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

Six New Luxury Palettes from Guerlain, Pat Mcgrath, Dior, and Bobbi Brown

I typically buy makeup that is in the mid to high-end range, as well as from small indie brands. Purchasing this many luxury eye shadow palettes (and so neutral-heavy no less) is very unusual for me. I can’t explain why the sudden interest, but here we are!

Pat Mcgrath Labs Celestial Nirvana Eye Shadow Palette in Bronze Bliss

The quint picture above shows how La Vie En Noir and Lunar Luxury will look on the eyes. The quint photo below shows how the shadows actually look in the pans.

I was intrigued when I read these were new formulas for the brand, and that was confirmed as soon as I saw and felt the eye shadows for the first time. La Vie En Noir, the only matte, is not creamy like Natasha Denona’s Cream Powder shadows, but it still has a creamier texture than Pat Mcgrath’s traditional mattes. The shadow is easy to pick up with a brush and finger, easy to smudge, and almost too easy to blend out. When blended, I can see the blue tinge in the shade. Some people will like that this isn’t a pure black shadow, but this feature will prevent me from being able to use this palette solo in the future. Although I technically don’t need a transition or crease shade, I prefer having a shadow there to add definition and block off the roundest portion of my eyes and get the defined almond shape I’m nearly always trying to achieve. I don’t mind using blue for that purpose with cool toned shades, but I’m not the biggest fan of using it with the palette’s two bronzes. If I want the deep black appearance La Vie En Noir can provide, the shadow has to be drawn on or nearly unblended, giving it more of a graphic lined look. If I’m not interested in something that harsh, I have to either accept that it’s going to look blue-black or I’ll need to reach for a supplemental palette.

The first three looks above, using the Bronze Bliss palette exclusively, demonstrate the various blended states of La Vie En Noir in the crease. The fourth look involving mattes outside of this palette where I can just use the blue-black exclusively in the outer corner, shows how it’s a lot less blue looking on the eyes when I use it as just an outer corner deepening shade, the way I prefer to use my darkest shadows. The photo demonstration below shows the process of that transformation.

It’s so tricky using this shade when very few strokes of buffing mean the difference between the shadow looking blended versus it looking faded to a borderline patchy level (and/or too blue).

Color aside, I’d be interested in trying out more mattes like this from the brand in this formula. The unbelievable spreading ability comes from that creamy element, but it’s not actually emollient where it will move on the eye or crease with normal eye movements. It’s only when I touch the shadow with my brush or finger that it comes off. It’s still a powder formula and fully dry to the touch on my eyes.

As for the shimmer formulas, these are definitely different from any other Pat Mcgrath shimmers I’ve experienced. Lunar Luxury is the wettest of them all, and feels the most like a cream shadow. It’s an intense silver, spreads far, and a lot of product gets picked up in one tap. So, I recommend starting with that one dip into the pan and slowly building up to the desired amount to avoid a thick application on the lids. Bronzed Mink and Bronze Illusion aren’t quite as wet, which makes them easier to apply since I don’t have to worry about them looking chunky on the eyes. They contain a nice amount of sparkle, but these can still be sprayed on the brush to really bring out that foiled nature (though a foiled texture comes with it). Nude Moon has the same consistency as the bronze shades, but it’s less metallic and closer to a traditional shimmer. It applies smoothly with my finger, but a lot of product still gets picked up onto my brush and I always have to apply one swipe to my eyes, wipe off my brush completely, and then spread what’s on my eyes with that clean brush so that it doesn’t add more product and can be smoothed out and not look so heavy. Although the shimmers don’t feel wet once they’re on my skin, they will transfer when touched and always transfer to my crease area in the places where my eyes are partly hooded. This is another reason I don’t like using La Vie En Noir as my crease shade, because the shimmers transfer onto it in a very obvious way. It makes it look like my shadows are creasing even though they aren’t. When I’m using mattes from other palettes with these shimmers, I don’t mind that they transfer higher.

Visually, the shimmers are stunning. Every formula in this palettes is interesting to work with and I like that there are warm and cool toned options for eye looks. This is very much a glam oriented palette and there’s certainly a place for that in my collection. Although it’s not a perfect solo palette for me, I think it’s a great product and I would love to buy more variations in the future (other than Nude Allure).

Guerlain Ombres G Eyeshadow Quad in 940 Royal Jungle

Guerlain had some colorful options in their new Ombres G line of eyeshadows, but I actually wanted a “basic” quad that I would be able to create looks from without needing to think too hard about coordinating the right colors together. I never heard that much praise regarding Guerlain’s eye shadows in the past, so I thought neutrals would be the safest bet since those shadows are easier to get right. This palette isn’t cheap at $85 USD at most retailers, but I got it for $62 via Selfridges. The conversion rate between USD and GBP has been in the favor of USD for a while now, so I’ve been utilizing my Selfridges Global Shipping to my best advantage.

I think I threw out the box*, but the shades are 1-4 in a clockwise motion on Guerlain’s website. It’s very confusing seeing the top right shade as an orange that’s darker than the shadow below it when in reality, the top right corner shadow is the lightest of them all.

*Update: I found the box. The numbers written on it are the same as depicted on the website.

Photo from Guerlain’s site HERE.

Shades 1-3 have the same texture, which is similar to Tom Ford’s wet/dry formula, but drier. The Guerlain shadows are soft, but the shimmers add a little grit. #1 is a gorgeous chocolate brown metallic with a dark base plus red and bronze shimmer reflects. This is my favorite shade in the palette and the type of shadow I love to wear either all over the lid or as a smoky outer lid shade. #2 is a warm toned pale gold with a transparent base heavily packed with purple, pink, and gold micro shimmer. It is such a stunning topper type of shadow that my photos just can’t do justice in showing. It looks nothing like the deep golden orange depicted in the promo pictures, not just on my skin but in the compact as well. Because of that sheer base, it only works for me as a highlighting type of shade and wherever I want to amp up the sparkle level. Applying it damp is the way to go for more of an effect, but glitter glue is needed to make it look opaque and like an actual shadow, not just a topper. #3 is an orange-gold metallic. It’s very smooth and opaque, but it looks soft on the lids unless it’s applied damp or over glitter glue. Using these damp and dipping the wet brush back into the shadows will start to effect the way it looks in the compact in terms of creating an unflattering texture. I just wanted to mention that for people like me who actively try to keep their shadows looking new and don’t dip their brushes in the same spots over and over to try and “pan it.”

The wear time for these shadows is pretty good. They can look slightly worn at the end of the day, but it’s not that bad. Plus, I have a bit of trouble keeping the pale topper/shimmer lasting in my inner corner unless I apply glitter glue there. Essentially the shadows in that spot are susceptible to the frequent rubbing of my eyes in that spot.

In the third eye look, I had to use leftover concealer on my brush and sweep the edges of eyeshadow #4 to save time on blending.

#4 appears to be a baked eye shadow like the others, but it feels creamier to the touch. It’s like Guerlain’s version of a cream to powder formula. It looks nearly black in the quad, but it’s a dark espresso brown that applies in a sheer layer and takes quite the effort to get enough product onto the brush and fingers. Using my finger was the easiest application method, but it wasn’t the best experience. It darkens up the outer corners of my eyes, but it can take on a sooty appearance because of the lack of control since depositing the color off my finger and onto my eyes requires a bit of tugging. I think the formula of this fourth shadow is intended for makeup lovers that prefer to slowly build up their darker shades. That isn’t me, and though I had some critiques about the darkest shadow from the Pat Mcgrath Bronze Bliss palette, even that tricky one was easier to use than this because of it’s spreadability. This one smokes out, but at the cost of requiring friction. While using various brushes, I had the best results with dense brushes with sturdy bristles. This meant my dense synthetic or weasel/sable/kolinsky brushes in pencil, liner, and packing shapes. Wetting the brush minimally increases the opacity and still takes many passes to build up to the level that satisfies me. However, I still cannot make it intense. The problem isn’t about that first layer of color, which isn’t so bad to lay down, but after that first layer it’s tedious to build up to the depth I want. Every look with it is on the softer side. There’s a time and place for that kind of thing, so it’s not the end of the world, but it’s a bit of a letdown of a shadow. That first initial thin layer might be enough product for someone with a lighter skin tone, but I only get a sooty appearance if I don’t manage to pack more on with those brushes I mentioned. Then again, Theresa is Dead on YouTube still had a problem with #4. I couldn’t find her original first impressions video but I linked another one where she discussed it.
Lastly, the shimmers all work fine with any primer I use, but #4 is harder to work with on one of my holy grail primers (MAC Paint Pot), perhaps due to the semi emollient nature of both.

For this pricey quad, I got two great shades, an okay/nice shade, and a troublesome shadow. If I paid full price, I think I would have had regrets considering all the fantastic other neutral and less expensive palettes out there. Weirdly enough, I’m still happy with this purchase despite it not being perfect. However, Guerlain would have to create the absolute perfect color story in order for me to want to purchase anymore from them. I like the packaging and some shadows are a hit, but it’s too expensive to have such limited options of four shadows with one being guaranteed to be hard to work with. Pat Mcgrath’s velvet matte, Nathasha Denona’s cream powder, and Tom Ford’s wet/dry formulas are all better than shade #4 from Guerlain.

Dior Écrin Couture Iconic Eye Makeup

I recently fell down the rabbit hole into the world of Dior Beauty and its devoted following, and there was so much to learn! I hadn’t paid attention to the fact that Dior has special sets with special holiday packaging that changes every year. This year’s stunning floral and constellation design is by Pietro Ruffo. In addition to the box for the Écrin Couture palette, I also got a gift bag with the same design when I made this purchase via Dior’s website.

This (and technically the Dior Backstage Palette I’ll discuss after) is the only eyeshadow palette from Dior that I own. I always wondered what the quality was like of the brand’s traditionally packaged quints, but since this five pan palette is a special holiday release, I’m not sure if this quality is the same, better, or worse. I still plan on finding out one day, if Dior ever creates my dream color story. After using this palette, I’m even more interested in purchasing Dior’s eyeshadows if/when another color selection of theirs grabs my attention.

I’ve been interested in neutrals lately, but in using this palette, I very quickly realized that this is too basic of a color selection even for me. The shimmers are not as sparkly or reflective as I prefer for lid shades, though I appreciate how finely sized the shimmer particles are. In fact, the Iridescent Gold in particular has so fine a golden sheen that I can and have actually used it as a face highlighter. It’s very texture-friendly and despite being light for me as a face highlighter, it can still work if I’m on a trip or some other situation where I don’t have my usual variety of highlighters with me. I definitely can’t use Rosy Beige on my cheeks, not just because it’s too pale for me, but also because the texture of the particles are more visible in that shade.

The lightest color option is quite icy in contrast, but even the gold when used on my actual eyelids looks like a very pale yellow, so both are best as eye highlighting shades. If the shimmers were more intense, how pale they are would still limit how I’d want to use them in my eye looks anyway. Also, the shimmers are so thin that applying them damp or with glitter primer doesn’t intensify them enough for me; helping them along just makes them usable.

I’ve been enjoying the mattes more. It’s hard for me to see them as special, but objectively they are special in the sense that they don’t give me any problems to use them at all. They’re smooth, soft, and blend well into each other. I can build up the intensity of the Bold Brown to the level that’s deep enough for my needs. That shade and the Brick Red one are nicely pigmented and show up right away. The lighter Brown is only a few shades darker than the color around my eyes, so it’s a good transition shadow.

There really isn’t much to say. I’m not excited by these eyeshadows and they’re not very inspiring, but I can still see the value in having wearable everyday colors in a dependable easy to use formula. This palette is useful for transitioning between daytime and nighttime looks. It’s great to have as a supplemental palette to form a basic eye and pair it with another palette or single shadow for a lid shade with some added spice. This is the kind of palette that could be enticing to someone who wanted the Hindash Beautopsy palette, but with a focus on quality best suited for the eyes rather than a focus on the whole face (plus Écrin having the added bonus of shimmers). To clarify, the shadow formulas within Beautopsy and this one are completely different, but they have similar colors and both are fantastic quality in their own ways with differing strengths.

I don’t know if this palette was worth me getting, but I do really like the velour box packaging that I intend to repurpose for jewelry or something else long after the shadows expire. So, the keepsake element could be appealing for some people beyond just the makeup. In addition, the whole experience of unwrapping such extravagant packaging could make this a special gift for someone who owns very few eyeshadow palettes, neutral lovers, color-shadow-phobes, or those who just love luxury makeup.

One final random note I wanted to add is that the starry box was too cute to get rid of, but taking this palette in and out of the box was a pain, so I decided to use the dust bag that the perfume samples arrived in as a dust bag for the palette instead.

Dior BACKSTAGE Eyeshadow Palette in 008 Khaki Neutrals

Now, this is my kind of palette! It’s filled with so many varieties of greens in the kind of tones that I love, in addition to golds and a gorgeous brown. I’ve seen some comments around social media despising the addition of a primer in here, but because I don’t own multiple backstage palettes, this isn’t redundant or wasted space for me. The primer works well with the shadows, but my only gripe with it is the fact that it doesn’t have enough coverage to give me a blank canvas around my eyes. When used in the proper amount (and not as thick as a swatch) it’s quite sheer and all the discoloration on my lids and crease area show through. That’s fine if I’m using highly pigmented shadows, but these soft tones of shadows don’t do the best at covering them up. So, I prefer to use my own primers with this palette, but I solely used the primer included for the first two eyeshadow demo photos. In the bottom two, I used the Coloured Raine primer in the color Wheat.

