It’s the Battle of the Mega Eyeshadow Palettes – some offer 28 colors, some 42, some 88, some even pack in a staggering 120 colors and include blush and lip colors. You see them everywhere - Coastal Scents, BH Cosmetics, Amazon, Crown Brush, Sedona Lace, Red Ginger, Sally Beauty Supply, your corner discount store, the drugstore by the train station …the list goes on and on.
I feel it’s time a senior artist, educator and cosmetic developer (who knows his ingredients) weighed in on the quality of these “professional” palettes.
First let’s clarify origins.
These palettes are manufactured overseas, typically China or somewhere in Asia, with minimal quality control. This immediately sets off warning bells over the safety of their ingredients (did you know that low grade Chinese talc has a higher lead content?). They sell cheaply because they’re made cheaply. And if you have the capitol to buy in bulk, the wholesale margin compared to retail price is positively obscene (quadruple digit markups are typical). Department store chains, makeup retailers like Sephora and Ulta and many major cosmetic companies buy millions of them. Some spend slightly more money for customized packaging so their “Blockbuster” (sort of) looks different from everyone else’s. Many companies (JC Penny, Target) sell them as is. But they’re all the same – and they DO NOT belong in a professional makeup artist’s kit.
I defy you to find any difference between the two palettes pictured. The only visible difference is that one image is slightly more color saturated (done simply in Photoshop). They are identical palettes. AND, to dispel any suspicion about me manipulating the images … they appear via a direct link to each company’s website. Don’t believe me? Right click either image and choose “open image in new tab”, now look at the url (web address) – it belongs to the retailer.
This extremely low quality contents of these mega palettes put them in the bottom of the industry classification Mass/Consumer. They’re a cartoonish simulation of what the manufacturer wants non-artists to believe a pro makeup artist would actually use. Seriously folks, what consumer needs 16 shades of green? The only credible use for this junk is as a favor for tween-age birthday parties or when the kids want to “play makeup”.
I get frustrated when I point this out and I’m accused of being a product snob. Sorry, I don’t agree that this is a legitimate (cost effective) alternative to fill a new artist’s kit or that they should ever be used in a professional workplace.
This is not a price issue. Never once have I suggested that you have to fill your kit with expensive products. I have always stressed the need to use professional quality products.
Finding pro products at a value price is simple – DO RESEARCH.
Don’t stress, this time I’ve done it for you.
It’s VERY important to note the gram weight vs price of each individual pan. These refill pans look alike due to their diameter, but some are deeper and contain more product.
I’m listing from the lowest gram weight to the highest in a standard 1.5″ diameter eyeshadow pan.
Make Up For Ever Professional Single Refill Eyeshadow - 2.5 grams – $15.00 / $9.00 after 40% pro discount ($3.60 per gram after discount) MUFE is the third most expensive per gram, after discount.
Kryolan Professional Single Refill Eyeshadow – 2.5 grams – $4.99 ($2.00 per gram)
Ben Nye Professional Single Refill Eyeshadow – 3.5 grams – $6.00 ($1.71 per gram)
Graftobian Professional Single Refill Eyeshadow – 5.1 grams – $9.99 ($1.96 per gram)
I even looked at drugstore makeup and was shocked at the prices! It’s not very affordable at all.
L’Oreal HiP Studio Secrets Professional Matte Eyeshadow Duo (same 1.5″ diameter size split into 2 half moon pans) is $9.99US.
NOTE – I didn’t include the MAC or Inglot refills and Illamasqua single shadows in the side-by-side list above because they do not use the standard pan size.
But here’s the gram weight to price breakdown anyway.
MAC Pro Palette Refill Eyeshadow - 1.5 grams – $12.00 / $7.20 after 40% pro discount ($4.80 per gram after discount)
MAC is the second most expensive per gram, after discount.
Inglot Freedom Palette Refill Eyeshadow – 2.7 grams – $5.00 ($1.85 per gram)
Illamasqua Single Eyeshadow - 2.0 grams – $20.00 / $12.00 after 40% pro discount ($6.00 per gram after discount)
Illamasqua is the most expensive per gram, after discount.
Interesting Discovery – Look at the prices per gram …WHAT AN EYE-OPENER! You’ll see that some of the most popular mainstream “Pro” products are quite expensive when broken down per gram. I was actually shocked at some of the prices …even after the discount.
(drum roll please) The Final Breakdown:
BEST BUY - Ben Nye comes in at $1.71 per gram. And, I can confirm that even though the price is insanely low, the quality and pigment levels in the Ben Nye eyeshadows are equivalent to the most expensive pro shadows.
SPECIAL KUDOS – Inglot Freedom Palette Refills came in second place. The quality of their matte shadows are amazing for the price.
CONCLUSION – So now that you’re armed with this information, could someone please explain why new artists insist that they HAVE to buy these low quality palettes to get started?
Shop smart my beloved makeup mavens – Mwah!
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