Make Up For Ever Eyeshadows

A small sample that goes a long way.

If you’re a makeup newbie, you may not be aware of just how great Make Up For Ever eyeshadows are. Since one was included in a Play! By Sephora box, you may want to sign up for the subscription service (if available in your area). It’s a good way to try Sephora’s brands.

Those of us who are enthusiasts already know, so do I even need to talk about it?

Back when I took my blog pictures on an iPhone camera. Pardon the quality.

I’ll be brief, but there’s a reason MUFE’s single shadows are pricey (one will run you $21.00). They tend to be very pigmented, smooth, and incredibly blendable. I’ve used a few in different finishes and have yet to run across a bad shadow. So the good news is that even though you’re paying $21 a pan you’re getting a quality product made in Italy.

That being said, is it really worth paying the full price for the shadows?

This particular shade is Pink Granite in a iridescent finish.

I think full price could be worth it if there’s a really unique shade that you know you’ll use all the time. Otherwise, there’s a  better way to try out these shadows.


Though you’ll be getting a slightly smaller pan size, I think newbies to MUFE should go for the collection palettes they put out every new season. MUFE will look at the trends and put together colors that exist in their catalog into a pretty palette that comes with instructions.

Some palettes will come in a particular finish. The fall’s version, Vol. 4, was all matte for the matte eye trend. These palettes are $44 and have 9 shadows, a great value. The florals collection is currently on sale for $34. If you’re a real novice and aren’t adventurous enough to try colors, go for Volume 1 Nudes. It’s got great basic colors that are user friendly as you build up your eye makeup skills.

Speaking of neutral makeup…

Bottom line: While pricey, MUFE shadows deliver. Personally, I would go for their collections for the value, but if you already have the basics and none of the collection colors speak to you I’d swatch the colors that have caught your eye in person and invest in a pan or two. Can you find similar colors for a lower price? Yes. But if you see something unique, I think you’ll get your money’s worth.


Urban Decay Lounge Eyeshadow

When luxe brands give out tiny samples.

Everyone knows that when Urban Decay does shadows well, it’s a pretty amazing makeup experience. Urban Decay was the first high end brand I ever bought. I was 13 when I purchased their single eyeshadow in Baked, which is still one of my favorite shades. Ipsy included these sample size pans from their singles. I received the shade Lounge (USD $19.00, full size). This is an iridescent shadow that’s classified as one of UD’s shimmer shades. It does have a slight duo chrome quality to it, reflecting between green and red.

Of course, I have to chuckle at the teeny tiny size of this shadow pan. But honestly, it would take me a while to go through a shade like this anyway. Rest assured that if you buy the full size, you’ll get a very decent sized pan that will last you.

Now, I did have a small snafu with my shadow sample. It happens from time to time, but my sample arrived broken. Luckily, I have some empty acrylic pots on hand just in case I shatter any of my eyeshadows and am unable to press them back into the pan. So, when I sampled the shadow I did so with it in a non pressed form.

This sheers out on the lids to a pretty, soft rust with a green shift.

It speaks well of UD that I got this shadow to work for me even as a broken shadow. It did lose a little bit of its pigmentation potential, but I really enjoyed the soft look I was able to great with the crushed shadow.

I wish I had my HD camera on hand when I did this to capture the true color. My phone camera washes out the color a bit to look more brown. In reality, what I got was a shadow that looked like a natural rusty brown, but when it caught the light shifted to green. I absolutely love it.

Buttery, buttery shadows.

What I love about the Urban Decay formula is how easy it is to smooth out and blend them over the lid. It’s what made me fall in love with them all those years ago. It’s not quite as buttery and soft as a Lorac or Anastasia Beverly Hills palette. However, it’s not super stiff. It actually has a good balance and eliminates a lot of the fallout you can get from lines with softer formulas. This quality almost always transfers to their permanent palette shadows (the Naked series is well loved for good reason), though some limited edition editions don’t quite meet the expectations I have when I hear “Urban Decay shadow”.

Missing that summer ombre.

Seriously, my pictures aren’t doing this shadow justice. Lounge is an incredibly beautiful color.

