Natasha Denona Love Palette Review

This is the second of only three items I purchased in the last Sephora VIB sale, the Natasha Denona Glam Face Palette being the first. I always thought the Love Palette was beautiful because reddish purple is my favorite color. This color story is a pink, red, and purple lover’s dream! However, the colors that are most pleasing to my eye are not the colors I actually wear the most on my eyes. I talked myself out of getting it for a long time, but at the reduced price of $27, I could not hold back any longer.

I knew Commitment was a cream to powder formula, but I was pleasantly surprised to see Dream was as well! Dream is one of the less common purples in my collection, so I am extremely happy to have it, although it’s a bit sheer and takes a bit of time to get it to look opaque on the eyes. Both are smooth, blend beautifully, and work perfectly well with the traditional matte and shimmer eyeshadows in the palette. I’m being a little picky, but these cream to powders are both purple. I wish Natasha added one more shadow in that formula in a red or pink shade. Then I would be especially excited because I enjoy this formula on its own and also as a base.

I very much enjoy the shimmers. Lifetime and Transparent look quite similar, although Lifetime in my palette looks much lighter than I’ve seen in some other people’s palettes. After being restocked several times, this limited edition product is finally being discontinued, so perhaps mine looks different because it’s newer and the shade from my batch was tweaked? That’s my best guess anyway. Lifetime feels like a traditional shimmer, whereas Transparent has a little more slip to it. This causes it to go on smoother, but lately I’ve found that more slip doesn’t mean better performing for my lined/creased/semi-oily lids. So between the two, I prefer Lifetime and in terms of shade, I’d have been over the moon about Transparent if it had a little more peach or pink to it, like a strong gold-pink duochrome.

Passion and Blind are nice and opaque. Pure Love is a gorgeous pink-purple duochrome. Giving is another pretty peachy-pink duochrome shade, but it doesn’t make much impact unless I apply it with a damp brush.

The mattes are fantastic and pigmented, but Heart, Heartbeat, and Soul end up looking very similar on the eyes. They are a lot darker than I expected and are better suited on me as deepening up shades. I can’t believe I’m saying this because I’m almost always wishing for more dark shades in palettes, but I really wanted Soul and Heartbeat to be more mid-toned so I could use them as crease shades without making the overall eye looks end up being so dark, and so red. I hoped for a more Terracotta tone to Heartbeat and a bit more pink/coral in a medium tone for Soul.

Even the shade Intense is slightly darker than I expected, but it’s my favorite matte shade in the palette! And because this palette doesn’t have a lot of light options, I can actually appreciate the addition of First and Valentine. First took me by surprise when I discovered it was so pigmented, it could even cover up the darker shades, but it doesn’t stick very well on top of other shadows, so it has a tendency to blend away unless I start with that shade initially. I almost made a joke about having to use First first. Hehe.
Valentine is a little more sheer than the rest of the mattes. It would be perfect for me if it was a little less cool-toned, but that’s me being picky again.

Even though I’m not sure how much use I will get out of the Love Palette, I always have the option to mix and match this with my Metropolis and Bronze palettes that share the same pan size. A few shades in here don’t perform as well, but those who like Natasha Denona’s eyeshadow formula will most likely enjoy this palette like I did.

That’s all for today! Thank you for reading!


Sydney Grace x Temptalia Collection

Today I’ll be reviewing the full trio of Deep palettes in the collection, as well as the single eyeshadow called Dear Reader. I will also swatch the best comparisons I have between the shades Temptalia chose to the other 103 Sydney Grace shadows I own, previously swatched here.
I purchased this collection on launch day, so this is definitely not a first impression review.

Each palette consists of multiple types of finishes and textures: mattes, metallics, shimmers, duochromes, creamy shades, stiffer packed colors, grittier shadows, etc. Regardless of these differences, they are all highly pigmented shadows. Sydney Grace products always give great color payoff, but I find that these are even more intensely pigmented. Good eyeshadows will have staying power on the lid, but these looked practically the same from the start of the day to the end of the day. There’s no fading or dulling down of the shine.

There is a bit of a tradeoff though regarding the boost in pigment. The mattes give me saturated color right away, but it can look patchy initially if I don’t give a little extra blending time. It isn’t significantly more time, but it was enough to make me notice, particularly with the deeper shades like Interstellar, Sublime Reverie, Midnight Courage, and Umbra. Those blue-green mattes especially give me more kickup in the pan despite my efforts to be gentle and pick up a small amount at a time. With the shimmers, one may want to do the eyes first before the face because I get fallout during the application process, though there isn’t too much extra fallout throughout the day (at least not unless I happen to rub my eyes more than usual).

Quintessence Palette

Quintessence has my favorite color story of the three and it’s the one I knew I absolutely had to get. Ironically, I had the most difficult time creating looks I liked that weren’t monochromatic, so I sought inspiration from Temptalia’s website. For swatches, eye looks, details of the shades, etc. there is no better resource than Christine herself, so I will link the blog here and recommend giving it a look if you need additional help and information.

The last two looks were the ones I attempted to recreate (but tweak the tiniest bit) from Temptalia.

A color guide to the swatches is that yellow font = Temptalia collection, orange = the Chase Your Dreams palette, blue = individually sold eyeshadow, and green = the Tiny Marvels palette.

This palette had a few similarities (pictured above), but Temptalia mentioned that the shade called The Greatest Gift is the one she specifically wanted to keep as is, but make it more intense and shimmery.

I initially wrote off the comparison of The Greatest Gift and The Mielke Way when I was seeking dupes because the silvery shimmer in The Mielke Way gives it a completely different look. I’m not the biggest fan of icy shades, so I prefer having just the gold shimmer with the raspberry base over the added metallic sparkle. This highlights an important aspect though, which is that there are other shades from Sydney Grace’s line that I decided not to post as similarities because the intensity of the shimmer in the Temptalia collection gave it a different effect. Or if the shadows shared the same base color, the shimmer additions were different enough justify having both in my collection. I also estimate I probably have less than half of the Sydney Grace singles (at least before many were discontinued) so there may be other shades that are close. However, I don’t think many have the exact undertone or as much sparkle. I believe Temptalia owns the full collection of Sydney Grace eyeshadows, so she probably made sure that hers were different enough as well.

On the Horizon Palette

The outer packaging for this palette was too beautiful to skip. I knew instantly (and I did end up doing it) that I was going to transfer all of the Quintessence shades into this packaging so I’d have my favorite color story in my favorite palette artwork. Between the three palettes, the On The Horizon color story was the one I didn’t like and felt like I could skip. So, imagine my surprise when I ended up loving every look I’ve created with this! It opened my eyes to new color combo possibilities.

These colors are a little more subdued, but Temptalia described the intention for these to be almost like neutrals with a twist. And because I mentioned these are not the kind of shades I typically go for, it makes sense that I was unable to find similarities in my collection. I did compare it to the Dear Reader shade that was part of the collection but sold as a single because her followers seemed to love it in the sneak peek of it, but Lunar Illumination was already chosen in its place as a better compliment to the other shades in the palette.

I actually put Dear Reader with the OTH shades and moved Lunar Illumination into my custom palette with the rest of my Sydney Grace collection. I prefer it too!

Radiant Reflection Palette

Radiant Reflection reminds me so much of the Coloured Raine Cheers to the Beauty Palette because both of them possessed shades I tend to like, but the tones weren’t as appealing as I imagined once I saw them in person. I love greens, but not quite like those in Radiant Reflection. I like golds and blue-purples, but not quite like the ones in this either. Then the other shades in the palette were similar to others shadows I already have many times over in my eyeshadow collection, and not just among Sydney Grace shades. So, I ended up selling this palette. I knew I wouldn’t reach for it again because that’s exactly what happened to my Cheers to the Beauty palette which I depotted and sold most of the shades from it. I don’t regret buying Radiant Reflection because I needed to be certain I didn’t want it, as odd as that sounds. The Our Starry Night shade was so unique, Dearest Constant deep version is my type of orange eyeshadow, and Forget-Her-Not had me curious to see it in person. Once that happened, I could put the curiosity to rest.

Final Thoughts

I do feel like this trio of palettes all have similar sort of shades, but I still couldn’t talk myself into getting Quintessence only. I fell into the trap of wanting to possess all my favorite shades from the Temptalia collection and envisioning how I could mix and match the palettes with my other Sydney Grace singles. Funny enough, I only swapped three shades: Mango Tea for Sirius Starlight (placeholder and not a solidified decision), Dear Reader for Lunar Illumination, and Adore Me for Infinite Echoes (Deep). That last swap actually makes the palette more similar to the light version of On the Horizon!

Speaking of the light version, I find it amusing that my gripe with most eyeshadow palettes is when they have a disproportionate amount of light shades and mid-tone neutrals. When I used these palettes exclusively, which is how I prefer to do the testing process, I found myself actually wishing for a light matte to blend out edges and a medium brown. Temptalia intentionally left out brow bone and transition shades because it’s unlikely that anyone purchasing her palettes would not already have plenty of those types of shadows in their collection. So, in a normal situation this wouldn’t really be a problem except for those who like to have every palette being a complete palette.

As much as I think I don’t want palettes that are very similar in color story, I found myself not wanting to make any major changes to them, or even wanting to switch these around. I’m very satisfied with Quintessence and On The Horizon. The minor inconveniences for using the palettes, such as fallout and spending a little more time on my eye makeup, are fine with me because I know I will be able to make very impactful looks with phenomenal longevity. $40 per palette is a fair price, but the fact that I was able to use a promo code on top of the bundle discount made this all very reasonably priced. These palettes were even eligible for Sydney Grace’s sale/discount offerings during their annual Christmas in July sale. While I don’t recommend getting all of them purely for the sake of having a complete collection, I think they’re great quality and do recommend picking the one(s) that really speak to you.

Thank you for reading! I hope it has been helpful!


*Disclaimer: When it comes to collabs or creations from influencers or other public figures, I always disclose any affiliations I may or may not have with them. In this situation, I have no personal or public ties to Temptalia, but I am a frequent peruser of her blog. I consider her an invaluable resource within the beauty community as her dupes and comparisons feature on her blog has impacted a lot of my purchasing decisions as well as her reviews, which mostly tend to align with my own opinions. I respect her as a blogger, but I don’t know much about her specifically.

Blushes So Good I Needed Another…part 2

This is an update to my post from September 2020 where I’ll be showing my newest shades of blushes I’ve already reviewed before and loved so much that I wasn’t content with having just one shade. I needed more!

KVD Everlasting Blush in Peony and Foxglove

I already talked about how much I liked the shades Poppy and Snapdragon in Part 1 to this post, so I surprised myself that I actually bought two more. I always suspected Foxglove could work for me and Peony looked borderline like I might be able to pull it off during winter or early spring when I’m usually at my lightest. I was shocked that they ended up looking as nice as they do! Those two shades were clearly not intended for someone with dark skin but they have enough pigmentation to make it show and not look ashy!

Peony is cool toned, but this kind of pink still somehow looks nice on me. After about 3-4 layers, it doesn’t show any stronger on my skin tone, but I like how it looks with even just 2-3 layers. Foxglove doesn’t show as strongly in the photo above, but that’s because it’s a more toned down dusty rose type of pink and I prefer not to build it up beyond two layers. While I would say I consider a very pigmented blush to show on me in 1-2 layers, the fact that these are so pale in the pans and swatches, but still show this much on me speaks volumes.

Of the four blushes, I think Foxglove is my new favorite.

Pat Mcgrath Labs Skin Fetish: Divine Powder Blush in Electric Bloom

I purchased this perhaps a month after the initial blush launch. I wanted so many shades from the collection that I told myself I was only allowed to have one more, so I went ahead and made it this vibrant coral shade. It’s the kind of color that is debatable whether I can pull it off or not, but always calls to me. If I had just waited a little longer, I would have seen that it was listed as a dupe for Colourpop’s Aloha Honey blush shade on Temptalia’s blog and therefore I didn’t need the almost identical blush color. To be fair, I haven’t used the Colourpop blush enough to say how it compares in terms of quality because I always reach for Electric Bloom over Aloha Honey.

Paradise Venus is still my favorite shade of the three I have from Pat Mcgrath.

