Why I hate palettes

Someone on YouTube tackled this, but in the same video also slammed “old lady brands like Chanel and Estee Lauder,” so I decided not to use that video for backup on what I’m about to say.  As I’ve said before, I don’t do ageism.

But anyway…on to palettes and why I hate them.

The history of gigantic eyeshadow palettes as far as I know is that years ago, they did not exist except for two places:

(1) they were part of a professional makeup artist’s equipment, or
(2) they were sold as dirt-cheap holiday presents in drugstores (almost always offered by brands you never heard of before, or worse — no brand at all).

Honest, the rest of the time you saw eyeshadows sold in singles, doubles and triples (more rarely, quads), and that was pretty much it.  At least, that’s my memory of it.

I only became aware of the huge palettes (meaning more than 4 to 6 shadows) a few years ago, and my first reaction was the same thing I’m thinking about them now: who the hell needs all that?  Honest, you buy a palette of anywhere from 8 to 30 (and sometimes more!) shadows and how many of them are you actually going to use?  And what will you do with the rest?

My bet is that 90% of these palettes are sold under the influence of influencers on Instagram and YouTube, and they are probably sold to teenagers and young adults who are deeply into makeup and/or the influencer showing the makeup.  That’s fine, but it’s still wasteful.  Unless these kids are working as makeup artists, it’s doubtful they’re ever going to use all those colors.  And so they’re being influenced into buying something they do not need.

So imagine my dismay at the waste when makeup companies started to come out with various other types of palettes more recently.  A few of these new palettes claim to be one-stop shopping for your whole face (I’ve yet to see anyone on YouTube use one of these and be happy about it).  Others give you three or four highlighters or blushes, or three or four contour colors.

The contour palettes are hopeless unless you’re a model, actor, or into drag (or all three).  As far as contour in real life is concerned, I go by what Bobbi Brown has said: it’s a trend that needs to die.  I believe her actual quote was something to the effect that it always looks like dirt, and she’s right.  So who needs four shades of dirt on their face, especially if the lightest one is probably too light and the darkest is too dark and one of the others is too red?

You can get around using contour products by purchasing an extra foundation that is a tiny bit darker than your overall shade and dotting it on wherever you need shadows, then blending.  At least, that’s what we used to do.  It never looks like dirt, and it gets the job done.

There’s a similar situation in blush palettes.  Who can really use more than one or two shades?  Yes, we used to use two to three shades at once in the 1980’s; that was the fashion because contour products hadn’t arrived yet, and so you obtained the hollowed-out look with a deeper shade of blush (or two) under your cheekbones.  And it looked just as awful as contour does in real life today.  Back to the two-colors-of-foundation trick!

Actually it’s said that Joan Crawford had all her molars pulled in an attempt to get the hollowed-out look.  I wonder when that’s going to come back.

And let’s not forget the highlighters.  There’s one YouTuber (currently inactive, I believe), who for some ungodly reason would place a dot of highlighter on the tip of her nose.  Yes, a lot of YouTube makeup mavens do this, but it generally isn’t noticeable.  This girl seemed to carry it much further than most, and as her videos were mostly talk, you’d sit there for up to a half hour staring at the headlight on her nose.  At the same time, you were usually ignoring what she was saying because it was so damn distracting.

That is to say that highlighter looks really, really bad unless it’s applied judiciously and sparingly.  And most of those who use it, do neither.

Highlighter is another theatrical/photography trick anyway.  You don’t need even one shade in real life, let alone three or four shades in a palette.  Most of the YouTube reviews I’ve seen of highlighter palettes go just the same way as those for blush and contour palettes: the reviewer seems to like one color, but probably won’t use the other three.

Which is to say that this is all a waste, and it needs to go away.



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