Monday, February 11, 2019

Is Natasha Denona Worth the Money?

If you're been a longtime reader of this blog, you'll know the depths of which I have criticized the Natasha Denona brand. My biggest gripes have been:
  • The cost
  • The non-luxury packaging
  • The fact that the "Natasha Denona" name isn't "worth" the price
  • The low-quality mattes

My opinion of Natasha Denona products was based on my experience with two of her original 5-pan palettes. They came in bulky, cheap white packaging; the mattes were scratchy and dry; and the shimmers weren't so special that they made up for everything else. 

The price was out of control. The price was especially ridiculous when you factored in how cheap the packaging was and how the name "Natasha Denona" was not an established brand that could up-charge because of the reputation (like Tom Ford, Chanel, Pat McGrath, etc.). 

Every time a new palette would release, I would counter the influencer gushing with all the reasons these products weren't worth my money. I wanted to put out an opinion that differed from the hype train. Because $130 for an eyeshadow palette is a significant amount of money. And I hated that so many influencers would very much overlook that very important consideration. 

But, with every post, I would get comments and messages saying that I really should give the brand another chance. That I shouldn't base my opinions off of the 5-pan palettes because those are hit and miss. That the brand had reformulated the mattes. That the 15-pan palettes were the crown jewels. 

I'll be honest—I didn't believe it. I really didn't think these palettes could be worth their price tag. And I wasn't going to spend $130 of my money to try to figure that out. 

But for Christmas, I received some Sephora gift cards. And with them, I decided to buy the Gold palette:

I wrote an anti-haul post for this palette and "duped" it as best as I could with colors in my collection. I had no desire to use the duped palette. It didn't inspire me. That was all I needed to know about buying Gold. But with a gift card—and not my own money—I decided to buy it. I wanted to try a Natasha Denona palette, and I figured I would select the color scheme that would be the most low-risk, since gold is my favorite eyeshadow color. 

I'll get into my thoughts on the palette later in the post, but suffice to say I was impressed enough that I wanted to see how Gold compared to some other Natasha Denona palettes. Still refusing to spend my own money on these palettes, I cashed in a considerable amount of my Sephora points (that had been saved for nine years) and got Lila and Sunset:

(NOTE: Some of the shadows in Sunset seem to be leaking oil, which you can see in this photo.)

I have used these three palettes almost exclusively for about seven weeks now, so I believe I have a pretty firm grasp on how I feel about them. 

Here are some of the looks I've done with Gold.

Gold Look 1:

Gold Look 2:

Gold Look 3:

Gold Look 4:

Gold Look 5:

Here are looks I've done with Lila.

Lila Look 1:

Lila Look 2:

Lila Look 3:

Lila Look 4:

Lila Look 5:

Lila Look 6:

Lila Look 7:

Lila Look 8:

And here are some looks I've done with Sunset.

Sunset Look 1:

Sunset Look 2:

Sunset Look 3:

Sunset Look 4:

Sunset Look 5:

Sunset Look 6:

Sunset Look 7:

In terms of my thoughts, I'll cut to the chase:

Do I love these palettes and think they are incredibly special? Yes

Do I think these palettes are "worth the money?" No

Let me expand upon these thoughts. I love these palettes. The mattes blew me away because they are nothing like the ones in the 5-pan palettes that I hated so much. These mattes are beautiful to work with with the tools that I have.* 

*Side note: This is something that I wish more people, myself included, would discuss when giving a product review. The tools that you use will absolutely affect the performance of a product and therefore your review. For example, I mostly hate synthetic brushes, especially for eye makeup. However, I have to use a synthetic brush to apply loose pigments or shadows like Colourpop Glass Bull. But, largely, I use natural-hair brushes, and my most used ones come from MAC (before they transitioned to synthetic), Smith Cosmetics, and Hakuhodo.

I didn't have to work much for the mattes to blend out, which was lovely. The shimmers were complex and interesting, and I was really thrilled with how I never bored of any of these palettes. I still reach for these over all of my other shadows, and I've been able to declutter several palettes from my collection since getting these. 

In terms of "ranking" the palettes, my favorite ended up being Gold, and the one that surprised me the most was Lila. I didn't really care for Lila all that much when I first got it (and I probably would have given it a mediocre review), but because I kept using it, I realized how versatile it really is. It has two shadows that I think are utterly special—Dragon Bite and Cyclone—and even though I have used all the shadows, I still feel there is more to discover. Sunset is my "least favorite" of the group, but that is only because I have owned Colourpop Yes, Please! for a while and have long loved that palette. 

