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making faces :: un-palette-able

oh how time slips away. can it possibly be true that 2015 is over in two weeks' time? yes, evidently it can. and, evidently, i can still be behind in posting reviews of seasonal items. i mean, at this point, no one is thinking of buying anything for themselves, right? they've all moved on to buying for other people and would never think of purchasing something "just for me". haha. well, just in case there are a couple of readers who may want to stuff their own christmas stockings, i have a couple of reviews of items i picked up from sephora in recent weeks.

now, these are items in palettes and the last time i checked the sephora canada web site, the palettes themselves are both sold out. but i'm not doing this to torture you. the fact is that every single item contained in the palettes is available separately. they are more expensive when purchased that way, but it gives you the opportunity to choose which things you really like and you get them in a bigger size.

the first item is the makeup forever fifteen shadow palette that was introduced for the holidays. i hadn't yet tried the brand's reformulated eye shadows, although i'd read lots of rave reviews. it wasn't so much that i wasn't curious [although my experiences with the brand over the years have been mixed], but that i felt a little overwhelmed at the vast selection of shades- more than two hundred of them. i do like the fact that, when you buy two or three shades, you can add a palette to keep them in for free, so it's easy to come up with combinations of your own. and the brand has organised their holiday palette in sets of three shades each and includes a guide book on how to create a look with each triad. that's actually a really nice idea, since this would be a great palette for someone just getting into makeup. if it were still available. [it has to be for sale somewhere, right?]

since the brand has organised things in trios, i figure that i'll review them in the same way.

for those wondering about the codes, those with "i" have an iridescent [frost] finish, those with "s" have a satin finish, those with "d" have a diamond [glitter] finish and those with "m" have a matte finish and those with "me" have a metallic [frostier than frost] finish. [note: there aren't actually any matte shades in the palette, which is a shame.]

our first trio is a set of soft neutrals. they might lean a little warm, but not too much. i actually think that they'd be less suited to a purely warm complexion than to a purely cool one [at least, i think they'd be better on a summer-cool complexion], because each of them have a slightly muted, greyed quality.]

l to r :: olive gray, pinky nude, pearl

i-550/ olive gray is a beautiful warm taupe-beige with a finish that's between a very shiny satin and a frost. it has amazing colour payoff, is smooth and long lasting and, honestly, is probably my favourite shade in the entire palette. it is just gorgeous and while i don't believe in colours that are universally flattering, i'd have to say that this comes close.

s-522/ pinky nude is a pretty, peachy shade that could probably work as a highlighter on darker skin, but that works better as a lid colour on my pale skin. it's somewhat similar [although smoother] to the limited edition mac shade "nanogold". it does indeed have a satiny finish that has a bit of a sheen, but not too much.

i-528/ pearl is a pearly white, which means that it's warmer and slightly dirtier than a true white. i like this sort of highlight shade, because true white looks a little too stark on me. this shade can get a bit frosty-looking, but blends out well if that's an issue for you. [highlights that are very frosted tend to look heavy on my eyes.]

the second trio of shades are perfect for what mufe calls a "bronze" look and what i'd call a "sunset eye". i would say that this is the trio combination that works best together out of the five.

l to r :: pinky beige, fig, amber brown
i-524/ pinky beige is a light peachy colour with a lot of pink mixed in. it's a very nice lid shade, for those who feel like they can pull off something pink. the slightly orange/ peach tone makes it easier to wear without giving yourself the "rabbit eye" effect.

d-826/ fig is a warmed cranberry colour. although the finish is supposed to be the very sparkly "diamond" one, i didn't find this to have a lot more luster than the iridescent shades. i did notice just a little fallout over time, but it generally adhered well. it does not have the crumbly sparkle of mac's luster shadows, nor the "wet" look of charlotte tilbury's glitter shades. the colour payoff was very good on this one, but i found that it blended out a little too easily, so that it took on the characteristics of whatever colors were around it.

i-662/ amber brown is a golden bronze. it has fantastic colour payoff and lasts very well with minimal fading. for some reason, this range of shades [everything from copper to khaki in the bronze/ brown range] seem to be easier to do really well. [as opposed to purple shades, which tend to fade more or be more difficult to apply.] it isn't quite as vibrant in use as it looks in the pan, so it can be good for something understated.

third, we have a trio of cooler, purple-toned shades. or a duo and a blush. for regulatory reasons, the third shade is classified as a blush only. i've used it as both a blush and a shadow and my eyes didn't fall out or anything, so take that for what it's worth. officially, though, it's a blush.

l to r :: frosted mauve, black rose, electric purple
i-916/ frosted mauve is an icy lavender. it's lighter and frostier than rouge bunny rouge "lilac reef curassow", but the two are in the same league. i'd say the rbr shade is more muted and greyer. the colour on this shade is strong enough that i think it would look too intense as a highlight. as a lid shade, it is gorgeous and lasts like a champ. so this would be the exception to what i said a few lines back about purple shadows. [to be fair, light purples in general work better than medium and vibrant ones.]

