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!

-Lili

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.

-Lili

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!

-Lili

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!

-Lili

Benefit Cosmetics Wanderful World Blushes and Limited Edition Set

Benefit’s new collection of blushes in the full-size and minis launched in May of 2022, and I bought them as soon as they were released on Benefit’s website, with the exception of Starlaa. Starlaa was the shade I wanted the most, so I planned to wait until it was available for purchase before posting this review. I figured it was delayed in shipping and would be ready in a few weeks, but rumor has it that Starlaa was pressed too softly and was shattering in transit, so Benefit had to remake them, which caused a four month delay! These powder blushes are on the softer side, so even my original mini of the Terra blush arrived broken. Granted, Benefit’s packaging of it was abysmal in the flimsiest recycled paper envelope in the world’s thinnest padding I’ve ever seen. It’s a miracle the other two didn’t break with it! The customer service exchange was tedious and required my email to be forwarded and to wait for the initial response back before trading multiple additional exchanges of information including photos, providing the lot number (only found by peeling back the sticker off the bottom), etc. The customer service rep(s) were polite, but the hassle of this instance and knowing what kind of horrible packaging such a delicate product was put in, makes me not want to order from Benefit’s website again. I opted for a replacement instead of a refund, and feel lucky that the second one made it safely.

In September, I saw Starlaa first available in the UK in one of Benefit’s holiday sets called the, “Blushin Benetint Bundle,” but in the mini size. I decided that since I waited so many months already, it couldn’t hurt to wait to get the full-size when it would eventually come to the US. I ended up buying it from QVC and got a discount with a promo code.

The holiday set called “Beauty Mail Blush n Brush gift set” (or “Blush ‘n Brush Delivery” later in the US), with the limited edition blush called Terra Spark, was also available in the UK first. I loved the original Terra blush, so I grew too impatient to wait for Terra Spark to come to the US and immediately ordered it from Selfridges. Imagine my surprise when I found out the shimmery red-gold blush I planned to use as a highlighter was basically Terra with a gold overspray!

The left swatch shows the first swipe with the gold overspray. The right swatch shows the second swipe from the same spot.

Terra is a “golden brick-red blush,” listed as having a shimmer finish, though the gold shimmer running through it isn’t nearly as obvious as other shimmer blushes I own. The only difference between Terra and Terra Spark (when the overspray is gone) is that Terra Spark has a stronger golden sheen, which alters the tone from brick-red to a slightly orange hue. They essentially look the same on my cheeks, though perhaps on someone with a lighter skin tone, the differences may be more significant. Those two blushes are so close that I had to double-check my files to make sure I didn’t get them confused in the cropping and labeling process because Terra can still look a bit terracotta if the light hits that shimmer a certain way too.

I put a photo with no blush next to Starlaa to emphasize how subtle the color is on me, but that it does show up.

Photos of Crystah, Terra, and Java (while I’m wearing a ponytail in the section further down) were taken on the same day in June. The photo of Starlaa in the grey shirt was from October. The photos in this section were taken in November. I had to resort to using my ring light to get consistency in showing the way the blushes look on me. Previous attempts to retake these photos without it resulted in vast differences due to foundation choices, problems with my camera, and lighting issues. The highlighter and bronzer I’m wearing in this batch of photos above is the R.E.M Beauty Interstellar Highlighter Topper in Miss Mars and Huda Glowish Lightweight Blurring Pressed Powder (as bronzer) in Deep Tan.

Though they are technically different, I feel that the promo images for Terra Spark are misleading in representing how much of an impact the gold shimmer will have on the look of the blush.

I bought this primarily for Terra Spark, though the set also came in a cute tin with a sheet of stickers and a retractable synthetic fiber blush brush. The tin can be reused for anything like storing pens, makeup brushes, liners, candy, holiday treats, and more. I haven’t decided yet how I will be repurposing mine.

I didn’t expect to get much use out of the Benefit Multitasking Brush, and most of its value to me was the fact that it’s a limited edition version (same brush with painted white dots). However, it’s quite a bit handier than I expected because of the adjustable aspect! When the bristles are fully out, it’s the most floppy and least dense. To me, it’s almost unusable with the blushes in that state, but it’s perfect for something like a face powder that I’d want applied in a sheer layer and to be able to blend without needing to buff. With the head retracted a little further (about a third down) is the sweet spot for using this brush with the blushes. I get the amount of density I like for buffing them in. With most of the bristles pushed below, the brush is at its densest and strongest buffing power, suitable for something I want extra blended like sculpting powder products.

I have also used this brush with the Rare Beauty Soft Pinch Liquid Blushes, Glossier Solar Paint Bronzer, and the Nars Laguna Bronzing Cream in order to test out how this brush works with cream and liquid products. It works beautifully with them because of that ability to control how tightly or loosely the bristles are compacted, and therefore adjust to what each individual product requires. It stays in the position I set it, for the mostpart, but if I apply too much pressure it does start to slide down. However, I’m still very pleased with this brush and the fact that it came in this set for $30, which is the same price the non-limited edition brush retails for anyway.

I’ll get back to the blushes now.

There are three different finishes among the permanent blushes: Crystah and Terra are shimmers, Starlaa is a satin, and Java is a matte. The shimmery affect in Terra is on the subtle side, though the base color is pigmented. I only need one dip in the pan to get the amount of blush I would normally want; two dips makes the blush prominent, but not garish. I would not exceed two dips into the pan with the brush. With Crystah, the gold shimmer is more abundant and brighter. It’s like Benefit’s version of Nars Orgasm X, but better in my eyes. One layer of blush is all I need to give me a vibrant flush of pink. I can see it straight on, but when I turn my head to the side, the gold reflects brightly and literally makes the pink less visible wherever the light is hitting it. So, at certain angles, it looks like I just have a golden cheek with the barest amount of pink tinge underneath. A lot of coral blushes with gold shimmer that I’ve used in the past have ended up looking silly on me because of the way light reflects off the shimmer, but in the case of Crystah, Benefit made the base color so pigmented that it still ends up looking pretty to me, especially since the shimmer is so fine in size. If I add a second layer, I can definitely see more of the pink color even when light hits it, but that means it’s also very intense when looking at it head on. I prefer to just stick to a light layer when using it alone, or it looks fantastic on top of Benefit’s blushes and as a topper for other blushes in my collection.
When it comes to Terra Spark, just like Crystah, the base color also pulls a disappearing act wherever a certain intensity of light hits the shimmer, but because the surrounding blush area is a much darker color than Crystah, it makes those camouflaged sections look patchy or poorly blended. So, I prefer to now use Terra Spark as a blush topper instead. That isn’t to say the Benefit shimmer formula isn’t opaque enough to be standalone blushes, it’s just the reflection issue that makes me prefer to mix them with other blushes.

Starlaa, in my eyes, is like a sheerer and slightly lighter version of Terra. This “rosy bronze” satin blush is mattifying, but it does have a sheen to it that keeps it from looking flat and adds a pretty finish to the skin without detectable shimmer. I have to build up this color a lot as the brown in it blends in so much with my skin tone. However, I love the slightest whisper of rosy pink that’s visible on my cheeks in person. It’s especially great for no-makeup makeup days. For that reason, I get a fair amount of use out of Starlaa, which is my second most used blush, while Terra reigns as the favorite.

Lastly is Java, which is thankfully not the kind of matte that will look powdery or heavy on my dry skin. In fact, it doesn’t look like a flat matte to me, but I wear mostly natural/dewy/glowy foundations, so that could be a factor. Java is described as a “rosy mocha” and one layer is more than enough product for each cheek since it, like most of the others, is so pigmented.

All of these blushes, no matter the finish, are long lasting on the cheeks. I love the fact that there are options to buy a decent amount of these in mini sizes. It makes it easier to afford owning multiple shades and is less wasteful, since I would be surprised if I used up all of even the mini sizes. Although I’m over Benefit putting their pressed powder products in the box packaging, this launch is when they introduced the slimmed down packaging that no longer included those mini brushes that a lot of us never used anyway. Also, I was glad to see that although the mini size is quite small for the $17 retail price, the pans are wide enough that I don’t have an issue fitting the blush brushes I want to use with them into those boxes.