Regarding Dior’s descriptions of the different finishes of these shades, it’s a bit confusing. Primer being an eye shadow primer and Top Coat having a sheer base but being the most sparkly and reflective of them all are straightforward descriptions. Golden Tan and Warm Gold are satins and just look like they have a sheen in their pans, but that sheen is quite reflective and gives them more of the look of being soft shimmers. However, I can accept their definitions of them as satins. Warm Brown is the final satin listed, but unlike the other two, this shade doesn’t have a strong sheen to it. It’s almost matte.
Pure Gold is a glitter and very similar in color to Golden Tan, except that Golden Tan is actually more reflective than Pure Gold, is more opaque, and ironically looks more golden because of the stronger sheen. Pure Gold’s base color is golden, but because the base is so sheer and the glitter is like a champagne, the shimmer overpowers it. So at certain angles, Pure Gold can look more champagne or more gold depending on the light. The very obvious glitter particles are why I accept this definition as a glitter. However, Khaki and Pine Green are the other two glitters listed in this palette. Pine Green does have dark green shimmer in it, but there’s so little visible sparkle that it may as well be matte. Even more matte than Pine Green is Khaki, which I can only see the gold sparkles in the pan. The sparkles just give a barely visible golden sheen and looks no more reflective than Warm Brown. I think of all the shade descriptions, Khaki should be considered a satin.
There’s only one metallic listed, and that’s Emerald, which does have a metallic reflect to it. However, Emerald has a golden sheen and so much visible gold shimmer that it takes away the smooth nearly foiled nature I expect when I think of metals and it looks like it should be considered a glitter shadow.

So, despite what Dior lists, I consider Top Coat to be a glitter, Golden Tan, Warm Gold, Emerald and Pure Gold to be shimmers, and Khaki, Warm Brown and Pine Green to be satins. That’s why I use that bottom row of the palette in place of mattes in the crease because the shimmer in the pans have such little effect on the eyes.

I love the color scheme, but the one aspect that doesn’t make sense to me is the fact that Top Coat is such a cool toned icy sparkle shadow when it clashes with all the gold shimmer and golden sheen that’s in the majority of these shadows. It doesn’t look right when I try to use it as an inner corner highlight shade either, so I doubt I will use it again once this review is posted. Also, Pine Green is seriously pigmented and a little more powdery to the touch than the rest, so I recommend using a precise brush with that shade, though it does still blend easily.

These shadows don’t swatch the best, but they blend well on the eyes and have a soft, pretty, smoothing, and sophisticated look to them. They’re more pigmented than I expected and I like the satins and glitters in this palette more than the shimmers in Dior Écrin Couture. If I want a little more drama, applying these damp gives me even more of what I want. Overall, I’ve really been enjoying this palette and the fact that it’s so compact in size makes it the kind of palette I can see myself packing as an extra travel palette. I can use them with any primer. I have no issues with creasing or longevity either.

Although I didn’t purchase this from Selfridges, I noticed it is cheaper there at the current price of $41 instead of $49.

Bobbi Brown Jadestone Eye Shadow Palette

I bought this palette for 25% off during a “play to win a discount” event that brands sometimes do. I got free shipping as well for being part of Bobbi Brown’s reward program. Bronze Forest arrived broken, but I just pressed it back.

This palette is fantastic! I like it even more than the Dior Backstage Khaki Neutrals because I prioritize shimmers over satins and the shimmers in this palette are much more impactful, plus this has true mattes in it. This formula reminds me quite a lot of Lorac’s revamped PRO formula (Fairytale Forest in particular) with such buttery mattes and soft yet shiny shimmers. The shimmer particles are small in size, but nice and reflective. I also don’t have any issues with creasing or fading.

The mattes are buildable and blendable, but despite how pigmented Cream looks, it blended away and wouldn’t stick where I put it. So it left me with an ashy cast unless I mixed it with another shadow (like Champagne Quartz for my inner corner). As a brow highlighting shade, leaving a brightened cast wasn’t as much of an issue because it was so stark against my skin tone anyway. So, overall, I prefer to just avoid using that shade entirely and to use Buff instead as the matte highlighting eye shade.

Rich Caramel is essentially my skin tone and I love having a shade like that in here so I can make my eye area look natural again after using certain primers. For that reason, it’s among my favorite shades in the palette along with Bronze Forest and Jadestone. Electric City surprised me with how much brighter of a yellow tone in the gold that it has. Blonde also surprised me with how much darker of a taupe it looks when applied to my lids. It’s not dark enough to be a deepening shade on me, but it works as a transition shadow in the crease.

I forgot to mention that it’s not just Cream in the inner corner of the last demo photo, but a mixture of a bit of Champagne Quartz as well to make the shadow look purposefully added and not so ashy.

The brand calls all these shimmers metallic, but it’s only when they’re applied damp that I can see what they mean about that. For the price I paid, this was an absolute win. With Black Friday sales approaching, I recommend getting this palette for a deal if possible, for those who find these greens and neutrals appealing. The full price is a lot when I compare it to Lorac’s PRO prices and quality, but since I’m getting fantastic quality either way, I’m very happy to own this one. I have no regrets!

Bobbi Brown Luxe Eye & Cheek Palette in Copper Glow

This is the final palette in this review, but I purchased it even before Jadestone. I didn’t get as great of a deal at 15% off my first purchase from the brand’s website, but it still helped to soften the blow of that price tag. For the same price as Jadestone but with fewer individual products inside, I guess the dazzling outer packaging was a big factor into the cost. It admittedly reminds me of Smashbox’s Hoodwitch Collection highlighter, in particular, because they have the exact same feeling plastic around them and the raised plastic light refracting top. Both brands are under the Estee Lauder umbrella, so it’s possible the packaging was made by the same place. The main difference is the shapes of the textured top and the Bobbi Brown one being extremely holographic.

When I got my hands on this palette, I was surprised to see the reds look so orange on me and the matte brown, Hazel, gives me such little depth. It’s more of a rose-brown than the rich dark brown I expected and still feel this palette needs. Between Noho Glow and City Dawn, the former is a deeper orange with a hint of red while the latter is a medium toned warm orange. Despite me not minding the unexpected color, what throws me off is how similarly they look on my eyes, which makes them feel redundant in the palette despite them being two different finishes.

The stars of the show for me are the brownish-bronze shade called Sunset and the sparkly gold called Plated for the glittery impact it adds to eye looks.

Overheated is a little more interesting for an inner corner shade because it’s a pale gold that can go well with warm or cool looks, plus it has festive micro-fine green and red glitter that I only noticed upon close inspection within the palette. It just looks pale gold on the eyes though.

Just like with the Guerlain Quad, the makeup in this Luxe palette are baked shadows in a wet/dry formula. The shimmer and metallics are easy to pick up; they’re fine enough to use dry and to intensify when wet. The same goes for the red-orange matte, but Hazel is definitely less impactful when used dry. It doesn’t have the “deeply saturated shade intensity and clarity for dramatic payoff,” that is described on Bobbi Brown’s website. Using the non-mattes wet is easy, but with the matte shades I need to use only a tiny amount of liquid and spread it across the lid and/or crease in solid swipes or else it will dry strangely by literally looking like a discolored patch from thinning out the pigment and basically turning it into a watercolor shadow. Dampening Hazel doesn’t make it darker, but it does save time on needing to build it up in opacity and evenness.

As for the Copper Glow highlighter, it’s so smooth looking in the compact and gives me that wet look to my cheeks that I love. However, unlike the Bobbi Brown Highlighting powder I own with a similar texture, this one has additional larger size sparkles too. I’m a broken record about how I only want small particle sizes in my highlighters, but this is a bit of an exception. It’s not overly sparkly and there’s just enough twinkle to be the kind of highlighter I’d want to wear for festive occasions and even just for photos because it looks really nice on camera. In fact, in pictures it just catches the light and doesn’t show the dark cast that’s visible in person from the tone being a little too bronze-red for me. I can make it work in person if I pair it with the right blush.

Also, there is an Incandescent Glow version of this palette, which I do not own. However, I’ve heard the highlighter in that palette is extra glittery. Unlike Copper Glow, Incandescent Glow is a duochromatic highlighter, so perhaps the particles that make it a shifty pink to gold is responsible for it being sparkly, and perhaps even more sparkly than Copper Glow.

The brush I use makes a huge difference in the amount of product that gets picked up and the sparkle level. In the demonstration photos above, I used the Chikuhodo ZE-5 (silver fox hair) as a highlighting brush and it applied the amount I would normally want for a nice subtle, but not too subtle amount of product. In the photo on the right, I redid my eye makeup and cheek products (so the highlighter application isn’t two layers, just one) and I used my usual Bisyodo CH-HC (goat) which picked up and dispersed significantly more product. So, the tool will really make a difference in the intensity level. I haven’t applied this highlighter to damp skin, beyond the dewy level of my typical foundations, but I imagine this highlighter can get even more impactful.

I don’t give a grading scale because makeup is so subjective and my color preferences can even overshadow quality sometimes, but I will try to summarize how these rank compared to each other. In order of my most favorite to least favorite, it would be:

  • Bobbi Brown Jadestone
  • Dior Backstage Khaki Neutrals
  • Pat Mcgrath Bronze Bliss
  • Dior Écrin Couture
  • Guerlain Royal Jungle
  • Bobbi Brown Copper Glow.

The highest quality, easiest to use, and most well rounded palette is technically the Dior Écrin Couture, even though it’s not in the #1 spot. In terms of quality, the Bobbi Brown Jadestone should be in second place, but I love the color story in this palette the most so it’s my favorite. The Dior Backstage Khaki Neutrals comes next and is a great balance of quality, pigmentation, and color story, though it’s not a perfect palette with me not being thrilled to have the Top Coat shade and the Pine Green being a bit more powdery than the rest. I still ranked the Pat Mcgrath palette over the Dior Écrin Couture despite the tricky to use blue-black shadow and the transferring shimmers because of my love of the shimmer intensity on the lids, the tones of the bronzes, and the texture to the touch. Those two are the most polarizing to compare with one giving a very effortless, soft, and sophisticated glam look whereas the other bestows an intense, attention-grabbing, over-the-top glam look. The Guerlain palette ranked below the Pat Mcgrath palette because the issues with that deep brown shade is actually troublesome, not just tricky. Guerlain’s other shadows don’t have the transfer issues and are pretty hues too, but the amped up intensity from PML’s shadows is more important to me. Then, the last one on the list is Bobbi Brown Copper Glow because of the hassle with Hazel, the lack of variety with the color story despite having more shades to choose from than the Guerlain quad, and the shimmer/metallic intensity level.

I definitely love my top three of the six. Because of the packaging of the Dior Écrin Couture and my enjoyment of the non-mattes in the Guerlain quad, those are still going to stay in my collection. The only one that I’m unsure if I will keep for very long is the Bobbi Brown Copper Glow palette. It’s a decent product, but since I’m just one person that can only get a small percentage of use across my whole collection, being just “decent” means it’ll be on the chopping block during my next declutter.

That’s everything for today! Hopefully having six reviews in one post will make up for missing last Monday’s post. For those visiting my blog for the first time, be sure to click the follow button if you want to be notified of all future posts! My recovery is going really well, but as predicted, it’s going to be difficult for me to post on a consistent schedule for the rest of this year.

Thank you for reading!

-Lili

DISCLAIMER: I haven’t posted one of these in a while, so just as a reminder, all products in this post were purchased by me. My opinions are my own and all links in this particular post are regular non-affiliated links. Any connections I have to brands and companies are detailed in the “About Me” section of my blog. Anything affiliated or sponsored in this blog and future posts will be clearly marked.

Catching Up With Colourpop: Hocus Pocus 2 and More

Happy Halloween to all who celebrate it! Halloween used to be the holiday I was most excited about, and the original Hocus Pocus movie was one of my favorites. I still haven’t watched the sequel, but I was drawn to several items in the collection which I will review here today. In addition, I have two shades of Super Shock bronzers I’ll be reviewing along with two of the three Winnie the Pooh Super Shock highlighters.

One more thing to note before we discuss the products is that there are two items missing today. Colourpop surprised us all on October 28th by restocking the adorable Winnie the Pooh Hunny Pots. Since I was already placing an order, I added a Hocus Pocus 2 lip gloss to my cart. It takes at least two weeks for me to get my orders from Colourpop’s website, so there’s no way it would arrive in time for Halloween. Rather than delaying this post, I decided that it would be better for me to just update it in a few weeks with product photos and a demonstration of the lip gloss on my lips. I’ve reviewed Colourpop lip products in the past, and these are just new shades and scents, so I don’t expect there to be anything significant to say about them. If you’re interested in those two specifically, please revisit this post by the end of November at the latest (unless something goes wrong with the shipment).

UPDATE: Nov 10th, 2022 – The missing items are here! I’ve continued the trend of picking something from the Hocus Pocus 2 Collection that is completely out of character for me…a sparkly sheer black gloss! Boys Will Love Me in the So Glassy Lip Gloss formula feels great on the lips, is shiny, and gives me a “wearable rebel” vibe to my look! There’s no fragrance in it but it has a slight chemical smell.

The hunny pots with the plastic honey dipper applicators are the cutest things! I’m so happy I was able to snag these when they restocked. The lip mask smells deliciously of honey and they added a slightly sweet flavor to it. It feels so soft on the lips. I forgot how nice these lip masks from Fourth Ray/Colourpop are! The lip scrub has finely sized sugar particles, the kind that don’t do very much exfoliating for my lips, but I like that the formula it’s suspended in comes off my lips easily enough without leaving my lips feeling oily or sticky.

Back to the main review!

Hocus Pocus 2 (Partial) Collection

Sol Body Find the Book Shimmering Highlighter

I stopped purchasing highlighters in unnatural colors, but made an exception for this one. The texture of this “liquid-powder” is similar to the Super Shock formula, which is one of my favorites because of how smoothing they apply and look on the skin. This also got me in the nostalgia feels because it reminded me of the Becca Cosmetics Shimmering Skin Perfecter in the shade Golden Mint, just with a more intense green tinge that nearly glows.

The highlighter has the typical Sol Body beachy/coconut type of scent that is pleasant enough, but I’d prefer if it wasn’t in the makeup at the very least. The smell is thankfully not as intense in this product as it is in their cream bronzers. It looks white in the pan head on, but the base color is actually an iridescent type of pale “opal” pink shade and at an angle it reveals the gold and green shimmer. It’s basically a duochrome highlighter, but I haven’t seen one before with such a glowing green shade. It’s so beautiful, I had to try it as an inner corner highlight and it was perfect for that! It was easy to apply there and stayed on. However, when I tried it as an all-over lid shade, it was far too creamy on my eyes. It wouldn’t stop moving and creasing, so I took it off once the photos were taken. Because of the scent and the ingredient PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene which is still a microplastic), I probably shouldn’t be using this in my eye area anyway.

