I must admit that the packaging looked swankier on the website. I tried to photograph it without making it look too gaudy, but in this case there was no getting around it. Purple and gold don't exactly convey restrained chic, and the faux-wood plastic casing bears a striking resemblance to the pre-reno paneling in my childhood home.
Ah well. I can deal. Especially since the inside is awesome.
For 46$ CAD, this contains a full sized limited-edition blush, decent sized bronzer and highlighter (though if you're a Tarte fan, you no doubt have a dozen versions of the Park Avenue Princess bronzer), and six eyeshadows in a variety of textures. Value-wise, this is an excellent palette.
The highlighter, in the shade Champagne, is buttery-soft and dense, with great pigmentation that sheers out easily. It's a little too warm for my skin to use as a face highlighter, but it's perfect for the inner corner of the eye.
The previously mentioned Park Avenue Princess bronzer has a firmer, silkier, slightly drier texture that has sheerer pigmentation. It applies smoothly and lightly, and the pale tan shade is ideal if you prefer subtle bronzing/contouring, or if you have fairer skin. It's almost completely matte with the very slightest sheen that keeps it from looking too flat. I also like it as a transition shade on the eyelid.
The eyeshadows vary quite a bit in terms of texture and finish.
Don't Turn a-Brown - a dark, cool ebony brown with a firm, slightly dry texture and a matte finish. This doesn't swatch all that well, and looks like it might go on patchy, but it actually blends very nicely, and can be packed on for intensity. It also makes a great liner.
Tan-gled Up In You - a cool tan, this has a softer, smoother texture than the dark brown, and applies with terrific pigmentation. It's a great lid or crease colour, depending on your colouring.
Up To No Gold - a metallic gold, with a creamy, dense texture and intense pigmentation. Packed on, it is very vivid, but I do find it can crumble a bit when used with a fluffier brush (though you can get a sparkly wash). Best applied with a firm paddle brush.
Plum Away With Me - a rich plum satin with micro shimmer/glitter, a soft, but not overly creamy texture. Although it swatches opaquely, and does apply like so with a firm brush and a good primer, it also tends to get a little powdery and blend out easily. I find that it loses some of that plum tone and goes murky the more it's blended. The shimmer also is more subtle once applied.
Make a Mauve - a mauve-toned taupe, with the same texture and finish as Plum Away With Me, though it looks more satin-y on the lid. Same tendency to go a little powdery and blend out, though also the same great payoff when patted on with a dense brush over a primer.
Bare to Explore - pale pink-beige matte, with a smooth, silky texture. It has good pigmentation, but also blends out really easily. It can be used as a base lid colour, or as a subtle brow bone colour (not highlight). It can also blend out a crease colour very well.
I think what I like best about this palette is how well all the shades work together, and how convenient it is. I can see myself tucking this away in a travel bag, and being able to work a variety of looks with it, though still in a neutral category. I appreciate that both the highlighter and the bronzer can be used on the face and the eyes as well. I think as long as you're ok being a little careful with the plum and mauve shades, especially in blending, then this is an excellent palette, especially for work or travel.
Here is a soft, work-appropriate look, using Make a Mauve as the lid shade and under the lower lash line, Plum Away blended in the outer corner (see how it reads less plum?), Tan-gled in the crease, Champagne in the inner corner, and Don't Turn A-Brown as liner in the top lash line. I brushed Bare to Explore just above the crease to blend it out.
I also used Unleashed very lightly as my blush.
Availability: At Sephora stores and www.sephora.com, as well as www.tartecosmetics.com (which does ship to Canada now). Price is 46$ CAD and 38$ USD.