LYS Beauty High Standard Clean Cream Blush in Inspire

I hope anyone who reads my blog regularly isn’t tired of me going on about how much I love this cream blush formula, but I feel it deserves to be gushed over. I always had plans to eventually get this beautiful coral-orange shade, but I wanted to wait until I made more progress in my overall cream blush collection. However, I had some store credit built up via the Ambassador program with the brand, so I decided to go ahead and cross that off my wish list! Half of this blush was paid for via credit and the other half was paid for out of my own pocket. For full details about my affiliation with LYS, please see my About Me page and scroll to the near bottom.

Inspire performs just as well as the others. I cannot decide which of the three is my favorite because I keep changing my mind every time I use a different shade!

Wayne Goss The Weightless Veil Blush Palette in Bright Poppy (Sunny and Golden Glow)

Unlike the other blushes I’ve listed, which are among my top favorites, I decided to try Bright Poppy because the colors are better suited for me than Vivid Azalea and I wanted an answer as to whether the blush shade would be insanely pigmented in this duo too. Sunny is not quite at the unbelievable pigment level of Shocking, but if I tap once into the blush with my Smashbox Buildable Cheek Brush, it’s enough to thoroughly cover my cheek. An additional half layer is the maximum amount I would want to use. Otherwise, my option would be to tone it back down using a finishing powder on top.

Sunny is pretty on the cheeks. Golden Glow is a nice highlighter formula that is very complimentary to my skin tone. I prefer to apply my blush and highlighter separately, but Wayne suggests that anyone who likes shimmery blush formulas could apply the highlighter to the entire cheek and then blend the blush on top of it. This technique worked for me with Vivid Azalea because the combination of the two shades turned the blush into a lighter color. I tried this with Bright Poppy and did not like it at all because the shimmer color and blush color don’t match. This means the particles in the highlighter stand out a lot more and I don’t like how contrasting it is. Whether I applied the highlighter to the bottom or the highlighter on top, the end result was the same.

Colourpop Super Shock Cheek in Matte, Satin, and Pearlized finishes.

Colourpop’s Super Shock Cheek line includes both blushes and highlighters, so I decided as a bonus to review all the ones I own here since I’m a huge fan of them. They have the benefit of looking and applying to the skin like creams, but without feeling heavy, sticky, or greasy on the skin like some cream blushes on the market can do.

In the Matte finish we have Over Dramatic, a “mid-tone pinky nude,” and Swift, a “rich deep warm brown” shade. Both are very close in color and practically look the same on my cheeks. Calling Swift a deep and rich shade is quite the exaggeration on Colourpop’s part. I have to build them up a lot in order for them to show in photos, but I bought these specific colors so I could have some brown leaning blushes, which aren’t as prevalent in my collection. Swift is from the Make It Black Collection when the brand partnered with Pull Up For Change. It’s a bit stiffer in consistency than Over Dramatic and because Swift is more of an orange-brown than pink-brown, it blends in with my skin a lot more. It’s on the borderline of blending in too much, considering it’s such a nude shade for me already. For that reason, I do prefer Over Dramatic because of my personal preferences.

I just have one Satin finish Super Shock Cheek and it’s in the shade Georgette which is described as a “bright apricot with a warm sheen.”

Georgette has the right amount of brightness that isn’t obnoxious. Also, I’ve always struggled to find orange tones of blush that look flattering on my skin tone. I tend to like the ones that lean more red or pink. This apricot shade is more on the yellow side, but I like it. So now, I think it’s just true oranges at the 50/50 split between yellow and red that I don’t enjoy as much. My quest to figure it out continues!

I have five shades in the Pearlized finish, starting with the two that came in the 2020 Lunar New Year set called the Lucky You Super Shock Cheek Duo.

I kept these unused for so long because of the pretty pattern in the Super Shocks. When I finally used them, I was a little disappointed that Drop of a Hat was too sheer to work as a blush for me. It’s better if I consider it a pink highlighter or blush topper. Goody Two Shu is pretty but a little sparkly, so I decided it wasn’t worth continuing to ruin the embossing. I just keep these as collector items now.

Voile is another Super Shock I stopped using. I kept trying to use it because the shade reminded me of Benefit’s Kiss of Rose and Charlotte Tilbury’s Walk of No Shame, which are both shimmery blushes I find to be beautiful. However, the shimmer level of Voile in person and the way the “copper sheen” sparkles on my cheeks is too much for me. It’s far more sparkly in person than it appears in the photo. I’ve realized that I prefer Colourpop’s matte and satin finishes for the blush shades. The only pearlized blush I enjoy is Cheerio and that’s because it seems to be a pearl-satin hybrid! Cheerio is a repromoted shade, which I bought from the Wine & Only Collection. The back label on my blush has “Pearlized” printed on it, but on Colourpop’s website it’s listed as a satin and it doesn’t have as many sparkles as the others in that formula. Or, perhaps I can’t see them if most of the sparkles match the color of the blush. What I see are some silver flecks.

I have to use a very small amount of Cheerio because it’s a deep shade. It’s easy to overapply and my specific blush arrived partly shriveled (which I pressed back into the pan). So, it’s a little drier than it should be and not as easy to spread evenly on my cheeks, but I can still make it work. Colourpop did send me a replacement, but I realized I preferred the cream blush from Natasha Denona’s Bloom Cheek palette a lot more, and that color is similar to this one, so I gave the replacement to my sister.

Lastly, we have my absolute favorite Colourpop Super Shock Cheek. It’s a “peachy gold” shade that I use for highlighting called Parasol.

It looks extra sparkly in the photo above because I used it over the Georgette blush which also has a sheen, but this highlighter is very smooth and wet looking. It blends into my skin very well and is the kind of tone I like for highlighting. I’ve used it quite a bit, even though it doesn’t look like it in the photo from the top down angle, but it actually has a dip in the center.

This concludes the post! I tried to keep it short since all of these (minus Colourpop) have been reviewed on this blog before.

Are there any blushes you have been loving at the moment? The blush and highlighter categories are the reason I haven’t been able to post Best of 2020 and Best of 2021 posts. I was constantly trying new products, loving the majority of them, and not able to use what I consider my favorites consistently enough to rank some over others. This year, I’m committed to getting a lot more use out of my older products. There are still plenty I haven’t even reviewed yet! I hope you’ll return to see the progress on that! Thank you for reading!


BH Cosmetics Birthstone Palettes

Building off the hype of their large Zodiac Palettes, BH Cosmetics released website exclusive individual mini zodiac palettes during each month of the year. In 2021, they decided to do that again through birthstone palettes. One unfortunate thing to note is that each palette contains a pressed glitter, which I will not be swatching on my arm or wearing on my eyes.

Sometimes, US customers who purchased the palettes at launch were able to get free shipping as an incentive to pay full price rather than waiting for one of their frequent sales. Ordinarily, shipping is free with purchases at or above $40. For the low price of only $9 USD per palette, having six usable shades was still worth getting in my favorite color stories, plus my own birth month.

BH Cosmetics Emerald Palette

Emerald and Peridot are the two green-centric palettes out of twelve, but I chose this one because these particular tones are more my speed. The shades Emerald and Artsy AF look quite similar on my eyes, but the main differences are that Emerald is a satin-like shimmer that is a slightly brighter green in tone, while Artsy AF has a medium-dark green base with gold and silver shimmer. Restless didn’t swatch very well, but that shadow and Stubborn both blend easily and are opaque on the eyes. They both deepen up slightly, but Restless remains olive whereas Stubborn comes off a little more brown than the red-brown shade appears in the pan. I learned the hard way that Total Package was far too sparkly to look nice as a brow highlighting shade for my tastes, but it makes an excellent inner corner and pinpoint brightening shade. Lastly, Hard Working is a stunning warm brown shimmer shadow. Overall, the quality in this palette is great and I am so impressed by the cohesive color story. I don’t have to worry about clashing shades when I put any combination of them together.

This is a fantastic alternative to the Nars Climax Palette. Emerald has less shades and is warmer in tone whereas Climax is more neutral and a little more subdued. Another alternative is the Oden’s Eye Urd Palette which has shimmers that are even more intensely sparkly than Emerald, as well as a light green matte instead of a closely similar green shimmer. For this reason, I think Urd is an even better planned color story. The listed prices are quite different though at Emerald’s $9, Urd’s $20, and Climax’s $49. The two pricier palettes are a bit more refined in mill and texture, but I had no issues with Emerald whatsoever and it was a pleasure to use, so I’d even be willing to pay $15 for this one.

BH Cosmetics Sapphire Palette

It might have been silly of me to want more purples out of a Sapphire palette, but I saw images of this product online that led me to believe Sympathetic had more of a purple tone to it and that Sapphire was a true purple-blue duochrome rather than a blue satin-shimmer shadow with a blue and purple base. I also expected Confidence to lean a little more green than it does. I went from expecting to love this color selection the most to rating it my least favorite of the three I bought. In hindsight, I should have gone with the Amethyst palette.

These mattes are on the thin side and can look patchy in swatches, but they can be built up to full opacity. In a way, I’m glad to have this formula in these particular shades because sometimes brands going for more pigmented shadows overdo it on the ultramarines and oxides (pure pigments) which are much harder to blend if the ratio is off in the formula. Of the mattes, Organized AF didn’t apply as well on top of the others, so my eye looks weren’t as smoky as I wanted.

Cool is even prettier in person than my swatches and eye looks demonstrate. Although I’m not the biggest fan of silver eyeshadows, Sporty was necessary with this color story. I prefer it over other alternatives they could have chosen such as a baby blue shimmer. After adding some fantastic blues to my collection like the Kaleidos Club Nebula and Oden’s Eye Hummingbird Palettes, Sapphire falls short. It’s still not that bad for the price though, but knowing myself, I doubt I would reach for this again if I felt like doing a blue look.

BH Cosmetics Citrine Palette

I bought this palette purely because November is my birthday month. I’m rarely impressed by bright yellow mattes because they either blend into my skin or find some other way to disappear from my eyes, but I quite like this one! Because Unique is on the thinner side, it can look patchy though and even if I build up the shadow, it still isn’t perfect. Generous and Inquisitive are the tones and depths I was hoping to get out of Transition and Crease from the Natasha Denona Glam Face Palette in Dark. If Inquisitive was the tiniest bit darker, it would be perfect, but it still gives me a decent amount of depth to the outer corner. The two brown mattes are opaque and blend well without much effort.

Determined is a peachy gold that is a bit lighter than I like for a lid shade, but it doesn’t look too bad on the inner corner. Citrine is the shimmer-satin version of Unique. Both Citrine and Dynamic aren’t the prettiest or most exciting shadows, but all the shades (except perhaps Determined) look nice when paired together.

Overall, this palette ranks second of the three because it got me re-inspired to give yellow mattes a chance, as well as yellow eye looks altogether.

That’s all I can think to include in this post. The BH Cosmetics formula has proven yet again to be not just great for the price, but great quality overall.

That’s all for today! If you celebrate Christmas or other holidays during this time, I hope you had a great one! Thank you for reading! See you in the next year!


Makeup Geek Review

In under a month it will be two years since Marlena Stell rebranded Makeup Geek and two years since I started purchasing their products. I have some experience with the original shimmer eyeshadow formula, thanks to a sale they were having of their older products, but I cannot compare the original mattes to the ones now. For some reason, I use these shadows once and then go 3-4 months before I use them again. The cycle of use and disuse continued until September 2021 when I committed to thoroughly testing them once and for all.

About half of the square pan eyeshadows were purchased within a few months of the rebrand. The remainder were purchased during new launches like the Soft Focus Colors Collection and Fall Scenes Collection. The face products were purchased at different points in 2021, but I consider them fairly new, especially the bronzer since the shade I purchased was just released in September.

Makeup Geek Individual Shadows (old and new)

All swatches above Caitlyn Rose are from the older collection. The shades with an asterisk in front means it came from the All The Glitters Palette, which I depotted. The “Blue My Mind” color is stated as the name on the palette, but the actual name printed on the bottom of the pan (which I saw when depotting) is “Surf’s You Right.” I don’t know if this was a simple name change at the last minute or if it’s an example of quality control issues Makeup Geek may have had in the past.

I haven’t worn all the older shadows, but I’m very impressed with the ones from the All That Glitters Palette. The exceptions are Venom and Hype which are satin shades and they don’t feel as nice as they did when I first bought them, so I think it’s actually time to toss them. Same goes for Plot Twist and Caitlyn Rose which are beautiful but crumbly now.

