Review: Paula’s Choice Nude Mattes Palette
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I’ve been excited about this palette since I very first heard that it was coming out. It’s the first makeup I’ve tried from Paula’s Choice, but I ordered it as soon as I heard it was online because I could really use a matte neutral eyeshadow palette. My eyelids have the occasional minor wrinkle (especially if I haven’t been drinking as much water as I should) and my eyes can also get a little puffy during allergy season. I don’t think I’ve ever heard the term ‘hot mess’ in reference to eyes before, but that’s pretty much what I get if I don’t use shimmer eyeshadows wisely!
The Nude Mattes packaging sort of reminds of the Lorac Pro palette. The case is made from cardboard, and the pans themselves are nestled in a dense foam base. It’s very lightweight, which is nice for travel, but it’s pretty long. I’ve shown it with the Laura Mercier Artist palette (above) and Lorac Pro palette (below). It’s fairly slim and not very wide, but the length means it’s not necessarily going to fit into every makeup bag. The inside of the lid has a smallish mirror, and a fairly weak magnet holds the top closed. I don’t have any major complaints about the packaging, but it’s not anything to oooh and ahhh over, either.
The palette also comes with a synthetic laydown brush which, like all Paula’s Choice products, is cruelty-free. The handle and ferrule feel like plastic, and there’s a slight seam down the sides of the handle from where it was molded. The bristles are nice and soft, and firmly attached. I’ve shown it next to the Hakuhodo J5523 above for size reference. In use I wasn’t really a huge fan of it – it had a tendency to dig into the shadows and kick up powder, and caused some fallout that I didn’t get with natural hair brushes. It’s worth noting that I’ve had those two issues with most of the synthetic brushes I’ve tried to use with powder shadows, so if you like synthetic eye brushes then this one will probably be just fine. It’s a little too big for my eyes, but fortunately there’s pretty much no end to possible uses for a flat synthetic brush – it worked really well for applying concealer around my nose!
The palette comes with 12 shades in all – 11 matte shades and one shimmer that can be used for highlighting. They’re arranged more or less from lightest to darkest, and skew pretty heavily to warm colors. The shades are:
- Cream – light vanilla
- Beige – aptly named. It blends in almost seamlessly with my skintone.
- Pink Sugar (shimmer) – light pink with shimmer
- Cafe Au Lait – neutral light brown
- Tan – warm light brown
- Chestnut – medium reddened brown, almost terra cotta
- Clay – medium brown with greenish undertones
- Plum Taupe – medium brown with purple undertones
- Gunmetal Grey – medium pewter grey
- Chocolate Truffle – deep warm brown that really looks just like cocoa powder
- Coffee – deep neutral brown
- Onyx – black (not much more to say about it)
All of the colors are really pretty, but I really wish they didn’t lean so warm. It’s pretty heavy on the medium & dark shades too. On my lid I try to stick with light colors so my eyes don’t look smaller than they already are. All but the three lightest shades in the Nude Mattes palette are darker than my skin, so there aren’t a whole lot of options for that. I do think there are a lot of options here for people with medium-dark skin, which is (sadly) not something you see all the time. Not that it can’t be worn by lighter folks too – I just think you’ll see pan on the lightest shades first unless you reaaaalllly love a smoky eye.
Application, texture & wear
The formula of these shadows falls firmly into… average. They’re not quite as pigmented as some of my other mattes (like Lorac, Laura Mercier and Tom Ford) but they’re better than some I’ve tried (Too Faced, Tarte, Stila). The swatches above are each 2-3 swipes with brush over bare skin.
The texture is a bit dry and they don’t apply entirely smoothly, but they’re not chalky either. It definitely is possible to kick up excess product if you jab your brush into the pan, though I didn’t have any fallout when I used my natural hair brushes. I did have a bit of fallout with the brush that came with the palette. Blending kind of varies from shade to shade; some were really easy (Onyx, Cafe Au Lait, Pink Sugar and Cream) while others (Plum Taupe, Chestnut, Coffee) needed a little bit of elbow grease. The others fall in between.
Wear time on these is a little bit lackluster, at least in my opinion. I’ve been testing them over Lorac eye primer, and noticed minor creasing when I checked after 5-6 hours. By the time I got home from work (about 9 hours after I put on my makeup) the creasing was visible from a conversational distance. Of course, my lids happen to be oily and hooded, so if an eyeshadow is going to crease on anyone, it’s gonna be me. In other words, your mileage may vary wildly from mine!
I did notice one other thing that I think is worth mentioning. I usually swatch eyeshadows with my fingers, but a couple of the shades – Cafe Au Lait and Tan – absorbed oils from my skin so quickly that a film formed over them and I had to scrape it off with a tissue before I could get any more product out. I redid the swatches with a brush with no issues, but I’d recommend keeping an eye on these, particularly if you don’t wash your brushes after each use (and really, who does?).
In Short: The mid-range price on this palette is matched by mid-range quality. It could be a good buy if you’re short on matte neutrals, but for me personally? It just doesn’t make my heart flutter when I take it out to use it, and I don’t really have room in my collection these days for things I don’t absolutely love.
Paula’s Choice Nude Mattes Palette ($40) is available at paulaschoice.com.
ShariMarch 5, 2014 at 6:08 am
I was super curious about this palette but am pretty letdown when I saw swatches. Looks pretty ‘meh’.
Thanks for the honest review!
CindyMarch 20, 2014 at 6:38 pm
I’ve been looking for some lackluster reviews on this product (not because I hate Paula’s Choice or anything) but all the rave reviews just seemed too good to be true. I think I’ll pass on this palette because I don’t really wear dark, smokey eye makeup ever and most of those shades look darker than my skintone. I prefer a pearl finish to my eyeshadows so I’m glad to see that these are mainly mattes before I bought this!
NikkiMarch 20, 2014 at 9:22 pm
I’m glad it helped! The options for all-matte palettes are pretty limited, but I definitely agree – if you prefer a pearl finish this probably isn’t the one for you.
ManasiMarch 29, 2014 at 5:40 am
This palette disappointed me so much. Nothing about it worked for me. Neither pigmentation, nor application, nor lasting power.
I’m going to stick to PC’s area of expertise – skincare.
NikkiMarch 30, 2014 at 2:15 am
I do love her skincare! I’ve been using the 8% AHA gel and it’s amazing.
Lyn CheapasfMarch 31, 2014 at 12:20 pm
Thanks for this! I have been looking for a balanced review of this palette too (I’m suspicious when people don’t mention even one tiny potential downside). The swatches I’d seen weren’t especially impressive, but all the reviews were positive. I think I will just save my $40 for the LORAC Pro palettte instead. Seems like a better option.
NikkiMarch 31, 2014 at 12:31 pm
For a price-to-quality ratio I think Lorac Pro is definitely the better bet; it has a lot of shimmers and a few colors though, so of course it’s a little bit of a different look.
TangueraJanuary 27, 2015 at 3:28 am
A cardboard compact
A cardboard compact? Pass. I know that the compact is not nearly as important as the shadows inside, but there are just too many other neutral palettes out there that do come in nice pretty/sturdy travel-worthy compacts!
NikkiJanuary 27, 2015 at 8:41 am
Exactly. I’m not totally against them – the Lorac Pro ones are pretty sturdy, but if the packaging isn’t great then what’s inside REALLY needs to make up for it.