Nars, Tom Ford, Alamar, and other May ’22 Purchases Reviewed

It’s officially one year since this monthly haul/low-buy series post should have been published. There are products I bought that should have been reviewed by now and are still relevant in my makeup collection. So, continuing with the series on and off as much as I can is something I wish to do. That brings us to our discussion for today! The photo above shows the products I bought this time last year that I will dive into, and add links to the reviews I did manage to post already.

Tom Ford Eyeshadow Quad in African Violet

I bought this from the Cosmetic Company Store website (Estee Lauder Brand Outlet), and the other Tom Ford quads I own were purchased from people who said they also bought it from a CCO. Of course, I have no way of verifying the validity of that, but I think they are legitimate based on how they look compared to the one I purchased last May.

I was planning to do a dedicated Tom Ford post, but scrapped the idea because I’m no longer enamored by the brand. The eyeshadow quality is nice, and in some cases extremely nice, but I would never say they’re worth full price. I remember a time when they used to be $80, but now they’re up to at least $90. I can’t even bring myself to pay the lower Selfridges price despite their quality being admittedly better than Guerlain’s and I’ve spent more on a Guerlain quad than these at under $40 each. But, it’s actually not the price that is the problem as much as the lack of shades. At least with a Pat Mcgrath product, which has formulas I like, I can pay a similar price and have many more color options with it.

The African Violet palette specifically appealed to me because it’s one of the most colorful available from Tom Ford. However, it’s not as smooth, shiny, or blendable as the Wet/Dry formula everyone raves about. The eyeshadows are long lasting, have decent color payoff, and don’t give me trouble with fallout or kickup, but there’s absolutely nothing special about them beyond their performance being good. I can name a ton of brands with well performing eyeshadows in palettes that cost less than half the price with at least double the shade options.

The other quads I own are Photosynthesex and Honeymoon (one shade in Honeymoon fell out and off the plastic grid, so I pressed it back into a spare eyeshadow pan and turned that empty well into a custom magnetic one so that I could continuously swap out any other brand’s eyeshadow that fits).

The quality of Photosynthesex is about the same as African Violet, but it contains a beautiful duochrome and I like the color story way more, so I get more use out of it. Honeymoon is the famed Wet/Dry formula which surpasses the others. It’s more special because of the shiny finish, the minimal effort needed to blend, the refined shimmer that don’t cause issues of creasing, and being flattering on textured eye areas. However, I still feel it’s worth half the retail price at the most. I understand the brand name and luxury packaging bumps up the price, but the sturdy yet basic plastic packaging doesn’t feel as special anymore considering the fun limited edition compact colors they release every so often. I believe the eyeshadows are a pricier formula than some others out there (even within the Estee Lauder owned brands), but I feel the markup is still too high. This is why I don’t foresee myself purchasing any additional Tom Ford quads unless I get it for a price that reflects what I think it’s worth and is in the preferred wet/dry finish. I’ve heard rave reviews about the newer cream formula, but I have not tried those. It’s typically the older quads that end up at the CCS/CCOs.

In addition, Tom Ford quads are incredibly repetitive in color stories and often contain similar shades that don’t look distinctly different enough on dark skin within the same quartet, let alone among the whole line. They’re also extremely neutral leaning. Give me some Wet/Dry greens and skip the brow bone shades, and they might just get another eyeshadow purchase out of me!

So, essentially what it comes down to is me thinking the eyeshadow quality from Tom Ford is good at the lowest and wonderful at best. I have no judgements to those who are fans of the quads. I get the appeal, even though I’m not their target customer. When it comes to luxury, everyone has their own ideas of what makes a product worth it to them versus something else. For me, having some Tom Ford highlighters was worth the splurge instead. I’ll have to review those at some point!

Haus Labs Casa Gaga Blush in Amarone – This was the first of the many blushes I ended up buying from the original Haus Labs collection before they rebranded away from Amazon. A review for it can be found HERE.

Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Highlighter in Dream Light, Push Up Lashes mini mascara, and Beautiful Skin Sun-Kissed Glow Bronzer in 3 Tan – These items, plus newer releases from Charlotte Tilbury, have been reviewed HERE.

Nars Laguna Cream Bronzer in Laguna 04

I’ve discussed this product a bit in my other cream bronzer reviews, but I’ll pretend like I haven’t. Essentially, this bronzer is quite emollient, blends nicely, has a strong but pleasant beachy scent, and has the benefit of not forming a weird top layer after repeated use. The downside for me is purely the color. I don’t mind a red toned bronzer as long as it isn’t too red. This has the misfortune of being a little more red on my face than I want, plus being a deeper shade that will probably work better in the summer, but is a bit dark for me now. For those who don’t mind the cons that I listed, I do think it’s a nice quality cream bronzer, but it’s admittedly not in my top favorites. I prefer the Charlotte Tilbury one (even though it’s more expensive) and the one from Anastasia Beverly Hills.

Nars Bronzer Powder in Punta Cana

The photo below was taken in the time frame when I was at my lightest for the year, so this bronzer looks a bit deep in the picture, but normally this is a subtle, but not too subtle bronzer match for me. The depth and undertone (mix of red leaning base color plus gold shimmer) combines to a shade I like. However, despite the shimmer particles being barely noticeable in the pan, they reflect powerfully under daylight lights to the point where all you see is shine and it doesn’t even look like I’m wearing bronzer. For the longest time, I thought this shade was too light for me because of where I normally sit when I apply it and view myself in the mirror. I kept trying it every few months and when I could suddenly see it, I assumed it was because I was in my winter shade. It wasn’t until I happened to look in a different position and angle during one of the wear tests that I figured out what was happening. Once I made this discovery and could properly see how it looked on my skin in various situations, I started to enjoy this bronzer a lot more.
It’s ironic that now that I like it, it’s no longer available!

Nars discontinued their shimmery and matte Bronzing Powder lines in favor of the new, for 2023, Laguna Talc-Free Bronzing Powder. I purchased shades 5 and 6 of the new one recently and have yet to review them on this blog. I can say from a first impression standpoint that I slightly prefer the new ones. The original that I have looks quite pretty on the skin, but it wasn’t seamless blending. It stuck to the skin in places sometimes, but just the tiniest bit. I’m really nitpicking at this point because it’s still easy to blend, just not perfect. I still consider it a good bronzer. Oddly enough, I have more building up to do with the new bronzers because they’re slightly less pigmented. However, they haven’t stuck yet, are smoother gliding across the skin, and an airbrush effect can be achieved with them. It’s not as airbrushed as the Charlotte Tilbury powder one, but enough to at least make me think of it.

For those who already own the older bronzers, I don’t feel it’s worth getting the new ones if you’re satisfied with what you have, and especially if you already have the matte version. It’s not different enough from the previous formula, unless you’re the type of person trying to avoid talc in products. Since the new line contains no shimmers from what I can see, I’m going to continue using Punta Cana when I want a glowy bronzer. It was the darkest in the shimmer range and the base color is similar to Laguna 6, but the shimmer makes it appear a little lighter. That difference makes me feel like it still has a place in my collection. For those who don’t have a shade in the older range, this new one might have an option. Nars now offers minis in 5 of the 9 colors, so that helps in terms of being able to try one without breaking the bank.

Oh, and if you’re my shade twin, I recommend going with Laguna 06. I prefer mixing 05 and 06 together for the perfect color, but I can’t use Laguna 05 by itself because it’s practically my winter skin tone.

Sigma Beauty Bronzer in Deep and Highlighter in Golden Hour

I’ve tried the bronzer so many times and I really do not like it. It’s so hard to blend, and try to fix after it goes on patchy, and it ends up looking like a contour if I blend it in too much because it goes too deep. It looks gorgeously warm when unblended, but it seems like there’s some grey in the base color. It’s still workable, but other than forcing myself to keep using it on top of various foundations (it looks better on top of matte ones) and switching to different brushes, I just don’t want to use it again. In fact, I had to rescue it from the declutter pile when I forgot I was supposed to keep it until I had time to post this review.

As for the highlighter, I was much more pleased with that one. I like the depth and tone of the gold. I like the smooth look to it on the skin. It’s shimmery, but not overly so. It looks even better on top of dewy skin. It’s not in my top favorites considering I do have others that supersede the shine level/reflectivity, smoothness, and refinement of particle size. However, I still use it from time to time and think it’s a fairly nice product. I don’t recommend paying full price for it though. I think I got mine for 25% or 30% off and that’s about the maximum I would pay.

BPerfect Polar Vortex Highlighter in 32F

I haven’t reviewed this elsewhere, but I am unable to do so here either because Beauty Bay shipped this product in a box without bubble wrap or padding of any kind. The only shipping protection was literally one piece of paper, as seen in the photo below the demolished baked highlighter (two if the invoice paper counts). Every bit of it was covered in highlighter from the single open flap of the unicarton to the outside of the compact and all inside the box, above the plastic mirror protector, etc. I tried to re-press it into a spare empty highlighter pan from my DIY days, but because I used a liquid and didn’t dry-press it, it changed the texture completely. When I tried out the broken highlighter prior to pressing it back, it was insanely glittery (which is not my preference). The pressed version still has very visible particles on my face and is texture enhancing, even when I apply it on top of dewy skin to help melt it better onto the top of my cheekbones. So, I don’t feel it would be fair to consider this a review in this altered form, and it’s not something I want to keep anyway.