d-830/ black rose is a purpled black with red shimmer. i did notice fallout with this one, not the worst i've seen, but it's there. it unfortunately reads as a soft black in most light, even if you're careful to pat it on in order to preserve the shimmer. that's typical of most powder shades of this type of colour- something like mac's "beauty marked", for instance. armani eyes to kill potted shadow in "lust red" is an option that reads more as purple/ red if that's what you're looking for. that said, the quality of this one is nice and it doesn't look patchy when applied, which a lot of "near black" shades do.

i-922/ electric purple is a brightened grape that doesn't look especially iridescent to me, but more like a satin. worn on the eye, it shows as a pop of purple, however it's softer than how it looks swatched. once you get a brush involved, this one seems to be quite sheer. applied to the cheeks, it gets a lot redder, at least on me, so that it's more of a plum colour. it was nice, although i found it faded quite a bit faster than a "proper" blush. it did have a very nice sheen to it.

the fourth trio is definitely the most eye-catching of the bunch, perfect for a very intense "mermaid" eye with its tropical aquatic tones.

l to r :: lagoon blue, petrol blue, electric blue

d-236/ lagoon blue is looks like the most saturated green-aqua i've ever seen. it is super-sparkly, like sunlight on a caribbean sea, which gave me some high expectations. unfortunately, this one took a lot of work. the pigmentation is actually a bit anemic on me, which meant that i really had to pack it on to get anything close to the shade i saw in the pan. and since this is a diamond finish shadow, packing it on meant more fallout. the fallout hear seemed worse than with any of the other shades, but i'm not sure if that's because there was actually more, or because i just had to use so much of it. this looked so dazzling and so unique in my collection that it just broke my heart that it didn't work better.

s-228/ patrol blue looks darker in the pan, but it applies as a very saturated teal with a satin, but nearly matte, finish. it is dark enough to work as a crease colour, although it's not ever going reach more than medium-darkness [add a touch of black if you want more intensity]. it's a very high-quality shade and the sort of blue that can work on warmer complexions. mac "prussian" [which i think has been discontinued, but i'm not completely sure] is similar, but a bit cooler and darker.

me-216/ electric blue is another one that shows more intense in a swatch than when applied. it is indeed an electric blue sort of shade, purely cool and made cooler by the frosted finish. i wouldn't characterise this as "metallic" exactly, just as a regular frost. it's quite similar to mac "freshwater", which is actually another colour i struggle to get to full intensity. to get the most out of this colour- out of the whole set of blues, in fact- i'd recommend using a white base.

finally, we have what i'd call a "tuxedo" trio, simple, classic and monochromatic. the shades are very similar to the marc jacobs trio "the mod", although which you buy might have more to do with which shades you think you're going to use more often. the overall effect of this group is stark, high-contrast and cold.

l to r :: onyx, pearl gray, snow

s-102/ onyx is an intense black, perfect for a smoky eye, for intensifying other shades, or for adding sharp contrast. it is very pigmented, so a little goes a long way- used a small brush and just a little at time until you get the look you want, because the potential to overdo it is strong. making a truly great black is more difficult than it seems and satin blacks are surprisingly rare. this just hits hits the right notes in terms of colour, but unfortunately it is a b*tch to blend. it has a sort of stickiness to it. that gives it great longevity, but it just doesn't want to play nicely with the other kids.

s-114/ pearl gray is a beautiful silvery grey [i reject you, american spelling!] with a soft pearly finish. well-named, it is. it's cooler than the equivalent shade in "the mod", which is a bit more unique because it seems to have a bit of dirty gold mixed in. the shade is soft enough that it needed a bit of layering, but it was very pretty once i got it right. it lasted well, but it's very easy to overwhelm such a delicate colour, which is something to keep in mind when combining it with onyx.

me-122/ snow is a frosted cool white, something that's not exactly uncommon. mac "crystal avalanche" and "white frost" are similar, as is the white from "the mod", although that one isn't quite as frosty. [of the ones i've mentioned, i find "crystal avalanche" applies best, although it's also the least forgiving on older eyes; marc jacobs isn't quite as frosty, which makes it more user-friendly, but it requires a bit of layering to achieve a proper white.] the colour payoff is good, although the application can be a little patchy and it can catch on dry patches of skin pretty easily. i so wish that they'd made this a satin, like the other two shades in the "set". frosted whites are ubiquitous, but a well-done satin-finish white is rarer than hen's teeth. nonetheless, this is the sort of shade that everyone can use in their collection.

the palette is an excellent deal, if you can find it at your local sephora. if you can't, you can always buy the shades that appeal to you most. if you wanted to assemble one of their recommended trios, i'd suggest either the soft neutrals or the bronze/ sunset ones, where the quality is high across the board. my individual favourite shades were olive gray, pearl gray [worth the effort for such a pretty shade], frosted mauve and pinky beige.

