MAC Cosmetics is probably the most reviewed brand on my blog. They frequently release eye catching collections that manage to make me want even their repromoted shades, just to get the limited edition packaging. They often have sales, which plays on my deep love of getting a good deal. Their staple products are top notch and they’ve held onto their generally good reputation for decades. Unfortunately, MAC has made some questionable production decisions in the last few years to the point where I seriously considered taking a break from them. Today’s post is not about that, and is instead about sharing the newest additions to my MAC collection.
MAC Lunar Luck Eyeshadow x 9: Made My Fortune
This palette was a gift from one of my best friends, and for that reason I will cherish it. It’s one of those things I wanted for the packaging, but not the makeup inside, since I tend to not be the biggest fan of MAC’s eyeshadows. I can at least say the quality of this one is the best I’ve tried from them. The shimmers have pigmented bases, but are a bit tame in sparkle reflectivity, even when used wet. I appreciate that they were easy to apply smoothly to the lids and inner corner. The mattes were also more pigmented than I expected from MAC, and slightly easier to blend than the ones I’ve used in the past. Creating the two looks shown below was enjoyable enough that I may continue to use this palette from time to time, but not enough to make me want to purchase anymore MAC shadows. There isn’t a whole lot of versatility among the two light mattes that hardly show on me (Shell We Celebrate and Sunkissed Orange) and two shades that look nearly identical when used next to each other (Propitious Poppy and Plum What May). The shimmers (excluding Supreme Harmony) don’t look that far off from each other in the pan, but I was pleased to see they are distinctly different on the eyes. Wish Me Luck!, 15 Minutes of Flame, and Born to Rule (as a highlight shade only) are my favorite eyeshadows in the palette. I’ve really been into the brown shimmer eyelid look lately. I still feel $32 is a bit pricey for the quality, so for anyone wanting this palette, I hope you’ll be able to get it on sale!
MAC Glow Play Blush in No Shame!
I’m a big fan of MAC’s Glow Play blush formula, so I wasn’t satisfied with having just one from their collection. I got this for 50% off on Black Friday. These blushes tend to look more vibrant and pigmented than they actually look on the skin, which can be tricky in trying to figure out which shades would work for me. No Shame! takes a lot of building up to get it to show on my cheeks, but the end result is pretty. It has that familiar putty-like texture that sets to a natural finish, just like the others.
At the time that I’m writing this, I cannot find this shade on the website any longer. I think it’s safe to assume it has been discontinued, and I believe the reason is because of the release of HD Cherry Tree.
MAC Wild Cherry Collection Glow PlayBlush in HD Cherry Tree
HD Cherry Tree is like a deeper, slightly more berry version of No Shame!. Quite a few people managed to get their hands on this blush before the US launch, so I purchased mine from one of them (and for less than the retail price)! I was unlucky that as soon as I flipped it over to let the plastic protector naturally fall out, the entire blush popped out with it. However, since it’s a bouncy blush, I was able to squish it back in the compact. Good as new!
I’ve only purchased the Glow Play shades that I think would show up on me, and it’s a bit unfortunate that they look quite similar to each other.
My hope is for MAC to expand the range even further to fill in some gaps, like a medium-deep reddish brown, a terracotta, and a deep pink-mauve. Then again, I’m trying to buy fewer MAC products, so maybe it’s good that they don’t have those shade options!
The Wild Cherry collection is limited edition, but I wonder if MAC intends to make HD Cherry Tree a permanent shade in the future, but without the special packaging. There are two other Glow Play blushes in the Wild Cherry line, but I don’t plan on buying them. Between the Wild Cherry packaging and last year’s Black Cherry packaging, I prefer the look of this new one.
MAC x Lisa Blush in Melba
There isn’t much to say about this blush since I already reviewed it before, but I wanted it for the limited edition packaging since purple is my favorite color. I know Lisa is from the band BLACKPINK, but I don’t listen to their music, so the collab aspect didn’t entice nor deter me. Melba only works for me when I’m at my lightest (typically winter), so I gave my original blush to my sister. This color is still so difficult to get it to show on camera*, but it is visible in person. After wanting to repurchase it for so many months, I decided to go ahead and do it when it was 40% off on Veteran’s Day. Around that time or soon after, I saw the sneak peeks of the MAC x L collection, but I had no idea they would repromote yet another product and that it would be Melba! It worked out in the end since I gifted my new and unused standard packaging version of Melba to the friend who gave me the Lunar New Year Tiger palette.
*Another photo showing Melba is in the Illuminate Face Palette section demonstrating how GoldieLush looks on the cheeks.
I’d like to add that my last purchases directly from MAC’s website was last November and December and both of them were listed as delivered according to the tracking history on my account page (I didn’t get shipping confirmation for either one), but they never arrived. I had to contact customer service for reshipment. Prior to that, my eyeshadow palette from the Tempting Fate collection was lost in the mail (after already being delayed for a week before getting shipped). I would typically view the carriers as responsible for undelivered mail, but the lack of shipping confirmation in two of those instances makes me wonder if the fulfillment center nearest to me is having issues and if it’s fixed by now.
MAC Pro Face Palette: Illuminate
I was eligible for a free birthday gift in November, which was supposed to be an eyeshadow quad. Only three out of four shades were in stock, and it wouldn’t let me add them to my cart without choosing a non-existent fourth available shade. I asked customer service what I should do in this instance, since you can only redeem the gift with a purchase and I only had a few days left before the offer expired. The solution was to send me this palette, which I jumped on since I don’t really like MAC eyeshadows anyway.
This palette consists of cream highlighters that have an almost waxy texture. It reminds me of both edge gel and the Danessa Myricks Dew Wet Balms. I didn’t have high hopes because products in that consistency tend to remove my foundation underneath it, and this one did too, but it’s easy to apply a little concealer back on top without interfering with the shine level. Unlike the Dew Balm, this gave a perfectly smooth wet sheen without looking greasy. It doesn’t dry completely, but it’s not dewy enough for my hair to cling to it either. I was very happy with the results! It also makes a great base to intensify powder highlighters that are applied on top of it, although I don’t usually go for the super highlighted look. Powder highlighters are my preference, so I don’t know how often I’ll actually use this, but it certainly made a nice birthday gift!
Please ignore the slightly lingering indent on my skin from wearing a mask. I took 3 of the 4 photos on the same day, which is why GoldieLush doesn’t have that mark.
They look nearly identical in photos, but the slight pink tinge in Starry Opal, the light silvery tone of Malted Milk, the traditional medium gold in GoldieLush, and the orange tint to Peach Plush are identifiable in person.
MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural in Dark Tan
I wanted to try this powder for so long, but trying to figure out which shade I should choose out of Dark, Dark Tan, Dark Golden, Dark Deep, and Dark Deepest (which didn’t look all that deep in all the photos and videos I scoured the internet to find) was quite frustrating. It’s helpful when brands list their products by order of either lightest to darkest or darkest to lightest, but these didn’t seem to follow that order all the way, which added to my confusion. The biggest difference between multiples of them seem to be the undertone, but MAC doesn’t have any descriptions of these shades. It would be great if the brand created a chart pairing MAC foundation shades with the suggested powder matches.
This powder tends to look lighter on camera, so it took ages for me to get an accurate photo. I can understand now why the same shade looks so different in the photos and videos I’ve seen others take too.
Based on the broken up powder photos from MAC’s website, I thought Dark Tan and Dark Deep were my two best options, but I questioned whether Dark Deep was slightly too dark and possibly a bit orange. Since powders can sometimes deepen on my skin when I wear a dewy foundation, I decided to ultimately get Dark Tan. Dark Tan is admittedly a tad light, but it still works for me. The bigger issue I have is that it looks a little dry on my skin because I grew unaccustomed to having such a matte look to my face, plus it being a bit light. I have only used this a few times, so I will continue to experiment some more using different brushes. It’s possible I applied too much or that it looks better with other complexion products. Because I was so iffy about whether I’d like this powder or be able to select the right shade, I decided to wait as long as it took for this product to finally be on sale for higher than 30%. It took years, but I was thrilled when MAC added this to the 50% off deal for Black Friday. So, that made satisfying my curiosity less of a financial hit!
This is everything new I’ve added to my collection from MAC so far. I do intend to get the Magnificent Moon Extra Dimension x 4 highlighter quad palette when it gets released. Of course, I shouldn’t because I’m on a highlighter no-buy, but this falls in line with one of the exceptions listed in my Beauty Resolutions post. I love moons. It’s one of the central aspects of my one and only tattoo, so that kind of imagery is significant for me. Other than that, I’m going to continue trying to slow down on the frequency of my MAC purchases so I can enjoy what I already have!
For today’s post, I swatched and demonstrated how two of the three newest products from Hourglass performed for me. I also included plenty of comparisons between all the Hourglass products in my collection to spot any similarities and show nuances of differences. After finishing the review portion, I ask you to please take a trip with me through my history with the brand because it will give more insight as to why I’ve been attached to them, how Hourglass lost some of its luster in my eyes, and what I hope for them going forward.
Hourglass Ambient LightingPalette Volume 3
The swatches are a bit difficult to see, but the left set were taken with flash off and the right set shows the tones of the powders with flash on.
Eternal Light is a golden brown finishing powder that matches my face perfectly! It’s a stunning beautiful color. It gives a luminous sheen but also has a few flecks of gold glitter throughout. I wish those larger gold particles were not there, but I’m willing to overlook it because of how nice the sheen is and the overall effect on my face. If I want to avoid having glitter specks in random places, sometimes I don’t set my entire face with this powder and just apply it in the areas of my face I would normally highlight. I have especially enjoyed using this powder with the Wayne Goss 00 Powder brush.
Transcendent Light is a warm dark brown finishing powder that leans a bit red. The tone isn’t suitable as a finishing powder for me. However, it works as a very subtle bronzer that sculpts a little if I build it up with a dense packing type of brush like the Rephr 17. Unlike Eternal Light, I do not see any visible glitter in this powder.
Prismatic Strobe Light is a dark golden-copper highlighter. I typically prefer using medium-golden and warm champagne highlighters, but I can still pull this one off. It’s quite beautiful on the skin with fine shimmer that isn’t too glittery and goes on the skin smoothly. For my usual preferences though, I would likely mix this with a lighter highlighter to add extra brightness. *This highlighter contains Zea Mays (cornstarch). Just noting for those who may be allergic.
These are the deepest highlighters I own (excluding Solar Strobe Light) out of the most popular brands I have.
Overall, the formula of these powders is the high quality Hourglass is known to have. They’re smooth and blurring even on my dry skin. They look great in person and on camera. According to Hourglass, this particular palette is “ideal for medium-deep to deep skin tones.” I agree that those with medium deep skin will benefit the most from these shades because they have a choice of using either the golden or red finishing powder as a bronzer. They won’t work as bronzers for someone with a deep skin tone and the undertones of the finishing powders are so different that I’m not certain that someone with a deep skin tone would equally enjoy using both of them to finish the face. The highlighter is a little more geared toward the deeper side, but it can work for medium-deep to deep.
This palette is only available through Hourglass directly and has sold out, been restocked, and sold out again. It’s my belief that limited quantities were made, which is supported by this comment on their Instagram page. It’s nice to know this will eventually come to retailers in 2022, and since it’s in the permanent packaging, I assume this will be a permanent item and not just an extension of a holiday release.
