Friday, September 27, 2013

em cosmetics by Michelle Phan The Beach Life Palette Review, Photos, Swatches

The beauty realm is abuzz over the launch of em cosmetics. This collaboration by Michelle Phan and L'Oréal was two years in the making, with Michelle's fans providing input throughout the entire process. em cosmetics is an intro-to-luxury brand that boasts an extraordinary 250 products, and I will continue this Life Palette series by introducing you to the refillable eye, cheek, and lip palette in Beach Life. Click more to view all swatches and discover if it is worth the splurge! 

"LIFE HAS A LOT OF LOOKS. Wear them all."
The signature item from em is called the Life Palette. There are six different variations available, each curated for a specific mood and/or lifestyle. I was fortunate enough to view all six palettes at the YouTube Space a couple months ago, and I found that I was most drawn to the Day Life and Career life palettes, since they are the most wearable. The Beach Life and Love Life palettes, however, had the most variety in color and texture. The Night Life and Party Life palettes are very bold and dramatic, with lots of glitter and shimmer.

Every Life Palette comes armed with a de-potting wand (see above). This way, 9 of the individual products can travel with you in the travel sized palette! I will demonstrate how easy it is to pop out the pans in my comprehensive em cosmetics video review and tutorial sometime next week. This innovative feature is what I appreciate most about the Life Palette. I am a minimalist when I travel, so I love that I can take my favorites pieces from the palette along without sacrificing too much in the variety department. If you like to apply your daily makeup on the go or touch up and add more makeup throughout the day, this refillable style of palette is perfect for you.

There is a dual-ended synthetic brush included with the palette, though I much prefer natural hair bristles because they are more gentle on my eyes. The angled eyeliner side is useful in a pinch, but the all-over shader side is not wide or dense enough for my liking.

The Life Palette is broken up into four quadrants called Looks, and the laminated insert above provides helpful tips on how to utilize every color in the palette. All of the color schemes are well paired, smoky yet colorful.. perfect for any kind of part. I highly recommend following the directions and trying out the set Looks first for this particular palette because these bright and dark eyeshadows are not the easiest to use successfully.
  • Look 1: Cabana Party
  • Look 2: Summer Getaway
  • Look 3: Sunshine Lover
  • Look 4: Poolside
Now, I was hesitant about the inclusion of open lip product pans in such close proximity to the powder blushes and eyeshadows, but I have not experienced any fall out issues since I use my makeup neatly out of habit. My recommendation? Rough/heavy-handed ladies and gents, take it easy. Also, wipe down the edges of the pans with a tissue or wet wipe if necessary. 

Each palette comes housed in a large flap-top box with a plastic shield to secure the pans and tools. The top flap reveals an example of each of the four looks the palette can create. The Life Palette contains a nearly overwhelming amount of product — 24 eyeshadows, 4 blushes, 8 lip shades (four lipsticks and four lip glosses). The price tag of $75 USD may seem steep at first glance, but the Beach Life palette weighs a whopping 1.33 pounds and contains 26.8 grams of product. 

--The blushes are of medium pigmentation. They feel most like Lancôme blushes, but the Beach Life Palette's blushes do not kick up any dust. They feel much creamier than any of the other blushes I have tried from em. It takes a lot for me to be impressed by blush, but these four are positively the stand out products from Beach Life.
--The eyeshadows kick up a little bit of dust since they are of the softer variety, but they are fabulous! I was not expecting them to be so creamy or pigmented, and they blend easily without fading away. I have been wearing the eyeshadows consistently without eye primer, and I only experienced a little bit of creasing after 8 hours. These em cosmetics eyeshadows are far more pigmented and apply much more smoothly than I expected, though I did experience my first 'dud' here in this Beach Life palette. See the Look breakdowns to find out which.
--The lipsticks in Beach Life have very impressive pigment and cling to the lips beautifully. I did not experience any feathering, even with their high-gloss finish. I recommend using a lip brush for precise lines and full opacity.
--The lipglosses pair well with any of the lipsticks in each palette. The color coverage is sheer to light with a bit of weight, and they feel very comforting on the lips. The glosses are not too sticky, which is much to my relief. The lip gloss junkie in me is hoping that em cosmetics launches some traditional lip glosses (with a wand applicator) soon!

Now, I present the swatches of all 36 pans (taken with my fingertips). Placement from Left to Right: blush, eyeshadows — starting from the top left of each quadrant — and then the lip products.