Is this shade too light for me? Technically, yes. The pale opal-pink leaves a cast on my face that’s visible wherever the light isn’t illuminating the green shimmer. However, the cast is less noticeable if I pair it with a neutral pink blush (the lighter the better). Also, the fact that I’m wearing a duochrome highlighter means it’s intended to stand out. So, I think it’s fine that it’s not exactly one with my skin. I won’t be fooling anyone into thinking my cheekbones naturally glow green! If anything, I think the liquid-powder formula helps to make this kind of highlighter as natural as possible in the texture and blending department.

For times that aren’t Halloween, I learned that when I want something unique yet wearable, I just need to put on a deeper highlighter (like Colourpop’s Mind Over Matter) and add Find the Book on top of it. This combination does change the color a bit. Green is still present, but the bronze-orange tone in Mind Over Matter mixed with Find the Book really intensifies the gold. I decided to show that very example in the two photos below. They have been cropped to just show the cheekbone highlight because the day I took the pictures was intended to just be an eyeshadow palette testing day when I often just put makeup around my eyes and leave everything else alone. On this particular day, I skipped foundation and did not conceal the hyperpigmentation around my mouth, so I didn’t feel comfortable showing a full face.

Find the Book is intended for face and body use, but I have not tried to wear this anywhere else. I can’t stand wearing body makeup, so that will not be demonstrated today. As I mentioned earlier, it moves and stays too creamy on the eyes. On my cheekbones though, it does dry down but it’s not transfer-proof. I still get sparkles that come up on my finger when I touch my face.

Butcherson BFF Mascara

The shade of this mascara is “rich plum,” and typically burgundy and maroon type of colorful mascaras look nice on those with brown or green eyes, so I had high expectations. Color-wise, I was extremely happy with this mascara but that’s where it ends! According to Colourpop, this mascara is made to be buildable and “instantly volumizes, lifts and dramatically lengthens…with zero clumps or flakes.”
The first time I used this mascara, the only issues I had with it were minor flaking and that it took a bit of time to fully coat my lashes. The formula was a little dry, but I got the results I wanted in terms of color, though I noticed no length or volume. I don’t know if in that first use it took so long to apply that while the tube was open it dried out further, but the problems intensified right afterwards. The next time I went to use it, the performance was far beyond what can be considered “buildable” and it was a hassle to get the mascara off the bristles and stick to my lashes. Even when I was using the tip that had excess product on it to try and coat my lashes, it was like the formula was too waxy to want to stay in place and not just come back off once I combed it through with the brush. In the photo below, I demonstrated the differences when I applied this mascara on top of another one (a fiber one, so it’s to be expected that the lengths will be different) versus applying it to my bare lashes. It looks so much better applied on top of another mascara. On bare lashes, it didn’t give me much extra length than a basic mascara, but also it’s definitely not voluminous enough for my taste.

On top of a black mascara, it’s admittedly harder to see the plum color, but I prefer having that subtle touch to the look.

I would gladly continue using this product if it wasn’t for the intense flaking issue that occurred upon the second and last uses. The third time I used it, pictured below, I laid down on my bed and one of the mascara flakes/crumbles got in my eye. When I used my finger to take it out, the other side of my finger touched the upper lashes where parts of the mascara turned out to be still wet. So it smeared on my finger even though it had been thirty minutes since I first applied it. Then I noticed all the rest of the flakes under my eyes, even wider spread below my face not seen in the picture below. I tried to wipe a particularly large flake away and that smeared the plum color, so I grabbed a Makeup Eraser and my Bioderma solution to remove it all.

Other than that first application, this mascara is hard to apply, is completely lacking in length and volume, flakes terribly (some of the dots in the outer corner of the eye photo aren’t all moles they are flakes too), is “dry” but somehow doesn’t fully dry down if too much is applied even after thirty minutes and will therefore smudge. Once a product has the risk of getting in my eyes, it’s an absolute no for me. So, I won’t be using it anymore. This is quite the shame considering how much I really like the color and the packaging is cute as well. I’m debating between putting it on my retirement shelf (makeup not to be used but kept for collector purposes) or tossing it. The experience was so bad removing the mascara because of the smearing and trying to get more of it out of my eyes that I’m 90% sure I’m going to just toss it. I was so shocked by the positive reviews on Colourpop’s site that I thought maybe I just got a bad one or the time it took for me to build it up dried it out too much, but the reviews on Ulta’s site tell another story (linked here but they may eventually remove it from their website).

There are plenty more of the negative reviews on Ulta’s website and it’s currently sitting at 2 out of 5 stars for a reason out of 24 reviews. The only other positive thing I can say is that it did not clump for me, but that’s because I could barely even get the mascara to coat my lashes. Because plenty of other people are having issues too, I absolutely cannot recommend this. I’ve tried one other mascara from Colorpop and that didn’t go as poorly but there was no benefit either, so no more of them for me.

Give Him Fur Hair Clips

I’m not a cat person, but somehow over the last five years or so I’ve acquired the “Kitty” nickname which I’ve fully leaned into by now. I own cat headbands and clip on cat ears, so this product certainly appealed to me not just for Halloween.
I think they look great! The fur is soft and the cloth ears are soft as well. I feel obligated to point out some of the flaws though, as these aren’t the highest quality. For example, part of the fur lining came unglued from the handle, a tuft of hair came out already, the inner portion of the cat ear peeks out beyond the stitching, and because the handle end of the clip isn’t exposed and the fur strap goes past it, I have to be careful how I place my fingers to open the jaw of the clip so that I don’t potentially tear anything off. In addition, the clip is made of a very thin metal and whatever paint coating they used gives it a plastic feel.

I don’t believe these flaws would be noticeable to other people. As long as I continue to handle these carefully, I think I’ll be getting my money’s worth out of them. I foresee the fur strap coming more unglued to the claw over time, but at that point I can just glue it back down.

This entire Hocus Pocus 2 Collection inspired me to create a Fall-Halloween type of look and step out of my comfort zone, so there are no regrets. Even though the mascara didn’t work out for me, it was fun to give colored lashes a try again.

In the Halloween look above, I’m wearing the Butcherson mascara on the tips of the lashes, Find the Book highlighter (on the top of the cheekbones and inner corner of the eyes), and the kitty ears. The third photo on the bottom was taken with my cell phone to show the brightness of the highlighter that I struggled to capture with my regular camera.

Bronzers

Super Shock Bronzers in Dream Vacay and Paradise City

The original line of Super Shock bronzers were discontinued in 2017, but these 2022 versions are supposed to be an improved formula. I have no idea how the originals were received, but these new ones deserve to be hyped up! They are amazing! They are so smooth to the touch and look smooth on the skin. They blend effortlessly. They last all day. They look so natural on the skin. These are everything I could want from a cream (or cream-like) bronzer! These are way easier to use and are more pigmented than the Sol Body Cream Bronzers.

Packing on Dream Vacay produces a very subtle bronze on me, but it doesn’t take much effort if I use my dense Patrick Ta Contour Brush to apply it. If I use something a bit softer like the Sonia G Mini Base, it has to be built up in multiple layers. If I want a deeper bronze, I use Paradise City and blend it out with the Mini Base or use the tiniest amount with my Patrick Ta Contour Brush. Paradise City is deep enough on me to give a slight sculpting affect, but I will sometimes add Dream Vacay back on top to lighten it up if it gets too intense.

I’ve had these open for three months now and they haven’t dried up, formed a film on top, nor changed in consistency. There’s also no scent to them unlike the Sol Body Cream Bronzers, so I’m especially happy about that. Right now, these are among my top 5 favorite non-powder bronzer formulas.

Also, Kudos to Colourpop for having an even deeper shade available called Summer 4ever. We love an inclusive product range! There are also three bronzers lighter than Dream Vacay.

Highlighters

Winnie the Pooh Super Shock Highlighters in 100 Aker Wood and Mind Over Matter

I’ve reviewed Colourpop’s Super Shock Highlighters so many times on this blog. I love how smoothly they apply and melt into my cheeks. They don’t stay feeling slippery on the face and they can look subtle or intense depending on the application process. Some observations I noted that make these stand apart from the others I own is that more than just having a strong yellow base, I can see micro green and gold shimmer in 100 Aker Wood that stands out on my skin, in addition to Mind Over Matter having some larger bronze sparkles that make the skin look more textured than normal. The tone in 100 Aker Wood isn’t anything like Fenty’s Trophy wife, but it’s still slightly too yellow to match me despite me also having a yellow undertone to my skin. Depending on the foundation shade I’m wearing, it looks more natural if I pair it with a more yellow or olive foundation, but if I wear my summer foundations which are more of a golden-orange, then the yellow in the highlighter becomes more obvious. More often than not, I end up mixing 100 Aker Wood with one of my darker Super Shocks like Mind Over Matter or Champagne BB.
I applied a light amount of 100 Aker Wood below. As for Mind Over Matter, the tone matches me really well to the point that I had to build it up in the demonstration photo below in order for it to be seen on my cheeks. Adding more also emphasized the amount of glitter specks that can be seen. The extra sparkles aren’t so much to stop me from wanting to use this highlighter though. I have only worn these over natural and dewy foundations. I can attest to these melting better into my skin the dewier my face is.

I’m including a comparison of the current “natural” shades of Super Shocks in my collection. The photos were taken at night so the non-flash photo is washed out whereas the flash side is slightly intensified in color.

Flute Punch is too light for me but I bought it to mix with Champagne BB. Champagne BB on its own is slightly too dark for my face. Mind Over Matter is close to that one in depth, but just slightly lighter and closer to matching the brown tones in my face. Parasol and Got Glow are still the best ones I have for highlighting purposes, but Got Glow is better because it’s the tiniest bit more golden and darker. The shimmer particles in Parasol are lighter than Got Glow, so Parasol can look too light from the shimmer reflecting more harshly in contrast to my skin tone at certain times of the year. The downside to Got Glow is the mix of multiple colors in the pot that doesn’t always look as complimentary depending on how much of the darker or lighter colors get picked up and applied.

As much as I love the Super Shock highlighters, there has to be a stopping/satisfaction point and I think I’ve reached it. I will continue using all of them and mixing them if necessary to continue getting enjoyment out of these products.

That’s everything for today! Thank you for reading and Happy Halloween!

-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

Melt Cosmetics She’s in Parties Palette and the Short Lived Mystery Boxes

I got to this review much later than expected, but I promised The Olive Unicorn Beauty I would make more of an effort to bump it up on the list. I think this is good timing considering Melt has recently launched 4 new mini palettes as part of their upcoming Bad Side Zodiac Collection and I know others share my hesitation to purchase Melt’s eyeshadow palettes given their history. Perhaps my review today can help tip the interest in either direction for someone curious about that upcoming release.

This post will mainly focus on reviewing Melt’s She’s in Parties Palette, but I did not purchase it through traditional means. This palette was part of Melt’s Black Friday Mini Mystery Bundle that was released November 2021. There was a large box for $75 and the smaller one I bought was $25 (plus $10 shipping). I watched Amy Loves Makeup post a video ASAP and considering all the boxes were supposed to be the same (and were still in stock at the time), I figured it was totally worth finally being able to try out my first Melt palette and the Sexfoil liquid highlighter formula for less money than the eyeshadow palette alone would cost.

The photo above from panningcorner on IG shows the mystery items from the $25 box, although I don’t recall getting the pencils, single eyeshadow, nor sample in mine. The liquid lipstick I believe I gave away. So, what I ended up keeping was the palette, mascara, and liquid highlighter which I will briefly review the other two in this post as well.

Regarding the mystery boxes, the brand continued to put them out in December 2021, January, and February of this year, but I believe the February box (or perhaps one more in March) was the last one. I loved that they were doing these and it wasn’t just older palettes that were a possibility to receive. The newer Brunet palette was an option for one of them, and I think the Mary Jane as well. I’m hoping that this Black Friday, they bring the Mystery Boxes back or offer a fantastic deal, even potentially coinciding with the severely discounted Amor y Mariposas Collection that was a newer and quicker reviewed purchase of mine.

Melt Cosmetics She’s in Parties Palette

I started working on this post in Spring, but other eye-catching makeup took priority. One benefit to this delay is that I’ve had the She’s In Parties Palette open and exposed to the elements for over six months, which is typically the benchmark for when any formula issues start to crop up (if at all) with Melt’s palettes. I am happy to report that my palette hasn’t had any changes to it and is still nice and usable, as well as my Amor y Mariposas palette. What a relief!

So based on my experience with both of those palettes, I fully understand why people rave about Melt’s mattes. They really are great. The Amor y Mariposas palette had pressed pigment mattes which required a bit more effort, but the three mattes in this palette are stellar! They’re buildable, blendable, and very pigmented! Total Immortal is a great shade to blend out a shadow in the crease, though it’s a bit light to be alone in the crease without a deepening shade, for my taste. It also had a little trouble sticking to my eyelid, but I can get there in the end and I usually put shimmers on my lids anyway. Last Caress is a medium-dark mauve but it goes on the eyes way darker than I expected from how it looks in the pan! I wanted that as my crease shade for most looks, but it’s so dark that it makes every eye look I created appear as though I was using Meanstreak in the crease instead, even when I hadn’t. So, without a true medium shadow in this palette, nearly every look I create turns out dark and dramatic, even when I purposely intend to create something on the lighter and brighter side. This palette is very much for dark vampy looks! And yes, Meanstreak is a nice deep burgundy, though the texture is a bit drier and rougher than the other mattes which are soft to the touch. However, it still performed just as well.

I usually describe what I did for my eye looks, but I created these so long ago, I can’t recall for certain.

