Smokey Palettes pt.2

Last time I showed you a few of my favourite smokey palettes, some drugstore and economical, some more expensive. I’d like to cover a few more. Again, we’ll go from inexpensive and easily available, to more pricey and Limited Edition. Have you used any of these? Any preference? Leave me a comment below!

Smokey Purple by Collection

In theory, I love the concept of this palette. Portable, purples and gunmetal colours. Colour nr3 does look an interest desaturated light purple with a satiny finish that I’m not sure I’ve seen elsewhere.

I said in theory I love it. In practice, not so much. I know I shouldn’t expect much from a £3.99 palette, but the formula feels “thin”, buildable but thin. I’m also not sure that having most of the pans as satin/metallics, even the darker ones, is a good idea, as a lot of people (myself included) prefer to use non metallics for crease and outer v areas.

Don’t get me wrong, you can totally create a few pretty looks with this, and it feels soft on the skin and finely milled. But I might be spoiled as it’s proven hard to work with, doesn’t seem to blend that well, and needs a LOT of build up to have any colour depth as in the look I’m attaching below. I can see it being incredibly frustrating for less experienced users. The exact same applies for the Smokey Grey palette from the same company.

Get this if….

You know, just don’t. Don’t get this. If you have not used a smokey palette before and you want to start without spending too much, you’d only feel aggravated when trying to use it. To be totally honest I would skip it altogether, and get the Sleek one.

Bad Girl i-Divine Sleek

Now this is the opposite: super pigmented, really smooth. Great quality for the price, a nice greyscale plus a pop of soft pink, and a selection of the most common “smokey” colours for variations, two of each: purples, blues, and rather uniquely, metallic desaturated greens. All for less than £10. Not all shades apply equally. A few will need a bit of buildup once you start applying them on the eye, but they will get there eventually, and blend rather well.

My one complain with this palette is that all but the lighter purple are metallics or at least satins, so it feels like it’s missing a few mattes. If you can pair this with a neutral palette, like one of the neutral Urban Decay minis, or even the Huda Beauty I reviewed on the previous post, you could extend the versatility even further. Sleek’s own Goodnight Sweetheart might also be a good complement, although it also has far more metallics and satins than mattes.

Get this if you want to experiment with smokey coloured looks without breaking the bank.

Melt Cosmetics’ The Waiting Room

This one was a limited edition one, for Melt’s Beetlejuice collection, but they sometimes re-release colours with the same formula in other palettes later, so worth talking about. This is really two palettes in one, with a red row, and a greyscale one. The formula doesn’t swatch that well on my arm, but works brilliantly on my eyes. I’ve loved nearly every look I’ve done with it… but I find it difficult to create diverse looks. The first time I tried a red and black look I didn’t like the result. The second time I tried a different grey and red I didn’t like it either, and it was because for some reason, when going on my eyes, the colours didn’t look like they belonged together. Colours changing on my eyelids is nothing new, I’ve had that since my days exploring Aromaleigh eyeshadows, but it’s still frustrating. The greys have an almost swampy undertone, which goes perfect with the theme. I think that undertone gets amplified on my skin, causing the clash with the reds. I’m sad I won’t get to use this palette as the colour story it was designed to be, but I am happily using it with stunning results for monochrome looks, and with other palettes.

For me the showstopper is Lydia, the metallic true red. I haven’t really seen a similar colour on its own, they are all a bit more blue or a bit more orange or not metallic, but if you are after just *that* colour, you can get an extremely close dupe by using Love+ and Kiss Kiss from Sugar pill layered on top of each other.

Right now this palette is sold out and probably won’t be back on sale. But if you do find it or they re-release it, get it if you REALLY love reds, if you want murkier, grungy greys to use on their own and complement other palettes, and of course, if you are a Beetlejuice fan.

Final Words

Sadly, my favourite smokey palette is not made anymore: Urban Decay’s Naked Smoky. You can see a look I made with it on the left; it’s rich and warm, while still keeping to the fundamental nature of the smokey look with the shades of black. I really wish they brought back that palette.

And the undertones are the key for a great smokey look, I think. It’s amazing how many variations of black and grey you can find, and how different these variations can look on your skin. But you should figure out which looks best on you first, whether it’s warm or cool ones, taupes or greens, and how they all interact together, otherwise things can get very messy (or muddy) very quickly.

If you want to start experimenting with smokey looks, I think I would recommend starting either with ColourPop’s Baroque (or their recently released “of Quartz”, which seems to have a similar colour story just with a mauve undertone), or Sleek’s Bad Girl palettes, which would allow you to play without breaking the bank and are roughly around the same price point and quality. Both have good, blendable formulas that make them accessible for beginners. I would personally bypass a more expensive palette and get really good brushes, including at least one pencil brush, and one crease blending or fluffy brush, particularly if you’re closer to my age than to the average beauty guru’s. You can always get a more expensive smokey palette with different colour stories later, although to be honest, I can’t think of any available now that I would recommend above the ones I featured.

Start learning what shape works best for your eye, practice drawing the shape with a single colour and blending it all out, once you are comfortable with that use a crease colour first for the blending then fill in with your main colour and blend them into each other. Once you are comfortable with blending the two colours, you can start adding more. Or leave it at that and work with different colours to have more options. It might not be traditionally “smokey” if you’re not using greys, but the same techniques give brilliant results regardless of colour. Let me know in the comments if you’d like a video of this technique.

As with everything, practice is important! Don’t wait until half an hour before your next performance to try a new complicated technique! Get together with friends, paint each other, or do it via video chat, offer critiques, and overall, have fun!

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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