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making faces :: can grown-ups wear glitter?

i'm uneasy with the return of several nineties trends in fashion and makeup, despite the fact that it was the defining time of my young adult life. i was not into the dark-outline/ light centre colour on the lip. i wasn't into the over-plucked brows. i wasn't into the robin's egg blue eyeshadow. and it took me a long time to feel comfortable with brown lipstick. [i was into the blood clot-coloured lips, but you probably guessed that already.]

but of all the trends in the nineties, there was none that i avoided so completely as glitter. whenever i saw people out with chunks falling all over their faces and bodies, it made me think of children playing with their art supplies. the damn stuff never seemed to stay put, so you could walk into a club or a party looking like a dark fairy, but it always ended up looking more like a wannabe vegas showgirl gone on a bender in short order.

my only direct experience with glitter came one halloween just a few years ago, when i dressed up for a party as a comet. i gave myself a tinsel tail [do you have any idea how hard it is to find tinsel in october?] and put sparkles in my hair, on my eyes, all over any parts of exposed skin. i was a sparkling beacon in the night. [i was also the only person who showed up to the party in costume.] it took me over an hour to wash my face, and even then, it was more that i gave up after an hour than that i succeeded at removing the mess. two weeks later, i woke up, looked at dom and realised that he had glitter on his face. ten months later, when the party hosts moved, they found tinsel and glitter hidden deep in the corners of their apartment. glitter: an evening in the hair, a lifetime everywhere.

so i am disturbed to find that glitter is making a serious comeback. there are examples of the chunky nineties-era stuff, yes, but a lot of it is being reinvented as super-sparkly products described with words like "unicorn" and "mermaid". anything that's linked to fantasy is pretty much guaranteed to be a flake fest. i am deeply suspicious of these trends, since i've only gotten older since the nineties [funny how that works], and even then i thought that the look was juvenile on most people. that said, my willingness to experiment has greatly expanded since those days, so i can't help but wonder if it would really be all that bad.

enter tarte's "make believe in yourself" eyeshadow palette. it's a departure for a brand that's been even more dedicated to neutrals than i, and seems something like a happy medium between refined shimmer and raver scabies. it's definitely something that pushes the envelope of my comfort zone, but dammit, comfort zones are traps.

there are ten shadows and a highlighter included in the palette, with the shadows roughly an even split between warm and cool. the shadows are the same size as those in their "rainforest of the sea" series, but the addition of the highlighter makes the package larger. [insert joke about larger packages being nice here.] the shadows range from frosty to full-on glitter, with one matte shade thrown in just to mess with our minds. let's start with that one, shall we?

l to r :: myth, magic,  wings, marvel, trance

myth :: described as a "matte nude", i'd say it's more of a deep nude that leans a bit red or pink. i heard a lot of complaints about this one, and after trying it, i'm wondering if some of the palettes were defective. on me, it applied smoothly, evenly and with plenty of pigment. it blended really nicely and lasted well, and the only criticism that i can think of is that the warm, rosy undertone clashes with some of the other shades in the palette. nonetheless, it's a great workhorse, and i don't expect every shade in a palette this size to work with every other.

magic :: a very shimmery rich brown buffing this one a bit takes the shimmer down to a more subtle frost, while patting it in place makes it quite dazzling. unfortunately, it tends to fade faster than some of the other shades.

wings :: this looks so beautiful in the pan, a bold red-copper with lots of sparkle, but it's the one true dud in the palette. for the life of me, i don't know how you screw this up, because it seems like every company is capable of doing a really nice, frosty copper shade. but this one falls apart as soon as you touch it, and becomes nothing but sparkle, with no base. patted over other shades, it disappears, and layering it causes fallout.

marvel :: ... but then along comes this dirty gold with a greenish grey undertone to raise your spirits again. this one is dense and creamy and looks full-on metallic [although you can apply it lightly if that's a bit much for your tastes. über glamour at its most über-y.

trance :: another shade that was a bit of a letdown, trance looks like it's going to be a cool, frosted taupe but it's actually... nothing. no amount of packing this one on seemed to yield any colour or, and this is the really weird part, any extra shimmer. it's a delicate shade, which means that it's easily overwhelmed by the more pigmented ones around it. i haven't tried it on its own per se, but even applying it first didn't give me much hope that it would last very long. if you can see it, it's quite pretty, but ultimately there are a lot of frosty taupes around and most of them are going to be better.

l to r :: fairy, mystic, dream, crystal, pixie

fairy :: a smoky sugar plum kind of colour with a silvery shimmer that works with others or alone. it's in the same universe as the purple from nars "kauai", but it's lighter and a touch redder/ warmer. no surprise that i love this one, which works as both a more muted colour, because of its soft plum base, and as a vibrant one, because of the gleaming shine.

mystic :: it looks more like a light turquoise in photos, but in person it's a bluish silver... and what a bluish silver! it's got the same "dirty" quality as "marvel", like a slightly tarnished metal, but it's still the sort of thing that could stop traffic. i'm a little leery of silver shades, because they can be very hard and aging on me, but this one is a total winner.

