I'm Not Buying: Urban Decay Naked Heat

The latest palette from Urban Decay recently launched, and it is also the latest in the "Naked" line: Naked Heat.

And I won't be buying. 

This is actually a really exciting post for me to make because it was one that was requested by several people. I'm a happily small blogger, but it is always very exciting to me when people request posts on certain items. I like feeling that we are building a community of thoughtful shoppers. 

One thing to note is that while I have cut my makeup shopping dramatically, I still occasionally buy products when I feel it would be additive to my collection and something I will love. As a result, if a product is requested as the subject of an anti-haul post, and if I am strongly considering purchasing that item, I won't write a post on it.

With Naked Heat, I went through three distinct phases.

Phase 1: Oh, I definitely don't need that. 
Phase 2: (Seeing a few colors swatched, hearing the hype): Maybe this is something I want.
Phase 3: Nope. I definitely don't need that. 

Let's look at the palette:

What I will say about this is that in terms of Naked palettes alone, this would be THE Naked palette for me. And several years ago, hell, even last year, I would have totally nabbed this palette. The above image in particular looks unbelievably appealing to me. And I'm sure that this will be a pretty big release for Urban Decay. This is the first time in a while that it feels (to me) that Urban Decay has stepped up their neutral game and focused on something "on trend." 

And had this palette come out last year or two years ago, it might have even been a favorite palette of mine. But here's the thing: it didn't. 

Let's look at the colors in the palette:

I've said it so many times before, but these are my favorite images of a palette when I really want to consider if I want to buy something or not. When I am able to look at colors as pigments, away from the packaging, I feel like I am able to more clearly see what I am really working with. 

And do you know what it feels like I am working with here? A whole lot of the same colors. 

This is something that will ultimately boil down to personal preference, but I am not a huge fan of having a palette full of colors with subtle differences. To me, that makes the palette not very versatile as most of my looks will come out looking the same. And I can absolutely see that happening with this color scheme. 

I see cream, tan, reddish copper, and maroon. Of course there are the subtle differences in color, and I'm sure I will see a review video soon that goes through all the shades and gives them unique-sounding but ultimately similar names, such as: cream, beige, warm peach, warm brown, grapefruit, burnt orange, copper, rust, sienna, maroon, deep eggplant, and bronzed copper. Sure, I can come up with a unique descriptor for each name too, but that doesn't mean that the colors will actually look unique on the eye. With this palette specifically, I can tell that most of the colors will look the same or very similar at least on my skin tone. 

I felt the same issue with the Moprhe 35O palette:

I personally bought the all-shimmer version of this palette (because I think Morphe mattes are not good and I think it is not hard to make a good shimmer or foiled shadow) and I ended up depotting it into a custom palette:

Since this photo was taken, I have decluttered/replaced the majority of these shadows that looked too similar. (Following the surgery I had last week, I am still unable to stand or easily move on my own, so I am not able to take of picture of what the palette currently looks like.) Only a few shades remain from the original Morphe 35OS palette, and I think my custom palette is now much more versatile since it does not have several repeated champagne, gold, and bronze shades. With that said, even looking at the state of this palette a few months ago, I can already see that Naked Heat would be redundant to my collection. 

Naked Heat also reminds me of Too Faced Sweet Peach:

Smashbox Ablaze:

And Viseart Warm Mattes:

I have already seen reviews of Naked Heat comparing the colors to shades in other palettes and saying that the shades are "different enough" to justify owning both. 

I find this to be a really problematic statement in a review, and here's why. I am an anti-haul / "makeup rehab" beauty blogger. And it is my objective to rein in my spending on makeup, be a much more critical and conscious shopper, and have a collection full of products that I love that are different and additive. If you are a person who wants to have five different variations of the same palette, guess what? That's totally fine. You are absolutely able to do that. I don't judge people who know what they like and are unapologetic about it. There are some people who collect every single palette that releases. It is something that so obviously brings them joy, and I think that's great. But most of us, I would say, are people who don't need or want so much, but get bogged down into thinking we need it all by all the hype. 