Look 1, by far, is my least favorite quadrant since I tend to avoid pink eyeshadows. Toes in the Sand is the worst applying eyeshadow of all the .em michelle phan shades I have tested thus far. It is a smooth matte but the pigment is incredibly sheer, which was disappointing. Bikini and In the Nude are sheer yet buildable, and they are ideal for polishing up the eye with a hint of color. Island Sundress applies evenly and layers well, considering how bright and matte the shade is. Tiki Bar and Bungalow have medium pigmentation, though Tiki Bar feels richer and creamier because of the pearly finish. The Cabana Party blush is a lovely bright pink with silver shimmer. Sarong is too blue for my preferences, but the pigment of this gloss is the best from all of the Life Palettes I have tried. The Hottie lipstick (impressive pigment) is my favorite, a fuchsia red that brightens up any smile. This quadrant is all about the soft eye paired with a strong statement lip.

Look 2 is my favorite quadrant from Beach Life. It reminds me of Look 3, Birthday Surprise, from the Party Life Palette that I reviewed last week. This Summer Getaway look, however, is more flattering on my yellow undertones and generally speaking, more appropriate for day since it is softer and warmer-toned. Sparkling Glow does not sparkle as much as the name implies, since it has an ultra fine pearly finish that I prefer. Cruise is a highly pigmented warm brown and Moroccan Bloom is the more approachable version of Rich Rust from Birthday Surprise. Bali Sands is a fabulous neutral brown. Onyx is a matte black with just a touch of shimmer, which isn't as noticeable when worn on the eyes. It is supremely well pigmented and not nearly as chalky or powdery as most matte black eyeshadows on the market (à la Carbon from MAC). The Summer Getaway blush is a great copper on light to medium skin tones, and the Bronze Tyrst lipstick is The Peach Colada lipgloss may be sheer, but it is full of reflective peach and gold glitter which makes it is my favorite gloss from the palette. 

Look 3 reminds me more of Halloween than the beach. The softly-burnished warm tones are so festive that I start seeing candy corn if I stare at the swatches long enough! I did not expect to love it, but the pop of bright yellow-orange eyeshadow really livens up this quadrant. Hot Stone is a perfect neutral brown, and Sandcastle has a pearly finish that makes the lids shine. Golden Glow and Black Sand are not as creamy as the others so there is a hint of sparkle fall out, but they layer easily. Olive is not a color I would wear alone, but it does pair beautifully with Coral Reef on the lids. The Bronze Simmer blush is a smooth satin that looks great on tan and dark skins, though it is not a color that I personally reach for often. Hotspell is essentially a sheer gloss with a smattering of glitter, so I recommend wearing it over the 90 Degrees lipstick for a fuller pout.

Look 4 is obviously the most in tune with the "Beach" theme. All the colors in this quadrant are well pigmented, though the Poolside eyeshadow had the driest texture. Fun in the Sun and Sparkling have high-frost finishes but they are easy to control. Backstroke looks similar to Peach Fizz in the pan, but the eyeshadow is distinctly more red-orange. Caribbean Jewels is too pretty for words and is a daring yet feminine lid color. Deep Blue is an ideal navy that can be used as eyeliner or to deepen the crease. I squealed out loud when I first swatched Peach Fizz because it is so soft and pretty. The gold sheen pops on the cheekbone, meaning no highlighter necessary! The base is more pink-peach and less golden than Look 2's Summer Sunset eyeshadow. Though Tanline is a pretty lipstick, it contrasts too much with my mauve undertones so I apply it over Exposed Nude for a more flattering peach lip.

Last but not least, I have for you two organized refillable travel palette with all of my favorite pans from the Beach Life Palette. I was not able to include this compact with my Day Life Palette review, but this refillable concept is why I love the em cosmetics Life Palette concept so much. My top product picks from the Beach Life palettes are as follows:
  • Blush: Peach Fuzz and Cabana Party
  • Eyeshadows: Caribbean Jewels, Sparkling Gold, Summer Sunset, Sandcastle, In the Nude, Onyx
  • Lipsticks: Hottie and Tanline 
  • Lipgloss: Peach Colada and Hotspell

I've seen complaints about the packaging, so I wanted to address some of the concerns. There is a substantial weight to the plastic and acrylic. The em cosmetics Life Palette build is thick and durable, made of the kind of quality plastic that beauty addicts associate with designer and luxury products. Though the rounded corners and "bubble" themed pans in varying size do not appeal to my structured and rectangular preferences, but I see and acknowledge the thought process behind it. em cosmetics as a brand is targeted toward the young adult crowd (teens to twenties) unlike Tom Ford or Chanel's more mature audience, so the em packaging reflects a younger vibe.

For those that never know which eyeshadows are best paired together for the perfectly balanced colorful eye, the Beach Life Palette is a $75 commitment worth making. I still prefer the Day Life palette's eyeshadows because there are is more variety in the finishes (matte, pearl, metallic) whereas the Beach Life is all about the shimmers and brights. The Beach Life Palette, however, has superior blushes. Any of the Life Palettes make great gifts, but it all comes down to personality and preference. I think the Beach Life palette will appeal to anyone's playful side. I was a little disappointed with Look 1, but the overall quality of the products in Beach Life and the utility of the refillable concept make this palette a steal!