Those who don’t like fragrance may not like these as they have an orange blossom or some other kind of sweet floral scent. Because I like this formula so much, I overlook the fragrance, and thankfully I am able to stop smelling it on my face after a few minutes. I thought I would post some comparison swatches of these to other brands that don’t include fragrance in their blushes.

Starting with MAC, Ambering Rose is nearly identical to Terra, but with a little more gold shimmer. Ambering Rose is in my top three favorite blush shades from MAC, so I understand now why I love Terra so much. Unfortunately, Ambering Rose is discontinued, but at least Terra is a good alternative. Peachtwist from MAC is also still available. It’s not an exact dupe, as it leans more peachy-pink, but it’s quite close.

I’m sure I could find more dupes for Java, since I have quite a few pink and red leaning brown blushes now in my collection, but since MAC makes my favorite blushes, a dupe for it would be my top recommendation. MAC’s Format has the same base color as Java, but it’s like the shimmer version with fine golden specks. MAC’s Raizin is matte and quite similar, but with a stronger red tone to it. Raizin had too much red in it for my liking, and I always thought it would be perfect if the brown was stronger in that shade, so I’m happy to have gotten my wish in the form of Java.

The closest dupe I have for Starlaa is MAC’s Sunbasque. I never use it because it’s too light for me to work as a blush. Starlaa is just barely dark enough with just enough of a deeper pink for it to show on my skin.

Swatching Crystah and Nars’ Orgasm X side by side, I now see why Crystah is a better fit for me. It’s more coral leaning in the base color rather than pink. With my undertone, I find corals to be more flattering.

So, those are all the new Benefit Blushes in my collection! When I love a blush formula, I tend to want to buy all the shades that work for me (or appear as though they would work), so I’m still tempted by Butterfly and PomPom, but those are currently only available in the full-sizes, which is why I haven’t taken the plunge. And when it comes to which finish I prefer, I’m so thoroughly impressed by how smooth and blendable Java is and how natural it looks on my face, so the mattes are my favorite. Then, when it comes to the satins or shimmers, the satin is the safer bet, because it doesn’t have as reflective of shimmer in it, but at the same time I can’t help but wish it was either firmly in the matte or shimmer categories. The slight shimmer effect in the satin feels almost pointless. I prefer the look of the shimmers over the satin, but Terra Spark and Crystah had that reflective issue while Terra did not. So, it would be riskier for me to blindly purchase another shimmer blush in the hopes that it will perform more like Terra.

Also, regarding the formulas, Benefit Powder products tend to get hard-pan easily if swatched too much. I was surprised to see that I don’t have this issue with the matte and shimmer blushes, but for some reason Starlaa does have that problem. So, I scraped off the top layer lightly and began using brushes for the remainder of the swatches I needed to do.

Well, I believe that’s everything I have to say about the Wanderful World Blushes! I love them and recommend them (but I personally would wait for at least 20% off which is easy to find between all the retailers that carry Benefit products).
Thank you for reading!

-Lili

Artist Couture Love Sprung 3 and Quickie Palette Review

The brand had a 40% off sitewide sale on Labor Day, so I used that as an opportunity to buy two items I’ve been unable to get out of my head. Love Sprung III had a blush that looked similar to Love Sprung II that I own and reviewed before and the Quickie palette admittedly has four repeat shades already present in the original Supreme Nudes palette, so I talked myself out of buying them until this all too enticing deal.

Love Sprung Face Palette 3 (listed as VIII for version three)

It turned out that despite how similar Infatuated and Divine Amour looked in their pans, they are different enough on the cheeks. I’m happy to say version III is the perfect one for me and the formula seems even better than the previous version II! The highlighter is certainly not as wet and is easier to apply and blend smoothly on the face.

I find it fascinating that Divine Amour and Infatuated look similar in the pans, but Infatuated is closer to Peach Blossom on the skin.

These blushes are very pigmented but easy to blend out, smooth looking on the skin, and the kind of tones I love. There’s a lot of kickup in the pan, but I don’t mind that when it’s so easy to clean because all the edges are smooth plastic. Peach Blossom surprised me that it showed so easily on my cheeks and deepened slightly, but it still maintained the peachy look I wanted. I had to build it up even more for the photo, so it looks a bit darker, especially next to the bronzer I’m wearing, but I think it will still look nice on a wide range of skin tones. Golden Aura is not very far off to my skin tone in terms of depth, so I can get a subtle look easily (which I prefer) or I can build it up to about a medium amount of shine. The shimmer isn’t light enough on me to be intensely bright. With Divine Amour, I barely need any product for it to show, but I don’t need to worry about being light-handed with it if I’m using one of my softer, looser, more delicate bristle brushes.

Even though I originally questioned why the brand would make such similar looking peach and pink leaning blushes among the three Love Sprung blush and highlight trios, this new one is my favorite! It’s the one I will actually get use out of and its slim compact packaging makes it easily portable. I’m very happy with this one!

Supreme Nudes: The Quickie Palette

I was relieved to discover that the quality in the Quickie palette is the same as Supreme Nudes. Artist Couture’s palettes do not get consistently positive reviews. The Caliente, Ethereal Bloom, and Supreme Mauves palettes spring to mind as some I’ve heard people assume had a different formula based on the performance of those palettes. So, I’m glad that the mattes in Quickie are the pigmented and soft shadows that I’m familiar with and because of the amped up sparkle level of these shimmers, those have been upgraded in my book.

In my review of Supreme Nudes, I mentioned that all I see among the mattes are a bunch of brow bone shades, Aesthetic, and Mink. So, I support the decision to cut out some of those transition/crease shades, especially since Nudist, Transcend, and Eccentric had the same effect on my eyes. However, the cooler toned taupe called Undressed in Quickie replaced Silhouette which was a more neutral version and I would have preferred to keep Silhouette. However, because Undressed can take the look in a more cool toned direction, I understand why the brand wanted to swap it out in this mini palette.

The four new shades in this palette are Iconic, Brilliance, Supreme 2.0, and Undressed that we discussed above. I knew I was getting repeat shadows when I bought this palette, but I wasn’t expecting the new ones to be so similar to the full size. I do like the extra shimmer in Iconic over Lavish and the fact that it’s more of a true gold. Brilliance has no dupe, but it looks silvery white on my eyes, so that limits how I’d use it. I tried using it as a lid shade in the demo to do something different, but I don’t think it looks good. It’s just a spotlight shade for me. As for Supreme 2.0, I like that it has more sparkle and is a darker olive than Supreme, but with that silver shimmer, it gives the shade a cool toned look when I usually prefer to do a warm toned one if I’m wearing “natural” colors.

I thought having this mini would be handy for travel, but since it’s still not my perfect palette and by now I have many other green and neutral palettes I prefer, I would be more likely to take something else on vacation instead. I thought that I might like having a condensed version of Supreme Nudes and get a lot of use out of it, but I have only reached for Quickie a handful of times while knowing there are still shades in Supreme Nudes that I prefer. I also thought that if I ended up favoring either the Supreme Nudes or Supreme Nudes Quickie, I could declutter the other one, but my enjoyment of Iconic and Supreme 2.0 with my favorite two mattes (Aesthetic and Mink) is so strong that I can’t give it up, even though it still feels like I bought two of the same thing, yet have no will power to get rid of either of them. At least I only paid around $18 for Quickie.

So for those who like the color story in Quickie, I think it’s a nice palette even if it wasn’t the best decision for me to buy it. Considering the price difference of Mini Supreme Nudes Quickie being $30 and Supreme Nudes being $45, getting the mini for full price doesn’t feel like it would be worth it to me. I recommend trying to wait for a sale, which I expect to be possible at least one more time this year. For those who love Artist Couture mattes, the brand recently released a Supreme Nudes Matte Masterpiece palette in the same size and packaging as the Quickie palette. I won’t be picking that one up.