I have to also mention the pigment in Blue My Mind is insane! The formula feels wet like a cream to powder shadow, but I have no idea if it’s supposed to be like that. It’s so opaque, sparkly, and intense, but the texture makes me a little concerned as to whether it’s time to throw that out as well. I purchased all the older circle pan shadows in March 2020, so it’s not unrealistic for them to be going bad by now.

I don’t have many of Makeup Geek’s current foils, but I actually prefer the sparkle and shine level of the original foils over the new ones. I even like the older formula better because I have creasing issues with Mystical and especially Medieval. Medieval isn’t as smooth as Mystical either. Illuminaughty, Grandstand, and Epic don’t crease as much. I really like those shades. The foils are described on the website as being a cream and powder hybrid. Perhaps the cream element is what gives it the tendency to crease. While I’ve always had some deep lines around my eyes which is natural to crease a little, Mystical and Medieval move so much to the point of leaving blank spots. It’s quite disappointing since they were the two shades in the rebrand I was most excited to buy. One issue all the new foils have though is that the shimmer dulls after a few hours. This isn’t completely unusual for me, but when they aren’t super sparkly to begin with, they basically look like satins by the end of the day.

Regarding the mattes, the only eye base I’ve tried that works well with them is the MAC Paint Pot. In the photo below, the top half shows where the mattes patch off the lid after being worn for less than an hour. The bottom half shows how the shadows looks after the same length of time when redone over MAC Paint Pot. It’s not perfect, but it’s much better. I don’t remember which shades I used here because the eye photos were taken at least six months ago.

Most of the mattes don’t have pigmentation issues. A few that I own are a thinner more powdery formula than others (like Chickadee and Peach For the Stars), which do fade me on quickly. Even those that fade will still leave a hint of color all day if I use the Paint Pot as a base. I learned though that the absolute best results are just like the face powders and look better if the eye has been set with a powder layer first. These are definitely not creamy mattes, so my eyes can look extra dry and ashy with some of these lighter shades. I think the dryness is what I initially couldn’t pinpoint as to why I was underwhelmed by MUG shadows.

These are some of the looks I’ve done prior to reviewing. I don’t remember which ones I used. I had a few additional shadows that didn’t make this review because I didn’t like them or they were too similar to other shades I purchased. I sold Daydreamer, Wine and Dine, Creme Brulee, Current Obsession, and Latte as Usual.

The best of the Makeup Geek mattes blend nicely and easily and show up opaque the way I like. The downside is that whatever shade it looks initially will turn into a darker variant of brown after a few hours. Had Me At Yellow turns into a mustard yellow-brown. Back To The Fuchsia turns purple-brown. Curfew turns dark brown almost black. I don’t mind these changes as much considering the brown-blends still look pretty and they mostly last all day.

Courageous, Unleashed, and Invincible are part of the Power Pigments formula which are supposed to be the most saturated and most pigmented mattes Makeup Geek have. They give more opaque results right away compared to the other mattes, they are more vibrantly colored, and they have a drier rougher texture. The last one is to be expected when using actual pigments over micas and dyes. The Power Pigments used to be more expensive than the regular mattes at $7.99, but were lowered to $5.50. I think this was a good decision because I don’t believe they are that much more special than the regular mattes considering most of them can be built up to the same level of opacity.

Contour in Scandal (discontinued)

Makeup Geek does not currently have contour products available for purchase, but I got it during a sale shortly after the rebrand. This is a great contour color for me, however, this product doesn’t blend very well. Wherever the powder first touches my skin is where it will stay. Every time I use it, I have to apply a finishing powder to blend out the edges or foundation to sharpen where it got too spread out from me trying to blend it. It still looks heavy even when applied with my softest most loosely packed brushes. This product was probably created at the height of contouring when it was popular to be ultra pigmented, sharp, and intense. If Makeup Geek brings the contours back, I hope there’s a formula change to produce a more natural or airbrushed look. I can make it work, but I likely won’t use it again. The sale price was under $2, so I can’t complain too much.

Bronzer in Chestnut

The color in the pan looks great for me. Unfortunately, this shade looks almost identical to the contour when I actually apply it to my skin. It has a golden sheen with fine gold specks throughout, which gives it the appearance of warmth, but the actual base color is deeper and neutral toned at best. When I apply this, most of the gold is brushed off the skin and what I’m left with creates a shadow and very little warmth. The swatch photo in the blush section shows how similar Chestnut and Scandal look when blended.

The bronzer blends easier than the contour, but the only way it looks nice is if I’ve set my face with a layer of powder first before I blend the bronzer on top. Powdering first gives a softer nicely blended look that I want. However, since 2020, I pretty much stopped using setting powders except under my eyes. If I use a powder at all, it’s a finishing powder which is the last step in my makeup routine. Because it’s not my usual style to set my foundation before I apply the rest of my face products, I don’t see myself reaching for this over the other bronzers I own. However, if I was willing to switch up my style, I know I could get a really beautiful end result. I did end up purchasing the shade Burnished during Black Friday, which is much more cool toned of a shade and just barely deep enough to show on my bare face. I have not yet had the chance to try Burnished over foundation.

Blush in Chivalry

Chivalry is a pretty terracotta brown shade. It performs better than the bronzer on unpowdered skin, but I’m still not completely impressed with the finished look unless it has that powder layer underneath it. Then it looks quite beautiful and almost airbrushed. This technique reduces the amount of pigment I get on the cheeks at once, but it also prevents me from getting darker patches where my brush first touches my skin. In the photo below, the left set of swatches were done with my finger and the right set were blended with a brush to demonstrate the blend without powder (though the sticking issue would have been more prominent if the swatches were applied on top of foundation).

Because powdering isn’t an absolute necessity with the blush and I can still get it to look nice if I take my time blending and use fluffy airy brushes, I could see myself continuing to use this beyond testing purposes. It has good staying power and can be applied lightly for a subtle flush (if powdered first), medium intensity on unset foundation, or built up to a fairly deep shade.

I purchased Covet during the Black Friday sale and I like it even more than Chivalry because medium pinks tend to be my favorite.

Also, unlike the bronzer and contour, the blush leaves a bit of kickup in the pan.

Highlighter in Midnight Sun (discontinued)

This highlighter color is discontinued, but I very happy I could get it because I think it’s a flattering shade on me. It’s quite funny that I like it so much considering this is listed as being best suited for fair skin tones. It does look pale in swatches, but as the cheek photo shows, a highlighter for someone lighter than me should look way more bright and stark. Then again, this isn’t a blinding type of formula. A shade actually geared toward my skin tone would probably not stand out on my cheekbone as much as this color does, which is just the right amount for my taste. Of all the face products, I like the highlighter formula the most.

Full Spectrum Eye Liner Pencil in Plumeria

This is another last minute Black Friday addition to this post. It did not arrive early enough before my trip for me to thoroughly test it. I watched how Marlena used this pencil and was drawn not only to the color, but the fact that it could be smudged out as a shadow color or base and is supposed to be almost water resistant. That element worked well on my arm. After giving it some time to dry, it couldn’t be moved by rubbing it with my finger. Even after wetting it, it didn’t smudge, smear, or run. However, for some reason this pencil did not last on my eyes for even an hour. I do have oily lids, so perhaps this is the reason. I tried it one time on bare eyelids with no primer or other eyeshadows. I put it all over the lid, blended out on my eye like a cream shadow. In an hour, about a third was gone. When I checked a few hours later, there wasn’t any of it left. Since it worked on my arm, I’m guessing this is a “me” problem and anyone who does not have oily eyelids will be able to use this pencil. In the future, after testing it thoroughly, I will update this post if I found a way to keep it on my eyes.

Customizable Compacts

I couldn’t end this review without discussing some of the things I noticed about the compacts offered by Makeup Geek. Whether you get the clear or gunmetal lid of the mini palettes, they both have a magnet of standard thickness and rounded edges. The square pan face powder singles fit perfectly inside them. On the other hand, the “Travel Vault Palette” with the gunmetal lid that anyone who makes a custom 9-pan palette will get, has the kind of magnet I get from the craft store in thin sheets with the peel off sticker on the back. As can be seen in the photo above, mine was not cut properly to the size of my palette. It arrived with the edges lifted up and when I press to stick them back down, they still don’t lay perfectly flat and are curved. When I watched reviews during the rebrand, I saw plenty of other people had warped magnetic bottoms like mine. The actual palette packaging is well constructed, sturdy, and beautiful. The mirror in the lid is a nice quality and a great size. However, I believe Makeup Geek cut corners (literally and figuratively) with the magnets. At one point I had four of these palettes and three out of four were not cut, laid, and stuck properly. When you have expensive eyeshadows, the last thing you want is to have to worry about the whole sheet lifting off and your shadows breaking. I have two of the travel palettes left and I took the better glued one on a trip with me and had no issues. However, I cannot say what would happen if someone keeps their shadows in there at all times.

The main reason I don’t keep my Makeup Geek pans in there is because of all the wasted space. I can understand the older circle pans not fitting better into the palettes considering their shape, but I expected the rebranded new shadows in their mostly square shape should be made to fit the palettes. They still only fit 9 shadows. I understand wanting enough space to be able to easily take the shadows in and out, but it doesn’t look good in my eyes. It looks like I took another brand’s shadows and tried to put them in Makeup Geek’s palette because they’re so ill-fitting. It bothers me when a pre-made palette is larger than it needs to be, but having dividers between the shades indicates it was intended to be that way. Custom palettes without those dividers look untidy on the part of the one who made the palette. Me.

In addition to the eyeshadows not fitting well, there is only room for one face product; if you put one face product, you can only add a maximum of 5 eyeshadows that are still widely spread out. One of the things I love about making custom palettes is having things line up and looking orderly. If it can’t be orderly, I enjoy at least filling up as much space as possible, so it’s a pet peeve of mine that they are this way. The only brand’s shadows that fit nicely in the Makeup Geek palettes are the mini circle shadow pans from Colourpop such as the pans from the Blue Moon, Lilac You A Lot, Star Wars The Mandalorian The Child palette, etc.

There is one other palette type for sale called the Mega Vault Palette. It’s the Matrix Shadow Palette that holds 28 shadows, and those at least fit nicely on all sides with a reasonable amount of extra space. When comparing the 9 pan palettes (whether old version or travel vault version) to the Mega Vault, it’s clear to see a palette of that size should have been made to hold 16, not 9. Marlena has expressed her struggles keeping her brand afloat, so I can see the desire to reuse packaging or try to drum up buzz by announcing a rebrand. I just wish the shadows-to-palette aspect was better planned out for the 9 pan palettes. Then again, perhaps this is why the custom palettes are so deeply discounted.
In case anyone is wondering, I kept my Makeup Geek shadows in a custom magnetic Juvia’s Place palette, which I don’t believe is available for sale anymore. I kept them there until I bought the Mega Vault.

Whenever I review a brand from an Influencer, I disclose whether there are any personal feelings involved. I started following Marlena on YouTube shortly before her rebrand and although I only watch a quarter of her videos, I do like her as a person and I’ve improved my eyeshadow skills because of her live demonstration videos. At the same time, I was also very unhappy with the situation between her and Tina (The Fancy Face) which played out after I already made my initial purchase from the brand. Because of that incident, I did not want to review the products on my blog. However, this was two years ago and my opinion of Marlena returned to a neutral state. I wish her and her brand success. Even though the products aren’t a perfect match for my skin type or my application style, I’m still interested in seeing what else they create in the future and am likely to continue purchasing from them.

That’s all for today! I’m grateful you’ve taken the time to read my review and I hope the information was useful.


Sonia G Fusion Series and Lotus Set

Of all the brushes in my collection, the ones from Sonia G get the most use. So, whenever she has a new launch, I know there will be something within the collection that I’m going to love and will help elevate my makeup skills. I have two main Fude posts which include some of the Pro and Sky Series here and the Keyaki set here, for those interested in my previous Sonia G reviews.