(For those wondering on how Sunset compares to Yes, Please!, I do think that Sunset is prettier in that the shadows have more shine and are a bit more sophisticated. With that said, Yes, Please! wins my recommendation because it's a stunning palette at a fraction of the cost of Sunset.)

For all intents and purposes, I am eating crow and acknowledging that these palettes that I have harshly criticized as being overhyped have become favorite products in my sizable collection. I love them, and I am using them more than any other palette that I own. 


These palettes are still not "worth the money" for me personally. And I say that mostly because I did not spend much of my own money on them. Between all the gift cards, I spent roughly $30 on each of these palettes. And for $30, I am beyond thrilled with them. But when I think about the $300 I didn't spend, it's a little hard to wrap my head around. 

I look at these three palettes, and, with tax, they are more than $400. When I think about that, I feel a little sick, to be honest. That's one or two car payments for some people. That's rent or half of rent for others. That's considerable money to be spending on something as frivolous as makeup. And I say that as someone who deeply loves makeup. 

On the other hand, if I was someone who did not have any makeup and only wanted one dynamite palette that I would use every day, I think I would say that one of these palettes could be worth the money if it made sense within a given budget.  

Within my budget, collection size, and lifestyle, a purchase like this doesn't make sense. The shadows are gorgeous, and I have loved every single look I have created out of these palettes. But, I think they cost too much. Despite the fact that I—frankly—adore these palettes and do feel they are special within their textures and application, I don't think they are so much better than other products to justify the cost. And because the palettes lack the Pat McGrath lux packaging (and name), it's staggering to think you're paying $130 for a single makeup product. 

So, in the end, I'm eating crow to say that, yes, these palettes are beautiful and I do love them. But, no, I still don't think they are worth the money. I am curious to see if my feelings change if the brand releases another palette that might feel special to me, but until then, I think these gorgeous products still have too high of a price tag. 


  1. My very dear Miss Ellie Jane...Welcome to the dark side [cue macabre music here]. I sooo love Dragon Bite, your looks were gorgeous, so happy that you appreciate these, some of my most beloved palettes! btw, the Sunset should *not* be leaking oil, have them swap it out immediately. I have the original version & it still performs beautifully, I think she tinkered with it. Btw the holiday Cranberry is also oily, I returned it for that reason. 1 thing about Natasha, she tends to screw with a winning formula. The Tropic sucked imo, I don't return makeup but I returned that even at half price. Her minis are a travesty, etc. I know it's good to experiment and grow but girl, don't mess with your fanbase! Longwinded, but thrilled that you own and love these!

  2. I really enjoy your blog and I think that your eye looks with this palette are beautiful, even if (maybe it's the lighting?) they look just as beautiful as your other looks. (I love using your looks as inspiration!) I wanted to comment because the point about using brushes is such an important one, because so many of the layered looks I've seen people do are so much easier to do with soft brushes, and that makes a big difference.

    1. Ironically, I thought some of the looks Ellie did with the Lila palette looked better in an older post (I think from last summer?), for example the purple lid one with her own Modern Renaissance duped/reimagined palette. But that's just my opinion.
      Anyway, I'm glad to read that the hype had some truth to it.

  3. Really appreciate this perspective. Something can definitely still be great but not worth the exorbitant price tag. I feel this is true for many "luxury" products. Basic economics says low supply and high demand equals higher price. But we are living in a world where the supply of Everything is frankly, quite high. This is expecially true for makeup right now. This is jot so much a problem in the makeup industry, but when I hear about luxury brands actually BURNING goods so they don't have to sell at a lower price, I feel there is something really wrong with our world and with the luxury goods market. So much today is jot that rare or special, and even if it is great quality, the supply is such and the margins are such that even for a quality product $130 can still be too high. Especially when one considers how mamy people live below the poverty line. I don't need to pay for luxury. I do believe there's something to the adage that you get what you pay for, but in a world of high supply what I pay just shouldn't have to be that much. That's honest economics for you.

  4. Thank you for saying that about the ND Cranberry palette! It is so beautiful however when I received mine one of the mattes seemed “wet”. I completely depotted it and hit it with some rubbing alcohol and now it’s fine. But I shouldn’t have to do that for $48 for 5 shadows! It’s so beautiful that I had to make it work for me.

  5. Thank you for your common sense review!