Even though I used a “10% off your first purchase” code on the Hourglass website a year and a half ago, I was somehow able to use another one to get this palette. I would have happily paid full price for this anyway.
To my knowledge, the Universe and Universe Unlocked palettes this year mark the return of Hourglass’ five powder face palettes since 2016. That one also had a marble print on the packaging, but it was made out of hard plastic whereas Hourglass switched to tin this year.
Radiant Light is a light golden-beige finishing powder from their permanent line. I always assumed it was too light for me, but this shade isn’t visible on my skin. It doesn’t lighten my foundation or anything, which is great, but I don’t notice any difference at all when I wear this besides mattifying the skin. I can’t see a sheen either. It does nothing for me besides depositing the occasional visible glitter particles like Eternal Light. I’m glad it at least doesn’t make anything worse, but I prefer to use other finishing powders that accomplish something I need like blurring, smoothing, or adding a healthy glow.
Rose Heat is the deepest powder blush Hourglass has ever created thus far. It’s a dark pink berry shade that is a vibrant color that keeps it from looking too dark on someone with a tan to medium and possibly light skin tone, but also not too light for someone with dark, deep, and possibly rich skin tone to be unable to wear. It is extremely pigmented and I’m able to use it gently with my usual blush brushes, but I have been loving to pair it with the Smashbox Buildable Cheek Brush I purchased recently. I’ve made it no secret that berry tones are not a preference of mine, but having a shade like this adds to how usable this palette is for me, and I like it more if I mix or pair it with Coral Flush.
Radiant Bronze Light is a medium warm-toned bronzer that is the current darkest shade in the permanent bronzer line. While this “miscelare technique” can cause some people to get more or less of the darker marbled color, overall there seems to be a consensus that the bronzer in Universe Unlocked is lighter than the bronzer in Universe. This is an odd choice considering all the other shades in Universe Unlocked are darker than the powders in Universe, so logically shouldn’t the darker bronzer be in Universe Unlocked too? At the end of the day, this choice doesn’t matter for anyone darker than tan because neither will be usable as bronzers. As I mentioned before, Radiant Bronze Light is the darkest shade in the permanent line, so the only hope people of color had for a product to bronze the skin was if Hourglass released a brand new shade. Golden Bronze Light from the Mini Sculpture Unlocked and Ghost Palette is the tiniest bit darker than Radiant Bronze Light and I use Golden Bronze Light as a subtle highlighter on my skin tone, so that says it all in terms of depth. I’ve tried using this on top of cream bronzers and contours to see if I could somehow utilize that warmth and sheen, but that didn’t work. I also find it interesting that although the Radiant Light finishing powder is a lighter shade than Radiant Bronze Light, Radiant Light blends into my skin with no cast, but Radiant Bronze Light leaves a grey cast over areas that I have hyperpigmentation showing. So, I can’t use it as a glowy face powder and it only works as a subtle highlighter on me that provides a little glow but low reflectivity. I figured this would be the case ahead of time before I made my purchase, so it wasn’t a factor as to why I wanted this palette.
Coral Flush is described as a bright peony and although pigmented, I need several layers with at least a medium-dense packed brush to build it up to the point I like. I can wear Coral Flush on its own, but I prefer to add a little of Rose Heat to give it a tad more depth and turn it from being, “Kind of cute,” to “Nice! I like it!” This shade is more geared for light to medium-deep skin tones. I think someone a few shades darker than me could still pull it off, but not that much darker if using Coral Flush on its own.
Solar Strobe Light is a golden leaning metallic champagne. Somewhere between this shade and Prismatic Strobe Light is where my perfect shade exists, but I’m certainly happier with those two than any other Hourglass Strobe Light product that’s been released by them. In addition to liking the color, I’m happy this isn’t the Metallic Strobe formula because the type of ingredients used to make those so bright are not flattering on deep skin. This shade is best suited for perhaps medium up to my skin tone, but I still don’t think it’ll be as flattering past my shade. *Unlike the Metallic Strobe formula, the Non-metallic Strobe highlighters contain Zea Mays.
Overall, those with medium to tan (but not dark tan) skin will get the most out of this palette, followed by those with light and dark tan to medium-dark skin. Anyone else could still use perhaps 1-2 shades, but I’m not certain it would be worth getting at that point. Universe Unlocked mostly works for me, but “working” doesn’t mean it’s as flattering as it could be. I don’t feel that it enhances my makeup the way the Volume III trio did. Even the best blush look I can create with a mix of Coral Flush and Rose Heat doesn’t surpass the way the At Night blush looks on me. So, while this palette is technically still worth the 20% discounted price I paid with a coupon via Ulta, I’m conflicted as to whether it was worth getting for the actual results and how much I will realistically continue using it.
With the exception of the Surreal Light palette, all the powder products I purchased from Hourglass are basically the ones supposed to be usable by me from 2016 until now. I’ll let the swatches speak for themselves as to whether that’s the case or not. And since I believe the finishing powders from Volume III can still work as bronzers, I included them in the bronzer swatch section even though they technically should not be included there.
Hourglass, A History
I first became intrigued by the brand in 2015. Everything was out of my price range, but I purchased a mini of the Veil Mineral primer that was considered one of the best on the market at that time. It really lived up to the claims of being incredibly smoothing and minimizing the appearance of fine lines, but it left a visible white cast so strong that it made my foundation look lighter too. So, I ended up using it as an eyeshadow primer instead. I believe 2015 was also the year Hourglass started to make the larger holiday face palettes. Their previous holiday releases were in trios, but from 2015 and onward, customers began to expect and look forward to those 5-6 powder palettes. Because it was the best bang for the buck, I hoped with each year that a palette suitable for me would become available and was willing to save up for it. By 2017, when Sephora put limited quantities of the previous year’s palette in the Rewards Bazaar, I snapped it up immediately despite knowing I probably couldn’t use any of them.
Ironically, that 2016 release Surreal Light Ambient Lighting Edit was possibly the lightest palette Hourglass made, so it definitely did not work for me. I got some use out of the powders through “Franken-Makeup” creations. For those who are not familiar with the term coined by Safiya Nygaard, it’s when someone plays Dr. Frankenstein and combines multiple products together in the hopes of making something better by capturing the best qualities of all of them, though one could end up with worse results. I scraped out some of the powders to use as fillers or to sheer out an over pigmented mixture in custom Franken blush, highlighter, and eyeshadow mixtures. Despite everything in that palette looking like chalk on my skin and rendering it unusable for the intended purpose, I still cherished having it! In the earliest years of my makeup journey, I became obsessed with having a holy grail product in every category and I viewed Hourglass powders as the absolute best in existence (such was the level of hype it got). So even one that didn’t suit me was treasured because it brought me closer to being able to experience what everyone else could.
Year after year, I waited for Hourglass to release something where I could use more than just 1 or 2 powders out of the bunch. By 2019, I began to view the brand differently when they continued to re-release shades without even having covered the full color spectrum. That’s like if a brand started releasing monochromatic palettes for the holidays and came out with a purple one, a blue one, and then a green palette. The following year, rather than release an orange, yellow, or red they shift instead to making a purple-blue palette, and then a blue-green palette, and so on. Many customers began to wonder why a particular range of skin tones were being catered to while everyone else was ignored. Fun facts: Dim Light and Diffused Light were repeated 5 times. Luminous Bronze Light, Iridescent Strobe Light, and Mood Exposure were repeated 2 times. All of the shades in the Sculpture Ambient Lighting Edit Quad were repeated shades from the previous year’s Ghost Ambient Lighting Edit Palette. There are also several shades in the full face palettes that were from the permanent line already. In addition, so many of the powders that are labelled as “new” look similar to what Hourglass has already produced.
In early 2020, I began to research and take a closer look at all the current and discontinued products that were available from Hourglass. I thought to myself, “Their liquid and cream range is inclusive, so surely there has to be something I think won’t work for my skintone but is actually darker than it looks.” After countless videos and swatch comparisons, the only one I could see was the Diffused Heat blush, provided I was very lucky and could get one that had a lot more of the pink shade than the lighter marbled shade. I was fortunate to find one like that, but it is still ashy if I’m not careful about which area of the blush I dip my brush.
Mid-June people really started to draw attention to Hourglass hardly featuring models of color, but this is because they didn’t have many products to showcase that would suit them. Instead of admitting they lacked a good range, Hourglass tried to show things that were supposedly used, but they could not have matched the models without “adjusting” the photos. This was the start of what led to Hourglass coming under fire later in the year.
In late 2020, Hourglass released the At Night shade of blush and I was ecstatic! I still need to focus on the darker marbled section for it to work, but I don’t have to struggle with it as much as other products. I was so optimistic that I took a chance on the 2020 re-release of the 2017 AmbientMetallic Strobe Lighting Palette, but the pearl powder made it looking quite icy on my face if I used too much. Because of At Night, I was still hopeful the actual holiday release for 2020 would finally work for me, but the larger palette did not. The Mini Sculpture Unlocked quad “worked” if I used the bronzer as a subtle highlighter, the blush if I built it up heavily, and if I was willing to have another icy highlighter. I always had to find ways to get my money’s worth out of the Hourglass products I bought and I ended that year sick of it. I’ve already discussed the scandal of the misleading advertising of the Ambient Lighting Volume 2 Palette in the Jasmine Tooks campaign in past posts. I do not appreciate their photos always being more saturated and deeper than the products actually are and using tricks to make products seem to work for more skin tones than they really do. For instance, with their recent line of Vanish Blush Sticks when demonstrating how the shades look on multiple skin tones, for the model with dark skin they put a very light concealer from the under eyes all the way down to her lips. The large triangle concealer technique is still popular with some people, but it’s not supposed to be applied all the way across the entire cheek to the ears. It’s quite apparent that the best way to get Sacred to show on Sydney Harper’s skin was on top of a very light base several shades too light for her. I nearly fell for it! Trickery like this is why my view on the brand took a deeply negative turn in 2020.
Sydney Harper wearing the shade Sacred on Hourglass’ Youtube page.
I personally think having two deep shades out of the six blushes is inclusive enough, so I don’t understand why this decision was made. I like medium toned blushes, but it’s always a hassle to figure out if a medium blush is on that cusp of being too light or actually working for me. How they showed Sacred in the video makes it look like it would work for skin even deeper than mine, which I’m not convinced is actually the case. If the shade doesn’t show up on the model or looks ashy, then I’d rather they just show that so I know not to spend my money on them rather than buy it, find out for myself it doesn’t work, and either absorb the cost or return it knowing it’s just going to be thrown away.
Since I never did review the Blush Stick, I’ll go ahead and say I think it’s nice but nothing special. The majority of the cream blushes I use from other brands are just as good (or better) for at least half the price. I use a light layer of Revel, but it can be built up more intensely and it’s the kind of shade that will work on a lot of skin tones. The other deep shade Hourglass makes is called Adore.
Regarding Hourglass’ tendency to misrepresent shades in their advertising, I think they did a better job of showing Volume III but it definitely needs improvement. I still caution against relying on Hourglass’ images alone for an idea of what the products look like.
The left side is a more accurate photo of Volume III, but both images are from the brand’s Instagram.