I skipped getting the Mini Base brush from the Fusion series because it’s the same as the one included in the Keyaki set, just with a different handle. The Mini Base became the number one product I had for blending cream blushes and I wanted a bigger version so badly that I purchased similar shaped ones from other brands. However, they were not the same as my Mini Base. The combination of the sokoho goat, PBT and PTT synthetic bristles in Sonia G Fusion brushes is just utter perfection between the softness and blend. Synthetic bristle brushes are known to be soft, but the quality of the type of synthetic material is not the same across the board. ELF brushes about eight years ago used to come in the essential basic line with white handles and bristles that poked, a somewhat better middle range with silver handles, and their pro line with black handles and much softer bristles even though the entire line was synthetic. There is a fantastic detailed article that explains the differences among synthetic fibers, here, and the distinction between them sheds light on why the combination Sonia G wanted in her Fusion brushes is a step above other synthetic and natural mix brushes other brands have created.

The Fusion Series

Other than the Mini Base, which I already reviewed, I have three of the four remaining brushes in the line. I chose not to buy the Soft Concealer brush because my dark under eye circles require maximum coverage, which fits the task of the Jumbo Concealer. The Soft Concealer is intended for the gradual building of creams and liquids for those who don’t want as much product on the skin. Thankfully the Fusion Series brushes are available individually, so I didn’t have to buy a brush I didn’t need.

  • Full Length: 151mm / 5.95 in
  • Hair Length: 16mm / 0.63 in
  • Hair Width: 8.5-14.5mm / 0.33- 0.57 in

I use the Jumbo Concealer to quickly spread on eye primer, as well as concealing under my eyes. My previous favorite brush for this task was the Rare Beauty Concealer Brush, which is still a good brush and great for getting into the corners of my eye. The Rare Beauty brush is slightly less densely packed and therefore softer and more flexible. My only gripe with it is that I don’t wash my concealer brushes daily, so after about three uses, the Rare Beauty brush contains so much product that it’s not as pleasant to use or as efficient unless I wash it every few days. With the Jumbo Concealer, most of the product comes out of the bristles quickly when wiped on a microfiber towel. In fact, all of the Fusion series brushes are wiped clean with little effort, unlike my other brushes when it comes to removing liquids and creams regardless if it’s natural hair or synthetic. I can use it to easily and evenly apply eyeshadow primer, wipe my brush, and then use it again for concealer. It successfully gives me maximum coverage, as intended.

  • Full Length: 167mm / 6.58 in
  • Hair Length: 27mm / 1.06 in
  • Hair Width: 18mm / 0.71 in

The Classic Base is the larger version of the Mini Base and the brush of my dreams! I can use it for foundation and cream blush, though building up a subtle cream blush like the Armani Neo Nude Color Melting Balm is my preference. Technically, if I turn the brush on its side, I could still use it with sculpting products, but I realistically just use it with blush. Even with foundation, I can only blend it smoothly on top of the skin, but not really press it in because there are plenty of bristles but they aren’t packed tightly enough to use hard pressure. Hard pressure causes too much splay of the bristles. However, because of the amazingly soft feel on the skin and the way it moves across the surface, I’m content to use this brush for a sole purpose. I don’t need this one to be versatile. Also, the surface area is quite large, so I would recommend the mini base over this one for cream blush for anyone with small cheeks.

  • Full Length: 167mm / 6.58 in
  • Hair Length: 27mm / 1.06 in
  • Hair Width: 18-28mm / 0.71 – 1.1 in

The Jumbo Base is the last brush of the Fusion series I purchased. When I was initially interested, I thought it would be flat, like a gigantic version of the Jumbo Concealer, so when I realized it had a slanted edge, I skipped it at launch day and on the first restock. However, I kept seeing reviews about how that slant helped it hug all the curves of the face, and I recalled how many of Sonia’s brushes I theoretically doubted would suit me, but actually trying them out opened my eyes and they became some of my absolute favorite brushes. So, I ordered it the next time it was available.
If the Classic Base is a dream, the Jumbo Base is heaven. It literally feels like a massage when I use it. I hadn’t been so excited for a foundation product since the Tati Blendiful, and prior to that, I hadn’t been that excited since the Tarte Buffer Airbrush Finish brush.

While it feels like heaven on the skin, I’m not quite as impressed with the results. If I use a heavy cream-like primer or moisturizer, I have a harder time spreading the foundation with this brush as the bristles drag on the skin too much and makes the foundation sit on my skin. So, I have to apply a lot more pressure to really press it in. I feel the strain on my hand because the brush is a bit heavy to hold, especially as the density of the slanted tip is less firm than I hoped so I need the extra pressure to make up for it in pressing the product and smoothing it out. Extra blending time is required to get the foundation off the bristles and onto my face. I realized foundation was staying in the brush when I had to use 3 times more product than usual, which resulted in a caked look. I still use twice the product with the Jumbo Base than my Blendiful, if it’s a thicker foundation like the Nars Soft Matte or Beautyblender Bounce foundation. I can get it down to 1.5 with a more liquid foundation such as the Estée Lauder Futurist Hydra Rescue. When I use a lightweight primer such as the Tatcha Liquid Silk Canvas with those same foundations I mentioned above, the blend is a lot quicker, I don’t have to use as much pressure, and because I have an easier time spreading the product across my face without the foundation getting stuck in the bristles. I don’t have to use as much product either. So, the combination of the primer and foundation majorly affects the capabilities of this brush.

I’ve used this brush for several months and have a better understanding of which products I should skip using this brush with, but even on the best of days my foundation looks fine but not flawless. It hasn’t surpassed the Tati Blendiful. I thought the Jumbo Base shape was completely unique to my collection, but I realized I have a very similar brush from the (discontinued) limited edition Sonia Kashuk Starstruck line. The multipurpose angled brush has synthetic bristles, but it feels like a natural hair brush. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I actually prefer how my foundation looks when I use the Sonia Kashuk brush over the Sonia G one. The bristles are a little taller, with a wider splay, and even though the Jumbo Base is softer, the Sonia Kashuk brush is soft enough for my liking. I get a much better blend with the Sonia Kashuk brush regardless of the primer and/or foundation in a quicker amount of time. I can’t stress enough how amazing the Jumbo Base feels on the skin, but that doesn’t mean anything if I’m dissatisfied with the performance. I want to love this brush, but it doesn’t fit my needs. I’m keeping it for now, but I will likely sell it sometime in the future.

I am obsessed with the Fusion line, as it still contains two of my favorite brushes for cream products. The bristle combination is fantastic, but it doesn’t guarantee I’ll like all of them if the shapes don’t work for me. So, I hope more fusion-bristle brushes will be made, but not everything will be for me. Also, these brushes can be used with powder products too, but I prefer the performance of my 100% natural hair brushes over the Fusion series bristles when it comes to using powders.

The Lotus Series

I had to get creative in order to have the brushes I wanted from this series. It was stated repeatedly by Sonia herself that the Lotus series would only be available as a full set. I couldn’t afford that expensive of a purchase, so I sold the brushes I didn’t think I would get as much use from in order to help pay for the brushes I was keeping. However, I can’t say I was shocked by the switch from the initial, “It’s not possible to sell this individually,” statement on Sonia’s blog on July 11th to the, “I’ll have to see if we can,” on August 20th on her Instagram.

Then it was confirmed on November 23rd, 2021. Sometimes it annoys me when a brand says something is limited edition, especially if it’s only available in a set, and then there’s a restock or it’s sold individually either from them or at another retailer. In this case, I don’t mind because I think it should have been available as singles from the beginning since three of the six brushes have existing counterparts: the Cheek to the Cheek Pro, the Builder to the Builder Three, and the Worker to the Worker Two. Plus, I’m undecided if I made the right decision to sell the Detail brush, so having them available individually would give me a second chance. I did not take the Base, Detail, and Worker brushes out of their sleeves when I sold them, so I couldn’t make as informed of a decision. I could only estimate that the Base appeared too thick for my preference. It has the same fibers as the Fusion series, so I really hope it’s possible for a slightly smaller and less thick version to be made that’s geared more for sculpting and less for foundation. The Detail looked too loosely packed, too small in width, and appeared thinner than the Keyaki Classic Face, which is a brush I hardly use. As for the Worker, I prefer the Builders over the Workers and decluttered mine. It didn’t make sense to keep this one when I was likely not going to use it over the builder anyway.

On to the brushes I did keep!

  • Full Length: 165mm / 6.5 in
  • Hair Length: 30mm / 1.18 in
  • Hair Width: 10-16mm / 0.4 – 0.63 in
  • Bristle Type: Saikoho Goat

The Cheek Pro is among my top favorite blush brushes of all time. I needed to get this special handle version of the brush. I wanted a backup brush anyway, so I thought this would be the perfect purchase. However, beyond the fact that The Cheek has undyed goat hair and the Cheek Pro hairs are dyed, this one is less dense which is something I don’t like. The difference is very noticeable and the density is partly why I love the Cheek Pro so much. The Cheek brush was purposely made to be fluffier than the Cheek Pro, but I keep it in a brush guard because I don’t want it to be airier than it already is. It’s a well crafted brush, but it doesn’t rank in my favorites. Because I was hoping this would be the equivalent to the Cheek Pro, I couldn’t help but be disappointed. If I can eventually stop wishing for it to be something it’s not, I may grow to appreciate it more. Only time will tell.

  • Full Length: 150mm / 5.9 in
  • Hair Length: 10mm / 0.4 in
  • Hair Width: 5-10mm / 0.2 – 0.4 in
  • Bristle Type: Saikoho Goat

These two are definitely more comparable and if you like one, you will probably enjoy the other. I’m always using the Builder Three with creams and primers even though I’m not supposed to with a dyed bristle brush. It’s nice to have The Builder to use with those instead, especially since I wanted a backup brush anyway, but I can’t let go of my old habits. I keep using the Builder Three for those jobs and I somehow always reach for The Builder with intense red pigments that are such a pain to get out of the white undyed bristles.

  • Full Length: 152mm / 5.3 in
  • Hair Length: 12mm / 0.8 in
  • Hair Width: 5mm / 0.2 in
  • Bristle Type: Saikoho Goat

The Mini Booster is one of my favorite eye brushes, but I wanted something even smaller. That’s why I was drawn to the Soft Definer, but the Soft Definer is more of a pencil brush than a crease brush because of the way the tips come together to form a rounded point. This is one of those brushes that is really good, but I don’t like purely because it doesn’t fit what I hoped it would be. It isn’t a smaller version of the Mini Booster, so it doesn’t deposit the color in a soft blended way. The placement is very defined like the kind of brush that would be perfect to use in cut crease looks and adding depth to the crease, outer corner, and for lining. I don’t have as steady of a hand as I used to, so if I want to do actual lining, I prefer to use smaller brushes. I was also hoping I could use this brush on the lower lash line as a softer alternative because my other pencil brushes tend to be firm and pokey, but the way I use the brush, the shadow I’m trying to deposit on the lash line always flicks the powder off my brush and back into the air, so I get the shadows in my eyes. It’s like using a feather duster. When sweeping, the dust doesn’t just settle into the feathers, some of it gets dispersed back into the air. Perhaps this is just a hassle I have to deal with because of my eye shape, but I don’t have this issue when I use brushes like the Builder Three, Smashbox Double Ended Smudger Brush, and angled liner brushes that I can just stamp onto the lower lash line instead of sweeping across or rubbing back and forth. If I apply side to side, I need something smaller and flatter than the Soft Definer.

That’s all I’ve got for today! It was quite difficult to admit to myself that most of the brushes I reviewed today weren’t the best fits for me, since I love Sonia G brushes. However, I can’t regret having those beautiful Lotus handles and the special Fusion fiber mix. Brushes that are considered “standard” shapes are the brushes that work for the most people. So, it’s not surprising that innovative unique shapes and styles are likely to appeal to people with a certain face shape or specific preferences (which is why I’m skipping the newest Niji Pro brush). The fact that only a few of these brushes I reviewed today were useful for me doesn’t take away from the quality of the brushes. So, I very much recommend continuing to look into Sonia G’s line beyond my review.

I’m holding out hope that some day Sonia will release a collection of the standard type of handles in the red and blue, but in a deep purple version. That’s my ultimate dream handle!

Thank you for reading!


Makeup I Traveled with and Purchased in Germany

I love “What’s in My Travel Makeup Bag?” type of posts for only one reason: wanting to see which products someone couldn’t be without. The products I took with me traveling were chosen for so many other reasons besides that one, so I reconsidered making this post. However, I thought about how I was able to pack the least amount of products for the longest trip I’ve been on and realized this could be useful to those wanting ideas of what to take with them and things to consider for extended stays. I will also discuss what I learned about shopping for makeup in Germany and I’ll review the items I purchased while there.