Suqqu Melting Powder Highlighter in 101 Kagerou (Limited Edition) and Melting Powder Blush in 06 Yuubae.
My review for these two can be found HERE. I’ve purchased several more items from Suqqu and had I known I would enjoy them so much, the Suqqu blushes would have been on my exceptions list for last year’s low-buy. I did manage to stop myself from purchasing every blush shade I wanted, so that counts for something, haha.

Urban Decay Mini Naked Your Way Eyeshadow Palette in Foxy

Once more, my strange aversion to using long rectangular shaped eyeshadow pans is in full effect with this palette. I’ve been able to create a few beautiful looks, but I stopped reaching for it shortly after the excitement of it being new wore off. I was drawn in by the greens, but these are lighter than I typically go for and cooler toned. I prefer the mini gold from Natasha Denona, Dior Backstage Khaki Neutrals, and ABH Nouveau palettes because they have some deeper options as well. Funky Town provides some depth, but I can’t get too dramatic with it on my skin tone.

The quality of these shades is a bit different for Urban Decay since adopting a vegan formula. I didn’t have issues blending the mattes, but they feel a little stiffer and are not as creamy to the touch. I guess all that really matters is how they perform, which is satisfactory enough for me. Foxy tends to disappear off my eyes though. If I want it to show up, I have to build it up a ton. Get Down is closer to a satin, whereas Hot Stuff and Disco are the true shimmers. The shimmers are impactful enough for me to use without feeling the need to wet my brush, but I get a lot of fallout under my eyes with Disco, so I tend to just dampen all of them. I sometimes even use glitter glue because I also have trouble periodically with the shimmers lasting on my eyes in the inner corner (my trouble spot because I tend to rub my eyes there). The shimmers are dryer than I recall from Urban Decay’s formula, and this probably adds to the issue with the inner corner, but it’s more important to me that the shimmers don’t crease on my eyes. So, I’m satisfied with them.

Overall, this is a nice palette. It’s not the most enjoyable experience in terms of textures, but the performance is there. It’s a small travel-friendly size, which I like. For the way I like to do makeup, I get about three different looks from this palette, which I find is a decent amount for so few shades.
I think this should really be in the $27 range, so I recommend waiting for a sale to try it out (I got mine discounted having purchased it from someone who got it in PR). Unlike all my other rectangular pan Urban Decay palettes that I declutter due to lack of use, I’m actually going to keep this one.

Viseart Haul: Viseart Grande Pro 1x, Petits Fours in Peridot, and Bijouxette ÉTENDU Palettes – These items and more from the brand have been reviewed already HERE.

Violet Voss Olive You and Wild Dahlia Palette

I purchased these two from a Boxycharm sale and did absolutely nothing with them for a full year. Since I own so many palettes in the Olive You Forever color story, I’m going to give it to my sister and not even swatch it so it can stay in new-ish condition. So, I don’t have a review for that one.

As for Wild Dahlia, so much time passed that I didn’t realize until I was doing swatches that it contained a beautiful duochrome! This palette offers quite an interesting shade selection. The mattes blend easily, are pigmented, and smooth. The shimmers are buttery, yet not the kind that causes an issue with creasing. I am so impressed! I do own one other mini Violet Voss palette that I depotted in the hopes that it would make me use the shadows more (and it had the opposite effect), so now I’m remembering how nice the quality was and I feel I’ve really been missing out on this experience!

The shimmers are decently impactful on their own, and applying them damp increases it slightly, but not enough to feel like it makes much difference. I also like that I had no issues with fallout either. I can easily recommend this one! The quality is fantastic. The shimmers are shinier in the Urban Decay Foxy palette, but I prefer the colors and tones of the shimmers in Wild Dahlia, plus the softness, blend, and color options of the mattes in this one too.

Melt Cosmetics Haul: Amor y Mariposas Pressed Pigment Palette, Monarca Blush Palette, and Gel Liners in Colibri and Estrella. My review for these items can be found HERE, and since I got such an amazing deal on it, I have no regrets! Even though I don’t use these a ton, I still very much love them.

Benefit Cosmetics Wanderful World Silky-Soft Powder Blush in Crystah, Terra, and Java
Crystah and Terra are in the shimmer formula and Java is the matte formula. I did not purchase anything in the satin formula because I was waiting for the delayed shade, Starlaa, to be released. I planned to review these blushes right away, but I had no idea it would take four months for that one to come out! In any case, I’ve been wanting mid-tone and deeper blush options from Benefit for so long that I just went overboard without thinking it through. My Beauty Resolutions were completely forgotten, or perhaps ignored, for this release. The review of them and even more shades can be found HERE.

Benefit Cosmetics Pore MINImizer Squad Primer Set

Aside from the fantastic price this was listed at via Asos, part of my motivation for buying this set was that I finished up a mini sample of the Hydrate primer and loved it enough to want another, but not a full-size, in addition to being curious about the Lite primer after Angelica Nyqvist raved about it so often, and I had no other setting sprays left in my collection.

I recall trying the original POREfessional primer many years ago, and liking the way it felt on my skin, but it left a cast that lightened the look of my foundation. I was nervous the Lite version would do the same, but it did not. The texture is very strange. It feels dry and chalky when it comes out, though it’s in a form soft enough to be rubbed in completely and smoothly. It’s less gel-like than typical silicone primers. It blurs my skin when I put it on, but with foundation on top of it, I don’t see the blurring effects anymore. Also, if rubbed into the skin excessively, it can pill up.
I don’t consider myself as having that great of an issue with the size of my pores, so I only really require that my primer help my foundation look smooth on top of it and perhaps increase the longevity. I think my makeup looks nice initially when I put it on, but I don’t think it helps past midday. Sephora lists this as being, “Best for Oily, Combo, Normal Skin,” so it’s not surprising that it’s not the best fit for me.

The Hydrate primer, as I mentioned already, is one that I loved. The color and consistency actually reminds me of the Glamglow Thirstymud Hydrating Mask. It feels soothing on my skin because of that added hydration. It’s easy to apply. I don’t know if it extends the wear of my makeup, but so far there haven’t been any foundations I’ve worn with it that I disliked. This one is actually best for, “Dry, Combo, Normal Skin,” and although I don’t notice any blurring at any point, I think it improves the finish of my foundation.

The Super Setter I’ve only used a few times. It has a nice sprayer. Most of it sprays lightly and evenly, but with every spritz I can feel some spots that are heavier, yet when I check the mirror there are never any visible droplets on my skin. This is great news because I’ve had that issue with a few setting sprays in the past. This spray doesn’t make my skin feel tight, nor cooling, or change the look of my makeup in any way. I honestly don’t notice any effect it’s having on my face, even with longevity. So, I won’t be repurchasing it.

Alamar Cosmetics

The two Disney collab products are sold out and discontinued. I strongly regret not posting this in time or in a separate review. I just could not make up my mind about them and kept forgetting the details of my wear tests when I kept trying them with several months gap between uses over the past year. The other highlighter is still available on the website.

Alamar Cosmetics x Disney Encanto Collection Blush and Highlighter in Hermosa Rosa and Flex Alert

The Encanto Blush is in the brand’s Colorete Powder Blush formula. Hermosa Rosa is a stunning shade. On bare skin it has issues with longevity. There was one instance that I applied a sheer layer and it faded within 20 minutes. I then built up the color heavily and it continued to fade, but I was left with a reasonable amount of blush on my cheeks by the end of the day. Over foundation, this isn’t as much of a problem, but I still need to put at least a medium amount of blush for it to last. Trying to keep it looking sheer doesn’t work for me. Aside from that, it’s so smooth looking on the skin and even in color and opacity. It blends well. I like this blush so much that I’ve considered purchasing more from the brand numerous times, but they’re all in palettes and I’m not drawn to the shades available. However, I continue to check the brand website a few times a year to see if they have additional shades I might like as much as this one.

The Encanto Highlighter is in the Sun Soaked Highlighter formula. This is the trickiest one for me to pinpoint how I feel about it because it depends on the time of year. When I’m at my darkest, this highlighter looks terrible on me because the color looks more stark against my skin and each individual particle is that much more apparent on my skin tone which makes it look excessively shimmery. When I’m lighter, I put my blush a bit higher on my cheekbones so the highlighter, when going on top of it, looks more natural. The pink tones with the gold shift match well over the coral color. It’s still borderline glittery looking, but it somehow just works. At least, it works on top of the Hermosa Rosa blush. I haven’t liked how it looks on top of other blushes. Color aside, it looks fairly smooth and lasts all day. And even though there is a lot of shimmer, it’s at about medium intensity because it doesn’t have the strongest reflect. I would recommend this only to someone who doesn’t mind a shimmery highlight while also not expecting it to be blinding.

