Friday, February 3, 2012

Shadows! In Which Dr. Inkenstein Never Even Mentions Ink

Recently (thanks to both QVC and the Temptalia blog), Dr. Inkenstein has re-discovered eye shadow. With this happy pastime, I began performing a number of Science Experiments that did not in the least involve ink, fountain pens, or even sock yarn. I wanted to compare and contrast (mostly) drug-store brands, with one exception, and I wanted to know about color payout, and other extremely technical things, which basically just means: which shadow brands are good, and which are Return To Sender?
Of course my findings are completely subjective. But useful.
First we purchased a LOT of shadow compacts. Everything from big palettes holding a full dozen colors from the Dollar Tree, to the Deluxe Model found at Ulta: a compact from Bare Minerals costing more than Dr. Inkenstein cares to say.

Bare Minerals, and two of the other 'test cases:'

And that compact (Bare Minerals READY Eyeshadow 4.0, The Elements), not surprisingly, turned out the best in all categories but two---if you count price.
There are four neutral-ish shadows in this particular palette, each with excellent color payout in spite of a very disappointing applicator (at least you get two of them!), and there is a big mirror in which you can actually see your entire face, should you decide to apply on the fly.
However, there were also many surprises along the way.
Keeping in mind that I did not test every single shadow combo…
Guided by what I read on Temptalia and QVC, I grabbed shadow trios and quads from Revlon, Wet ‘n’ Wild, Elf, and L’Oreal. All the colors LOOKED great in the box, but application was a different story.
The Wet ‘n’ Wild Color Icons cost under $5, come with three shadows, a mini-brush, and single-ended applicator. The brush sheds hairs, the applicator is adequate. No mirror, but an illustrated guide on the back and embossed names (Eyelid, Crease, Browbone) so you know what color goes where. Color payout is excellent, for any shadow at any price. I got a blue set (On Cloud Nine) and pink-y neutrals (Walking on Eggshells).

Here are the blues:


Next I compared the W&W to a couple of similar color quads from L’Oreal (Studio Secrets), costing about eight bucks: Blues (the colors of which should be obvious), and Desert Sunrise for a comparison of the neutrals. These also have no mirror, but like the W&W have a guide for which color goes where, plus embossed numbers in case you forget. The quad has one double-ended applicator which is markedly better quality than even the Bare Minerals applicator. But color payout was stubborn compared to W & W.
Even worse was the Revlon quad, costing about the same as the L’Oreal: Colorstay Delighful (more neutrals… do you sense a theme?). The product is well-named. The shadow ‘stays’ in the compact; application is like trying to scrape color off a brick.
The Revlon palette was the clear loser of the bunch. One-dollar L.A. eye palettes ( with nine and 12 shadows each!) had softer, more liftable color. I actually ended up liking the brand; you get a lot of colors to play with in a small and neat size, and their double-ended applicators aren’t all that bad.
In fact, another one-dollar product scored higher than Revlon: the mini-shadow quad from ELF. I got Butternut (yes, you guessed it! Another neutral!) and Ivy (greens and bronze). IF you don’t mind the horrendous double-ended applicator that wants to fall apart, and the glittery finish, we have what Consumer Reports would term a Best Buy. The color payout is excellent for the price, the palette comes with a teeny slice of mirror, and it’s so cheap you can afford to experiment with, uhm. Color. Yes.

Which is pretty much what this blog is all about.
Elves and others:

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