Oden’s Eye Flora Story and Swatchfest of Holiday Palettes and More

Joining the Legendary Diversa line from Oden’s Eye, the Perfect World Collection is their new round of Influencer collabs. Makeup Just for Fun and Lauren Mae Beauty are two of the three YouTubers they worked with that I’m subscribed to, but it was only Amanda’s palette that I felt would add something to my collection. I was one of the early purchasers, so I was able to get the faux silk ribbon that came with it.

At the time that I’m writing this, Flora Story is the only one that sold out. It’s being restocked for one final time on March 23rd, so I wanted to make sure I included my first impression thoughts in this Swatchfest post. I also included two eye looks for this palette, as well as Solmane II, which is another palette the brand continues to restock. Cat’s Breath is still available, but I suspect it will be discontinued once sold out, just like the other items in the Freja Collection.

My previous reviews of other Oden’s Eye products can be found listed with links on this page here.

Oden’s Eye + Makeup Just For Fun Flora Story Palette

It’s interesting that the multichrome, Dawn, looks yellow and pink in the arm swatches when it’s purely orange on my eyes. In fact, this multichrome reminds me of Pink Chameleon from the Norn’s palette and Double-Sided from the Hela palette. I love being able to get multichromes from Oden’s Eye at an affordable price, but they tend to look a bit similar to one another.

These mattes are mostly easy to use, but they feel slightly thinner than I’m used to from the brand. They still give decent color payoff despite being soft muted colors, with the exception of Sage that ended up looking quite similar to Clover on my eyes, even though they look completely different in swatches. The issue is that I had a harder time building up Sage to something deep enough for my outer corner. Without being able to build it up more opaquely, there wasn’t as much distinction from Clover which was used first. Perhaps I would have gotten more color payoff if I used Sage first.

I used Orchid first in my second eye look, but I was disappointed that this turned out to be one of those types of purples that have a magenta tinge that when blended out gives me two different tones of purple and makes it look improperly blended or patchy on my eyes no matter how much I build it up. I still managed to create a look that I thought was beautiful, but I covered up some of the patchiness by throwing the shimmer on top. There might be a trick to using purples like these that I just haven’t discovered yet, and I only played with this palette for one day, so perhaps another primer could have also helped the situation.

As for the shimmers, some felt chunkier and wetter than others. Best Buds felt and performed the most like a typical Oden’s Eye shadow, but I was suprised that Misty was not very easy to smooth onto my lids. Despite being thick, it still had some spots I could see my skin beneath. Magnolia was thinner in consistency and didn’t have as opaque of a base either. It also gave me quite a bit of fallout. In using these shimmers, I suddenly remembered the complaints I’d heard about there being too much mineral oil or dimethicone in some of Oden’s Eye’s new single eyeshadows (inconsistently across the range). I’m wondering if they started increasing the amount of it in their formulas with these newer palettes from Christmas last year and onward. How wet it feels and the consistency doesn’t necessarily dictate how it will perform though because Lush was a little thick and wet, but did go on more opaque than the other shimmers.

It could be the case that these shimmers perform exactly the way Amanda intended. I think she prefers building up her shadows and likes color, but not too intense. For that reason, I wouldn’t want to judge this palette as any sign of the direction of Oden’s Eye. I just wanted to compare it to other palettes in the past so one can have an idea of what to expect.

The eyeliner in the Green look is from Melt Cosmetics.

Even though this isn’t my favorite formula, I still like the palette and the shades and it’s not too hard to come up with a pretty look with a little bit of effort. It’s not so much effort as to make me not want to reach for it though, nor consider it bad in any way. It’s very nice, just not on the level of amazing. I can appreciate though that the colorful nature of it, while still being in softer tones, makes it stand out among past palettes from the brand. I was right in thinking it would be something different from the kinds of palettes and color stories I usually get. Plus, the added wetness led to only the tiniest amount of creasing. The amount I consider negligible.

I bought both the Christmas Eve and Merry Christmas Palettes from Oden’s Eye and received two free ornament keychains with my purchase. I was very easily drawn to the Merry Christmas palette because of the greens and how on theme that color scheme is, but the Christmas Eve palette wouldn’t leave my mind. There was something so intriguing about the non-blue shades. I’m still in anti-blue mode, but I can feel that start to dissipate for now. At the time, I still felt it was worth getting the palette for all the other colors. That turned out to be a great decision because it was even more gorgeous in person and Oden’s Eye did not end up restocking these two despite the pleas from customers who I still see three months later asking for a restock on social media.

Christmas Eve Palette

Merry Christmas Palette

I’ve used these holiday palettes every so often since getting them, but mostly in combination with eyeshadows from other brands. That’s why I don’t have many photos of those instances (used on non-testing days). The hype is real on these! I love the shades. I love the performance. The shimmers are so bright and reflective. The mattes are still on the thin side, but blend and build beautifully. I think there are some similarities between these shades and past palettes, but I like having them in one place. I admittedly have only used half of the eyeshadows in both palettes, but so far so good! If other palettes hadn’t taken priority (ones actually available to purchase), I would have used these way more already. I wanted so badly to bring at least the Merry Christmas palette on the trip with me, but I didn’t have room.

Although the brand hasn’t said anything about restocking them, I think it would be smart if they waited until this coming Christmas to bring them back. As much as the demand is for them now, they are still holiday themed palettes, and it would make more sense to return during the actual holidays. As long as they keep the same formula (which does have some chunkier and wetter shimmers like in the Flora Story palette, but they’re at least fully opaque), I would recommend getting one or both.

Solmane II Palette

I only used this palette once so far, just before I left for my trip. In the eye look using the entire bottom row, I had a easy time applying everything until I got to Black Hole. Normally, I tend to love the black eyeshadows from Oden’s Eye (Colourful Black from the Norn’s palette is still one of my favorites to this day, plus I like Complete from the Hela palette), but this one was tougher to blend. I tried to build it carefully and slowly. I could still make it work, but it’s definitely not effortless.

Galaxy was also not the easiest to use either, similar to Orchid from the Flora story palette. However, I was in a rush doing that eye look, so I’m going to give that one another shot in the future. Meteor is more like a topper shadow, but still pretty. I could have used it on its own and been happy with the look, but it also worked to intensify the shine level on top of Hallucinations.

For being nearly pastels, I was impressed with how Soft Cloud and Dream looked on my eyes (more so Soft Cloud because of the opacity). Pastels aren’t the most flattering on me, from my perspective, but I’m interested to see how else I can incorporate these shades in future looks. They look and perform similarly to shades I own from Lethal Cosmetics.

I definitely need to use this palette more before I make up my mind about how I feel. Sometimes it only takes one instance to know, but not this time.

Cat’s Breath Palette

I don’t have any opinions on Cat’s Breath because I haven’t used it on my eyes yet. I just wanted to share the swatches. This palette and Solmane II are the ones I bought during Black Friday because I was attracted to some of the shades, but not all, and I didn’t think buying them at full price would be a good idea for me. Honestly, I wanted Cat’s Breath for the packaging artwork. I mean, how cute is it?

I hope this was helpful, even though it wasn’t a full-on review. As I mentioned in the beginning, I know the restock for Flora Story is coming in a few days, Solmane II was just restocked recently as well, plus a few of the Oden’s Eye singles. This will probably be when a lot of new purchases will be made, but I also wanted to remind the shoppers out there who love a good bargain (like I do) that Oden’s Eye usually has a decent sale during Easter, or at least they usually have some kind of deal like Mystery Boxes. That could mean wanting products from launches two weeks apart with shipping to consider. It would be a risk to wait if you want the Flora Story palette, but I wanted to at least give that reminder about Easter.

For those who may be wondering, I do consider myself a big fan of Oden’s Eye products, but I won’t be buying the individual shadows unless they make some announcement about they having a “new and improved formula,” after the major creasing and fading issues I’ve seen on Instagram. The fact that I’m on another low-buy this year is what saved me from potentially being in the same boat. I’m also disappointed about the lack of transparency about it and them not addressing it despite how many months have passed. Plus, I’ve heard customer service complaints have been ignored, which in my experience had always been good in the past. So, I’m not sure what to make of that situation. I think it’s important that I at least mention it because I don’t want anyone to make purchases without knowing potential issues that may arise with certain products or customer service.

Have an awesome week!


Swatchfest #5: MAC, Colourpop, About-Face, Rare Beauty, and More

Today’s post certainly includes swatches, but I’ve worn most of the products between 1-3 times. So, I thought it might be nice to add my initial impressions along with it, considering I did not bringing any of these on the trip with me and this could be as close as I get to reviewing them. However, if my initial impressions are vastly off or if I discover additional useful information about the items, I’ll update this post (anytime from June ’23 and onward).

MAC Underground Limited Edition of 1000, MAC New Year Shine Extra Dimension Skinfinish in Beaming Blush, and MAC x Richard Quinn Powder Blush Duo in Sunset Boulevard (Bronze and Coral)

Starting with multi-colored (at least in the pan) highlighter, I actually purchased Precious on February 18, 2023 even though the initial release was in Summer of 2020. I remember how much I regretted not stalking the website, missing out on that launch, and not even being able to buy it from resellers because they were putting it for sale at $100 or more! So, when I recently saw it available on MAC’s US website, I thought it must be a mistake considering they only made 1000 and they sold out extremely quickly. Then, I thought maybe they did a limited re-release. However, mine actually had the number 690 written on the box, which leads me to believe MAC may have misplaced some of that initial inventory from three years ago. I was surprised to see that this order was shipped from Canada (even though I ordered from the US site), which I don’t believe is a usual occurrence with my orders and further leads me in the direction of suspecting this was a misplaced item recently found and put back up for sale. The link I included above had broken (not visible) photos too, which is also why I expected it to be mistakenly made live on the website and thought my order would be cancelled. So, I was quite surprised when it went through and I got it!

It was listed as “low stock” for about ten days before it sold out again. I apologize for not posting about it on my blog or Instagram sooner! I hadn’t expected it to be available for that long.

The swatches above are the only ones I took of it. Since it’s definitely not a wearable color for me, I plan on not touching it again and just keeping it for collector purposes just like I wanted to back then! Also, I wonder if MAC will ever make something like this again. It’s so visually stunning and from every angle!

Next on the list to discuss is this year’s Lunar New Year release. Both highlighters in the New Year Shine packaging are previously released shades. Show Gold looked gold but had a stronger pink hue on the skin. The one I purchased, Beaming Blush, looks pink while appearing much more gold on my skin. I was drawn to the embossing, the colors, and packaging from the beginning, but they looked so frosty and light in photos that I didn’t think I’d be able to pull it off until I watched B Rich Beauty on YouTube show the collection and compare them. This one does indeed work for me!

The photos I took are all of Beaming Blush at various angles and light situations to show how it goes from pink to gold.

I do happen to have one photo wearing Beaming Blush, but I was wearing the Rituel de Fille Thorn Oil as primer and wearing a mix of two different Armani Color Melting Balms for blush, which means the highlighter looked extra smooth and merged even more with my skin because of these wet ingredients. Beaming Blush isn’t a glittery highlighter by any means and does still work for my skin tone, but it is a little more stark if I’m not wearing my winter foundation, a pink blush, and my skin is drier. The actual formula though is no different from MAC’s other Extra Dimension highlighters, which is a good thing since it’s one of the products MAC nails.

Then, we have the MAC x Richard Quinn Collection with the gorgeous floral print fabric outer packaging. It has a very nice tactile feel to it. I purchased my duo from Selfridges, but it’s now available in the US.

As a packaging lover, I knew I had to get at least something from the Collection, but the makeup isn’t very dark-skin friendly between the pastel eyeshadows and light silvery-beige highlighter, but I thought I had a decent chance of the blush duo working for me.

I was right about the “bronze” portion, which isn’t actually named Bronze, but described as that color. It’s quite close to MAC’s Coppertone blush, which is one that only shows when I’m at my lightest. It’s brown with a slight bit of rosiness to it. It’s just like any other MAC powder blush I’ve used before. Long-lasting, buildable, and blendable. I have to build it up for the color to show, but it works for me right now. As for the pink portion, the “coral,” looks ashy on me. It’s much too light, especially with the cooler tone to it. In terms of depth, it’s on par with Melba, but Melba is peachier, which is why I can rock that one when I’m at my lightest. Unsurprisingly, I don’t have many other shade dupes for Coral.

Colourpop x Snow White Magic Mirror, Super Shock Blush in Fair Enough, Lip Scrub in Just One Bite, and Colourpop x High School Musical Powder Blush in Playoffs

I didn’t need a new mirror, but I have a difficult time resisting unusual shaped ones, like the Colourpop x Hocus Pocus one in the shape of a cat head. This is another collector item purchase.

The Just One Bite lip scrub has very fine sugar granules and smells like apples, but thankfully it’s not an overpowering smell. As nice as it is for there to be small crystals, lip scrubs barely work for me because they just aren’t strong enough no matter how much I rub them across my lips. I still wanted this anyway because I’ve been in the mood for DIY projects and know that I could always clean out this cute apple container and replace it with a lip balm that works better for me, or travel size skincare, etc. I’ve done this kind of repurposing with Tony Moly products, including their Red Apple Hand Cream container that’s much larger than the lip scrub one from Colourpop.

I love Super Shock face products from Colourpop, and with this adorable packaging and this shade, I had to grab this one even though I knew it would be shimmery and I’m a little less interested in that type from Colourpop unless it’s a highlighter. As I suspected, the shimmer particles in this one are borderline to my comfort level. The specks are medium sized but a reflective gold that’s absolutely beautiful, but not the most natural looking on the cheeks. I absolutely love the color of this one and can see myself continuing to wear it on occasions that I don’t mind pronounced shimmer and am not going for a subtle look. A product like this is going to be the star of a makeup look because of how much it stands out.

As for the High School Musical blush, I bought it because of how much Angelica Nyqvist was raving about it. It’s true that this is my type of color and it does have a very soft feel to the blush. For some reason though, I wasn’t as impressed when I put it on my cheeks, and that has nothing to do with the formula. I think I just prefer to have a satin or shimmer finish when I wear blushes of this color. So, all I could think about while wearing it was that I prefer the Bare Minerals Blonzer in Kiss of Rose, Hourglass At Night, or even all my pink/red MAC blush shades despite how much more expensive those are compared to this one from Colourpop. I’m also wearing matte blushes less often lately, so this could be something I end up likely a lot more in the future. Also, I wore it while testing out some less glowy foundations, so it’s possible I could like it more if it was on top of something glowier, so I could feel like I wasn’t looking so dry. Playoffs is one of the few items I could see myself changing my mind about for the better. For now, though, it’s just okay.

about-face Cheek Freak Blush Balms in Cowgirl and Smash

I bought these during Black Friday last year, but didn’t get around to trying it for the first time until recently. By then, I had completely forgotten these are supposed to be “balms” and intentionally sheer. They still build up to a nice amount of pigment. It feels oily as it instantly melts from the touch of my finger, but as I dab and smooth it onto my cheeks, it takes on a velvety finish and feels a little more silicone-like. It reminds me of the way the One/Size Cheek Clapper in the cream feels after it’s applied to the cheeks. I love that it fully dries down. I like the shade Smash the most. Cowgirl is more orange and less terracotta than I wanted. These look darker in promo photos and in the compact than they will appear on the skin. I’ve used these with a brush and fingers, though I prefer using my finger. I have not tried them with a sponge.

I’ve worn them on bare skin and over foundation, but prefer them over foundation because it gives a blurred and diffused look with the veil of color it leaves on the cheeks. On my bare skin, the vibrancy of color with how sheer they are was an unnatural combination to me, but I have a lot of discoloration, which may have contributed to why I felt that way.

Regarding the longevity, my longest wear test has been eight hours and there was noticeable fading, but I still had enough color by the end of the night to be satisfied. It just faded to looking like a subtle flush, but it might still look vibrant on someone with a lighter skin tone than me.
My first impression of this line of blushes is overall a good one. It’s only the color variety that keeps it from being a blush that I’m obsessed with. The line has shades that are a bit too on-the-nose for me. I prefer the nuance of a pink-brown, orange-pink, brown-red, etc. I think I like Smash the most because it’s actually a rosy red and that makes it a little more interesting than a basic red. I know it’s a bit strange to want something different when the brand simultaneously goes so far as including various purples and berries in the line that are definitely more unique types of colors to the market. So, I acknowledge that the brand does have “normal” and out there type of blushes, but I would love to see an expansion of the line to include something between the two. The fact that I instantly went on the website to try and see if they had other shades that I would prefer (they currently do not), is a testament to it being a very interesting product. I really like the formula and just need the perfect color for it to be a favorite.

Rare Beauty Positive Light: Silky Touch Highlighter and Liquid Luminizer Highlight in Flaunt

I’ve shown the liquid highlighter before when I tried it as a sample in this post, and I specifically said I wouldn’t buy a full-size (only a mini), but I did it anyway!

I didn’t like the powder version at first because it was so intense and sparkly. What I did not know is that it can actually look smooth depending on the lighting situation. Robert Welsh posted a YouTube short explaining it and demonstrating how the highlighter looked in yellow light versus white light. Sure enough, I loved how it looked under warmer light. My ceiling fan I take pictures near has two daylight lights and a warm one, so depending on the spot I took swatches, it looked smoother or more intense. So, I like that this highlighter can be flattering, but the problem is that we cannot control what kind of lights will be around when we’re out and about. So, I don’t want to be paranoid about having a glittery cheek when I’m in public and caught in literally a bad light. So, it’s very possible I will end up decluttering this.