So, saying that the colors in the palette are "different enough" to justify owning multiple similar palettes, I think, is not okay because they are different enough to justify owning both for that particular person and their particular collection. When you broaden the scope to include the majority of people who don't want to own tons of makeup, I think it's helpful to acknowledge when something really can be redundant. 

Let's look at swatches of Naked Heat:

These photos were an exciting find for me because I have very rarely found swatches from more than one place that swatched the colors on multiple skin tones. I can't find the main source for either image, but it seems clear to me that the top photo is some sort of promotional photo, while the bottom photo looks supplied by an online beauty magazine. 

Very obviously the top swatches look incredible and the bottom swatches look lackluster. Also, what's interesting to note is that the colors look somewhat distinct in the top photo while they look really similar in the bottom photo. Finally, while the difference in color payout is drastically different on all skin tones between the two photos, I think the difference is most noticeable on the deeper skin tone. Looking at the lightest two colors, for example, they look distinct in the top photo and essentially the same in the bottom photo. 

I really love seeing swatch photos like the second image because I believe they are "fantasy" versus "reality." When I see the top photo, I get the hype and excitement, and my brain has a moment where it tries to justify adding these colors I know I don't need into my collection. And then I look at the bottom photo, get brought back to reality, and see that these are just normal warm shimmer and matte shadows that I've had in my collection for years. Obviously most brands don't want to showcase any mediocrity in their products, but when the difference in swatches is this stark, it really feel deceptive. 

In terms of my own collection, I have plenty of reddish orange, burgundy, and maroon shadows that make this palette essentially redundant to my collection. Added to that, of the Naked line, I have owned Naked, Naked 2, Naked 3, and Naked Basics. And guess what? I have decluttered every single one. Something I know about myself is that I don't really like the formula of Urban Decay shadows that come in palettes, especially the Naked line. I much prefer the single shadow formula as well as the more colorful palettes like the Electric Palette. 

Just because this palette is new and people are hyping it, it doesn't take away the fact that I don't like the Urban Decay palette formula. It doesn't take away the fact that I already own these colors. And it doesn't take away the fact that the shadows in this palette are not distinct enough from each other to warrant the $54 price tag. I'm sure this palette will get a ton of hype in the coming days, but I don't really care. People won't be talking about it in a few weeks to a month, just like they're no longer talking about the Morphe 35O, Too Faced Sweet Peach, or Smashbox Ablaze palettes. I'll let the hype train pass right on by with this one. I don't need it, and I won't be buying. 

Saturday, June 3, 2017

What I'm Not Buying: Pretty Vulgar Nightingale Eyeshadow Palette

There's a new brand in town, and they are relying heavily on packaging and sponsored content. They are Pretty Vulgar, and thus far, they have released three eyeshadow palettes. The one above is Nightingale. 

And I won't be buying. 

Surprisingly, of all the Pretty Vulgar palettes, this was the one that gave me pause. That surprised me since this is a cool-toned palette, but I guess that shows how tired I'm getting of the constant warm palette releases. I am also a person who tries hard to not have too much overlap within my collection, and since I largely gravitate toward warm looks, a cooler palette will tend to send off "unique" vibes to me, even if, in the case of Nightingale, the palette is not actually all that unique. 

Some of the colors looked really pretty, and the swatches (provided by the brand) seemed promising:

When I look at these swatches, I know that the colors aren't actually that nice. This is a well known truth about swatches provided by brands, and almost every brand is guilty of providing amazing, saturated swatches for colors that aren't nearly as great in real life. For me, this is in line with brands (mainly from the drugstore) that have a commercial for mascara and the model is wearing fake lashes. It's a marketing tactic, and it feels deceptive to me. However, Pretty Vulgar is not the only brand (by a long shot) to do this. 

