Sunday, 20 March 2016

NEW Morphe Brushes Eyeshadows - Review and Swatches

You might recall that a few months back, I reviewed a batch of single Morphe eyeshadows that I had ordered (click here and here to jog your memory) and I recently reviewed their much hyped 35O eyeshadow palette. Back in January, Morphe Brushes or Morphe released a whole new array of single eyeshadow colours, and I duly ordered some to try out. My original order seemed to have gone missing in the post - I contacted Morphe twice by email after 6 weeks to enquire as to the status of my order and only got a response when I opened a Paypal dispute a week later... I know these companies are busy and I don't like having to go nuclear but it worked - Morphe reshipped the eyeshadows to me. I've been trialling them for about 2 weeks now and I've collected my thoughts. 

Overall, in this new range of colours, there are some hits and misses. The hits are epic and the misses are pretty dire. Each eyeshadow now costs $2.29 (this is an increase of 30c per shadow) but using codes like 'JACATTACK' will get you an extra discount if you were thinking about ordering, plus Morphe do special discount codes every so often, 20% off and the like. There is no denying that these are inexpensive but the shipping from Morphe is more expensive than other US websites with similar products (e.g. Makeup Geek) so I do factor in the cost of postage when making Morphe orders.

The new shadows are overwhelmingly neutral / mauvey when looking at them collectively. There are a lot of mattes and a lot of transition colours and a few shimmery shades. Unlike previous versions, I found some of the mattes in this collection to be extremely grainy, almost like sand, and quite poorly pigmented. The shimmery/metallic shades were, for the most part, more pigmented but I also found that they would crease and fade more than any of the other colours so a good primer is absolutely essential. More detail is provided on each of the colours individually below. 

1st Row: Perfection, Flawless, Peanut, Swine, Sweets, Sweet Escape, Golden Glory (old collection)
2nd Row: Peekaboo, Undress Me, Candy Bloom, Celebration, I Heart You, Magic, Marry Her
3rd Row: Hanky Panky, Private Agent, Infinity and Beyond, Vixen, Mocha, Tipsy
4th Row: Matte, Buckle Up, Drive In, Attitude, Castlebay, Bitter, Treasure