Rose Inc Refills: Cream Blush Refillable Cheek & Lip Color in Ophelia and Hibiscus and Satin Eyeshadow in Satin Cocoa

In that same post that I linked in the Rare Beauty section, I reviewed and demonstrated four different Rose Inc blush shades. I also showed the shade Wisteria here, and in my depotting post, I mentioned that saving the samples was keeping me from being tempted to buy more shades when I know that I don’t like the dewy feeling from them never drying down, which keeps the blushes from being a favorite even though I love the actual look of them.

However, Rose Inc temporarily added full-size blush refills to the free samples with order sidebar. They offer free shipping (at least to the US) with no price minimum and allow up to 2 free samples with orders. So, essentially, I bought the eyeshadow and got the two blushes for free! Plus, I was able to use a promo code to make the price even lower. There was no way I could pass that up! Especially since I have been curious to see what the eyeshadows would be like.
I haven’t worn these particular blush shades on my cheeks yet, but since I’m familiar with the formula already, I think it’s safe to wager they aren’t any different from the ones I’ve reviewed on this blog before.

Rose Inc currently has two eyeshadow formulas in two finishes, a satin and shimmer. I somehow mixed up the fact that the satin is a cream product and the shimmer is the pressed one. The green one I was most interested in was sold out, so I opted for Satin Cocoa as one can never go wrong with a pretty gold or bronze…or so I thought.

I have only tried these on bare lids and with the Danessa Myricks Blurring Balm because I know with my oily lids, I figured the cream would need some oil absorbing properties to last on my eyes, but that was a bad idea. I had instant creasing before I could even finish applying it on the other eye! The creasing got worse and within a few hours most of the eyeshadow was just gone from my eyes.

Unless a cream shadow dries down completely or I use one with thick mattes that I can essentially use as a barrier between my oils and the cream, ceasing is inevitable. However, to have it completely gone off my eyes by the four hour mark is a little less common. I’m not ready to completely write this off yet, as I have other primers and techniques I could try, but this is just a first impression.

Bobbi Brown x Tokidoki Mini Highlighting Powder in Pink Glow and Headband and Bobbi Brown Brightening Blush in Blushed Burgundy

There was a sale on the Toki Doki items on Bobbi Brown’s website last December, and any order of an item from the collection came with a free headband, so that was enough to steer me towards getting the mini highlighter (as one of the lower priced items available) even though I knew Pink Glow would be too light for me. This is yet another product I purchased for collector purposes. I’ve used Bobbi Brown’s highlighters before in this same formula, just different shades, and it’s quite pretty and very shimmery without being that glittery/sparkly level I don’t prefer. I think it’s a nice product, but I always end up feeling like MAC does it better for a lower price as well, even though formulas are probably shared under the Estee Lauder umbrella.

As for the Brightening Blush, I bought that from Selfridges in order to get it for a slightly lower price.
There are two different shimmery strips, which is nice for those who want something champagne and lighter or gold and deeper, though I can only isolate each color if I use a fan brush. With the main blush, which I believe is a satin-matte, it’s a little trickier to get just that color onto my blush brushes and avoid the shimmer. However, I personally find it prettier when I use them separately and keep the burgundy shade on my cheeks and put the gold shimmer on my cheekbones, versus swirling all of them together for a glowy cheek look. I’m not sure if it’s the champagne strip specifically that throws it off, but the shimmer just doesn’t look as refined to me when on top of the blush. However, it looked nice and smooth when just kept in the typical highlighting areas.

Oh! And I updated the Kaleidos post in the eyeliner section to show swatches of the additional Danessa Myricks multichrome liners that I bought.

That’s all I have for today! As I mentioned in last week’s post and on the Homepage, I’m spending two months in Germany and there’s a high chance posts will not be on the regular Monday schedule during this time. Thank you for reading!

Much love!


Too Faced Cloud Crush Blurring Blushes

I vaguely remember owning the Too Faced Sweethearts Perfect Flush Blush, but in the shade that was a highlighter for my skintone rather than a blush. As for their other line of blushes, the Love Flush Blushes, I never owned any of those.

Photo Credit: Temptalia

Today’s review is what I consider to be my first time really experiencing Too Faced’s blushes with their new line of Cloud Crush Blurring Blushes. The collection is available, “in diffused satin and diffused matte finishes,” but Velvet Crush and Tequila Sunset are both mattes.

Because I have the Too Faced Chocolate Gold Bronzer, which is in similar packaging, I wanted to compare these in size and color.

The bronzer compact and pan is larger than the blushes in length and width, but about the same height. The outer rim of the bronzer is gold, whereas the blush rims are closer to silver. Both products are scented, with Chocolate Gold still maintaining its chocolate scent three years after I got it, and the Cloud Crush blushes have a pleasant fruity fragrance that smells familiar, but I can’t pinpoint what it is specifically. Too Faced just says it smells like a tropical beach.

The claims for these blushes is that they’re supposed to be “ultra-smooth, velvet-like, buildable and blendable with a natural blurring effect and a soft, second-skin feel.” There’s no mention of them being long-lasting, but they are. I’ve had no issues with them fading. They certainly are smooth to the touch, not patchy, and I find Tequila Sunset to be blendable, though I need a loose bristled airy brush and light hand for it to be buildable considering the amount of pigment. Velvet Crush showed up right away too, but due to the nature of the muted pink color, I had to apply a lot more for it to show the amount of color on my cheeks that I prefer.

I’ve mentioned in a previous post that I can sometimes wear light-medium toned blush shades, not anticipated to be flattering on dark skin, as long as they don’t have too strong of a white base to them. What I noticed with Velvet Crush is that it’s right on the border of having almost too much. My theory is that the “blurring” effect Too Faced describes is similar to the technique with eyeshadow of taking a lighter shadow to blend out the edges of a darker eyeshadow as one method of creating a blurred gradient look.
When I take my time really blending these blushes together, Velvet Crush looks gorgeous, provided I’m rocking my lighter winter foundation shades. When I wear one that’s a little bit darker, then the blush looks less flattering on top.
Tequila Sunset has that quality too, but because the depth of the peachy-orange pigment is so strong, it ends up having more of that blended effect that Too Faced was going for with these.

So, even though Too Faced demonstrates these blushes on multiple skintones to where it would seem they all could work on everyone, it’s my opinion that the line overall is more suited to those on the lighter skin spectrum because of those whitish ingredients that intentionally make these blush colors more muted. However, for those tan to deep (though maybe not rich), Watermelon Rain and Tequila Sunset are viable options.

Chocolate Gold works as a highlighter for me, not a bronzer, which is how I rationalized not decluttering it after buying a set that included it and other items from the brand. I only used it for that purpose less than a handful of times in three years, but something about the packaging makes it impossible for me to let it go, and I think it’s the same with the blushes.

Sure, these are pretty colors that are smooth with good longevity. I was extremely excited about them in the beginning, but the more I used them and compared them to other blushes within my collection, I realized they weren’t more special than my favorites. The “blurring” element isn’t as effective on me, which is the aspect that would have pushed it higher up the ranks. But, as it stands, I have blushes that are also buildable, ones that are easier to blend, are just as soft to the touch, also long-lasting, and fragrance free (which I prefer for avoiding the development of skin sensitivity despite how much I do enjoy their smell). One example of a line of blushes that does everything the Cloud Crush Blushes can and more (except in the packaging department) are the Sephora Collection Soft Matte Perfection Blush Duos, which I think Sephora is unfortunately discontinuing. I am obsessed with the shades English Rose and Peach Blossom, the latter of which is the only one of the two still available on the US website. I also have Sweet Pea, but mine broke, so I had to re-press it and that affected the way it applies, although that color is stunning too.

So, ultimately, these are nice blushes, but not as innovative as the marketing makes them seem. I love the packaging and Tequila Sunrise (even mixed with Velvet Crush) is such a beautiful color that I personally don’t regret buying them and will keep using them, but I don’t think anyone is really missing out if they give these a pass.

Thank you for reading.

– Lili

IMPORTANT NOTE GOING FORWARD: I had this post scheduled to publish while I would be at my final appointment with the surgeon to review my imaging results verifying whether or not my spine fused properly. This appointment will determine whether I can proceed with my plans to return to Germany (from March to May) or if I’ll have to rebook my plane ticket.
Because this is a hectic time getting other last minute appointments in, planning for the trip, etc. I nearly missed being able to finish this week’s post, and I can only imagine it will not get easier closer to and during the trip. So, I wanted to inform you awesome visitors to my blog that I will do my best to continue consistent postings, but the content might be more varied for the next two months (such as an increase in swatchfests, finally doing a few anti-haul posts, and maybe even a few ranking ones along with the reviews). Of course, I would never want to waste anyone’s time, so these will not be “filler” posts, in my opinion. I will do my best to post what I think would be helpful, especially since the Sephora Spring sale and other retailer’s spring sales are bound to start while I’m overseas and I still have a ton of products to test and review that I cannot pack with me. So, I’ll prep the best that I can.

Makeup Transplanting Depotting Chronicles

DISCLAIMER: I am describing the process I used, along with some do’s and don’ts for complications I ran into while depotting. However, I am not a professional at this. I will try to be thorough, but there may be steps I forgot to list. Attempting to do this may put you, others, and your property at risk. Use the utmost caution or just don’t attempt this at all without the proper tools and protective gear. I am not responsible for anyone getting harmed for following the steps that I’m sharing, which isn’t even intended as a guide. I’m just sharing my experience and perhaps those with some depotting experience may be inspired by it. I do not recommend this for beginners. It took me years of smaller depotting projects to build up enough confidence to do most of the things I mentioned in this post. Reader discretion is advised. Using common sense and critical thinking is also a must! For the love of all things holy, please be careful if you try these! lol.

Also, all links in this post are normal non-affiliate links.

De-potting isn’t just a way to condense and uniformly organize a makeup collection. It can also be used to rearrange palettes or swap products in and out of their original packaging and/or empty magnetic palette. Often times, when I watched depotting videos on YouTube, the person doing it would destroy the original palettes or compacts. However, I have products in packaging that I love and want to preserve, if only I could customize the makeup within it.
So, it has been a goal of mine over the years to find a way to reuse palettes and compacts, especially if I’m not using the item because the makeup inside is too old or didn’t work for me, and replace it with a product I would reach for more often if it was in prettier packaging.

There are different levels of depotting that can be as easy as removing a pan from a palette that is already magnetic (such as most Natasha Denona eyeshadow palettes) or the most challenging ones that require both careful disassembling prior to then using heat and figuring out how much heat to apply to remove the pan without melting/burning the original packaging if the goal is to try and save it. Sometimes you might be surprised to learn there’s no pan at all and the product might be on plastic net/mesh instead. Sometimes the pan is made of aluminum instead of tin and will require a magnetic metal base to be added before it will be able to stick into a customizable palette. So, this sort of task can be super easy or complicated. I will give plenty of examples of the things I learned in this process with various projects if you’re interested in continuing to read on!

PROJECT 1: Making Palettes Magnetic and Interchangeable

Every year, Hourglass comes out with these holiday palettes and I owned four, yet none of them were perfect for me. If I want to use a blush, highlighter, and bronzer all in one, I would have to pull out multiple palettes which was extremely inconvenient. So, I finally had the guts to do what I’d seen Stefsedge and Grishan Roof do in depotting their palettes. I took it another step further in trying to make my palettes interchangeable, so that I could always swap out an even more appealing product of this size in the future if I wanted.

The process on how to do this involves:

  • A Heat Source (and potentially metal plate or aluminum foil if the metal within the packaging is too far from the heat) plus heat-resistant gloves for extra protection.
  • Metal stickers that will fit the size of the product if that product is not already attracted to magnets.
  • Label stickers if there isn’t already a removeable label or one that would fit on the product.
  • Magnets in various forms like circles, squares, sheets, etc.
  • Pre-measuring to make sure the magnet isn’t too thin to not hold the product, but not too thick to where the magnet plus the product will prevent the lid from closing.
  • A cosmetic spatula and/or something thin like a bladed object to stick between the product and the packaging to be able to pry/lift it out.
  • Glue, just in case.
  • Paper towel or something to lay the powders on that may potentially get messy.
  • Liquid agent that helps remove glue from surfaces like Parian Spirits or Alcohol.

Tip: If the item is in a pan already, using a magnet to touch the rim or around it and see if it has a pull will indicate whether or not the metal will require a magnetic metal sticker.

My heat source is the Z-potter I bought quite a few years ago on Black Friday. Some people use an induction hot plate/countertop burner, hair dryer, or flat iron to heat up the bottom. I’ve only attempted to depot my aluminum Hourglass Ambient Lighting palettes, not the plastic ones, so I have no idea if the plastic ones would melt in the process, but here is a video for that type. And here’s one for the exact palettes I’ve partly depotted.

Anyway, the first thing I prepped in advance was writing the brand and names of the items on label stickers and attached them to the metal stickers (not the side that you peel away). Then, on my Z-potter, I placed the portion of the products I wanted to heat up within the indicated heat circle. I tried to avoid heating all pans at once because I didn’t want to loosen the glue too much of the products I had no intention of removing. I used setting number 3 for a minute or more and then used my box cutter to lift the powders out one at a time face first into a paper towel and then peeled off the sticker on the metal pan to attach onto the back of the clay tile. Because it already had soft warm glue residue, I didn’t think it was necessary to add my own extra glue to attach the metal sticker onto the tile, but that might be required of some projects because the adhesive bond is sometimes weaker than the magnetic pull. I’ve had other products where I lifted the product and the metal tile detached from the product and remained clinging to the magnet. So, one may or may not want to add the tiniest bit of extra glue (making sure that when pressed down the glue doesn’t seep out onto the edges of the tile. Also, the fact that these baked powders are on tiles helps to make them less fragile while prying them out. Baked/domed products on plastic drives me nuts because they’re so easy to fall out of packaging without even intending to depot them.

I repeated the process of removing the product from the palette, adding a metal sticker to the bottom, and so on until all powders I wanted removed were off to the side. If there was any residue of glue within the empty wells (none that I could recall) it would only require a little alcohol or Parian spirits sprayed on a paper towel to wipe it down/clean it up. Don’t spray the Parian spirits directly into the empty well because the sprayer might get droplets onto the other powders still within the palette. Also, wearing gloves might be a good idea since it leaves a strong orange-alcohol smell that one might not want to get on the hands or fingers.

Then, I cut my magnetic strips into the appropriately sized pieces to fit the empty well and stuck them to the bottom. This might be another time when one might consider using extra glue or not, but my strip magnets tend to adhere very strongly, so I don’t find extra glue necessary. Also, my strips weren’t thin enough to cover the entire well, but it’s not necessary either. Two streaks were enough. And they don’t need to look pretty since no one is going to see the magnets once the powders are placed back on top.
So, that’s the process! I didn’t have any broken products; I just nicked a few with my nails. When looking at them from the side, it’s visible that the powders with magnets holding them down underneath are raised higher than the ones that are glued down, but it doesn’t look that bad to me. I love how it turned out!

I took the white marbled palette on the bottom right completely out of the equation since none of those worked for me (any indication of the powders being used was when I mixed them with other products in DIY makeup attempts). As for the Butterfly palette on the top right, I could only use the blushes, so I took those out and replaced those empty spots with the bronzer from the Universe Unlocked palette (bottom left) and the too-ashy strobe powder from the Tiger palette (top left). This turned my Butterfly palette into a palette of completely unusable products for my skin tone. Rather than trying to make that one magnetic, I used a little Glue-All (so it wouldn’t be impossible to be removed again) to secure those powders back in the pan and I sold that new custom version of Butterfly.

This left me with the Tiger Palette and Universe Unlocked. I wanted those Butterfly blushes in the Tiger palette, so I put one in the newly empty spot that was formerly housing the ashy strobe powder. Then, I took the deep copper highlighter out and put that into the empty space in Universe Unlocked where the too-light bronzer used to be. That gave me room to put in the last Butterfly blush. So, my new Tiger palette has the only powder dark enough to be used as a bronzer, my favorite of Hourglass’ highlighters, and arguably my favorite four blushes out of the Hourglass ones in this size. I also like the coral blush from Universe Unlocked, but I preferred to keep that one in its original palette. Currently, the Tiger palette is the one I keep on my vanity since it’s full of favorites.

PROJECT 2: Prioritizing the Packaging Over the Product

The Hourglass project was simple, whereas this one was my toughest yet!

The MAC x Chris Chang compacts are one of the most treasured packaging for makeup that I have because of how different they all looked to each other and nearly all equally beautiful. The original one that I purchased is kept on my collector shelf in the box and with the original powder inside that I only used a few times because I didn’t think it did anything for me. The two others I bought pre-owned for the purpose of making the compact magnetic, so it didn’t matter what state the original product was in nor the fact that they were used.

For my first attempt, I didn’t remember the pans are housed in a removable piece which would have made things a lot easier. So, I put the compact on the Z-Potter, and unfortunately, the pattern started to warp, but I noticed it in time before it got too bad.