at the same time, i also picked up the "champagne glow shimmering skin perfector palette" from becca. my experience with this brand is limited, i tried a foundation of theirs a few years back and it was amazing. it also got abruptly discontinued, which is what usually happens when i find something i truly love. i've also tried a couple of their multi-purpose "beach tints", which make beautiful blushes, but are much too drying on my lips. i had never tried their much-loved highlighters, however and so i jumped at the chance to grab a palette of them, with three different colours.

as with the makeup forever fifteen-shadow palette, this one is sold out, however all three shades remain available for individual sale. since most people will struggle to wear all three shades in the palette, i think that might be a better deal for a lot of folks. [although one of the things i love about palettes is that i can try a few shades that are out of my normal comfort zone.]

all of the shimmering skin perfectors are very high shine- metallic, really. as a result, all of them can emphasise pores if you have visible ones. my personal preference- unless i'm going to be in a place with really low light- is to apply these before applying blush, which mutes them a little. alternately, using a very soft, fluffy brush diffuses the colour [i use one from besame that i love if you want a full impact highlighter, though, these are a dream come true.

the first shade, pearl, is one that has thus far only been available in liquid form. it has, however, been introduced as a full-size powder in their permanent collection. it is a cool, crisp white, like cotton, something that stops short of icy, but doesn't really show any warmth. it's fantastic for true highlighting, by which i mean creating points of light on the face, rather than achieving a general glow. it is extremely bright, so you'll want to go easy. i like just tapping it on with a smaller brush.

champagne pop
the second shade is champagne pop, which is a limited edition colour created with makeup artist jaclyn hill. it's a honeyed gold colour that brings warmth and brightness to the face. this is the shade with the most metallic finish, which makes it the least forgiving for pores, but also the one that will give you the most glowing bang for your buck. i was worried it would pull too warm on me and look muddy, but because the colour doesn't have a hint of brown in it, that doesn't happen. it does add a fair amount of colour as well as warmth, so keep that in mind if you're pale like me. one thing i tried, that i quite recommend as an experiment, is combining it with a very cool blush [like clinique pansy pop].

blushed copper
finally, we have blushed copper. this one is so intensely pigmented that i can't picture it being just a highlighter on anyone. the copper-red tones are going to be visible on even the darkest skin, so it's more of a blush with a built-in highlight. this isn't a shade that i would have bought on its own in a million years, but i can pretty much guarantee that i would have stared at it every time i saw it in a store and probably swatched it a million times or more wondering if it was just possible that i could pull it off.

in the end, the answer is: kinda, but not really. it is a very warm, molten shade and it can make my skin look ruddy as a result. in terms of colour, it's about halfway between my beloved [and more muted] terra inca powder from guerlain and mac coppering eyeshadow. warm, autumnal complexions will love this and the reflective finish will complement their inner fire. although it's far from perfect on me, i like it enough to try it out when i'm feeling daring.

again, this might still be available at certain sephora counters, although it's sold out online. if you can snag one, i'd really recommend it because of, not in spite of, the fact that i can't see anyone wearing all three colours equally well. it's the sort of thing that will be great for pushing your colour boundaries in a subtle way [more subtle than a lipstick or eyeshadow that really doesn't match]. figuring out how to incorporate elements that don't quite work and making them right for you is an excellent way for those of us who aren't makeup artists to have a little more fun with the products we buy.

here are a few looks that i've tried thus far with these palettes. the ones with the highlighters may not be the most obvious in the world, but i think that they do show something of the effect.

the look above features all three of the purple shadows [don't tell the powder police that i'm breaking the law!]. you might find it difficult to see electric purple. it's there, blended over the outer third of the lid and getting overwhelmed by its partners. [lips and cheeks are from charlotte tilbury.]

this eye look is a combination of pinky beige, fig and black rose. i really like those three together and i find that adding black rose gives a higher level of contrast to the proceedings. the lipstick is bite beauty mauvember and you can find full details of the look here

that is the "tuxedo" trio of onyx, pearl gray and snow, combined with a little bit of pinky nude. looks very nice straight on, but in the second shot, you can see where onyx doesn't blend terribly well. not quite sure about the cheeks, but the lips are dior montmartre

blushed copper on the left and champagne pop on the right. full details of both looks here

becca pearl on the cheeks here. i think these photos show how well it brightens the face and how much of a sheen you get. the previous photos were taken on very cloudy days [we're currently into the time of the year when it's generally so overcast and dark that i have trouble getting the camera to even focus, let alone show light correctly], so these last two are really more indicative of the effect you get from the shimmering skin perfectors. 

so... thinking you might want to grab just a small thing for yourself when you go out shopping? don't worry, i won't tell anyone....


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