Now, in my seventh year of waiting for a dark powder palette, I can finally say I have Hourglass products that I can use (mostly) for their intended purposes! If I’m looking for an all-in-one palette, the most important thing to me is to have a usable blush, highlighter, and bronzer. I don’t believe I am alone in thinking that way. While Universe Unlocked offers the biggest variety to date of who can use the palette, only a limited group can use all three. It’s the bronzer specifically that limits things. Rather than Hourglass making a palette with 2-3 shades for some people and 2-3 shades that will work for someone else, I would have liked to see full palettes dedicated to the skin tone groups who still haven’t gotten a full face palette that will work. I am happy to have Volume III and am glad at the possibility that it’s permanent, but so many of us have been specifically wanting a full size Deep face palette. If they took all the shades from Volume III, Rose Heat from Universe Unlocked, and threw in At Night as the second blush (since they like doing repeat shades anyway) that could have been an amazing third holiday Ambient Lighting Edit palette. Indie brands like Sydney Grace and Adept Cosmetics release dark and light versions of the same eyeshadow palette and I think this would be fantastic for other companies to adopt regarding face palettes. Below are some examples of swaps that could have been made. Creating two versions of Universe Unlocked with even just a bronzer change would have made all the difference in the world.
The third concept palette that I nicknamed “Universe Aligned” is what I proposed above if Hourglass took the three Volume III shades and At Night blush and put it in the Universe Unlocked packaging with Rose Heat.
I’ve heard endlessly, “If a brand doesn’t cater to you, go buy from those who do.” I’ll explain why this doesn’t work so easily for Hourglass: No one else makes powders like Hourglass. If I had an alternative, I would have given up on them ages ago. The silkiness of the powders, the blend, the effect on the skin, etc has not been successfully replicated by anyone else. This is why we “target,” as Hourglass apologists say, the brand specifically more than other non-inclusive ones, because they are the only ones who can do this task. When the Physician’s Formula Butter Bronzer was considered top notch, we wanted an extension to those. When Benefit only had Hoola available, we wanted that as well. I have no problem taking my money elsewhere as long as there isn’t something considered the best of the best that they make. In which case, then there isn’t an alternative. If we want the best, that brand is the only one who can create it for us. This is why so many of us keep hoping to have something that we can use too. We want to have that same experience everyone else that Hourglass caters to gets to experience. Hourglass is inclusive except when it comes to the powder products, but powder is all I really want from them. I like makeup from Asian brands, but I accept that I’m not likely to get a base product deep enough for me because the demand isn’t high enough. When it comes to Hourglass, there is a market and a demand, so it would be financially beneficial to meet those demands. This makes it so obvious they were content in leaving a vacancy in their line while their pockets were still being filled. It was not until enough of us joined in a united front (those who could and could not wear what was available) to make our voices heard, especially those who boycotted them and the Influencers who publicly denounced and cut ties with Hourglass, and news outlets who got us to the point where Hourglass has started to give deeper options. I believe the creation of Volume III was to repair their image after the deceitful misleading advertising of Volume II. This is why I question whether Hourglass is going to continue giving deeper options in the future, or if they feel they’ve done enough now and that this is where inclusiveness ends for them. In 2022, if there is no extension of the permanent bronzers or there’s no Ambient Lighting Edit Face Palette suited for at least tan to deep skin tones, if not deeper, then it will be a clear indication once and for all that they won’t begrudgingly create anything like the Volume III again. Essentially what they do in 2022 will determine whether I continue buying from them or not. Eight years will be plenty of time and they’ve had plenty of chances to prove they aren’t focused on a particular demographic. Hourglass prioritizes being cruelty free, sustainable (with their new overpriced custom eyeshadow system), and finding vegan alternatives (with their patent-pending replacement for carmine). They dedicated so much time and research to these projects in order to be a brand that goes above and beyond others by showing their concern for the planet. It boggles my mind that they don’t care about their reputation when it comes to being exclusionary regarding their customers.
I think I’ve finally said everything I’ve wanted to say about Hourglass in this post. I really do hope they become a brand I can be proud of to say I purchase from in the future. As it stands, I’m almost embarrassed to share how long I’ve been pining for their products and how many of them I bought despite feeling as though they really don’t want to make products for those with dark skin. That’s all for this week. If you’re still here after reading that full post and you understand my perspective, you’re at MVP status! Thank you for your time and if you’re considering getting these products now or in the future, I hope this has been helpful.
If I have a strong negative or positive opinion about something, you can expect that to stay the same. This post will mainly center around the items I had mixed or indifferent feelings about in my reviews, but I’m now definitively on one side.
Dior Backstage Face and Body Powder No Powder
I remember saying that for my personal needs, I wasn’t certain if this powder was worth $40. I initially didn’t notice that much of a blurring effect because if I take my time blending and concealing all my problem areas, the powder doesn’t make much of a difference except adding a flattering sheen. However, it’s when I’ve been in a rush to put on makeup that I have noticed a dramatic difference! The blurring effect is so much more noticeable from blending out harsher lines of bronzer or contour, toning down a blush, adding some life to a look that’s too flat or dry looking. This has saved me so many times from having to restart a makeup look. I’ve grown to love this powder so much and wholeheartedly recommend it now because I think everyone has those moments when we just don’t have time to make things as smooth as possible, which this powder helps with, assuming it works with your skin type.
All foundations eventually settle into the smile line on the right side of my mouth. This powder fills and smooths it over so that you can’t even see it! After several hours it starts to be visible again, but the fact that it can make this dramatic of a difference at all is amazing to me!
The left side of the photo shows my mouth area after six hours of wearing theBecca Dewing Skin Tint as foundation. It had not been set with powder all day. The right half of the photo shows what the area looked like after I applied the Dior Powder-No-Powder to that spot. It completely freshened up the area.
Rituel de Fille
I was already at a disadvantage with this brand because of my sensitivity to lanolin (which so many of their products contain). When I discovered mold growing around the outer rim of one of the Nectar Balms, I decided that I am no longer interested in any products from this brand that are not powder based. That eliminates practically everything they sell. That Nectar Balm was only 8 months old and I only used it a few times. Then 6 of those 8 months it remained clasped shut and inside a resealable pouch. So, I do not trust how the brand preserves ingredients (it’s supposed to last 12 months after opening), on top of the lanolin issue and the waxiness of other products and certain items being overpriced.
Kaleidos Space Age Highlighters
These were on the cusp of me liking them, as having visible glitter particles is not my preference, but they weren’t so sparse for me to stop using them altogether. However, I’ve embraced my highlighter preference as there are so many reflective illuminating smooth products that suit me, so I decluttered all three of them. If the glitter/shimmer in a highlighter isn’t fine enough, I will just not continue to use them. I have decluttered other highlighters that don’t fit my style such as Fenty’s Trophy Wife Killawatt Highlighter and the Oden’s Eye Solmane Palette.
Tarte Shape Tape Ultra Creamy Concealer
Other than this Instagram post, I haven’t shared my finalized thoughts about this concealer until now. Unfortunately, I really do not like it. I decluttered both from my collection. My love of the original Shape Tape runs pretty deep because I practically need Spackle to cover my dark under eye circles. The main downside to Shape Tape is that it can look dry, so the Ultra Creamy version seemed like the perfect remedy. The finish is nice, but it provides way less coverage than the original, creases significantly, and is not long-lasting. The only thing I find similar about them is the packaging. Even the original 53N Deep and Ultra Creamy 53N Deep have different undertones despite them both being labeled neutral. The original leans golden, which I like, but the ultra creamy leans pink.
Mixing the new and original concealers together improves the performance, but the combo is still worse than if I used the original on its own. Even in reviews I watched where people said they liked it, to me, their under eyes did not look as nice as usual. So, I definitely don’t recommend it.
It would have been nice to end this post with a list of five products in total, as five is a nice number, but I could only think of these four. There still a few things I haven’t made up my mind about, such as Makeup Geek eyeshadows (which I will officially review at some point this year), and Viseart shadows after being unimpressed by the Dark Mattes Edit Palette in my last Viseart purchase, but I need a bit more time with them in order to decide.
As a sort of honorable mention, I can say that the ELF Instant Lift Brow Pencil has reclaimed the top spot as my favorite brow product over the ELF Ultra Precise Brow Pencil. I liked how thin and easy it was to draw those realistic brow hairs, but I still missed the Instant Lift after I used it up. Then one day, when I went to use the Ultra Precise, I don’t know if it dried out but the whole product just slid right out. It was unusable at that point. I don’t know if it was just a fluke or if that tends to happen with the Ultra precise, but since I loved the Instant Lift anyway (and it’s cheaper and I know I can use up the entire pencil without issue), I decided the Instant Lift deserves the crown and I’m now on brow pencil #2.
That is all for today!
I have one review scheduled for next week, but my consistent return to Monday postings will not begin until September 13th. I hope you all are doing well!
The idea of having a product that I can customize my shade of powder, blush, bronzer, contour, eyeshadow, etc. all in one palette appeals to the wannabe minimalist in me. I call myself a wannabe because I enjoy having a large beauty collection while simultaneously being overwhelmed by the amount I possess. This is why I love the concept of face palettes, but it’s very uncommon for me to find one where the majority of the makeup in it suits my preferences and needs. I’m curious to see if I will continue to like this palette after prolonged use and continuously mixing shades, but so far I am impressed! There’s pretty much no kickup and if I get a lighter imprint on a deep shade, or vice versa, I can sweep it away with a brush and it’s good as new! Perhaps this is possible because I combine shades by tapping into each color I want; I don’t swirl in one and then swirl my brush into the other.
A palette like this can seem intimidating, and I was initially unsure if I would buy it for that reason. Some aspects were as tricky as I expected and some parts were easier than I thought, almost intuitive. For instance, using Beautopsy for blush is pretty straightforward. Boy, Wonder, Love, and Kills are four easy options for that. Overall, while I wouldn’t go as far as to say beginners wouldn’t like this, I think it would be most enjoyed and utilized by those with an intermediate skill level and above.
Brightening andSetting Powder
For setting under my eyes, I use the leftmost sides of Tan and Feel and rightmost side of Paint with my usual Real Techniques Setting Brush to create a pale yellow-brown. I was shocked when I realized it actually had a blurring effect and made my under-eyes look smoother! Certain concealers of mine don’t play well with powders, but so far the blurring has been a consistent feature to setting under my eyes with the light shades in the palette! The photo below shows what it did to my Tarte Shape Tape and Pat Mcgrath combo (which was not originally set with powder at all). The lines under my eyes are still there, but less pronounced.
If I want to brighten my under eyes, and not just match my skin tone, I can use pretty much any of the four lightest shades without them looking stark because they blend with the concealer. Additionally, there isn’t much difference between them when applied to my skin. On a lighter skin tone, they are distinct enough, but on me they’re all essentially white with the tiniest differences in tone. That being said, they somehow don’t look ashy on me like other pale shades tend to do, but I still try to use the combinations I think make the most sense based on their color descriptions: Lines as a pure white, Tan as a soft tan, Wet as a beige shade, and Paint as a pale yellow.
While I could probably set my whole face with a mixture of Feel and Paint, I wouldn’t want to use a small brush for that task, and I have dry skin anyway, so I don’t always set my full face. Also, I can technically use this palette to brighten the high points of my face, but I love my shimmery highlighters and I would never be satisfied with using these matte powders to highlight anywhere other than the eye area. So, in a traveling situation, I would probably bring along a separate setting powder, plus my Kaja Play Bento Sculpting Trio for the subtle shimmer highlighter and to have extra variety. The Kaja Bento in Mochamallow was previously the only all-in-one face product I had where I loved and could use every color in it. Beautopsy now joins the ranks of the best suited face palettes in my collection.