 Attitude is a mid tone metallic brown that looks cool enough in the pan but is quite warm when swatched. Gorgeous colour, decently pigmented, applies easily.
 Bitter is a warm toned metallic brown that reminds me a lot of MAC Mulch - again, good pigmentation, applies easily, but needs a good primer underneath.
 Buckle Up is a mid tone warm brown that reminds me a lot of MAC Uninterrupted in the pan but not necessarily on the eyelid. This is more satin than matte, is nice and smooth and applies evenly without a ton of fallout, but the colour itself is not very pigmented and it took a couple of swipes to build up the opacity to the colour you see above. 
 Candy Bloom reminds me of one of my most cherished Makeup Geek eyeshadows - Cupcake - but it doesn't hold a candle to Cupcake. It's slightly darker and smokier than Cupcake but again, needs to be built up a little more in fine layers. I love this colour in the crease and outer V for a subtle daytime mauve smokey eye.
 Castlebay is an unusual colour - I was hoping it would be a neutral khaki colour but I find that swatched on the lids, it just looks like dirt. No matter what I do with this, it looks dirty. The formula is matte and extremely powdery which means that you get a heck of a lot of fallout which I think adds more to my overwhelming feeling that this looks dirty. I don't know if it's as simple as I don't really like the colour or whether this is a bad shadow but I can't see myself reaching for this too often.
 Celebration is a gorgeous transition crease colour for both mauve and neutral eye looks, it applies beautifully, is decently pigmented and lasts well. One of the highlights of the bunch for me, and again, very similar to but not quite in the same league as Makeup Geek Cupcake.
 Drive In is another mid toned brown that's cooler in tone than Buckle Up and disappointing in the pigmentation stakes also. Unlike most of the other matte Morphe eyeshadows which are very soft and powdery, I found Drive In to be quite hard to pick up on the brush, hard to blend, just too much hard work. 
 Flawless is like the lovechild of Makeup Geek's Peach Smoothie and Creme Brulee eyeshadows. I love this colour as a transition colour, I think it makes blue eyes just pop out of your head and the formula is quite good for a matte formula. There is a fair bit of powder disturbance when you dip your brush into this shadow and your brush will pick up a LOT of product but a good tap will knock off some of the excess and the rest can be easily blended out. A must for your shopping list. 
 Hanky Panky is a cool toned plum shade which was quite hard to pick up pigment from and hard to blend out on the eye. I love the shade but it's just too poorly pigmented for me. 
 I Heart You is another shade that I have been, eh, hearting over the last few weeks. It's VERY pink and even though I like warm tones, I generally try to stay away from anything too pink around my eyes as I feel like it undos all the good work that I do concealing redness. I really like the shade buffed out alot as a transition colour with a dark cool toned brown. Decently pigmented and not too much fallout.
  I was hoping that Infinity and Beyond would be a dupe for MAC Sketch but it's not quite there - it's missing the burgundy undercurrent from Sketch. It is a pretty decently pigmented colour - again because it's a metallic colour - which in Morphe terms means you need a pretty decent primer underneath to stop this creasing and disappearing.
 Magic is probably one of my faves of the entire bunch - not as ruby toned as MAC Cranberry but a damn worthy alternative (I'm not going to say dupe, I only say dupe is a product is actually a true dupe, I'm pedantic like that and I think more should follow suit instead of trying to mislead - I digress) The formula of this reminds me of the Makeup Geek foiled eyeshadows in that it is very metallic and very pigmented- it almost feels like a cream eyeshadow to swatch - so a good primer with this is a must.
 Marry Her is like a strong, darker, more pigmented version of one of my teenage MAC eyeshadow favourites, Stars and Rockets. Really love the shade (but don't know how often I will actually wear it) but the formula of this is great and it's not too powdery.
 Matte was one of the biggest disappointments in my mind because it was very powdery and very poorly pigmented and took a couple of swipes to get it up to the opacity that you see in my hand. Very meh.
 I thought Mocha would be like MAC Mystery with a little bit of warmth but it's not - again, the shadow is quite tough to pick up and blend so this is too much like hard work to actually use.
 Peanut, like Flawless, is a nice transition colour. It's soft and you pick up a lot of product on the brush but it's one of those shades that lends itself to being blended and buffed to the moon and still retain its integrity, it's forgiving like that.
 Peekaboo is a lot warmer than I thought it would be- lightly swatched, it would be a lovely blush, it reminds me of a matte version of Nars' Orgasm, but on my eyes, I'm just not able to think about bringing myself to do it. Time will tell.
 Now you know I don't throw the term 'dupe' out there lightly but Perfection is a dupe for MAC Nylon. Application wise, they feel different, but when applied, these are the exact same - bright, yellow toned, see the glow from Mars type colour. 
 I love the colour of Private Agent but it's not as pigmented as I would personally like - again, a litte dry and chalky so not the biggest dreamboat to be blending in the crease. 
 Sweet Escape is a nicely pigmentation shadow but I think it would make a nicer blush than eyeshadow. It's easy to blend and not too powdery to pick up with a brush.
 Since I clapped eyes on Sweets, I've wanted to wear it on the lids with a gorgeous burgundy shade like Makeup Geek Bitten in the crease. This screams autumn to me, I really love the shade. Another must have for your shopping lists I would say.
 Swine is very poorly pigmented, very powdery, had great potential to be a great transition colour but fell flat.
 Tipsy looks dark in the pan but is very poorly pigmented. Not worth purchasing in my opinion.
 Treasure is a gorgeous colour- reminds me of MAC Sable. I think this would be a lovely lid single colour buffed well out into the crease.
 Undress Me is a gorgeous shade, one of my faves for the crease and an absolute must have on your next Morphe order.
 Vixen was the worst and most disappointing shadow of all the Morphe shadows that I got in this batch. So poorly pigmented, so patchy and dry and chalky, I don't care if it was only $2, I think it was a waste of $2! Avoid!
So as you can tell from the above, there were definitely some hits and some misses in this new batch of Morphe Brushes eyeshadows. To be honest, overall I felt quite underwhelmed - sure, there were a few nice shades - but I felt overall that the quality of these was lacking, particularly in comparison to the two Morphe pre-made eyeshadow palettes that I have. I think I prefer the quality of the eyeshadows in the palettes than I do the individual eyeshadows, and usually it is the other way around for me. I wouldn't go running to purchase more shades again any time soon. If you are looking to purchase any of these eyeshadows, head over to the Morphe website now.