Anything Will Do

When it comes to lips, brows, and face primers, I find that pretty much any products in those categories will get the job done. They all work well, but I could have replaced them with any others in my collection. I chose the 15ml travel size of the Good Molecules Silicone-Free Priming Moisturizer because it can double as a primer and moisturizer, which saves space with its compact form and from having to bring a second item. The ELF Instant Lift Brow Pencil could have been swapped out for my Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz or the Benefit Precisely My Brow pencil, but the $3 price made it ideal so that if I misplaced it, it wouldn’t be much of a financial loss. The Tower28 Gloss was chosen because I am on an unofficial project pan and want to see if I can use it up within a year. Otherwise, I would have taken the Fenty Gloss Bomb or my other mini glosses with me instead. I did a lip declutter earlier this year, so any lip pencil in my current collection could have replaced the Mented Nude La La Lip Pencil, but I chose it because it’s the one I’ve used the least, is a shade I could use all over the lip and not just as a liner, plus it doesn’t require a sharpener.

Backups/Replaceable Items

Choosing the Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner was an easy decision because it was my holy grail eyeliner for a long time, it will last through different changes in weather, and I have multiples of them in my collection because I always get them at half price during Ulta’s 21 Days of Beauty sales or during the holidays. I knew I would be going back to Germany this year, so I didn’t want to bring a used eyeliner and have to worry that when I went back it would be dried up or run out on me. I also recently became reacquainted with my old holy grail lip balm, the Nuxe Reve de Miel, and went overboard buying three jars in total when they only have a 6 month shelf life once opened. So, I figured I could keep a spare in Germany as well. As for the brown mini lipgloss tube in the initial post photo at the top, I decided that I could use one of the empty tubes I had from my days of making custom products to store foundation in there. The tiny gift with purchase sample I had of the Nars Soft Matte Complete Foundation lasted me six months, so I knew the amount I squeezed in there would last through multiple trips. If you have a foundation in a glass bottle, it’s a great idea to store some in a small squeeze tube that helps limit the exposure of the foundation to air, has a small enough hole so that you won’t squeeze too much product out at once, and is of course more compact and won’t break during travel.

Speaking of broken things, I contemplated what to do with my repressed pan of Huda GloWish Soft Radiance Bronzing Powder in the shade 04 Tan since I was sent a replacement item. Although I got too dark on the trip to be able to use it, I figured I could keep the spare in Germany. Lastly, I only have one MAC Studio Fix Soft Matte Foundation Stick, but this item is replaceable in the sense that my holy grail eyeshadow primer is the MAC Paint Pot. This performs similarly to the Paint Pot but works better specifically with the Hindash Beautopsy palette I planned to bring with me. Also unlike the Paint Pot, it’s not in a breakable glass pot. Plus, I could use it as concealer in a pinch, though it isn’t dark enough for me to use as actual foundation. But if someone else traveling wanted to really pack minimally, the Foundation Stick could be used for all of those tasks.

Must Haves

If I wasn’t the type that loves having a variety to choose from, even on trips, I could have skipped bringing an eyeliner, brow pencil, blushes, and bronzers entirely because I took the Hindash Beautopsy Palette with me. I did skip bringing a contour and setting powder because I had this available. I use Beautopsy for so much more than eyeshadows and I’ve been raving about this palette for good reason. It could be a bit nerve wracking to take such an expensive product, but the packaging is intended for makeup artists, which means it should be durable enough to travel with anywhere. This is a must have for minimalists, but I took this because it’s such a staple in my makeup routine now that I didn’t want to be without it. Especially considering the fact that I got a little darker on the trip, my ability to customize the depth of shades came in handy and I used it more than all the bronzers I had with me. The only area which the Beautopsy palette lacks is having no shimmer options. I knew I would miss having shimmer shadows, so I used a custom magnetic palette to store my Devinah Cosmetics Eyeshadows. When selecting the colors, I wanted shades that would pair well with each other, could be used in subtle daytime looks or dramatic nighttime looks, as well as giving me neutral and colorful options. Of course it was tempting to want to bring my absolute favorite Clionadh shadows, but Devinah makes extremely similar quality of products with the added bonus of being made in the US with quicker restocks. This means that if for some reason my shadows broke irreparably (like the particles got mixed with each other and could not be separated), I’d probably have a replacement in weeks up to 2 months, as opposed to 1-6 months or more. Devinah shadows are also slightly lower cost per shadow with cheaper shipping for me. This choice was a combination of wanting my favorite eyeshadow quality while factoring the travel element. Of course, when using special shadows, the Nyx Glitter Primer is essential for keeping them in place and helping the shades pop. I always have replacement tubes (which is a good thing because my tubes keep busting at the top) so I brought this along as a necessity that happens to be inexpensive and replaceable.
What is definitely not inexpensive is the Dior Backstage Face & Body Powder-No Powder, but I absolutely had to bring it with me. I discovered that this powder is so fantastic for smoothing out the skin and blurring imperfections, which was crucial to have for this trip. The lighting at my boyfriend’s place was extremely tricky to see what I was doing while applying makeup. The lighting was either dim or yellow, which showed things differently than the LED lights in the main room’s 9-foot high ceiling, also different than the highly fluctuating natural light peeking out from grey and dark clouds most of the time I was there. Depending on the light, I could look like I had no bronzer or too deep of bronzer, no blush or looking like a flat out clown. When on a trip, you’re often in a time crunch, and I couldn’t keep waiting for the natural light to be sunny enough to complete my makeup. Having the Dior powder gave me confidence that the end result looked nice and fixed anything that needed fixing, even if the resulting look was more subtle than intended.

This may seem a bit extra, but I took two mascara tubes with me. Rather than just relying solely on a mini size for the trip, I needed a mascara like the Essence Volume Stylist 18 hr Lash Extension Mascara that would give me a false lash effect because there was no way I was going to bring falsies traveling. This is a very affordable mascara, so I could leave it in Germany and it will still hopefully be good when I get back. With a mini, I had no idea how many uses I could get out of it (considering I was there for three weeks), but it’s a good option to consider for those packing lightly. I happened to have a sample of the Benefit Bad Gal Bang mascara and I brought it with me because I remembered liking the original Bad Gal Lash mascara and hoped it would be good. The Bang version is even better! I love that it darkens and lengthens my lashes easily and without leaving any clumps. The brush also makes it so the lashes are separated and fanned out like a doll. I can also build up a little volume. It’s not as dramatic as the Essence mascara, but it’s enough to look like I’m naturally blessed with long lashes.

I have to name the Nabla Skin Glazing Highlighter in Amnesia as an honorable mention for a “must have” product on a trip, even though I didn’t bring it this time. I have taken that highlighter on all other trips since I first purchased it. It’s on the lighter side for me, but it still works beautifully on my skin tone to give me a subtle highlight or an intense one. It also matches both warm and cool toned makeup looks. The only reason I left it behind was because I ordered the Hatice Schmidt Labs highlighter in the Medium shade, which looked like a very close dupe and I did not want to have two nearly identical products on the trip, especially as I already had a usable highlighter in the Kaja Bento box I brought with me. Now that I have two similar products, I will likely bring the HSL on trips from now on because it’s slightly darker, slightly warmer, and with a slightly more transparent base which makes it that much more suited to my skin tone. It also has a mirror, which was helpful in the moments I was running around trying to see how my makeup was looking in alternate light sources. If I was more concerned about the weight of the products or the price of the products, the Nabla Skin Glazing would be a better choice. However, if something happens to my HSL product, I wouldn’t feel as upset knowing that I have the Nabla as my backup.

Made To Be On-The-Go

I could have put several of the products mentioned above in this category, but the ones I’m discussing here don’t really fit in any other category. For example, the Tarte Shape Tape Concealer is my holy grail concealer, so I purchased the travel size for the trip. It was ideal for it’s compact size (though at one tenth of the size of the larger one, it’s certainly not cost effective) and the assumption it would last me two trips. However, I suspect that the formula in the mini is not as full coverage as the full size tube. I had to use a lot more product to get the coverage I needed. Perhaps this is another situation of the lighting being an issue. I also brought a mini of a lighter shade in order to mix my perfect color, like usual, but there was no need to this time as Deep didn’t look as dark as the full size either. That’s why this is in the “made to be on-the-go” section instead of “must haves.” I have also mentioned that I like mixing the Shape Tape with Pat Mcgrath’s concealer, but that one is in a glass tube which I did not want to bring with me. In the future, I’ll just carry my regular full size Shape Tape on trips, especially since I also get them for half off during Ulta’s 21 Days of Beauty. In a past review of the Kaja Play Bento Sculpting Trio, I mentioned that this product was ideal for traveling, so I felt obligated to bring it. Honestly, the fact that I have the Beautopsy palette though makes it pretty redundant as I can make a bronzer out of that palette and create a similar blush shade. I love the cream bronzer, but I don’t trust wearing a cream product while on a trip for fear of transfer onto clothing or sweat. The highlighter is nice, but I will always want a more intense option too. I took this traveling with me because I wanted to test the durability, as well as having those other options, but I only used it once during the three weeks (besides keeping it in my small purse as a mirror). However, if someone doesn’t have a face palette or wants something more affordable, lightweight, compact, and travel friendly, this is still a good option.

In my photo at the top of the post, I have a mini bottle of the Koh Gen Do Cleansing Spa Water, but it’s actually filled with Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micellar Water. They make a mini version, but I didn’t want to buy one when I could just reuse a smaller thinner bottle in my possession by transferring it in from one of my many larger size bottles. I also have mini versions of the Original Makeup Eraser Cloth, but I brought a full size one with me on the trip. I also filled an empty package of SkinFood Rice Cleansing Wipes with some from a larger package. That way I could use a makeup wipe on a heavier makeup day that I was too tired to double-cleanse and also not carry a whole heavy package which has 80 wipes in there.

Lastly for this section is sunscreen. It’s not makeup, but it’s essential. I brought what I thought was a mini size of the Round Lab Birch Juice Moisturizing Sun Cream which came in the box with the full size sunscreen I bought. It turned out that the mini was the non-SPF version and I didn’t figure it out until I was back in the US. Since I was testing it out for the first time, I also brought my usual Neutrogena Ultra Sheer 70 SPF Liquid Sunscreen too. The Ultra Sheer is small enough that it doesn’t take up much room in my carry-on bag and is airport compliant at 40 mL out of 100 mL. I have since used the actual SPF version of the Round Lab and I like that it doesn’t leave a cast. It makes my skin look a little dull on the darker spots of my face with hyperpigmentation, but it’s barely noticeable on my bare face and it’s definitely not an issue under makeup. The Round Lab is twice the price at only 10 ml more, so I would have continued to purchase the one from Neutrogena if it sadly hadn’t just been discontinued a few months ago. I had been using it for seven years and was quite sad to learn it was gone before I could purchase one final backup. Since I haven’t even tested the Round Lab during a true Florida summer, I’m not ready to recommend it yet. When it comes to something as important as sunscreen, I wouldn’t feel comfortable recommending it unless I’d tested it through at least two summers.

The Ultra Sheer Liquid Sunscreen in the Sensitive version is not the same since it’s a mineral sunscreen which relies heavily on titanium dioxide, which is the main culprit that leaves a cast on dark skin. The Dry-Touch version of Ultra Sheer is definitely not the same (leaves a white cast on me), as well as other sunscreens from Neutrogena. I picked up several trial packets and sunscreen minis recently, so I will be checking to see if I can find anything that’s as lightweight and doesn’t leave a cast while also thoroughly protecting me from the sun. So far, the Round Lab is the best I currently own.