Brow Powder and Eyeliner
I’ve spoken before about how any dark eyeshadow can be used as eyeliner and for filling in the brows, so it didn’t surprise me how well Fatum worked for that purpose. I used the darkest part of Fatum as the liner. If I want to wear just a liner and no eyeshadow, this isn’t black enough for my preference. However, when I’m trying to deepen up eyeshadow looks, Fatum is dark enough for that, and quite lovely. Hindash mentioned that you can use Fix+ to transform any of these powders into liners, but I haven’t tried that. I like to use dark shades, but not black, to fill in my brows. The middle where Intra + Fatum meet is a shade that works for defining the eye, but was too warm of a brown for my liking. So, I switched to using the center of Fatum where it still has a little of the chocolate brown shade but is also dark enough to use in my brows. I messed up a little spot in the front and didn’t notice it in person, but of course the camera picked it up. I was a bit impatient, which is why my brow isn’t perfect, but it also brings up the point that brow pencils are so much faster for me. I know I wouldn’t use this again in my brows, purely for the time factor, but I’m glad I have the option.
For those who prefer a cool-toned dark brown or soft black for their brows, Fatum mixed with Real could probably do the trick. Real + Feel might look nice on blondes and maybe Feel and Love or Feel and Intra for those with red hair, but don’t quote me on that!
For blush, my favorite shades to use on their own are Wonder, which gives me a light but bright pink flush, and Love, which is a reddish-orange. Kills is a bit too deep for my preference to use alone, but I could always use it if I mix it with something lighter. Boy is a wearable peachy-pink for those with a lighter skin tone than mine. It shows on my skin, but I don’t think it’s as flattering on me as Wonder. If I want to give myself a peachy or coral look, I think of creating a different kind of orange with a little pink. So, I dip my brush mainly into Paint and Love with one extra tap of Wonder and buff it into my cheeks. If I want it a little less bright, I add some of the brown from Feel. I try not to mix more than two colors together because it tends not to look as nice on the skin, but this particular combo of 3-4 still works for me. I’ve enjoyed using my Sonia G Cheek Pro and Wayne Goss The Artist Brush – Large to apply blush, as they aren’t too big for these pan sizes.
The head sizes of my brushes compared to the size of the pans. It’s not a coincidence that my smallest face brushes were all made in Japan.
There are so many combination possibilities! I experimented with some on my arm to give more examples. I put them on my bare arm, but the blend would look much nicer on the face with primer and foundation under them.
Contour and Bronzer
To contour my nose, I can use Feel on its own, but I prefer the look of Feel and Real together to create a proper shadow. I can use pretty much any small brush, but I’ve been liking the Scott Barnes Eye Winger #63 because the unique shape automatically creates a symmetrical line if I contour between the bridge of my nose and my brows. Most of the time I skip contouring my nose, but when I do, I like to keep it as subtle as possible and just add shadow where I need it. For instance, sometimes all I do is add contour powder on either side of the bridge of my nose, just in the middle where there’s no definition. In order to do that though, I definitely cannot use a warm/red toned contour powder, which is often what is available on the dark-deep end of contour shades. I need something cool yet not too dark, which has always been a challenge for me to find.
To contour the rest of my face, I tap my brush into the center where Feel and Real meet. I can use something with a flat top like the Chikuhodo Z-3, but I also prefer a brush with a tapered tip like the Wayne Goss Air Brush, Wayne Goss Artist Large, and Chikuhodo KZ-05. For bronzer, I use the leftmost sides of Intra and Feel. Sometimes I use just Intra. I’ve tried different brushes, but the Chikuhodo FO-2 is my favorite to bronze with this palette. Since I only use the leftmost sides of the powders for bronzing, I dip the right half of my brush into the powders (without getting anything on the left side), I can apply with that half of the brush and blend out with the half that didn’t get any product on it. It was a little funny to me when I discovered that the Beautopsy palette wasn’t created with bronzer as much in mind, since Hindash likes to use cream products for that purpose, yet I was able to find a bronzer combination that worked so well for me!
I’ve tested this palette over matte and dewy foundations. When I use them on matte foundations or bare skin, the blend of these powders on the face looks so good! On dewy products, it’s almost as if these don’t want to stick to the skin. It takes longer to blend and the end results looks okay, but not nearly as nice as it looks over a matte one.
I believe Beautopsy is foremost a palette for the eyes, and ironically, this is the one aspect that having only mattes as options isn’t entirely satisfactory to me. It has been quite a few years since I’ve created all matte eyeshadow looks on a regular basis. When doing an all matte look, there is no room to hide, nothing to cover up any mistakes or distract from poor blending the way shimmers can. It is a craft that looks so simple but requires immense skill to perfect. Plus, I just love putting a shimmer on my lids, so if I was on a trip, I would have to bring at least a small magnetic palette of shimmer eyeshadow singles with me. As much as I admire sultry smoky eyes, I mainly prefer to do colorful eyeshadow looks, or at least to have a neutral crease with a bright color on my lids. This is another reason I would want a supplemental palette. This also doesn’t give intense payoff right away, and this makes perfect sense for Hindash. As a makeup artist, he would want a product that builds up and blends well. When I say that this doesn’t fully line up to how I like to do my eye makeup, it’s not me saying the palette is bad. It’s just obviously suited for those with a different eyeshadow style than mine. In addition, the buildable nature that I don’t like as eyeshadows is what makes them so fantastic as face powders. Plus, the slow build issue I get is only when I try to use a regular eyeshadow primer underneath. If I use a complexion product as a base, I have no qualms with how long it takes, but more on that in a moment. Regarding the texture of the shadows, these remind me a bit of Viseart. However, Viseart shadows give a little more pigment per brush stroke, but the Beautopsy powders feel a little silkier. Zea Mays is the second ingredient in the Beautopsy palette, and it does have that cornstarch feeling to the touch, which could account for the added silkiness over Viseart’s shadows.
Preferences aside, my biggest challenge was finding the right base for these powders as eyeshadows. I absolutely hated using the Gerard Cosmetics Clean Canvas. I had to keep making alterations because it wasn’t blending the way I wanted and it took so incredibly long to get it in a state that I thought was presentable. I had to start over again several times. I didn’t have much luck with my tried and true MAC Paint Pot either because it was as though the shadows didn’t want to build on the eye and at one point I switched to my finger to try and pack it on. Usually I only have to do that with shimmers. I got better results when using the Urban Decay primer potion, but surprisingly the best results I’ve had were when I used concealers and foundations as bases! I discovered this first when I used the Tarte Shape Tape and then again when I used the Pat Mcgrath concealer, although that one creased badly when I left it unset for too long. I’ve been using the MAC Foundation Stick as an eyeshadow primer, so I wasn’t as surprised to see that the shadows blended well over it. However, out of all the bases I tried, the best results I’ve had were with the Dermablend Flawless Creator Foundation Drops. Those drops are basically a foundation and concealer hybrid. So, if you have this palette and you’re struggling to use these over eye primers, I recommend using a complexion product as primer instead. This discovery changed my opinion of these as eyeshadows for the better and I’ve enjoyed using them so much more!
One issue I still haven’t resolved is that the shades in the top half of the palette disappear off my eye by the 5-6 hour point. It happened regardless of the base I used. The bottom half of greys, black, browns, and reds lasted 9-10 hours before I ended the wear test. Perhaps this is caused by a difference in how the lighter shades are formulated/the amount of pigment in them. That’s my best guess, although the shadows have the same ingredient list, excluding Love, which is listed separately.
I usually go into details about how I create a look and which shades I used in the eyeshadow portion of my reviews, but I mixed so many things that I lost track.
Looks 1 and 2 are both over the Gerard Cosmetics Clean Canvas.
This look is over the Pat Mcgrath Concealer. It was my attempt to recreate what I was trying to do in Look #1. The shimmer in the bottom half of the photo is Sun Scorched from Terra Moons Cosmetics.
The peach-pink-orange-red ombre look is over the MAC Foundation Stick. The look below it is over a MAC Paint Pot.
The grey look is over the Urban Decay primer potion. The shimmer on the lid in the bottom half of the photo is Helix Nebula from Terra Moons Cosmetics.
I used the Dermablend Flawless Creator Foundation Drops as the base. This shimmer on the lid is called Kamakura #10 from the Viseart Coy palette that I bought as a single shade. This green look was photographed many hours after I first applied it.
I have used eyeshadows as blushes and blushes as eyeshadows in the past. This palette is the first time I’ve ever preferred the secondary usage over the intended one. I was so surprised at how seamlessly these powders worked together as face products. These were not my first choice for eyeshadows until I found the right base, and now I very much like them too. They are of great quality and I foresee myself continuing to use the last 6 shades as the framework for my shimmer lid shadows.
Overall, the formula of these powders are truly special to be able to be as versatile as they are. In Hindash’s launch video, he said it took a couple of years to create this gradient palette. I tend to roll my eyes whenever influencers say that, but in this case I believe him. I can clearly see the labor of love that went into the Beautopsy Palette. I also say this from the perspective of someone who admittedly didn’t know who Hindash was until the release of this palette. I did a little research for the purpose of this review. I respect Hindash’s artistry and the way he and/or his team has been supporting smaller and larger creators equally, even liking my photo of his palette on Instagram. There still isn’t a parasocial relationship there, so I can say from a fully unbiased perspective that this is a great product and I do recommend it. It’s become for me more than just a cool and innovative release. For the past 6 weeks I’ve had it, I’ve used it for at least one purpose every single time I’ve put on my makeup, whether it was to add depth to an eyeshadow look, do a quick nose contour, to set a cream blush, etc. I store most of my makeup in drawers, but I’ve been keeping it in my train case which holds products I use the most often or am trying to pan, because I want the easy access. Whether the cost is worth it though depends on how often one would utilize something like this for the eyes, face, or both. There are several times I’ve owned something of fantastic quality, but for whatever reason it remained unused. So, that is something that has to be factored into the decision to purchase. I’m glad it worked out for me.
Does this palette interest you? Let me know what you think!
I’m as much addicted to getting a good deal as I am to collecting blushes, so when I was able to get Rose Feu (the only shade I wanted from the Rose Hermès line) just ten days after the product launched, and for significantly less money via Mercari, it felt like I had reached the pinnacle of my blush obsession. This is the first, and most likely last, time I will ever exceed my $40 maximum for a single blush. I also know I will likely never get a deal as good as this one on a luxury makeup product again.
This special circumstance of obtaining a product that would normally be out of my reach has made new blush launches less exciting to me. For once, I finally feel like my collection is complete. That being said, I still have a plethora of blushes from my collection (and newer ones I purchased just before this one) that I have not reviewed yet on my blog, so the blush content will continue along with eyeshadows, face palettes, and other makeup I love.
Hermès Rose Hermès Silky Blush Powderin Rose Feu
The powder is soft to the touch and there is very little kickup when I dip my brush into the compact. The amount of blush I pick up with one tap of my brush is all I need per cheek. This blush gives good color payoff without sacrificing how well it blends into the skin, but I cannot confirm if all the other shades within the line are as pigmented.