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

-Lili

Swatches of Previously Reviewed Makeup in New Shades

With today being Black Friday and holiday sales approaching, now is the time it’d be the most useful for me to get as many reviews out as possible. I’m constantly testing new products, but it takes ages for me to get closeups, swatches, demos, and the written portion of posts completed to my level of satisfaction. I’m allergic to posting first impressions, but I think it may be helpful to share photos of the new makeup I purchased that are just new shades of things I’ve already reviewed for this blog. The formulas of everything should be the same, and therefore the performances should be no different, with the exception of the first item I’m showcasing below.

Fenty Beauty Double Cheek’d Up: Freestyle Cream Blush Duo

The compact color is stunning! I bought this partly for the packaging, along with liking Fenty’s permanent cream blush formula that I reviewed here. Since “Freestyle” is still in the name of the duo, I expected the formula to be the same, but it’s a little more emollient and slightly less pigmented. Because Peony Droppa is on the lighter side, it takes an extra few layers to build it up on me, but Mali’booze just needs one additional layer to build up to the level of opacity I get from the original shades. I was pleasantly surprised that Peony Droppa showed up on me and actually looked nice despite being cool-toned (warmer blushes look better with my undertone). I’ve only used this duo twice so far and I prefer how they look when I use the darker blush all over my cheek and keep the lighter one on just the apples. Trying to wear them mixed was a little tricky trying to find the tonal balance I liked, so I think I’ll stick to either using Mali’booze alone or applying both in those specific zones on the cheeks.

The compact is much bigger than the standard cream blushes and each half of the duo is 3g, meaning each shade in the duo has the same amount of product as the full size single cream blushes. The cream duo compact has the same dimensions as the full size bronzers, highlighter duos, etc. I get two products in one for $34 instead of $44 if they were sold separately, however, I still prefer Strawberry Drip to both of these shades because I get the bright popping color without it clashing with my skin tone. So, in my case, I’d still be better off buying a single blush. I got the duo at a discount via Ulta, and my single blushes from Fenty are two and a half years old by now, so this is a good time to have a replacement.

I was planning to make a dedicated Fenty update post, so I have photos already wearing this one, but I thought it would be best to just include them here.

Fenty Beauty Sun Stalk’R Face + Eye Bronzer & Highlighter Palette

I bought this one from Mercari. I have reviewed the Mocha Mami shade of Sun Stalk’r Instant Warmth Bronzer as an update to one of my bronzer posts here. I barely used it because the shade was more red than I liked, particularly for a matte formula. I suspected one of the other colors could work, or that I could mix the deepest two in this palette together as a better match. It turns out I was correct, as Coco Naughty works on me, or I can mix that one with Thick Mint for extra intensity. I was so concerned with knowing my correct shade that I failed to consider the fact that the formula is good but not great. There wasn’t a need to try and find a better color if I was still going to reach for my Huda Beauty Glowish Bronzer, Charlotte Tilbury, Kosas, and Nars bronzers first.

I find it interesting how much the color Private Island blended into my arm. At some point I’m going to test if that shade can be used as an all over setting powder or to set my under eyes. If so, that would be a nice way to make this palette even more useful.

The Phat Glass highlighter was a little broken, but I pressed it back. Also, that shade is way too light for me, so I don’t wear it alone anyway. The Gold Card color is very beautiful and suits me really well. I can wear it alone or mix it with Phat Glass for a little extra brightness. I’ve also used it on the cheekbones and then added Phat Glass to a tiny portion of the highest point to really emphasize the structured look I want in that area. It’s nice to finally have a Fenty highlighter that matches my preferences in terms of the smaller shimmer particle size. All others I tried from Fenty had some aspect that’s usually a negative, such as being in stick form in the MatchStix, an unnatural color as a Killawatt, or ultra glittery like the Diamond bombs. Even the Chocolate Swiller Fenty Toast’d Swirl Bronze Shimmer Powder with its smooth texture has some larger particle size shimmer specks that makes it something I only want to use periodically.

LYS Beauty Higher Standard 3-Piece Cream Blush Set

Grateful looks so much like Confident in the pan, but when swatched, it looks more like Self Love instead. This mini trio is $20, making it a really great option for trying out additional shades from the brand. The retail price of the single blushes is $16 and each individual “mini” has about 2/3 the product of the full size. The packaging isn’t as lux with the clear lid, but that also makes it easier to figure out which shade I’m grabbing. I only tried these out once so far, and don’t have pictures of each blush included, but that one time using it was enough to know the formula of the minis is the same. It’s one of my absolute favorite cream blush formulas, if not the top favorite, and I’ve felt like this long before I joined the LYS ambassador program. I’m technically still one, but I haven’t done anything for the brand in nearly a year. More about that is detailed here. As for my first review of this cream blush formula, that can be found here. All three included in this set show up on me.

Huda Beauty GloWish Cheeky Vegan Soft Glow Powder Blush in Sassy Saffron

This is another one of those situations where I was so enamored with the look of the new shades that I forgot how I actually felt about the formula being “not particularly special,” mentioned here. I thought this was colorful enough to work on my skin tone, especially with how much richer it looked online, but it was very ashy the first time I tried it. I will have to try it again focusing on the deeper swirl to see if that helps, but I have my doubts. I bought this during Sephora’s previous VIB sale, but Huda’s official website has an even better deal going on.

Chantecaille Perfect Blur Finishing Powder in Med/Dark

In my powder declutter post discussing the original shade here, I mentioned that I wasn’t getting the same amazing results that had been hyped up in all the reviews I’d seen, so perhaps a darker shade would work better on me. I planned to sell the original and get a darker version. The first iteration of the Med/Dark shade was from Chantecaille’s Flower Power line, but I hated that packaging and that wasn’t nice enough to make up for me having to sell that gorgeous hummingbird packaging. I contacted Chantecaille during that time, and they told me they wouldn’t bring the new shade in that hummingbird packaging, but it would at least come in the larger size of their “pebble” compacts, like their philanthropy blushes. After that, the Dior Powder-No-Powder was released and I got so much more blurring from that than I ever did with the original shade and at half the price, so I decided to just give up on this powder. Then, as luck should have it, Space NK had it deeply discounted during their sale in June this year. With shipping included, I only paid $33 for it!

The Med/Dark shade is much better suited to me. It looked invisible on my inner arm, so there was no point trying to post a swatch of it here. Even with the photo uploaded to my computer, I had a guess as to where it was based on my skin looking slightly more matte, but I wasn’t confident enough to mark it. Getting that new shade did work out better for me than the original. I could see a little bit of blurring, but it was nowhere near as good on me as the Dior Powder-No-Powder. So, I still recommend that one over this (though the Dior one has a sheen and this powder does not). I’m just glad I didn’t spend a fortune on it to figure that out!

Tarte Amazonian Clay Blushes in Blissful and Natural Beauty

The Tarte blushes I owned were minis reviewed here. I really enjoyed them, so when Ulta had the full-size blushes on sale in September for $14 each, I couldn’t resist and bought several more. Since Exposed worked for me, I thought Seduce would be even better, but it doesn’t show on me at all. That one is out of my collection, so I couldn’t include it here. The tartelette blush in bloom Amazonian clay cheek palette didn’t work for me either, excluding the darkest shade, but it was too cool toned looking on me so that’s not in my collection anymore either. I’m glad Blissful and Natural Beauty worked out! Tarte’s Amazonian Clay Blushes have the issue of looking light in the pan but sometimes they work for me and sometimes they don’t, so I never know until I actually try them out.

