I am all for trying drugstore make up. The hunt for the best budget proof make up items, is one I gladly partake in. Essence is one of those brands that has a few hidden gems in their range. Recently, they revamped their All About… eye shadow palettes and I was curious to try them. I picked up two: Bronze & Nudes. And where my initial reaction was close to ecstatic, you will find that this review is slightly less positive.
Are these a drugstore gem? Click to find out!
One of the reasons why I like to take my time reviewing most products is because I like to test products in several different conditions. Over time you may come to love a make up item more or less as you become more and more accustomed to the product as the novelty wears off. This was exactly the case for me with these eye shadow palettes. At only €3.99 a piece they certainly are a good value for money, but there are a few ifs and buts that make me feel less favorable to these right now.
Essence All About Bronze eye shadow palette
All About Bronze is a palette that features mostly warm, neutral shades. All of these have a noticeable sheen to them, and these all go on shimmery onto the eye. Apart from the white shade in the bottom. When I saw this in store I just knew I wanted to give it a try. I love wearing bronze tones in spring and summer and I thought this would be a great drugstore alternative to my NARS shadows. The palette comes in a clear plastic casing, which is quite cheap but sturdy nonetheless.
The first two shades are great highlighter shades. The white one is great for the brow bone area, where the pink is a good option for an inner corner highlight. Then follow two medium shades: one a taupy/ mauve, the other a light gold. This section would be your all over lid section.
The third row seems to be a continuation of the previous two shades: another taupe and gold shade, but these are a bit deeper and darker than the previous ones. These shades could be perfect for the crease. The last row of shades are the darkest ones: a warm toned and a more cooled toned chocolate brown. I’m thinking liner, outer V and crease when I see shades like this.
On to the swatches! I swatched first the top row and then the bottom row. As you can see these shadows are well pigmented. Unfortunately the top row shades are all very similar. As distinct as these look in the pan, that’s how little differ from each other in a swatch. Especially the middle two shades seem exactly the same, but one simply has a tad more shimmer to it. The bottom row looks a lot better: the two gold shades show up distinct on my arm and when swatched the only truly dark shade in this palette ends up being the most bottom right shade. Judging just from the swatches, this palette didn’t impress me much, but perhaps it works better on the eye?
Unfortunately this palette didn’t fare much better when creating a look. I had to use all 8 (!!) shadows to create this look and it took a lot of work just to get this much out of it. On the eye all the shades simply blended together and turned into one big murky blur of color. The individual shadows are pretty, but since they cannot be added on top of each other, you can really only use one shade at the time. So unless you’re into wearing no more than 1 shade on your eye at the time, then I am sure this might be a palette for you. To me, this was a bit of a disappointment really.
Essence All About Nudes eye shadow palette
All About Nudes was the palette I initially thought I wouldn’t like. Until I swatched it in the store and decided I needed this in my life. Cool toned nude eye shadow palettes are hard to come by in the drugstore in any case, so I figured it would be a good idea to see how this would fare. It is of course still a neutral palette and like the Bronze palette this comes in a simple, sturdy plastic case.
The first two shades are again two great highlighter shades. I love using the white color on my brow bone. It is a little less stark compared to one in the Bronze palette and has more of an off white, creamy finish. The pink is again something I wear in my inner corner. The next two shades look extremely similar in the pan. But both of these could make good all over lid shades or even transition colors to blend out the crease.
On to the third row of colors, where we find a pale, oatmeal type color and a medium brown. One makes a great all over lid shade and the other would be lovely in the crease. The real reason why I even considered buying this palette were the last two shades. The dark brown could again be great as a liner or Outer V shade and that sparkling taupe just stole my heart when I first swatched this. I love taking a little on my finger and dabbing it on the middle of my eye for a bit more dimension.
Swatched out these shades are again well-pigmented. They are not as shimmery as the shades in the Bronze palette, but more of a matte to satin finish. Apart from that stunning taupe glittery shade. The colors are very light though, but what surprised me most was how much more distinct these shades looked in the swatches compared to the Bronze palette. It’s why I started off loving this palette a lot more than the Bronze palette straight away.
Again, like with the Bronze palette, I found that the only way to properly use this palette is if you use all shades. Possibly even more so as the shades are quite boring on their own. This palette performed a touch better than its warm-toned counterpart: the shades transferred to the eye nicely, didn’t just blend away within the blink of an eye and since the colors are more distinct it was much easier to create looks with this.
But where is that stunning glittery taupe in your look Maaike? I’m glad you ask, because this brings me to the reason why, after a few months of use, I no longer like these palettes.
Palettes after a number of uses
All in all, I would say I used these palettes about a dozen times. The Nudes especially as I loved that one most. The Bronze I used maybe a handful of times as I didn’t really liked it much to begin with. However, both palettes didn’t stand the test of time. Why? Because they have overspray. That cool taupe glitter? Yup, overspray. That stunning shine in the shades of the Bronze palette? Yup, overspray.
In any case, that what makes these palettes seem great at first, was only a top layer. Once scrubbed off after a number of uses, you’re left with two boring neutral palettes with shades that look too much alike to use them for creating distinct looks. Sure, you could still make these work and pull them in when you need some shades that are muted and neutral. The Nudes has some stunning transition shades, so you could still use that in accordance with single shadows or other palettes. The Bronzes I suggest you skip, unless you really like bronze eye shadow and like to keep things simple.
My conclusion is that I feel a tad tricked by these Essence All About… Bronze & Nudes eye shadow palettes. They looked so stunning to begin with, but having a shiny layer on top with nothing much underneath is just a complete no go for me. For just 1 euro more you can get yourself one of the Catrice palettes (matt, rose, chocolate) that I think work 1,000 times better than these.
What is your experience with Essence All About… palettes?