Alamar Cosmetics Sun Soaked Highlighter in La Playa

I love a gold highlighter, but this one looks extra yellow next to certain blushes, so I’m not sure if this is the best color for me, even though it’s the right depth. This is one of those wet look type of highlighters and it’s less shimmery than Flex Alert, which I like. It has a semi-wet feel to it with some slip, similar to the Charlotte Tilbury Glow Glide Face Architect Highlighter formula, except that sometimes that smooth buttery texture adheres too strongly to one spot in a patch/clump. I have to go over it repeatedly to try and smooth it out when it happens. Essentially, this applies better with a more resilient bristle brush. It needs to be strong enough to move the product around evenly as it goes on the skin since it’s harder to blend out once it’s stuck. But once that initial layer is down, the highlighter can be built up stronger and more intensely. I included two photos above to show how it can be applied lightly on a natural finish foundation and a pink toned blush, or built up intensely especially on top of dewy foundation and an orange blush.

Despite how long I’ve had this highlighter, my praise of it goes up or down depending on the circumstances. On paper, this should be my ideal highlighter because of the way it looks like it melted into my skin (when having a shimmer clump isn’t an issue), it being more glowy than glittery, and it being a medium gold. However, because the formula isn’t perfect, it’s not on the list of my favorite highlighters. However, it’s still nice and I do like it…70% of the time.

Oden’s Eye Solmåne II Collection: Sunlight Love Blushers in W102 Peach Gleam, W103 Sienne Lustre and B103 Orange Sunny as well as the Gel Liner Pencils in 002 Orange and 012 Golden Brown.
The review for all of my Oden’s eye purchases can be found HERE. Liners were not allowed in my low-buy, but I was curious, did not own these colors, and wanted to hit the free shipping minimum which would have nearly cost the same amount. The blushes from Oden’s Eye are still in my top favorites, but I don’t use them as often as I anticipated because I have so many other favorite blushes that I need to spread the love among. Plus, I’m still using the original Oden’s Eye blushes, so when I want to reach for one, I split the choices between the new ones and old ones.

Colourpop x Winnie the Pooh Super Shock Cheeks in 100 Aker Wood and Mind Over Matter – They were reviewed HERE.

Sonia G Master Face Brush – This brush was reviewed in Fude 4. I saved $20 on it because of credit carried over from the Beautylish Gift Card sale. It would have been worth it despite my low-buy if I ended up loving the brush, but it was just okay.

CDJapan, Fude Japan, and Hakuhodo USA Haul: This month was the last time I could get Hakuhodo brushes before the price increase (up to 30% in most cases), so I placed Fude Japan and Hakuhodo USA orders for that. From CDJapan, I bought Eihodo outlet brushes, the Chikuhodo PS-2, and Mizuho brushes MB123 and MB125. The Mizuho brushes and Hakuhodo ones can be found in Fude 5. The rest are in Fude 4.

Coloured Raine Haul: Botanical Eyeshadow Palette, Cream Blushes in Copper Rose, Stiletto Rose, and Spicy and Eyeshadow Base in Wheat – These were reviewed HERE.

The Alamar products were the last ones that needed reviewing for the month of May from 2022! I hope this has been helpful and especially from a different perspective all this time later after hype for the products have died down. Thank you for reading!


Brand Review: Mesauda Cosmetics

When I was scrolling through the Douglas Retailer website for brands that offered deep skin options in Europe besides the mega parent brands and sub brands from L’Oréal and Estée Lauder, I came across this one and remembered even seeing a few of their items on the French Parfumdo website as well. My curiosity grew. I learned that Mesauda (or Mesauda Milano) is an Italian beauty brand founded in 2007 and mainly spearheaded by Victor Buaron, along with his two brothers who also work in the company. Although Mesauda doesn’t have the best gradient of a shade range, it’s certainly better than the other ten or so brands I hadn’t heard of on the Douglas website that didn’t make anything darker than for medium skin tones. And in some cases, the range from Mesauda is still better than the brands I did recognize. This effort to be inclusive is what got me to take the plunge and make a purchase.

The Ordering Process

Technically, I made multiple purchases via Douglas and the brand’s website directly. I was able to get free shipping via Douglas, but that came with zero packaging protection. There’s no bubble wrap, tissue paper, or padding of any kind. The box itself is sturdy, but the items inside are able to slide around and into each other. Thankfully, I haven’t received any broken items from Douglas.

From the brand’s website, shipping from Italy to Germany starts at a little over 8 euros, which isn’t too bad a price considering you get 20% off your first order if you subscribe to their emails. Unfortunately, shipping outside of the European Union is super expensive. In my first order, I had no issues other than paying via Paypal requiring me to submit the information twice in order for it to go through. I would log into my account, fill in everything, click submit payment (via paypal), get redirected to my paypal to accept everything, get redirected back to the Mesauda website checkout page with everything blank again, relog in, repeat all the same steps, and then it would let me check out! It wasn’t a time-out feature from lingering on the page too long either. This happened even when trying to check out one minute after logging in. This is tedious, but not that bad as long as the orders go through.

The problem arose when I was making a second order and my cart total qualified me for free shipping automatically if I was within Italy*. But because I was shipping to Germany, it kept giving me an error message about needing to select a different shipping option, even though there was no second option to select. So, I actually had to remove items from my cart for it to give me the paid shipping option. Not a great move from a business standpoint if the customer is forced to buy less products to make the purchase go through!

*According to the shipping page, free shipping within Italy starts at 30 Euros and free shipping to Germany is supposed to start at 60 Euros. My guess is either this information is outdated and Germans aren’t supposed to get free shipping at any minimum which led to the error, or it’s supposed to be free after 60 Euros but it switches automatically to Italy’s free standard shipping option instead of the free international one. And since they likely use different post services depending on the location, the lack of coding to switch to the courier they use for Germany (DPD) could cause the inability to check out.

Then, in that same second ordering attempt, I tried to use my reward points which gave 15 euros off my order via a one-time-use code. The problem was that because the Paypal option makes you have to check out twice, the order failing to process in round 1 made the website register as if that code had already been used. So, when I tried to check out the second time in round 2, it said the code had been used the maximum number of times! I essentially had to email customer service (they replied within 24 hours and thankfully in English) and they gave me a new code, so I checked out in round 1 without the new code, waited til it took me back to the cleared page to relog and resubmit everything and put the code in round 2 of checking out, and then it completed the order! So, in the future, if I want to make use of the reward program I will have to hope the paypal error continues so I know to only include the promo code after the first “complete order” entry fails. Otherwise, if it actually goes through, I will have checked out without my code being applied!

I let them know about all of this including screenshots and a screen recording, but it wasn’t addressed in the email response other than giving me that new one-time-use code and telling me to let them know if it worked, so I’m not sure if it was understood.

Another thing to note is that I do not getting shipping confirmation emails from them, even though it says that’s something that is supposed to happen. Instead, I get an email from the shipping carrier the day before the order is due to be delivered.

So, one one hand, Douglas is the less expensive way to go, but they don’t have all the newest products and one has to pray the parcel delivery person won’t toss the package around like they do in the US.

When I access Douglas via Google Chrome, there’s an option to translate some of the page from German to English, but it makes the page buggy and not load sometimes, which is another factor in the ordering process. Douglas also has a point system, but I don’t have enough to see what it does. I believe it accounts for essentially 10% off one’s order at different point intervals.
On the other hand, the official Mesauda website is much more English-friendly and has an option to select English at the bottom of the page that’s built into the site, but sometimes it doesn’t translate everything when loaded and it still shows Italian here and there. The official site also has the benefit of the reward program, but the downside is the potential issues checking out. As I’ve only contacted customer service with Mesauda, I don’t know how Douglas customer service compares. Also, I get the shipping confirmation via Douglas, but no additional emails letting me know when it’s about to be delivered.

Onto the reviews!

Bronze Venus Bronzer in Caramel Macchiato and Rich Mahogany

In the photo above, Caramel Macchiato is on the top left and right with Rich Mahogany on the bottom left and right. The left half of the picture shows how they look in the pan, while the right half shows a more accurate representation of how the colors will look on the skin. I took these photos in the same spot but slightly different angles and the amount of light I got from the window was able to show these drastic differences in the way they look. I believe I accurately captured all swatches though.

Caramel Macchiato

Caramel Macchiato is a warm golden-leaning bronzer shade. This is closer to my skin tone than most of the bronzers in my collection, but thanks to the buildable formula, I can make it very apparent if I want. Between the two deepest bronzer options, I think this one fits me better. However, the other shade shows up more on my skin because it’s less of a match with my undertone.

Rich Mahogany

Rich Mahogany is a medium-dark neutral brown with just a touch of red. This was actually the first of the two shades I purchased, and even though I preferred the color of Caramel Macchiato in the product images, I really didn’t expect that one to work for me. I didn’t even know if Rich Mahogany was going to be deep enough based on how it looked on the arm swatch of the darker model because I’m used to brands manipulating photos when their range doesn’t go very deep. *cough* Hourglass *cough*

I’m happy to report that Rich Mahogany could work for someone a shade or two darker than me, though it will be on the subtler side. The greater difference between Caramel Macchiato and Rich Mahogany is the undertone more than depth.

Six shades of bronzer is a nice amount, although I’m not sure if they go light enough on the spectrum either. It appears that they have the medium-tan range adequately covered.