Then, I tried just not using heat and prying the pan out with my box cutter. I broke off the tip and still couldn’t get it out. The glue in these compacts is extra heavy duty! In that attempt, the powder started to break apart, so if I had wanted to pry out the pan without breaking the powder, I would have failed at that. Once I popped out the holder piece, I realized it had three parts to it: the main compact, the holder, and the lid opener. I put the holder piece with the pan on the Z-potter and used setting 3, which was too hot for it. It started melting the bottom of that holder piece and it started to bubble and lift upward. In the heating process, I also warped the lid opener and main compact enough that it shuts, but with a very thin gap that won’t be as big a deal for a dry powder, but I definitely wouldn’t want to put a cream or creamy powder in it. The holder also didn’t snap back flush into the main component either.

Where the tiny gap is visible near the hinge is where I start trying to pry the holder out of the compact.

I’ve already had a product (will be discussed in the Pat Mcgrath section) that warped upward, but I managed to use heat and a blunt object to press it back down to flatten it. However, this did not work with the MAC plastic. It went down but still not perfectly even. I couldn’t get it to flatten without melting/burning the underside. In the end, to make this compact usable, I had to just toss the holder into the recycling (the powder pan was also cleaned out and recycled). I then attached magnets to the bottom of the actual compact. This might make whatever product I put inside more susceptible to breaking if I accidentally drop the compact, but at least it’s still functional now despite my mistake.

In theory, I could have left the botched compact as is without adding magnets and just removed the holder out of a different MAC panned product with basic packaging and put it in this one instead. However, that would only allow me to use this for MAC products specifically, instead of any brand with a pan size that would fit.

For my second attempt on my other compact, I tried a combination of using the box cutter to pry a big enough wedge between the space to allow me to pour Parian spirits to seep between the holder and the pan so it could start loosening the glue underneath. I didn’t mind spraying directly onto it because I wasn’t trying to keep the powder in that one either. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a big enough wedge of space for the Parian Spirits to have done very much and I broke the blade even more to the point of needing to throw it out for safety reasons.

So, I very carefully used my nails and cosmetic spatula to lift a space and go around the edges to carefully pop out the holder from the main compact. I set the compact aside, put the holder in the middle of the Z-potter and used setting 2. I alternated between letting it get warm at the bottom, then flipping it upside down to warm from that direction as my way of trying not to let the same spot get too hot for too long while using my other box cutter to keep testing when the glue was loose enough to be pried up.

Once the pan was free, the bottom of the plastic was still covered in glue, so I unscrewed the spray top of the Parian spirits bottle and poured a little into the holder and let it marinade in there for a while before wiping it clean and repeating the process when needed. I managed to successfully get that pan out without burning/melting the holder this time. I cleaned out the aluminum pan of glue and powder and put the pan with the recycling. This time, I was able to keep the holder, so I put a few magnets on the bottom of it before snapping the holder back into the main compact.

Now, I have one of my favorite highlighters, the Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Glow Glide Face Architect Highlighter in Sunset Glow, in this gorgeous compact! I’m so happy to finally have a way to get use out of the MAC compacts and see them within my collection instead of being set aside! There are so many times I’ve spent money purely on packaging and I was tempted to get this year’s Lunar New Year pressed powder compact from Charlotte Tilbury just to put this highlighter in it, but I’m glad I didn’t waste my money getting something I don’t need (I own that powder in smaller packaging) by repurposing what I already have.

PROJECT 3: Adding Extras to Packaging.

You know those eyeshadow and blush compacts that come with brushes in them? I never use the brushes and end up tossing them, so then I have giant empty spaces that could have either made the compact smaller without it or could have held extra shadows. In the photo example below, I didn’t add a magnet to it, but I showed examples of various eyeshadows (Natasha Denona Midi Size, Viseart medium and small sizes, and Melt Cosmetics) that could fit in that space if I added a magnet to the bottom. Of course, the magnet needs to be strong but thin in order to hold the shadow securely on it without lifting the pan so high that the lid won’t close. Turning the empty space into a magnetic spot will give the ability to take extra shadows for traveling.

Also, in the event that an eyeshadow falls out if it was on a mesh, gluing it to the bottom is an option, but so is re-pressing the shadow into an empty eyeshadow pan, adding a magnet to the empty well, and placing the pan back in there. It, once again, leaves room for future customization. One just has to do those measurements to make sure it’s not too big.

PROJECTS 4 and 5: Condensing Makeup Out of Bulky Packaging and Making a Single Portable Item for Travel

The Pat Mcgrath Blushing Delights packaging was excessive compared to the size of the actual makeup within it, but because it fit the Bridgerton theme so well and the print was cute, I kept it intact despite how much I craved depotting it. However, once I noticed the edges of the paper lifting in multiple places on the cardboard, I figured it was time to get rid of it. I was thrilled to see the blushes were on tiles as well, since that made it even easier to slide a knife underneath and remove them from the packaging without even needing heat!

All I did was fill out sticker labels, slap them on the metal stickers, and then place those on the tiles. Before doing this, however, I do need to warn that baked blushes and other domed products will be raised much higher, which limits where they can be stored. These don’t fit in a traditional Z-palette or any of my cardboard empty magnetic palettes. My MAC double-sided palette is deep enough (that I turned one side into a magnetic palette by adding a thick magnet sheet), but I keep that stored with my other unused palettes because it’s so heavy and thick that it’s only worth using if it’s entirely full and not just to hold a few items. Where I stored the blushes will come later because I knew I wanted to keep my favorite shade, Aphrodisia in its own compact. I’m one of the few people that doesn’t like like the Pat Mcgrath Under Eye Setting Powder, so I didn’t mind getting rid of the powder and keeping the compact to house the blush. I figured it would fit considering that powder is also a baked product and chances are high that any domed type of packaging will be suitable for turning magnetic and housing other domed products. I somehow expected it to be on a mesh, so I wasted my time trying to cut off most of the powder, then prying the sides, before realizing this would require heat. Since there was no metal to warm up, I put it the Z-potter on setting 2 or 3 and laid the compact on top of the metal plate that came with the Z-potter. Then, I pried out the tile with my cosmetic spatula, but the bottom had bubbled upward.

Unlike my MAC compact, I was easily able to heat the bottom again on the same setting and use the handle of my hand mirror (with a flat rectangular shape) to press the raised parts back down while the plastic was warm and malleable. I continued moving the blunt object around the pan to make sure the rest of it didn’t start rising back up too. When I was satisfied with the whole thing being nice and flat, I transferred it to the spot without heat, turned off the machine, and then continued to press down on the compact to ensure it remained flat while cooling off.

I used the handle of my mirror because it was within reach, but I could have used anything hard and flat like the handle of my Tarte Buffer Brush, a bottle, etc. Whatever item is used will likely get glue on it though, so to avoid that, one could try putting something between the plastic and the blunt object, such as a paper towel. Or, clean the glue off the surface before trying to warm up the item to flatten the plastic back down. The heat setting should not be so hot that it melts whatever blunt item is used, like a thick bottle, but just keep a watchful eye out for that just in case.

Then, all I had to do was place magnets in the PML compact and voila! A single portable baked product case! As for all the rest of the blushes, I took one of my spare Kaleidos tins and removed the plastic lipstick holder piece, and placed magnets on the bottom of that. I didn’t place the magnets uniformly in a line in case I wanted to put larger domed products in there and didn’t want to run into the issue of only blushes of a certain size being able to fit there because they couldn’t be placed staggered within the container.

These weren’t the only Pat Mcgrath products I depotted that day. I had the Pat Mcgrath Highlighting Trio with the center shade having fallen out ages ago that I just kept loose in the packaging. I almost never reached for these because of the pretty but cumbersome flap style packaging. So, I started off with cutting the space around the black plastic holder within the cardboard packaging and then lifting out that plastic piece. Since the Kaleidos tin is attracted to magnets, I could have actually stuck magnets on the bottoms of the plastic holder and placed it at the bottom of the container, but considering the fragile nature of the highlighters, I decided not to. Instead, I heated up the plastic holder on the metal plate on setting 2 very briefly before using my box cutter to pop out the mesh. I don’t know if heating it at all was necessary, but I did it anyway.

Once they were all out, I scraped the excess product off the underside of the highlighters and glued the metal stickers onto them. I saved them all initially, but then the pink iridescent highlighter came off the mesh from the other side, which would have required that I glue that side directly touching the bottom of the highlighter onto the plastic. Considering how old these highlighter trio powders were, I figured I should just let the pink one go. Honestly, these other two are too sparkly for my taste now, but I’m not ready to let them go until they break!

Between the two pieces of packaging, these are now taking up significantly less space!

PROJECT 6: Transplating/Transferring Makeup Permanently from Faulty Packaging to Better Packaging

I know my Becca Shimmering Skin Perfectors are ancient, but I just can’t let them go! At least, not my favorites. The limited edition one called Champagne Gold was an item I was waiting patiently for to go on sale, but it sold out everywhere before that could happen! I had to deal with the regrets of missing out for over a year and a half before I happened to see them being sold on the Nordstrom Rack (technically Hautelook) website. The joy I felt over finally getting my hands on it, even though I didn’t use it a ton, is something I’m very nostalgic about. However, that original packaging had that rubberized gummy texture that is super sticky and gross feeling to touch. I had a pretty gold plastic compact from Becca with the shade Gold Lava inside that I never used because it was too glittery, so I decided to just get rid of the Gold Lava pan and put Champagne Gold in there instead.

The first thing I did was remove the Gold Lava sticker and put the original Champagne Gold sticker in that spot instead. Then, I put the old gummy packaging onto a piece of foil and put that onto my Z-potter. This wasn’t because it needed the foil specifically. I just didn’t want to get any of the sticky gummy part onto the surface of my depotting device. The compacts have holes on the bottoms, but because they’re still glued in, I didn’t want to risk breaking the powder, so I wanted a little heat to make it a gentler transition process.

Then I set the older compact with the aluminum foil to the side and put my gold compact in the circle to heat up. I then pulled the Gold Lava pan out before immediately put the Champagne Gold pan in the compact and pressed down so that the glue remaining on the bottom would stick to it. After it cooled off, I held the whole thing upside down (with my palm underneath just in case) to see if it stuck properly and it did! I didn’t try to make it magnetic because there’s no room for even the thinnest magnetic sheet. I have a few other original brown packaged highlighters, but none of those are sticky yet, so I’m keeping them in those for now, but may repeat this same process with the Own Your Light shade I have mixed feelings about and put Bronzed Amber in that ombre packaging instead.

PROJECT 7: Condensing Multiple Samples into One Container

If I have samples of things that would take multiple uses to try out, I make it a habit to find a tiny container to put the product in and limit air exposure. In this first example, I have two different shades of One/Size powders, but I didn’t notice a difference in the color on my face, so I wanted to put both of them into a larger container because it was a pain trying to evenly coat my powder brushes on such a small surface. I had a Besame loose powder container I had been saving, so it was the perfect way to make use of that as well.

I began with removing and cleaning the sifter lid, dumping out the remnants of the old powder, washing it, drying it, and setting it aside. I then removed the sifters from the two different shades of One/Size deluxe size samples, putting them in the clean Besame jar, and then mixed the two shades together before putting the Besame sifter lid back on top. The original mini powder puff that came with the Besame powder was never used, so even that was able to be saved!

Another example is that I tried each individual shade of the Dior lip balm and the colors weren’t significantly different enough on my lips to prevent me from scooping them all into a single jar. I have leftover empty lip balm jars from my past DIY projects, but those were too large for such a little amount of product. It actually came in handy that I now had two tiny jar containers in the form of those newly emptied One/Size powder sample jars. I just removed the sifter on one of them and cleaned out the jar before adding the balms into it. If I had any empty Laneige lip sleeping mask sample jars that are regularly available as a free gift with purchase from Sephora, I would have used that instead.

The photo of it below, admittedly does not look pretty, but I could have used a spatula to smooth them all around or even applied a little heat to melt the balm down enough for it to flatten out evenly into one smooth surface before it cools back off. However, I didn’t bother with that because there wasn’t much left. If I had 2-3 additional balm sample packs, I would have put more effort in making it pretty since it would be in my possession for longer.

I believe I mentioned I was going to declutter the Coloured Raine cream blushes in my recent review of the brand, but I kept the two smaller ones for reusing purposes. I had two sample packs of Rose Inc blushes and I wanted to save them so I could customize my blush looks. Even though Foxglove is my favorite color and the one I have in the full size, knowing I had three additional colors in samples is what kept me from purchasing more of them considering how infrequently I reach for them. So, I originally put them in a lipstick jar, but I had the idea to dump out the Coloured Raine blush, sterilize the pan, and use a spatula to spread out the three shades in a neat gradient of Anemone, Azalea, and Dahlia. The amount shown below is the end result of two trios of sample packs.

Since I didn’t want these to dry out, I thought it was a safe bet putting cream blushes in a container that was intended for cream.

BONUS PROJECT, PROJECT 8: Hiding Logos on Packaging/Making Packaging Better

There was a controversy with Ofra several years ago and I haven’t felt comfortable featuring them on my blog or showing their products ever since. However, the compacts are magnetic, and even though they are quite bulky, it felt like a shame to just toss them in the recycling. I wanted the ability to use them as backup compacts, and especially since these are tall enough that I can put a domed product in there. So, I took the sticker off the back, used a tool to pop the pan out of the compact from that hole showing at the bottom that was hidden by the sticker. I put that sticker onto the bottom of the metal pan instead. Then, I used Parian Spirits to clean off the bottom where the sticker used to be.

As for the front with the logos, stickers were a quick and easy way to hide them while also making the compacts look prettier with a beloved design. The sticker on the left was purchased from Redbubble. It’s a 3 inch by 3 inch sticker, which barely fit the lid dimensions. The sticker on the right was one that I got from Clionadh Cosmetics that has been coming free with every order.

In the future, if the edges of the stickers start to lift or is potentially getting dirty, I will consider putting a layer of Mod Podge Dimensional Magic on top. Other types and brands of sealer will work too, but I like the way it feels like plastic after a thick enough layer has been applied. If you’re handling Dimensional Magic though, be very careful not to get it on other items or skin as it’s an absolute pain to remove from fingers.

Using things like stickers, washi tape, scrapbook papers/cardstock, and so on, are ways to select prints and patterns that suits the makeup lovers’ tastes and elevate boring packaging into something truly special. I’m sure I’ve shown this multiple times before, but I treasure the look of the Huda Beauty highlighter palette that I did the same things to.

So, these have been some projects I’ve been doing lately! I’ve purchased a few more custom stickers in different designs from Redbubble, but I’m sure there are plenty of other places to get neat stickers. My first projects were made with stickers and washi tape from Amazon.

On a side note, one of my best friends has a Redbubble store which is how I discovered the website and other artists in the first place. If you’re interested in checking it out, it’s here.

That’s all for today!

Thank you for reading!


Best of Melt’s Mystery Bundles and Holiday Sale Part 1

Once again, Melt Cosmetics made mystery boxes available starting on Black Friday with a smaller $25 option and larger $75 box. They repeated these price options for the December versions, and the large December box is still available at this time. Everyone gets the same items in each specific box, so I watched quite a few videos on YouTube so I could know in advance what I’d be getting. Sure, it took the mystery element out of it, but I was able to guarantee the value would be worth it for me.

There are plenty of other items from the Mystery boxes that I am not going to feature because they are products I’ve already reviewed, I can’t wear because they don’t show up on my skin, I don’t like because of the color, or I’d feel uncomfortable trying out due to the suspicious smell (most of the Amor y Mariposas Collection lip liners).

The products I selected for the photo above are the ones I decided to keep for myself from the mystery bundles, in addition to a few extras I added to my cart during the 40% off sale that was simultaneously happening on the website (mystery boxes excluded). However, tackling them all in one giant post was too overwhelming, so I’m splitting this into two parts. Part 1 will cover all the eye products and Part 2 will come at a later date covering the face and Mariposas items.

Gemini II Palette

Sweetheart, Gemelas, Matheo, and Almond Eyes are my favorite shades from this palette. I don’t know what it is about pinks and greens that is such a struggle for me to think of ways to use them together, but that’s ultimately why I didn’t buy this palette at launch. I do like these two color families when used separately, so I continued to be tempted by them. As time went on and I saw the repackaged version of Gemini with Gemini II being used by others more and more, I reconsidered getting them until I began seeing photos online of some sort of growths appearing in various people’s palettes just two months after they bought them. Melt has notoriously had issues with their eyeshadow formulas in the palette versions (as opposed to their stacks), which is why I’ve never been willing to risk getting them at full price in case it happens to mine as well. It had been at least a year since I heard of any major issues, so I was just beginning to let go of my fear until I saw that. However, my two oldest Melt Palettes that I started using Spring/Summer 2022 (Amor y Mariposas and She’s in Parties) are still in perfect condition. So, that’s why I keep taking partial chances because I love their formula.

The mattes in this palette are exactly what I expect them to be from Melt: very pigmented, opaque grungy tones, and easy to blend. Matheo is a real shimmer with its brownish-green color and green sparkles but it’s a bit on the thin side and needs to be built up. Shmood is more of a metallic-satin. Shmood instantly reminded me of the She’s in Parties shadow from the She’s in Parties palette, but that one is a slight purple leaning red whereas Shmood is a warmer red with an orange shift on the eyes. I’m not used to owning such a matte-heavy palette, but I don’t have a single bad thing to say about the performance of any of these shadows. For my personal taste, I didn’t need both Bela and Lady Like since Bela is basically a brow bone shade without being impactful enough for me as an inner corner brightening color and Lady Like only faintly shows up and is the kind of color I just include for the transition shade to blend into, but no quality complaints. Everything is long lasting. The shimmer and satin don’t crease on me. They’re great! I just hope the quality doesn’t diminish over time.

