Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Do and a Don't: E.L.F. Mini Haul and Review

A few weeks ago, E.L.F. had a 40% off sale online. There were a couple of items that I'd been eyeing, but hadn't quite built up the courage to try out, so this seemed high time to bite the bullet and order. I picked up, among other things, the Prism Eyeshadow Palette in Sunset and the new 22-Piece Mini On the Go Palette. Normally, the 22-piece palette goes for $15, but right now, you can get both palettes for $10 each.  

Top: Prism Eyeshadow Palette. Bottom: 22-Piece Mini On the Go Palette.

Now, because I like to end things on a good note, let's start out with the 22-piece palette and get that out of the way.

You see, for me, this was a fail. Through and through. It's really a shame, too, because the idea is fantastic. It's just the execution that falters.

Before I go any farther, let's start with the good: I very much enjoy the concept of carrying a purse-friendly, compact palette with shadows, blushes, glosses, applicators, and a mascara. Normally, you get some combination of a few of those elements, but rarely all of them. Also, kudos for putting the cream products in a section to themselves, thus preventing the powder shadows and blushes from contaminating the glosses. It really sucks when you apply a pretty pink gloss, only to find that particles of black eyeshadow have smeared across you lips, as well. There's also a really nice mirror, so you actually can apply your makeup "on the go".

And that's about it. And I hate that.

So, what's so terrible about this palette? Unfortunately, pretty much everything (oh, I HATE this review!! It's so negative, and I really adore E.L.F.!). To start with, the packaging is boring, shoddy, and just plain bulky. Sadly, I didn't get a picture of it from the side, but while it's only about the length and width of a credit card, the height is ridiculous. It's a brick. Think of two Altoids tins stacked one atop the other, and you've got a pretty accurate representation. It's supposed to be travel-friendly, but there's not a pocket in my purse large enough to hold it (and I travel heavy). Of course, even if I could fit it into my bag, I wouldn't because the clasp is flimsy, and I'm afraid it would open up and spill everywhere. It's just not workable as a travel palette.

Secondly, the products aren't very good. The eyeshadows are chalky and lacking in the pigment department. Below, I have a random sampling of some of the shadows, and I had to really work to build them up to this intensity. The fourth shadow from the left--see if you can spot it. It's supposed to be the cornflower blue in the top row of the palette. Now, if you look at the shadows in the pan, they appear to have a variety of finishes, ranging from matte to glitter. However, when you apply them, they all come off as matte, and unfortunately, muddy together. I tried wearing a few to work, and while I didn't have any fading or creasing, the overall look was so embarrassingly...the only word I have is muddy, y'all. I'm sorry...that I had to pull out my usual purse palette and re-do it before I left the office.

Of course, E.L.F. shadows tend to be hit or miss, but the lip products have, generally, been pretty good. I had higher hopes for the second tier.

See! The colors are lovely, and there's a nice range of shades. Another thing that bugged me about the shadows was the apparent randomness of color choices. When I think of a purse palette, I think of touch-up shades: a deep shade for adding drama, a shimmer to perk up a look or cover creasing...that sort of thing. The shadows didn't deliver on that, but the lip colors--more sticks than glosses, really--fared better. Sadly, they feel kind of gritty on the lips, look thick and chalky, and wear off quickly. The lip brush is splayed and unusable, and shed the first time I tried to dip it into the product. Below is another random sampling of colors. They are very pretty in the pan and in swatches. It's just a shame they wear so poorly.
Left to Right: the light pink, the last shade, the deep purple.

On to the blushes! I'll be perfectly honest with you; I did not try these. I couldn't. I don't have a brush small enough. The included brush wasn't usable, and each color is roughly the size of a postage stamp. Again, this is a shame because E.L.F. tends to do well with blushes, and these colors are just gorgeous. From what I can tell, they appear to be a subtle golden highlight, a raspberry blush, and a light, shimmery bronzer.

I did swatch these, and that made me even more unhappy. They swatch well and look just lovely. I just can't use them.

I didn't even bother with the mascara. It's their standard studio mascara, so if you like it, you'll like this. It's not enough to make or break this palette. So, in summation, it's a wonderful idea. It just didn't work.

Part of me wonders if, perhaps, this was rushed into production. Recently, Urban Decay released the Anarchy and Shattered Face Cases (shadows, blushes, and a lip pencil in a compact case), and I wonder if this was launched as a response to that. Granted, the case more resembles a Too Faced Glamour To Go, but I really do wonder. This is pure speculation, but I get the feeling this started out as a dupe of the Glamour To Go, and then went into production early because of the Urban Decay. Maybe not. It's just a theory, and the only way I can understand how something that was so clearly not thought through could be released. Hopefully, they'll keep with the idea, but tweak it so that it works better. Personall, I'd reduce the number of shadows to eight and up the quality of each, make the glosses "glosses" (creamier and easier to apply without a brush), and include only one blush and one bronzer/highlight (to increase the size of each). I'm not sure what to do about the bulk of the packaging, but even rounding the corners would help. Right now, it's a mess.

Okay, now that that unpleasantness is out of the way, let me show you my new friend:

Isn't it pretty?! These are well-done shadows, y'all. This is the Prism Palette in Sunset, and here's how E.L.F. describes it:
These ultra-silky and lustrous eyeshadows look like a powder but feel like a cream, allowing for a smooth and flawless application. Use to contour, line, and highlight for a radiant finish. The luminous, shimmery formula creates a gorgeous range of looks for both day and night.

They ain't lyin'. I have had very little luck with E.L.F. shadows in the past. The best I've ever had was half of the Maleficent palette from last year. When I opened this baby up, I let out an audible gasp. I could tell just by looking at the shadows that they were going to be special.

These swatches are crap. In person, they look much richer and sparkle like nobody's business. The formula is fantastic, too. They're creamy and silky, and not even slightly powdery. These swatches are in palette order, and those second, third, and fourth shades are standouts.

Is this a perfect palette? No. You will need to augment it with some matte or satin shadows, and probably with some deeper shades to put together a complete look. If you have Urban Decay's Naked Basics, you're set. I can completely forgive that, though, because of the formula. I would put it on par with Stila, honestly. It's that kind of soft, slightly flaky (not flaking off, but it's almost like it applies in a solid flake form...or maybe I'm insane...either way), shimmering texture. I didn't experience any creasing or fading in the hours that I wore these, and felt confident enough to use the palette for a holiday party look. These are just d@*n good shadows, and you get six of them for ten dollars. There are two other versions, Naked and Smoke (I tell you, they are seriously trying to get in on the Urban Decay audience), with neutral and jewel tones, respectively. I haven't tried them, yet, but after falling in love with Sunset, I may need to place another order.

Final Verdict

22-Piece On the Go Palette: 2 out of 10. Great idea, but executed poorly.
Prism Palette: 9 out of 10. Gorgeous, and tremendously good quality. On par with high end. 

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

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