Bottom Line: The packaging may not be perfect, but the em cosmetics Beach Life Palette has so much to offer in terms of quality and variety, making this truly worth the investment for adventurous makeup fiends.
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  1. summer sunset and sand castle are such pretty colors! thank u for giving us a definite view on this palette. :)

  2. WOW, those shades are incredibly beautiful! Amazing swatches!

  3. This is such a well done review, it makes me want to buy this palette. I always look forward to your posts. These swatches are gorgeous I wonder if she just has a blush palette?

  4. this one is very bright and you are right, it is more playful and for those who loves bold colors. I think I would definitely prefer the one you reviewed first (blanking out on the name). Thank you for your extensive review. I can't believe you reviewed 3 life palates. That is crazy. I am leaning towards putting a life palate in my never ending "to buy list". It just looks so much fun, especially with the little travel size thingy that I can buy.

  5. Wow... poolside looks amazing. Those colors are gorg. Def my fav out of the 4. Great swatches! This beach palette is def worth the pick. :)

  6. From where can we purchase these? I love each of them as you post!

  7. Maybe I'm the only one, but I was disappointed by this product. Judging by the reviews I read, which happened to be mostly from youtubers or bloggers that were sent the items, I thought the eyeshadows were going to be quite pigmented. However, I've found that that's not the case. They felt quite chalky to me and didn't swatch very well. I thought perhaps they would fare better once on the eyes, but the pay off was still not there. Maybe I'm spoiled by the higher end eyeshadows, but even NYX and Wet 'n Wild make cheap eyeshadows that are super pigmented.. so yeah this product wasn't worth the money at all to me.

    1. You're not the only one. ALL of the palettes lack pigmentation when it comes to the mattes, the metallics are better but the mattes are all hit and miss with more misses than hits.

    2. The swatches are true to the opacity I can build up to on my eyes. Some of the mattes are on the sheerer side, but they apply well with brushes like MAC's 217. Furthermore, the majority of the shadows apply with full pigment when I use my fingertips.

  8. this review seems so fake iv'e seen swatches of the life pallet on YouTube and the colours are never that opaque, you've clearly swatched them a TON of times becasue the swatch is a perfect rectangular shape.sorry but i can't tolerate somebody who lies about things like this. don't you feel guilty that people are spending their hard earn cash on something which is a waste of money because you lied and said it was worth the price?

    1. Your comment is downright rude and offensive. I cannot and will not tolerate those who believe their misguided opinions to be truth. People have different tastes and thoughts about makeup, and we all have varying levels of application technique and experience with cosmetics. I swatch everything on my blog the same exact way. I used a consistent number of swipes (not a TON as you would like to think) to swatch the Koh Gen Do palettes I most recently reviewed, and THOSE are truly sheer eyeshadows. Does that mean there isn't a market for that kind of product? No. Besides, my favorite eyeshadow palettes are by Tom Ford, which cost $78 for 4 shades while each of em's Life Palettes are priced at $75 and come with over 30 products. Based on that train of thought, of course I think this Life Palette is a steal. I recommend trying it for yourself and providing your own feedback before dismissing the product based on assumptions.

  9. I have seen so many mixed reviews in regards to em cosmetics products but I am still very interested in trying them out because I think they will be fun palettes to play with. I don't understand why so many people are having such negative sentiments towards this line. Thank you for the review Rae!! I look forward to seeing some life palette in action in your upcoming video!!!

    1. The price point is the problem, but the value is undeniable. I also see a lot of complaints about pigmentation, though I have no issues with applying or building up color. I'll show how pigmented the shadows are in the video.. should be posted in a couple weeks!

  10. The photos are great and the reviews are detailed. Thanks for taking the time and providing us with a quality review.

  11. Once again, Rae, thank you for all the swatches. Seeing the colors from each "circle" swatched side-by-side makes it so easy to imagine how the colors will work together. As I mentioned when you reviewed the other palette, I have some young nieces who will love these for the holidays. You're making my gift shopping very easy :-)

  12. This looks like it has so many beautiful colors in it, these life palettes are so big! I think these palettes are such a good deal, thank you so much for the swatches and the review!

  13. I understand that you get a lot of product for the pricing, however for her target age of consumer, I just can't see many young people or teens having the money to splash out $70 for the palette, big as it is. Even myself who prefers high end products am just too turned off by the aesthetics of the packaging and the price is too much for me to take the plunge. I congratulate her on her endeavor and respect her entrepreneurship, however her products just don't appeal to me at all.. Charlotte Tillburys new line, however has me intrigued and willing to buy first hand sight unseen. Appreciate your review!

  14. Hi Rae,

    Thanks for all the swatches and thorough review. I can't wait to see your video tutorials using em cosmetics Life Palettes. =)


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