The only thing I would mention is that this is a pretty dupable color. Makeup Geek has a similar color for a couple of bucks less. So if it’s this particular color you’re lusting after, unless you only like the UD formula, you can find similar and more affordable dupes.

Bottom line: What can I say? Urban Decay single shadows speak for themselves. They have 85 shades for you to choose from in different finishes. Whether you reach for a single or a (permanent) palette, you won’t be disappointed by the pigmentation. This is great, because it means people with deeper skin tones will find shadows that will show up beautifully.

Going back to that little broken sample problem, I want to take a moment to commend Ipsy on their amazing customer service. The same day I received my glam bag, I contacted them to let them know about the broken sample. They apologized and immediately put in an order for a replacement sample. I thought, per my past experience, it would take a couple of days for the replacement to ship.


It shipped within an hour of my contacting them. My replacement arrived three days later. I was just blown away by how amazing they were! If I ever have to deal with them again, I’ll know to expect great service.

If you’d like to subscribe to Ipsy, follow the link!

April 2016 Boxycharm Review #4: yourMinerals Sweden Eye Glimmer

Gotta love a good eye pigment.

Not counting LipSmackers chapstick, mineral makeup is my beauty roots. Because I had acne prone oily skin that hated almost anything I put on it, mineral makeup was a savior when it appeared in my early teens. (That and Estee Lauder Double Wear Foundation when I had to cover several breakouts. Literally cannot believe the online beauty community is just not discovering that amazing stuff.)

I still enjoy a lot of mineral makeup, though my complexion has calmed down enough that now I can branch out past it. But I do enjoy trying new makeup from my classic brands (looking at you Bareminerals and PUR) and from new independent brands.

Boxycharm sent out this beautiful shimmery eye color from yourMinerals Sweden. I received their Eye Glimmer (USD $23.00, full size) in Brown Hypnotic. I love this color, because it’s a good neutral but with that extra kick of shimmer to keep it from being too basic. My one complaint with Boxycharm is that they tend to lean too much towards neutrals and aren’t more bold with their makeup offerings. Good for mass appeal, but it can get pretty boring when you’re just accumulating a bunch of neutrals. The shimmer definitely takes it out of that category. The price point puts it in the Sephora or department store brand range, which is fine as long as the shadow performs well.

This shade is great if you want to jazz up your everyday neutral shadow look. A little pizzaz without offending your company’s HR.

True to its mineral makeup claim, this shadow only contains 4 ingredients: mica, iron oxides, titanium oxides, and ferric ferrocyanide. No talc to be found, which is great for those who are sensitive to it, but I’ve seen some people claim sensitivity to mica as well. Just note that it is in there. I didn’t have an adverse reaction.

Because it’s a loose pigment I expect packaging to come with a filter to prevent powder from going everywhere when you open the container. yourMinerals delivers there. Though their filter isn’t my favorite, as it has four larger openings (I prefer those with central nets), I appreciate that it keeps my shadows safely in the container. You’ll need to be careful when tapping out product as it can go from not releasing much to dumping out a good amount of pigment. This isn’t a deal breaker for me, because you get so much powder I’m going to have trouble getting through all of the product before it expires.

This is a dry application with matte shadows from Smashbox’s Photo Op Trio in Filter as a base.

Being a pigment, color payment is phenomenal. Applying dry over primer and matte shadows, the color showed up as a soft brown shimmer that was noticeable but subtle enough to wear during the day. Like most shimmer shadows (especially pigments) this applies best either with your fingers or a flat shadow brush. I didn’t get any fall out from the pigment when I was applying and blending.

I did experiment wearing it wet, which looked really great. I stupidly only got a picture of the swatch, but you can see that wet you get even more shimmer payoff.

A wet shadow swatch. All the shimmer!

The only drawback I see to this is because it’s a mineral shadow, it’s incredibly soft. I found that even with primer this shadow did crease some after several (6+) hours of wear. However, this is something I get with every mineral shadow I try, so again it’s not a deal breaker. And frankly, the majority of the time I wore the shadow it looked great. It was just closer to the evening/night that it started creasing.