I have quite an unreasonable amount of blushes, so I was surprised how difficult it was to find a color dupe for Rose Feu. It is described on the Hermès website as a, “purple hibiscus, fiery, intense, illuminated with a hint of carmine.” I see a slight plum tinge when I look directly at the pan, but it is a rosy terracotta hue on my skin. Perhaps the fiery claim comes from that. I’m glad it’s somewhat unique to my collection because that makes it more special. However, when it comes to the formula and performance, Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blushes and many of the blushes from MAC are just as good as this one. Rose Feu matches, but doesn’t surpass, the quality of my absolute favorites despite the vast price differences.
Rose Feu on the cheeks and in the crease of the eye.
How it looks on bare skin differs from when it’s applied over foundation. While dry, it takes on the rosy-terracotta I mentioned. The closest match I found was MAC’s Pinch Me, which is slightly more coral than Rose Feu. The Nearly Wild blush from the new Sigma Cor-de-Rosa Blush palette is close as well, but slightly too pink. Another somewhat similar shade, but in a shimmer formula, is Water Lily from Oden’s Eye.
Swatches over bare skin with flash off (left) and flash on (right).
As demonstrated in the photo below of the swatches over foundation, the most similar shades I have are CoverFX’s Spiced Cinnamon and MAC’s Burnt Pepper, depending on the light. The more Rose Feu is built up over foundation and blended in, the more red it becomes.
Swatches on top of foundation with flash off (left) and flash on (right).
I think this blush is beautiful and performs well, but you’re paying for the name and aesthetic on this one. I can’t even include the feel of the compact in what you’re paying for, only the design of it because a common complaint among luxury lovers is that the compact is plastic instead of metal, or at least that the component isn’t comparatively as weighty as the Hermès lipsticks. I’m so used to plastic packaging from brands whose blushes I love, such as Nabla, MAC, Lys, and Hourglass, that it felt on par with what I’m used to having. Patrick Ta’s packaging is probably the only blush compact I have that feels more expensive than the one from Hermès. It feels light for a luxury product, but certainly not cheap. I do admit, I would have been very unhappy if I paid full price (plus tax) for this blush because at that price point I expect Pat Mcgrath level of packaging. As much as I like this blush, I recommend skipping it for those who want it purely for the quality. There are so many brands that charge less money for the same great performance.
According to this Youtuber, the refill pans that Hermès is selling for $48 will not stick in an empty magnetic palette. Naturally, one would think that a great way to have the blush, but save money by not purchasing the packaging, would be to get a refill and pop it in a magnetic palette. A magnetic sticker that can be attached on the back of the pan would be required to get it to work for that purpose.
Dior Backstage Face and Body Powder No-Powder in 4N and 5N
The photo on the left was taken with my camera and shows the more neutral tones to these shades. The photo on the right was taken with my cell phone.The photo below, taken using my camera with flash on, is the most accurate depiction of what the powders look like.
I mentioned my luck with the Hermès blush. Ironically, I had a chance to save money on the Dior Backstage Powder, but I purchased the wrong shade during the Sephora VIB sale and the one I needed wasn’t restocked before the sale ended. I was impatient to get the right color, so I purchased it at full price from the Dior website.
In the initial reviews I saw for this product, the recommendation was to get a shade lighter than your Dior foundation match. This made sense because Dior described this as being a product intended to “warm the complexion,” in addition to setting makeup. To have that “sun-kissed effect” they advertised, the shades would need to run slightly darker. In my particular case, I should not have gone lighter. 4N was nice and did give the promised “luminous matte finish” without looking glittery, or even that shimmery. However, it was a touch too light to use all over my face. It worked great as an under-eye brightener, but I didn’t want a $40 powder I could only use under my eyes. I returned that shade to Sephora and purchased 5N directly from Dior’s website. I was impressed by the presentation when it arrived. The gift bag is cute and I like that Dior gives free samples and offers free shipping.
In terms of what the powder can do, it does set the face without looking powdery. I can pack on multiple layers and it doesn’t ever looked textured, cakey, or dry. I also really like the sheen it leaves on my skin. However, because it still contains micro shimmer, it doesn’t remove shine from the face. It may mattify the oils a little, but areas will still have a sheen, so I’m not sure how much those with oily skin will like this powder. It also doesn’t blur* or extend the wear of my makeup. I don’t consider it a must-have product, but I liked the way it made my skin look, which is why I still wanted to have it in my collection.
*May 18th, 2021 UPDATE: I cannot see a blurring effect when I apply this powder over foundation, which attests to the quality of the foundations I use most often. However, when I applied the Dior powder over my skin on a minimal makeup day when I skipped using foundation, I was able to see the blurring properties. So, I have to amend my statement and say that it does blur, but the results range from minimal to very noticeable depending on what other products are paired with it.
I’ve also seen the recommendations to get a deeper shade to use as an actual bronzer. I’m intrigued by that idea, but considering my difficulty getting a shade for my face, I fear I would have trouble figuring out how dark of a powder I would need to get a product like this to show. Plus, I suspect the outcome would be similar to the effect and performance of my Nabla Skin Bronzing powder in Profile. In fact, my first thought when I tried the Dior powder all over my face was that it’s exactly how I imagine a Nabla Skin Glazing Setting Powder would be like.
This also brings me to the point where I have to give Dior praise for these powders running so deep. It’s not a common thing to see. I just wish they offered more than neutral powders and included some warmer options as well. That being said, in the product photos, some shades look a bit red toned. 5N would have been perfect if it was a little more golden, but I’m happy with the shade match. It’s close enough to my skin tone that you can’t see a difference in photos between when I’m using it and when I don’t have it on. I’m wearing it in the Hermès cheek swatch photo, but the luminous look to my skin is from the Uoma Beauty Foundation, Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless Filter, and a Jaclyn Hill highlighter. Although this powder doesn’t break the bank as much as the Hermès blush, I don’t know if I fully recommend it either. It all depends on whether it’s worth $40 to have a nice sheen that will never look powdery, with minimal additional benefits.
Lastly, I try to remember to mention whenever products have fragrance in them. The blush has a floral perfume-like scent and the powder has a soapy perfume-like scent. I can smell them when I first apply them, but it doesn’t linger on the skin.
I tried my best to keep my powder and spray collection to a minimum after 2018 because I know I never run through these categories of products and, to my knowledge, setting powders are one of the cheapest (if not the cheapest) makeup products to produce. The huge markup makes me reluctant to spend a lot on them. Some powders are more finely milled than others or I need one that won’t leave a cast on my skin or in photos, or one that isn’t too drying, so this is where the slight nuances in formulas can get me to spend more or keep trying to find one that I love enough to call a holy grail product.
All Over/Setting/Finishing Powders
Some powders I’ve used in the past have been the Make Up For Ever HD Setting Powder, MAC Translucent Setting Powder, Ben Nye Banana Powder, Besame French Vanilla Brightening Powder, etc. There haven’t been any setting powders (other than getting a better shade) I liked enough to repurchase. I don’t set my entire face with powder anymore (unless I need to wear foundation for an extended period of time), so I’ve been trying my hardest to just use what I have.
NARS Light Reflecting Pressed Setting Powder in Sunstone
This powder was my favorite of 2019. I was so happy to finally have a version (previously owned the loose version in their translucent white shade) that didn’t leave a cast on the skin or give Flashback. At the time I bought it, they didn’t have the loose version yet at Ulta. Sometimes I wish I waited to get the loose form in order to avoid the hardpressed-looking spot/film that appears onto the surface shortly after the initial use. At the same time, I didn’t want to deal with powder floating everywhere for once, as can happen with loose powders depending on the sieve.
The Sunstone shade is a great match for my skin tone in both depth and warmth. It never occurred to me, until I read Nikki’s post, that this powder can look noticeably orange on different skin tones, so I thought it was important to mention. I’ve linked her blog for anyone who wishes to see this powder swatched on her. I recommend taking a look as she posts great content!
I could have built up the color in my swatches but I wanted to show the kind of coverage one or two swipes with my finger can give. In most cases, that amount is enough to show visibly on my arm. In the case of the Sunstone shade, it’s such a close match to me that it’s harder to see. As for the original shade, I don’t have it blended in the swatch but when I used a light layer on my face, it remained translucent and also photographed well.
I’ve been holding onto the original (I stopped using it years ago) but I will toss it now, as it is quite old. I’ve only had Sunstone for a year and a half, so I’m keeping it. Plus, I still really enjoy it!
Beauty Bakerie Face Flour Baking Powder in Yellow (Cassava)
Beauty Bakerie has a lot more colors available now than when I purchased this. I prefer yellow, peach, orange, and brown powders over white or pink. In this case, there isn’t a strong enough yellow base, so it still comes off as practically white on my skin tone. I really wanted to love this powder because it was hyped up and I like supporting not only small brands but especially black-owned ones. I gave it several tries but this is just too drying for my under eyes, the place I need powder the most. So, it’s leaving my collection.
MAC Sunny Side Mineralize Skinfinish (Discontinued)
This is one of those products that I probably should not still be using, due to its age, but I like it and I’m unwilling to let it go just yet. For color correcting my under eyes, I tend to use just the three lightest colors to give myself a brightening effect. If my concealer is a bit too bright and I want to tone it down a bit, then I use either all four shades or just the darker powder on its own. Since this has been discontinued for a long time, I won’t spend anymore time describing it. However, if the other Mineralize Skinfinish powders work like this one, perhaps I should explore the line at some point in the future.
Chantecaille Perfect Blur Finishing Powder
I bought this at 30% off during the anniversary/birthday sale and it’s still the most expensive powder I own. While this does have a slight blurring effect, the overall finish isn’t anything spectacular. It doesn’t give my skin a more natural finish or a glow nor brightness. This one just mattifies me. It doesn’t give me anything else to warrant even the discounted price. I will give some additional credit that despite being pale in swatches, this does not leave a cast on my skin (though if I use too much it can lighten it). While I can make use of the blurring on days when my foundation and concealer are on the sheerer side, if I just conceal my imperfections then I don’t need to worry about blurring. Perhaps there are additional benefits I cannot see on my particular skin tone. There are rumors that Chantecaille is working on a darker version of this powder, which is admittedly intriguing to me. I want to see the full magic everyone gets so enthralled by when it comes to this powder! If a significantly deeper shade becomes available, I might sell this one on Mercari and use that money to go towards the newer one.
There is of course the charitable aspect. The Chantecaille family/brand are strong supporters of animal welfare and humanitarian work. A certain portion of the sale of this powder was donated to support “land conservation and women’s empowerment in the Amazon.”
Koh Gen Do Maifanshi Brightening Moisture Powder
I could have put this powder in the future highlighter declutter post because I use it for that purpose. The reason I did not is because my other luminous face powders have fine, yet more visible shimmer in them, such as the Guerlain Meteorites and Hourglass Finishing Powders. The shimmer in this is almost imperceptible but still gives a brightening effect. I wish they created a deeper version and I was a little disappointed to learn that rather than make a darker shade, they recently created a pink version instead. With this one, I have to either use a very light application or blend it in very well if I want to avoid the white cast it leaves on my skin tone. Using a normal amount doesn’t just brighten, it completely lightens the look of my skin. Even though I can only use it as a highlighter/brightener, I’m unwilling to declutter this one.