I was very much looking forward to trying Melt’s shimmers, but Strange Love is the only shade that has a lot of sparkle to it and it’s not the kind of shadow I typically use all over the lid. It’s the kind I’d use mostly in the center of the eye and/or the inner corner. Skeleton Kiss also has a nice amount of shimmer to it, but because the white base color is kind of transparent, it’s more of a topper kind of shade and just looks sparkly pink. It’s another one I would use in the exact same way as Strange Love. The remaining pigmented colorful shimmers in the palettes are more like satin shadows. They are smooth, with very refined and small size shimmer particles. They are also on the thin side but fully opaque and not powdery. They also don’t crease on me. I can use She’s In Parties, the deep red, and Sleepwalk, the dark plum, in the crease in place of mattes, but I prefer to stick to my safe zone and use them as lid shades even though that also guarantees my looks remain on the darker dramatic side. As for Lost Control, there are shimmer flecks in the shade, but it’s so subtle that I’m left with a mostly matte looking shadow. This is something I don’t mind, although I would have preferred if it was either entirely matte so I won’t have a random few twinkling specks in the outer corner, or if it was a full on shimmer that could add some bling to the looks.

Overall the quality is great, the shades are pretty, and there’s something sophisticated about this palette and color story. I think it’s quite textured-lids-friendly as well. I can use any primer with it, and it performs well. So, while I personally prefer sparkle and drama to my shimmers and would have liked a true medium tone matte shade, I do recommend this palette.

Melt Cosmetics SexFoil Digital Liquid Highlight in Fetish

Melt’s imagery for this product is so attractive that I haven’t stopped wanting to try more, even though liquid highlighters are my least used form of highlighters. I’ve established in every review of this kind that I never use them enough to be worth purchasing. Unlike the Auric Glow Lust, Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless Filter, and other liquid shimmer products that can be mixed with foundation to impart a glow or to be used in other creative ways, the SexFoil is more metallic and best suited for highlighting in the traditional manner. I’m able to pack it on to look extremely intense or, as is my preference, use it sparingly and blend it out so that it’s a little more on the subtle side. I was surprised that I ended up loving Fetish despite it being one of the two lightest shades in the line and a pink to boot! It looks stunning when coupled with a pink blush. I also like that it fully dries down, so I don’t have to deal with any stickiness or transfer other than perhaps a few shimmer particles.

I would have loved to take additional photos showing various intensity levels but this is the only picture I have wearing the product and as I’ve noted on the Home Page of my blog, I’ve had spine surgery again and am in a long recovery process which makes taking blog photos a lot more difficult and will continue to be an issue the rest of this year. So, I just had to work with the photos I took prior to my surgery.

This product makes me wish I could get more on board with liquid highlighters because I like this formula and I still wish I could get more, although I believe having a full ounce of this is excessive. I can’t even finish a foundation of the same size in time before it expires. Having this much product would be wasteful even if I did use it on a regular basis. “Minis” would have been more practical. In addition, the full price of $39 is more than I’m willing to pay, no matter how much I like it. I’d be all in at $25 and $30 would still be pushing it. But that’s just my opinion.

*UPDATE October 13, 2022 – It occurred to me that the majority of the time I’ve been using this product was on top of cream blushes, many of which are of a stiffer and opaque formula, so I did not notice it removing any product underneath. However, I recently had an issue of it removing product when applied over a powder blush and a bit in the area of my KVD Good Apple Concealer. This did not happen the time before when I used the exact same products. The only difference this time was that I also applied foundation in that area and a bit under my eyes in my dark circle zone whereas I usually reserve that spot for laying concealer down first and then having foundation on the edges. Meaning, I usually apply concealer first and add foundation after wherever it’s needed, rather than the more traditional process of putting foundation everywhere and spot concealing after. The EL Futurist Hydra Foundation is dewy and more emollient rather than being stiff and doesn’t completely dry down on its own, so perhaps that was the culprit for why I suddenly had a problem with it, but I wanted to at least include this information to be careful what products one is using with the SexFoils.

Also, I am obsessed with the shades of SexFoils and the metallic look, but it is a little more difficult to work with because of the amount of product that gets dispensed out. I am usually good about squeezing out the tiniest amount, but while I still have a little trouble with the fingertips of my dominant hand (lingering post-surgery complication with my right arm that I’m sure will be fully healed in a few more weeks), it occurred to me that others may be squeezing out too much as well. So, my thoughts on this product is that I still like it, but it’s not as user friendly when I started looking at it even more critically. And in terms of formula, (based on samples I’ve tried) the Rare Beauty Positive Light Liquid Luminizer Highlights are metallic but can also be intensified or sheered out, fully dry down, are easier to control, are a more reasonable product size, and are significantly less expensive. So, as much as I’m still drawn to these from Melt, I recommend looking into the Rare Beauty ones as a potentially better version of the SexFoils.

Lastly for this update, I did end up purchasing (via Mercari) the shade Gold Ore and can share some additional photos today, but please excuse the skin tone differences between my old picture and this one. Although it was a seven month difference, I’m also pretty sure I was testing out a foundation that was a little dark for me at that time of the older photo. As for the new one, it was a cloudy day so I relied a lot on my indoor lighting, which meant the photos I took were washed out, despite me choosing the darkest of the bunch.

Since Gold Ore is so close to my skin tone, it is quite subtle, even when built up. It’s mostly just shimmer particles that are apparent and the base color is barely lighter than my skin, so the highlighting effect is low. For this reason, it’s unfortunately not my favorite. I think the shade Peaches and Cream might have shown up better because of the undertone being different and standing out, but I normally try to match my tone with highlighters and I don’t usually go for colorful ones, so I chose Gold Ore instead. Considering the newly recognized learning curve to the SexFoils, I won’t be buying another one to try out. The only liquid highlighter I will purchase again is from Rare Beauty.

*UPDATE October 18th, 2022 – It’s highly unusual for me to need to update a post so many times, but I made one final attempt to get more accurate photos of these worn on my cheeks. A better photo representation is below. I wore a different foundation this time and still had issues with my concealer coming off when the SexFoils were applied in that zone and required that I reapply a thicker layer to cover it up. My dark circles are particularly intense right now and in a wider area than usual, so I’m thinking this is just a temporary problem and when I get back on a normal sleeping routine and no longer anemic (another post-surgery complication), the dark circles will shrink back to their normal range and I won’t need to apply concealer that low onto my cheek area and therefore also not interacting with the Melt SexFoils. My foundation coming off wouldn’t be as big of a problem for me if it didn’t show nearly black underneath it because of my current dark circle problem.

Melt Cosmetics Supernatural Lash Mascara

I’ve only used this mascara a handful of times (it has only been open for a month), but I haven’t had any issues with it in terms of smudging or flaking or excessive clumping, though it wants to start clumping at two layers. It’s a wet formula. I like the depth of black color. I like the length it provides, although it’s tough to fan out my lashes in a way that I prefer. This formula has the tendency to want to make my lashes go straight and not really curl or curve. I don’t use mascara curlers because mascaras I like have that effect without it. This one, not as much. The length is right, but I prefer to have a little more volume along with it. I also don’t like using this mascara for my lower lashes because I always smudge it there due to the applicator’s size and shape, and have to clean it up with some concealer afterwards.

The photo on the left shows no mascara. It looks like I have hardly any upper lashes, but my concealer and eye primers usually get a little on my eyelashes and make them harder to see because it’s blending in with the primer color. In addition, my lashes naturally stick outward except at the very tips, so it’s hard to see how long they are without mascara to lift them upwards. The right photo shows what my lashes look like with two coats of the Supernatural mascara.

The first coat of this mascara gives me length. The second coat gives me no additional length, but adds slightly more volume. My favorite mascaras are the kind that I can build up in one go before it dries. This one starts to dry on my lashes before I’m satisfied with the volume level, hence needing to do an actual second coat. This isn’t a deal-breaker for me. I wouldn’t mind doing two coats of a mascara if the end result was fantastic. The end result of this one is okay enough for me to be willing to keep using it until it’s finished, but not enough to want to purchase again, even at a lower price, when my favorites take less effort and give me more of what I’m looking for on my eyes.

I continue to be intrigued by Melt Cosmetics. I like the brand and always want to try more products, though the full retail price usually pumps the brakes on me buying all the makeup from them that I want to, like their newest bronzer launch. For those wondering, I did end up ordering the Air palette from the Zodiac Collection and am waiting to see what other products are part of that lineup.

That concludes this week’s post! Thank you for reading!

*Note: Also, stay safe my fellow Floridians with Hurricane Ian approaching!

-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

10 Things I Purchased Purely For The Packaging

I can list too many examples of times I’ve wanted makeup and the look of the packaging swayed me into purchasing. There are also times I really wanted the packaging, so I chose whichever version would look best on me out of the options. The products I’m discussing today are the items in my collection that I bought purely for the packaging with the complete knowledge that the makeup inside didn’t suit my tastes. In this post, rather than reviewing the items, I’ll be looking deeper into why they attracted me so much.

Also, some of these photos were taken as long ago as October 2020. I’ve had the idea for this post for ages, but the fact that these items were always intended for the packaging and not the product inside, I kept dragging my feet on reviewing them. That’s why it took so long for me to finally complete this post.

Nostalgia Purchases

Glamlite Concha Highlighter

I believe Glamlite was founded at the end of 2017, and although I was interested in their products, my fears about online security made me extremely hesitant to purchase from anywhere but retail websites until 2019. I was even more selective about purchasing from relatively new indie brands, which I considered Glamlite to be. When I found out that Glamlite had a concha highlighter, all fears were thrust aside and I didn’t care that it wasn’t on sale and that I would have to pay full price for shipping. I wanted it and it was the only thing I bought in that first order!

The reason I had this kind of reaction is two-fold. For starters, my dad was a horticulturist from my childhood to teen years and commuted to and from the Tampa area for work, which has a large Hispanic population. The majority of the employees at the company were Mexican and would bring traditional dishes to the workplace. When I was a kid, my dad would sometimes bring me a concha that he got from someone selling them at work. I wasn’t allowed to have desserts and snack foods often, and I grew up with food as a reward system, so I was always so excited to be able to have one, especially the pink ones which were my favorite!

So, psychologically, I associated conchas with good behavior. I think this is the top reason I wanted to have that pretty packaging because it appealed to that desire to reestablish that feeling of being rewarded if I had it in my possession. The highlighter is too light and icy for my skin tone, but I needed it anyway.
The second reason is that I haven’t eaten a concha in like twenty years. I miss them. I don’t have access to them anywhere nearby. So, purchasing the highlighter was like my way of holding onto one forever. Ever since buying it in August 2020, I took the one photo pictured above and then never touched it again. It’s just been chilling in my highlighter drawer, but it brings me an inexplicable joy just knowing it’s there.

Sola Look Charmed Palette

I learned about the Charmed Palette in July of 2020, but Sola Look had even fewer products available than Glamlite, which made me super nervous as to the brand’s legitimacy. I still signed up for their emails, so when I was notified a few months later about their 50% off labor day sale with free shipping, I was sold.

The original Charmed television show came out in 1999, but I didn’t hear about it until somewhere between 2002-2004. I was fascinated by the concept, but it wasn’t until one of my best friends bought me the first season on DVD that I was hooked! Absolutely hooked! After the final season, I rewatched the show in its entirety on an annual basis until around 2016. My friend and I were such fans of the show that I even made her a 167+ page photo album and recreation of the Book of Shadows, which required me to scour every episode of all 8 seasons to find wherever they showed a page of the Book of Shadows and type it up. It took months! I miraculously still have a copy of the typed pages and even though I intended to make one for myself too, I never ended up doing it. Instead, I have this palette to represent the Book of Shadows!

At the time that I bought the palette, Prue, Paige, Belthazor, and Piper were the only colors I was interested in having. This was far too neutral for me in 2020, but I can appreciate the shade selection a bit more now. I could have sworn I actually started a written review for this already when I did eye looks, but I couldn’t find anything on my computer except those swatches. I had to replace my harddrive last year after some of my files were corrupted, and I didn’t have everything on the cloud like I thought, so perhaps this was one of the missing things.

In any case, I described how much of a super fan I used to be, but the reason it holds so much importance to me is because the main characters were so relatable. I had a lot of lonely years and seeing these super powerful women and witches not always have their lives together, but be able to overcome it with the power of sisterhood, faith, love, etc really appealed to me. The relationship between Piper and Leo was my ideal dream romantic relationship. I would watch the show and say to myself, “That’s the kind of man I want.” The relationship between Phoebe and Cole/Balthazor also taught me that sometimes love isn’t enough. Love should never cost you to give up who you are and your ideals to make it work. It’s a painful lesson I had to learn in my real life and seeing the Charmed ones all make incredible heartbreaking sacrifices that would cause them pain, but they were better off doing, gave me the strength to make certain decisions as well. There are some dark themes in the show but also, the scenarios the characters got into were so entertaining and made me laugh during times in my life when I was really struggling with my mental health. The show helped me through those times in a way I can’t explain. That’s why I so badly wanted to combine my admiration of Charmed and my love of makeup together. That’s why I couldn’t resist eventually getting a palette with such a core important symbol of the show.

This palette is no longer available as Sola Look closed in February 2022.

The Cuteness Factor

The Creme Shop Hello Kitty Macaron Lip Balm

I talked about these in my lip balm post already, and how I expected the formula to do absolutely nothing for my lips, but I wanted it for the cute packaging! I love macarons and have even made some macaron clay jewelry (as well as the dessert), so there’s that. I didn’t watch the Hello Kitty show(s), but she’s so cute that I frequently want Hello Kitty themed things. I have no idea why I’m so drawn to her! There’s just something so intriguing about her being this cute character I see everywhere and know nothing about, even to this day. Hello Kitty has a die-hard following and I keep buying these items because I want to experience that excitement they have and be part of that club too!
I looked into why the design of Hello Kitty tugs at the heart and according to an article, “Branding expert Dorie Clark puts Hello Kitty’s popularity down to her simple, mouthless design. ‘She’s stoic, she’s expressionless, and people can put onto her almost any kind of emotion…she can mean almost anything to anyone.'”

ETUDE HOUSE x NESTLE: HERSHEY’S Play Color Eyes Mini Eyeshadow Palette

The idea of having makeup that looked like food that someone could pick up and get confused to find out it’s not edible was something my mischievous side always wanted, but there aren’t many that look realistic enough to trick someone or the item is too large and cumbersome to store. This release seemed perfect for me, but the adorable squares that looked just like the ones from a Hershey bar are what ultimately got me. I didn’t have the heart to even swatch the pans for fear of ruining it, and I don’t plan on trying it anytime soon either. I want it to remain pristine.