One/Size Cheek Clapper 3D Blush Trio Palette in Phat Ass

I loved the Freaky Peach shade, reviewed here, and was always drawn to Phat Ass, but with how similar the cream and powder versions looked, I didn’t think it would be worth it to buy another trio from One/Size. However, I saw a good deal on Mercari and bought this. Unfortunately, the shimmer exploded in the package, so it took quite a while for me to repress it (not my best work) and clean off the cream which it had also gotten into despite the plastic flap. Unlike Freaky Peach where the shimmer blush was light enough for me to use as a highlighter, the BBL shade in this one is a bit too deep and pigmented in the base color for that. I can use this as an actual shimmer blush or blush topper though, the way it was intended. It’s the kind of shade that’s along the lines of a Nars Orgasm X, but I like this one better!

Pat Mcgrath Skin Fetish: Divine Glow Highlighter in Venus Nectar

Venus Nectar was another broken item I had to repair (dry pressing wasn’t an option with how broken it was). It’s on the pink side, but I love this formula from Pat Mcgrath. It’s a shame that I still can’t get the exact golden tone in this formula that I’m looking for with Bronze Mirage, reviewed here, being a bit deep for me. PML’s Ultra Glow Highlighter in the pink packaging still hasn’t been topped for me. Swatches of Venus Nectar and Bronze Mirage will be in the next section of PML highlighters lower down.

Pat Mcgrath x Bridgerton Skin Fetish: Sublime Skin Highlighter in Incandescent Gold 002

Don’t ask me why I bought a Bridgerton highlighter. I’m citing temporary insanity. I know I hate deep yellow highlighters (being scarred from Fenty’s Trophy Wife), so I opted for the other one instead because I heard it’s still gold but with a sheer base that’s technically supposed to work on the majority of skintones. The glitter level is my main issue with it, but I forgot that the highlighters in this particular formula, similar to my Lunar Nude highlighter (reviewed here), share this excessive sparkle feature. I only have this photo to show of it on my bare face. As much as I’d prefer not to show something like this, it’s all I’ve got at the moment.

As the swatches above show, the sparkle level and shimmer particle sizes are very different. I prefer the Divine Glow over the Sublime Skin, and I need to remember that in the future!

Rose INC Cream Blush Refillable Cheek & Lip in Wisteria

I’m sensing a pattern here. The pattern of trying to find the ultimate blush shade from every brand, despite how I feel about the formula. The Rose Inc blushes don’t dry down, as mentioned in my review here, so I have to be in a particular mood to wear them. I don’t know if I got confused while comparing the different shades on the Rose Inc website, but I could have sworn Wisteria looked darker in photos I saw. This shade does not work on me at all. It shows up, but is extremely ashy. I didn’t know it was going to be significantly lighter than Foxglove, which is already just a flush of color on my cheeks. In any case, I vow to myself that I will not buy another Rose Inc Cream Blush. Now, if they start making powder blushes, that will be another story.

Rose Inc Skin Enhance Luminous Tinted Serum in 100

In one of my Rose Inc orders, I got samples of additional foundation shades. Because of that, I was able to see that despite how much I loved the shade 110 (in that same review linked in the blush section), shade 100 is the better undertone match for me. So, I utilized Rose Inc’s fantastic Pre-Black Friday sale to get my better shade! I have to add though that I was shocked 100 is my shade considering the model photos on the website. Based on the model, 100 shouldn’t be for me at all. But it is!

Rose Inc Solar Radiance Hydrating Cream Highlighter in Prismatic and Lustrous

This is a bonus mention because I hadn’t shown these on the blog until now, and I don’t intend on including it in any other posts this year. I bought the two refills of the Rose Inc Cream highlighters because I wasn’t sure if this formula would be closer to the blushes or the bronzers. These fall somewhere in the middle. They don’t fully dry down like the bronzers, but they aren’t as emollient feeling on the skin as the blushes, but that may also be due to me needing less product to get the impact I want. Prismatic is too light for me and I don’t intend to keep it in my collection. Lustrous is the perfect shade for me though. I wasn’t sure if I should get it because it looks dark online and bronzes tend to be too deep on me, but this is a lot lighter in person and more golden leaning. I’ve only worn them a few times, but I still don’t know how I feel about this product. As of now, they don’t get a recommendation from me despite the color and wet look that I like. Towards the end of the night I notice more texture and I’m not sure if the product slightly picking up is user error yet or a formula issue.

Nars Blush in Dolce Vita

I saw a review somewhere that this blush would work on deeper skin, despite how light it appeared in other photos I had seen. It was so pretty that even though Nars blushes (reviewed here) don’t quite measure up to MAC blushes that I have no shortage of, I still wanted it. Sometimes when I see a Nars blush shade I don’t own, I think I should hold off on buying it because chances are high that it will end up in a palette with some other repromoted shades. But Ulta had another deal, so I went with it and have no regrets! I like it quite a lot!

Vieve Sunset Blush in Piazza

In my March purchases post, here, I said the blush formula was great quality and that I wanted the Piazza shade, but it was supposed to be too similar to others I already own in my collection. SpaceNK’s pre-Black Friday sale made me change my mind and I bought this, plus the bronzer I had been curious about since its launch. It takes a while to arrive from GB, so it only arrived a few days ago. I haven’t actually worn this shade yet or the bronzer on my face, but they all look like they’ll work for me. And I have no reason to think Piazza will not be great since I’ve enjoyed Sorbet so much.

Whew! That’s everything for today! I did way more talking than I expected, though this isn’t a typical Swatchfest.

I hope everyone had a great day yesterday and that this post will be helpful for all the sales going on! I tried to get this post out in a rush, so if there are typos or errors I missed, please excuse them! Thank you for reading!

-Lili

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Edit Unlocked Tiger Palette Holiday ’22

Well…Hourglass did it.

In my holiday post from last year, I wrote at length about the things that would need to be different in order for me to be willing to purchase another palette from the brand. I had hoped for a more accurate reflection of the shades in their marketing images, a clearly designated palette suitable for tan to deep skin tones (or darker) or at least an extension of the permanent bronzer range. I also believed three face palette options should be the standard minimum (although I’d begrudgingly continue to accept two). In the mockup section for holiday palette ideas, I mentioned that I would have been satisfied if they swapped out Radiant Light and Coral Flush for Transcendent Light and At Night in the Universe Unlocked Palette and that would have made it appropriately deep skin friendly.

The deepest powder face products Hourglass has created thus far plus two other blushes not pictured here (The deepest blush in Universe Unlocked ’21 and the darkest blush from the Unlocked Butterfly ’22 palette).

This year, they actually did put in Transcendent Light. Iridescent Rose isn’t as deep as At Night, but it’s at least workable for me. So, because the Tiger palette hit so many of the marks I specifically was critical about in the past, I decided to give this holiday palette a chance. It also helps that the Tiger design is beautiful!

So, this will be my review for the Tiger palette. Even though I had been stalking the website and was among the first to purchase one even ahead of the early access launch, I haven’t had the most time to spend with this palette because of my post-surgery recovery process, then losing power for over a week due to Hurricane Ian, and getting COVID. Thankfully, Hourglass powders perform consistently, so there weren’t any surprises. The formula is solid. Whether this palette is a good one to purchase really depends on a person’s skin tone and makeup preferences about the blush vibrancy and pigmentation level, highlighter intensity, and opinions on shimmer and texture.

Transcendent Light is a warm dark brown finishing powder that leans a bit red-orange and that I use as a very subtle bronzer. It first debuted in the Ambient Lighting Volume III trio palette, but I could swear the one from the Tiger palette is a hint darker and a touch more neutral. However, I have mixed my other face powders (which are lighter and lean yellow or golden) with Transcendent Light, so perhaps my original one looks different on the surface level for that reason.

Brilliant Glow Strobe Light differs from the Ambient Lighting face powders in that there’s a shimmer quality to it. I find it interesting though that the intensity level of this shade is significantly more tame than the other two Strobe powders in this palette, in addition to the other “Strobe” formulas from Hourglass that I own. This product is more similar to the original Guerlain meteorites that can be used all over the face, though the particles are still visible, so I prefer to use meteorite-esque products as very subtle highlighters. Or, at least I would if this wasn’t borderline ashy on me despite the added peachy-brown swirl that gives more pigment to the shade. Because of the shimmer level, it keeps me from wanting to use it to brighten under my eyes. This is essentially a less refined version of Radiant Light. That aspect is disappointing as I wish the color stood out a little more within my Hourglass collection. It feels like getting more of the same again, with a different name. This isn’t to say this shade is pointless, as I’ve been successfully using it on top of the Copper Flash highlighter to lighten that color and make it more suitable for my skin tone.