I don’t like this. I’ve only tried it once but it was so drying and not translucent on me. This will be given away.
Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Instant Retouch Setting Powder Deluxe Sample in Honey
When this powder was first released, I had a hard time deciding between Honey and Hazelnut. I even went in-store, but still couldn’t decide. I was able to get this sample as a free gift with purchase. The actual powder looks darker than some of my other yellow toned powders, but it looks very light in the swatch. I’m glad I didn’t buy this because it doesn’t do anything for me. It doesn’t make anything look worse but it doesn’t increase the longevity of my makeup or keep my concealers from creasing. Whenever I’ve used this powder, I always felt the need to add more product before setting it with something else. Fenty Foundations don’t pair well with my skin, so it doesn’t surprise me that the powder doesn’t work for me either. From my observation, those with combo or oily skin tend to really love Fenty complexion products (which are always too dry for me). I’ll be giving this away.
Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting PowderDeluxe Sample in Translucent and Honey
I received Translucent and Honey as free gift with purchase samples. I’ve had several samples of the Translucent shade over the years, so I decided not to open this one and I will be finding a new home for it. I can say that the shade did look nice under my eyes but I had the issue of flashback with it, so I never bought the full size until the shade Medium Deep was released. At the time, Medium Deep was a bit too dark for me but it’s a great color match now. However, I’ve had that shade for a few years now and I moved it out of my collection rather than completely getting rid of it. When I got the Honey shade, I was worried it would be too light, but I like how it looks. Both Honey and Medium Deep don’t give me issues with a cast or Flashback. Even though the powders are distinctly different shades, I can’t tell which is which when I use them on my face. I will continue to use the Honey shade, but I will not be purchasing the full size, purely because I like the Charlotte Tilbury powder better.
Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Filter Setting PowderDeluxe Sample in 03 Dark (now called 03 Tan)
When I received this sample from Sephora, I was a bit shocked to see that a powder this light was called “Dark.” I didn’t have any hope for it, but it has become my new favorite setting powder in my collection! It’s smooth. It has minimal kick up. It works nicely with all my concealers. I love the fact that Charlotte sells this in a mini size because it’s debatable whether I could even finish a small one before the 30 month period-after-opening date, considering how little I use. When I run out of this one and the Laura Mercier sample, I may purchase the mini in the slightly warmer version called “04 Deep.” When deep was released, “03 Dark” was renamed “03 Tan.” Miss Sydz on Youtube has a video showing them both together and how similar they look.
Below is a picture showing what the powders look like over a layer of concealer. The Charlotte Tilbury and Chantecaille were truest to color. The rest look similar except the Koh Gen Do, which dramatically lightened it.
Pat Mcgrath Labs Sublime Perfection Blurring Under-Eye Setting Powder in Deep
I completed my declutter and had this scheduled and ready to post, but when Pat Mcgrath had a Valentine’s Day sale I decided to purchase this powder. That’s why it’s not included in my original photo. Because it’s so new, I admittedly don’t have much experience with it. It’s an ultra fine powder that is silkier than the Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Filter. Here is how PMG compares in color to CT:
Charlotte Tilbury’s 03 Dark aka 03 Tan is slightly warmer than Pat Mcgrath’s Deep, despite how they look in their compacts. Although I purchased this specifically to use with the brand’s concealer, this has worked fantastically to set my other concealers as well, and not just for setting my under eyes. The only downside is that it can emphasize fine lines a little bit and it can look a little dry. This powder may be perfect on someone with a different skin type, but as someone with dry skin, I have to find a balance with the amount of skin prep and moisture I use if I want to apply this powder on top. Also, I have to use this with my same skin tone concealers and not with my lightening/brightening concealers because the powder has a brightening effect and with my lighter concealers it’s overkill. I’m very surprised PMG chose to call this one their “deep” shade and to have this be the darkest one available. This powder isn’t going to be deep enough for everyone.
This is the updated collection summary:
When it comes to setting sprays, I use them even less than powders. I usually don’t wear makeup long enough in the day for me to need something to lock it in place or prolong the wear time. Since I powder less, I have less use for MAC Fix+ or the Morphe Continuous Setting Mist (not featured or reviewed here today) as a product to add life back to the face after using powder. My spray finishers are being utilized mainly to just dampen my eyeshadow brushes. The reason I have even this many sprays left in my collection is because of the various scents. Even though I try my best to avoid fragrances in skincare and makeup, when it comes to setting sprays it’s something that I’m drawn to and I don’t know why! It’s a bit of an impulse which I can sometimes resist until it’s in a product I enjoy like Fix+ and All Nighter.
Skindinavia Makeup Finishing Spray
I’ve had this in the back of my drawer since my 2018 Lucky Bag, but I only used it a few times in that amount of time. Skindinavia, “in an exclusive partnership” made Urban Decay’s setting sprays, so one could save $4 getting a bottle of this and feel confident that if you like the Urban Decay sprays, you’d likely enjoy this. I am a fan, but I have such little use for setting sprays that it doesn’t make sense for me to ever purchase a full-size bottle. I’ve kept it this long simply because I forgot about it, but I’m throwing this out.
Urban Decay Honey Scented All Nighter Spray
I love honey as a food, a theme, and a scent. However, I bought this at the end of 2019 and hadn’t even opened it until this February! I’ve used travel sizes of the All Nighter in the past, so I knew I’d like this for extending the wear of my makeup. I just haven’t had a need for it in the little over a year that I’ve owned it. It think it’s still okay to use, considering it’s been shelved this whole time, but it has a 6 month period-after-opening, so I will be throwing out whatever I don’t use before the year is over. Also, this smells vaguely of honey. I would have assumed it was a generic fragrance, and not intended to actually smell like something, if they hadn’t specifically labeled this as “Honey Scented.”
MAC Fix+ in Pineapple, Cucumber, and Coconut
A few holidays ago I bought several Fix+ sets that had mini trios of Coconut, Rose, and Lavender scented sprays. The Coconut mini (bottle with the mostly clearer liquid) is my last one. I love these tiny bottles because they have a fine nozzle and I’ve been able to reuse them with other facial mists that don’t have a good sprayer. The Cucumber one smells alright, but I prefer to reserve that one to spray my eyeshadow brushes. The Coconut and Pineapple smell fantastic, so I use those for my face to give myself a dewier appearance from the glycerin inside it. This is good for 24 months, and I’ve had mine for 18 months, so these will also be gone before the year is over. I intend to replace it when I run out.
Gerard Cosmetics Slay All Day Setting Spray in Dreamsicle
This spray smells amazing! In the 17 months that I’ve had this, I’ve never actually used it to set my makeup until I began working on this post. I used to use this like a facial spray and mood booster, even though that’s not what this is. This is a full on setting spray with alcohol as the second ingredient. I really shouldn’t use it like skincare, especially considering my stance on trying to minimize the number of fragrance products I use, but I have a childhood attachment to concept of creamsicles and dreamsicles. I purchased this bottle as soon as it was on sale. I thought it was strange that it didn’t come with a spray nozzle, but I didn’t mind because I had empty mini MAC Fix+ bottles I could use as the sprayer and they work wonderfully for that purpose. There is no PAO symbol or expiration date on my bottle, so I’m not certain how long this is supposed to be good for, but based on other sprays on the market I can only assume it’s at least 24 months. After I declutter this bottle, I will not be repurchasing this purely because of the added fragrance. The Fix+ scents aren’t very strong, but I imagine the fact that this is so much stronger than Fix+ has to mean there’s more fragrance in it, and that increases the risk of skin sensitization.
As an actual setting spray, this has a form of glycol in the ingredients which would explain why my face looked so dewy after loading this on. I have a blush which fades quickly on its own, so I wore that one during my 8+ hour wear test and it kept the blush on my face all day! The areas of my face where I used the Pat Mcgrath concealer didn’t fare as well, but that concealer is very finicky on me regardless.
My goal for this year is to end it with only Fix+ and perhaps one small bottle of a traditional setting spray.
That’s all for now! Thank you for taking a look. I hope you visit my blog again!
Hourglass and Guerlain are the two most hyped brands I’ve seen when it comes to all over face powders that give a blur and sheen but aren’t shimmery enough to be considered highlighters. So, when I saw both brands release actual highlighters and noticed how similar they were, I had to buy them.
Hourglass Metallic Strobe Lighting Palette
This palette has a net weight of 9 grams for $64. It was originally released for the holidays in 2017, but they brought it back for a limited time in 2020. I purchased this in May, but as of August, it’s still available on multiple retailers’ websites.
The Hourglass powders have a sheer base to them, which is why they appear sheerer in swatches than the ones from Guerlain. However, the Hourglass powders are much more reflective, as can be seen when applied to my cheeks. So, they end up making a bigger impact with my usual application method. They are meant to be used wet for more intensity (with a spray or primer) or dry. When I apply them dry, they’re at my maximum shimmer comfort level (unless I use a light hand and blend them very well), so I don’t use them wet. The Guerlain ones can also be applied wet too, but the difference is minimal compared to the jump in intensity when the Hourglass powders are used wet.
Guerlain Pearl Dusting Palette
Also known as the Meteorites 3-in-1 Highlighting and Illuminating Pressed Powder Palette, this has a net weight of 8.5 grams for $65. So, it’s slightly more expensive for a bit less product. The compact is huge with a lot of wasted space, though the packaging feels luxurious. Both palettes have mirror-finish plastic packaging, but despite the Guerlain one having less makeup inside, it’s a bit heavier. I suspect the actual mirror inside the Guerlain compact is heavier than the one in the Hourglass and accounts for the difference in weight.
The visible sheen on the surface of Hourglass and Guerlain’s trio powders are unlike any other highlighters I own. This is probably due to the addition of pearl powder which both brands cite as the main contributor to the beauty of these highlighters. Even though a sheer base, in theory, seems like the Hourglass powders would look better on my skin, the micro pearl particles are whitish, which doesn’t look as complimentary to someone like me with a yellow undertone and dark skin. The base pigment in the Guerlain highlighters help match me better, with the exception of the pink one.
All Guerlain Meteorites have a lovely violet scent that I enjoy experiencing whenever I open the containers. I have a keen sense of smell, so perhaps I’m more sensitive to fragrances than most people, but the violet scent in this trio is way more intense than the regular meteorites. It’s on the cusp of headache-inducing. It takes a few hours before I can no longer smell it on my face, which is not something I ever experienced with the regular meteorite pearls. I bought this a month and a half ago, and even let it air out for a few hours, but the scent is still as present as the day I bought it. I can tolerate it enough to keep using it, but if you’re sensitive to smells I would caution against buying this.
The Hourglass powders don’t have as much color to them, are smoother to the touch, easier to blend, are buildable and highly reflective. The Guerlain powders are more pigmented, stick where they apply, and have an impactful sheen without being blinding.
I’ve always favored Guerlain Meteorites over the Hourglass Ambient Powders, but when it comes to their highlighters it’s not as simple to decide between them.
Neither of the pink shades from Guerlain and Hourglass are flattering on me. They’re too stark on my skintone and look more white on my skin than the actual white pan powders.
The other two Guerlain powders are probably the most flattering on me and more of my style, though I have to tolerate the smell to wear them. I still think the other two Hourglass powders are beautiful. Lucent Strobe makes the most wearable-impact of them all, as it’s intense but not as icy.