Photo from the Mesauda Website

I very much like this formula of bronzer. Beyond being buildable, it has the benefit of the soft and buttery feeling texture that reminds me of the way the Huda Glowish Bronzer feels, but in a lighter consistency that’s more powdery in the way it gets picked up by a brush, while still applying to the skin in a beautiful natural sheen that mimics the look of a baked gelee formula. The brand cites coconut oil and Polynesian Tiare flowers as the sources of the “moisturizing boost with smoothing and antioxidant properties,” that is given to the skin. I believe that combination is how Monoi oil is produced, which I thought I would mention for those who like that oil in products, though Monoi isn’t specifically listed in the ingredients and it’s just coconut oil and the Tiara flowers separately. The emollient nature of this product is supposed to also aid in the adhesion to the skin, which I can attest to this bronzer lasting on me all day without fading. The downside is that I sometimes get the issue that in spots that have more moisture than others, I get a little bit of sticking of a patch that’s darker than the rest. I can mostly blend it out to look even with the rest of my bronzer, but sometimes it’s so stubborn in a sticking spot that I have to wipe it off or cover it back up with foundation, then apply powder, then redo the bronzer application in that spot. If I always powdered prior to bronzer, this might not be an issue. However, because I often skip powdering my whole face, I was able to notice this.
And although I prefer to build up quickly a subtler shade like Caramel Macchiato with a brush like the Sonia G Smooth Buffer, I had the sticking issue a little more often with that brush. When I use a brush that doesn’t load on as much product, like the Sonia G Jumbo Bronzer brush, I haven’t had that problem.

To those averse to fragrance, this does contain some. The brand calls it a “floral/fruity” scent, but I just smell slightly soapy flowers. It actually reminds me of the smell of Dior powders, but not as strong.

Please click the photos to enlarge them if needed, and use the arrows to go through the slide before clicking ‘x’ in the slide to return to the post. As I mentioned before, the depths are about the same and the tone is the main difference between the two shades. They’re also on the subtle side now and if I get darker this summer, they might not show up anymore.

This bronzer doesn’t have holy grail status, but I could see myself putting this among the top 20 on a ranking list. Despite having it for over a month, I still feel I need more time with it to see if my interest in using it continues to grow over time or if it’ll be overshadowed by the others I own. For anyone interested in bronzers I purchased prior to 2023 and where I’d rank those, I have a post on that topic here.

Lust For Shine Highlighter in Guilty Treasure

Mesauda has several different forms of highlighter: liquid, baked, gel-powder, and cream-powder. Since my favorites tend to be gel-powder, I naturally chose to order this Lust For Shine formula. The texture is thinner and drier than I expected. The shimmer looks fairly smooth on the skin with its small particle size, while still being reflective. I consider the highlight intensity level to be a buildable medium, though it stands out even more on my skin tone because Guilty Treasure is on the lighter side of workable for me. I only brought highlighters with the same depth as my skin tone on the trip because I thought I would only want my highlight to look subtle, but I ended up still missing having that extra “pop” in my makeup looks. So, I bought this lighter shade out of fear that Deep Attraction might be my skin tone or deeper, which would have defeated the purpose of trying to buy a shade that differed from what I had with me. What helps Guilty Treasure to work on my skin tone is how sheer the formula is in allowing my skin tone to show through, which minimizes the cast I could have gotten if it had a base color as light as the shimmer.
I apply my other highlighters first, and then add this one in strategic places for a spotlight effect. It can be blended out to a super natural shine for those who like the most subtle of highlighters, or layered up to the medium I mentioned, if one doesn’t blend it out too much. This highlighter doesn’t adhere to my skin as strongly. It will stay on most of the day, as long as I don’t touch my face more than a few times. There were some days during testing that it didn’t last more than a few hours and I realized I must have rubbed it off while sitting with my cheek rested on my hand or when I took a nap. A lot of highlighters don’t last through me napping, so that’s not too surprising. It’s just that this highlighter is easier to accidentally wipe away than others, and I have accidentally overblended it a few times already and needed to apply more. This can happen no matter which highlighter brush I use (goat, squirrel, synthetic-natural mix, fan brush, flat top, candle-shape, etc.). Also, if it’s one of my more natural days when I skip foundation, this highlighter definitely only sticks to my face for a short time.
To help it adhere more strongly, I’ve tried spraying my brush to slightly dampen it the way I do with a lot of my shimmery eyeshadows. This added moisture helps increase the shine level and better melt it into the skin, but the effects are only temporary. The best way to make this last longer is to have products underneath that remain at least a little wet or emollient like a dewy foundation or cream highlight.

This formula is fairly nice and it’s easier to pick up product with the Mesauda highlighter than the Nabla one, but I’d still recommend the Skin Glazing highlighters (and it’s one euro cheaper) because of the gorgeous glass skin effect it has on the skin. I love when highlighters have a somewhat wet look to them (which gel-highlighters tend to do), but I only get a slight wet effect using the Mesauda one if all other products with it are fully dry. I still like it more than most standard powder formula highlighters, but it doesn’t make the top of my favorites list. I’m still glad I tried it because the curiosity would have gnawed at me.

Also, unlike the bronzers, this is fragrance free.

Photo from the Mesauda Website

At First Blush in French Kiss, Obsessed, and Lovebite

I wanted Obsessed and French Kiss from the beginning, but I didn’t expect the blushes to actually look as vivid in person as they are depicted in the swatches, and especially for the lightest shades available. So, I bought Lovebite to be on the safe side and realized quickly that although the blushes do look lighter on the skin than in the pan, they are still quite pigmented despite their thin texture (which seems to be a theme with Mesauda powder products). Another consistent feature is the soft and silky feeling to the touch of them.

There is visible shimmer in the pan, but it’s very fine and just adds a satin soft sheen to the cheeks. The brand boasts ingredients like, “rose hip with its emollient and soothing action and Ginko biloba with its antioxidant properties,” but it appears corn oil is a more prominent feature based on the order of the ingredients on the list. The emollient factor was considered a good thing in the bronzers, though it had that sticking to wetness issue. With the blushes, I don’t have any issues like that. Granted, it does fade a little as the day goes on, but I still consider it a decently lasting blush formula.

Also, just like the highlighter, these are fragrance free.

French Kiss

I would describe this color as a peachy-pink-brown, and on the lighter side of medium in terms of depth. It definitely shows up on me (though it’s harder to see on camera), and does not look ashy, but if it was just a little bit darker it would be perfect for me. I wear it on its own, but it makes for a nice mixing shade if I want to tone down a brighter blush to turn it a little more neutral without making my cheeks darker.


This is a warm medium toned peachy-pink blush. I expected this to be my favorite of the three, but it flips back and forth between first and second place. I like that it shows up on me easier than French Kiss because it’s a little darker, but I think the brown in the other one compliments my skin tone slightly more. However, since it’s a warm leaning pink it’s still complimentary. I use it on its own, but I also like mixing it with French Kiss.


I have to be careful using this one because it’s such a vibrant reddish-pink shade, and pigmented to boot. I tap my brush once into the pan and work that amount of product from my brush onto one single cheek until it’s blended to be less intense. Then I repeat the process on the other cheek.

I find it interesting that my camera is able to pick up the shimmer particles quite a bit. I never noticed them as much in my lighting situations back in Germany, though the intensity of light (even natural light) is quite different from there compared to Florida.

Photo from the Mesauda Website

Blush & Glow in Koralline

I think Mesauda is dropping the “Milano” part of their name because it’s not listed that way on the brand website; only on Douglas. In addition, the only packaging I could see with “Mesauda Milano” on it was this Blush & Glow product in circle packaging. This product is discounted everywhere at a price around 4 euros with only a few of the shade options available at various places, so I am guessing it’s being discontinued or will return in new packaging to match the black squares of the others.

Koralline is quite similar to Lovebite, but with more pink in it than red. I was hoping this would either be light enough to use as a highlighter or deep enough to wear as a full-on blush. I like the base color, but the pearls unfortunately create a cast on my skin tone in certain lighting situations that makes it look ashy, even though it’s absolutely deep enough of a blush shade for me (or would be without the pearl pigments). This has happened to me before with some highlighters that have a base color deep enough for my skin, but the shimmer itself is too dark or too light and that makes it unflattering on my skin tone. I had issues with pearl pigments in my Hourglass vs Guerlain post as well, and even some of MAC’s Mineralize Blushes, which is why it’s the only blush formula from MAC that I’m very picky about. It’s a bit funny that the day I took the photo, it happened to show on my camera the prettiest it’s ever looked!

The blush otherwise looks quite pretty on the skin, is smooth, contains “Jojoba oil with emollient and moisturizing action,” has decent longevity, and does remind me quite a lot of the MAC Mineralize Blush formula. However, because of that pearl (or the combination of the pearls with the “holographic pigments”), and the way it reflects in light, I planned to declutter it. However, seeing how it looks on camera, I will reconsider it.

Gold N-Roses Eyeshadow Palette

Photo from the Mesauda website (above) versus how it looks in person (below).