Bottom line: yourSweden stays true to its claim by delivering truly mineral makeup that only has four ingredients. Despite the natural formula, this pigment is gorgeous. You get a ton of color and shimmer payoff, both wet and dry. For the price point you get a ton of product that you could only use up if you used it every day. I’m quite impressed and would love to try more from this brand!

If you’d like to subscribe to Boxycharm, follow the link!

April 2016 Ipsy Review #4: OFRA Cosmetics Eyeshadow in Bohemian

Eyeshadow singles are pretty great.

OFRA is well known here on the internet for their liquid lipsticks. I’m a fan of them for their comfort and wide color range. For Christmas, I also got two of their powder highlighters, which I really love. You Dew You is one of my favorite golden peach highlights. Having such good prior experience with OFRA, I was excited to try an eyeshadow from them.

Now, I have to let you know that I have tried eyeshadows from them in the past. As an Ipsy offer, there was a twenty shade eyeshadow palette that is regularly sold on OFRA’s website for $79.00. I picked it up, as it seemed like a good deal with the price being slashed to $20.00. That palette is a mix of mattes and shimmers and was my first exposure to OFRA eyeshadows.

The results were mixed. The shimmer shadows actually applied very well. They looked just as beautiful on the eye as they did in the swatch. The mattes, however, were a disaster. They were pretty dry and hard to blend. To OFRA’s credit, each shadow was highly pigmented, but this wasn’t enough to save the formula. All I can say is that I’m glad I got the Ipsy price reduction. Had I paid $79 for it, I would have been pissed. Honestly, the way the formulation of the mattes is, it’s barely worth the $20.

Ipsy included the shade Bohemian (USD $12 for a 4 oz pan, $10 for a 2 oz pan), a light bronzy metallic. It’s a good universal color that will work for practically anyone. I do wish Ipsy would get a little bolder in their sample color selections, but I understand that you have to please the masses.

Good packaging for an eyeshadow single.

OFRA’s packaging is similar to Makeup Geek’s for single pans. It comes in a cardboard envelope and is cushioned with foam to prevent it from breaking. I’ve never had a problem when ordering shadows in this packaging, so it seems to be the best way to transport it.

One thing I do wish OFRA would do is include a sticker on the back of the shadow with the shade information. This will make it much easier to organize product and have the info ready if you need to repurchase. Most other brands do this, so it would be great if they started doing this, too.

Enter a caption

Bohemian is actually a part of the 20 shadow palette and I’m happy to report that the single pan is the exact same formulation as the palette. Like the other shimmer shades, they’re smooth, highly pigmented, and apply well.

This eyeshadow formula does have quite a bit of fallout, which isn’t surprising considering the formulation. However, that isn’t a deal breaker for me, as I have plenty of shadows with fallout that perform well. I just make sure to do my eye makeup before applying the rest of my face makeup.

Bohemian all over the lid.

These shimmers are best used all over the lid. The best application I got was using a flat shader brush. You definitely want to use an eyeshadow primer or else you’ll get some creasing. This isn’t a point against OFRA, as basically all powder shadows do that. This isn’t like a L’Oreal Infallible or Maybelline Color Tattoo.


All in all, it did wear well with a primer. I was able to get some great looks, but I definitely couldn’t pull OFRA’s matte shades to do this.

I say all this because in an upcoming subscription, we’re being sent some shadows from OFRA again. I’m praying for an updated formula on those.

Bottom line: For the price point, these shadows, including the shimmers are ok. It’s not that the shimmers don’t work well. They do! There’s just something lacking in the formula. Looking at a similarly priced brand, Makeup Geek, I’m much more satisfied with their eyeshadow pans. Not to mention they blow the OFRA matte formula out of the water. Granted, there are tons of affiliate discount codes, so if you do buy these pick your favorite YouTuber and use their code to save some money. I know OFRA owns their own labs, so I really hope they figure out the formula! I’d rather pay a little more for a better shadow. I know they can do it, as they’ve put out so many other great products.

If you’d like to try Ipsy, follow the link!