I used the Allday Everyday Ultra Matte Eyeliner in 1987 in both of the green eye looks in this section.

As much as I enjoy this palette and am very pleased with it so far, my inability to use it to its fullest (the color choices and my skill level with color theory) is why I’m glad I was able to get it in a mystery bundle for technically a better savings value with the other items combined.

Rust Palette

Once again, I’m impressed by the mattes. Pigmented, soft, and blendable are the best words to describe them. Rott² is so intense that I have to be careful with that shade, but it can be sheered out if the tiniest amount is applied and heavily buffed. Other than Rott², the other mattes are easy to use. I’m also impressed with Erode considering tons of yellow mattes from other brands don’t show up very well on me because the amount of yellow tone I have to my skin blends in too much with the shadow color. Yellows also tend to disappear off my eye area because they are usually made to be a thinner or more powdery consistency (possibly too much titanium dioxide or another white base powder throwing off the dry base to binder ratio) that dusts off and doesn’t stick for long on me. So whenever I find a yellow matte eyeshadow that actually lasts, is a flattering and easily visible shade that’s also easy to blend, I always take notice.

This palette contains three metallics, but they’re only satisfactorily reflective for my tastes if applied wet. The end result is still on the low-sparkle side compared to the types of shimmers I typically wear, but I’m occasionally in the mood for something on the more subtle side, so I don’t mind. However, in doing swatches and building them up so much on my eyes with my fingers, both Tarnish and Ravage are starting to form a seal on the top layer of those shadows. It’s possible this could also be happening from double-dipping with my partly damp brush to get more intensity out of the shadows, but I think it’s moreso due to oils from my fingers. Redux hasn’t given me any issues yet, but it also has a more traditional shimmer texture to it than the other two metallics. I think it’s a little looser packed than the others, which could explain why it’s easier for me to pick up and why it hasn’t hard-panned.

It’s a shame that Tarnish and Ravage are the troublesome shadows because those are the two colors I like the most along with Erode, Rubbish (the tone of yellow I love to use as a transition shadow), and Rust (a nice warm brown). However, because I enjoy nearly all the mattes, plus the colors of these two metallics, I still very much like this palette overall. It’s not a very inspiring palette for me, but it has the go-to type of shades I like and use. If Pat Mcgrath can charge $65 for an all matte 6-pan palette, then I guess it’s not really my place to say the Rust palette isn’t worth full price considering Melt’s matte quality, but I personally recommend getting Rust on sale if possible.

Smoke Sessions

I’ve wanted this palette for years, but this is the one I heard the absolute most complaints about in terms of formula stability issues. I’ve heard of the shimmers randomly expanding in the pans and exploding out of them (then people pressing them back and it happening again), and I’ve seen the most growths and things appearing in these. From the moment I felt the shimmers, I understood how this may be possible considering how much wetter they are than all other Melt shimmers/satins/metallics that I’ve felt before. When I first got the palette, I opened it just to check that no shades were broken before setting the palette aside. When it actually came time that I was ready to use it about a month later, Blue Dream was cracked in the upper portion of the shadow. I have no idea if it’s just because the shimmers are more softly pressed or if it’s because mine was in the process of a reaction. I’m more inclined to give the benefit of the doubt and say it’s just soft and somehow broke in my handling the palette (even though I never dropped it). I pressed the shadow back with my finger (no wetting agent added) but the consistency of Blue Dream is so loose that it keeps picking up in strange chunks. I took a photo of it below. In order to use this shadow without getting fallout everywhere (plus have it look opaque), I have to apply it with a dampened brush. The binding ability appears to be weird in that one. I will of course update if I notice anything else, but we’ve passed the two month mark and nothing else has changed now. Hopefully there won’t be any additional developments.

Grand Daddy, Black Widow, and Mean Green are like my favorite types of greens in terms of color. Having them all in one palette is what drew me in. Gravity OG, Sour Diesel, and Space Queen are colors I also like, so despite all the questionable things said about this palette, it was just impossible for me to skip forever. I don’t have regrets getting it for 40% off during the sale, but this formula has to be babied a lot.

These mattes are not what I’ve come to expect from Melt. They’re so much stiffer and less easy to blend. I was quite disappointed in Sour Diesel since that murky green just looks murky brown on my eyes. I wanted more of that green tinge to show through. As for the shimmers, they are a wetter texture but they still don’t pick up that well and the consistency somehow isn’t enough to make them impactful on the eyes. I still have to dampen my brush when I apply them. On the positive side, they do look beautiful after that and I’m used to wetting my shadows anyway, so that isn’t a deal breaker for me. I’m just perplexed as to how they’re so creamy/wet yet still under-perform without help. I’ve also had a little bit of creasing with these too, which is something I’m not used to from Melt either. So, as beautiful as these tones are, I was a bit disappointed. I think if Melt reformulated this palette to what they’re currently using in the newer ones, this would have had the potential to be a favorite in my collection, and not just out of the palettes I’ve bought from the brand.

Bad Side Zodiac Mini Eyeshadow Palette in Earth

I bought this during the 40% off sale and before I noticed how similar it would be to all the other Melt palettes I have. I was just so focused on wanting this color story.

Now that I have a lot more experience using Melt’s shadows, I can say that the matte quality of Earth (I didn’t notice a difference with Air) is the tiniest bit lower than in She’s in Parties, Amor y Mariposas, Rust, and Gemini II, but only the tiniest bit. I still very much like them and find them to be quite good. It’s only really when layered on top of each other that they can look a little muddy.

I’m not sure if it’s just because the shimmers are yellows and oranges, which can blend in quite a bit with my skintone, but I felt the need to wet them for more impact. Over Critical is quite a harsh tone of yellow though on me, and wetting it made the consistency a little odd in terms of getting it to lay smoothly and not patchy, kind of like my troubles with the Blue Dream shade from the Smoke Sessions palette. Know-It-All and Materialistic, however, were creamier and easier to pick up and spread smoothly. I’ve noticed that I prefer Melt’s shimmer formula in their newer palettes rather than their older ones, but their mattes are what is special about their eyeshadows. That’s why even though I prefer palettes with more shimmers than mattes, it’s probably a good thing that Melt’s palettes tend to be the opposite.

Ultra Matte Gel Liner in Onyx and Cultura

The Melt Gel liners are fantastic, in my experience, so I purchased Cultura during the sale and received Onyx twice in mystery boxes. I like the waterproof nature to them (and how they still come off with a bit of Bioderma and a makeup wipe without needing a waterproof remover specifically). They dry quickly, don’t smudge, and last all day without the line cracking. I don’t mind using a jar eyeliner if it’s a colorful one, but I would honestly not get much use out of Onyx purely because I find liquid eyeliner pens to be so much easier to use for all my black eyeliner needs.

Allday Everyday Ultra Matte Eyeliner in 1987

I got this liner from the Mystery Bundle. It has been discontinued at Sephora, though it’s still available for sale on Melt’s website. Melt has a new range of eyeliners called “Slick Waterline Eye Pencils,” so my guess is they’re just trying to get rid of the remaining stock. I hope these aren’t too old.

This pencil’s color is dark enough for me, but I prefer ultra rich black liner shades similar to the depth of Onyx. It glides across the lash line easily. It needs a little time to fully set before it will be smudge-proof and water-proof, but that does happen if it’s fully dry. It’s even easier to remove than the Gel Liners, but is tough enough to not budge all day (not that I usually have problems with that unless it’s in my waterline). It’s a decent eyeliner, but I almost always create a wing and the point of this pencil isn’t sharp enough to create that easily. If I want one, I have to use an angled brush to sharpen the outer line or to use concealer. So, I honestly don’t think I’ll get much use out of this either, but I wanted to try it out anyway.

To see these on the eyes, 1987 is in the two eye looks using the green shadows in the Gemini II section. Onyx are in the last two of the three eye looks in the Smoke Sessions sections. Cultura is the yellow liner in the Rust palette eye looks section.

That’s everything for today! Part 2 will probably take several more weeks to give me time to finalize my thoughts, but I have tried almost everything for that one so far and I have been taking photos for it already. Thank you for reading and I hope you’ll check back here again for more beauty content!


Kaleidos’ Latest Three Releases

The absolute newest release from Kaleidos is the Sound of Winter Lip Clay Collection. I purchased a custom bundle so I could buy the Willow Wisp Tin with Golden Rosin from that set, Pink Himalayan and Tundra from the Polar Placid Vault, and Terra from the original Sand Castle Vault. I nearly forgot that I purchased Mahogany from the Flora Noir Vault as well in one of the November or December orders, so I will include demonstration photos of that too.
The release prior to that was of the Symphony Contour Trios. I purchased the option in Dark. There are five of them in total with one version darker than mine and three that are lighter. I’m impressed with these offerings considering how their first contour palettes weren’t very inclusive and only came in two options.
Then, the third newest release was their line of Epiphany Glow Melt-On Eyeliners. I purchased the one called Night of Creation.

I bought the face trio and multichrome eyeliner during Black Friday, but I didn’t receive it until late December. The newest Lip Clays were available for purchase mid December and did not arrive until early January, so I have spent less time with these Lip Clays, but they’re no different than the ones I’ve used throughout 2022.

Photos I take in this spot tend to wash out my skin, but I’m not posting these face-foward pictures for color accuracy. I just wanted to show examples of the Lip Clays on the face without being zoomed in so closely. Also, I frequently wear two different eyeshadow looks on testing days, so please excuse that.

I now own twelve Lip Clays. My opinions of them haven’t changed, and those who wish to see my reviews of the rest can find them here and here. I’m still impressed with how long wearing yet comfortable it is on the lips. It’s transfer resistant, as long as oil from food hasn’t broken it down, and it’s easy to touch up. I love the plush velvety texture, although it’s not as completely unique as I thought. I recently learned that Colourpop’s line of Lux Velvet Liquid Lipsticks are similar enough that I would recommend those as an alternative if Colourpop happens to be more accessible to someone than Kaleidos. The lip products have similar price points, though Colourpop tends to have deeper and more frequent discounts. Kaleidos makes unique shade options though for the more daring and color-loving makeup wearers.

The only new development about the Lip Clays I’ve experienced is that Wild Apple separated a bit. Unlike all the other Lip Clays that maintained their mousse-like texture, my version of Wild Apple was giving me fully liquid swatches until I stirred it in the tube and it mixed back with the rest of the lingering thick creamy product inside that I’m used to seeing. It’s even visible in the swatch photo above with all except Wild Apple having mostly dried down in spite of me waiting a few minutes for it to dry. Wild Apple was part of my oldest custom set that I purchased a little over a year ago. The other three Lip Clays that came with it haven’t changed. The smell is slightly more chemical-like, so it might be starting to turn early considering the 18 month period after opening date.

I’ve been using the Symphony Contour Trio quite a lot since it arrived. The powders feel super soft to the touch and remind me of the Hourglass Ambient Lighting and Laura Mercier Candleglow Perfecting powders, put more heavily pigmented. The fill shade is supposed to be the illuminator that, “delivers soft, from-within radiance with buttery smooth powder that expertly blurs skin textures and naturally brightens targeted areas.” I’m a bit confused that this is considered a glow product when I am unable to see any shimmer or sheen to the powder whatsoever. The only glow I get is from my foundation. The powder imparts a natural finish at best, which is why I feel so comfortable using it to set my under eyes. Kaleidos also sells the “fill” compacts separately and I was considering getting a lighter shade since this just sets things in place and doesn’t deliver on the brightening effect (possibly due to the color depth), but I’m not sure if the Tan version would be too light for me. Had this product been less of a setting powder and more of a finishing one with shimmer or a sheen like the Guerlain meteorites, I’d have been willing to give another shade a try. But I only need it for setting and am perfectly happy to have this one for that purpose. That also being said, kudos to Kaleidos for the fact that all my comparisons to this product are high end brands because that’s the quality level of this product and for a really great price!

The packaging is surprisingly weighty metal while also being sleek and easy to hold in the hand. I’m quite impressed with the design!

When it comes to using the sculpting contour shade or the chisel brontour color, I get near airbrushed results when my base makeup is matte. When it’s on my typical slightly dewy or natural finish foundations, it can require a little more effort on my part because it may stick a tiny bit where I first lay the product down. Because the sculpt shade is a bit deep for me and I already have to use a controlled hand to have it blend into my skin, I have to be especially careful to apply a little at a time and with a brush that will disperse the product lightly while also aiding in the blend. With the chisel shade, I don’t have to worry about being as precise with it because the color match suits me better. In fact, when I use this trio, I often reach for the fill shade and chisel shade and skip trying to contour. The sculpt shade is cool-toned and deep, so it does have a sculpting effect, but I prefer to have a little more grey so I can actually create a faint shadow. So, if I’m in the mood to contour, I still reach for my Hindash Beautopsy palette instead.

Although not completely perfect, I like this a lot and foresee myself continuing to get use out it!

My review of this liner is a first and second impression, so please keep that in mind. I will update this post in the future if I discover anything that differs from what I experienced initially.

I love multichromes, so it’s only natural that I find multichrome eyeliners super appealing. However, I know how to turn eyeshadows into liners, so I’ve tried for the longest time to prevent myself from buying them for the convenience/ease of not having to scrape some off and mixing it with a liquid product (like MAC Fix+, isododecane from TKB Trading, Inglot Duraline, or Mehron Mixing Liquid) and applying carefully with a brush and then having to clean off the tools, etc.
So, I ultimately skipped getting the $28 Natasha Denona Chromium Liquid Eyeshadows, the $26 Danessa Myricks Twin Flames, and JD Glow MultiChrome Gel Liners for $18.50. It was also easier to pass since those are liquid products. I was a lot more tempted when I heard Sugar Drizzle had multichrome eyeliner crayons, but I don’t think they are sold individually and I’m always wary about purchasing from small indie brands for the first time. So, when I was already making that Black Friday order from Kaleidos, the $12.80 (regularly $16) was too good to pass up on. Around the same time, I got the Danessa Myricks Beauty Infinite Chrome Pencil in my Mystery Trendmood Box, so it’s only natural to want to compare them.

I chose Night of Creation because its the type that no matter what lighting situation it’s in, the angle, or whether it shows a visible shift or not, I would love it and use it in the same way. Kaleidos describes the colors as, “Ultramarine, Violet, and Dark Plum,” and I often use deep and vibrant blues and purples on my lower lash line as a pop of color to a neutral look or as a secondary color to an otherwise monochromatic eye. The other liner color options, for example Limelight, goes on the spectrum of blue, blue-green, green, and yellow-green in a look that I might not want any yellow because the warmth could clash with an otherwise cool tone look, for example. Of course the benefit to having a multichrome is to have a shift, but not if the shifting color might look off next to the tones of other eyeshadows I would be wearing. Night of Creation has all cool tone bold colors, which means it’s most likely to all look good or not at all. That makes it simpler to know when I want to incorporate it in a look or not.

Night of Creation applies so easily to my hand, but on my eyelids with my lines and texture, I had to go over the same spot for a full minute in order to get the opacity level shown all over my eyelid in the photo above, and at least ten times to just my upper lash line. This isn’t due to a lack of creaminess. The product is soft, but it’s as if I get a coating of the black base and have to keep rubbing over and over until the sparkle part with the actual pigment comes off. For this reason, I haven’t thought to use this in my waterline and don’t plan on it either. The product tip is very thick and not easy to apply precisely. I’m someone who loves doing a wing and had to switch holding the pencil from 180 to a 90 degree angle to try and get a thinner line using its side. I still had to sharpen up the edges with concealer in the examples above. Also, I can still see patches in the full lid example, so I don’t plan on using this pencil for that in the future and will stick to keeping it on the lower and/or upper lash line.

One advantage the Danessa Myricks pencil has over the one from Kaleidos is how thin it is, which makes it so much easier for me to use precisely. I know a big complaint from customers about it is how little product one gets in the Chrome Micropencils, but as someone who normally takes six months to use up a black eyeliner, even if it was in almost every eye look for those six months, a product like this one that I’m going to use a lot less frequently should last me ages. Kaleidos has 0.20 grams compared to Danessa’s 0.15 grams, so I’m fine with that difference. Some brands give a ton of product, but among the micro pencil category, the Hourglass 1.5MM Mechanical Gel Eye Liner is 0.06 grams and the Shiseido MicroLiner Ink Eyeliner is 0.08 grams, so those have even less for around the same price and they’re not multichromes.

They’re both beautiful on the eyes. Because they’re very different colors, I don’t think it would be fair of me to compare shifting ability and shine between them (dark vs light color and contrasting shifts vs similar color depths in shifts), but Tina compared several in her video here. She actually owns Charoite, which is most comparable to Night of Creation.