dream :: this one swatched poorly, but performed well. it's a teal blue shimmer that definitely screams "mermaid". the shimmer has a warmth to it, which makes it less bright than it looks in the pan, but not any less pigmented. think of it as a softer kind of jewel tone, if that makes any sense.

crystal :: my absolute favourite shade in the palette and the most unique one. the official description "iridescent champagne shimmer" doesn't do it justice, but it's a decent enough starting point. sadly, it's almost impossible to photograph in all its glory, so you're just going to have to trust me on this one. the base shade is indeed a metallic platinum/ champagne colour, with a brushed metallic finish. but the magic here is in the almost duochrome sheen, which flashes pink and purple in different lights. it seems like a neutral, but there's magic in it. it's a bit like a glammed-up version of mac "vex", but it's very much its own beast.

pixie :: a pretty apricot with a gold shimmer, this is another one of my favourites. it has great pigmentation and lasts well and reminds me of another one of my mac favourites "paradisco". this one, however, is not so much para- as full disco. well, it's not as blindingly metallic as some of its neighbours, but it does definitely have a bit more shimmery oomph than regular powder shadows. this one looks especially nice with either "crystal" or "marvel".

believe :: at the heart of the palette is this white with gold and pink tones highlighter. it works on the cheeks and on the eyes, and i really like the fact that it applies quite subtly at first, but can easily be built up to a much more visible effect. the pan isn't going to accommodate larger highlighting brushes, but i didn't have a problem using either my mac 188 or 128. [yeah, i completely forgot to swatch it. i'm such a loser...]

after all those descriptions, how do things come together? what sort of looks can one create from this fairy dust. i've done a few of them in the time i've had the palette, some of which i'm sharing here. i feel a little weird, because these lean toward the "safe" end of the spectrum, but the truth is that this is a palette that, for all its glamour, offers some neutral options that might get lost in its shimmery bits.

that's crystal all over the lid, with myth and magic in the crease, and trance in the outer corner. i tried to blend wings on the outer third of the lid, but... yeah. not much of and effect. i have my trusty dazzlelight [mac] along the browbone. the blush is charlotte tilbury's love is the drug and the lipstick urban decay jilted.

this was a ridiculously easy look to do. it's mystic and fairy on the inside and outside of the lid, respectively. i have pixie noir black liner on my upper lash lines and nyx silver retractable eyeliner on my lower water lines. i'm not quite sure about the blush, but the lipstick is bite lavender jam. these photos really don't do justice to how pretty and gleaming the eye makeup was, and it was no effort.

finally, this look is really meant to highlight believe. [get it? highlight??? yuk yuk yuk.] i've used it on the lid, blended with crystal, with marvel and magic in the crease and outer corners respectively, and along the brow bone, as well as on the cheek. i used marc jacobs earthshine eyeliner, the blush is burberry peony and the lipstick mac chatterbox. this one looked pretty electrified when the sun hit it, but in softer lighting, like in the photos, it's quite subdued.

a couple of things that i wanted to note, as i think they'll be important to some potential buyers:

1. the palette is fairly heavily scented. it smells like cupcakes, and while i didn't notice that once i applied the product [either on my eyes or cheeks], but if you're sensitive to added perfumes, this probably isn't a product for you.

2. if your eyes are tired or at all irritated, leave this for another day. i first tried it on when i was having some trouble with allergies and i found that it made the stinging and the watering a lot worse. under normal circumstances, i didn't have problems.

3. a word about application: after finding the colour payoff lacking or time consuming with several brushes, i read a review of the palette that suggested the best tool to use was fingers. brushes still work best in the crease, but on the lid and to get brighter colour, it's fingers all the way. because this palette wasn't fun and youthful enough as it was.

so, can grown-ups wear glitter? pffft. wear whatever you want and to hell anyone who tells you different. but if, like me, you're a little hesitant to go full-on princess sparklehorse, this palette is a nice intermediate step. it's short of perfect, but a fun little package. it's limited edition and it's on sale now at sephora, so hurry your little butts if you want to get one. 


I always enjoy reading takes on the return of '90s makeup from people who actually wore makeup in the '90s. I was all about the roll-on body glitter in 1999, but I was also a preteen, so there's that. Even at almost-30, I still have a soft spot for sparkle, but I'm with you: my favorite '90s-style look is the blood-clot lip. The unicorn/mermaid trend weirds me out a little: there's nothing wrong with a sense of play in makeup, but these fantasy elements can feel infantilizing. Then again, I doubt I'm the target audience for Wet n Wild's mermaid collection...

This palette caught my eye when it came out because it's so different from the orangey rusty warm-toned palettes that are everywhere these days. All four of the non-neutral shades are decidedly cool-toned, which is a nice change. I love your third look in particular: not juvenile at all!
Kate MacDonald said…
Yes, no matter how s oft my head gets I don't think I'll be able to let myself wear glitter. (Also, my one experience wearing it taught me that glitter is. Much longer term commitment than I'm prepared to make with a cosmetic product. But this is something I can live with.

I agree, too, that this one at least reads as something different than the orange and red tones that seem to be everywhere. (Of course, I've also been wearing the UD heat palette every other day)

as long as you're here, why not read more?

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