The online photos on the website don’t do this palette justice. The colors are much prettier in person and I was thrilled to see it contains a duochrome called Oh Wow. These eyeshadows are thin, yet give good color payoff, while being in tones that are on the softer side. For instance, instead of an intense red, we have Felicia which is a deep pink-red. Rather than a vibrant purple, Victoria is more of a muted magenta. This makes the palette perfect for someone who likes neutrals, but also enjoys dabbling in “wearable” colors or having festive options for specific outings/occasions.

The mattes take noticeably longer to blend than I’m used to, but not so long that I would call them “bad.” They just require a bit of effort. I recommend using a brush with bristles thicker than squirrel (like goat or synthetic) with them. Most of these are opaque, but Perception is extremely patchy. From the first time I swiped it on my fingers, I could see spots where my skin was showing through, and this wasn’t the case for any other shadow in the palette.

I understand that some brands prefer to make their black shadows buildable, but it gives a smoky worn out look when I use it since it doesn’t build to be entirely opaque. I like smokier looks, but not necessarily on the grungy editorial side. This shade is still usable, but I’d prefer to reach for another palette’s black eyeshadow.

As for the shimmers, I prefer using them wet to aid in the shiny look and ability to layer them up for average intensity.

Because of the way the plastic packaging feels, the shape of the pans, and the layout, this palette reminds me of Tarte and Persona palettes. However, I prefer the formulas from those two over this one and would prefer to pay the $4-$8 increased price for that quality. Because this palette hasn’t been in my possession for all that long, it still feels exciting to have, but I honestly don’t foresee myself reaching for it more than a few times after this review. I like this, but I can’t recommend it over similarly priced palettes on the market.

BARE HARMONY 3.0 Palette in 205 Hidden Green

My experience with this particular palette has additional positives and negatives over the Gold N’Roses palette. For starters, I bought it because I forgot to bring a deep shimmer or satin brown shade on the trip with me. Plus, I’m a sucker for pretty green eyeshadows and I was so intrigued by the look of Moss. It’s a combination of various green and gold/bronze shimmer, but it doesn’t have that true duochromatic effect. There’s no shift, but it’s undeniably still pretty.

I like that the pigmentation level is cranked up for these mattes, while still being just as thin. However, they require even more work than my other palette for blending. I don’t know if it’s necessarily worth that trade-off since blending time is more tedious to me than being able to get strong color payoff the tiniest bit quicker. As for the shimmers, they are wetter, creamier, and shinier than in the Gold N’Roses palette. My only issue was with Precious, because I had trouble picking up that shade on my brush without it either dispersing everywhere on my eyes in a low pigment scattered effect (because the particles aren’t bound together as much as the other shimmers) or coming up in a giant chunk if I pressed too hard into the pan. Essentially, I had to resort to spraying my brush every time I used it in order to get it to stick on my eyes in the area I wanted with minimal mess.

So, even though this palette is trickier to use, the color story is more my speed and how much more dramatic I can make my looks is why I think I might actually reach for this palette a bit more than Gold N’Roses. I have so many gorgeous palettes now in the green, brown, yellow, and gold color scheme that once the “new” feeling fades, I wouldn’t be surprised if I stop using it after another month or two and go back to using my favorites. As for whether or not I recommend Hidden Green, even though the Natasha Denona Mini Gold Palette is a few dollars more expensive and contains much less product, I believe that’s way more worth the purchase than this one. I don’t regret buying this one though because it was needed while I was overseas and I enjoyed it while my eyeshadow options were limited.

Other Products (Images from the Brand Website)

“The Skin” Foundation. Photo from the Mesauda Website.

I was very curious about this product, but I don’t have a good shade in this line. I’d be somewhere in the 73 or 74 range, but I’d need a color that didn’t have that strong of an orange tone. I cannot speak to how these shades look in person, but it appears that the light to medium range is well covered and much closer in depth between shades. There are huge gaps though from C70 and onward, plus C75 and W80 don’t look like real skin tones. They look like corrector colors on the darker end. It’s not enough for brands to have dark shades in their line. They have to be colors that actually match people, or else it seems like they didn’t invest as much time and effort in the creation of those colors and they are just there for show to look more inclusive than they are.

Concealer Photo from the Mesauda Website

I didn’t try the concealer for the same reason of being unable to find a color that would work for me. W90 is too light and too pink, but C95 is too dark. The range is missing quite a few tan to rich options, but this line does a better job looking like real tones (except the peach one P01 still looks like a corrector).

Face Powder Photo from the Mesauda Website

Talk about a shade jump! The difference between 107 and 108 is staggering! Once more, I did not have a good color match. If this was the translucent type of powder, more people could perhaps be able to pull off using the last two. However, the website states, “The formula is rich in micronised mineral pigments for improved coverage and even application all over the face.” This talk of coverage leads me to believe it’s the pigmented kind of powder that could be used to boost the coverage of foundation. In this case, the range is definitely limited for those who aren’t fair to medium.

As decent of a job as the brand has done with the products I reviewed today, there are certainly areas that could be improved if they wanted to fill out their current range as their brand grows. I wish them the best and hope that this happens. I’ll be keeping my eye out on what they’re up to when I return to Europe toward the end of this year because they make some nice products of interest to me.

That’s everything! Thank you for reading!


New Armani Melting Colour Balm Shade 52 and Suqqu Blush Collection Update

I planned to make this post over three months ago, but I did not anticipate Suqqu discontinuing their line of Melting Powder Blushes! It’s barely a year since they were first launched and there was supposed to be a permanent range, not just the limited edition shades. According to the brand, they were having too much trouble sourcing the raw materials. Whatever is already in production for 2023 is still coming out, but there will not be more after this year. It’s quite a shame because the Armani and Suqqu blushes are among my favorite cream to powder formulas for blush. I guess this post also serves as a shade comparison guide for those who want the Suqqu colors but are unable to get them in time and would like a potential alternative.

In-depth review of the formula and photos demonstrating the Suqqu shades 06 Yuubae and 07 Yoiurushi can be found here.

In-depth formula and performance review with photos demonstrating the Armani blush shades 30 Warm Coral and 60 Warm Plum can be found here.

Let’s start with the Armani blushes because I want to not only feature the newest addition to the line, but also comment on the texture differences among the various shades and information on the batches.

Armani Neo Nude Melting Color Balm in 52 Neutral Pink

When I purchased the newest shade at the end of last year, I also bought a second version of 60 Warm Plum. One of my only gripes with the Melting Color Balm line is that I absolutely love the creamy and soft texture of shade 30 Warm Coral, but that might be the only one that feels that way. Shade 60 Warm Plum was extremely hard and also difficult to pick up the product and apply it to the cheeks. I thought perhaps it was defective and wanted to wait long enough to eventually repurchase it. When I got the new shade 52 Neutral Pink, I pressed my thumb very hard in the pan and it left an imprint. It’s still nowhere near as soft as 30, but it’s at least better than 60. I still wish it was a little creamier, but it’s at least good enough for me to recommend. As for my new shade 60, I pressed ridiculously hard and could barely make an imprint on the surface. Despite purchasing it a year and a half since the initial launch, the Armani US site is/was still selling the original hard pressed batch, as seen by the identical batch codes.

Shade 30 came out first in the initial launch, and even though 60 was supposed to be part of it, it was not available for purchase anywhere until about four months later. Both of them still have the same black sticker, which I believe indicates that “first” release. The brand new addition to the line, 52 has a whitish color sticker, so that seems to be a safe sign in knowing it wasn’t intended to be part of the initial launch and is truly new. But, as seen below, both shade 60s have the 78U14K batch code and are identical in their dried out super hard texture.

I love the color of 60, but it’s such a pain to use. On the bright side though, I realized that with enough uses, it does eventually soften up. I guess one could call it breaking the top layer, but if that’s the case it’s a far and deep layer. It never gets to the softness level of 30, but it gets closer to being like 52.

As for how shade 52 wears on me, it applies nicely with a brush and is okay with fingers. I haven’t tried a sponge this time, but in my previous review using a sponge was the quickest way to get use out of shade 60, so I’m sure it works fine. Of all my brushes, I like to use my Sonia G Mini Base brush with it the most. The blushes have a decent wear time if a significant amount is applied (and will certainly last longer if set with powder). Because of the creamy consistency though, it’s more prone to transfer.

Shade 52 looks a bit prettier now than when I initially bought it. It might be too light for me when summer comes, but my preferred usage for it is to mix it with shade 30 anyway to create what I consider an actual coral color. Shade 30 is described as warm coral, but I consider it to be a terracotta. Adding the pink from 52 is my favorite combination! I’ve also mixed 52 and 60 together, and that makes for a pretty mauve. It’s just more difficult trying to mix those two together when they’re on the drier side than trying to mix with the creamy 30.

So, even though I love these and do recommend them, I have to point out that they aren’t perfect across the board and the different shades may be easier or harder to use than others. These aren’t hyped up, but they tend to get extremely positive reviews from those that own them (and for good reason).

Suqqu Melting Powder Blushes in 02 Haruoto and 101 Hoteriiro.