These are also both waterproof. I do not recommend trying this on without a waterproof makeup remover or an oil of some kind to help break it down because these are truly waterproof, especially the one from Kaleidos. Most of the time when a product is waterproof I can still remove it from my skin with Bioderma, but neither of these budged at all when I made multiple passes over my swatches with Bioderma and my Makeup Eraser cloth. I then used regular hand soap and water, which only the tiniest bit of the Danessa Myricks came off at. I then used Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Liquid Soap that contains oil in it and that removed about half of the Kaleidos and most of the Danessa Myricks. Ultimately, I still pulled out my Sephora Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover which did the trick but was still not a breeze to do like I expected. So these are no joke!
When I was using the Kaleidos liner on my actual lids, a piece of it broke off (during the attempt to cover the whole lid when I was rubbing the eye repeatedly and forcefully) and fell somewhere on my laminate wood floor. I couldn’t see where it was, so I assumed it rolled under the bed and I planned to deal with it later. What I did not realize was that it didn’t roll under the bed. I accidentally stepped on it when I got up, and since I was wearing socks I didn’t feel a thing. I started walking to my door and then realized I had a trail of probably fifteen spots of deep shimmery purple smudges into the laminate. I grabbed a paper towel and some water to start wiping it up, and when it wouldn’t budge I remembered in horror that it’s waterproof.

So, I had to use oil to remove the trail of liner smudges from across the floor, and then use soap and water to get the oil residue off the floor, and then dry it all up again so I wouldn’t accidentally slip and give myself a whole new set of problems.

The moral of the story is not to underestimate the waterproof power of these liners! Haha.

As for longevity on the eyes, they both live up to the claims of being smudgeproof, but because I get oily lids and I tend to rub my eyes, these had some spots that wore off by the end of the day. My upper lash line was fine, but the inner portion of both my lower lash lines had missing product. The Kaleidos held up better though than the Danessa Myricks one did. Those that get oily lids, but don’t rub their eyes, plus those that don’t have an oily-lid problem should have no trouble with longevity. And I should also mention that even though I have oily lids, removing the leftover liner was not an easy task.

UPDATE FEBRUARY 28, 2023: I ended up buying two additional Danessa Myricks liners and thought I should add swatches of them here since I will be unlikely to re-review them again.

Well, that’s everything I could think to mention! I hope you have a great week and thank you for checking out this post today!


Charlotte Tilbury Glow Glide Face Architect Highlighters and More

This review is technically eight months in the making since the bronzer, Pillow Talk Highlighter, and mascara were supposed to be part of last year’s “May Purchases Reviewed” post that I still have yet to complete. In fact, so much time has passed that I fully used up and decluttered the travel size mini of the mascara, and had to rely on a sample size version to complete this review. The advantage of this situation is that I have very solidified options on most of the products we’ll be diving into today. But, let’s start with the newest product that I’m the most excited to talk about first!

Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Glow Glide Face Architect Highlighter in Sunset Glow and Bronze Glow

Even though Sunset Glow is my better shade match, the blended out swatch shows that it’s close to my skin tone. If it was the tiniest bit darker, I might not have liked it as much as I do.

This was supposed to be an early 2023 release, but 6 of the 7 shades were available via Selfridges for $38 on December 30, 2022. I knew Sunset Glow was the shade I really wanted the most, but it started off as a CT website exclusive for a week or so before it came to Selfridges, and I had already ordered Bronze Glow. As of this moment, Sunset Glow is still not available at Sephora, SpaceNK, Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, Saks Fifth Avenue, or Beautylish. I spotted it on the Feelunique website, so it seems the best chance to get this particular shade (if you live in the US) is from UK based places that have a US site too.

One of the first things I noticed when I got the product in my hands was how much it rattled when I held it and used it, to the point where the pan starts spinning in the compact when I try to do swatches. It’s not loose and it doesn’t fall out when held upside down. It’s just a matter of it being magnetic and not glued down. I don’t know if the ridges/raised elements on the bottom of the pan is the cause for the actual sound from it not laying evenly or if it’s due to having a weaker magnet inside the compact. It’s a minor flaw that I don’t mind because it makes it that much easier to transfer this pan into a different compact if Charlotte Tilbury comes out with something in the future with a pretty design on it. I like this outer packaging design more than the basic logo, but it’s not as cute as some of the past lunar new year compacts for instance, so I’d love to transfer this into prettier packaging some day because I really like this highlighter!

I created a chart using the images from the Charlotte Tilbury website to make it easier to see the color recommendations. Since Sunset Glow is the harder to find shade, I put that one in the middle, though it’s supposed to be in the 5th position.

According to the brand, these shades are “flawless on everyone,” but certain colors look especially pretty on certain skin tones. Bronze Glow is supposed to be the deepest color, but the shimmer looked light enough to work for me based on the brand’s swatches and examples on models. I was right in that regard, but the darker tone does keep it from looking as nice on me as it could. The point of a highlighter is to draw attention to a particular area of the face and bring that forward. Bronze Glow looks flatter and duller compared to Sunset Glow because the base isn’t light enough to create that lifted illusion. It still draws attention due to the sparkle color, but it’s not as pretty as when it’s both shimmery and lighter in depth, but not so light as to leave a pale stripe on the face. For this reason, I recommend taking the depth of one’s skin tone into account when choosing a shade despite the brand’s insistence on a universal aspect to them. As I learned, certain models are demonstrating one specific highlighter color for a reason and I found that choosing the shade closest to the model that looked like me resulted in the highlighter looking its smoothest. The “wrong” one drew a little more attention to texture.

Judging this based on Sunset Glow alone, these highlighters are super smooth. It feels slightly damp to the touch, but it is dry on the face. Part of what’s supposed to make this line of highlighters different from the rest is that it’s supposed to have a finish that looks like it’s melting into the skin like liquid highlighters would, while benefiting from the ease of use as a powder product. It looks beautiful all day and doesn’t lose its reflectivity like some lower quality shimmer in highlighters can do. This is by far my favorite highlighter from the brand and I believe it could be in the top ten ranking among all the ones I own.

Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Highlighter in Dream Light

This may come as a surprise, but I wasn’t impressed with this product initially. It’s possible that I just had a sour taste in my mouth from my first one arriving broken. When this one arrived, I was disappointed to see the random larger glitter specks particularly within the dark reddish bronze strip (#2) and champagne colored strip (#4). Part of the theoretical benefit I saw to owning this highlighter was the ability to have four different highlighter colors within one product and be able to customize the shades by mixing two or more together, but the ones on the left and right sides of the pan are so small and thin that a select few brushes allow me to pick up the single color I choose. It turns out that the only shade I feel I can pull off wearing by itself is the deep golden one (#3). For getting just that, I tend to use my discontinued Wayne Goss #15 fan brush.

When I want a stronger intensity level of highlighter, I add the tiniest bit of the light gold (#1) on the very highest point/spot on my cheekbones. Besides the random larger sparkles, my biggest reasons for not preferring Stripe #2 is that it’s too red and dark, and Stripe #4 because it’s too light. Mixing all four shades creates a beautiful middle-ground color that I like, but I don’t wear it that way because of the increased number of random larger glitter specks. Of course, the more I use this and the more the shades kick up into one another, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to not get larger particle size shimmer in #1 and #3. So, it’s something I’m just trying to embrace.

Because this is another relatively smooth highlighter, I do like it. However, if I had to choose between the Pillow Talk highlighter and the new Glow Glide Face Architect ones, I prefer the latter because of the extra smoothness and glow it provides without looking so powdery. They are the same price, and the Pillow Talk highlighter gives more variety, but four pretty highlighter colors don’t compare to one near-perfect shade.

Charlotte Tilbury Beautiful Skin Sun-Kissed Glow Bronzer in 3 Tan

I love this bronzer, but it had me going crazy for a bit! I included multiple photos because no matter what background or lighting I use, the color doesn’t look consistent. To my own eyes, when I wear this on my face, it sometimes looks more olive, or neutral, or warm-yellow, or warm-orange. I still can’t give a definitive answer as to what undertone this bronzer in Tan has! When I first started using it, there were times I thought the shade was strange and then other times it was absolute perfection! I’ve been using it on and off since June 2022 and I haven’t figured out the witchcraft that makes it look so different sometimes, but it’s one of my top three favorite cream bronzers now. It blends effortlessly on my face and sets without needing to powder it. The longevity is fantastic. One of the things I’m super impressed by is the fact that the texture has remained creamy for all these months without a film or discolored layer forming on the surface, and hasn’t partly dried out, like some other cream products of mine have done. It’s a pleasure to use every time!
Factoring my powder bronzers into the equation, this product has a ton of competition for claiming a spot in my top five favorites, but this might just be number one among the cream bronzers. I have three others that come to mind, but I haven’t spent enough time with them to say for sure yet which is the best of the best. Perhaps 2023 will be the year I finally do a yearly favorites post again to declare the winner.

In order to enjoy the pretty swirl pattern for longer, I mostly put my brush in the same spot (top right of the compact). It looks barely used, for that reason, from the top down perspective, but I’ve created a decent dip into the pan when taking into account how little product is needed.

Below, I’ve included a photo (taken in June) of another bronzer I bought that same month and love: the Nars Laguna Bronzing Cream in Laguna 04. It’s darker and more red toned than the Charlotte Tilbury cream bronzer, which is why I prefer Charlotte’s over it. Plus, the Nars bronzer is heavily scented.

There are so many reviews of this product by now, so perhaps it doesn’t need to be said, but the cream products are darker than the powder counterparts. For example, the powder version of Tan is lighter than this cream version of Tan. The powder version of Deep is lighter than the cream version of Deep. So, despite there only being four shade options, this helps to round out Charlotte’s overall bronzer line if you don’t mind using cream versus powder. I always wanted a “Dark Tan” or “3.5” bronzer shade in the powder line, but cream Tan is filling that void for me.

The price of this is ridiculously expensive, but it was worth it to me. It’s like if the Danessa Myricks Power Bronzer Cream and Anastasia Beverly Hills Cream Bronzer had a baby and that baby acquired magical powers.

Charlotte Tilbury Hypnotising Pop Shots in Sunlit Diamond and Cosmic Rocks

I rarely reach for single eyeshadow products, unless they’re in a custom magnetic palette, so I try not to purchase things like this. However, that packaging was pretty, and having a multichrome eyeshadow in a beautiful compact that I could reuse (if I wanted to re-press a different eyeshadow into there) was extremely appealing. So, I purchased Cosmic Rocks. The only reason I ended up with Sunlit Diamond is because the brand sent me that on accident instead of the Sunset Glow highlighter. So, they allowed me to keep it and sent me a second package with my correct item inside. Sunlit Diamond is a beautiful color, so I’m happy to have it, even though I wouldn’t have bought it myself. It’s not due to the product being bad. These eyeshadows are pigmented and sparkly and stay pretty well bound together when picked up, which means I can avoid making a mess when applying them and I don’t have to dampen them to apply them either. However, I did apply the inner halves wet in the eye looks below to see if there would be a dramatic difference and there was not.
I don’t get much fallout during application, but I can get a bit of it as the day goes on. I still haven’t tried these with glitter glue, but perhaps that could prevent some of that fallout throughout the day.

Also, I get the tiniest bit of movement where the shadow doesn’t want to stay in the deepest line of my crease, but it could be the primer I’ve used with this. It’s such a minor amount for me, but I thought I would mention that anyway for those who might have deeper lines on the eyes than mine. Admittedly, since I’m not much of a single shadow wearer, I’ve tested this product the least of everything else (only four times).

As far as multichromes go, Cosmic Rocks certainly can’t compete with Clionadh in terms of intensity, but I’m not certain if that was even the brand’s goal considering their typical clientele. It doesn’t have nearly as dark of a base as the others, so I’m guessing Cosmic Rocks is meant to be a more approachable way to wear a colorful shadow and a multichrome without intimidating neutral lovers too much.

Even without being as deep as Clionadh’s Jewelled multichromes, Cosmic Rocks is still pretty dramatic on my eyes, so I’m still pleased with it. However, considering the full $34 price of the Pop Shots (I bought Cosmic Rocks from Selfridges for $25), I wouldn’t recommend if for those who love really full on multichromes. Granted, it does come in a lovely lightweight compact, so perhaps the upcharge is understandable considering it houses a multichrome eyeshadow. As much as I like Sunlit Diamond, I personally find the full price to be astronomical for a more traditional eyeshadow.

Charlotte Tilbury Push Up Lashes Mini Mascara

Right off the bat, I have to say that my experience with the sample was different from the travel size. I’m not sure if that has to do with the travel size having more product in the tube and being able to fully coat the brush or if there’s a slight difference between the two applicator brushes. All I know is that I liked the travel size enough to where I considered buying a full size, but I would never have been interested in this mascara if it was based on the sample alone, because with the sample I couldn’t build as much volume as I wanted without doing at least two coats. Unfortunately, I used up the travel size many months ago, so I cannot remember which eye looks I’ve taken in the past that I was wearing this mascara. I only have photos of this mascara using the sample size (which is in the pop shots section above).

Based on the travel size, I like that I can create a defined fanned out look with the wand. I get a decent amount of length and volume, although my lashes don’t get quite as long or full as my favorite mascaras can provide. I like that the brush is fairly skinny, so I have an easier time coating my lower lashes. I don’t get any clumping, smudging, or flaking with this either.

I considered repurchasing the travel size again specifically for my lower lashes, but after using the MAC Extended Play Lash, I decided against it because I prefer the applicator on that one and it’s slightly cheaper than the Push Up Mascara from Charlotte Tilbury. Plus, my top favorite mascaras do a good enough job with both top and bottom lashes and I just have to be a little more careful and deliberate when applying mascara to my lower lashes.

I’ve sometimes experienced a difference between the full size tube and travel size of mascaras (if for instance one is wetter or one gets too much or too little product on the applicator), so I don’t know if I would notice yet another difference if I had the full-size. But, based on the travel size, this is a nice mascara, but I don’t see myself repurchasing it.

That concludes this Charlotte Tilbury update post!

Thank you for reading!


One/Size Disney Fantasia Collection

I thought this collection was cute, but I admittedly didn’t purchase it until it went on sale at the end of last year. Now, the products are being offered at an even greater discount at Sephora, so I wanted to post my review while there are still some items left to purchase for those who might be interested.

Disney Fantasia Face and Eye Palette

I hadn’t tried eyeshadows from One/Size prior to owning this palette, but I’m very interested in getting more if the brand comes out with palettes with my type of colors in them. The mattes are so soft and creamy, almost like a wet sensation on the fingers, despite being completely dry and a powder. The closest comparison I can think of is like Tarte Amazonian Clay matte eyeshadows, but even creamier. The matte eyeshadows in this palette are actually the most similar to the matte blushes from the Cheek Clapper trios that I love so much because of how pigmented they are while also being smoothing, blurring, and easy to blend. I’m no cosmetic chemist, but I’m guessing it’s the amount of silica and “cone” ingredients in the brand’s matte products that make them feel the way they do. It’s impressive that they managed to use dimethicone, for instance, in a matte without it sealing itself after being swatched a few times (as I noticed that pattern with certain matte powder products I own and back when I was attempting to make my own pressed eyeshadows), but I’ve observed that ingredient lists with dimethicone in a matte product tend to have kaolin clay, zea mays/corn starch, or some other oil-absorbing dry ingredient with it, so perhaps that’s why silica is paired with it. Perhaps there’s another contributing ingredient as well that I haven’t realized, but either way, I love the performance of these mattes. I have to say though that I noticed Broomstick darkens when wet. That’s why I have it swatched twice in the swatch photo above. With each swipe, to smooth out the swatch, it kept getting darker and darker in places. I don’t know if it was from oils on my finger or if my finger was slightly wet from a spot on my microfiber cloth I use to clean off my arm between swatches. So, I did the second swatch underneath when I knew for sure my finger was dry and after smoothing it just once, it still appeared like it wanted to darken on the edges. I have also observed Broomstick darken a little in my eye looks while on top of my creamier primers. I don’t mind this since it still works as a transition shade for me whether it stays true to color or deepens up, but this may be an issue for those wanting a light non-dramatic eyeshadow look. Then again, considering the intensity of the blushes and the inclusion of very sparkly transformer shadows, this palette isn’t for those wanting completely natural looks.

Ironically, the darkest matte called D Minor isn’t as deep on the eyes as it looks in swatches. It blends to a softer more subtle color (for me).

This collection going on sale at Sephora and the One/Size website since last December leads me to the conclusion that this hasn’t sold very well, and I can’t help but wonder if part of the issue is due to it trying to appeal to everyone. We have the very neutral eyeshadows that will give soft looks. Dream is a satin that looks like a pale iridescent pink at certain angles. We have pigmented but not intense mattes. Classical has small size shimmer for a refined look, while still being nice and shiny to the point where I don’t feel the need to dampen it on my lids, but the virtue of the color on my skin tone makes me want a little more impact when used in the inner corner. Anyway, the subtleties of those shades are countered by the highly reflective and glittery Oh Boy and Yensid shadows. Those are going to appeal to people like me who enjoy a more impactful look, but even Yensid could turn off some people due to the duochrome being like an iridescent pink with blue and purple shimmer. Those might be too wild of colors for a neutral wearer to ever want to use. I heard the transformer shades could be used as face highlighters as well, but that’s too outside of my comfort zone to try. Fun fact for those who don’t know: Yensid is Disney spelled backwards.
Then we have a matte blush called Symphony for those with light to tan skin tones that’s so pigmented it manages to still show up faintly on me. Then Orchestra is super dark and likely intended for medium to rich skin tones. Those that prefer matte blushes will likely not enjoy the intense shimmery golden orange, Intermission, with its metallic reflective shimmer that is not for the faint of heart. Lastly, we have the even more intense and deep blush, Finale. By having something for minimalist and bold makeup wearers, plus products for two very different skintone spectrums, there are going to be some products in this palette that people skip using altogether. Sure, the blushes can be built up or sheered out, and used on the eyes* like I did in the eye looks above, but not everyone wants to do that. I’d wager that the majority of makeup users don’t want a gigantic palette that they only use half the products and neglect the rest. Funny enough, this mixture of having a little bit of everything makes this palette actually work fairly well for me, but I’m certainly not in the majority.