Too Faced Glowver Puppy Love Highlighter

2020 (above) vs 2022 (below)

I love gold packaging, gold tone highlighters, and I’m a dog person. This would have been a match made in heaven if the highlighter wasn’t way too light for me, but I wanted it anyway. It doesn’t look too crazy on camera if blended in properly, but it’s more obvious in person. The shiny packaging with an adorable puppy face outside and imprint on the inside were too much to resist, but I couldn’t bring myself to pay full price for something I wasn’t going to use. It launched around May 2019 and I patiently waited for a sale that could justify the purchase. October 2020 it dropped to half price on Too Faced’s website, which is when I finally snapped it up! I really wanted this because it’s so cute, but it equally fits in the second category as a luxurious looking product because of that gold compact.

Looks Luxurious

Too Faced Diamond Light Multi-Use Diamond Fire Highlighter in Canary

This seemed a lot more luxe to me in photos than when I got it in my hands, but I still really loved the unique octagonal shape of the packaging that held the all too glittery highlighter. It’s a bit bulky as well and even though it’s not on the level of me wanting to display it like I originally intended, I still don’t have the heart to get rid of it. At the very least, I would want to repurpose it in some way, like clean it out to be used as a keepsake box or jewelry box but at some point I think I will just end up decluttering it. The fact that it still reminds me of gems and luxury is what lured me in.

Smashbox + Hoodwitch Crystalized Highlighter and Cover Shot: Crystalized Eye Shadow Palette

I don’t believe I was aware of these products when they were originally launched in 2019, or I must not have thought they were worth getting at full price. In any case, when I eventually discovered these on Mercari, I purchased them for zero purpose of ever actually using them. I wanted to clean out the packaging to put my own DIY eyeshadows and face powders in them, but when I saw how pretty the gem design was inside the highlighter, I couldn’t bring myself to destroy it. So, both of these have been sitting untouched (by me) in my collection. I might still one day repurpose the eyeshadow palette, but the packaging for that one feels flimsier than the highlighter.

Pat Mcgrath Lunar Nude Sublime Skin Highlighter

I’ve reviewed this product already, but this is one of those items I had to include here too because I knew ahead of time that I would find it too stark for my skin tone, but the gold packaging screamed luxury as well as the stunning crown embossing on the inside. Whenever Pat Mcgrath veers from the permanent black packaging, it’s incredibly difficult to turn a blind eye to it. Of all the products in the “luxury” category in this post, this one actually is luxurious, rather than just looking expensive. In the past, I hardly splurged on makeup beyond the high end category, so I was drawn to items that looked luxurious that was also within budget. I learned that it still won’t fulfill me to have fancy packaging if I can’t actually use what is inside. So, that’s something I’m trying to keep in mind now.

Bésame Cosmetics 1959 Sleeping Beauty Eyeshadow Palette

I bought this deeply discounted from Besame’s website and intend to keep it in pristine condition. None of these eyeshadow colors spoke to me, but I have a fascination with book-like packaging. This obsession of mine paired with the luxurious aspect of the gem pattern and top edge gilt/gilded page edges made this a must-have.

Fulfilled the FOMO

I Heart Revolution Teddy Bear Eyeshadow Palette Honey

When the gold teddy bear Sephora x Moschino collection was released, I did a full review about the difficulty people had obtaining the items, as well as created a section specifically stating that I was anti-hauling the bear shaped palette. The reasons I cited were the repetitive colors both within the palette and among the shades in my collection, as well as the huge bulky shape that would take up too much vanity space. I did end up regretting not getting it, so when Makeup Revolution created smaller teddy bear palettes in various colors, I purchased this gold one in order to combat the FOMO I felt from missing out on the Moschino palette. Even though I’ve never used the makeup inside of this one and I don’t have any intention of doing so, somehow just having this in my collection for the very low price succeeded in making me not miss it. I probably wouldn’t have used the Moschino one anyway, so at least this takes up less room, wasn’t as much out of pocket, and fits on my vanity.

Although I try my best to avoid purchasing things purely for the packaging, I’m sure I will become susceptible again. In analyzing the traits that specific products have that succeed in getting me to buy them, I can recognize the signs and hopefully be able to rationalize with myself why I shouldn’t get them.

That’s all for today!

-Lili

One Size, Terra Moons, and Other April Purchases Reviewed

Welcome to my fourth low-buy check-in! This month’s three biggest hauls were due to Sephora’s Spring Savings Sale, me redeeming my points at Ulta for $125 worth of products, and the weakening of the YEN compared to USD enticing me to make several purchases from CDJapan and and Fude Japan. Most of these products were reviewed in posts prior to this one, and will be linked to open in a new browser tab, but there are still plenty to review for the first time here today.

SEPHORA COLLECTION Microsmooth Multi-Tasking Baked Face Palette in Captivate

This is allowed in the Low-Buy under the face product category. I am so glad I finally bought this because it makes for a fantastic travel palette! There are two versions available from Sephora and I heard wonderful things about the deeper palette called Captivate, but baked products can sometimes look lighter than they would appear on the skin, so I wasn’t certain this would work for me until I had help on this topic from Beauty Blogger, Nikki.

The bronzer is a fantastic shade for me in terms of both depth and undertone! Despite being a matte product, it leaves a beautiful natural finish and is very quick and easy to blend. I’m really impressed with it! The matte blush is one of my favorite type of red tones that reminds me of MAC’s Mineralize Blush in the shade Flirting With Danger. It can be built up to look intense, but I prefer to wear a very light application of it on my cheeks.

The shimmer blush is on the subtle side, but I still get a noticeable flush of color. It’s like a slightly lighter shimmer version of the matte shade in the palette. If I had to choose my favorite, it would be the matte one, but I still wear both. As for the highlighter, it’s not the most finely milled, but it’s still very pretty and if I chose to use this palette for the blushes or bronzers, I wouldn’t feel the need to reach for a separate single highlighter. I would just use the one in here.

The longest wear test I’ve had with this face palette is ten or eleven hours and only the shimmer shade started to fade at the end of the day, but I consider that to be a good result. The others remain looking nice until I’m ready to remove them.

While I was on a trip in April, I actually forgot to bring an eyeshadow palette, so I relied on Shade 3 for depth in the crease and Shade 1 was my lid shade. Considering I got this already relatively affordable palette for 30% off, I am very impressed and happy with the quality and have no issues recommending this palette.

SEPHORA COLLECTION 2-in-1 Brush-on Lash Adhesive – This was definitely supposed to be a No-Buy, but it had been on my list for a long time and when all Sephora Collection products were 30% off during the Sephora Spring Sale, I chose to buy it anyway.

I’m sorry that I don’t have an actual review for this item. For all these months, I have tried to get myself to test this out, but I just don’t want to. I haven’t been feeling like wearing false lashes in a long time and I really don’t want to open this product and start that timer ticking on how long it will last unless I’m ready to start wearing false lashes regularly again, or else this truly will be a wasted purchase. This was holding up my ability to get this post out, so I decided to just explain why there’s no review for this one and to publish it. When I eventually do, I will edit this post.

Patrick Ta Major Sculpt Contour Brush

It’s a bit ironic that in my post about “Synthetic Brushes I Bought in 2021,” I mentioned that despite liking some of the ones I bought, I didn’t plan on getting any additional ones, yet for the Sephora Spring Sale, I couldn’t help myself and got it after enjoying the Patrick Ta Blush Brush so much. This one is the perfect softness, head shape, and the bristles are packed at the right density to accomplish a fantastic sculpt that isn’t too sheer or too sharp. It’s the right balance of showing the product while also being nicely blended.

I love this brush so much for use with both my powder and cream bronzers and contours, that I was able to skip getting the Sonia G Lotus Base brush when that one was no longer tied to the full set. Being satisfied with a brush so much that I feel I can skip getting a similar Japanese version is a huge deal and shows just how highly I value this one from Patrick Ta.

Even though the Sonia G Mini Base is still my preference for cream bronzing and contouring, if the cream product is too sheer or too close to my skin tone and needs to be applied at maximum pigmentation, the Patrick Ta brush is my top choice. It’s also my favorite for powder formulas that need building up.

One/Size Cheek Clapper 3D Blush Trio Palette in Freaky Peach

I love this product so much! This is an all blush trio palette in three different finishes, but even though I can only use the shimmer one as a highlighter, I’m not counting it as a face palette. As a blush product, I was supposed to be limited on how many I buy this year, and I was also not supposed to purchase anything from new brands. This is my first ever One/Size purchase and it’s so great that I can’t regret it.

The peachy-coral cream blush, Rump Shake, is a very interesting texture. The closest I can compare it to in terms of formula is the LYS cream blushes. This reminds me more of a silicone balm than a traditional creamy emollient formula. It’s is very pigmented, blends easily on the cheeks no matter what type of tool I used to apply it with, it leaves a healthy sheen but it’s not dewy or sticky on the skin. Freaky is the name of the matte blush and it looks far too light for me in the pan, but One/Size face color powders deepen on the skin. So, it’s actually a medium toned shade of peach that is pigmented, yet buildable. I only need one dip in the pan though if I want to layer it on top of Rump Shake. I should also mention that tougher bristles can lead to a lot of kickup in the pan, so I use my softer natural hair brushes with the powder blush, and that also helps me to not overapply. I can’t emphasize enough that the cream and powder are quite pigmented, and me being able to use them both individually despite there being just one trio lighter than this one is proof of that. Whiplash is the shimmery golden peach blush topper/highlighter in this trio. It’s too shimmery for my taste as a blush topper, so I use it exclusively on top of my cheekbones. It’s a beautiful color, but unlike the other two products which give me zero issues with longevity, this one doesn’t want to stick to my skin for more than four hours. It lasts a few hours longer if I use it with a dewier foundation or wetter type of cream product, but six hours is around the time that the shine of the shimmer particles dulls down. So, for days I need my highlighter to last, I reach for something else. Considering I still have two other faultless products in this trio and the third is still usable, I’m very happy with this purchase and I do recommend giving this a try. For a long time, I was really tempted to buy additional shades, but I like the fact that each of these colors are distinctly different. Most of the other Cheek Clapper options are intended for monochromatic looks, and while I can still see the value in that, I feel like I’m getting more bang for my buck if I have different colors over different formulas. The cream blush isn’t the type I’d be afraid to wear in summer because it’s a little stiffer (as opposed to being super emollient) and the effect on my cheek isn’t that far from a matte look, which makes it not that much different of an effect as the powder blush. So, if I had the Rich Betch trio where the cream and powder look nearly identical, I would feel like I got a duplicate product. This is the only reason, other than my low-buy, that I haven’t purchased the two other Cheek Clappers that held my interest.

Tarte Sea Power Flex Concealer (Mini) in 53S Deep Sand

I bought this when Tina (The Fancy Face) raved about it in several of her YouTube videos. Even though concealers are allowed to be purchased in my low-buy, I didn’t want to take the chance of wasting a product if I didn’t like it, so I just bought the mini. That turned out to be a good decision because I hate this product. The shape of my tear troughs is such that products that are too creamy don’t stay put in the lines of my under eyes, so the concealer moves, creases, or does both even when set into place with powder. Because I have almost the opposite issue with Tarte’s Shape Tape, I didn’t expect their Power Flex to be a creamy intensely creasing product on me. The finish of it at least looks pretty and hydrated, but the negatives outweigh the positives.

The biggest issue I have with this product is that it offers medium buildable coverage, but I cannot get the maximum full opacity I need. The shade match is perfect, but my dark circles are still visible underneath even when I use 3 times the amount of my normal concealers. The Power Sea Flex is marketed as being full coverage, but the fact that it isn’t is reason enough to be unwearable for me. Unfortunately, I can’t even use it in other areas of my face because it doesn’t do a good enough job concealing my hyperpigmentation and scars.

This situation is very specific to me because many people don’t have the intensity of skin discoloration as I do, nor the amount of lines. So, those who have youthful and moderately blemished skin could find themselves loving this product.

Ellis Brooklyn Scent Diary Fragrance Discovery Set – It has been ages since I purchased anything perfume related! I’m unofficially on a no-buy with fragrances, but I can’t regret getting this since I rarely buy full-sizes anymore. I also hadn’t done a perfume post since 2015, so I decided to make one dedicated to this and other perfume samples that can be found HERE.

Sol de Janeiro Beija Flor Elasti-Cream with Collagen and Squalane (Travel Size)

After experiencing the terribly smelling Bom Dia Bright cream that the brand previously released (mine smelled like potent olives instead of plums), I was too skeptical to purchase a full size of the Beija Flor even though the product claims sounded fantastic. The smell of this is at least pleasant, but a bit strong. It’s not surprising that parfum is listed as the third ingredient. I don’t know how to describe the scent, but it has been hyped up a lot by people on social media saying it smells like Baccarat Rouge 540. I’ve never smelled that fragrance myself, so I cannot confirm or deny if this is true.

The texture of this is very thick, yet it doesn’t feel as moisturizing as my other skincare products. It’s at least occlusive, so I like that it prevents my skin from drying out further. I haven’t noticed any other benefits when used on my body, like the advertised skin firming and cell turnover, but I still intend to use this up. I prefer the moisturization level of the brand’s Coco Cabana Cream, so perhaps I can apply that first and this new one after to seal it in. I believe I left my Coco Cabana in Germany, so unfortunately I cannot test out that combination anytime soon.

Farmacy 10% Waterless Vitamin C Serum

I was pretty shocked when I found this serum for such a low price on Mercari literally days after it launched at Sephora. Then again, this is one of those products that were sent to quite a lot of people in exchange for a review, so someone was bound to not want theirs.
I’m on a skincare low-buy, but I’ve been on the hunt for a good Vitamin C serum with a stable formula that will last longer than six months after opening. I believe that this has an airless pump mechanism and there are two holes under the bottle that support my theory. If it is indeed an airless pump, combined with the waterless formula, I anticipated that this could limit the issue I have of Vitamin C serums oxidizing and losing their efficacy before I can finish them.