These aren’t the newest additions to the line, but they are the most recent ones I’ve purchased.
As was the case with Armani 52, this 02 shade from Suqqu looks better on me while I’m at my lightest, but it is definitely not a flattering shade on me when I’m darker (particularly because of the cool tone). I don’t think I will end up keeping this one in my collection, especially if there’s someone on Mercari who might want this after it’s officially discontinued. It’s something I’ll consider when I’m back home or I might just give it to a friend. I’ve considered the idea of mixing it with one of the darker shades, like I did with the Armani ones, but considering how many Suqqu blushes I own in total, I would rather dedicate my focus on getting more use out of the ones that work for me on their own.

Shade 101 is sheerer than I expected and more shimmery as well. It’s objectively pretty, but not my preference. I feel like it emphasizes the kind of orange tone my foundation can lean, which is not what I want. So, I may rehome this as well. It might make a pretty blush topper, so I will at least try that first sometime before deciding to keep it or not. However, when I want this kind of shiny orange, I could always reach for the orange blush from Hourglass that was in the Tiger Palette. That one even has more pigment.

Comparison Swatches Between Armani and Suqqu

None of these colors are dupes for one another even though I always pictured them being similar in my mind. I think it’s understandable considering I own a pink, orange, and red for both. If anyone else is curious to see how they compare, I hope this will bring some clarity.

Newest Blush Releases from Armani and Suqqu

The handwritten numbers were my attempt to figure out which shades from the promo pic that attracted me to the Armani blushes coincides with the brand’s swatches. It’s not easy to figure out considering these are not widely available at the time I’m writing this.

Armani is releasing Luminous Silk Glow Blushes and Suqqu has two Pure Color Blushes coming in the Pre-Summer Collection and two Melting Powder Highlighters in the actual Summer Collection. I was very much interested in the Armani ones until I watched a review that had me questioning whether the colors I want will look the same way in person as they do online, or if they will even show up on me with their level of sheerness. So, it’s unknown whether I will pick one up or not. I’m leaning towards skipping until there’s a big sale.

For Suqqu, I had the 138 Blush in the Pre-Summer collection shipped home to the US. As for the Summer collection, I’ve gone back and forth on this, but I might just pick up one of the Melting Powder Highlighters. Although I suspect it will have silver shimmer, and I hate silver in highlighters, the other colors within the swirl of the orange/brown swirl one might make it something I like. It being limited edition makes it difficult to “wait and see,” and I certainly don’t want to miss out.

That’s everything I have for today!



Part 2 of Melt’s Mystery Bundles and Holiday Sale

A few things happened between working on Part 1 and Part 2. First, I decided to keep a few extra products from the Mystery Bundles instead of giving them away. Second, the only lip pencil I received that smelled relatively normal in the beginning ended up starting to smell very off like the others (still without me ever even using it), so I’m no longer going to review it. Third, Melt had a 50% off sale the day after I posted Part 1, so I bought the few remaining things I wanted from the brand. This means I’ll be reviewing a few extra things not pictured above.

Part 1 with reviews of all the eye products in the photo can be found HERE.

The Sculpt Stack

This stack is surprisingly handy! I love that it comes with a small mirror as the “cap” for the stack. The med/dark bronzer and contour both work for my skin tone, but even the light/med bronzer I’ve been able to use as a setting powder! It’s just the light/med contour that I have little use for. I prefer my contours to have slightly more grey than this one has, so I had the idea to mix some of the light/med contour shade with it, but I was unsuccessful in making those two properly blend together to turn into the perfect contour shade for my liking. Using the Med/Dark contour on its own looked better than the combination of the two.

These blend easily enough, though it can stick in place a little bit if my face is dewy, but that just requires a dense brush to buff out and then it looks fine again. The Chikuhodo FO-2 is a beloved buffer brush up to that task, for example.

These don’t fade. They are matte, but not drying. I love a slight sheen to my bronzers, which this doesn’t give, but it’s still quite nice. Overall, my impression of the stack is that it’s a useful product. It’s not in my very top favorites, but I do enjoy this product a lot and will continue using it. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if this turns out to be something I like even more over time.

Ultra Matte Bronzer in Malibu

Despite the “Ultra Matte” name, I don’t find this product to be drying on the skin or to look any more matte than the bronzer in the stack. The powder feels slightly silkier to the touch, but it’s actually less easy to use than the stack because of my preference for wearing slightly dewy foundations. If I’m wearing a drier foundation, the blend is at least equal to the bronzer in the stack. Overall, I prefer the stack’s color and blendability than Melt’s actual dedicated line of bronzers. Plus, whatever makes this formula different from the one in the stack also causes it to start forming a weird film on the top layer (presumably from double dipping between the compact and the moisture on my face from skincare, primer, and/or dewy foundation).

I find it interesting that the shade range seems to lean on the darker end of the spectrum. My shade is number 3 out of 4 and Malibu is even a bit darker than I tend to wear these days, though perhaps it’ll be perfect in the summertime. However, I will realistically not reach for this because I prefer the stack and plenty of other bronzers in my collection over this one. It’s not bad, but I just don’t think it’s worth full price. Even at half price, I’d choose a Mented Cosmetics bronzer, Nabla Skin Bronzing, or Covergirl Trublend So Flushed.

Cream Blushlight in Pinched and Lynx

I’ve reviewed this type of product before and it falls into the category of loving the shades and finishes, but not liking the fact that these don’t set down to a dry finish on the skin. Just like the Rose Inc blushes that I have the same issue with, I was unable to turn down the opportunity to buy something (like a mystery box) to essentially get the blushes for free. They’re so pretty! I just wish they could set without a strong powder (like a powder blush that fully removes the glow and warps the color which defeats the purpose of wearing them at all).

Pinched looks quite similar to Polished, but I wanted an option that didn’t have shimmer and was more pigmented on my cheeks and Lynx made for a gorgeous cream highlighter. I’m satisfied with these two shades, and will use them for photos, but the continued wet feeling on the cheeks is why I will never get much use out of them in public or private. For those who don’t mind a wet creamy cheek, these are beautiful. And I know there are some people who absolutely love this formula, like Amy Loves Makeup who owns them all.

Digital Dust Highlighter in Genesis

This highlighter was in the “last chance” section of the website, so it’s discontinued now, but something about pink and gold shimmery hues intrigue me. If they’re too pink, I tend to not like them, but if they are gold with a slight pink tinge, I tend to find them beautiful. Genesis is the kind I like. The shine can be built up to medium intensity in person, but it remains subtle on camera. I thought at first it just blended in very well on a day I wore my Rituel de Fille Thorn Oil (left photo), but when I made sure to take pictures again with a drier base, the shimmer particles were more obvious, but still didn’t look very reflective on camera (right photo). So, this is the type of highlighter I would wear in public, but not if I wanted my highlight to pop in pictures.

Sexfoil Liquid Highlight in Peaches & Cream

I reviewed these before and even mentioned that I think Peaches & Cream might show up more intensely on me. Ironically, it’s even more subtle than Gold Ore, but I think it’s a far better match for my skintone and even prettier. This product has a tendency to lift, depending on what other makeup I wear underneath it, but because the base color is about my skin tone, it covers up any patches while also having shimmer light enough to reflect and still work as a highlighter for my face.

Although I rarely use liquid highlighters, this might be the exception.

Gel Liner in Fortune

I have an example of this on the eyes in the Half Lashes section with the green eyeshadow look. Just like the other Melt liners, they dry quickly, don’t smudge, and last all day without the line cracking. I prefer eyeliner pens because of the convenience of not needing to use a second tool to apply it, but I find these gel ones to be great from Melt, especially in the waterproof formula that works for the waterline, though I only reach for them occasionally. If the brand ever releases felt tip eyeliner pens, I would definitely want to give one a try.

Johnny Half Lash

This was my first time ever buying Half Lashes and, just like most full strip lashes, these aren’t for me. The issue is that I have a very rounded curve to my eyes directly in the middle. This requires me to have strip lashes that are longer than usual. My eyes also have a steep downward curve at the outer edge, which I try to balance out with cat-eye wings. So, in order to have room to adjust to my eye shape, I would need a longer half lash (something like a 3/4 strip) and for the outer portion to have much longer lashes so that it can look like it’s curving upward at the ends. On my eyes, putting the half lash from the actual middle to end part looks strange because my inner lashes are super short, which doesn’t have a normal looking transition from shorter lashes to suddenly longer outer ones. This causes the outer part to look either downturned or just makes the eye look heavy. If I move the lash slightly more inwards from the top of my curve in the center to almost the end to keep it from looking downturned, it looks even more ridiculous because the lashes go from short to long to short again.

The best I could get it to look was in the purple look when I made sure to have a wing that made the outer edge appear to curve up higher than the actual lash was curving. It still looks quite heavy though, so this style of lash just isn’t for me. If I want half lashes, I think I would need to just slightly trim a full strip and ensure it has a very flared out end. But considering my sparse and shorter inner lashes, I’d just stick with House of Lashes Iconic Lites.