Additional Tips

When I was deciding what to pack, the first thing I did was write a list of all the makeup categories I could think of and filled out which products I would want to bring most. Then, in order to condense the list, I went back over my answers and thought about what things I owned that could accomplish more than one task to reduce the number of products I had to bring. I thought about which things I owned or could buy in mini sizes to save space and decrease the weight of what I’d have to carry. I kept in mind which items were easily breakable, replaceable, and what I would miss too much if I didn’t have it. I also debated about what items I could just skip bringing entirely and buy while abroad. One thing I forgot to consider was that even though I was leaving a lot of makeup behind in Germany, all the new products I purchased weighed so much more than what I initially took with me, so my makeup bag was heavier coming back. I could have skipped bringing the Kaja Bento as a backup if I thought about the fact that I was going to buy a highlighter and three blushes.
I also made the decision to skip bringing cream products. Although I knew it wasn’t likely to be hot in Germany, I was required to walk a lot more and figured I would probably work up a sweat. I intended to do a lot of hugging as well, so I didn’t want to risk taking anything that could transfer or sweat off. It was also windy at times and I wore my hair down a bit more than usual. Balmy products on the skin that don’t dry down would have been a bad idea. Thinking about how the makeup items will be affected by the weather and the activities on the trip is something to consider. Nothing I brought with me needed a setting spray and none of them (besides my eyeliner) were waterproof, but that might be necessary for someone else to pack.

Here is a sample list of the categories of makeup to think about when packing:

  • Face Primer –
  • Eye shadow Primer –
  • Foundation –
  • Concealer –
  • Color Corrector –
  • Eye shadows –
  • Brow Product –
  • Eyeliner –
  • Mascara –
  • False Lashes and Lash Glue –
  • Setting Powder and/or Finishing Powder –
  • Setting Spray (keep TSA requirements in mind) –
  • Blush –
  • Bronzer –
  • Contour –
  • Highlighter –
  • Lip Balm/Gloss/Stick/Liner/Stain/Plumper –

One other thing I wanted to mention is that I was paranoid about the possibility of having lost luggage, so I packed some of my makeup products separately. The more fragile items, such as eyeshadows and pressed powders, I kept in my carry-on. My eyeliner, the full size mascara, the lighter concealer, etc were kept in my suitcase.

Douglas and Got2B Makeup

When I was shopping for makeup in Münster, I expected to discover plenty of German founded cosmetic brands that I hadn’t seen before. Perhaps this exists online, but when it comes to makeup at retail shops, the brands under the umbrella of major parent companies like L’Oréal, Estée Lauder, and LVMH dominate worldwide. It’s one thing to always hear that and quite another to actually see it for myself.
When I stopped in the Douglas shop, ARTDECO Beauty and ANNAYAKE (as well as the actual Douglas brand of makeup) were the only ones I hadn’t seen in the US. It was the same for drugstores, that only the actual store’s brand of makeup (such as dm of dm-drogerie markt) is unavailable in the US.

Of those unfamiliar brands, my purchasing options were limited to universal products like eyeliners and mascaras, as the complexion ones weren’t deep enough for me. I did snag a blush from Got2B. I was familiar with the brand’s hair products, but I had no clue until that moment that they made makeup as well! I tried to find out when they launched the cosmetics, and I believe it was in July 2021, so just a month before I got there, but I don’t know for certain. The ARTDECO products didn’t appeal to me, so I decided to try the Douglas brand of makeup as well, which is of similar quality to the Sephora Collection brand of makeup.

Douglas Cosmetics Caramel Nudes Eyeshadow Palette mini

The full size Caramel Nudes palette reminds me of the Anastasia Beverly Hills Soft Glam palette. I didn’t see it available in-store, but the mini was there, which I thought was perfect to try out the quality of Douglas shadows without making a big price commitment. The eyeshadows swatched evenly on my arm and clearly looks pigmented on those with a lighter skin tone. I find the shadows to be on the thin side and I found myself craving a little more impact from the shimmers. The mattes blended nicely and were opaque with a satisfactory amount of pigmentation. I was also glad that the cream shade did not look ashy like some lighter shades can appear on darker skin. This palette lacks a color that can add depth for me if used on its own. This is more of a one and done type of palette. I did not use the tiny dual ended brush it came with, which is a miniature version of the brush that’s in the full-size palette. Overall, the quality is decent and I could see myself actually using this palette every so often if I’m in the mood for a soft look.

Douglas Cheek Me Up Cream-Like Powder Blushes in 02 Rosa Carolina and 07 Hollyhocks

I chose these blushes with the help of the staff at Douglas. They were very friendly and polite. Even though my boyfriend was there to translate, they didn’t solely rely on him for help and tried to speak as much English to me as possible. I also appreciated the fact that they didn’t try to sell me anything that clearly would not work for my skin tone, just to make a sale, as has happened to me in the past at other retail shops in the US. They were upfront about which lines they carried that had options for my skin tone. The two shades they picked for me were the ones I would have chosen for myself, and as a bonus they were heavily discounted, so even though they were similar shades, I decided to just get them both.

I used Hollyhocks quite a bit on the trip and figured it would be my preferred shade because I like brownish-pink type of blushes that look more natural on my cheeks. However, I still like the bright flush Rosa Carolina gives to my cheeks and how just two dips with my brush gives me easy color payoff. As I started to get darker, I began to favor Rosa Carolina more because it was easier to see on my skin, though they both show well on me and are easy to blend. They’re decent blushes that get the job done, and at 4 euros each, they’re some of the least expensive blushes I own. I have so many wonderful blushes though, that as nice as they are, they’d still rank in the lower middle of my collection.

Shoutout to my boyfriend for being my light arm model! Not that he volunteered. I swatched shades on him while he played World of Warcraft, haha.

Got2b Cheeky Bloom Blush Powder in Pink Velvet

The inner pink circle is a slightly shimmery pale pink that I can use as a highlighter/blush topper. The outer bright pink ring of blush is what I try to pick up with my brush to use all over the cheeks. I like how soft the powder is and that there isn’t much kickup in the pan, but it still feels and smells powdery when I apply it to my cheeks. It’s definitely lower quality than I’m used to, which is a shame since it was 8 euros, but it’s not terrible. And because it has slightly more sheen than the matte Douglas blushes, it’s more flattering on my dry skin. It still looks nice on my cheeks, lasts as long as I need it to, is as lightweight as it’s described on the packaging, and contains nourishing ingredients like Macadamia Oil and Vitamin E, though I don’t know in what amounts. I’m still intrigued by other products from the brand, but for now my curiosity is quenched.

That’s all for today! I appreciate so much anyone who has taken the time to stop by and read my posts. Thank you. I hope this has been helpful!

Also, I wrote nearly all of this post months ago, but I kept pushing the publish date back because of new exciting makeup I wanted to review as soon as possible. I’m actually going back to Germany in a few days and won’t return to the US until the end of January, but I’m not sure if I will even be back home until sometime in February. For now, I am still on track to continue with regularly scheduled weekly posts, but if at any point this changes, the next eventual post will be on a Monday.

– Lili

Clionadh Cosmetics Combos and Collection Update

Clionadh is my favorite brand when it comes to duochromes and multichromes. Actually, it might be my favorite beauty brand period. In one of my previous reviews, I combined Kiln and Bloodline to create a gorgeous new shade and wondered what other exciting combinations could be made. Today, I’m showing a few that I experimented with and really like! I’ll also swatch the new Charity Bundle for 2021, along with the latest additions to my single shadow collection.

The Combinations

Trial 1

Royalty comes off as an icy purple on me, so I wanted to add more of a purple (with a little blue) tinge to my look. I ended up with more blue than purple, but I still thought it was quite pretty.

Trial 2

Crown Jewel is such a vibrant blue that I consider it a statement or occasion shade. It’s not something I’d wear on a regular outing. Spire is the dramatic opposite. It’s striking, but very dark, and also a bit much for daytime usage. So, I wondered if I could lighten up Spire and add an extra shift. I love how this turned out! It’s still not an everyday kind of shade but it’s gorgeous! I see myself creating this combination again in the future.

Trial 3

Opulent doesn’t do much for me besides being used as a highlight shade, so I thought if I could add Smoulder, I could perhaps get something a little darker and more pink. I hoped it would look closer to Bloodline, but the color it turned into reminds me of Weld or the Sextraterrestrial shade from Pat Mcgrath’s Divine Rose II (which is supposed to be a dupe for Forge but I don’t own Forge to compare).

Essentially, the most dramatic changes happen when I pair a shadow with one of the Jewelled Multichromes from the Stained Glass Collection.
I tried many other combinations, but one issue I found is that some of them looked dramatically different on my arm, but on my eye there wasn’t a significant enough difference or the resulting combination looked too similar to one of the shadows already used.

Clionadh announced a shade extension coming to the Stained Class Collection, so I would be curious to see if any of them look like one of the Mixed shades I created!*

*Note: I completed this post months ago but kept pushing back the publish date. Clionadh originally announced a shade extension in time for Black Friday, but they decided to focus on restocking their current inventory in time for the sale and then afterwards fully focusing on building up the inventory of the new shades to be released in 2022. Their sale is still ongoing until December 3rd.

Collection Update

Left swatches were taken with flash off. Right swatches were also taken indoors but with flash on.

The Perfect Neutrals Collection Bundle

Other than Shani, these are not the types of shades I reach for because they rarely look nice on me. Baby pinks (or in this case rose gold) like Linny tend to look white or silver on my lids, but what makes this different is the gold they have running through it. On Clionadh’s website, Linny looks gold with a hint of rosiness, but the gold blends with my skin and lets the pink really pop. I’m left with a pale pink that actually looks pink on me, which is an unexpected surprise! It’s the same thing with Chelle that it’s supposed to be mauve, but it turns into the only lilac I’ve ever liked!

Although I’ve begun to appreciate neutrals again, I’m not interested in actively purchasing a ton of neutral shadows because they all look the same on the eyes. The reason I decided to add this bundle to my collection is because Clionadh does neutrals in a way that’s unlike the others on the market. The more intense shimmer neutrals tend to be a reflective metallic finish from other brands, rather than having this level of sparkle. The actual shimmer from others tend to be the standard gold or silver, but for instance, BrittBritt has pink, red, and gold glitter. Cookie has a pink shimmer that doesn’t translate as well on my camera but is very noticeable in person. I consider these shades to be spiced up neutrals, which is that much closer to the style of eyeshadow I’m into lately.

The other incentive for purchasing this set is that it’s Clionadh’s second charity bundle. According to their website, “100% of the profits will be split and donated to…True North Aid and The Black Queer Youth Collective.”

The previous charity bundle was limited edition, as is this one. When the Perfect Neutrals were released, the shadows were only available as a bundle, but were eventually listed individually. Some shades are already sold out and I believe I read somewhere that there will be no more restocks for it.

I should also note that the sparkle level of the shimmer shades in the bundle is similar to, but not as intense as Clionadh’s most glittery shadow options. They aren’t as flaky in texture as those and they aren’t as pigmented either. I wouldn’t call them topper shades, but the intensity lies in the sparkle level and not as much in the base pigment. It’s enough to give opaque results, but it’s not 100% opaque on the first swipe. The sparkle level and nuances of the shadows are what make this collection special, but in terms of color payoff and formula, I don’t consider them to be unique. The Stained Glass collection is where the special formula can be found.

Circle Pan Eyeshadows

Every time I think I’m finished buying non-matte circle pan shadows, I end up getting more! Ironically, I had this post completely finished and then Clionadh had a surprise anniversary sale, so the bottom three are those new additions!

Clionadh brought back four shades from their discontinued Valentine’s Day set. I purchased one, Amour, thinking it would be a deep red-orange. I like it anyway, even though it’s not as deep when compared to the rich coppery red of Poinsettia. I have been very much into rusty red shades like this lately and thought I might have dupes in my collection. They look similar in their pans, but they are definitely not the same as can be seen in swatches.

I am also very happy I picked up Wormwood because it’s the type of maroon-brown shadow with blue reflects I used to love in my early makeup days but haven’t worn in ages!

The anniversary sale shades I purchased are Toadstool, Yukon, and Vortex.

Toadstool is described as, “A rusty red-based duochrome eyeshadow with a bright green reflect. This is technically a tri-chrome shadow that will also shift up to red.” I’ve wanted this shade for a long time but finally took the plunge. Yukon is another one I’ve wanted for a long time, but I thought it might be too similar to Rune, so I didn’t get it until now. The two shades are about the same depth, but Rune has more of a yellow-olive tone whereas Yukon is a light golden green. Vortex is like Wormwood’s cousin. It has a brown base rather than a maroon one and it has green and aqua shimmer.