The consistency of this is very runny and feels greasy initially, but this is also an oil-free formula. The brand says that propanediol ingredient is the reason it feels this way, but it does dry down on the skin after a few minutes and is no longer greasy, but I am left with a tiny bit of residue on the face. If my skin is especially dry, I don’t feel anything at all. Ultimately, this doesn’t matter since I put a moisturizer and other products on top afterwards anyway.

When I apply it to my skin, it instantly has a warming sensation. The first time I used it, my face was approaching almost burning level, but that only lasted a few minutes. It has never been hot like that again, and just continues to have a mild to moderate amount of warmth in the first minute that I apply it.
General skincare advice for Vitamin C usage and other acids is to start small, like around 5% depending on what the active ingredient is, and gradually increasing it over time as needed. I hadn’t used a potent version of Vitamin C in a while, but it was still in my routine enough that I didn’t expect to get a burning sensation from just 10% of L-ascorbic acid. So, just as a reminder, this could potentially be too strong for someone new to using Vitamin C or with sensitive skin, and consider how often you may be using other acids in your routine as well.

This serum with its additional ingredients are intended to brighten and even the skin, combat dark spots and hyperpigmentation, and keep it hydrated. I use this in cycles, so it’s hard to tell how much this serum alone is contributing. The two other products I rotate through have been giving me slight gradual improvements over time and adding this one to that cycle has not given a noticeable boost above the norm. So, there are three possibilities I can think of:

  • The serum is as effective as my current products, not better or worse.
  • The serum isn’t contributing at all and the benefits to my skin are from the other products I’m using.
  • The serum could be more effective, but I don’t use it consistently enough.

I’m going to play the long game on this one and just continue to use it the way I have been and if I run out of the product and I notice its absence, I will consider repurchasing it at that time. However, based on past experience, I just don’t think Vitamin C is that effective for me. I get better results from AHA’s like the Farmacy Honeymoon Glow AHA Resurfacing Night Serum. Even that hasn’t rid me completely of my hyperpigmentation, but it noticeably faded those areas and the smile line that gives me trouble isn’t quite as deep as before. I’ve been relying on AHAs and BHAs well over a year, and in a cycle, so it’s not a fast process. I had improvements right away within the first week, two weeks, and then month, but after that achieving anything further has been a very slow process as adhering to a consistent skincare routine has never been my strong suit.

Lastly, as shown in the photo at the top, this product “leaks” in the sense that it always has the tiniest of droplets around the pump when I open it, even if I wipe it down along with the cap after using it. The droplets are so minimal in size that it doesn’t bother me much and I don’t consider the amount enough to feel like I’m losing product. However, I’ve seen some photos online of other people having a more significant leaking problem than me. I always keep mine stored upright, so perhaps this is why I don’t have as much of an issue as others do. I recommend avoiding putting this in a bag, flat in a drawer, and don’t take this traveling.

Dior Backstage Glow Face Palette in 002 Glitz

I really should not have bought this, breaking my highlighter no-buy aside, because I heard these highlighters would be sparkly and I don’t like visible glitter specks in my highlighters. So, I can’t explain why I was so determined to buy it.

This was yet another Mercari purchase. I make it a point not to review products I’ve purchased from a third-party if I purchased them too long from the launch date to be assured of its authenticity, but I also wanted to show what I purchased in April for low-buy purposes. So, I guess take this particular section with a grain of salt. I do believe this is the real quad, especially with that typical Dior scent these have. Below is how the shades look on me.

The highlighter named Peach is the only one without glitter that I would call a true shimmer shade, but unfortunately it’s too light for me. Because Bronze is closest to my skin tone, the glitter isn’t as obvious as the others. I didn’t have any issues with wear time or fading, but this palette isn’t for me and I may eventually declutter it.

Florasis Floral Engraving Odey Makeup Palette (The Encounter)

I forgot this wasn’t even the Florasis palette I wanted (the Floral Engraving Phoenix). I was just so excited to be able to grab a completely unused and untouched one of their stunning looking palettes at a reduced cost off of Mercari. You know a brand is doing well when people want to make dupes, but I was still surprised to come across one such dupe on Amazon. In any case, I am happy with the results of this palette but I wish the blue shade wasn’t in this because it contains PET (plastic glitter) which isn’t safe to use in the eye area. I also don’t think anyone wants to see glass listed as an ingredient in their makeup.

The “glass” probably refers to “glass microspheres” which are apparently so tiny that they aren’t dangerous. However, there is still PET, so I have chosen not to use or even swatch that blue shade. Also, I can only guess that the numbers start from left to right and top to bottom. Not all countries have writing in that direction, but I assume this is the same as English.

Florasis is a Chinese brand, so I can’t help but compare them to Zeesea. This palette is made of cardboard, but Florasis typically has very luxurious packaging, similar to Zeesea. However, Zeesea doesn’t currently have eye shadow palettes with as intricate of pan embossings as the ones from Florasis. This price point of Florasis products are also much higher.

The website states that this palette is mutli-functional and the formula of the shadows certainly contributes to that. It’s listed as a powder formula, but they feel like a matte lipstick to the touch; like a stiff cream essentially. Applying with a brush was tricky because it wants to stick and dry to the bristles.

So far, I’ve stuck to my rate of two eyeshadow palettes per month so I adhered to my low-buy with this purchase (even though I said I wouldn’t buy from brands that are new to me this year). In addition, some of these eye shadows can be used for contouring, blush, and highlight, so it counts as a face palette too.

I haven’t touched this palette since I completed my initial wear tests. I could not even remember how I did the eye looks above because it was so long ago. Considering I never reach for this, the versatility aspect still didn’t make this a good purchase for me, but I just couldn’t let go of the idea of trying out at least one Florasis palette. My curiosity has been satisfied.

Terra Moons Cosmetics Chameleons in Terrestrial and Spring Equinox Multichromes in Galactic Blossom and Vela Supernova

If you’ve used Terra Moons chameleons and multichromes before, these work the way you’d expect. All three are super sparkly looking with large glitter particle size and the colors are intense. The formula is smooth to the touch, but when applied to the eye without a tacky base or being applied with a brush that has been sprayed to wet it, it can get messy. So, I do recommend something like the Nyx Glitter Primer to keep them applied precisely and minimize fall out.

Terrestrial was a pre-order item that didn’t begin shipping until May. I used my points saved from their reward program in order to essentially have the shipping paid and part of the item. BadtoTheBrow noticed it was similar to Bloodline, and I am obsessed with how Bloodline looks in photos and on everyone else, but the base color doesn’t show through on my eyes. So, rather than buying a second Bloodline to check if it was a fluke, I wanted to try the one from Terra Moons in the hopes it would be more of what I wanted from Clionadh’s multichrome.

Unfortunately, Bloodline and Terrestrial basically are the same shade. I can bring out a little more of a pink look if I pair it with another pink shadow around it and I can always pat a red multichrome on top to manually create the red-toned look I want, but I wish it was naturally the way it looks in swatches on me and didn’t require extra effort on my part. I didn’t bother to show comparison swatches between the two because the swatches looking slightly different on my arm doesn’t show the issue of them looking identical on my eyes. And for whatever reason, Terrestrial’s shifts are easier to detect on my camera than Bloodline, so comparing eye swatches wouldn’t be a fair representation for Bloodline either.

Galactic Blossom and Vela Supernova were pre-orders that were supposed to begin shipping in June, but I got lucky and had mine arrive in the middle of May. According to my Low-Buy rules, I’ve pledged to only purchase a few single indie eyeshadows per collection, so this was definitely allowed. My only regret is that I didn’t buy these two with my order of Terrestrial in order to save on shipping costs and time.

Photos showed Galactic Blossom as a strong pink-gold, and in some cases, shifting into literally a rainbow. I’d never seen a multichrome shift to so many colors, so I absolutely had to get it. Unfortunately, on my eyes it looks mainly yellow, and on camera it looks limey yellow-green with some pink. It’s not what I wanted, but I do like how it looks in person. On my arm, at sharp angles I can see that rainbow towards the edges, so it’s not false advertising. It really can shift that way, but it doesn’t look like that on my eyes and I want others to be aware of that possibility that it’s not going to look the same on everyone and how it looks depends largely on the curvature of the eyes and lighting.

As for Vela Supernova, the colors are what I expected, but ironically, I like it the least of the three. It’s not as unique of a purple shade as I anticipated. I admittedly can’t think of multichrome dupes myself (Temptalia says Roseline, Cerise, and Mosaic) but the shade of purple looks like what I have as some of my purple shadows without the shifting ability.

I don’t get fading, dullness, or any other longevity issues with these multichromes. Terra Moons really stepped up in their multichrome offerings to the point that I think they’ve tied with Devinah for the #2 spot of best indie multichromes (from North America at least). Clionadh is still holding that #1 spot in my eyes.

PAT McGRATH LABS x Bridgerton 2 Blushing Delights Blush + Highlighter Palette and PAT McGRATH LABS x Bridgerton 2 SatinAllure Lipstick in NÉGLIGÉE – The dedicated post to these products are HERE. Technically the Blushing Delights Palette is a face palette, and therefor allowed in my no-buy. The lipstick makes 5 out of 5 in my goal to end the year without purchasing anymore lip products.

Billie Eilish Eilish Eau de Parfum Travel Spray – The review for this is in the same post HERE as the Brooklyn Ellis perfumes. This was part of my Ulta points redemption, so I did not pay anything out of pocket.

MAC Wild Cherry Glow Play Blush Color Peaches ‘N’ Dreams and MAC Mini Macstack Mascara – These two were also part of my Ulta point redemption order and have already been reviewed HERE. I said I wasn’t going to get another Glow Play blush and I resisted for about a month or two, but my interest in peach blushes (especially in my favorite formula) got me again! As for the mascara, which I am on a year long no-buy for, I at least feel better that it wasn’t a full size purchase and that I’ve stuck to the mascara no-buy pretty well so far. However, I want to continue to stick to it and not purchase another in 2022.

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Face Serum SPF 60+

Left are the active ingredients of the discontinued Neutrogena Ultra Sheer versus the active serum ingredients on the right.

This is the only Ulta point redemption item I have left to review! I did have one other purchase in my order, but they kept sending me the wrong shade so that product was returned. In any case, I was the biggest fan for 7-8 years of the Ultra Sheer Liquid SPF 70 Sunscreen until it was discontinued. The fact that this is supposed to have 60 SPF protection while also being in a thin formula intrigued me. I planned to either wear it alone or wear it to help boost the effectiveness of my current sunscreen, the Round Lab Moisturizing Sun Cream SPF 50++.
I don’t think double-sunning (I just made up that term…can we please make “double-sunning” a thing?) is that bad of an idea, because in one of Dr. Dray’s videos, she said the Round Lab is fantastic for a variety of reasons, but she views it more as a moisturizer that happens to have a very good sunscreen in it due to it not being waterproof (and therefore not as reliable in occasions where one will be sweaty). This serum isn’t waterproof either, but I feel like I’m doubling up, in theory, by having both this serum and moisturizer/sunscreen with high spf. This serum leaves no cast on me and although it’s slightly greasy looking as I start to apply it, that look doesn’t remain when it’s fully rubbed in. I do have dry skin though. This serum isn’t a fluid consistency like my previous holy grail sunscreen, but it’s very lightweight and easy to rub in, unlike the Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch that I despise. It’s like a good middle ground between the two.

I’m on a skincare low-buy, but sunscreen is an exception since it’s vital that I have a good one. The kind of acids I’ve been using make my skin more sensitive to the sun, in addition to living in Florida with an extremely high UV index the majority of the time. It’s imperative that I keep my skin protected.

I haven’t had any issues with pilling while wearing this serum, plus the Round Lab Sun Cream, plus makeup, so I’m happy with this product. I don’t know if it will be completely necessary for me to continue repurchasing it in the future if I find a waterproof sunscreen that I end up liking, but we will just have to see!

Nars High Profile Cheek Palette – This was a limited-edition holiday release in 2021 that I intended to purchase, but so many reviewers commented on how similar the blushes looked to each other. So, when I found one on Mercari that was barely more expensive than a single full size Nars blush, I decided it was worth getting at that point. By the time I bought it, I had already finished my Rediscovering Nars Blushes post, but I had to admit I was curious to try this gel powder formula to see if it would give me an additional finish from Nars that I could like besides their mattes. The review is HERE and as a palette with a highlighter along with the blushes, I think I’m going to allow myself to count this as being allowed in my low-buy.

SUQQU Melting Powder Blush in 07 YOIURUSHI – This and all my Suqqu purchases have been reviewed HERE. Suqqu was definitely not on my list of exemptions to the blush low-buy, but I was curious how this new formula stacked up to the usual powder formula.

MAC Surrounded by Stars Extra Dimension Skinfinish Palette – The review can be found HERE. MAC’s Magnificent Moon Collection is supposed to be in celebration of Ramadan and was released worldwide first before coming to the US. I purchased mine from Selfridges since it was there first, I was waiting for something to add to my cart to get the Suqqu blush, and I had free shipping via the annual global shipping program I signed up for with Selfridges. Since it’s a split highlighter and blush quad, it’s allowed in my low-buy.

CLIONADH HAUL – I decided that I would do a dedicated post to this haul, found HERE, but as a Thursday bonus instead of my usual Monday postings. I’ve mentioned endlessly how much I love Clionadh eye shadows and multichromes, so there isn’t much to say about the formulas and it’s just a matter of showing them off and possibly doing comparisons to other indie brand shadows.

FUDE JAPAN HAUL and CD JAPAN HAUL – I believe the brushes I purchased in April have already been reviewed HERE, with the exception of the Hakuhodo brushes which are still being tested.

That’s all for today! If you’d like to see previous posts in the low-buy series, as well as sneak peeks for the upcoming ones, I created a dedicated page to it HERE. If you’d like to see more content from me, be sure to click follow via email or to return back every Monday at 11:30 am EST! Thank you for reading!

-Lili

Celebrity Makeup Reviewed: Rose Inc, Rare Beauty, Haus Labs, etc.

