My former co-workers teased me anytime a new release made its way from the backroom to the floor displays (I was sure to have squirrelled one away under Staff Holds by then). Even my Estée Lauder and Chanel Sales Associates know me for it, excitedly whipping out the newest offering from their lines as soon as they see me coming.
I'm a sucker for palettes, but I hold them to a high standard. The smaller ones have an easier time of it, since a concise theme or superlative design can trump versatility and price. With the big "blockbuster" palettes, on the other hand, I expect the whole package: a full range of neutrals and gorgeous pops of colour, a compact and practical, if not beautiful, design, and a price that makes it a value too good to pass up.
The Smashbox Studio Pop Ultimate Palette is the Muhammad Ali of blockbuster palettes for 2012 - the one, the only. It was actually the very last one I acquired and tested in that year, and man, what a way to finish!
The eyeshadows look like they were placed a little cockeyed in the palette. When I inquired whether this was a common occurrence or just a one-off with mine, the folks at Smashbox assured me that it was an odd incidence and they very kindly offered to send me a new palette. I declined, since it doesn't in any way affect the quality of the shadows themselves. I plan on depotting the whole anyway, even though the packaging is very streamlined and practical considering the amount of product it contains.
|Fancy tutorial cards.|
Yeah. See all that in there? That's for 59$ USD (or about 70$ CAD). That's 45 eyeshadows, 6 blushes, 9 eyeliners and 6 glosses. Plus a mirror, some brushes and fancy tutorial cards (in French and English, no less!).
Even if you got it for just the eyeshadows, that's less than two dollars per shade. Which. Is. A. STEAL.
These aren't the watered-down version, as tends to be the case with blockbuster palettes. The quality of the eyeshadows ranged from good to excellent. All of the shades were pigmented, with the metallic and shimmer shades having intense payoff and a very dense, incredibly creamy texture. The matte shades were soft, silky, with a slightly drier feel and great payoff. The very darkest matte shades had okay payoff but kicked up some powder on application that called for a lighter hand and more careful blending. Overall most of the shades applied well to the skin, without turning muddy. The shades with micro glitter did have some sparkly fallout, but the glitter actually showed up well on the lid, compared to many shades of this kind that look amazing in the pan only to go pfft! when applied.
|row 1: Champagne, Naked, Birch, Platinum, Cream|
|row 2: Peacock, Crisp, Suede, Fig, Ambient|
|row 3: Sumatra, Doe, Obsidian, Rapture, Sienna|
|row 4: Sand, Frost, Nectar, Breeze, Snow|
|row 5: Fawn, Framboise, Cinnamon Toast, Lavender, Cement|
|row 6: Spruce, Aubergine, Roast, Orchid, Harbor|
|row 7: Pastel, Opal, Fizz, Bliss, Oyster|
|row 8: Anchor, Drizzle, Take Two, Camel, Carnation|
|Ultramarine, Velvet, Blacktop, Pacific, ASAP|
The bronzer and blush shades are fantastic - soft, smooth, nicely pigmented and super easy to blend and diffuse. The Soft Lights are more glittery (versus shimmery) than their "regular" versions in the full line, so I would recommend using a lighter hand than usual. These shades would best suit light-to-medium skin.
|Sunkissed Matte Bronzer, Petunia Blush, Passion Blush|
|Prism Soft Lights, Warm Apricot Blush, Lens Soft Lights|
(The set also comes with two brushes, which are not particularly noteworthy, though they are usable as lip brushes or to push eyeliner into the lashes. I used one to draw the eyeliner swatches.)
The cream eyeliners are not my favorite. They are nicely pigmented, and feature some really beautiful colors, but they tend to smudge throughout the day on me. However, they can be set by applying any of the myriad eyeshadows, so they remain a usable part of the palette, just not an item I would reach for on an individual basis. (I am a MUCH bigger fan of their Waterproof Shadow Liners, which stay on forever.)
|Smoke, Gilt, Deep Purple, Taupe, Midnight Brown, Picasso, Fortune, Caviar, Ivy.|
Still with me? Wait, THERE'S MORE.
Lipglosses. Non-waxy, hydrating, comfortable lip glosses. Light to medium in terms of coverage, though both Pomegranate and Bella can be built up to rich stains. They leave a nice, natural colour on the lips without an overly glossy finish.
|Freeze, Pomegranate, Tea Rose, Lily, Bella, Gumdrop|
Guys, this is a SERIOUS palette. It'll cover your workday, evening and weekend needs, and then some. Add in your base/concealer, mascara and maybe a lipliner, and you are good to go. I'm not surprised this is sold out pretty much everywhere (Sephora, Nordstrom, Ulta), but if you happen to stumble upon it at a physical location (I spied an errant box or two at my local Pharmaprix), pounce, I tell you. POUNCE.
If, on the other hand, you are living in a sadly Studio Pop-free world, or this is more product than you need, I suggest taking a look at the Studio Pop Eye Palette - a svelter version without any of the face or lip accoutrements.
So what about you? What stands out in your mind as the blockbuster palette of 2012?
(I purchased this item from Smashbox.com.)