March 2016 Boxycharm Review #2: Makeup Geek Eyeshadow

Hello, beautiful.

When I started getting back into makeup, it became clear that there were so many amazing brands available online that weren’t back when I was in high school and college. The internet can be a  really wonderful thing. The wonderful Marlena, aka Makeup Geek, had ventured out a few years ago and made what was clearly a must-try makeup line. YouTube has really given some wonderfully creative people the opportunity to share their passion and quality products with the rest of the beauty community.

If you’re not familiar with Makeup Geek, you really should get to know them. This is a very affordable brand that doesn’t sacrifice quality in favor of price. They can stay affordable because most of their shadows, blushes, and contour powders are sold in single pans for you to put in a Z palette. I love single eyeshadows, but it was always such a pain to drag around so many individual cases. The Z Palette has been a great organizational blessing for this and Makeup Geek has made their products consumer friendly by allowing us the option of purchasing single pans.

Now, they are coming out with some of their products in compacts (a review that will be forthcoming), but as I understand it they’re still keeping the single pan option.

When Boxycharm announced that they would be including two Makeup Geek eyeshadows in our March boxes, I was over the moon. I’m already a huge fan of their shadows. Not only does Marlena and her team come up with gorgeous, unique, and wearable shades, but they are some of the best quality around on the market. I first purchased MUG shadows when they launched their duo chrome collection. It was a great investment, as they are some of my favorite shadows. Boxycharm put in everyone’s boxes one matte and one shimmer or foiled shade. I was lucky to receive two colors I didn’t have: Frappe, a medium maple brown matte, and Cosmopolitan, a rose gold with a shimmery finish. My sister received Cocoa Bear, a matte reddish brown, which she already had in her collection, and gifted it to me.

Makeup Geek Eyeshadow prices start at USD $6 for the mattes, shimmers, and duo chromes, and $10 for the foiled shadows. We’re talking  very competitive drug store pricing for the shadows.They come packaged in a cardboard envelope that does a good job of protecting the shadow during delivery. The pans are magnetized so they can pop in easily into your Z palette.

Makeup Geek is only available online, but they are well worth buying. They have really good swatches to give you a good idea of what the shadows look like and there are tons of bloggers and YouTubers with pictures and videos.

Frappe all over the lid, Cocoa Bear in the crease, and Cosmopolitan as the inner corner highlight.

The formula of these shadows, like I said before, are amazing. They are incredibly smooth and buttery, but not so much that they can be controlled when applied. Application is a dream. They are richly pigmented, so a little goes a long way. You can also build up the colors quite nicely without having your look get muddy looking. There’s no fallout from these shadows, something that sometimes even high end brands can’t accomplish. I mean, Makeup Geek just hit the nail on the head on what we’re looking for in a good eyeshadow.

Please excuse my dark circles. I was doing a lot of commuting for work between two time zones.

These colors actually went together very nicely to do an all warm eye look. What I have pictured is one of the looks I came up with. Another time, I packed on Cosmopolitan all over the lid for a more shimmery look. I commend Boxycharm for sending some of the best selling and user friendly colors. Cocoa Bear and Frappe are staples in the MUG collection, so I’m really happy to finally have them. And Cosmopolitan is a great shade if you’re just getting into shimmers. You can build up the intensity as much as you want or keep it subtle.


I’d also like to note that Marlena’s company is very friendly towards people of all skin tone shades. Her website has recommendations on what makeup shades complement your skin best and in her contour shades she very much kept in mind all her customers: from the fairest to the deepest skin. I really appreciate a company that does this. The breadth of the MUG shadow lines is pretty much a guarantee that you’ll find something that suites both your style and skin tone.

Makeup Geek is out there making everyone step up their game.

Rating: 5/5. Let’s face it, MUG is setting the bar in quality and creativity not just for affordable makeup, but for all beauty products. I think it’s so wonderful that if you can’t splurge on $15-20 shadows or an expensive palette, you can still get beautiful makeup at an affordable price point. They’re really proving that you don’t have to sacrifice quality to bring your product to a wider audience. I honestly believe that everyone should try at least a few MUG products.