Speaking of getting more of the same, Divine Strobe Light looks an awful lot like last year’s Solar Strobe Light from the Universe Unlocked palette. The main difference is that Divine Strobe Light is more of a traditional gold while the undertone of Solar Strobe leans toward a champagne gold. The differences are minor, but I do prefer Divine Strobe Light. It’s perfect for me! It would be great to have more of a shade variety among what I have, but since this slight tweak gives me an even more flattering highlighting option, I don’t mind. The formula for this one is more of what I expect from Hourglass Strobe powders with the metallic finish that can be built up for more intensity or present without being understated.

Unlocked Tiger on Top Compared to Universe Unlocked Below

Copper Flash Strobe Light is deep highlighter that’s a bit difficult for me to pull off if I’ve been too heavy-handed with it, but I can add Brilliant Glow on top to make it lighter. It also still works if I apply the barest layer on top of a pink or brown blush as a sort of blush topper, but not adding it too low on the face since this strobe formula isn’t the most texture-friendly depending on how much unevenness one has in the highlight and cheek zones. I don’t consider myself as having an issue with texture on the high points of my face, but I have some bumps and moles in my cheek area, so I personally just use Copper Flash as a highlighter and not a glowy blush. Even though I have to be creative with making this work for me, I appreciate that there’s such a rich option for those who are darker than me.

Burnished Glow is the blush I was the most excited for because Hourglass hasn’t done an orange blush in the past, let alone one that’s such a rich pumpkin color. In addition, my Oden’s Eye blush purchases this year made me forget how much of a struggle it used to be for me to find a shade of orange I liked. I usually love blushes with a sheen, but for some reason I really don’t like the intensity level of the sheen in this one. The shimmer is super finely milled, but the finish is a bit pearlescent, which is okay but not preferred. I think I would have enjoyed it more if it was matte. I also wish it was closer to a terracotta color to be better suited to my preference, but it’s objectively pretty, it shows up, and it’ll likely look great on others who are of a deeper brown skin tone than mine. I don’t think this tone of orange is bad on me, but it’s not going to be one I reach for by itself. Adding a bit of pink from another blush (like Incandescent Rose) creates a more pink-orange coral tone, and then I really enjoy that combination! Also, this blush is buildable. I can get it to look sheer easily, but it can be packed on for a more intense orange look.

Incandescent Rose is not a new shade like I thought. It looks quite ashy on me in swatches and barely shows up on my arm, but on my face with a dense brush I can build up the color easily enough and blending it in mixes the pink with the base color and takes that ashy powdery look away. I’m a bit at the mercy of the pink marbling because I need that deeper pink for it to show on my cheeks, but thankfully more of the pink is available deeper underneath and I can get to it when I swirl my brush around enough to shed more of the top layer. I was worrying about that with my At Night blush in using too much of the darker pigmented veins in the blush. At Night is still a better fit for me than Iridescent Rose, but since I mix Iridescent Rose with Burnished Glow (plus it pairs well with Copper Flash), it’s still useful for me within this palette. Ironically, I ended up mixing both of last year’s blushes together as well to create a shade that I liked more.

Tiger Palette Used on My Face

I can use every shade in this palette. The powders all show up on me. However, I have to admit that though I like this palette, I don’t love it. I’m very happy that Hourglass has given more options for everyone, but just as I said about last year’s palette, it still has to suit my taste in order to be worth buying and to be something I’ll continually want to select out of my vast makeup collection to use. I’m not confident that this will become a favorite face palette, though I do prefer Unlocked Tiger over Universe Unlocked. I think one day I’ll do a DIY project and depot the powders to form one ultimate palette of my favorites. However, for that, I would need Hourglass to finally make a mini of the At Night blush so it can fit in the 6 pan tins. If possible, I would put Transcendent Light, At Night, and Divine Strobe Light. I’m less certain about the other three spots.

In the photos above I didn’t fully blend Copper Flash Strobe Light because the shimmery pink from Iridescent Rose blush blends in with the pink tones within that highlighter and on camera just looks like an extension of that shade. That’s why I prefer using those two together, but I had to keep it partly unblended so it would be easier to see in pictures. Also, when I wear a dewy foundation base, it’s harder to mix Brilliant Glow Strobe light with Copper Flash Strobe Light for the lightening effect. I also built up the Iridescent Rose shade of blush, but I did not build up Burnished Glow to full intensity and just showed it as lightly as I would likely use it.

I still don’t understand why the Butterfly palette with the palest face powders was the one with the deepest blushes of them all. I wish Hourglass could have committed to making deeper bronzers this year and had actually given the Tiger palette a true bronzer for deep skin tones rather than a face powder that is also deep enough to be used as a bronzer for those with skin tones in the dark tan and lighter range. However, the brand’s effort is admittedly better than last year and last year was already a small step in the right direction. So, I give Hourglass some Kudos. I also think it was brilliant to make the cases customizable because if the darkest palette didn’t have the Tiger print, I would have been sad to have missed out on it. I wish it was possible to make the actual powders inside customizable as well, but the price already went up this year by $5, so perhaps that kind of option would likely put us in the territory of being $100+ instead of $85. Also, how fun would it be if Hourglass used their “miscelare technique” to mix two medium or darker colorful shades in a series of blushes instead of pale beige bases with a single color? As it stands, I’m happy someone at Hourglass is doing more listening to their customers. I am still tentatively watching and waiting to see if the improvements towards inclusivity continues and if I can get to the point of feeling confident about the direction the brand is going. I truly hope they continue on this path.

Thank you for reading!

Also, thank you to those who have been understanding of my scheduling issues due to recovery, but also after being hit hard by Hurricane Ian. Being without electricity for nine days made it impossible to work on my blog during that time.

-Lili

Unearthly Cosmetics Lore Palette and Gigi Blush

Unearthly Cosmetics is the new rebranded name of Alien Cosmetics. I made my first purchase from the brand round July 2021, but soon after I heard there were reformulations, palettes getting new packaging, and other changes that made me decide to take a pause before talking about them here. I purchased the Gigi blush when I thought things were settled, but once again found out news that the brand was allegedly forced to change their name. So, I continued to hold off on talking about them until they had their new name secured and were officially finished selling products that still bore the Alien Cosmetics name.

Considering their track record of making changes to products seemingly out of nowhere, I have no clue if my products from 2021 are the same as what someone will get from Unearthly Cosmetics now. In case they are, I hope this review will still be valuable, but I needed to put out this disclaimer that it’s possible the quality is different.

Lore Palette

As I mentioned above, I intended to review this palette well over a year ago. I have additional eye looks and a video showing the color shifts of the multichromes in this Instagram post.

These mattes are very dry. I remember them being a bit like this when I first bought the palette, but I think over time, before even a year had passed, the mattes got drier. Minotaur is especially stiff and doesn’t want to move from where I place it, but Cerberus and Centaur blend decently. Cerberus just requires slow building since it can get intense fast depending on the brush used. Faun is one of those matte formulas with glitter specks in it where the glitter mostly dusts away when blended on the eyes. This shadow is quite thin, so to even get the base color to show takes a lot of building up on me. I wish Faun was either a bit more yellow or that Centaur was a deeper orange because the two shades look nearly identical when used together. Ironically, during the first launch, the brand sent out palettes with a brown shadow listed as Centaur and then mailed everyone who got the wrong shade the correct orange one. Perhaps I would have liked that accidental shadow better.