Amor y Mariposas Collection

Recuerdos Lipstick and Corazon Lip Pencil

As I mentioned in the beginning of the post, I didn’t end up wearing the lip pencil because of the smell. As for the lipstick, it’s certainly an interesting color. It still has a vanilla scent to it that is similar to the cream blushlights. The color isn’t very even and this formula is very drying and the bullet was stiff. I don’t know if this is the case with all of Melt’s lipsticks (I have heard they aren’t very comfortable) or if this is just performing this way because of how long ago the collection was released. The gold packaging is absolutely stunning though. I love the details, as well as the imprint on the lipstick bullet. I will never wear this lipstick again (and removed it after taking the photo so I have no idea how good the longevity is), but I want to save the packaging and maybe pour a homemade balm into it so I can reuse it for something because it’s so pretty, plus luxurious feeling from the metal with magnetic closure.


I ended up with two of these when it was temporarily reduced to $5 with a purchase of an Amor y Mariposas item and then again when it was temporarily free with either a mystery box or certain spending minimum. It was never officially announced, but something I noticed in the website carts. So, I gave the spare one to my sister!

This mirror is beautiful. I love the gold writing on the back and the clear red color. It’s a thick plastic though, so it feels weighty but isn’t too heavy as to be uncomfortable for a handheld mirror. The only downside is that it’s quite small, around the size of Colourpop mirrors. The one I got from Gerard Cosmetics is the current one I use because it’s much bigger in size, which I compared in the photo below. I can be quite clumsy and have already broken five mirrors in my lifetime, so I don’t mind having backups. However, if my Gerard one breaks, I would probably repurchase it because I like how much larger of a mirror surface it has. I know I own plenty of palettes with mirrors, but those are heavier to lift up, or the lid doesn’t stay up in position, or the mirror is just too small for my liking. So, I continue to use hand mirrors and I like collecting pretty ones, even if I barely use the spare ones.

Brush Set

The brushes in the order pictured are Rubor 718, Pomulo Alto 779, Pincel Denso 23, Mini Difumadora 808, Sombra Angular 627, Sombra Plana 24, and Lapiz Fino 523.

Rubor makes for a decent sweeping blush and bronzer brush. I like the density level, but wish it was more of Pomulo’s shape. Pomulo is my kind of blush brush, but it’s not as dense as I like and makes for a sheerer blush application. If I want something this sheer, I’d just use one of my natural hair brushes, so it disappointed me a bit. Pincel is a bit large for my eyes, but I have used it as a highlighting brush. It’s okay for that purpose, but a little odd because of the pointed tip. I’ve also used it to spread out one of my more liquid eye primers and preferred it for that, though I spread the product a bit wider out than anticipated since it’s so big for my eye. Mini Difumadora I’ve also used for highlighter and do like it for that. Sombra Angular I’ve used for eye primer and liked it. Sombra Plana I’ve used as an eyeliner brush, though I would prefer if it came even thinner at the tips for even more precision. I think it’s technically a concealer brush as it’s similar in shape and size to my Smashbox concealer brush that I also don’t use for concealer. Sonia G’s Jumbo Concealer brush is much more my style in shape and thickness. Lapiz Fino is a strange one because it’s shaped like an eyeliner brush, but it’s so thick that I never want to use it for eyeliner and can’t think of any other purpose for that brush either. Maybe spot concealing, but I almost never do that.

Overall, I do think this brush set is worth the currently reduced $35 price. I got one set free in a mystery box, but I did buy another set for my sister who is always afraid to use pretty brushes for fear of messing them up. I got this set specifically for her to “mess up” as much as she wants but she still finds the gold metal outside (I’m guessing full aluminum) and lovely shade of red synthetic bristles to be too pretty.

I’ve only washed these brushes once, but I did not notice any dye seeping out. Just wanted to mention that. However, I wash my brushes with cold or lukewarm water at most.

Before we go, I should post this disclaimer…

*DISCLAIMER: Unhighlighted links in bold blue font (Example) are non-affiliate links that will not generate commission. The vast majority of links on this blog are traditional non-affiliate ones. Links marked in bold black font with a light blue background (Example) are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to get a commission if purchases are made directly using my links. The price of the product is not affected by these links, and anyone who uses them would be supporting this blog. Whether you click to shop through them or not, I appreciate you visiting and I hope you find the information I’ve provided helpful!

That’s everything for today. Thank you for reading!


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.

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.

Reviewing Coloured Raine After a Two Year Break

From 2018 until 2020, Coloured Raine used to be my number one favorite brand for non-multichrome eyeshadows. What made me take a long break from buying their palettes was them discontinuing their eyeshadows to go full vegan.
I’ve had issues with some vegan formulas blending away to nothing, or being too hard to blend, and being patchy. Some of the ones that did perform decently didn’t have an acceptable preservation method (tying in with the “clean beauty” anti-parabens movement), so I’d get hardly a year before the performance of the shadows changed and/or went bad.
So, I was already skeptical about whether or not Coloured Raine’s new vegan formula could measure up to their old one. When they released their Juicy Boost Collection in August 2020, the reviews I watched with the demos were terrible! That was enough for me to want to steer clear of their eyeshadows until their 2022 Memorial Day sale in May. I figured that should be enough time for the brand to fix whatever formula issues they had, so I decided to give them another chance.

The formulas, textures, and how the makeup performs turned out to be different depending on the collection. In today’s post, I’ll be sharing my observations and experiences with these products. Just keep reading to find out which items I loved and which ones I should have avoided!

Coloured Raine Cream Blushes in Spicy (Original), Stiletto Rose and Copper Rose (Botanical Collection)

The first thing to know about these blushes is that despite them all sharing the description of “cream blush,” the original four that launched, which includes Spicy, are completely different from the two blushes from the Botanical Collection. The ingredient lists are different, along with the textures and pigmentation. The container of the originals are larger than the Botanical Blushes too!

Spicy has a waxy consistency that’s so tacky it lifts up when touched. It’s thicker and more opaque. Picking up a little is still too much, so I put it on the back of my hand and warm up a small section first before applying it to my cheeks with that finger in tapping motions and then a final light sweep of the finger across the cheeks to ensure it’s fully smoothe. A little product comes off underneath, but it’s so pigmented that it will cover up the missing spot anyway. A brush will pick up way too much, but it’s still possible to use by putting it on the back of the hand or a makeup palette first (or even tapping the excess off on a towel) to get a lighter even layer across the bristles before applying it to the cheeks. I still prefer fingers because I have more control that way and can also warm up the product.

The Botanical Blushes have a higher concentration of slip agents (various silicones) that feel a little more gel-like, but still like a softer wax once the heat of a finger melts that top layer. I keep my finger on top of a spot for several seconds before I start to rub to pick up the blush onto my finger and tap it onto the cheeks. It looks like it will be just as pigmented as the original line of blushes, but when blended, it sheers out a fair amount. So, it takes a few light layers to build up to my satisfaction. This product also lifts what’s underneath, but it still looks fine to me as a veil of color. In the spots with discoloration that lifts, I put concealer back on top of the discolored spot and pack a little more blush on top, and those additional layers help it to stay.
I can use a brush with these, but it doesn’t pick up as much product without warmth.

These blushes remain creamy on the face. If I’m wearing something like the Rose Inc Luminous Foundation Serum, that wetter products tend to set well on top of, and apply the Botanical blushes in a thin layer with a brush, it can mostly set down. However, for the amount of pigmentation I want that isn’t just a flush, it’s going to remain creamy feeling on the skin unless I set it with powder. Spicy will absolutely not set on its own, plus easily transfers, so I only wear it powder-set. Setting all three of them with powder only temporarily makes them feel dry but at least does take down the creaminess enough that it won’t feel sticky or tacky. Powder-setting also makes the Botanical Blushes more transfer-resistant, but when it comes to Spicy it will definitely still transfer when touched, just a little less. Setting with powder has the final benefit of toning down the intensity level of Spicy, and even Stiletto Rose if I go overboard with that color.

These blushes will last all day, even without powder, as long as they aren’t touched. However, it’s just my preference to set them with powder, especially with a powder blush on top to add some nuance to the shades.

The photos above demonstrate the blushes with different foundations and at different times of the year. The middle three with the dark blue shirt were under the lighting conditions of my ring light. The others were with indoor lighting and some natural light coming in from behind the window blinds.

Had I completed this review three months ago, I’d have said, “These blushes require a little more effort, but are nice enough that I may still reach for them from time to time.” However, I’ve been going through my cream and liquid blush collection a lot more lately, and in comparison, these rank so low on the list. They still aren’t bad products, but I have so many options that don’t pick up product underneath, don’t require warmth or having to baby the formula, or do any other extra steps. Plus, my other blushes are in far more interesting colors. I’ve realized that I don’t like standard crayola type of blush colors like a pure orange, pure red, or pure pink. I love reddish browns, terracottas, pinky-orange corals, pinkish-browns, etc. Those type of colors look more natural on me. I expected Spicy to be a reddish orange with some brown, but it’s actually a slightly yellow leaning orange that may as well just be “orange.” Copper Rose sounded like it would be a fun copper-pink, but most of its warmth just comes from being picked up and mixed with my foundation and concealer while being blended on my cheeks. It’s not a very unique pink by itself. Stiletto Rose is a very common rosy red, although it’s the prettiest to me of them all.
I always wore a combination of Stiletto Rose and Copper Rose (on the apples) together anyway, which is why I initially had a better impression of those blushes. However, if I view these as individual products, they’re not something I want in my collection anymore.