*I don’t know if the blushes are deemed “safe to use in the immediate eye area” or not, so I’m not advising anyone to do what I did without conducting their own research and determining its safety for one’s self. I’m just posing a hypothetical. Blushes can generally be viewed as multi-purpose.

This palette has extra touches that could make it appealing, such as the beautiful Collector style book cover with actual Disney designs (and not just Disney-inspired drawings). The mirror lifts up to show a cute paper cut-out that reminds me of the Urban Decay Alice in Wonderland palette days. I love book style packaging, but we’re moving away from bulk these days as Pat Mcgrath Labs must have learned after the sales of the Bridgerton Blushing Delights Face Palette. Even if the size and shape makes sense for the collab, the majority prefers pretty yet sleek packaging.

I love using round cheek brushes, but in order to get Orchestra to apply sheer and even, I needed to switch to a sweeping style brush instead and apply it in one direction rather than circular buffing.

Going back to the blushes, Patrick Starrr mentions in the launch video that they are the Cheek Clapper formulas from the Trios, but the matte blushes don’t feel the same to me. They’re not as smooth and definitely feel more like a typical powder. They’re not bad, but they’re not something I’d grab to wear if they weren’t already in the palette when I want to use the eyeshadows.
The shimmery blushes I doubt I will use beyond this review. I forgot to powder my cheekbone after reapplying the Becca Under Eye Brightener (which is a sticky product) and Intermission immediately stuck to the spot, so I’d caution against wearing the shimmer ones on a dewy base. Making sure it goes on top of a powder layer first helped apply Finale more evenly, but the type of shimmer in these are not my style and are barely better than the blush shades within the Coloured Raine Glowlighters line that I despised. The color of Finale is too deep for my preference anyway. I can use Intermission as a highlighter if I’m feeling up for having it look quite apparently orange-gold. The base color is darker in Intermission than the one in the Freaky Peach Cheek Clapper Trio that I feel more comfortable using as a highlighter instead.

As seen in the photo, the shimmer formulas are very different. In the Cheek Clapper Trio, it’s a thinner sheerer powder with ultra fine shimmer that’s closer to a satin. The other one is chunky, wetter, and although it has pretty small shimmer particles as well, it’s more visible on top of the deeper orange base color. The one improvement in favor of Intermission is that the drier formula from Freaky Peach had a harder time sticking to my face and lasting on my cheekbones as a highlighter. Intermission having a wetter bind improved the longevity.

Disney Fantasia ​Bit of Magic Highlighter

If this isn’t the first review of mine you’re reading, then you know I typically prefer a subtle highlighter (or a beaming one that looks smooth and/or wet on the skin), so I’m going to just put it out there that I knew this was going to be glittery before I bought it and I still bought it anyway because of the sale and the cute gimmick of the highlighter having a different pattern depending on how it is held. That being said, Disney makes me think of sparkles and glitter, so it fitting the theme is something I’m happy about, even though that also means I’m not likely to reach for it. It’s a weird contradiction, I know.

This is semi-transparent, but there’s just enough pink-champagne hue (and mix of gold and pearl sparkles) that make it borderline able to work but also a bit on the light side for me. The depth of base color helps the situation for me, but that very thing could make it too dark for quite the range of people.

I noticed that it does blend better into the skin if it’s on top of something dewy. I’ve used three different brushes with this highlighter: the Chikuhodo Zen ZE-5, the Too Faced Diamond Light Highlighting Brush, and the Rephr 36. The Rephr brush is the most dense of the lot and worked the best for getting more than just a sparkle layer of highlighter.

There isn’t anything much else to add. Either the color will work or it won’t and either the potential buyer likes the glittery look or doesn’t. The packaging and trick with the imprint is about as special as it gets. Without that, I would say it’s a middle of the road highlighter.

Disney Fantasia Point Made Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner Pen

The Disney eyeliner is the same as the standard One/Size eyeliner in the color Bodacious Black, just with slight tweaks to the packaging. When the original was first released, I didn’t pay too much attention to the reviews, but I remembered hearing that it was easy to control, dispensed a nice rich black color, but it had some kind of packaging design flaw. At the time that I bought the Disney one, I completely forgot about the design issue and only remembered the positives. The photos above and below demonstrate my experience that I can get a really thin, controlled, crisp line or at times too much comes out at once and it gets very thick. Contrary to what I had heard, it’s not immediately easy. If I do shorter strokes, I can create the line how I want, but if I rush it or try to do too long of a line in one go, I end up making it too thick. Overall though, I think I’d have liked this even more than my holy grail Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner if it wasn’t for the leaking issue with the One/Size liner when too much product is at the tip and it doesn’t go back down in the tube so it gets all over the pen. I tried to resolve this by storing it tip side up, but I don’t know what the long term performance will be like, especially with the other issue of the cap. There’s no snap closure. A small touch can make the lid lift back up, which is highly likely going to make it dry up faster if I’m not careful. When I originally had it in my makeup bag, I saw a thin line where the lid hadn’t come off completely, but it was still not shut all the way. And there have also been times that after I used it, I put the cap back on and was about to put it to the side and realized it wasn’t closed all the way because just pressing it down instinctively isn’t enough. You have to look at it every single time you press down to make sure it’s actually closed because it isn’t going to make a snapping sound that a lot of pens and markers have to indicate that it’s closed. For that reason, I wouldn’t repurchase the original either unless it was put in a different component.

As I mentioned before, I can’t remember much about the original launch, but I’m not sure if the brand decided not to make the lids snap close in order to be easier for those with difficulties with their hands? The way that the pen also has a very smooth top and bottom but a rougher plastic portion where I would naturally grip the pen (and would be easier to avoid slipping) was intentional and called a “comfort grip handle,” so I’m not sure if the cap is for hand mobility too. In that case, I would understand this feature, but that would also make this not something intended for me.

I have photos wearing the eyeliner in the first two eye looks in the palette review section.

Disney Fantasia Ultimate Mickey Puff

I’ve never been the powder-puff using type, but I always said that if I were to buy one, I would prefer for it to be thick and feel puffy and soft, which the One/Size puffs in the standard and Disney shapes check off all those boxes. The original one is a bit more practical for those who like that thick edge to be able to create a sharp line for baking certain areas, like under the cheekbones, but the Disney one has the advantage of technically being three puffs in one. So, I’ve used the bigger one (bent to avoid having the sponge ears get in the way) for applying powder foundation and setting powder. I’ve used one ear for blush and one ear for attempting to dab away shine at the end of the day. Regarding the oil, it didn’t do very much because my dry skin usually just produces enough to mix with my foundation and appear glowy, but not actually seep onto anything or actually feel oily. It’s mostly the work of my dewy foundations and mica in them, so there isn’t much that can actually be absorbed in the puff. So, I’m not the best person to test out that aspect. As for applying powder foundation quickly, it was nice for that. For getting an even but light layer, I prefer my brushes (and paid good money to ensure that those are my best tools for powder), but if I want more coverage, this puff is certainly handy for that.

Another way I’ve noticed I can get use out of the puff is almost like an eraser. If I carry my contour or bronzer too low down, I just use part of the puff (folded again to create an edge) to go over the spot with the bare puff or powder foundation to make it a little more crisp and cover up the mistake.
Because I pretty much never use sponges or puffs that come with products, I have no idea how to treat them. Do I just toss them after they get too dirty? Do I wash them by hand with soap and water? If I do need to clean it, how frequently should I do that? Also, I don’t want this floating around my train case or makeup bag, so I’ve been putting it back in the plastic pouch after each use. Powder puffs for something like a translucent powder wouldn’t look too messy, but with my products, that’s another story!

As silly as it sounds because makeup puffs have been around for ages, I’ll have to do some research on them!

Other than the Cheek Clappers and travel size minis of the Ultimate Blurring Setting Powders, I hadn’t tried anything else from One/Size until now. My interest in the brand continues to grow, though my favorite thing is still those Cheek Clapper Blush Trios. I didn’t need this collection. I have friends that are true Disney fanatics, so I know my very general liking of Disney is super low in comparison. However, even someone like me can see how much thought went into the collection and I can respect the brand for attempting to combine high quality makeup with the collectible factor, even though it’s not the most practical of packaging. I liked my items enough to be happy with my purchases. I would just love it if One/Size changed their eyeliner components because that’s one factor that made what would have been a holy grail product become something I wouldn’t purchase again. For big time Disney fans and those who were interested in these items from the time they launched, I’d say it might be worth checking out while it’s on sale and still available.

Thank you for reading!


Pat Mcgrath x Star Wars and Holiday 2022 Review

Pat Mcgrath Labs is one of my favorite brands. Even though I was trying to avoid buying her holiday collection and only one of the Star Wars quints, those 30-40% off discounts got me in the end! The things I’m reviewing today are the remaining unreviewed items from the brand that I purchased in 2022. Technically, there are also lip glosses I haven’t showcased, but those will be in a lip collection post in the future.

Regarding what people are calling “Sticker-Gate” and whether or not the brand can be considered luxury or not, I will reserve that discussion for the very end of this post.

Pat Mcgrath Labs Eye Shadow Palettes in The Golden One, Divine Droid, and Nude Allure

I have 4 out of the 5 quints released from Pat Mcgrath. I specifically said in my review of Bronze Bliss that I didn’t want Nude Allure, but I saw additional photos that showed how the shadows actually look in person and the camera just doesn’t do them justice! So, now I own both of the holiday five pan palettes. The missing quint from the Star Wars collection is Sith Seduction which only one shade in that appealed to me until I realized it was darker than I wanted. So, I passed on that one. The completionist in me wanted to grab it anyway, but these five pan palettes are a hit with customers. I foresee the brand releasing a lot more of them in the future and it would be unrealistic for me to try and collect them all, especially if the color story isn’t to my taste. These four that I purchased are my types of shades.

Starting with the only palette that slightly disappointed me, Divine Droid, I can at least say the colors are beautiful. They look like they’re going to be as sparkly as the others in the pans, but Astro Lime, Optic Fuchsia, and Ultraviolet Messenger look slightly duller by comparisons on the eyes. Out of the reviews I’ve seen so far, I’ve observed that the highest praises for this specific palette come from Influencers that tend to wear mostly neutrals, and the strongest opinions against the palette are from Influencers who are used to indie brands’ shimmers and those who love truly vibrant colorful glittery shadows. These shades are bold and they are shimmery, but I think it comes down to the nature of colored shimmer versus reflective metallic sparkle that the colorful shades don’t have as much of as the others. The only other way I can think to explain it is that satins are shiny from a sheen and tiny shimmer particles, and Divine Droid eyeshadows look just like that, except that these shimmer particles are more apparent and textured. The shine level is the equivalent of an amped up satin. Secret Blueprint is an exception because there’s a lot of whitish-silvery sparkle, but I don’t like light blue shades and only use them when the look can benefit from having one. To get Secret Blueprint to stay bright on the eyes, I have to apply it damp. Bronze Circuit has some golden sparkle, but the color itself is less olive in person than I hoped. It’s still a pretty antique bronze-gold with a slight green tinge, but the shade doesn’t go far enough in the direction of green to be that unique.

Even though I wanted a little more from the first four shades, the true disappointment is Ultraviolet Messenger because it doesn’t blend as well and there’s barely any visible shine when it’s on the skin. By not blending well, I mean that it goes on harsh no matter how little product I use, so it requires blending, but it diffuses so easily that the magenta tone in the base starts to appear, which makes it look splotchy compared to the darker purple. I have to be extremely careful when blending it out and packing the color back on in places. It’s not so bad when I use Optic Fuchsia with it because the magenta just looks like an extension of that shade, but it’s more of an issue when I’m trying to use Ultraviolet Messenger right next to the green or blue. And despite being applied with a finger or wet, the shine doesn’t stay. It looks dull and matte on the eyes. This might make some people happy, considering we don’t have a matte in this palette and this shade could act as one or might just stay in the outer corner as a deepening shade only, but the part that made me the most excited for that purple was because it looked the most multi-colored in the pan. I wish that translated to the eyes.

The other downside to not having a proper matte is that these shimmers have so much slip to them that they’re prone to creasing without using the right products with them. In order from most effective to least effective anti-creasing abilities out of the primers I’ve tried with them are: Gerard Cosmetics Clean Canvas, Coloured Raine Paint Base, and then tied between the MAC Paint Pot and Makeup by Mario Master Eye Prep & Set if those last two are set very well with powder. Essentially, the drier the primer the better. However, even the best pairing of the primers isn’t good enough on me without having a matte in the crease to fill those lines. In some of my eye look demo photos, I skipped using the matte crease, but in practical daily usage I would always use a matte with these shades in the future.

Also, I no longer have the PML Nocturnal Nirvana Quad, but the lime green, blue, and purple shades from Divine Droid reminded me of that one. Sure enough, Dr. Ash on YouTube had the same thoughts and held them side by side in her video. Of course, the green in that palette is more multi-dimensional than this one. I don’t care for either blue shadow. As much as I was disappointed by Ultraviolet Messenger, it is easier to work with it than the purple in Nocturnal Nirvana. I sold that quad (and replaced it with the Interstellar Icon quad) purely because I wasn’t getting enough use out of it, and not because I disliked the shades. I’ve thought about that quad several times since it left my possession, so I don’t mind having something similar back in the form of Divine Droid.

We were given an actual satin in The Golden One palette, but I use Coral Blitz in place of a matte. The actual matte in that palette is Tatooine, which is a lighter brown than the one from Nude Allure. I had no intention of buying The Golden One until I realized it had that extra blendable matte formula unique to the five pan palettes so far from Pat Mcgrath, and because I was curious about Coral Blitz. As to be expected, I was thrilled with Tatooine, but the surprise hit for me was Coral Blitz. I don’t own a satin-shimmer in that tone. The closest thing I can recall is City Dawn, a “rich matte” from the Bobbi Brown Luxe Eye & Cheek Palette last holiday. This shade, with the peachy-coral and less orange tone, plus the tiny golden sparkles make it even prettier to me than the one from Bobbi Brown.

Binary Sunset is a little drier than the other shimmers whereas Cyborg Relations has extra slip to it, like Bronze Mink from Bronze Bliss. This palette isn’t as inspiring as Nude Allure or Bronze Bliss for me, but it has some great staple warm toned neutral options that will continue to benefit me as I use these palettes together.

Above is a photo comparing the three mattes (plus Coral Blitz) together, and it shows the depth differences between the browns as well. I would be thrilled for an all-matte 5 pan from Pat Mcgrath in this specific formula. If the brand includes one more brown that is lighter than Tatooine, I will feel they’ve reached their quota of neutrals and I will really be wanting more colorful mattes and/or satin-mattes. The allure of buying these quints specifically for the mattes won’t be as strong of a lure if it starts to feel repetitive. When it comes to the shimmers, I’m already feeling like we’ve hit the maximum amount of bronzes and golds needed. I also decided to compare a photo, this time below, of the most similar shades to each other from among the four palettes.

Font Color Guide: Yellow-Orange = The Golden One, Pink = Nude Allure, Brown = Bronze Bliss, and Blue = Divine Droid

If the brand can figure out how to make the colorful shimmers as sparkly and reflective on the eyes as the neutral metallic shimmers, I’d go even crazier for these palettes. For now though, after comparing the four, I’m feeling pretty satisfied with this bunch. It would take something really specific to my tastes to make me want to purchase more than these.

Coral Kiss and Mahogany Angel are the two main stars of this palette. Plum Eclipse comes in third, but it shares a similar issue with Ultraviolet Messenger from Divine Droid in that the gorgeous multi-colored sparkle doesn’t show as easily on the eyes. It still does a little and at least looks satin-like instead of matte, which is why I still like it. Coral Kiss doesn’t look as multi-colored as in the pan, but it does still look dynamic in person which is what counts the most to me. I love this shade and I love the first eye look demonstrated below. As for Mahogany Angel, it goes on the eyes darker than I expected, but I like that because I wanted a deepening shade that would work well with most eye looks. La Vie En Noir from Bronze Bliss has that blue leaning tinge that keeps me from using it as my deepening shade for most of my eye looks, though now that I think about it, it would probably pair well with the blue, purple, and green from Divine Droid.

Naked Bronze, to me, is like Coral Kiss without the extra oomph and vibrancy. It pales in comparison to that shade or even the other Bronzes from the other palettes because it is such a standard light bronze color. I’m sure others will like it more than me though since my style for most of 2022 was to wear neutrals with a twist. So far, this preference has carried into 2023 as well.

If I had to rank these from most liked to alright/fine, it would be: Bronze Bliss, Nude Allure, The Golden One, and Divine Droid. Bronze Bliss easily wins because it has the most of those metallic type shimmers which are what’s special about this new formula from the brand, in addition to the matte. Nude Allure comes second because of Coral Kiss and having an even more useful matte. The Golden One has the very special Coral Blitz, plus a matte, plus the gorgeous Cyborg Relations, but it is the least inspiring color story together in one palette which is what knocks it down from what could have been the second spot. Divine Droid is last because of there being no mattes, less reflective shimmer, and the stubborn purple.