Have you bit the Morphe cherry yet? If you have, what have your thoughts been? If not, what would you like to try? 

Friday, 11 March 2016

US Parcel Forwarding Service - My experience + cost + delivery time using GoSend

A couple of months back, I decided to order some items online from various US websites by enlisting the help of a US parcel forwarding service. I googled extensively one afternoon and read lots of reviews and recommendations before eventually settling on using GoSend (1) because I liked the website (2) the service seemed to have good reviews online (3) the cost of the service was not prohibitive and (4) they offer a service not many of the other parcel forwarding services do. [By means of disclosure, I am by no means affiliated with GoSend, they do not know that I am writing about their service- this account is completely untainted!]

How many times have you lusted after something on the Sephora / Ulta / MAC US websites but known that unless you have a buddy in the US willing to post the item back to you, that you will unlikely be able to get your mitts on the goods? I have been yearning to try Colour Pop for MONTHS now but have been unable to order as they are available online only and don't offer international delivery? If you are a fellow beauty obsessive, you have probably felt this pain. I heard of parcel forwarding services before but always presumed they would be too expensive to the point of being cost-prohibitive. Also, even if you have a US shipping address to send the goods to, the chances are that your Irish billing addresses will wreak all kinds of havoc on the US websites that don't understand that Ireland is an actual country and that our counties are not denoted by 5 number post codes!

What especially appealed to me about GoSend in particular is their ShopAssist option, where (upon signing up for a VIP account at a monthly subscription cost), you can create and upload a shopping list to the GoSend website, then they will send you a Paypal invoice so you can pay them, and then they will make the order for you using their US credit cards and billing details. This sounded foolproof in my opinion. I paid the $10 monthly subscription fee for a VIP account (you can also choose annual membership for $50 which is a good deal if you will be using the service often). 

When it came to placing my order, I found the Shop Assist function to be a little tedious (entering in each item individually with a link and little description). Once I had submitted my order, I had to wait a day or so to get an invoice from GoSend billing me for the amount of my order plus a service charge of either $5 or 5% of your order cost (whichever is the greater). Given that you are paying for a service, I don't really mind this. When you have paid the invoice, you get confirmation of payment and then confirmation that the order has been placed and then another confirmation when your order is received in their warehouse with photos. The communication is excellent by any standard and they have an online chat function where you can easily reach out to reps and get a response either instantly or within a few hours.

When your item arrives in their warehouse, you have the option of either having it dispatched to your own international address immediately or storing it in your 'GoSend Locker' for a period of up to 60 days. I made a few orders from a few different sellers so I chose to keep them in my locker and dispatch them all together. When it did come to dispatch time, I had to go into my "locker" and go through process of inserting values in everything again (for customs purposes). When it came to shipping, I was given a variety of different options at different prices and for the $200 worth of products that I got, I think I paid about $33 to have it delivered, which was fine with me. I believe the shipping is based on the weight of the items that you buy. 

It took the parcel little over a week to get to me, and I did not get charged customs on it (even though it did have a customs declaration on the front stating there was $200 worth of loot in the box). The items were packaged perfectly, everything arrived to me safely, so again, I cannot fault GoSend in this respect.