The best uses of the Guerlain Trio I’ve found is using Gold alone, Amber alone, or mixing the Gold and Amber shades together. It tones down the yellow base in Gold while amping up the intensity that Amber doesn’t have on its own.
The best use of the Hourglass Trio I’ve found is to use Pure Strobe as an inner corner of the eye highlight and Lucent Strobe as a spotlight/pinpoint highlighter. I basically use a regular highlighter along my cheeks and at the very highest point of my cheekbone add Lucent Strobe to make that spot stand out even more. All that these Metallic Strobe powders really need is to be mixed with something deeper, and then the outcome is much more to my liking. In the photo below, I used Nabla’s Amnesia highlighter, which is not an example of a deeper highlighter, but of one that’s on the more subtle side that was amped up by Lucent Strobe.
The shades in the Guerlain Pearl Palette better compliment my skin tone than the Hourglass Metallic Strobe Palette. Both brands advertise these products as “universal” highlighters, but I don’t believe this to be the case. They can be used on a wide range of skin tones, but none were catered to me, not even the Guerlain trio. I still really enjoy them anyway and don’t regret my purchases.
My MAC products are scattered throughout my collection, so I didn’t realize how many different items I had until I started looking. I initially wanted to review everything from MAC that I own (much more than what is pictured above) but the post was getting absurdly lengthy. So, I will likely do a second MAC post in the future.
MAC has five different finishes of powder blushes: matte, sheertone, sheertone shimmer, satin, and frost. They are sold in compacts for $25 or the Pro refill pans for $17. Some Pro refill shades are only available in the refill form (like Ambering Rose) and some blushes are only available as compacts (like Format). They also have Extra dimension, Mineralize, and Glowplay (bouncy) blush formulas. I only own two Extra Dimension blushes and then the rest are Powder blushes.
MAC is an artist brand that works with professional makeup artists. Pros who meet the necessary requirements get a discount on products. Because of this, I thought the items in MAC’s Pro line such as makeup refills, empty palettes with custom inserts, etc. were exclusive to MUAs, but anyone can buy them. I’ll discuss inserts, palettes, and refills more in-depth after the blush section is completed.
*IMPORTANT NOTE: All the individual product shots of the blushes and swatches were taken outside in natural lighting. I could hold the blush pans and my arm at whichever angle I needed to get the sun to hit it directly, without casting any shadows. However, I was unable to do that with my own face. The weather is also an issue as it’s either too cloudy and raining (we’re in hurricane season) or it’s too sunny and I start to sweat profusely in just minutes of being outside. Florida summers are brutal! Because I took my face pictures indoors, sometimes my skin tone looks lighter or darker due to the lighting. However, I kept the photos that show the blush as closely to how it actually appears in person. This wasn’t as much of an issue with the matte shades but the shimmery ones, which reflect differently in the light, were trickier. This is why I made this post so picture heavy to be as helpful as possible; it’s not easy to figure out which blushes will work best based on the photos on MAC’s website.
BLUSH BRUSHES USED: I only used squirrel and goat blush brushes for my cheek swatches. Each brush was wiped clean between uses and only used for a maximum of two blushes to ensure there was no shade mixing.
FOUNDATION AND PRIMER USED: I’m wearing Nars Sheer Glow foundation in Macao as well as MILK’s Hydro Grip primer in every photo for consistency. The finish of this glowy foundation, plus the hydrating primer, accounts for the dewy shine in the photos with even the matte blushes. I considered using a matte foundation but the Nars one is my best current shade match. I expect the matte blushes to stay matte on a matte foundation, but I thought it would be interesting to see how much a dewy foundation might affect mattes.
I’m not wearing any contour, bronzer, or setting powders either in order to show the blushes on their own.
Melba is described as a matte soft coral-peach. This blush highlights the reason I wanted to do this post. Based on the shade in the pan, I would never expect a shade this light to be in any way flattering on my skin tone. There’s enough peachiness to keep it from appearing ashy on my skin tone the way other blush shades that are too light would look. Although this is extremely subtle on camera, it’s more noticeable in person as a natural-looking slightly pink flush. Melba isn’t as pigmented as some of the other matte blushes, so it takes quite a lot of building up in order to be seen on my skin tone, but I find the effort is worth it.
About two months ago, MAC had a deal to choose 7 products (out of a gigantic selection) for $63. This was why I decided to give this shade a try. I don’t know why I like this shade so much, as I prefer blushes that make a little more of an impact, but I’m glad I have it.
Prism is a muted pinkish-brown matte. It looks a little more mauve on bare skin, but over my warm foundation, the pink in the shade is more visible. I’ve had this sitting in my collection for a while, expecting to give it away because I didn’t think it would work on me. After seeing some swatches on others and noticing how many times a blush I thought was too light ended up working for me, I decided to give it a try. It’s a nice subtle buildable blush.
Coppertone is a matte peach brown and another shade I’d assume wouldn’t work for me due to the color in the pan. Just like the previous blush, this leaves a very subtle flush as the brown blends into my foundation but the peachiness pokes through just enough to look natural and beautiful. The pigmentation level makes it easier to build up than the other more natural blushes. Melba and Prism are intended for light to medium skintones, whereas Coppertone is probably best for medium and up. I spoke with a MAC representative via live chat who said “Our blushes have a small amount of grey in them to ensure they work for a variety of skin undertones and saturation.” I was always under the impression that white or grey additions to blushes is what makes them ashy, but I’m just the messenger! I don’t know how MAC does it, but their range is phenomenal.
Desert Rose is described as a matte soft reddish-burgundy. This blush is even more pigmented than the others, so I wanted to show how sheer it could be applied. It looks quite cool-toned in the pan, but it warms up when applied over my foundation. I like this shade more than I expected.
Burnt Pepper is a matte warm rich terracotta. I enjoy this shade with a light application (a little lighter than pictured here). It’s a flattering tone but when built up too much I look like I have a sunburn. I believe I used the Chikuhodo Z-1 brush for this picture, but less dense brushes like the Z-8 and FO-3 are perfect for this blush. They deposit the exact amount of color I want. I do think a sunburnt look can actually be cute, as long as the rest of my makeup is on the minimal or neutral side so I can avoid looking clownish.
When searching for blushes best suited for dark skintones, Raizin was the most suggested shade I saw. It is a golden reddish-brown matte and very pigmented. I dipped my brush into the pan once and this is the amount of color that was deposited onto my cheek. With just one application!
This blush is better suited for someone of a darker complexion than me, but I think it still looks nice as long as I apply it with the lightest hand and a brush that’s not very dense. I used Chikuhodo’s KZ-04 which doesn’t get much airier than that, yet it still deposited quite a bit of product! I will continue to use this blush in the future by applying a sheer layer and then adding a lighter and/or brighter shade just on the apples of my cheeks.
Gingerly is described as a sheertone capri bronze. I have no idea what that means, but in any case, it is another very natural looking blush on me. Although there is a slight difference between this shade and Coppertone, I wouldn’t be able to identify which was which when applied to my cheeks. They’re both matte brown shades that blend into my skin, so if I had to choose between the two, I would pick Coppertone purely because of the pigmentation level. Since Gingerly is the sheerer shade, it takes longer to build to the same pigmentation level as Coppertone. It’s pretty, but because I have so many brown blushes that suit me better, this one wasn’t worth me buying. Those with NC/NW 45 and lighter complexions likely enjoy this blush more than me.
Pinch Me is a sheertone rosy-coral. It’s the most “me” kind of shade as I’m always looking for blushes in this tone. I didn’t buy this shade sooner because I assumed it would be a touch too light. Again, I was tricked by the pan color. It’s also quite pigmented for a sheertone formula.
Sunbasque is a “gilded peach with pearl” sheertone shimmer. To me, it’s the shimmer version of Coppertone. While writing this review, I was frequently mixing up their names because the tones are so similar. You can mostly see the sheen as the base color is faint on my skin. Now that I have Peachtwist and Format, I don’t see myself reaching for this anymore.
I have Kelsey Brianna Jai to thank for giving Peachtwist a try, because the way it looked on MAC’s website, I didn’t think it would be dark enough for me. It’s another sheertone shimmer blush and described as a light peach with gold pearl. As I mentioned before, I prefer this shade over Sunbasque because it’s slightly darker and I think the gold pearl in Peachtwist compliments my yellow undertone a bit more. This is easily one of my top favorite MAC blushes.
Ambering Rose is a muted rose sheertone shimmer. It’s currently only available as a pro refill and not in compact form. It’s darker than Peachtwist, though it still has that gold pearl. Between the two, I still prefer Peachtwist because I tend to like lighter and brighter blushes over darker ones, but if I use a light application with Ambering Rose, I can see myself continuing to use this.
Style is a coral-peach with gold pearl and a frost finish. I consider this shade the shimmer version of Melba. Although it also works as a beautiful highlighter or blush topper, I’ve never worn this alone as just blush in public. It’s definitely not made for my skin tone, but I’m drawn to it anyway.
Format is described as a pinkish brown, but I can see golden pearl on my cheeks from this frost finish blush. This blush is only available in the compact form. It reminds me a lot of the Coconut shade in the ELF Bite-Size Face Duos recently released (which I intend to review next month). I would consider this to be a much darker shimmery version of Coppertone.
Modern Mandarin is a satin blush only available as a pro refill. It looks light orange in the pan and is described as a red-orange shade, but it looks so pink! I’m not opposed to the shade, but out of the nineteen blushes in this post, I find it to be among the least flattering on me. This is also the only MAC blush that gives me trouble picking up powder on my brush. The scrape marks are visible on the pan where I’ve tried to clear off some of the top in case there was hardpan, but it didn’t help. It continually gets hardpan as it feels like the formula of this particular satin shade is wetter/creamier than the others. I don’t have an issue swatching this blush with my finger, but for some reason, it’s harder with a brush (even when switching to a dense synthetic one).
I want to love it and keep using it myself, but I can’t recommend it due to the formula issue.
Fleur Power is a soft bright pinkish-coral satin finish. It’s a pretty shade and very pigmented! It looks and performs more like a matte than a satin. It also deepens up a lot when applied over foundation. I made sure to give adequate time for the foundation to set before I put Fleur Power on top (in case it was too wet and therefore causing it to darken so much), but it did not change the result. It deepens the more it’s rubbed into the skin.
It’s the kind of shade that will work on a wide spectrum of skin tones, and works for me, but it’s not particularly exciting. This kind of color is commonplace, though perhaps not usually in a dark-skin friendly formula. Between this and Pinch Me, which has similar tones, I prefer Pinch Me; though it doesn’t change the fact that I still think Fleur Power is pretty and I’m happy to have it in my collection.
Loudspeaker is described as a bright orange coral satin blush, but it’s definitely a reddish orange color. This blush was formerly named ‘Devil,’ which was among the most recommended shades for darker skin tones. I’ve been looking for the perfect orange that everyone says looks so beautiful on deeper skin, but I’m starting to think whether it’s a lighter or darker orange, orange shades just aren’t a good match for me. So far, I haven’t liked the results of oranges from MAC, Fenty, Natasha Denona, etc. The only one I’ve liked is Benefit’s Majorette Blush (of course discontinued now) which was on the coral-orange side.
I only used one or two swipes to get this level of pigmentation on my cheeks. I can see the shimmer particles in the pan, though it just looks matte on my skin. I would say this blush is intended for NC/NW 50 and above, but really it’s for anyone who wants to make a statement. I consider this and News Flash to be useful on the more editorial/artistic side and less every day wear (except on deep skin tones).