I have no issues with influencer and makeup artist brands, but something about celebrity brands tend to be a turn off for me. With a makeup artist, the passion for makeup is obvious because they made it their career. With beauty influencers, they tend to have enough content on social media for people to be able to tell what their skill level/expertise is when it comes to beauty, as well as being able to see a pattern in their makeup preferences and whether or not it will align with the viewers. Regarding celebrities, I seldom know anything about why they decided to get into the makeup industry until they actually have their own collaborations or start their own brands. The situation with Iggy Azalea and Doja Cat who did hardly anything to promote their collabs with BH Cosmetics, despite Doja Cat at least being known for enjoying makeup, demonstrates how much of a cash grab celebrity involved makeup products can be. This doesn’t mean those brands will forever have mediocre products attributed to their names, like the case of Haus Labs with their terrible run on Amazon, but seemingly successful rebrand at Sephora. So, today I am analyzing a few products I got in 2021 and the first half of 2022 to see if my opinion on celebrity makeup brands and collabs will remain the same by the end of this review.

Rare Beauty

Rare Beauty Magnetic Spirit Eyeshadow Palette

I got this palette as a present from one of my friends. I was always drawn to the color story and had this on my list of things to eventually get, but after buying the MAC Tempting Fate Palette and Flower Beauty Jungle Lights palette, I felt those had too similar of shades for me to purchase this one. So, I skipped getting it, but I’m happy to have it now.

Because this and Jungle Lights are especially similar, I would recommend looking at that post for additional eye looks.

I really wish there were some mattes in this palette, but because the four center shades are satins, those can be used as mattes. The pink base in Ablaze doesn’t show as well on my skin tone, so I essentially use it as a topper shadow. The satins don’t crease, but Ablaze and Passion sometimes settle in the lines of my eyes. I personally prefer more sparkle in my lid shades, so as much as I like this palette and the colors within it, I actually recommend to those who have a similar eyeshadow style as me to get the Flower Beauty Jungle Lights Palette instead. Jungle Lights has less impressive packaging, but the tones in it are more flattering, give more pigment and sparkle intensity, and blend easier so that I can even custom mix shades. The formula of the Rare Beauty eye shadows are more traditional, so it’s not as versatile as the palette from Flower Beauty. It’s ironic that I recommend replacing one celeb item with another as Flower Beauty is also a celebrity brand, but founded by Drew Barrymore. Since Jungle Lights came out first, and several years ago, I wonder if Selena’s creative team was aware of that color story and chose to ignore the fact that they were creating something similar.

Overall, Rare Beauty is an exception to my viewpoint on celebrity makeup. I have enjoyed the liquid blushes in the past and have heard wonderful things about the other products in the line. I have no opinions about Selena Gomez personally, so that was never a selling point for me, and yet the brand’s marketing and product quality have left me with a very positive impression. Rare Beauty and Fenty Beauty have done things right and have set the bar for other celebrity brands.

Since I mentioned Flower Beauty already, I should probably explain that I like movies Drew Barrymore has been in, but that has never made me interested in her brand. The only products I own from the brand is the Jungle Lights palette, because it has been so hyped up, along with Blush Bomb Color Drops (aka the Glossier Cloud Paint dupes). I also bought one other item a long time ago, which I think was a powder blush. Whatever it was, I just remember that the powder quality was chalky and the shade was unflattering on my skin, so I returned it.

Rare Beauty Positive Light Liquid Luminizer Highlighters (Samples) in Transcend and Flaunt

As beautiful as liquid highlighters are, I rarely reach for them, which is why these were never on my list to try unless they got released in mini sets like Rare Beauty has done for the blushes and lip products in the past. I’m happy that I was able to try them because these have been hyped up a lot. What I really like about the formula is that these blend in nicely with my Smashbox Precise Highlighting Brush. I have time to blend it in before it dries fully. It captures that wet gleaming skin look that I love. It’s a bit more metallic than I usually go for, but it’s stunning to look at and I do occasionally like a blingy highlight.

I probably would not have chosen these two shades for myself, but they turned out to be great! Transcend is a rose gold shade, and I usually don’t like the look of pink toned highlighters on me, so I built up my blush in order to hopefully get the highlight to look more natural on me. I think that tactic worked! When it came time to try on Flaunt, I toned down the blush to the level I would normally wear it so I could see the true color of how this “bronze gold” shade would look on me. I think it also looks nice, though it would have been perfect if it was slightly darker. Also, I have to acknowledge that Flaunt doesn’t look quite as smooth because I applied too much and continued to try and blend it out after it had already started to dry. So it looks a little messier than when I tried on Transcend, but that’s user error and not a flaw of the highlighter.

As curious as I am to explore more of the highlighter shades, I’m sticking to my original resolve that I should not purchase makeup I’m not going to use up unless it’s for sale as a mini. It’s nice though!

For those interested in the blushes, I reviewed Joy and Love here.

Rose Inc

Rose Inc Blush Divine Cream Blush (Refill plus Samples) in Foxglove, Anemone, Azalea, and Dahlia

I initially wanted this as soon as it launched, but I saw reviews that this formula was a bit sticky, which is a feature of cream blushes I usually can’t stand. However, on Black Friday when Rose Inc had all products discounted on top of a $10 off promo code and free shipping, there was no way I could pass it up.

Had I known that I would actually like the formula and that this Foxglove shade would actually work on my skin tone, I would have purchased the version of it that came in an actual compact. I have empty magnetic palettes I could put it in, but for now, I’m content with the plastic clamshell and box to limit air exposure for the cream.

The other reviews I’ve seen were right about this having a sticky texture, but that issue is resolved with a little powder on top of it. In the powder set photo above, I used one that was too dark and covered up too much of the blush, but normally this does the trick. The only unfortunate aspect is that setting with powder loses the flattering dewy sheen that this blush naturally provides, so I would probably continue to wear it without being set for photos, but if I planned to be in public and concerned about accidentally touching my face, I would then set it with powder. It lasts all day and while I wouldn’t personally recommend it at full price considering the myriad of lower priced cream options, I do think this is nice and worth checking out on sale.

I should also note that between using a brush, sponge, and fingers, my preferred method is to use my fingers because I have a lot of control that way. Using a slightly damp sponge is also a great option for packing on the color and blending seamlessly. I don’t recommend using a brush though because that sticky texture coats the bristles and causes them to bunch up, which impedes on being able to get a nice blend on the skin.

This product can also be used on the lips, but I don’t like how it looks or feels on mine, so I use it exclusively on my cheeks. Foxglove is described as a warm terracotta, but it looks coral on my cheeks.

Since I’ve continued to be curious about the blushes, but they aren’t worth full price for me, I’m very happy to have this sample card to try. I’m particularly happy that I’ve been able to satisfy my curiosity about whether Anemone was the type of coral I could pull off or if it would be too light for me. It is indeed too light for me as I have to build it up to an unreasonable amount for it to show. I’m glad I chose Foxglove over Anemone when I was deciding which shade to get. I didn’t expect to like Azalea because it looked like a deep almost magenta pink and is described as a berry, but when used sparingly, Azalea just takes on a nice medium pink tone. It doesn’t look like the type of shade I identify as a berry color. As for Dahlia, which is described as a deep berry, it looks more like a deep red on my skin. If I use the same amount of Dahlia as I do of Azalea, it’s hard to tell a difference on camera, so I had to build up the color way past the amount I would normally use for the Dahlia photo below. I don’t like how Dahlia looks when built up, but I can attest to it being quite pretty when applied in a light layer.

Photo taken from Sephora’s website.

I find it fascinating that in the professional swatch photo, the biggest variation for how the shades look on the skin are on the deeper and paler arms. The swatches look so similar on the tan arm.
I believe the descriptions of the colors are represented most accurately on the darkest arm, so anyone lighter than that model should be prepared for the blushes to look a little different. Since I fall somewhere between the dark and medium/tan toned arm, I guess it makes sense that the blushes don’t quite match their descriptions on me. I ended up scraping out both sample cards of the blushes and putting the shades in small jars in order to continue using them!

I know Rosie Huntington-Whiteley is a model and I liked her in the Transformers movies, but that wasn’t enough to make me interested in her line. What caught my attention was the blush because I am a blush addict. I’ve heard nothing but great things about the other products she launched with, so I planned to continue to try more if there was anything that matched my makeup preferences and came in the kind of packaging that appealed to me. This post would have gone up in June, but then I surprised myself by purchasing the cream bronzer which I liked so much that I bought yet another item from the brand during their Friends and Family sale!

Rose Inc Solar Infusion Moisturizing Cream Bronzer in Seychelles (Returned) and Capri

I purchased Seychelles based on photos making it look far warmer and deeper than it actually is. Considering I had been successful with choosing the second to last shade of the Charlotte Tilbury Cream bronzers and Nars Laguna Cream bronzers, I thought maybe the third time would be the charm for the one from Rose Inc. That turned out to be a mistake. It’s too light for me, combined with being such a cool-tone leaning neutral, that it looks grey on me!
The same day that I purchased Seychelles, I saw the true color of the bronzer in this review and immediately realized that it was not going to work for me. I contacted Rose Inc to try and switch the shade in my order, but the customer service rep said it wasn’t possible to alter orders and that I could return it and get my correct shade instead. So, I did just that. The return process was easy and the two times I exchanged emails with customer service, I got responses back quickly and the reps were professional yet friendly. So, that’s another plus in my book for Rose Inc.

I never had Capri and Seychelles at the same time, so I don’t have photos of them next to each other, but I do have photos of them in comparison to those other cream bronzers I mentioned.

The photos of the Seychelles bronzer are worn on top of the Estee Lauder Hydra Futurist Foundation. The Capri bronzer demonstration photo on the left is on top of the Rose Inc Serum Foundation, and the one on the right is on top of the Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Foundation (sample).

In three of the four different shade representations, Seychelles looked warm. It’s the main photo that shows how cool toned it is, but I thought maybe that was a difference in the lighting.

In any case, Capri was definitely the best color option for me. It has some reddish warmth to it that prevents it from looking like a contour. Although this is a good shade for me, it’s the darkest bronzer in their line, which I don’t think goes far enough on the spectrum. Charlotte and Nars have deeper options, and while Rose Inc is still “new,” I believe they should have an even darker option, especially since there are three shades darker than mine in the foundation, yet it’s doubtful Capri will work for those who wear those shades since I still have to build it up for it to work for me.

You can tell I really like a product when I’m extra passionate about the shade options because this is something I want everyone to be able to experience. The formula is very unique in that it looks emollient like a grease product in the container and doesn’t have the typical thick consistency of a cream, but it goes on the skin so smoothly like a medium coverage tint product. I expected a sticky feeling because of the consistency of the cream blush, but this bronzer actually dries down! It’s described as a cream to powder formula, but the finish doesn’t look powdery and still remains skin-like even when it’s fully dry. I like this so much! $36 is pricey, but I had a 15% off coupon and Rose Inc still periodically offers deals. Even if I paid full price, I think I would have felt this was still worth buying, so I do recommend it.

Rose Inc Skin Enhance Luminous Tinted Serum Foundation in 110

I made a spur of the moment decision to purchase the foundation for 25% off during the Friends and Family sale. I also added a free sample card of concealers to my order, which is how I was able to swatch and demonstrate what LX140, my closest match, looks like on me. I’m glad I was able to test it out because it’s thicker and tackier than I want in a concealer and the neutral shade looks off in the areas of my discoloration where I usually try to cover up. So, it would have been a bad purchase for me, despite the fact that I can build it up to full coverage, which is what I want most in a concealer. LX140 is described as a neutral, and as seen in the swatch next to my go-to KVD concealer in the swatches above, it’s the right depth, but I do need golden warmth for it to match the undertone of the rest of my face. LX130, which would be too light for my style, is a warm golden shade, but the next shade up with that undertone is LX170 which is definitely too dark for me. Also, it creases on me like crazy if I don’t set it with powder. Even still, the lines under my eyes get emphasized more than I’m comfortable with after about an hour or two of wear. So, the concealer really isn’t for me.

The serum foundation is a product that solidified for me that Rose Inc was a brand I should take seriously. I almost always avoid low coverage products because they are either the wrong depth or the wrong undertone, enough to look terrible on me despite the fact that lower coverage products are supposed to accommodate several different shades per color option. I also don’t like them because they don’t do enough to cover my hyperpigmentation, and I prefer buying a medium to full coverage foundation that I can choose to wear sparingly to easily achieve the same effect, whereas it’s harder to build up something sheer. So, what possessed me to spend the $40 discounted price on something I normally hate? My positive experiences with other Rose Inc products was a contributing factor, in addition to the hype of people raving about it and saying it’s a dupe to the $65 Chanel Les Beiges Water-Fresh Complexion Touch. Angelica Nyqvist might be the most responsible with her description of it as, “Your skin looks luminous and fresh like you just applied skincare and for some reason your skincare made you look flawless.”

Like the Chanel, it works best if it’s squirted out on the back of the hand or onto a mixing palette and “crush” the pigment into the rest of the serum to mix the two together. I’ve been using my Sonia G Fusion brushes with this to work the product into my skin by using one pump at a time for a total of 2-3 pumps for my entire face. The foundation feels cooling when I initially apply it and it feels as hydrating as it looks. I have worn it without primer and loved the results. I’ve also worn it with the Benefit Porefessional Lite primer and my sunscreen and those three products played well together. I was concerned that too many moisturizing products on my face might cause an issue with transfer or looking too dewy, but it still dried down. In the Capri bronzer section where I’m wearing the headband, there are visible sweat beads on my forehead because the air-conditioner broke that day and it was 85 F degrees in the house while I was taking photos. In that picture, plus the last three blush demonstration photos, I was not wearing any powder on my face. In the photo below, I barely set my forehead, but it’s a more accurate representation of what this foundation looks like in normal circumstances when I’m not boiling. Even while sweaty though, I was impressed with how long wearing it is and that there was low transfer. I have dry skin, so that could be a factor for how well the foundation holds up.

No-makeup makeup look using the Rose Inc Tinted Serum Foundation in 110, a sample of the Softlight Luminous Hydrating Concealer in LX140 under my eyes and on the discoloration on either side of my chin, Anemone and Dahlia blushes mixed on the cheeks, and the Solar Infusion Moisturizing Cream Bronzer in Capri. I applied the barest layer of powder to my forehead area.