If you’d like to subscribe to Boxycharm, follow the link!

March 2016 Birchbox Review #1: Smashbox Photo Op Eyeshadow Trio

All the Smashbox eyeshadow, plz.

This is what sold me on the Editor’s Box for March’s Birchbox. I’m so happy to see that Birchbox is expanding to include more of the mainstream brands you find at Sephora. It’s making them a great competitor in the beauty retail community. Recently, they added brands from the Estee Lauder Company (Clinique, Smashbox, Origins, and, of course Estee Lauder) to their stock. This is a huge move for Birchbox and I can’t wait to see what else they’ll add.

When Birchbox revealed that this mini Photo Op Eyeshadow Trio in Filter (USD $28.00, full size), I was so excited. In my teenage years, Smashbox was one of the first brands of makeup that I bought. I was a huge fan of their berry colored lip glosses and their eyeshadow palettes. It’s been a while since I’ve revisited Smashbox shadows, so this was a very welcomed sample.

When matte shadows swatch beautifully. I die.

There are 4 different shade palettes of Photo Op trios: Vignette (plum nude), Focal Point (peachy nude), Multi Flash (pinky nude), and Filter (brown nude). We all received filter, which is all matte. All of these trios are great, because they offer a slow maintenance palette for every day looks.

I know a lot of people want eyeshadows that are simple, no fuss, and can be used for multiple every day looks. I think Smashbox nailed this concept with all of their trios. Each one offers you great shadow combinations that are tailored for daily use and allow customers to choose which colors they use the most.

The Filter trio, for me, has my perfect go-to colors for a daily matte look. The deepness of the brown shades allows me to create a natural eye look that suits my skin tone. Depending on how I use the shadows, I could also get this to give me a deeper smokey eye for evening looks. I think these colors could also work for lighter skinned folk, as long as they used a light hand, and deeper skin tones, because the colors can be built up pretty well.

The actual perfect natural eye makeup.

The versatility of what appear to be “basic” colors is what makes these trios perfect for traveling, especially for business trips. You can throw one of these in your bag and know it will work for business meetings and events and allow you to play up the look for after hours fun. I love makeup items that help me minimize what I take when traveling. I could easily toss this in my travel bag along with a mascara, liner pen, and a single pot shimmer (just in case) and be set.

Looking at the quality of the shades, these are some of the best matte eyeshadows I’ve seen in a long time. The pigmentation is phenomenal. The swatches seen above are from one swipe. A little goes a long way with these shadows, which is great for the price point.

They blend like a freaking dream, even without primer. The shadows are soft without going all over the place. Also, despite being matte these don’t have a lot of fall out. I’m not sure what Smashbox is doing with their formula, but whatever it is they’re definitely getting it right.

I love how the neutral look of the shades pairs well with bolder lip colors.

Now, can you find these colors at the drug store? Absolutely. They’re not unique by any means. What is unique, I think, is that Smashbox did such a wonderful job of pairing the ideal colors to give users a goof-proof color palette. It’s going to work with absolutely everything, no matter what palette you choose.

In this case, as long as you have the money, I really do think this trio is worth the $28.00 price point. You’re definitely going to get your money’s worth.

Rating: 5/5. Honestly, I didn’t think I would be so blown by such a simple looking trio. But this hits the marks on all fronts: a superior quality basic matte palette that gives versatile looks for daily looks. If you’re someone who is just getting into makeup and wants an error-proof color palette, someone who travels a lot and needs to simplify their travel bag, or if you don’t want a huge palette then this bad boy is for you. I can already tell I’m going to go through this little sample quickly, and when I do, you can bet I’ll be repurchasing this.

If you’d like to subscribe to Birchbox, follow the link!

January 2016 Boxycharm Review #4: Coastal Scents Revealed Smoky Palette

Gotta love a good attempt at duping Urban Decay!