I was very excited to have duochrome and multichrome options in this palette, but I wasn’t expecting such near transparent bases to the point where three of the five shadows nearly function as toppers for me. Serpent‘s base is the faintest of all and looks like it’s just a sheerer version of the somewhat more visible hot pink base in Sphinx. I use Serpent when I want blue, green, and purple shifting sparkles with cool toned looks and Sphinx’s aqua, green, and gold sparkles look best with warm toned ones. Whenever I plan to use them in the palette, I have to swatch them first on my arm to remember which effects they give because I really didn’t like the times I’ve chosen the wrong combo. My favorite multichrome of the three is Medusa, which has a dark but still semi-transparent base. It pairs so well together with the deep blue-green shimmer shade called Basilisk. Medusa and Basilisk are my two favorite shadows in this palette. All the shimmers have a smooth texture except Griffin, which is a little chunkier, but has a very high-shine look to it. It’s like a less obvious color-shifting version of Centaurus from Devinah Cosmetics.

Showing the transparency of Medusa.

Regarding how they wear on my eyes, I didn’t have anymore creasing than usual. I didn’t have any extra fallout. The shimmers didn’t dull down as the day went on and they looked decent still by the end of the day. To anyone interested in this palette, I recommend it based on preferences. In general, with it not completely meeting what I want, $33 isn’t a bad price (it was $30 at the time I bought it with $5 shipping and no tax, but I used the influencer code ANGESCHKA), though it would be more like $38 now.

This palette would be a fantastic option for someone who likes grungy colors, high shine duochrome/multichromes with no dark bases, and is mostly in it for the shimmers so they don’t mind reaching for other palettes for better mattes.

Gigi Blush

I’m not sure why “blush palette” is written on the packaging when it’s just a single blush, but in any case, I saw this shade and that Scorpion on the inside and I had to buy it! It’s aptly described on the website as a, “satin finish rosy terracotta,” blush. If I remember correctly, the brand is run by two sisters and this blush is named after Gigi and the highlighter that was released at the same time is named after Dani. I didn’t purchase the highlighter because I thought it would be too light for me, but it has a silver to gold shift. So, the gold would probably have looked nice, though I don’t know if the silver still would have been too much.
While there is visible dark pink shimmer in the blush, after all the blending that is required, I don’t see the shimmer on my cheeks.

Light-Medium application of Gigi blush to the cheeks.

I’ve tried to love this blush because it’s such a pretty color, but it’s super pigmented and not very blendable, regardless of the brush I use with it. I’ve tried my synthetic brushes like the Smashbox Sheer Buildable Cheek Brush, my MUFE Highlighting brush (basically blush size). I’ve tried my very expensive brushes with different types of natural hair suited for pigmented products, but the issue is that it sticks where it’s blended, but is also a thin powder so it’s also sheer in some places at the same time. It needs to be buffed properly to smooth it out. It’s not a terrible blush, as I have the tools to lightly apply it and switch to another brush to blend it out and make it look nice. However, with my huge blush collection, I don’t feel that it’s worth the effort for me, when I can get a smooth flush in a snap with other blushes out there.
I have tried powdering my cheeks first before applying the blush and that just prevents it from wanting to blend properly into my skin. Applying it to my cheek and then buffing with a finishing powder after also works, but again, it’s extra work.

One thing that this blush definitely has going for it though is the longevity. Using my normal application methods, this will last on my face all day without fading.

Unearthly Cosmetics released additional single blushes and highlighters in April of this year, so perhaps the formula is better than before. You really never know with their brand!

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

Note: This is my last completed pre-scheduled post. I had surgery September 15th and due to the long recovery period for this surgery, regular Monday postings will be interrupted/inconsistent for the rest of this year. I still have about 20 partial posts that were started prior to surgery, and therefore I will still have content coming to this blog, just not at a stable predictable rate. There may be a few weeks or a month gap without posts, but if you’re following via email, you will be notified of every post. Thank you for understanding.

-Lili

MOB Beauty Custom Face Palette Review

I first heard about the brand when it arrived at Beautylish as a pop-up with two pre-made sets. Neither one had enough colors I wanted in them to be worth purchasing, which is a shame because those bundles are a significantly better value. For $75, a customer can get a mascara, lipstick, and either the “Soft” or “Rich” 4+ pan palette. The best deal I saw from MOB Beauty’s own website costs $85 after using a promo code and involves creating your own custom 4+ pan palette that does not include a mascara and lipstick, just two free samples. I was especially tempted to get a pre-made set anyway, considering Beautylish was advertising back in March that once these restocked sets were gone, they’d be gone for good this time. Yet, here we are in September and there’s a “returning soon” notice for one of the sold out sets. I like Beautylish, but it appears that they pulled a ‘limited edition’ marketing stunt again.

Eventually, when the items became available individually at various places, I made separate orders to HSN, Beautylish, and the official MOB Beauty website to make these purchases as affordable as possible for a custom palette. If I had just stuck with my original 4+, it would have been fine, but I ended up spending extra by changing my mind afterwards because I wanted to try the cream formulas too, and the refills would be exposed to the air if I didn’t get additional packaging to store them. MOB Beauty is a “Clean” brand, but the part that really interested me about them is that they are big proponents of recycling and sustainability. In the next section, I will show the cardboard packaging that each product arrives in, which is great for that recycling factor, but because the refills are surrounded in post-consumer recycled plastic (50-100% PCR, PET or PP Resin with the percentage of PCR getting lower the larger the palette is), it’s not possible to store the pans in something like an empty magnetic palette, which is a system that the majority of people who want to make custom palettes use to do it. And once the refill outer packaging (40% FSC bamboo and 60% recycled paper) is opened, there’s no way to keep it properly sealed after because the sticker layer is what keeps it together. So, one ends up having to purchase either single compacts that will take up space or pay for the larger custom palette and have the smaller one sitting around in case someone wants to take a smaller set traveling and just being generally unused. The need to buy more empty palettes is the downside of the attempt to be sustainable. I appreciate the effort, but it’s far from a perfect system and it’s the customer that has to take on that additional cost because of the brand’s decision to make unique packaging that can only be used with their own products exclusively, similar to what Hourglass did with their “Curator” system. In addition, the outer packaging is easy to recycle, but there are additional steps for those wanting to recycle the makeup pans afterwards, as noted on the MOB Beauty website:

They can also be turned into a Pact recycling bin inside any Credo store in the US, provided you live near one of their ten locations within the country, or Hudson’s Bay store in Canada.

The refills have holes in the back, so one could potentially push the metal out of the plastic and commit to using the products exclusively in a Z-palette and avoid needing to buy MOB’s custom palettes, but they’re glued down. Also, since they are made of aluminum, they aren’t magnetic and would need a metal magnetic sticker to be attached to the bottoms of them in order to not slide around in a magnetic palette. The mini samples of mine were glued to the cardboard since they don’t come with the plastic bottom like the others. So, I peeled off the label stickers with the shade names and cut them into small squares before I unstuck the pans and attached those stickers onto the backs of them to at least keep the glue from sticking to things before plopping them into a Z-palette, even though they’re free floating in there. I just needed to keep them somewhere they wouldn’t get lost while I was testing out the products, and I could continue to test for an extended period instead of just once. Again, I’m not sure what a better alternative would be. I give the brand kudos for being perfectly upfront about everything though and that they have clear instructions on how to recycle these properly.

Custom Palette Packaging and Components

The photo above shows how the items for my custom 4+ palette arrived, including the two samples and two slips of paper with the ingredients listed on them. The box on the left is what they were all shipped in, so there was no wasted space, which is something I really like to see in shipping materials (provided the items are still properly protected to prevent being damaged). The brown paper below all the items was the folded up paper layer in the box. This packaging was delivered by MOB Beauty, but if you order from HSN and Beautylish, the items will come in those retailers’ typical packaging.

This is what the 6+ pan and 4+ pans look like in the back when filled vs empty. The hole used to pop open the grate to place the pans inside are visible from the back.

I used one of my clay shaping tools to do the job of opening what I call the sealing/securing lid.