It really does look like I’m just having the best skincare day. It’s as if my hyperpigmentation faded, or I got a facial and graduated to drinking eight glasses of spa water a day. Sometimes, when I don’t feel like putting on a full face, I’ve worn this foundation without even concealer, just to look slightly more put together while on video chat with my boyfriend. I’m so impressed with this and while I’ve rediscovered my love of no-makeup makeup looks, I will definitely be using this a lot in my down time. For blog purposes, however, I prefer to use my other foundations in order to not distract from the products I’m showing off if my discoloration is peeking through. I’m also working on using up my tube of Estee Lauder’s Futurist Hydra Foundation. In fact, I recently tried using 2 pumps of the Rose Inc Foundation as a primer underneath one pump of the EL Futurist Hydra for extra coverage. I immediately set it with powder since it was a hot day and I looked instantly too dewy for my liking, but that combination plus the powder was pretty!

Part of the Rose Inc identity is “Clean” beauty, and that’s a topic that isn’t important to me. I don’t mind if they want to advertise being clean as long as the formula is stable, effective, and won’t expire on me too quickly. They also care about sustainability with their packaging and like to include skincare positive ingredients. Those last two are a nice bonus for me, so I thought it was something I should mention.

Victoria Beckham Beauty

Victoria Beckham Beauty Cheeky Posh: Cream Blush Stick in Miniskirt

I really like the shade of this blush, but this purchase was also made for the gorgeous, weighty tortoiseshell packaging. Miniskirt is incredibly similar to Fenty Beauty’s Rose Latte, which is why I kept talking myself out of getting this since I already own several similar shades, but when I saw it available on Mercari for a great price and having only been swatched once, I bought it.

The best way to use this is to swipe the stick directly onto the cheeks and blend it out with the fingers. This formula looks pigmented, but when I start to work it into my cheeks it blends away to nothing and I have to use a ridiculous amount of product to build it back up when I use any other method. It blends away with a sponge if I try it on my cheeks. Getting the blush off the back of my hand and onto my face loses half the product. Trying to swipe it directly onto the sponge or the bristles of the brush also keeps half the product from going onto my cheeks. Sometimes swiping a cream stick product directly on the skin can remove the product underneath, but this one doesn’t do that, which is why using it that way ended up being the best application method for me.

This blush transfers, but it’s minimized if I set it with powder. I like this and will continue to use it, but the luxury packaging and experience is the biggest selling point. Prior to owning this, I really wanted the shade Rollerskate as well, but I’m content to just having one now. However, it did re-spark my interest in the brand’s Matte Bronzing Brick.

Victoria Beckham has cultivated her image for so long as a fashion, style, and classy icon that it seems perfectly natural that her brand took on that same image and became associated with quality and luxury. I was definitely sold on the packaging, but I was still skeptical on the quality front. I’m happy to know that at least this product is good, even though I prefer blushes with more pigmentation. It’s just a matter of whether that quality is worth the price, which I don’t think it is without also factoring in that luxury packaging.

Haus Labs (via Amazon and Sephora)

I was glad to hear that Haus Labs was rebranding through Sephora because I haven’t had the best experience with them while they were Amazon exclusives. I felt that the quality of the products that I reviewed here was nothing special, which was a let down considering the brand’s prices are on the high side of mid-tier. I have since learned that the final Amazon collection, Italian Glam/Casa Gaga, has better quality makeup and packaging than the previous ones. However, Haus Labs raised the prices to account for that improvement and Amazon’s handling of these items is atrocious. The highlighter was off the mesh when I opened the compact. The only surprising part was that it broke off in one solid piece considering the unicarton was dented inside the unpadded poly mailer it came in that’s supposed to be used to ship clothes, not a breakable item. Either the delivery driver dropped it or it was mishandled in the warehouse. It’s at least a good thing that all Haus Labs products come in a thin protective bubble pouch no matter if they end up being shipped in a cardboard box, bubble mailer, or poly mailer.

Weeks later, when I ordered the Spritz blush, they sent me one that someone else had returned to Amazon and already used! The sticker around the unicarton that has to be torn in order to lift the flap was already ripped open. There was a layer of product around the gold rim and the imprint was slightly worn down where it says “Gaga” on the blush compared to “Casa.” Even though I’ve purchased pre-owned makeup before, I think anyone would be displeased if they paid for a new item and received a used one instead. The upside to the mistakes is that they accidentally included the Bellini blush in my box (yes, the products smaller than the highlighter even came in a box). I would never have ordered Bellini because I didn’t think it would show up on me, but it does and it’s pretty.

The left photo shows the thin protective bubble pouch, along with the poly mailer bag they chose to deliver the highlighter in, rather than using a box, or at least a fully padded bubble mailer. The right photo shows the sticker that covers the unicarton flap and easily indicates whether or not the product has been opened. Perhaps these kind of mistakes are the result of Amazon overworking and underpaying their employees.

So, for anyone still ordering Haus Labs products through Amazon, be prepared for the possibility of there being issues. These items are eligible for being returned for a refund, but I hate returning things, and I felt bad already for having returned the newly relaunched highlighter to Sephora. I’ll discuss more on that later.

Haus Labs Casa Gaga Tutti Gel-Powder Blushes in Amarone, Spritz, and Bellini

I have three of the four blushes in the line. These are a baked gel-powder formula made in Italy. They are rich in color, but very thin, so they still need to be built up a bit on my cheeks. I also need to dip back in the compact repeatedly because the blush is not easy to pick up with a brush unless it’s made of sturdy bristles. I’ve used this with my Chikuhdo FO-2, which is dense with a wide surface area that allows me to get more product onto my face than a traditionally shaped blush brush. I also have used the Smashbox Precise Blush Brush because the medium-heavy packed synthetic bristles can easily get through that compressed layer. I certainly have had no success using my grey squirrel brushes with them, and am only successful with Saikoho if the brush is medium density and up. Sokoho and Sokoho-mix brushes work decently depending on how tightly it is bundled. So, I recommend using dense brushes in either synthetic or a durable type of natural bristles.

Amarone applied in 3-4 layers with the Sonia G Cheek Pro.

Spritz applied in three layers with the Hakuhodo x Hello Kitty Slide Face Brush L Round & Flat.

Bellini applied in five layers with the Smashbox Precise Blush Brush.

These blushes have a satin finish and a long wear time with or without foundation. I don’t usually have an issue though with powder blushes fading on me before I’m ready to remove my makeup. As for the shades, I like the tone of red in Amarone and the peachy brown of Bellini the most. Spritz, which I was initially attracted to the most, is quite bright on the skin if built up too much. It’s actually very close in color to Pat Mcgrath’s Electric Bloom.

These blushes are intended to be used on the lips as well, but it looks horrendous if you have any spots that need exfoliating. The fact that it’s a powder doesn’t help dry lips look any better. What I tried to do for the pictures below is to apply balm to my lips, pat the blush on the lips with my finger, wipe my finger on a towel, and then pat more blush on until I get the desired amount of color. I only attempted this for blog testing purposes and will not be bothering to use the Casa Gaga blushes in this way. It doesn’t have lasting power and was completely gone after a meal. Amarone is kind of pretty, but Bellini just reminded me of how the Rose Inc Foxglove blush looked on my lips. I did not try out Spritz because I will never put a stranger’s used product on my lips, no matter how much I spray it down with alcohol. That’s where I draw the line.

I like the blushes a lot, but because I’m so satisfied with these, I don’t think I’d be interested in buying the ones that are bound to be released in the future via Sephora.

Haus Labs By Lady Gaga Bio-Radiant Gel-Powder Highlighter in Fire Opal

This highlighter is the only product I bought from the brand’s relaunch collection at Sephora. Considering all the previous Haus Labs products I purchased were between 50-70% off, I can’t help but be a little turned off by their pricing. I understand that their high price could actually be worth it now, due to shelving space at Sephora, the “Clean Beauty” formulas (which is an aspect I honestly care nothing about), and the upgraded packaging. The latter is the one that I can get behind the most, but with a price point that is competing with the likes of Natasha Denona, Charlotte Tilbury, Hourglass, etc. my expectations were high.

Gel-powder formulas are my favorite and I absolutely loved the new Haus Labs packaging in its shiny shifting opalescent color. I also thought the tone of orange was stunning and out of all the swatches on the website, I thought that the Fire Opal shade was prettiest on every skin tone. So, I expected this shade to be a slam dunk, but it’s sparkly! Broken record here, but I hate sparkly highlighters. It has the wet effect look at certain angles that I love, but what’s the point of a highlighter looking like natural gleaming skin if it’s going to be paired with very obvious glittery looking particles? It also just looks yellow on me, like Fenty’s Trophy Wife, instead of golden orange. I barely get any base color and had to use my hog bristle brush to dig deeper into the powder to get a bit of that fiery coral orange, but it wasn’t strong enough to overpower the yellow shimmer. I even attempted to mix it with PML’s Electric Bloom to mimic the base color of Fire Opal, but it wasn’t successful.

I decided to return this because of how expensive it is for something I’d never use again, and I already own the very similar looking (on the skin) Clionadh Tropico highlighter. In addition, I was on a losing streak of every new product being wrong for me in some way. I couldn’t keep absorbing the cost, so Fire Opal not working out for me was the last straw.

I attempted two wear tests for the sake of the review, and both times I had issues with the highlighter staying on my face for longer than six hours. So, this product was a complete fail for me.

Haus Labs Casa Gaga Tutti Gel-Powder Highlighter in Luce Del Sol

After the disaster that was the newest range of highlighters from the brand at Sephora, I grew curious as to whether the one from Amazon would be better for me. I had originally heard rave reviews about Luce del Sol and couldn’t remember hearing anyone say it was glittery, but the price always stopped me from getting it. Once the price was dropped, my interest returned. I had tried and enjoyed the blushes by then and considering they shared the same formula, I was willing to give it a shot.

I certainly like this highlighter more than Fire Opal! It’s slightly lighter than I go for, but I just have to make sure I blend it in properly. It has that wet look when it hits the light that I like. It still has a slight sparkle to it, and emphasizes texture a little bit, but nowhere near as much as the other formula! Depending on the brush I use, this can sometimes look like the shimmer is spaced out too far apart for my liking, but then I just spray my face and apply another light layer of highlighter on top to meld it into my skin. Essentially, the dewier my skin is, the more I like it on me. The shine dulls a tiny bit towards the end of the night, but it’s still very present all day. I like it, but the listed price is still too high. Around $30 is more reasonable.

The blushes have a list price of $32 each at 3.5 grams and the highlighter is $42 for 12 grams of product.

As much as I like the blushes and don’t mind having small ones because I’ll never use up a typical full size blush, the price still needs to be adjusted if there’s that little product. $25 would still be pricey to me, but more reasonable for what the customer gets. To be fair, it’s about the equivalent ppg to the Huda Beauty GloWish blushes.

I’m happy that I didn’t pay full price for the Haus Labs at Amazon products. The Casa Gaga ones specifically helped improve my perception of the brand, but I cannot ignore the quality of their older launches. After my experience with the highlighter from the rebrand, I’ve lost interest in trying anything else from them.

BH Cosmetics

Iggy Azalea x BH Cosmetics Sponge

This purchase was discounted to $3 and I bought it purely to meet a free shipping minimum on BH Cosmetics’ website. This was before the announcement that the brand was filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy and that Revolution Beauty would be acquiring the brand. I like a few of Iggy Azaela’s songs but that wasn’t enough to make me interested in anything from this 90’s throwback collection (and apparently a ton of people felt the same way). This launch was a flop, but I can attest to the sponge actually being a great purchase. It’s super soft and works just as well as the original Beautyblender for a fraction of the cost. It’s also an incredible deal that this sponge also comes with a case, considering most cases cost more than what I paid for this duo. I’m glad that it has the flat side and pointy side like the Real Techniques Sponges (but less firm). The only downside is that I have a harder than usual time keeping this free of makeup stains, but considering the swirl pattern on this sponge, it looks naturally splotchy anyway.

Doja Cat x BH Cosmetics Flora Blush Trio in Rose

I believe this collection did slightly better than the Iggy Azealea one, and it had a round 2 release, although I’m not sure if that was already agreed upon contractually or if the first did well enough to create round 2 afterwards. I personally suspect it was in the contract. In any case, there were three blush trios in the launch. I bought two, but gave one away. I chose to keep this palette because of that reddish-brown blush with the golden shimmer, which is the type of color I love. The formula is extremely thin though on these blushes, so I have to build up this shade using a dense flat top brush or one of my goat hair workhorse brushes like the Sonia G Cheek Pro. It’s quite pretty though, despite being immensely subtle on me. The darker of the two pink blushes isn’t my favorite tone, but it at least shows on my skin and is slightly more opaque, though it still requires building. As for the lightest blush in the trio, I didn’t bother taking a photo wearing it considering it’s practically white in my arm swatch and definitely only suited for pale to light skin tones. It does have some shimmer to it, but it does not work as a highlighter for me. Overall, I’m not very impressed with the quality of these blushes. I have better from within BH’s own brand, not that they were ever my favorite to begin with, so I can’t recommend these, no matter how low the price is.

I thought that this post would help me decide whether I should be more open minded to makeup associated with celebrities, but even though I had a good experience with some of these, I can think of so many celebrity lines I happily skipped. If anything, I think I did a good job of picking and choosing which ones to try, which is more of a reflection on knowing my own tastes and less about the celebrity brands. So, in the end, not much changed my viewpoint except that I have a slightly higher opinion of Rare Beauty and Victoria Beckham Beauty. The biggest change was my opinion of Rose Inc earning my respect and successfully making me want to try a few more items from the brand if they expand their shade range of current and future products. If even one product I tried after the blush was a dud, I would have lost interest again in Rose Inc, so it’s only because they put so much thought and innovation into their products that I now see the brand in such a great light. I cannot say that this is the norm for celebrity involved makeup.

That’s everything for this post, but after I finished my final draft I came across a video on YouTube by Mina Le who discussed this topic of the over saturation of celebrity brands. I’m always getting recommended videos by Mina, but this is the first one I’ve watched. I find the sections on the environmental impact, power of celebrity, and downfall sections to be particularly interesting.

-Lili