News Flash! comes up as a matte in the search bar, but is referred to as a “red-orange with pearl.” I can’t see any shimmer in the pan or swatches, so the matte description is more accurate. I double-checked to ensure I read the website correctly, as I think the Loudspeaker and News Flash descriptions are reversed. News Flash seems more orange-coral to me with Loudspeaker being red-orange with visible shimmer specks in the pan.
I don’t believe this blush was ever sold in the regular size blush pans. It’s the size of a MAC eyeshadow at 26mm, but it sure does pack a punch! What you see on my cheek is what a single dip in the blush with my Koyudo Somell Garden Blueberry Brush can produce! This shade is so bright that it’s almost neon. I predict I’ll only use this blush on rare occasions, as it’s still a bit much for my tastes.
Cheeky Bits is a mid-tone pinky coral in the Extra Dimension finish. I was surprised to see it’s less shimmery than the other sheertone shimmer and frost finish blushes, but perhaps I’m meant to use it on a wet brush for more impact (which I don’t want anyway). Regardless, it’s a beautiful shade and reminds me of a more user-friendly Modern Mandarin.
Hushed Tone is described as a neutralized pink peach. It’s like a peachy bronze with just a hint of pink that I absolutely love! It doesn’t make as much of an impact in terms of color, so this is great for a more natural day. What makes it special to me is the gorgeous sheen that it has in person.
Hushed Tone is extremely close to Peachtwist. I find it difficult to properly describe how the shades look similar but the effect is so different. Hushed Tone has more base pigment color whereas Peachtwist has a stronger sheen. The way the glitter reflects is a little different. Hushed Tone’s powder looks like a more refined shimmer and Peachtwist gives a stronger highlighted effect, though I would still call it shimmery, not glittery. For someone with a lighter complexion than mine, the color differences between the two will stand out more. As the shades look similar enough on me, if I had to choose one, it would come down to a preference of sheen. It isn’t subtle for either blush but Hushed Tone is a little more natural-looking because of those finer particles. However, I could not part with either one.
Matte blushes were always my preference, but I’m tempted to try more of the Extra Dimension blushes because I really love how refined the shimmer in this formula is. What stops me (besides having nineteen MAC blushes already) is that this doesn’t appear to be in a pan. If it’s like the Extra Dimension highlighters, then it’s attached to a plastic mesh, and after having so many mesh products fall out, break, or arrive broken on me, I’m trying to avoid buying those kinds of products as much as possible.
BLUSH SIDE BY SIDE COMPARISONS
For an additional resource that helped me decide which blushes I wanted to buy, I recommend The Fancy Face’s MAC Blushes Video.
From what I can tell, Melba is pinker, Gingerly is a little more orange, Prism has more brown, and Coppertone is redder. But Gingerly, Coppertone, and Prism look virtually identical on my cheeks.
Hushed Tone, in terms of color, is a mixture of Sunbasque and Peachtwist though leaning more heavily on the Peachtwist side.
The Sheertone Shimmers are from lightest to darkest: Sunbasque, Peachtwist, and Ambering Rose. The differences are barely detectable while looking at the pans (particularly between Peachtwist and Ambering Rose), but on the cheeks, it goes from too light, then perfect, to too dark.
Fleur Power and Pinch Me are quick and easy to use because they are suited for me, but Desert Rose, Burnt Pepper, Raizin, News Flash, and Loudspeaker all require a light hand.
Even though some of the blushes I own are better suited for the lighter or darker ends of the spectrum, it’s amazing how many I am still able to pull off, and that’s a testament to MAC’s formulas. They really spent time over the years curating the best selection. There are some discontinued blush shades I wish they still offered, but with how many blushes look similar on my cheeks, I know I don’t actually need more.
The top 12-well in the picture is the larger insert for creams, gels, lipsticks, etc. Below that is the 24-well smaller insert. Lastly is a two-blush insert inside my MAC double-sided palette. Each side holds three blush inserts for a maximum of six blushes per side. I have one double-sided palette that currently holds MAC blushes. The other I turned into a regular magnetic palette to hold other brands’ products by placing magnetic sheets inside. Some people don’t know this, so I think it’s very important to state that MAC refill products only stick properly to MAC palettes because the refills all have magnets attached to the bottoms of them.
Magnetic palettes (like Z palettes) have a magnet sheet on the bottom that tin eyeshadow pans can stick to. MAC palettes have a metal sheet within the plastic that the magnets attached to the eyeshadow or blush can stick to. I can confirm that my single MAC eyeshadow refill stayed put in a regular magnetic palette if I had it squashed by other tin pan eyeshadows on all sides, but it would otherwise slide and fall on its own.
Also, the refills do stick to the MAC palettes on their own, but the inserts feel a lot more secure, as I believe the inserts have metal in them as well.
This is the Get it Glowin’ Hyper Real Glow Palette. This trio contains the highlighter shades Gold Coasting, Get It Glowin’, and Rosy Cheer. They are a bit on the golden side. MAC sells a pale pastel version (Get Lit), peach version (Shimmy Peach), and pink version (Flash + Awe). I currently own the latter and will include a photo, but I don’t have swatches as I intend to give this away or sell it.
Although the golds in the Get it Glowin’ palette look distinctly different in swatches, I can’t tell the difference on my cheeks. In fact, spoiler alert, I can’t tell the difference among any of the gold highlighters in terms of the color. It just comes down to how smoothly they apply, how intense they can get, and how sparkly or fine the glitter particles are. Within this palette, I did notice the actual Get it Glowin’ shade was more subtle than the others, despite it being the iciest one that should have stood out the most against my skin tone. Out of the three shades, Rosy Cheer seemed the smoothest and most flattering on me.
Extra Dimension Skinfinishes
I first owned Whisper of Gilt in the limited-edition snowflake imprint that was a holiday release a few years ago, and now in the regular packaging. I loved the shade but was so worried about ruining the shape that I hardly used it. Now that I have the “less exciting” imprint after including it in my 7 items deal, I will start using this one.
Unlike the highlighting trio, which didn’t appear that much more intensified when applied to wet skin, the formula of this shade allows it to be built up a lot more. But I’ve never been interested in rocking a blinding highlight, so I’ll continue to use it dry the way I normally do. I would describe the shade as a light gold, but MAC says it’s a, “light soft white with shimmery sheen.”
I don’t think it looks the best on me on camera, but I love how it looks in person and will keep wearing it whenever I won’t be taking pictures.
I used the tiniest amount of La Leyenda because I didn’t want to ruin the rose. I mostly collect MAC highlighters for the limited-edition packaging. There are so many other highlighters that I love, that I don’t feel like MAC’s formula is so amazing that it needs to be used, except perhaps Whisper of Gilt, which is the standout for me. I don’t have much to say about La Leyenda other than it is fine as a highlighter but stunning for packaging, presentation, and representing Selena.
MAC had a gorgeous holiday eyeshadow called Stylishly Merry (version 2, not the original purple one) that I missed out on getting. So, when they released the Snowflushed highlighter the following year, it was the closest dupe I could find. It has a beautiful coral pink to gold shift in the pan but it is unfortunately too glittery for my taste as a highlighter. I wore it as a lid shade in the same photo, and the color shift doesn’t translate on my cheeks or eyes, so that’s a little disappointing. However, it still makes me happy to own for collector purposes.
Gold Deposit is a golden-bronze shade I wanted for so long, but when I finally bought it, I only used it a few times because I found it to be too much for me.
When testing it out again for this post, I’ve realized that I can get a more subtle application when I use my Kumano-fude brushes. It still makes quite the impact, but it’s toned down enough for me to feel more comfortable wearing it in public.
The best use for Sunny Side I have found is as a color-correcting setting powder under my eyes. As I’ve gotten down to the last bits of my Tarte Shape Tape concealer, it hasn’t been covering my dark circles as well. This powder is perfect for brightening up and covering up darker patches. I’m not sure how well I captured it in the photo, but it’s a very noticeable difference in person.
Also, although it is in the normal Mineralize Skinfinish packaging, this particular shade was limited edition.
Limited Edition Powders
The Archie’s Girls Collection Flatter Me Pearlmatte Face Powder and MAC x Chris Chang Prep + Prime Transparent Finishing Powder are both items I purchased purely for packaging. In fact, I even bought a second Chris Chang compact (each compact is unique in pattern) so I could remove the actual product inside and put one of my DIY blushes or highlighters inside. That way, I could keep one in nearly pristine condition (the original translucent powder was too stark on me), and the other I’d be able to use without worrying about damaging it.
I will list my favorite blushes and highlighters from this post, but this list is purely subjective because it comes down to my own personal preferences. The quality of MAC’s permanent collection is of very good quality and I would confidently recommend them to anyone. It’s just about finding which ones suit your needs best. Although there are plenty of shades I enjoy in my collection, my list will include the blushes and highlighters that if they disappeared today I would repurchase immediately.
BLUSHES: Hushed Tone, Coppertone, Peachtwist, Burnt Pepper, Pinch Me, and Format. I would be tempted to, but probably not immediately repurchase Melba, Desert Rose, Fleur Power, and Cheeky Bits. The blush Style is so beautiful that I would probably repurchase it for blush topper/ highlighter purposes.
Many colorless setting powders produce flashback on me, but the original Loose Translucent Powder from Laura Mercier also left a visible gray cast in normal lighting. The brand released a new shade called Medium Deep, which I’m happy to say performs the same as the original but without the grey cast! It doesn’t pass the flashback test but it prevents my concealer from creasing, it prolongs the freshness of my foundation, and it blends smoothly!
Tip: I keep the original seals on my loose powder containers and poke holes in some of them to minimize powdery messes and accidents.
This product is translucent, not transparent, so it leaves some color on the skin. I’m between NC45 and NC50. Although the finger swatch shows that the powder is lighter and yellower than it appears in the jar, it’s still a tiny bit darker than my concealer. This isn’t a problem for me since I typically match my concealer to my foundation but anyone NC45 and below, who prefer to highlight the area under their eyes, could run into issues with this powder being too dark. In theory, yellow is supposed to brighten but it won’t do that if the powder is darker than one’s complexion.
Click Here for the full complexion compatibility chart.
For those who keep an eye out for specific ingredients, it’s important to note that this product is not paraben-free. Some may also question the $38 price tag over ingredients such as Talc and Zea Mays (Corn) starch.
For this reason, I created a comparison table using some of the top rated and bestselling loose powders based on Sephora’s search filters.
After making the chart, I’m even happier with the price since I’m getting 2-3 times more product for only a few dollars more. There is one other product I know about, but haven’t tried myself, which is a top seller among beauty lovers: The RCMA Translucent Powder. RCMA does list propylparaben as an ingredient and it may contain trace amounts of talc but $12 for 3 oz is an undisputed better deal.
If I compiled a list of Holy Grail products discovered in 2017 I would add Laura Mercier’s powder because of its silkiness, shade selection, and performance. Ever since I bought it in April it’s been the only powder I use!
My posts have been few and far between but I have discovered more holy grail products this year that have awoken my interest in makeup again. I intend to share more of them soon. Thanks for reading! 🙂
*This review is not sponsored and the links provided are not affiliate links. I do not get paid if you click them.