Once the plastic clear lid has been lifted and the hole in the back of the palette has been poked through in order to lift the second lid, the pans can be loaded in by aligning the two protruding rectangles with those empty spaces. They do not snap into place. They have to just be gently laid on top enough to stay put until every pan is on it and that second lid can be placed back on top to secure all the sides. This is the point where at least one snap should occur, so every edge plus the center should be touched and pressed to ensure that everything was locked into place and can only be opened again via the hole in the underside of the palette.

Additional photo of an empty versus filled palette.

Despite the 6+ pan being longer, I still consider it to be a travel-friendly size from the way it fits in my hand.

Important Tip About Choosing A Shade

Since the idea is to not be wasteful, choosing the best suiting product based on the brand’s photos is crucial. There is quite the difference in depth between how the color appears in their pans versus those arm swatches, and especially depending on the model bearing the swatches as well. The way these shades ended up looking on my skin was represented the most accurately on the tan (dark-tan) model across all formulas. I wanted to mention this for those who are around my skin tone and may have been wondering whether the model closest to our skin tone does the best job indicating how it will look on us or whether the swatches have been manipulated to look more saturated than they actually are and therefore we should make purchasing decisions based on the first model pictured below. I’m happy to report that MOB Beauty did a great job accurately reflecting the swatches, unlike many other brands that want to pretend their shades look the same even on deep skin and digitally manipulate the photos to prevent showing how ashy they’d be. So, I recommend feeling free to base purchasing decisions based on the swatches of the models closest to your skin tone.

I still found it useful to compare how the swatches looked on the other models in order to figure out what the starting undertones and depths were, and see at which point the shades start to look distinctly different from each other. For example, as seen on the third model, the M49 and M50 highlighters are the same depth and only differentiated by M49 being a pale pink and M50 being a pale gold. So, on tan skin and darker, the different undertones make no difference and those two highlighters will essentially look the same on the face. On the first model, the rose-gold M51 being a couple of shades darker than M49 still looks essentially like the other two highlighters, but on me, if I wanted all different looking highlighters, I would need to choose between M49 and M50 for the first option, then M51, then M52. If I removed the choices that look different in tone, but would look too stark on me, M51 and M52 are realistically my only highlighter options.

I continued this practice for each product. I looked at how they are supposed to look on the third model, where they start to look ashy or at least too similar to each other on the first model, and then narrowed down which of those remaining options looked prettiest on the second model.

Cream Clay Formula

As seen in the photo of the Cream Clay Bronzer in M78 on the left, the creams look as if there are bubbles under the surface, but that top layer is completely smooth. Since this looks like it was poured in while hot and then set, it’s possible those are air bubbles and not an indication of anything weird happening while in transit. Or perhaps they’re just condensation marks from it starting to sweat and melt in those hot delivery trucks, but then it cooled and imprints of the droplets were left on the surface. An example of the sweating is in the mini samples section.

When it came to selecting a bronzer, there were a completely different set of models, none of which were anywhere near as dark as me. However, based on the arm swatch photo, M78 and M79 looked like they would work for me. They are the same depth, so it was just a matter of an undertone difference. M78 was described as a “rose chocolate brown” and looked warm, but leaned closer to neutral than the “espresso brown” shade M79, which looked redder. M78 was certainly the better option because I would not have wanted it any warmer.
It shows up easily when I apply it to my skin, but it sheers out a fair amount as I blend, so I have to really load on the product to get the impact level that I like. In addition, my dry skin soaks up these cream products. If I try to keep the bronzer looking subtle, it’ll be significantly faded within the hour. So, I have to actually over-apply in order to get it to last on my face. The nice thing is that if I can accept it looking heavy in that first hour, I know it’ll at least look normal the rest of the time after that. It will still fade as the day goes on, but at least the fading is at a slower pace and will still be there at least 8 hours. I have tried so many times to wear this over a very moisturized face and different primers, but it still does this. For that reason, I use this product the most with my Patrick Ta Contour Brush because I can load it on and blend it out quickly. It essentially allows me to use this cream bronzer the way it was intended. My usual Sonia G Mini Base is actually too good with the blending. In the amount of time it takes for me to keep building up layers with that brush, it’s trying to set and then I can run into the issue of it starting to look a little patchy. And when I say “set” I just mean setting into place, as it doesn’t fully dry, but it’s at least not sticky. It just gets a little less easy to budge, but will still have some transfer. Applying powders on top hasn’t been successful in setting my face either, and my powders also make the bronzer and blush more subtle in the process. Sometimes I use the cream and powder bronzers together, but then I feel like that’s adding an extra step I wouldn’t have to do with the other products in my collection.

I like the tone of the cream bronzer and the ease of use with the right brush, but if I put the complication with my skin type aside, one of the things I find lacking is that the cream bronzer ends up looking matte even without being set with anything. I personally would prefer that if I’m bothering to use a cream product, I want it to look a little dewy or have a sheen. The glow of the product in the photo is literally a combination of my sweat and my semi-dewy foundation. For these reasons, my feeling about this product is that it’s just okay. The positives and negatives cancel each other out. I don’t feel any excitement when I use this, like I do with plenty of other cream bronzers I own. Also, this formula is the type that forms a little bit of a stiff layer on top between uses, which is why I mentioned it’s imperative to keep it away from air exposure as much as possible. It doesn’t cause me any problems using the product, but it makes the experience using it slightly less enjoyable. That top layer issue at least isn’t as thick as the Danessa Myricks Power Bronzer that I love can get though, so I give the formula some credit for that. Overall, this tends to happen with vegan formulas where the ingredients are what the company says are better, but something gets sacrificed, and for me it’s the experience when using it. It doesn’t have any wow factor for being extra creamy, leaving a beautiful finish on the skin, etc. I’m at least glad that the performance is solid. I think that’s what MOB Beauty was hoping to achieve the most, but there aren’t bells and whistles to go with that in my opinion.

The Cream Clay Blush in M74 looks, feels, and performs the same as the bronzer. They both have a decent amount of pigment and blend easily, but I also need to over-apply this product to keep it lasting on my face at least 8 hours. I also find myself having to touch up the bronzer again after I apply the blush on top. I like that it blends in so seamlessly with the bronzer, but it’s almost too much. Perhaps if I picked a more vibrant and less natural-looking shade, the blush wouldn’t look like an extension of the bronzer. I still think it’s pretty, but I do enjoy pairing it with other blushes right on the apples of my cheeks to add a lighter and brighter pop. This means that my favorite way to use it involves me adding another step. It’s nice to know that it plays well with the cream and liquid formulas from other brands though.

Just like with the cream bronzer, I could apply MOB’s powder equivalents on top so that it helps with the longevity issue. However, that would also be adding an extra step and since doing that takes away the tiny bit of dewiness the cream blushes have over the cream bronzer, it would make the point of wearing the cream at all pretty pointless. I may as well just stick to using the powders, right?

Powder Formula

Just like the cream bronzer M78, this powder version in shade M42 is described as a rose brown. However, M42 is the only one that I can actually tell has a rosy undertone on the skin.
The powder feels somewhat soft to the touch, but it’s not as smooth or silky feeling as say the Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Matte Bronzer, Mented Cosmetics Bronzer, or even the newest one from Jaclyn Cosmetics. Again, I’m guessing it’s because of the consequence of not being able to use certain ingredients for clean, vegan, and sustainability reasons. The “Show Full List” option on their website’s list of exclusions reveals how extensive it gets. It still performs well enough. It’s a buildable formula but it only takes a small amount to finish my face the way I like. M42 is lighter than the cream bronzer (both are the third to last shade in their respective formulas), yet it looks even darker than M78 when built up.