I would absolutely use GoSend again, I thought it was a smooth and efficient process, very clear communication, quick turnaround time and constant emails letting you know the progress of your order(s). I think it is good value for money given that US postage is expensive, and the fact that Paypal is the preferred payment option gives extra peace of mind. I thought it was an easy system to use (even if I did find manually entering the order details for my items to be painful!) and I didn't ever really feel concerned for my items. You can keep items in your GoSend locker for up to 60 days- which theoretically means you can order to your heart's contentment and keep gathering items and dispatch at a future date OR you can choose to dispatch certain of your items at different times (obviously incurring more shipping costs though!).

If you are looking for a parcel forward service from the States, I highly recommend GoSend, and crucially in my opinion, I say that as a paying customer. Randomly GoSend actually sent me an email completely out of the blue a few days after placing my first order offering to pay for my Sephora order like last time to do a follow up video because they mistook me for someone else in Ireland with a similar name which I later discovered was not disclosed by that person in their account. The quality of the service that I experienced as a normal Jane Doe customer was fantastic in my opinion and that's why I've no qualms in recommending them to my readers. 

In terms of what I got in my order, I will be sharing that over the coming days. I placed an order with Colour Pop, Sephora and MAC Cosmetics and have been using the goodies over the last few months. 

So tell me, have you ever yearned for something from a US website so much that you would consider using a parcel forwarding service like GoSend? Does this sound like the answer to any of your prayers?

Sunday, 6 March 2016

The Elusive Morphe 35O Nature Glow Eyeshadow Palette - Review and Swatches

It seemed like the whole world and their mothers were lusting after the elusive Morphe 35O Nature Glow palette, and being rather partial to a warm neutral shadow myself, it piqued my interest. In spite of my willingness to purchase, however, this was hard to track down. I joined the waitlists on both Cult Beauty and Beauty Bay to be alerted when this came back in stock but alas- no such email arrived. I just happened to be perusing the Morphe website one Friday evening a few months back and low and behold, it was in stock - fate I thought. I didn't even remotely hesitate going through the checkout process. Now, international shipping from the Morphe website is extortionate, and the shipping actually worked out at about the same price as the palette ($22.99).  I've been playing around with this for over a month now so I will let you know my thoughts. 

First up- I'm fully aware that Morphe engages in private labelling and I don't have an issue with this per se as long as the products are good quality and not extortionately priced. I think $23 is good value for this palette (plus using the code JACATTACK will get you an extra 10% off), but the extra $23 in postage charges really tipped this over. I didn't get charged customs on this order but that's not surprising as it was below the threshold. There are 35 warm toned eyeshadows in the palette in a variety of finishes - matt, satin, velvet, metallic - the pigmentation of which vary. I thought the best way to do this would be to take the palette line by line and swatch every colour for you and let the colours do the talking!

In terms of pigment power, I think the swatches do the palette justice. Some of the colours were unbelievably pigmented (and I am trying very hard to NOT use the blogger 'buttery soft' cliché) but GOD they were soft. Along with being soft, some of the shades were very very powdery, like so powdery that a good firm tap of the brush wasn't enough to knock off the excess. When using some of the darker colours, I deliberately waited until after my eyeshadow was applied to conceal under my eyes. The lighter matte shades were not as pigmented as the darker mattes, and unsurprisingly, the metallic shades were in a league of their own in pigment power. I don't usually have problems with my eyeshadow evaporating but I did notice that I very much needed not one but a few primer steps to keep these eyeshadows on my lids for 12+ hours. I also found that some of the darker colours looked a little muddy on the lids when blended out.

I do really like this palette, but I don't think it was worth the bones of €50 to get it to my door. I would happily pay the €21.90 from Beauty Bay for it but that's about it. I know this has gotten so much hype, and it's grand, but I have to say I feel underwhelmed by it on the whole. That is always the danger of buying into the hype. I don't reach for this as much as I thought I would in all honesty. I wouldn't try to dissuade anyone from buying this because it doesn't deserve that censure, but it wouldn't make my top 5 palettes of all time.  

Have you been coveting the Morphe 35O palette? 
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