Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Velvet 59 - The Exotic Lotus Palette - Swatch & First Impressions!

Hello! I hope March is being kind to you; it can be such a touchy month, at least weather-wise. For this post, I want to share with you some swatches and my first impressions of the Exotic Lotus eye shadow palette by the brand Velvet 59.
While I do love trying new things, sometimes it can be difficult for me to justify a moderate purchase from a brand I've never heard of. Which is exactly what Velvet 59 was until I heard from Nouveau Cheap about a deal they were running on their Exotic Lotus palette (if you like good deals, I highly, highly recommend checking out Nouvea Cheap's blog and/or Instagram). A good deal, combined with the gorgeous design of this palette and the beautiful colors contained within, is what lead me to purchase this palette.
So who and/or what is Velvet 59? It is a mostly vegan, semi-indie makeup brand created by a young woman named Paris Manning. It's currently not a very extensive makeup line: there are lip glosses (not vegan), lipsticks, and liquid lipsticks, along with a contour palette, this eye shadow palette, and a mascara (also not vegan; all products are labelled as to whether or not they are vegan). While I hadn't heard of Velvet 59 until the Nouveau Cheap post, you can find reviews of their products by some well-known beauty bloggers on Youtube and Ricky's NYC has just started to carry it. All Velvet 59 products come with a stamp of approval from Meiling, Paris' Miniature Pinscher, since they are all cruelty-free.
I was very indecisive about ordering this palette; the design and the colors really caught my attention, but I wasn't sure if I wanted to spend $26 on a palette from a brand I've never, ever heard of. I waffled about buying it for a few days, then, on the last day of the deal, I decided to just go for it. The palette normally retails for $39, which was a little out of my comfort zone to spend on a product from an unknown brand, but Velvet 59 was running a special where you could get the palette for $20. Shipping was $6, bringing my total savings to $13. The palette shipped pretty quickly, especially considering how Velvet 59 is still a semi-indie brand, and even though it was shipped in a bubble mailer, it arrived safe and sound. Along with my palette, I got this glossy social media info card.
I had to share the cover of this palette again, it's just so lush and pretty! ...also I just really like tigers. This palette is heavily influenced by the vintage infatuation with the "Far East", specifically with the countries of India, China, and Japan.
The palette is made out of  very sturdy cardboard and it has a magnetic closure. There is no mirror, but with palettes like these, they're not very useful and I don't even notice that there isn't one. The back of the palette has a short description of it, along with Meiling's approval, some social media information, and manufacturing location and weight.
You get eight, good-sized shadows in this palette; they're pretty standard 26mm pans. The shadow names are printed above the pans, which is helpful, and the best part is that the palette itself is magnetized; you can easily take the tins out and put them in a Z-Palette if you wish, or, if Velvet 59 starts carrying single shadows in the future, you can replace individual pans instead of having to purchase a whole new palette if you run out of one or two.
The first color in this palette is Cherry Blossom, a matte warm pale pink.
This was the first color I swatched in this palette, and from the moment I put my finger in the pan, I was impressed. Normally, I don't like matte eye shadows, even from higher-end brands, because they always seem to be chalky and difficult to blend. Not this matte! This shadow felt very buttery and it applied smoothly, with good pigmentation.
Next is Tiger Lily, a metallic orange-tinted red.
Again, another buttery, highly pigmented shadow. Granted, I rarely have trouble with metallic shades, even from less expensive brands, but that doesn't make the performance of this shadow any less good! Maybe not the most unique finish/shade, especially with the influx of red/orange metallics, but one I will reach for often based on quality.
The third shadow in the top row is Sake Plum, a brownish mauve/plum. My camera/lighting make this shadow look a lot more purple than it does in real life; it's definitely more brown.
This is another buttery smooth matte shadow, and in this swatch you can see how much more brown than purple it is. I think this would make a great crease and/or liner color, and it is the second darkest color in this palette.
The last shadow in the first row is Princess Of China, a glittery champagne.
While the texture of this shadow is nice, it's pretty sheer and very glittery. It would work best as a highlight or a topper on another shadow, though you could use it all over the lid if you're going for a more of a glittery look than a colorful one (I've done this before with Urban Decay's Space Cowboy Moondust eye shadow and it's an interesting look).
On to the bottom row! This is Meiling, a black with multicolored glitter. It reminds me of Urban Decay's Oil Slick.
 This was unfortunately my least favorite shadow in this palette. I'm glad Velvet 59 included a dark shade, but I don't find the glitter texture to be very appealing nor easy to work with. The glitter doesn't seem to transfer well from the pan to your eye, and you end up with patchy sparkles. The black itself isn't as richly pigmented as the other shadows in this palette, and it almost ends up looking like a dark, smokey grey. It's not necessarily bad, but compared the great quality of the other shadows, it's a bit of a let down.
Next is Kyoto Kimono, a dusty mid-tone, blue-based mauve.
We're back to the highly pigmented, creamy mattes; there are five of these mattes in this palette, and I am very happy there are since they are such great quality! Again, I'm normally not a fan of mattes, so I was initially a little wary about the abundance of them in this palette, but I've been pleasantly surprised by them.
This is The Silk Road, and it is almost the entire reason why I bought this palette (along with Tiger Lily). This is a matte, slightly dusty, pumpkin orange. It's so unlike anything I have in my collection, and it's beautiful.
I just want to put this all over my eyes, with Sake Plum in the crease and Tiger Lily in the outer corner. I can see this color being the base for so many different looks, because of how easily it blends and the fact that it's matte. I really hope that Velvet 59 comes out with eye shadow singles, because I know it I will go through this one.
Finally, the last shadow in the palette is Smoked Tea, a much more red-leaning dusty mauve.
This is another color that will be great for blending/using for transitioning because of it blend-ability and matte texture. It helps round out this palette by giving us what is essentially a warm-tone version of Kyoto Kimono (which could conversely be considered a cool-tone version of Smoked Tea).

Overall, I think this is a really great palette. I wasn't expecting much, but I was blown away by the creamy texture and pigmentation of these shadows, especially the mattes. The only dud for me was Meiling, but even that wasn't as bad as some duds I've had from other palettes. The only downside to this palette, and Velvet 59 as a brand, is that the products are fairly pricey; this palette normally retails for $39, which doesn't include shipping. At the $26 I paid, which included shipping, I would say definitely purchase it, especially if you love warmer colors, but at $39, I'm a bit more cautious. The quality is there, and you do get a good amount of product and color variety, but you can also purchase other quality palettes from mid-range/high-end brands for around that price (TooFaced 9-pan palettes are $36, Urban Decay's Naked Basics are $29). But again, this is a great palette, so if you do find it on sale, either through the Velvet 59 website or from Ricky's NYC, buy it and you won't be disappointed!

Thanks for reading! <3

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