Stained Glass Collection Update

Majesty is described as having, “an orange base that shifts gold-green-turquoise.” I wish more of that orange would peek through on my eyes like it does on my finger and arm swatches. The gold and green are certainly visible though. Out of the five Vibrant Multichromes I have, only Heirloom and Crown Jewel look the way I expect them to on my eyes.

Sand Blast is the most orange in color of the Jewelled Multichrome category. It’s a dark orange with a gold and lime green shift. It’s not too far off from Smoulder (magenta-orange-gold-lime) and Kiln (red-orange-gold), which is why I figured I would like those two shades more. However, I couldn’t escape the feeling of missing an orange shade like this, so it is finally here!

The other Stained Glass addition I purchased is the mini palette! It’s so cute! Even though I have zero plans to travel with my Clionadh shadows, I wanted to be able to keep my Charity shadows separate from the rest of the collection, so I put them in it. Below is a photo showing the size difference.

On Clionadh’s Instagram, I recall seeing a comment about the possibility of a Jumbo size palette in the future, so of course I’d be interested in that as well. Even though I have plenty of Coloured Raine’s gigantic 96 pan palettes, Clionadh’s shadows are so special to me that I want to keep them in special packaging as well. As it stands, my one mini and two standard size palettes are pretty much full.

This is what my collection looks like now. I downsized the Stained Glass side by five shadows: Blaze, Sunbeam, Ripple, Spotlight, and Glazed. It was not easy to let them go, but I wanted to only keep shades I could happily use on their own without needing to mix them.

I think I’m finally set on the circle pan shadows unless Clionadh brings back the mattes. Parchment, Nectar, and Raspberry Fudge from the Harvest bundle are still on my wishlist. Halo is the only one left on the list from the Stained Glass collection. If I purchase any of the extended shadows in the future, I’ll make room by placing the highlighters in my custom face palette.

The last thing I want to mention is that Clionadh’s labels have changed since August at the latest, but likely before that. They now list the shadow type and removed the brand name.

Thank you for reading and Happy Shopping this Cyber Monday!


Natasha Denona Glam Face & Eye Palette – Dark

The annual Sephora VIB sale ended last week and this was one of only three items I purchased. The Glam Face Palette appealed to the resurgence of my interest in neutral eyeshadows, my strong love of blush, and my attraction to highlighters. I did not enjoy Natasha Denona’s original blush duos that were part of her brand launch, but I’m a big fan of the Bloom Blush & Glow Palette, so I had high hopes.

I could see from videos that the back of the face palette did not have designated holes the brand sometimes includes for ease of popping shades in and out, but I hoped that with a magnet I could still pull the shadows out and be able to interchange them with any ND mid-size pans I wanted, since they’re the same size. Unfortunately for me, these pans are glued down to the palette, and since it’s metal glued to plastic as opposed to metal glued to cardboard, the pans would not pry loose no matter how much pressure I applied with my box cutter (which I use to depot shadows sometimes). I own a Z Potter, which theoretically is supposed to allow me to depot eyeshadows without destroying the palette, but the settings needed to melt glue in thick packaging has caused me, in the past, to accidentally melt and warp the packaging of things I wanted to reuse. So, I don’t want to take the chance of using it on this palette. In my eyes, this is the prettiest Natasha Denona packaging she’s ever made with such a sleek smooth mirrored bronze surface and those rounded edges. It looks and feels luxurious. Even though being able to customize the eyeshadow shades would be a game-changer, the price of the palette prohibits me from wanting to make further depotting attempts.

The plastic flap covers the blush and highlighter, so it’s natural to assume both are cream products, but it’s just the blush that has a creamy texture. The highlighter is a pressed powder in a formula that’s new to Natasha Denona’s brand, “that uses Japanese technology to deliver an extreme glow.” The way it looks in the pan with that texture instantly reminded me of the highlighter from Beauty Bakerie’s Brownie Bar.

The Glam Face Palette comes in a Light and Dark version, but choosing between them isn’t as straightforward as using only the Light palette if you have light skin and the Dark palette if you have dark skin. Those with light to medium skin could easily pull off wearing either palette because the face products in both are essentially in the medium zone. Ignoring what the shades look like in the palette, the Light version contains a light champagne highlighter with a blush that spans from light pink up to medium pink. The Dark version contains a medium champagne highlighter with a medium pink blush that can be realistically built up to medium-dark pink. I would describe the color itself as dark coral, which is akin to medium red in terms of depth, but just with a slightly different undertone. In fact, neither cheek shade in the Dark palette is actually in the dark range, which is why choosing which palette works best for those with light to medium skin could come down to the eyeshadows and whether someone prefers lighter or deeper toned eye looks. The highlighter doesn’t have a strong base color and the shimmer particles are so bright and reflective that it looks even lighter on the skin than it does in the pan. It may still leave a cast, but not as much as it would if it had a more opaque base. The blush is a buildable formula that blends out quite sheer depending on the application tool used, but even if I get the most concentrated amount of blush onto my cheek, it doesn’t look as dark as it does in the pan. That’s what also adds to the wiggle room as to which palette works best for someone. In Natasha’s own words, the Light palette is best for those with “light to medium” skin tones and the Dark palette is best for those with “medium or tan to deep skin…but both palettes wear beautifully on all skin tones.” However, I think someone with deep to rich skin tone might want to check what the palettes look like in-store because even the Dark palette doesn’t run all that dark in my opinion. The blush swatch in the photo above was done with two swipes with my finger, which kind of says it all. I also compared it to the blush from the Bloom Cheek palette further down and that took just one swipe of the blush from that palette. That one is what I consider to be an actual dark blush.

The Bloom Cheek Palette and Hourglass Ambient Edit Universe Unlocked Palette compared to the Face Glam Palette.

While I’m comparing palettes, I should add that the cream blush from the Bloom Cheek palette is a traditional cream formula, though it sets quickly and I definitely need to use it with the cream base to tone down the color. The cream blush from the Glam Face palette is cream to powder and doesn’t feel like anything on the skin until about the third layer, which is the minimum I need to get it to show as pigmented as I want. Using the Sonia G Classic Base, I’m not satisfied with the look of the blush until I’ve applied at least three layers, but it doesn’t get much deeper than that with even a fourth or fifth attempt using that brush. If I use my fingers, I get a lot more color payoff, but because the surface of my finger is so much smaller, I still need to apply three times to cover one cheek. So, I may as well use my brush which gives the smoother blend. When I try this with a denser flat top brush like the rephr 17, I’m able to build up the color to my satisfaction in 2 dips instead, but it’s definitely still not dark. With that brush I can achieve medium-dark level with about 4 layers. A sheer layer of this blush will set to the skin and be dry to the touch, but the more layers are added, the creamier it remains. In the amount I wear, it is not sticky but it’s also not transfer-proof.

With a sponge, I’m able to get the brightest color and most color payoff with the least amount of product, but as I continued to blend, it always moves the foundation and concealer I have in my cheek area on the left side of my face that’s covering up hyperpigmentation. So, my preferred method is using a dense brush. Another nice thing about the blush is that it lasts all day.

This buildable blush takes some effort to use, but I don’t mind because the result is so pretty! It’s the kind of shade I love where I get a natural flush without it being too bright, too dark, too light, too warm, or too cool. The color is perfection. The formula is almost perfect. There are random specks of shimmer in the blush, which I’m guessing is there intentionally to aid in the shine. I think I would have preferred if this had a sheen without the flecks, but at least the particles are on the smaller side and the area looks no more shimmery than I usually have on my cheeks anyway from shimmer eyeshadow fallout.

That ties in with another major thing to know about this palette. The top of the blush has a textured film over it which will make it a struggle to get any product onto the brush bristles. I recommend wiping off the top layer first before use. I think this is something that could affect many customers’ first impressions if this isn’t done.

There’s no kickup when using the highlighter, which is nice. I can get Star Glow to look quite subtle using the Wayne Goss #15 Fan Brush and Smashbox Precise Highlighting Brush. With those brushes, I can dip into the pan multiple times to control how much I put on. However, when I use the Koyudo La Fuga del Gato highlighting brush, I gently tap my brush into the highlighter one time, yet that amount always lays an intense amount on my cheeks. Brushes make a big difference in look and performance with this highlighter! Star Glow is high shine. Even though the particles are very fine, it’s so reflective that it still gives me a sparkle effect. Sometimes I like it and sometimes it’s too much for me.

The amount of blush in the photo above is the most I can get if I’m not using a very dense brush. I would have to really go out of my way to successfully overapply the blush. The amount of highlighter in the rightmost photo was created with two passes from an brush that doesn’t pick up much product and one pass with a brush that picks up a lot. I would not want to build it up any further or it would start to look ill-suited for me.

As for the eyeshadows, I first tried following the guide based on their names. Because Transition and Crease are so close in depth with Transition being orange-brown and Crease being the slightest bit darker but red-brown, it was hard to see the distinction between them on my eyes, especially after adding Smoke. They just blended together without much of a gradient effect. I’m used to using transition and crease shades that are a little further apart in depth, so it took several tries to get used to having to be so careful where I place the shadows and how I blend where my eyes are partially hooded.

So far, I’ve used the shadows with the Gerard Cosmetics Clean Canvas, MAC Paint Pot, and Urban Decay Primer Potion. Although Cocoa and Layin’ Low aren’t darker than my natural eyelid color, I found that Transition shows the best when I use the clear-ish primer from Urban Decay. The shade Crease blends well on all of them. Smoke is a great deepening up shade, but I have to be careful to remember to give Paint Pot some time to dry down before applying the eyeshadows, or else the shades I lay down will darken up and be more difficult to blend. I don’t have to set Paint Pot with powder before using it with the eyeshadows in this palette, but it allows me to get started quicker. Another thing I observed is that I need to be careful in which direction I blow away the powder kickup. Sometimes the leftover matte eyeshadow dust goes into the pans of other shades and then when I dip my brush in there, I get a mix of another matte color.

The shimmers aren’t very intense unless they’re applied with a damp brush. Using my finger somewhat works for Inner Corner, but the shimmer from Outer Corner doesn’t stand out much without being foiled. Even if applied wet, I was still expecting something more sparkly like the shadows in the Lorac Noir palette. In order to create that effect, I have to pop Inner Corner on the center of the eyelid.

For my eye shape and considering the eyeshadow colors available, I will probably end up using Transition or Crease, but not both of them in the same look. I foresee myself using the mattes to create structure and then pulling a lid shade from another palette to complete the look, so some of the blend work will probably be covered up by my lid shade and the hooded skin anyway.

The eyeshadows are beautiful. From the lens of a neutral wearer or someone who loves wearing the same go-to eye look on a daily basis, I can see how this palette would be a beloved staple in their collection. I am absolutely crazy about the blush. The highlighter is nice, though not my favorite formula. Overall, this palette was completely worth the price at 20% off. It’s aesthetically pleasing on the outside and inside, and every single pan of product in this palette is usable for me. Even if it’s not my favorite, I can still use it all. I love it and I have no regrets purchasing it, but it doesn’t top the Hindash Beautopsy Palette in terms of the color variety I can get, the multiple types of uses, and being travel friendly. I can do my brows, eyeliner, blush, bronzer, contouring, setting powder, and eyeshadow with that one. Even though the Glam Face Palette has shimmers, I know I would still get bored of just having those two shades and would need a supplemental eyeshadow palette to use with it, just like I need with Beautopsy. The only thing Natasha’s palette has Hindash’s palette beat on is that it includes a highlighter, but since that doesn’t crack my top favorites list, I would want to bring a different highlighter if I took it traveling anyway. This wasn’t the most practical purchase for me, but I wanted it regardless. It brings me joy! In any case, this is going to be a more all-encompassing palette for a lot of other people, so if you were thinking about getting this one, I do recommend it.

That’s all for today! My next post will be after Thanksgiving, so for those who celebrate it, I wish you a happy time and I appreciate you stopping by my blog!


Is Lorac Back? Reviewing the Lorac PRO Fairytale Forest and Noir Palettes

I have nostalgic feelings when I think about Lorac Cosmetics. I bought my first palette from them in July 2014 and later it became the topic of my very first post on this blog! Back when I probably had ten total palettes in my makeup collection, I got so much use out of that Lorac Pro 2 Palette. This was during my short lived time of actually preferring cool toned eyeshadows over warm ones. Who would have thought!