Coastal Scents eyeshadows get a lot of flack. I’ve been guilty of doing this, too, especially because they always claim their palettes are worth $40.00, but really they’re always on sale for $19.95. Lately, like a lot of other more affordable makeup lines, they’ve been trying to dupe the Urban Decay Naked palettes. Boxycharm has sent subscribers all of their dupe palettes. I joined up in time to get the Revealed 3 Palette, which is the dupe for the UD Naked 3. Honestly, that one I wasn’t the biggest fan of it. There are some good shades in that one, but the mattes were just not well formulated. They were powdery and had bad pigmentation. I recently depotted that palette and just kept my favorite shimmer shades.

So when I saw we were getting the dupe for the UD Smoky, I was a little skeptical. But still, it’s a 20 shadow palette, so I wasn’t going to write it off before trying it.

Definitely some bonus shades in here.

At first glance, the shadows from the Revealed Smoky (USD $19.95…also note that they even took the spelling of “smoky” from UD. Way to be subtle.) do look gorgeous. Comparing it to the UD Smoky, it has 8 additional shades most of which are mattes. I actually appreciate this in a palette because I feel like nowadays palette haven’t been so good about including mattes to create a full eye look (if only we could just live off of shimmers!). Granted, I wasn’t sure how well these mattes were going to work, because in the past I’ve found Coastal Scents’ formula to be way too powdery.

Since it’s a more affordable eyeshadow, they do tend to use a good bit of talc. Now, pretty much everyone uses talc, so I’m not going to hold this against the formula. But you do notice quite a bit of fall out and some “balling up” of the product when you dip your finger into a shadow. The shadows also don’t feel as buttery as others at the same price point.

Swatch of the top row.

When I initially swatched the colors, I did notice a little bit of an improvement over the Revealed 3, especially with the mattes. Still, that first matte highlight shade was a little worrying. I thought it was going to perform a lot like the matte highlight in the Revealed 3, which was terrible.

Swatch of the bottom row.

The shimmers swatched beautifully. I was really impressed with the pigmentation and smooth application of the color. Now, is it a nice feeling as UD? Absolutely not. But the color payoff was pretty great.


A blue smoky eye look. Pretty, but I felt really awkward wearing this during the day.

On application, you absolutely need to use an eyeshadow primer with these shadows. On their own, they can definitely blend and apply well, but it takes a lot more work. Using a primer, you can get a great eye look with less effort.

I don’t think I’ve ever worn so much blue eyeshadow…I probably won’t again. It’s too intense for me.

When I did my first look with this palette, I was blown away with just how pigmented the darker mattes and shimmers were. I mean, WHOA. I actually had to adjust the amount of eyeshadow I was using because of the intensity. A little definitely goes a long way.

Brown smoky. Definitely more in my comfort zone (and more “running errands” appropriate).

What was most surprising were the two lighter matte shades. The second color from the top row is actually my perfect all over base color. It’s a great match to my skin tone and makes my lid a uniform colored canvas for the other shadows. I find myself reaching for it all the time.

That matte highlight shade? It’s actually not as bad as I thought it’d be! With my e.l.f. C Brush, I find that I can really use it as a brow bone highlight. (It’s pictured in my brown smoky look.)

Hey there, brown eyes.

Guys, I’m ridiculously impressed with this palette. Is it a proper dupe for the UD Smoky? I’m going to say, no. Yes, you can find some shades that are dupes, but this is a different type of palette. I’d say it’s a good affordable alternative to the UD Smoky, but absolutely not an exact dupe. It does one up UD by including more matte colors, so you don’t have to go out and buy a separate matte palette.

Ok, last picture of this makeup look, I promise. Narcissism over. (Lipstick is Revlon’s Super Stay in Coffee Bean.)

Rating: 4.5/5. Keeping it real, this is not the best “dupe” out there for the UD Smoky Palette. However, it’s actually the best palette from Coastal Scent’s Revealed line that I’ve ever tried. I’m thoroughly enjoying each shade from this palette and find myself reaching for it all the time. The shadows are great for a full eye look, including lining the eyes. And the formula of the matte shades have been a phenomenal improvement over the Revealed 3, though I still feel there’s room for improvement with their lighter matte shades. If you want a smoky eye palette, but don’t want to drop $40 and then some on UD shadows, this is a great alternative.

If you’d like to try Boxycharm, follow the link!