Mega Palettes vs Pro Eyeshadow Value

It’s the Battle of the Mega Eyeshadow Palettes – some offer 35, 42, some 88, some 120 …some even pack up to staggering 250 colors and include cheeks and lips. You see them everywhere – Coastal Scents, BH Cosmetics, Amazon, Crown Brush, Morphe 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 (China, Taiwan), with extremely loose quality control. This sets off warning bells over the safety of their ingredients. You have to question the purity of the mineral pigments and the use of low-grade talc. What levels of trace metals (lead, aluminum) or the occurrence of asbestos are hidden in these products?
Let’s be real here, you get what you pay for, and these palettes sell cheaply because they’re made cheaply. Let me pull back the curtain, so you can better understand how things are priced.

To make a profit, retailers must at least double the price they’ve paid for an item.  So, if Morphe Brush (see image below) sells their 35 Color Eyeshadow Palette for $19.99 – they paid under $10.00 for it. And if you have the capital to buy in bulk, the wholesale margin compared to retail price is positively obscene (quadruple digit markups are typical).
Now let’s look at the manufacturer.
The price they charge is usually 10x their total cost …which means, that palette Morphe bought for $10.00 cost $1.00 to make. In reality, these palettes probably cost around $0.50 to manufacture.
35 EYESHADOWS FOR $0.50 – still think you’re getting a bargain?

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.

Morphe Multi-Color Matte Palette $19.99 USD

Morphe Brush Multi-Color Matte Palette $19.99 USD

Crown Brush Matte Eyeshadow Palette $23.95 USD

Crown Brush Matte Eyeshadow Palette $23.95 USD

I defy you to find any difference between the two palettes pictured. The only visible difference is that one image is slightly more “cleaned up” (done simply in Photoshop). These are identical palettes. 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 on the image and open in a new window – they are not stored on this blog.

The 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 use. 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 so frustrated when I see these heinous kits being handed out at “makeup schools”. Sorry, this is not a legitimate (cost-effective) alternative for even a brand new artist’s kit. These palettes are crap (yes, I said crap) and any artist who has them in their professional kit is not a pro in my book.
These palettes should never 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 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 Artist Shadow – 2 grams – $21.00 / $12.60 after 40% pro discount ($6.30 per gram after discount) MUFE is the second 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 no ‘bargain’.

L’Oreal HiP Studio Secrets Professional Matte Eyeshadow Duo (same 1.5″ diameter size split into 2 half-moon pans) is $9.99US.

Still think “drugstore” items are cheaper? You can purchase TWO FULL SIZE Kryolan Professional Eyeshadow Refills for $9.98 US

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 – $10.00 / $6.00 after 40% pro discount ($4.o0 per gram after discount)
MAC is the third 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 – $25.00 / $15.00 after 40% pro discount  ($7.50 per gram after discount)
Illamasqua is the MOST EXPENSIVE per gram, after discount.

Interesting DiscoveryLook at the prices per gram …WHAT AN EYE-OPENER!   You’ll see that the popular consumer-ized “Pro” products are quite expensive when broken down per gram.  I was 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 eyeshadow 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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