Coloured Raine Lip Liners in Pine (Secret Garden), The Bee’s Knees (Queen Bee), and Decadent (Botanical)

It was very difficult to tell the differences among the selection of lip liner shades on the website. I now realize it’s because the ones I wanted are so incredibly similar! Pine was the first one from Coloured Raine I tried and later bought a backup of because it’s the first shade I ever found that I can actually cover my full lip-line with and have it look normal. I have a very thick and pronounced lip line (Vermilion border) that is way lighter than my lips and surrounding mouth color. So, when I have used lip liners on my actual lip line (and not just the edge between the lip and lip line), it always emphasized that thickness and looked like I attempted to overline my lips because it sticks out, even when it’s still within the lines. The color is described as a “spiced brown” and I consider it like a caramel-pink-brown.

The Bee’s Knees is described as a “brick” color, but it looks more like a neutral brown to me on my arm. In fact, I looked at the website photos again comparing the other shade in the Queen Bee collection and The Buzz is supposed to be the neutral brown. I almost wondered if some got swapped in the manufacturing process because my lip pencil stick doesn’t have any red in it that I can see, like the ones below, and instead looks like the brown ones near it. However, on my actual lips I think I see some red tones after building up the color? Like maybe a splash? If so, it’s certainly not as red as I expected and less red than I’d expect from a brick color. When built up, it’s also darker than Pine. It’s pretty regardless.

The third and final lip liner shade is the darkest of the three and also the creamiest, which I find interesting since it’s the one that launched first. I’m guessing the brand decided to switch formulas after this collection, which is a very plausible theory based on a comparison of the ingredient lists. The other two glide across the lips nicely and aren’t too soft or too stiff, but I do prefer the feel of Decadent. This color is described as, “neutral brown with slightly cool undertones” and I can see that in the squiggle swatch. Also, the lip liners from the Botanical collection came with sharpeners at the bottom. The newer lip liners do not. Perhaps the brand didn’t feel it was necessary because of the formula differences.

I haven’t noticed any issues or differences with the longevity among them all. They suit my needs and because they’re all so similar in color, they all work for me and give me that ability to line my lips in a way that others I’ve tried haven’t. It’s very specific to me, but it’s a huge deal. In general, objectively, I still believe these are a nice comfortable long lasting product.

Coloured Raine Paint Base Eyeshadow Base in Wheat

I first tried this primer underneath the eyeshadows from the Coloured Raine Botanical Palette and was disappointed to see the shadows creased. After all, the eyeshadow primer is expected to work the best with the brand’s own eyeshadows, so that wasn’t a good sign for anything else I planned to use with it.
However, in using it with my well behaved and favorite eyeshadows, and then as an alternative primer for eyeshadows I was testing that didn’t perform as well with my MAC Paint Pot, I realized it actually wasn’t the fault of the Paint Base! I’ll get back to the Botanical Palette in the next section, but basically every palette I tried with the Paint Base performed better or at least equal to my other primers! It quickly became one of the primers I keep in rotation along with the Gerard Cosmetics Clean Canvas and MAC Paint Pot. In fact, I bought a backup of it during the brand’s Black Friday sale.

I really like the ABH eye primer, but it is quite drying. That one helps to combat the oils that produce on my eyelids, but that’s sometimes to the detriment of buildable type of eyeshadows being able to stick properly. This Coloured Raine primer is similar to the ABH primer, but is less drying, which makes it the better of both worlds between combating the oils but still ensuring the eyeshadows can adhere properly. It’s fantastic! Because I bought the shade Wheat, it matches the color of my eyelids better and isn’t so stark against my skin, but still helps the shadows to pop. As with most primers, a little goes a long way (though not as long as the ABH and Gerard Cosmetics ones which are even more pigmented and thicker in consistency). Wheat still provides a good amount of coverage over the discoloration on my eyelids.

It’s interesting that the brand touts the squalane and sodium hyaluronate because I would have expected that to not go well with oily prone lids and would produce too much moisture for me, but it works somehow! The Paint Base sets on my lids to a natural finish. Perhaps those ingredients are what keeps it from being as drying as the ABH one.

When I’m working with an eyeshadow formula that’s not very creamy with a rougher texture, this primer can take a little longer to blend the shadows on it, but it’s a minor difference in time. That’s the extent of the negatives I’ve found in using this primer throughout the year, which made it an almost entirely positive experience.

Coloured Raine Botanical Eyeshadow Palette

I mentioned in the Eye Base review section that despite it being from the same brand, the Coloured Raine eye primer and this palette worked fine, except that it could not keep the shimmers from retreating from the deep line I have on my lid/crease. I have since used this palette with all my tried and true primers, and none of them stop this from happening. The best results I get though is if I set the primer with powder first. Then I’m much less prone to movement and creasing, but it’s not foolproof.

Cream Gerbera barely shows despite packing it on. I don’t mind, as I’d prefer a shade that light to be subtle rather than stark. Iberis and Leonidas have a decent amount of pigment and all three are decently blendable, but that’s a little bit of a letdown in itself because I remember how rich in color and buttery feeling Coloured Raine’s mattes used to be before they got rid of their single shadows. These are fine but not particularly special. The same goes for the shimmers. They are pretty and shimmery enough for my taste, but the formula is so much thinner, less smooth, way less impactful, less pigmented, and not vibrant like their single shadows once were. I mean, Coloured Raine shimmers used to be S-tier. Being “just fine” is going to be hugely disappointing by comparison. The quality of this palette reminds me of Colourpop, which is mostly good, but it’s not even like the best of Colourpop’s formulas.

These types of colors and this overall color story is a lot softer compared to what the brand used to release. I commend them going outside of their comfort zones. However, it isn’t just the color selection and lack of color saturation that makes it slightly underwhelming for me. There are so many brands that make satin shadows and have palettes with soft colors that still somehow look elegant and beautiful on the eyes. The literal texture of the eyeshadows themselves are so soft and buildable. These shadows don’t have those same qualities. They aren’t made the same way.

I also thought it was quite strange that the colors I expected based on how they looked in the pan did not look the same on my skin. Iberis was much more red than plum. Leonidas was a truer orange instead of terracotta. Rose Gold also had a stronger red tone, like a burgundy, when I was expecting a shimmering plum. The colors are still pretty, but when other eyeshadows like from Oden’s Eye and Sydney Grace give me a visceral excited reaction to using their palettes, I don’t see why I would want to reach for this one that doesn’t spark joy. It’s a new year. Being a decent, nice, workable palette isn’t enough. On the bright side, this isn’t one of Coloured Raine’s newest palettes and I believe they’ve continued to work on their formulas since the next palette is one that I actually will be keeping in my collection.

I forgot to mention in the last look that a tiny spot of Primavera is in the center of the lower lash line too.

Coloured Raine Queen Bee Palette

Unlike the Botanical Eyeshadow Palette, this one does not have “Eyeshadow” in the name, which is because it contains pressed pigments. Considering my experience with the previous palette, I was so nervous that the bump up in intensity with the mattes would mean the shadows would perform worse, but that’s not the case. Honeycomb is actually very soft and smooth feeling. I absolutely love this color of orange. Beehave and Pollen in Love are a little rougher to the touch, but they pack on the lids well and blend fairly well. I’ve had a little trouble building Bee-Witched on the other shadows at times, but it just takes a little more effort to get the definition I want without overdoing it or having it look unblended. It’s definitely not my favorite black matte, but it’s workable.
Using Honeycomb and Beehave together in the same eye look can be a bit tricky because I get a lot more pigment from Beehave right off the bat and it can easily overshadow/overpower Honeycomb, so I have to be careful with its placement.

The two shimmers look like they would have the same texture, but they’re definitely not the same formula. Unbeelievable is a chunkier and flakier shimmer that gives me a lot of fallout. It’s a foil shadow, but even applying it damp doesn’t give me the smoothness I want. I don’t enjoy that shadow at all and won’t be using it again when I open this palette. It’s a shame because the color is so pretty.
On the other hand, Mind Your Beesness is an almost glowing green-gold duochrome with more slip to it so that it glides easier across the lids. Because the binding solution is better, I get less fallout with this one. Honeycomb, Mind Your Beesness, and Pollen in Love are the colors that make this palette memorable and make me excited whenever I use it. This is the one that gives me hope for even better palettes in Coloured Raine’s future.

Black liner was also added to the upper lash line of the last look.

The eyeshadow primer and lip liners are absolute wins for Coloured Raine. The blushes aren’t the best and I have mixed views on the palettes. Considering what I paid, it was worth it to me to give them a chance and figure out how I feel about what the brand produced in 2022. At this point in time, I have hope for them in 2023 and I am truly rooting for them. However, the competition among indie and mainstream brands alike is the toughest it’s ever been. I recognize that they’ve lowered their price point, but I’d rather spend more for better quality. For me to continue purchasing from them, their products have to be truly special or incredibly appealing to my tastes. I look forward to seeing what they’ll release this year and I hope others will still give them a try. I heard positive reviews about their Rebellious Nudes palette, so I feel they’re on the right track. Here’s hoping!

Thank you for reading and Happy New Year!