And when I really look at these colors, I realize that what I really want is a palette full of gorgeous taupe shadows. I want shimmer taupes, I want matte taupes, I want blue taupes and purple taupes and gray taupes. And this palette just isn't that. And that's okay. This palette doesn't need to be that. But it is important for me as a potential consumer to evaluate what I was drawn to about this palette and why. And what I realized is that was I was drawn to isn't what the palette actually is. 

When I actually break down Nightingale, it has:
  • Three white/cream shades in a variety of finishes, including glitter, and I'm not interested in any of those.
  • Three dark shades: brown, charcoal, and black, and I'm not interested in any of those colors either.

Already, that's half the palette that I am not interested in because I already own it elsewhere or it is just not something I prefer. 

It also has:
  • A light matte brown and darker matte brown (but lighter than the deep brown), and while I think both these colors are pretty, I have them elsewhere in my collection. 
  • Blueish silver and blueish gunmetal shimmers that I would probably wear once, but not much more after that because I don't really like those colors on me. 

That leaves the light taupey gold, which I do think is a stunning shade, and the silvery bronze. That's it. That's all I really want out of this palette. 

Now, I am not writing this expecting that every person reading also only wants this palette for two shadows. I am showing you my thought process to maybe encourage you to do the same when looking at this or other products. When you really evaluate what you like about a palette, you can see a bit more clearly if it would be a good buy or not. 

For me, Nightingale would be a terrible buy, and I know it would end up being a product I regretted purchasing and would eventually be decluttered from my collection. 

In terms of color schemes, this really just looks like the Urban Decay Naked Smoky palette:

And the Naked 2:

I owned the Naked 2 years ago and decluttered it (also years ago) and was never interested in the Naked Smoky. Going off of that reasoning, it doesn't make sense for me to buy Nightingale and expect it to be a palette I enjoy using. 

But when I really thought about what I wanted in this palette, which was taupes, I started thinking about all the taupe possibilities that I have either owned previously or currently own. Those include:

MAC Satin Taupe:

Tom Ford Nude Dip:

La Metier de Beauté Corinthian:

NARS Kalahari:

And in terms of the silvery bronze, I already have an all-time favorite shadow that fits that description, and is much prettier—Dior Cosmopolite:

And when I saw this—that I already own all the colors that made this palette appealing to me—I no longer wanted it. If anything, I don't know if I have an exact duplicate shade of the light taupey gold shadow, called Clutch, but I know that I definitely do not want to buy an entire palette for one shadow. 

Something else I would like to mention is that reviews for all of these palettes have not been great. They have not been scathing, but it seems these palettes are just "passible" for most people instead of something that gets them really excited. Looking at live swatches on videos and blog swatches left me feeling quite underwhelmed. And I am not a person who believes you need to have overwhelming pigment for a product to work, but I do think there were some serious texture problems across the board with these palettes. 

I do think the brand is relying hard on packaging and sponsorships and less on the actual quality of their product, which is disappointing, especially from a new brand. Personally, I don't get the packaging thing, but it's something I've seen a lot of other people mention as to why they bought one of these palettes. The bird cage doesn't really do it for me; one, because I don't like that the shadows aren't uniform, and two, because I don't really like what a bird cage represents. The aesthetic also really reminds me of Sweeney Todd, but that might be because a bird cage plays into one of the characters. I certainly don't mean to offend if someone is completely over the moon with this kind of packaging, but if the brand was planning to skate by on packaging alone, I think they will need to step it up quite a bit. Regardless of the design, this is just a cardboard package with a magnet.

With mediocre quality, too many colors I already own, and other colors I wouldn't use all that much, Nightingale, while a pretty concept that did give me pause, ended up being an easy pass for me. And I won't be buying. 

On a separate note, this is my first post after having the first of two surgeries. It was not a small surgery, and recovery is going about as well as can be expected. I just wanted to thank all of you who took the time to reach out to me and wish me well. I cannot tell you how much it was and continues to be appreciated.