Makeup artist/YouTube beauty personality Kandee Johnson has teamed up with Too Faced for the I Want Kandee Collection, which consists of an eyeshadow palette, face powder, liquid eyeliner, highlighting stick, and liquid lipsticks.
And I won't be buying.
Sigh. I'm really disappointed in this collection. But we'll get to that.
Kandee was one of the first people I ever watched on YouTube, more than seven years ago. These were the days when people didn't have professional lighting or HD cameras, before sponsorships, affiliate links, and product shilling. And I loved Kandee. I was living abroad at the time (which is actually how I came to find the YT beauty community—since I didn't really have access to television), and I would sit at my desk with a cup of tea and cookies and be completely enthralled with whatever Kandee would do.
My favorite videos she did—without question—were her Halloween tutorials. And I still very fondly remember some of my favorites.
Queen of Hearts:
Kandee without question is an incredibly talented makeup artist, and I would get lost watching her transform herself with makeup. Over the years, as YouTube changed and became much more of a production, lost most of its authenticity, and sponsored videos became overwhelming, I stopped watching Kandee. (I'm not trying to imply that Kandee was inauthentic; my preferences just changed as the platform changed.)
When I heard that she was going to be doing one of these big brand collaborations, I wondered why it had taken so long for her of all people to do one. Despite the fact that I haven't watched her videos in years, I still think she is so talented—moreso than a lot of these "influencers" who have had collaborations.
But when I heard it was with Too Faced, I was immediately disappointed. Because I knew exactly what it was going to be. And when I saw the products, I wasn't surprised at all.
These products range in price from $18 (eyeliner), $21 (liquid lipsticks), $30 (face powder and highlighter stick), and $45 (eyeshadow palette).
Let's look at the eyeshadow palette first, called I Want Kandee Eyes:
So, this is where my biggest disappoint comes from, other than the fact that Kandee teamed up with Too Faced, which has clearly been favoring quantity over quality and riding gimmicks, packaging, and collaborations, literally, to the bank.
This, to me, looks like a very uninspired palette. More than that, it looks like every other Too Faced palette that they keep recycling, switching around the shades, and slapping on new names.
This looks like the Nikkitutorials collaboration:
And the Vegas Nay collaboration:
The recent Natural Love palette:
The White Chocolate Chip:
Chocolate Bon Bons:
And the original, Natural Eyes:
This palette also looks like other popular collaborations, like the BH Cosmetics X Carli Babel palette:
And the Urban Decay X Gwen Stefani palette:
That is why I say that this palette feels uninspired—because it looks exactly like almost every Too Faced palette or a palette curated by a white woman.
And here's the other part of why this is such a disappointing release for me: This palette feels transparently like it was only made with light skin tones in mind. And as I just demonstrated, there is no shortage of those kinds of palettes.
And I find this to be unacceptable. I have read that this collection was curated by Kandee to be her ideal products, and while I can see an appeal in someone doing that, it can be incredibly alienating. The fact that the I Want Kandee Eyes palette has three huge pans of white shadow further perpetuates this. Could one of those pans not have been a highlight shade for deeper skin tones?
Now, Too Faced has very recently teamed up with YouTube personality Jackie Aina to expand their Born This Way foundation range to include offerings for deeper skin tones, and I think that is a very smart move on Too Faced's part. But releasing an eyeshadow palette like this undercuts the attempt at inclusivity, in my opinion.
The majority of big collaborations have been with white women or women with light skin tones, and I think part of that has to do with perceptions of what will sell. I have brought up this palette before, but KathleenLights teamed up with Makeup Geek on a highlighter palette:
And many people in the beauty community consider this palette a "flop" because it did not sell out and have a huge demand. And I just very recently read a criticism of this palette to say that it was a "mistake" to include the shades that she did because they were "too dark." This same person said that the palette should have had colors "that would suit most skin tones" and that it would have sold better. And, frankly, I think that is completely ignorant. I find there have been so few attempts at creating a palette that is entirely inclusive outside of black-owned makeup brands, and it is so ignorant to say "Why wasn't this made for me?" when nearly everything else is.
As far as I can tell, the face powder is not meant to be translucent, which means it will likely work best for lighter skin tones, and the highlighter stick seemed geared toward light skin tones as well. The only products that seem to be inclusive are the liquid eyeliner and liquid lipsticks, which people can find duplicates of literally anywhere.
Finally, I would like to talk about quality. Now, we all know that Too Faced has been on the decline for over a year now. They are so transparently greedy and seem to only care about getting money and not at all about the product they're charging upwards of $50 for that people are meant to keep around for a while. And that's because Too Faced makeup is disposable. That's the way the brand treats it. They throw out limited edition items every couple months that are uninspired and keep the cycle going. If you've ever watched a "pan that palette" video on YouTube, where people try to use up an entire eyeshadow palette, you'll see that it takes about a year of daily use on a single palette to use up the entire thing. So, theoretically, when we buy a palette, it is supposed to last us one year if we use it daily and is our only palette. But at the rate Too Faced churns out palettes, those aren't meant to be cherished and enjoyed. They are meant to hold you over until they release something else a few weeks later.
And when I look at brands like Colourpop that advertise themselves as selling disposable, trendy makeup, and when they can do that at a much cheaper price and higher quality than Too Faced, it really makes Too Faced look like they are only interested in collecting money.
The quality of the I Want Kandee Eyes palette doesn't look that great to me. The shadows look chunky and like they would be challenging to apply to blend. And for $45, that is unacceptable. That is not a price for half-assed quality. But with most of their collaborations, Too Faced is banking on the love people have for Kandee and this odd feeling people have they they need to "support" these people who create content they enjoy.
But you don't need to spend upwards of $50 on a crappy palette full of boring shades you already have to show that you like someone. They will never know that you personally bought that item, and they are not hurting for funds. I think that's one of the biggest manipulations of collaborations, because brands know that people will shell out money for mediocre product because of their fandom. And they absolutely want to take advantage of that.
Seven years ago, when I was watching Kandee with my tea and cookies, if you would have asked me to imagine a palette designed by Kandee, I would have thought it would be full of interesting colors. Seven years later, without having watched Kandee for a few years, I would have thought the same thing, especially since people are being more vocal about inclusion. So, this palette was just very disappointing for me. I don't need a face power or eyeliner or highlighter or liquid lipstick because it has Kandee's name on it—I have plenty of great options already in my collection. This collection just doesn't do it for me on every level, so I won't be buying.