When it comes to blending, I don’t have any issues unless my skin is dewy from wearing some of my favorite foundations, sweating, etc. In that situation, where I would normally apply and blend via using long sweeping motions back and forth, instead it sticks where I put it and ends up with tiny patches that are lighter than the rest because more of the powder stuck to other spots. I’ve had products with the sticking issue before, and this one isn’t as bad with it as others. Trying to blend it out fixes it enough to be passable, but not looking airbrushed and not good enough for me to feel comfortable leaving it as is. One remedy is to use a brush that deposits an even amount to the area at the same time, like the Patrick Ta Contour Brush, before blending it out. The other is to switch up my technique and apply in a circular buffing style while moving across the area I want to bronze. This one tends to be less precise, but the blush will cover it anyway. The third trick I can use is to do a second light layer of bronzer to cover the patches and then use a finishing powder to soften up the look.
This last one is my preferred method because my finishing powders with a blurring effect really elevate the look overall and add that sheen I prefer anyway. Considering how often I wear my dewy foundations, I end up needing to use at least one of these ways the majority of the time. Because that adds to the extra time I need to spend on it, I like using the powder even less than the cream despite knowing how to get it to look pretty every time. I admit that it’s a minor inconvenience, but with the amount of makeup I own, minor inconveniences are enough to get me to not use some products, and then it ends up being a wasted purchase in more ways than one.

I get a nice amount of pigment from this M20 blush, but it’s a thin formula and prone to a patchy look on dewy skin just like the bronzer. This is especially noticeable if I’m wearing a low coverage foundation where my skin peeks through the blush and it looks a bit odd seeing such a strong color, yet is see-through like a blush tint. So, I end up using the same techniques to combat it, just like the bronzer. However, because part of the bronzer gets into the blush zone, I feel that I have a quicker time making the blush look blended again, which makes it less inconvenient and therefore I’m still likely to reach for the powder blush if the palette is already out and open.

Also, no matter what the situation, I have no longevity issues with the powder bronzer and blush. They stay put all day. The powder blush does fade a little over time, but not enough to be considered abnormal.

Highlighter

I purchased the powder Highlighter in M52 because the third darkest option has a pink undertone, which I don’t usually like on myself, and everything else would look ashy on me. If I use a light hand, this one matches well enough, but if I’m too heavy handed, it’s obvious that it’s a little dark for me. The shimmer flecks are not, but the overall base color is a little deep on me for a product that is intended to highlight the face.

As has been the case with the powder blush and bronzer, this product sticks, but even more intensely on my face if I wear dewy products in the areas that I highlight. That’s handy for helping it look like it’s one with my skin, but then it’s hard to blend, even with my best brushes. The upside to it sticking is that it lasts on my face all day.
Of all the powder products from MOB I’ve tried, the highlighter is the messiest with the most kickup. The times when my face is actually dry, and therefore the highlighter remains dry, is when I have longevity issues where parts are suddenly missing as the day goes on.

I think I would have liked this highlighter more if I had one that was the same color as M52, but slightly lighter. As it stands, it’s okay. Because I only have two eyeshadows, I sometimes use the powder bronzer as an additional brown shade and this highlighter as an additional shimmer.

Eyeshadows

These are the two I chose. M48 is a shimmery olive. I like the color, but the shimmer particles are very low shine and not nearly reflective enough for my taste. Even when I apply the shadow damp, apply with my finger, or over the Nyx Glitter primer to crank up the intensity and pack on the shadow, it looks nearly unchanged afterwards. This is one of the rare times that my usual tricks fail to improve the eyeshadow look at all.

The M64 matte burgundy shadow is a bit stiff. Blending it in the crease takes some time and looks very drying on my eyes.

The shadows are my absolute least liked thing I bought from the brand. They’re way too lackluster for me. Anyone can make them work, so they aren’t completely terrible and it’s not like they don’t have pigment, but they are not enjoyable to use. There’s no creaminess to them, no smoothness or aid in the ability to be spread across the eyes. They’re able to be blended, but not as easily as I prefer. Preferences aside, I still don’t believe these are worth $12 each. I do not recommend purchasing the MOB Beauty eyeshadows.

Main Product Swatches

Free Mini Samples

The mini sample of The Cream Lipstick in M58 had a pretty sheen on the lips but felt surprisingly dry, like it was drying out my lips from the inside. Also, this isn’t the kind of formula that that you can put over chapped lips and have it smooth things over. It sinks into every spot where the skin starts to pull up and just makes lips in poor condition look worse. The photo example is after I exfoliated my lips, so I could showcase the product in the best light. It was from my second batch of pictures because my original photos of M58 looked horrific and just too bad to show, especially with my lip split on one spot. If you don’t have issues with lips being dried out frequently and you can keep them conditioned regularly, you might like the formula. Because it made mine drier, I don’t recommend it.

By the time I got around to trying the mini of The Cream Clay Blush in M71, I forgot it was a blush and not a matte lipstick. So, I have a demonstration of what it looks like on my lips, but not my cheeks. I apologize for that. Shockingly, despite how drying it looks on my lips, it actually feels less drying than the cream lipstick! I actually like this color on the lips, but it’s not my usual type of blush color to wear. Also, by the time I remembered it was a blush, my sample was especially dried out, so I didn’t bother trying to wear it on my face or take photos. It already had cracks in it the day I got it, so one can imagine how dry it was weeks later.

Final Thoughts

One would have to know ahead of time exactly how many products they want currently and in the future in order to not have extra MOB Beauty palettes sitting around. This isn’t easy considering it’s still a fairly new brand, so their options are still a bit limited. How can one make space for a potential setting powder or cream foundation in a pan, like the Patrick Ta Creme Foundation and Finishing Powder Duos? What about powder foundation? What if you think you just want a bronzer, highlighter, and two blushes, but then they release a new product that you want and now would have to upgrade to a 6+ palette or hold onto a separate single? Perhaps this is just a me problem, but when I decided I wanted those 5 face powders, I instantly had to get the eyeshadows too in order to fill the palette. Holding onto a 6+ with only 5 of them filled for who knows how long was just not an option for me. It drives me nuts to have designated spaces for a product but to keep one or more slots empty. I need to have them all filled up. So, essentially, I purchase more things that I don’t need and spent more money because of the type of organization system they’ve got going on.
Creating a new brand and a new line of products is still adding to the world’s over-consumption problem. And the truth of the matter is that I’m never going to use up these products enough to need to replace them. I love what the brand is trying to do, but unless I make MOB’s products and system the only makeup I will ever buy again, I’m not making use of their refill aspect. If MOB does expand the range and make my perfect highlighter shade in the future, wouldn’t it be wasteful to try and get that one while I still have the old one? Would I just toss out the product and recycle the rest? I can’t actually send it in to recycle without there being 5-10 empty products, so I just hold it all indefinitely? Wait for everything to expire before trying to recycle things?

As someone who doesn’t use exclusively vegan products, clean products, and doesn’t have a firm stance on buying from companies that are not considered “cruelty free” because of the selling products in China regulation debate, I find myself feeling like I haven’t gained much by having these makeup items in my collection. I feel good about supporting a brand that cares so much about the environment, but without planning to make serious permanent changes, it’s just adding yet another thing to my collection and their best performers don’t top any of my favorites by a long shot. So, rather than continue pursuing my perfect palette I spent so much money trying to create, it’s best if I leave things where they are.

For those who are very strongly about minimizing their makeup collections and only using vegan, “clean,” and less waste products, this brand could be the miracle you’ve been looking for. They could be offering something that makes you want to give up buying from anyone else. So, for those people, I’d recommend this brand and their products. But for anyone else just curious to have great makeup and create their own custom face and eye palettes with the thought of continuing to buy from all other brands and their new releases (like me), I’d say perhaps the best thing to do for the environment is to actually just skip this one.

I hope I’ve conveyed my thoughts on this tactfully and clearly. I really do wish current brands were so dedicated in helping out the environment and I wish this could be the end all be all for me when it comes to makeup, but it’s not for me. I hope I will continue to get some use out of these products, but chances are high that I’ll keep using my favorites. However, as my ongoing attempts at a low-buy suggests, I am trying harder to make fewer makeup purchases. And in a way, that’s me attempting to do my part the best way that I can.

Thank you for reading.

-Lili