These aren’t effortless shadows because of how easily they can actually overblend, the potential to crease, or the differences in textures causing a need to really spread and smooth out the shadows into each other. However, I really like these and am happy with my purchases. It’s one of those instances where I can say with confidence that I’m going to continue getting use out of these eyeshadows beyond this review.

MTHRSHP Mega: Celestial Nirvana

I swatched these from left to right going downward two columns at a time because I see these eyeshadows pairing nicely together in groups of six. So, the first set are the first two columns, the next set are column numbers 3-4, and the last are 5-6.

This palette has greens, purples, golds, and browns. This is very much my kind of color story, but that means it had to compete with the tons of other greens, purples, and neutrals in my collection. I heard mixed reviews about the quality of this palette, but it was honestly Altered State that continuously filled my thoughts. So many of us had been dying to get a matte green from the brand or just more greens from PML in general. They’ve released like fifty bronzes, golds, and pinks but like five greens. I actually think Pat Mcgrath hates the color green. Anyway, the old Lili was the type to buy a full palette just for one shade and I did not want to go back to that type of purchasing habit, but the brand had this on sale and after seeing Tina the Fancy Face’s in-store swatches, my resolve just melted away.

The palette was significantly heavier than I expected. I don’t know how Celestial Nirvana stacks up in weight compared to Celestial Odyssey because I skipped that Mega Palette, but it’s much heavier than the original Celestial Divinity. I like that feature because it feels more lux to me, but I also dislike it for being so large for storage and even handling every time I want to use it.

The majority of these shadows are extremely pigmented! I’ve gotten so used to creating eyeshadow looks with more softly pigmented shadows like the Lisa Eldridge Seamless Mattes and Velvets, Dior shadows, and Bobbi Brown Jadestone that I felt out of practice handling the level of pigmentation from every matte except Desert Divinity and Nightfall. I like that the brand gave softer options out of these shadows that perform like pressed pigments, but they’re almost too weak to hold their own in a palette with such bold other shades. Desert Divinity makes for a nice transition shadow, but it’s not the type that helps me blend the edges of the other colors very well. Nightfall is darker than Desert Divinity, but doesn’t give me as much depth in the outer corner as I prefer, which is why I have to lean on the brown tones within Auburn Allure to meet that line between the colorful red side and the slight lean towards brown. Auburn Allure is my best alternative if I don’t want to have to resort to the deeper yet more colorful options such as Nocturnal Navy or Violet Vixen. It was in times of searching for a neutral deepening option that I realized most of the shimmers are light and neutral (not my preference within a big palette) with Bronze Infatuation and Starlit Copper being the darkest ones that are medium depth level at best. Also, as dark as the mattes are, they deepen up even more on my eyes. Venusian Peony looks so light-medium pink in the pan, but turns medium-dark pink on my skin. The dark shades going darker (likely due to oily lids or too wet of a primer) isn’t as much of an issue for me as trying to keep the look light with the lighter shades, but it going darker than I expected.

I don’t think these mattes are as blendable as Pat’s usual formula. They’re still nice, and better than Urban Decay or Too Faced mattes for example, but not as easy to work with as I’ve gotten accustomed to for PML. Perhaps the quints have spoiled me in that regard. The truly troublesome shade is unfortunately Altered State that I was looking forward to the most. It has a tendency to stick in one place where I put it, no matter which primer I use with it and it goes on super intensely. Also, it has a blue tinge to it which I didn’t use to mind in the past, and I know that helps it to pair nicely with the blues in this palette, but I much prefer a yellow-leaning green. However, I can still make even that shadow work.

The shimmers are great. They’re fantastic. They’re impactful and just what I expect from the brand’s standard formula (not the “special” shades in the last two columns of Mothership palettes, multichromes, nor the quint shimmers). They don’t give me issues with creasing or fading, and there are no longevity issues.

In the green, blue, and purple eye look above, I attempted to tweak the look of the deep mattes by putting shimmers on top. It can be done, but it was such a long process because the mattes have to look perfectly blended underneath first. They are so intense and opaque that trying to blend them into each other just kept covering each other up rather than mixing. When I was adding the shimmers on top, which are also quite opaque, I noticed they were doing the same thing. Eventually, I was careful enough and applied the shimmer lightly enough between them to achieve the look I was going for.

For these reasons, I recommend this palette to those who love colorful shadows and are used to working with the kind that are pigmented and opaque. Even though this palette has neutral and softer options, this isn’t the type of product suited for those who just want to dip their toes into color. It’s intended for the full on color lovers. Also, as much as this price point makes sense for Pat Mcgrath, I personally wouldn’t have bought this for any less than a 40% discount because it’s not unique enough in shades or formula for me to be willing to spend a fortune on it. If this came out two years ago when we had far fewer high quality green and purple options, I’d have said this was worth the full price, but things have advanced and we’ve been flooded with options by now. There’s a lot of competition!

At the time I’m writing this, Sephora USA still has this palette available and on sale.

Divine Blush + Glow Cheek Palette in Nude Venus

When this palette went on sale, I bought it knowing full well that I had singles of Nude Venus, Paradise Venus, and Desert Orchid (in the form of the lighter half of the Paradise Glow blush duo) sitting in my blush drawer. I think we can all agree that someone who wants to use up their products shouldn’t buy a duplicate of them.

What I really bought this face palette for was the Sunset Nectar highlighter, Divine Rose III blush, and the convenience of having my favorite shades in one palette so I can take this traveling in lightweight durable packaging. I notoriously reach for blush singles over blush palettes, but that’s because pre-made blush palettes usually have shades I don’t like or can’t use, so I subconsciously make a mental note to skip it if I’m in a rush to put on makeup (which is almost every time). However, since this has all the ones I love, it’s more memorable and I do actually reach for it. By purchasing this palette, my original singles no longer served a purpose in my collection, so I gave Paradise Venus to my sister and Nude Venus to one of my best friends. I’m keeping Paradise Glow for now, but it may not survive my next declutter.

I have been enjoying possessing my favorite shades in an all-in-one palette that makes it so much easier (and less messy than dealing with kickup in multiple separate compacts) to dip into multiple pans at once to create tailored blush looks on my cheeks. In addition, I know exactly which product to grab for those shades, whereas the black lacquer packaging between the blushes, blush duos, and highlighters are identical and require me to read the backs of them all to tell, without having to open them, which shade is which.

I probably didn’t need to have Divine Rose III considering I already owned the other three blushes, plus Electric Bloom, as well as the Divine Rose II duo and Cosmic Coral duo. I’m still happy I got it though, because it’s giving me the effect I wanted from Nude Venus, but with more depth. Because Nude Venus has to be built up a lot to show on me, I always paired it with Paradise Venus and kept it concentrated on the apples of the cheeks. Now, I either use Divine Rose III on its own for a medium toned pink flush, or mixed with a combination of all the other blushes in the palette. To see additional blush photos with my review of the single blushes, they can be found here or my review of the blush duos can be found here. I haven’t noticed any quality differences between the individual blushes versus the ones in the face palette. They’re just as beautiful and long lasting as ever!

My favorite highlighter from Pat Mcgrath is still the Skin Fetish: Ultra Glow Highlighter in Divine Rose. It has the smoothest formula, gives the wet look I love that melts into the skin, and it doesn’t look glittery. Sunset Nectar is more similar to the permanent line of Skin Fetish: Divine Glow Highlighters, which have more apparent shimmer particles, but they still blend beautifully into the skin. I keep wishing for a Skin Fetish Ultra Glow Highlighter in a dark golden color without the slight pink tinge Divine Rose has. I didn’t expect Sunset Nectar to work for me because it is extremely light in the pan, but it somehow does! It looks powdery and stark pinkish-white on my skin when it first goes on, but when I blend it in and then pass my blush brush back over the edges around it, I think I can pull it off!

Below are different examples of lighting and days wearing these products. The first photo of the three is the Divine Rose III blush (no highlighter yet) under a ring light and wearing MAC foundation in NC47. The second photo is the same day with the same products, with the addition of MAC’s Sparkling Wine shade of highlighter, while under indoor light (with a little natural light peeking through the side). In the third photo I’m wearing the Sunset Nectar highlighter, plus a combination of Paradise Venus, Nude Venus, and Divine Rose III blushes. It’s under the same light as the second photo, but I have the Estee Lauder Futurist Foundation in 5W2 mixed with the Nars Light Reflecting Foundation in Macao mainly on the perimeter of my face.

We’ve reached the end of the review, and this is the point where I’d like to give my input on the recent “controversy” the brand has had over the Star Wars Collection, as well as the discussions around the brand devaluing itself between the frequent sales at significant discounts and the cheaper palette options and materials.

Starting with the Bantha in the room…As much as I love the Pat Mcgrath brand, it was certainly not a good idea to put Midnight Sun on sale for around $70+ until literally the day of the Star Wars launch of the same Midnight Sun palette for the full $128. It automatically sends the message to the customers that the Star Wars version isn’t worth the price and/or to wait for the Star Wars one to eventually go on sale for $70 as well. I was pretty shocked when I heard the news and watched the video going around because of what it signified for me about the brand going forward. Still, none of us can confirm with certainty that the Star Wars stickers were slapped on top of old unsellable palettes and put in Star Wars unicartons, the same way we can’t confirm that this year’s holiday specific lip products and mascaras had Star Wars stickers added to them after being removed from their original unicartons and put into Star Wars ones. Even if that’s exactly what they did, rather than viewing it as the brand trying to dupe people into buying an unpopular palette, I can see it from the perspective of the brand no longer keeping Midnight Sun on sale and putting it back at the original price with the bonus of a Star Wars sticker for free. I have been craving owning another special edition packaged palette from Pat Mcgrath, like if they took the Mothership unicarton artwork and found a way to get a high quality version of that print onto the palette, I would be thrilled. If it comes in the form of a sticker, I wouldn’t mind that either, so long as the sticker couldn’t just be peeled away. That’s where I think the brand really went wrong.

When I had packaging I didn’t like, I used Washi tape, stickers, and Mod Podge Dimensional Magic to create something I felt was beautiful. The way I did it, nothing is going to be lifting up or peeling off anytime soon. So, I don’t think Pat Mcgrath using stickers is as big of an issue as them placing many of them crooked (which cheapens the look) and not using a permanent adhesive. I don’t know if they had factory workers or machines applying those stickers, but if it was real people, I can see the benefit of making the stickers removable so they can attempt to fix extra crooked stickers on the palettes, but that’s a bit cheap to not use a stronger adhesive and be willing to toss out the imperfectly placed ones in order to ensure the customer won’t have the edges of the sticker lifting up within weeks or months of owning those palettes.

When I first saw the Star Wars Midnight Sun palette cover in photos, I actually thought it was a sticker with epoxy resin on top. Perhaps epoxy wouldn’t be clear enough (as it can turn yellow, although the vintage Star Wars image being yellow might have hid that), but at least then people would have an actual plastic feeling packaging that couldn’t be removed. This reminded me of the time when I was experimenting with Mod Podge versus Epoxy Stickers for jewelry when it came to cutting out images from Archie comic digests and turning them into pendants. I wasn’t very satisfied with either outcome so I abandoned the idea. However, that was due to a clarity issue. People who have the palettes in hand seem to think the stickers are pretty and are just disappointed by how easy they are to lift up or some people just don’t find stickers to be luxurious. The flat type of stickers I agree don’t look high end, but the raised ones are different in my eyes. Most people wouldn’t know how to make one themselves. The arts-and-crafts-loving side to me instantly started wondering if I could create my own covers for the PML palettes, but with how expensive they are, I don’t trust my skills enough to chance ruining it. However, I started thinking there might be people on Etsy working on making their own Mothership Stickers to sell. I think the brand could make bank creating their own palette sticker covers if they find a much stronger adhesive. I’d pay $15-$25 just for that because of how much of a sucker I am for pretty packaging. It’s a shame they ruined the concept because of how they went about “Sticker-Gate.”

I’ve seen some other complaints about the fact that we have stickers on top of the quints and them being cardboard. While that’s valid for people to feel that it’s not very luxurious, I feel the growing complaint about it is piggybacking off the Midnight Sun issue. We’ve had cardboard packaging for ages, starting with those six pan MTHRSHP palettes which I believe the brand released for the first time for holiday 2018 with the cumbersome envelope style flaps. The original six pan Star Wars palettes were the first time we got magnetic closure cardboard palettes in 2019. At some point (I believe 2020) we started seeing clear sticker labels on the bottoms of the packaging instead of the print being etched on. I remember being perturbed along with everyone else when the sticker on the first Mega Palette for holiday 2020 (Celestial Divinity) was crooked, but that was the point in which we all could have gotten off the hype train with the brand if we wanted.
It’s as if people are just now noticing the printed paper edges of these palettes. It’s not new. The holiday quints from 2022 has stickers on them too, but they were the same pink background color as the palettes, so perhaps it wasn’t as obvious as the white ones from the Star Wars Collection. People are also pointing out the edges of the paper covering all of a sudden, but again, it’s only obvious because the paper is a shiny solid color without the busy pattern to distract from the fact that the holiday quints are folded and glued the same way.

I thought it was a bit funny that the holiday Mega palette for 2022 is larger and thicker than the first one. That extra weight ironically makes it feel more luxurious, but I haven’t seen anyone talk about that. Another funny thing is that the sticker on the back of my Star Wars quint was crooked and I was able to peel that off and affix it at least better than it was previously. It’s the kind of sticker that air bubbles are prone to form under without using something like a credit card to press it down evenly, but I was able to get the bubbles out with my fingers without one.

I think there is absolutely something that can be said about the downgrade of packaging between the Mothership palettes to the cardboard ones, plus the sticker labels. I think it’s absolutely valid to feel like it’s not luxury. I’d just like to point out that Natasha Denona doesn’t have labels etched on her palettes either. There are clear label stickers. Her things are a similar price point to Pat Mcgrath, and she has long been experimenting with more “affordable” options with the $69 midi palettes and $27 minis, yet I hardly hear a conversation about it being less of a high end brand for offering smaller and more wallet-friendly palettes. Also, for environmental reasons, an argument can be made about using cardboard versus plastic, though I think a lot of beauty collectors prefer the plastic (myself included to be honest, but I don’t turn up my nose at cardboard anymore). Charlotte Tilbury has sticker labels on the back as well. I see most of the complaints are about having stickers on the front, but I’ve also seen complaints about them being on the back instead of etched in, which is why I wanted to mention it because those same people never said a word about the other two brands I mentioned.

Everyone knows by now to not buy Pat Mcgrath at full price in most situations. However, if we’re going to accept that we’ll only buy the products at 20-40% off, we cannot expect to still get weighty plastic or metal bespoke type of packaging. It just doesn’t make financial sense for the brand. And the big Mothership palettes don’t usually go on sale for lower than $89. We can have a luxury line in the form of those larger palettes with the luxury packaging while still offering other price points like Natasha Denona has done or even Dior with their Backstage line. I’m at least glad they aren’t lowering their ingredient quality or “Going Full Urban Decay” by releasing a product and immediately putting it on sale for 50% off two weeks to two months later.

Materials aside, I understand why there’s a growing feeling that Pat Mcgrath Labs is losing its luxury feel when people have spotted the products at T.J. Maxx and when it feels like there have been discounts basically all year long with the sale announced and lasting what seems to be 2-4 weeks, a week break, and then the next one starts in an ongoing cycle. It does bug me sometimes when I purchase something and just a month later it goes on a deeper discount.
I don’t have anything to say to rebut that feeling. It’s valid. What is also valid that I think are bigger reasons the brand doesn’t feel so luxurious is the ridiculous wait time between when the products launch and when it finally ships out. There are points where it felt like we all just paid for an unofficial pre-order because nothing ships out to anyone for weeks or the launches have been staggered out and only the palettes are available at one time and the blushes get launched a week or so later. Pat Mcgrath doesn’t have a reward program, so myself and others sometimes prefer to skip the guaranteed 10% off promo code at launch in favor of being able to purchase from Sephora using a gift card or to have the reward points accrue over there. Many times the product finally comes to Sephora by the time the warehouses PML uses starts to ship things out. Unhelpful or slow to respond customer service is another thing that makes the brand not feel like a luxury one. Items not being properly wrapped in the boxes and arriving broken is another. It has been my experience with them that if an item is known to break easily, they will send a new one with the acknowledgement that it’s possible the replacement will come broken again, but they will still ship it out anyway as a “one time courtesy.”
Perhaps PML isn’t in the luxury category anymore, but they are still a high end brand in my eyes.

So, do I think Pat Mcgrath Labs is going downhill? It feels that way, but not necessarily. I think they’re cutting corners and have been cutting corners for several years now. I think they’ve set a precedent to wait for a sale. I think Sticker-Gate isn’t as big of an issue in itself, but is one example of a larger issue within the brand. I think plenty of people will closely scrutinize everything the brand does going forward, but the hype won’t die down. The issues the brand has are all able to be fixed and forgotten if that’s what they actually want to do. There will be exciting new launches to come. People, like me, will still try to wait for a sale, but also certain items will likely be bought at nearly full price. I also expect more repackaged products to be released. I’ve done my fair share of complaining about the issues within PML, but they’re still one of my favorite brands and I’m excited to see what’s next.

Thank you for reading.