I very quickly learned that I only liked Lorac’s PRO formula. The shadows in their Unzipped line was alright, but the PRO palettes were quite pigmented for what was available on the market, as well as being blendable. At a time when Urban Decay’s Naked line was their biggest competitor, I always favored Lorac’s formula over theirs. Unfortunately, the brand faded into near obscurity over the course of several years. They tried to make a comeback towards the end of 2020 with a revamped PRO line, but they returned with a large variety of primarily neutral shadows which many of their customers had gotten tired of in the first place. Lorac updated their packaging, formulas, and lowered their prices per palette, but they are nowhere near as popular as they used to be. Ulta put their palettes for 50% off during the 21 Days of Beauty, so I bought one purely for curiosity and nostalgia reasons. With the October release of Lorac’s smidgen of a more colorful palette, Fairytale Forest, the brand captured a temporary moment of hype. Macy’s had 15% off beauty products, so I went ahead and bought it in the hopes of eventually creating my version of the perfect semi-neutral palette. That didn’t quite go how I planned.
Will Lorac seize the moment and revitalize their brand or will they sink? Have their formulas improved? Are they worth buying?

These are some of the questions I hope to answer in this review!

The Lorac Mega Pro (purchased in August of 2019) is the only older Lorac palette I still own. Previous palettes owned were the afterGLO palette, Sweet Temptations Eyeshadow Collection, Pro 1, Pro 2, Unzipped, and Unzipped Gold.

OLD versus NEW

I’ve had the Mega Pro for two years and did not even swatch it until I began working on this post! The shade variety was so much less colorful in person than I expected from photos online. The retail price is $60, but I bought it on sale for $30 from Lorac’s website. It’s one of the few older palettes they still sell and it has been restocked a myriad of times since the first one launched in 2014.

Based on previous experience with their older formula, as well as this Mega Pro palette, I can see that the main difference between the previous mattes and the new ones is that the old formula is soft but more powdery. The current mattes still have quite a bit of kickup and they’re still soft powders too, but they’re silkier now. Both are blendable, but with the older mattes they needed a creamier type of primer like the Lorac brand primer that used to come with those original PRO palettes. The current mattes are more buildable and have enough grip that I can pretty much use any of my primers and get a nice result, though I prefer them the most with MAC Paint Pot.

Regarding Lorac’s specific ingredient changes, they no longer use mineral oil, kaolin, and parabens. Instead, the newer formula has shea butter in addition to many other emollient and skin conditioning ingredients. As far as I can see, the main preservative replacing parabens is potassium sorbate. There’s also glyceryl caprylate, which can have antimicrobial benefits, but that isn’t it’s primary function in cosmetics.

The newer matte formula is a noticeable upgrade, but still fairly similar to the original. The difference between the newer and original shimmers is literally visible by looking at them in the pans! Lorac now includes shinier and sparkly ingredients such as synthetic fluorphlogopite, calcium aluminium borosilicate, and diamond powder. Often times I don’t even feel the need to wet my brush before using them on the eyes because they’re intense enough to my satisfaction. However, I do get a lot of fallout when I skip using them wet or with a tacky base, so I recommend doing that. I still think there’s a place for Lorac’s more satin leaning shimmers, but I very much prefer the effect that the current shimmers give. The older ones were smooth whereas these current shimmers are creamier with more slip to them; they’re almost wet to the touch with a finger, but I can feel the grit from the sparkle shades when I apply them to my eyes.

Lorac Noir Pro Palette

As beautiful as this palette was, I knew it would have shades that look pretty redundant for my skin tone. This is why I jumped on the half price sale, considering I figured I would just use half of Noir. I still found myself really liking this palette because even though I cannot get a wide range of looks, I appreciate the fact that there are cool tones and warm tones as well as different finishes.

White Diamond is a true topper shade, as it has white sparkles but no base color. Rendezvous has silver sparkles and a brown base. That base color blends with my skin tone, so it gives me a topper shadow type of effect. Those two shades plus Stardust all have the same creaminess and slip as the traditional shimmer formula, but with those three I can also feel the actual grit from the glitter when I apply them to my eyes. Majestic is the high sparkle exception that I don’t feel grittiness from when I use it. It’s a grey/gunmetal type of shade, like Onyx, but Majestic is a glitter/sparkle eyeshadow whereas Onyx is a fine but impactful shimmer for those who want something reflective but not as dramatic. Whisper, Primrose, Lust, Silver Moon, Dahlia, and Whiskey are traditional shimmer shades, which is the area that feels most repetitive. Silver Moon is distinct enough, but Primrose, Lust, and Dahlia will give me nearly the same look on the eyelids despite their different tones. Black Violet is a nice smooth satin, but the purple hue doesn’t show as much as I wanted.

The mattes are a good gradient. I can use Ecru as my brow bone shade. Soft Taupe doesn’t show up on me at all, but it would probably work for someone else as a transition shade. A shade like this can still be useful in blending out edges without making the area lighter, but the way these shadows blend, I don’t feel like I need to use it that way either. Sable works as my transition shade. Burgundy looks mostly brown if I use a light amount. I have to really pack it on to get the reddish tones to show. Smoke looks so much darker in the pan than I expected. It’s a deep cool toned brown that is satisfactory enough for me to be content with that as my deepening up shade without needing Ink, the true black shade.

I tried my hardest to create some variety with these shadows but I found myself making the same 4 looks, even though I used totally different eyeshadows: a red look, a smokey warm look, a smokey cool look, and a caramel/gold look. Essentially, the only way to get some truly different looks comes down to the eyeshadow style and placement of the shadows like the classic placement, a halo eye, a cut crease, etc. That is what will bring the most variety. I am really pleased with this palette though and I do recommend it for the ability to create something basic, glam, or something in-between. It’s a good neutral all-rounder type of product with great quality that surpasses the original PRO formula.

Lorac Fairytale Forest Pro Palette

The six shadows on the bottom right corner are what got me to buy this palette. I could not get them off my mind! I figured between the Noir palette and this one, I would really have some repeats. So, my plan all along was to mix and match shades between them to create my ultimate semi-neutral palette. I did not expect to like Noir in it’s pre-made state as much as I did, so my plans had to change.

Birch, Oak, and Earth look identical on my eyes, and I sometimes skip applying a brow bone shade altogether, so those three aren’t useful to me. Wherever I apply Mushroom just looks like my skin color depth but as a cool tone shade. It doesn’t make as much impact as Fog, which is a darker and cooler grey. Rosewood is like a dusty pink. I have to built it up a lot to get it to show more pink and less taupe. Essentially, the entire top row doesn’t add much to my eyeshadow looks, but I was at least prepared for that. I was banking the most on Redwood and Woodland for a color punch and depth. Once again, to get more of the orange tone to show in Redwood, I have to build it a lot. With these more colorful mattes, I get pigment right away, but it either comes off grey or brown in those first few layers on the eye. That’s why I’m still pleased with the Lorac mattes overall, because they still give me something, but to get the colors to show true to what’s in the pans is where the time and effort comes in. I am impressed though that despite how much I pack on, they layer well on top of each other and are easy to blend. Woodland is the darkest shade and helps to deepen up the look when I pair it with the lighter colors, but I can see that it’s not quite as deep as I’d like when I use it with the midtone mattes and darker shimmers.

I did not notice any difference in performance between the mattes in Noir and Fairytale Forest. However, Fairytale Forest does not have any shades listed in the sparkle formula, just shimmers and metallics. The two “metallic” shades, Pine and Grove, felt like the traditional shimmer formula to me, though perhaps slightly less wet to the touch. Enchanted, Wind, Wildflower, and Evergreen feel borderline between creamy and wet to the point of being almost chunky in texture (but not quite).

I was shocked to see North Star described by the brand as a “soft baby pink shimmer” since it looks flat out white to me and definitely sparkly. Both North Star and Folklore feel a tad drier than the rest of the shimmers, which is emphasized by the semi-gritty texture as well.

Butterfly stands out as it feels completely unlike any other shadow in the palette. It has the most slip, seems to have a transparent base, and is like a topper duochrome looking pink or rose gold depending on the angle. Enchanted looks like a duochrome as well, but it doesn’t have an actual shift. It has a bronze base which contrasts with the golden olive shimmer.

The only shimmer that I don’t think applies very well is Komorebi. It always looks patchy when I first apply it and it has to be smoothed over multiple times in order to look even in color. I smoothed it out in the swatches*, but apparently I didn’t smooth it over enough because it still doesn’t look as nice and even as the others.

*Note: When I changed my blog template, it made the proportions smaller than usual. In case someone doesn’t know about this, clicking on any photo on this blog will show the enlarged version of the picture. Also, holding the CTRL button and pressing + or – will magnify or minimize the size of font and photos on the website. I personally keep it at 110 or 120%

In the bottom two looks, I didn’t use any of the same shades, yet they look very similar.

Without distinct crease shades, I can’t get as much drama as I like, even though I’m getting more colorful options than Noir. I know myself and know that I would never reach for this palette if I kept it as is, just like the Mega Pro palette I couldn’t bring myself to even swatch in such an uninspiring shade selection and layout. So, I decided to combine the two!


I depotted my favorite shades out of the Mega Pro palette, stuck a label sticker on the bottom of each pan to keep track of which shadows are which, and placed them in a custom mini magnetic palette. The pans are magnetized, but unlike these newer palettes, the older ones were held in place with glue. Whenever I depot palettes with the intent to reuse the packaging, I cut a strip of magnetic tape and place it at the bottom so I can pop the shades in and out as much as I want. However, Lorac’s pans sit so flush with the surface that even the thinnest magnet would cause the pans to stick up and out, which impacts the ability to close the palette properly and this would get even more eyeshadow all over the mirror than it already does.

I removed Woodland from the Fairytale Forest palette and replaced it with Smoke from Noir to give me the depth I wanted and add a little smokiness. I filled the one vacant spot in Noir with the shade Gray so that I could keep with the theme of a traditional smokey neutral palette. Swapping out Smoke for Gray is the only change I made to Noir. Woodland is currently in the custom mini palette, along with the entire top row of shades from Fairytale Forest. In my first color swap version of FF (shown below) I initially kept Rosewood, plus added the shade Dusty Plum, but I ended up not getting enough impact out of either of them for my liking. They were too mid-toned. This is how I ended up removing them both again and putting Orchid instead.

First custom version

Current custom version

Orchid is not very opaque, but since it’s something I want to just use as a transition shade and blending out color for Mulberry, I don’t mind. Also, if I want a satin version of Mulberry, I basically have that in the shade Merlot. Redwood is the only original matte shade in the FF palette that remains. I could have kept any of the three lightest mattes, but I actually liked the Camel color and figured it could do the same job, just more subtly.

When I think of Fairytale Forest, I expect sparkle, iridescence, and a decent amount of greens. I would say that’s the most lacking aspect of the premade palette. I wish there were some matte greens in it. In any case, I added Deep Teal because I want to use it as a smokey green shadow to deepen up eye looks, even though it’s a satin and not matte. If Lorac ever sells a different kind of green as a single shadow, I might replace it. I thought Maroon was a good choice since it’s a neutral shade but the pink shimmer in it pairs well with both the browns and the reddish purples. Apricot was another last minute decision when I felt like I was missing a light color shimmer to highlight the brow arch. My other two light shades, North Star and Folklore, are too sparkly and don’t have a strong enough base color to them to fill that role. When I use Apricot, I can see it in person but it doesn’t pick up on my camera very well. I have a soft spot for chocolate brown shimmers, so that is why I chose Granite.

I think my choices still invoke the spirit of Fairytale Forest while still giving me just enough color to satisfy my desire for both colorful and neutral eyeshadows. I’m back to being tired out of neutrals for Lorac though. As wonderful as the quality is, I don’t need anything else from them unless they start really delving deeper into the realm of colorful shadows. I think Lorac could become popular again if they got out of the neutral box. Other brands that keep cranking out neutral palette after neutral palette have embraced exciting packaging as a way to entice customers into buying similar products repeatedly. As much as I like Lorac’s very professional (though basic in design) black packaging, the outside doesn’t grab me as a consumer, so it comes down to the color story. I want one that’s exciting and I don’t want anymore repeats than I currently have.

That’s all for today! And just so everyone knows, from November 14th through November 16th (my birthday!), Ulta has the Noir, Fairytale Forest, and other palettes on sale for 40% off! The link I included is a regular non-affiliated link.