I can’t remember which YouTuber turned me on to Black Moon Cosmetics’ liquid lipsticks, but I’ve been using them for a while, and I love them. I have about ten shades, maybe a dozen, and they are all really pigmented, apply dreamily, and dry down to a beautiful matte without being super uncomfortable. It’s not my favorite formula, but it’s definitely in the top 5 and I have legit tried almost every formula out there! I love the lipsticks and I love supporting indie brands, so when I heard that they were launching an eyeshadow palette, I couldn’t wait to see what they had in mind.
The problem is that they teased the palette in July of 2017, and the eventual release date was February of 2018. Ok, things happen, that’s understandable. But when they started really pushing the promo in December of 2018, they were focusing on the gorgeous holographic packaging and giving black and white shots of the inside. They had captions like “What shades will be in our Orb of Light palette?” Everything was sleek and gorgeous, and this is a brand known for a wide range of colors for the lips and eyes, so I was hopeful.
And then this is what we got: an all matte palette of warm neutrals. Wait, what?!
I’m not denying that warm neutral palettes are popular, or trying to say that they don’t have a place in the cosmetic world. I’m just saying that I don’t think this is what anyone expected from this brand for a first palette, and the drawn out promo just made the whole thing worse. I declared this the most disappointing reveal of 2018, and I think it lived up to that for the rest of the year. I’ve heard great things about the palette and the formula, but I just couldn’t bring myself to pick it up – every time I would see it in Ulta, that beautiful holographic calligraphy mocked me!
Flash forward to their newest palette release, the Black Metal Volume 1, and once again they seem to have hit some serious missteps in terms of design and promotion.
First let’s talk about their IG promotion. With Orb of Light, they dropped the whole color story at once. It was boring af, and I suppose it was better to just get it out of the way all at once. But with Black Metal, they revealed a new shade each day with the rest of the palette shown in black and white. Here’s the problem: none of the shade reveals were a surprise, not really, after the first one. Black Moon Cosmetics has a line of liquid lipsticks called Black Metal that have a black base with a specific color shift. The first shade revealed in the palette was Emporer, a blacked gold shade that was an exact dupe of the liquid lipstick shade Emporer from the Black Metals collection. Anyone with half a brain should have been able to immediately put together that this whole palette was going to be metallic shades with a black base that dupe the shades of the lipsticks. And if they didn’t get it after the first reveal, they certainly should have gotten it with the reveal of the second reveal: a black-based rose/copper shade called Eternal that also just happens to match a liquid lipstick of the same name. At that point, everyone knew what the shades were going to be, with the minor caveat that there were seven regular sized pans of shadow (and one large pan of what appeared to be a highlighter shade that clearly had a much lighter base color) and 8 shades in the Black metals liquid lipstick line. So the only real surprise was going to be that large, light-toned pan. But day after day, they kept up the ruse that their newest “reveal” was any sort of surprise.
It felt a lot like watching those Star Wars prequels. Part of why those movies are so bad is that they act like people don’t know what’s going to happen. Everyone knows that Anakin grows up to be Darth Vader. We all know that Senator Palpatine is going to become Darth Sidious, and we know that it’s him under the hood. But these movies treat us like imbeciles, and that’s not something that encourages a lot of fond feelings. That’s how I felt about the shade reveals for this palette. I was a little surprised to see that the middle shade was actually a light, bright bubblegum pink shade based on their lip topper Luna and not a bright teal or turquoise based on the eighth of lipstick called Murmaider, but other than that there was no surprise. Even if I didn’t know what order they were going to be in, I still knew what the shades were going to look like it, and the fake suspense felt really contrived.
But since I love those Black Metal lipsticks, I decided to buy the palette and give it a chance. Unfortunately, I just wasn’t in love with the look of the shadows.
Swatches are done over a primer (this time the Ulta matte eyeshadow primer) with a finger swatch on the left and a brush swatch on the right. Top photo is my studio lighting without a flash, and bottom photo is the same lighting, but with a flash.
L to R: Emperor, Eternal, Myth, Immortal
The problem with these is that the black base is just too strong. If these had been metallics with the sort of bright, reflective pigmentation of, say, a Juvia’s Place metallic shimmer, they would have been absolutely stunning! But these are dulled down by the black based and while they have good coverage, they just sort of look dusty dark gray with some glitter in it. It’s such a huge missed opportunity.
L to R: Sorrow, Armageddon, Castle, Abracadabra (highlight/transformer)
The blue and red shades are a little better and brighter, but they still don’t have the sort of impact I was hoping for. And you know I love me some pink, but that transformer shade is a mess: it’s chunky and impossible to get with a dry brush. I tried foiling it and I got ok results, but mostly I just got hard pan and frustration.
I really do want Black Moon Cosmetics to succeed, but their pressed shadows are total duds for me so far. That’s right, y’all – I bought the Orb of Light palette as well! It was on sale when the Black Metal was launched, so I decided to give it a shot but it was exactly what I thought it would be from looking at it online and swatching it in Ulta. More on that at the end of this post – but first, let me try to appease those who are going to rage about my criticisms by talking about what I DO love from the brand!
First of all, both palettes came with a free eyeshadow brush, and I love their brushes. I also got two face brushes because I ordered the bundle of all 7 shades of their moonlighters so I got 4 free brushes total, and I love them all. Sometimes synthetic brushes are too plasticy and don’t take the product very well, but these are amazing! I love them, and I’ve started using them a lot for swatching.
And speaking of their Moonlighter Highlighters – I live! This is what the brand does well. These 7 shades, based on different animals or fungi that have bioluminescent properties, are all gorgeous and pigmented and lovely. I adore all of them, and I recommend them to anyone. They really are worth it, and the bendle with two face brushes is an amazing deal.
L to R: Glow Worm, Dragonfish, Shroom, Jellyfish, Centipede, Squid, Catshark
There is a promo image on their site for the blue shade, Jellyfish, that looks so beautiful, especially on the dark skintones, that it makes me want to cry a little. It really is amazing. If the eyeshadow palettes had been the same level of quality as these highlighters, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.
I also still love their liquid lipsticks, and even though I’m not reviewing it in this post, I did buy their new neon green shade, Slime. It’s perfectly me, with it’s electric lime sparkle.
Now, let’s look at the swatches from the original Orb of Light palette.
L to R: Strawberry, Cold, Worm, Harvest
L to R: Blood, Wolf, Black, New
The shades aren’t bad; they are a little drier than I usually prefer for how I work, but you can get pretty good coverage from them. Strawberry and New are a little dusty, but not busted. If you are looking for something basic and warm/neutral, this is probably a great option, but if you’ve been into makeup for a while there is nothing really revolutionary here, and that huge pan of New hurts me to my soul. Too much beige! This brand doesn’t feel beige, so I’m not sure why they would go this way!
What are your thoughts? Are you a dedicated “moon beauty,” or are you keeping your eyes out for something different to pique your interest? Have you tried any products from the brand? What are your favorites? If they could make a palette for you in their current format (7 shades with one larger highlighter shade) what would the color story look like to really fulfill your dreams? Let me know in the comments below!
I still love Black Moon Cosmetics, and I’m hoping they can redeem themselves in the palette department. It’s clear they can make high quality makeup that is colorful and striking, so let’s hope they can bring that to their shadow game!