MAC Black Panther, Holiday ’22, and More

We’ve got ourselves another MAC Cosmetics post! These are the products from MAC that I purchased during the final few months of 2022. I’ll begin with the two item types I haven’t purchased or reviewed from MAC before, but the blushes and highlighters are formulas I’m very familiar with and will probably not have much new to add. For those interested in my previous MAC posts, the list with links can be found on this index page here.

Additional MAC Items

MAC Glow Play Lip Balm in Floral Coral

This is one of a few items I redeemed as a free birthday gift from MAC’s Reward Program. It’s a sheer product in a soft formula. The top layer of the bullet instantly melts when it touches my lips. If I apply the amount of balm to my lips based on how it feels, I get almost no color. I can build it up to show a pink tinge, but the amount I need to apply for that leaves my lips feeling excessively wet in a way that isn’t quite greasy or oily, but it’s a similar enough sensation that is uncomfortable for me. After I wear it for a short time, it gives me the feeling of dripping around the edges and a strong urge to wipe it off.

For this reason, I haven’t been using this beyond the handful of times I wore it to test it out. And even though it feels moisturizing, my lips aren’t actually being conditioned. The moisture lasts a few hours before I feel like I need to reapply, even if there’s still some balm left on my lips.
If I want to wear a slightly colorful balm for a short time, like in photos, this is fine. If I want a balm that’s actually lip conditioning and having color isn’t a necessity, I’d reach for plenty of other balms instead. So, I don’t really recommend this. According to a sneak peek I saw on IG, MAC might be releasing a Valentine collection of new and/or existing shades of Glow Play Lip Balms and other lipsticks. I won’t be purchasing them.

MAC Studio Fix Fluid SPF 15 Foundation in NC47

This was a Black Friday purchase when MAC had 40% off complexion. The pump for this foundation is sold separately, and unfortunately was full price. I wish the package with the pump came with an extra cap that could fit over the foundation instead of the little dispenser cover piece because I always lose tiny parts to makeup and skincare (like the little spoons to scoop out products in jars).

With “fluid” in the name, I expected this foundation to be watery like the Uoma Beauty Say What Foundation or Kosas Tinted Face Oil, but it’s more viscous than those while still managing to feel lightweight on the skin. MAC describes it as being a, “buildable, medium to full coverage [foundation] in a natural matte finish.” While I agree with the buildable claim, the amount I would normally pump out and blend in with my Blendiful gives me light coverage, and I have to use quite a bit more product in order to get a solid medium. I can technically build it up to nearly full, but I have to focus on targeting my areas of discoloration specifically, and at that point it can look a little mask-like since it’s not my absolute perfect shade. So, I keep it at a nice medium and use concealer in the areas I need more coverage.

Additional photos of me wearing this foundation, under a different lighting situation (using my ring light), is in the highlighter section.

When I wore it the first time, I thought it was a pretty good color match, but upon subsequent usage and building it up to medium-full coverage, I realized it’s about a half a shade off in depth and it’s my correct undertone family but not perfect. The fact that I can wear it at all is quite surprising because I remember a time when I tried a sample of NC47 and it was too light for me, but the next shade NC50 was way too dark. I figured the hypothetical NC48 shade (if it existed) would be my perfect shade, but apparently NC47 can work for me in winter. Since I plan on wearing this at medium coverage level, it’s good enough of a match for me to keep it in rotation.

I do like the natural-matte finish of the foundation. It’s supposed to be sweat and humidity resistant, but I challenge that as well, since I managed to look sweaty on a day that was only 75 degrees Fahrenheit outside (and even colder in the house) when all I was doing was taking blog photos and rearranging my makeup drawers in the span of under two hours. It makes me wonder how this will look on me in the summertime when it’s between 85-98 degrees.
After I noticed how it was looking, I powdered my face (I initially skipped that step) and that helped to take away the extra shine. The other days I wore it were not hot days and I wasn’t doing anything that would make me produce sweat, so my face remained looking matte even without powder. So, I’m not sure what to make of those results. I will say that I love the fact that this sets on me to the point of being dry to the touch without a trace of wetness/creaminess and no transfer on my fingers that I can see. I love my natural and dewy foundations, but those usually come at the price of various levels of being transferable. I’ve had to train myself to just not touch my face and to be careful when switching outfits and hugging people. It’s actually a relief to have a foundation with some coverage again that I don’t have to be so careful with. I just wish they had my full on perfect shade in depth and undertone.

This is a pretty nice foundation. I like it, but I still prefer my Rose Inc and Estee Lauder Futurist Hydra. I can also think of past Nars Foundations and the original Makeup Up For Ever HD and Ultra HD that I preferred as well when I owned them. I haven’t been using this very long, and normally I don’t review a foundation until I’ve worn it at least 10 times, so there’s still room for my opinion to change. If that happens, I will try to remember to update this post.

My Latest MAC Highlighters

I make it a point now to try and make my MAC purchases via Selfridges because of the price difference being in favor of USD, or from MAC’s website when they have a sale of 30% off or higher. However, it was only the MAC Indulgent Glow Face Kits that came to Selfridges, so I had to purchase the others elsewhere. Of course, I could have waited until a potential sale for the collaboration items, but I didn’t want to take the chance of them selling out, so I purchased the Black Panther Royal Challenge and Whitney Houston ones at launch. I did at least get 20% off on Black Panther’s Royal Vibrancy when I bought that one from Ulta. At the time I’m posting this, the Black Panther Collection is on a deeper discount on MAC’s website, along with last year’s holiday items.

For those who may be curious, in all four highlighter photos I’m wearing the MAC foundation in NC47, The Anastasia Beverly Hills Cream Bronzer in Terracotta (newest shade addition to the line that came out after my review), and the Pat Mcgrath Divine Rose III blush.

MAC Indulgent Glow Face Kit/Set in Sparkling Wine

These kits came in two versions: Sparkling Wine and Rosé. I was impressed by the presentation of the box in a beautiful creamy light pink color and with a raised pattern on the surface.

The bag the items come in is quite cute. I haven’t found a purpose for it yet, but it’s a nice “free” addition considering MAC Extra Dimension Highlighters have risen in price to $40 (or $44 for collaboration versions). This set being $44 normally, means the bag and brush that come with it are essentially free. I paid $35 for it from Selfridges, so the deal was even better.

I didn’t have high expectations for this brush, but it actually surprised me!
The more deeply shaped and intricate the embossed pans are from MAC, the harder it will have been pressed. That makes the top layer a bit tougher to pick up product from when using softer bristle brushes. This one feels soft, but the strands themselves are strong enough to really dig into the highlighter while still dispersing the product softly across the skin. Rather than following the direction of the brush, I swirled it roughly in the pan in a circular motion to get the most product pickup with the least effort.
I’ve used this brush enough times that it softened the surface of Sparkling Wine, so I can now pick up the product with my natural hair brushes. Prior to that top layer being broken into, it was extremely difficult.

I’ve also used this brush to apply blush and bronzer in a sweeping motion and it’s pretty good with those as well!

The highlighter embossing encapsulates the “Bubbles and Bows” theme MAC chose for holiday 2022.
MAC Highlighters tend to be smooth to the touch, but even when I rub my finger across the smoother part of the bow, it feels slightly rough and dry. However, it has such a healthy glowy sheen with a few twinkling sparkles that are just enough for me to feel like this is a festive highlighter I would want to wear to a holiday event, and not enough to be considered glittery. This contains medium size sparkles instead of large ones, which is probably why I actually find them to be quite pretty and wearable.

Ever since Fenty’s Trophy Wife highlighter came into being, I have feared pigmented deep yellow highlighters because of how terrible they look on me. So, I was afraid this one might be too yellow because of the way it looks in the pan, but then my fear switched to worrying it might be too light after seeing the swatch. However, on the face, it looks so pretty to me! Sparkling Wine has a semi-transparent base with just a hint of a yellow tinge to it. The color that peeks through blends with the undertone of my skin while not being pigmented enough to cause a stripe with the low amount of product I apply to my face. It also balances out the pearly looking particles within the highlighter. It looks lighter than Royal Challenge in swatches because the color of the inside of my arm is lighter than my face, but on my cheeks, the fact that Royal Challenge has a more pigmented and lighter base color gives it the lighter appearance, whereas Sparkling Wine’s slightly tinted base allows my darker cheekbone color to show underneath which makes it look darker than Royal Challenge overall. I really like this! As the embossing starts to wear down, I know I’m going to struggle with that part of me that doesn’t want to ruin it versus the side that wants to make sure I get good use out of the products I own. However, this embossing is lingering quite well so far, so I guess I have a ways to go before I need to start worrying!

MAC x Whitney Houston Extra Diminision Skinfinish in Just Whitney

This is another highlighter that was hard-pressed in a way that just affected the very topmost layer and is now getting easier to use as the print is fading. And, once again, I’m reaching the point where I want to keep it intact, but want to be able to wear it. This is slightly smoother and less drying feeling than Sparkling Wine. It’s certainly closer to the kind of deep golden highlighter shades I tend to prefer to wear. Just like all my other highlighters from the brand, this lasts all day and remains shiny without losing its reflectivity as the day goes on. It’s a solid product, but because it’s the most common type of color in my collection, I instinctively compare it to everything else I own, and then it doesn’t seem quite worth the $44 price tag. If the highlighter was in standard packaging, I believe it should be within the $28-$35 range. Because of the collaboration with such a powerhouse of an icon (or at least Whitney’s Estate on her behalf), the pretty limited edition packaging, and the highlighter embossing, the special factor is there. So, I don’t mind it being the price I paid, but I’m just not sure this particular color being added to my collection would be worth it otherwise. For anyone else though, I would recommend it with the acknowledgement that it could be considered a bit overpriced.

MAC x Black Panther Extra Dimension Skinfinishes in Royal Challenge and Royal Vibrancy

I still haven’t watched the Black Panther sequel, but I loved the first one, so I felt an inward obligation to purchase at least one thing from the collection. I tried to purchase the Black Panther Cosmetic Bag, but that was an utter mess. Even though I purchased it at 2am EST (I assume it launched at midnight), my order ended up canceled due to being “sold out,” but they didn’t cancel it until three weeks later after it was sold out at other retailers too. The most irritating part is that I called them about nine days in to ask them about the fact that they priced it at $35 whereas everywhere else had it for $25 and then they later changed the price to $25, but I hadn’t been reimbursed. That call, had the bags truly been out of stock, would have been the prime moment for them to let me know there weren’t any left and to cancel my order so I could have time to buy it somewhere else. However, they didn’t do that, so I don’t believe their statement to me about the bag being out of stock since the launch day, yet it somehow took weeks until it read “sold out” on the website.

Anyway, these two shades are gorgeous, but a better combination for me is to have Royal Challenge on the bottom and a little bit of Royal Vibrancy added on top. That way, I can get some of that darker shimmer without the dark cast when I turn my head at certain angles. In photos, Royal Vibrancy looks perfect for me, but I’ve been unsuccessful in capturing the dark cast I’m referring to from it being a little too deep bronze-red for me.

The texture feels soft and smooth. It’s softer than the others, but it’s also not as hard pressed because the embossing isn’t as detailed/intricate. Also, it’s lasting me quite a while. I forgot to take a photo of Royal Vibrancy prior to being used (or at least I lost the photos of it if I took them) so the picture I included above shows it after about eight uses and it looks nearly untouched! Granted, I was swiping highlighter across the entire pan and not just zeroing in on one specific spot in order to keep it looking even.

At the same time that I purchased these two, I also bought the Tom Ford Shade Illuminate Highlighting Duo in Tanlight that reminded me of a combination of those shades. However, in swatching them together, I see that the tones are slightly different. The lighter shade in Tanlight is more flattering on me than Royal Challenge and the deeper shade is not as dark, and therefore works on its own for me better than Royal Vibrancy. Most of the time I just mix the two Tanlight shades together for a highlighter shade I love a lot and it’s in an even smoother finish than the ones from MAC. Considering I paid around the same price for Tanlight (it was slightly discounted at Nordstrom) as the two MAC highlighters combined, it’s funny that the Tom Ford one was the better purchase for me. However, I also bought these as Black Panther/Wakanda Forever merchandise, so I don’t regret it.

While I could have waited for these highlighters to go on a deeper discount, I like the franchise and didn’t want to chance missing out. So, for me, these were worth having. I think I will stop using Royal Vibrancy though, in order to keep one looking pristine, and just start using Royal Challenge mixed with a different darker highlighter, such as the R.E.M. Interstellar Highlight in Miss Mars.

My Latest MAC Blushes

I currently have 35 MAC blushes in my collection (this number fluctuates as I get rid of some and purchase others) which is by far the most blushes I own from a single brand. Despite having so many, I can’t help but remain interested in them because MAC makes some of my favorite finishes, plus they’re pigmented, and are very long wearing. These four I’m discussing today are the remaining few that hadn’t been reviewed yet on this blog.

MAC Glow Play Blushes in Just Peachy and Groovy

That’s Peachy was the other free birthday item I chose. Based on how it looks, I thought there was no way it would show up on my skin. However, I felt the same way about Peaches ‘N’ Dreams, which ended up working on me too, so I tried it on a whim and was floored! Granted, I have to build it up a ton to get a flush of peach, but it still works and I think it’s beautiful!

Groovy looks like a deep coral-orange on me, and thankfully not a pure orange. As much as I love Heat Index, which was previously my favorite shade, Groovy dethroned it after just once use. I avoided getting this color for a long time because Nikki and a few others mentioned the formula difference in Groovy compared to the other Glow Play Blushes. It’s been a few years now since the Glow Plays launched (January 2020), so I think the original disappointing batch of Groovy are no longer being sold. Or at the very least, I was lucky and got one with the same texture as the others. I was more willing to chance it because I waited for a 40% off sale on blushes.

The Glow Play line remains one of my favorites from MAC and in general because they have the softness and sheen of a cream/putty with the benefit of drying down. They’re buildable and blend right into the skin. It’s a really gorgeous product that I highly recommend trying for those who haven’t.

Because there are such subtle differences among the shades I own, I figured it would be helpful to show the ones I own all together and in swatches.

And for those who like limited edition packaging, MAC currently has the shades Heat Index and So Natural in their Lunar New Year 2023 packaging for their “New Year Shine” collection.

MAC Mineralize Blush in Hey, Coral, Hey…

I included a picture of how the blush looks on my finger, plus a swatch that isn’t fully blended, to demonstrate my issue with this particular Mineralize Blush. The deep reddish-coral pigment is gorgeous and is a tone that looks pretty and suitable for me when I pick it up, but it’s got a light base powder that when blended lightens the shade overall and turns it ashy on my skin. This is even evident looking at the surface of the blush itself between the darker and lighter patches. It’s not super ashy, but just enough on the cusp to make me not want to wear it.

I’ve had issues with most of the Mineralize Blush shades I’ve tried in the past (and said it looked too matte and dry and lighter on my skin than it looks in the compact), and now I’m starting to wonder if the base color in this particular line of blushes from MAC is the reason most don’t work for me. Love Thing and Flirting with Danger are currently the only two that I’ve liked and don’t look ashy on me because the pigment is deeper than I’d normally wear, but is more toned down and lighter when blended on my actual cheeks. It’s unfortunate that it took me buying six of them to finally realize why some shades of Mineralize Blushes work for me, yet others don’t. But, I’m happy that now I know that if MAC creates more colors in this formula, it’ll be safe for me to get them as long as they are the deepest ones (and deeper colors than I normally go for). Any of the colors that look medium-dark or lighter in the compacts just won’t work for my skin tone.

Hey, Coral, Hey… isn’t staying in my collection, but I still recommend the Mineralize Blush line overall, as long as it’s well established to be careful selecting the right colors if you have a dark/deep skin tone. The two shades that work for me are in my top favorites, not just among MAC blushes but among my blush collection as a whole.

MAC x Stranger Things Powder Blush in He Likes It Cold

This color makes me think of MAC’s Flirting with Danger and Frankly Scarlet blush shades. I’ve tried several times to capture the variations in undertone, but they barely show a difference on my skin tone. I retook the photos again, but had to do brush swatches because my older powder blushes from MAC really don’t like to be finger swatched anymore. Nikki, who I’ve mentioned several times here, did a clear comparison of those three shades that can be found here on her blog for those interested, as well as a ton of other MAC content and more. Essentially, the undertone of those shades are going to make a bigger difference if you’re lighter than me (and then perhaps on the other end of the spectrum, if you’re much deeper).

I tried my hardest to skip buying this blush because I had similar enough shades to it, but I think I ended up paying $15 for it when it went on sale, so I couldn’t resist. This release celebrates Stranger Things Season 4, but I only watched seasons 1-3, so I don’t understand the “He Likes it Cold” reference (but it sounds creepy). It’s a pretty color, applies smoothly (even smoother than MAC’s older matte powder formula), and performs as fantastically as I expect from a MAC blush, so I’m happy I bought it. I just caution using a light hand with this particular shade.

That’s everything for today! I’m on another year long low-buy, so I would love to say it will be a long time before I do another MAC post, but that feels unrealistic as it’s one of the brands I purchase from the most. It can be expected that additional new releases from MAC will be reviewed here at some point, if not at launch, then perhaps after a big sale.

Thank you for reading!


Disclaimer: Other than free birthday gift items everyone who joins MAC’s free reward program is entitled to (I can’t recall if you need to be a certain tier for it though), I purchased all the other items with my own money. I am not affiliated with the brand. There are no affiliate links in this specific post.