Smokey Palettes pt.1

Last year was difficult for all of us, for different reasons. Isolation was a big one, particularly for those who live on their own, or are more sociable, or were shielding for safety. One thing I set up with a few friends was a regular makeup session, to chat and try out techniques and colours and basically aiming to play with all the colours in my palettes. That has proven *fun*, as I’ve basically put on a full face of makeup, then moved on with the rest of my day with the makeup on, including niceties like making bread, or prepping food for a week. Those don’t mimic the stress of performance under lights or on stage, but it’s as close as I could manage to stress test the cosmetics.

When posting the results on Instagram and Facebook, quite a few people asked about the palettes I was using, and techniques. So you can expect a few posts with palette reviews, from the point of view of vibrancy and longevity, not just price and pretty swatches and packaging. Today I want to start with that staple of dancer’s makeup bags, smokey palettes. I’ve written about four of them, ranging in price from inexpensive to mid-range. There will be a second post exploring a few more, coming up. In the meantime, take a look at the four palettes below. Any catches your eye? Which one is your favourite smokey palette? Have you used any of these, and how did you find them? Leave me a comment!

ColourPop’s Blowing Smoke

I enjoy ColourPop’s palettes. For those in the US, or able to catch one of their few “free worldwide shipping” days, they are brilliant value for money. Their 9-pans are also magnetic, so you could, theoretically, put together the palette of your dreams (or suitable for your performance/trip) in a single little palette.

I did just that and took Smoke Show to use at Serendipity 2019. It performed well, was easy to work with, lasted all night (if you’ve ever been to Serendipity, you know the parties are legendary!). However, not all is rosy, I’ve got a few minor complaints. One, and this has far more to do with me than the actual quality, is that while most of the darker grey tones have a hint of warmth in them, the lighter tones are very neutral, and to my eye, look a bit harsh when used with the darker colours. That silver really is the only colour that somewhat works for a pop of brightness on the inner eye for me, and I feel it looks a bit harsh on my skin. A second complain is that, beautiful as it is, “Let’s Do It” (bottom left black with pink glitter) had *horrible* fallout and needed cleanup. And most of the colours go either dark or light on my skin, so mid-tones are an issue, but this will be different on everybody.

Get this one if you love the more classic dark smokey look, or if your skin has a neutral or pink undertone. Be ready with a very light warm shimmer to add more range to it. Also, stay tuned for an upcoming video showing how I did the look on the third photo!

ColourPop’s Baroque

This one surprised me. I was expecting mostly blue-based greys but some are a bit more purple than blue, they just don’t photograph that true to colour. This palette has a couple of light faint duochromes (light but pigmented colour, a hint of duochrome in them). It allowed me to create some surprisingly light looks with a hint of smoke in them as well as more traditional smokey looks with different undertones. So far it’s been the most versatile of my CP palettes, and I am sad that right now it’s out of stock/not available for purchase. The colour story won’t be everybody’s cup of tea, but it worked really well for me, and blended like a dream. Lasted well into the 7-8 hour mark without budging, and the look in the full face photo I took after filming a dancing video, with 3 takes in full sunlight plus several false starts and corrections.

Get this one if you can find it, if you want your smoky looks warmer, with the option of going for light day looks. Also if you have Blowing Smoke and want something to complement it

Huda Beauty’s Smokey Obsessions

Another 9 pan palette, ultra compact. I’ve taken this one with me when travelling and it works wonderfully. Quality with Huda’s Obsessions palettes is hit and miss, but this one, to me, is one of the best of that first collection, and I imagine it has remained so. But truth be told, it’s not *smokey*, more cool and warm browns, with pops of silver, black, and warm gold (the tone of the look photo lies, I had blue light on me when I shot that look). The darker brown is brilliant as eyebrow filler too, and the black as eyeliner, so the tiny palette (7.5cm/3″) is great when space is at a premium. If you’re doing traditional FCBD® style makeup, in browns darkening to black (see this post for details), this is a great option for travelling, as you can do a lot of neutral to warm day looks too with it. It feels lovely on the skin too, very soft and creamy, and lasts well.

Get this one if really small packaging with minimum plastic use is important to you, or if you want to support a ME-woman-owned company (Huda has had her controversies, though, and I am aware of this). Also get this one if you want options for more variation on neutral looks in a compact package. And talking of smokey brown looks…

Melt Cosmetics’ MaryJane

Melt Cosmetics’ long standing tradition of releasing pot-related collections for April 20th has had their issues. I am not going to comment on this. I also know that some people did not enjoy this palette. But truth be told, my experience has been entirely the opposite. Yes, a couple of shades are chunky and difficult to use (MaryJane and Kali), although once I removed the hard pan they came with via washi tape, they became more usable. I also only use them with my fingers, although I want to try mixing some scraped powder with Mehron mixing medium. The rest of the metallics I’ve had no issue with, and the mates are out of this world. There’s also a nice range from light to really dark, and with some cool and some warm based tones. You can say that since this palette is substantially more expensive than the previous ones, it should perform better. But there’s also more product in each pan. I suspect this is one of the cases where the behaviour of each individual shade will change a lot depending on the user’s skin. In fact, I liked it so much that I used it almost exclusively for a month, from light day looks to smokey, heavy ones, and except for the situations described above, performed brilliantly.

Get this one if the pot reference doesn’t bother you, you want to support women-owned business, and you love the colour story, although I would wait until their Black Friday sale to get it for less. Also get this if you want smokey browns in shades that veer more towards colder or greener shades, and less warm than Huda’s palette.

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