I’m a little disappointed that we didn’t see as much Halloween-themed makeup this year: last year’s Kylie Cosmetics collection gave me serious FOMO (though it was mostly just the outer packaging, so it’s fine that I skipped it) and I felt like I saw quite a few brands doing something to celebrate the day, but this year was just kind of a bust. Wet n Wild did their usual Halloween collection (which is mostly either face paint or just products that are vaguely dark with a green or a purple in their same packaging they use all year), Ruby May cosmetics put out a 9-pan palette called Pop Zombie in September (so that sort of counts?), and LA Splash Cosmetics still has their Classic Monsters collection from last Halloween on their website (only discounted 40%, so they must still think it’s going to be a big seller!). Lime Crime created a bundle of 4 new Wet Cherry shades that I ordered and will probably review out of spite, but glosses aren’t really that fun or exciting. And I’m patiently waiting for my Jeffree Star Halloween Mystery Boxes for an unboxing video and a review of the new lipstick shades and any other random goodies that I get that I don’t already have, but given how his shipping usually works with big launches, we’ll probably be filming the unboxing just in time for Thanksgiving…
Luckily, Hot Topic has my back and has released two palettes related to some of the best new horror properties of recent years: IT Chapter 2 and Stranger Things!
I’m going to talk about them in the order that I swatched them, because I ended up using different primers, and it definitely made a difference.
The IT palette is an 8-shade palette with different sized pans shaped like balloons with metallic printing connecting them down to an outline of Pennywise. It’s sort of a muted rainbow palette, though there are three different blue shades and no purples. There are 4 mattes and 4 shimmers, but they aren’t evenly distributed across the tones: 3 of 4 cool-toned shades are shimmers, and only one of the warm-toned shades. There is a balloon shaped mirror inside the front cover and metallic red blood dripping along the top edge. The front cover has blood dripping across the top as well and across the center has the word LOSER in white, with a metallic red V printed over the S, like Beverly does when signing Eddie’s cast. The packaging is well design, but it’s pretty cheaply made: there are several places where the red has rubbed off the metallic printing and it’s a sort of dirty silver, and it feels pretty light and cheap. Both palettes are $16.90 and Hot Topic has tons of sales, so you can get a pretty good deal on either of these, but don’t expect a ton of quality from this one.
I swatched the IT palette right after I finished up with the swatches of the Norvia Pro Palette volume 3, and I wasn’t paying attention and I ended up using the ABH primer for these swatches. I prefer a tacky primer and the ABH is really dry, but I had already done the first four shades so I decided to keep going and just switch back to the Crayon Case for the Stranger Things palette. These swatches are done like usual with a finger swatch on the left and a brush swatch on the right. It’s got a weird layout, so instead of trying to do rows or columns, I just did the four cool shades and then the four warm shades. The top photo is my studio lights without a flash, and the bottom photo is the same lighting with a flash.
L to R: Losers, Come Home, Come Play, Room 208
These swatches are super underwhelming, but that’s not entirely surprising given that it’s a Hot Topic palette – they are known for being pretty inexpensive and the quality can be somewhat dodgy. But as we’ll see later, don’t eliminate this from your shopping list just yet. Losers is a light blue matte, very bright and solid coloration. It went on very chalky. Come Home is a medium grass green shimmer. The brush swatch was especially sheer, but the finger swatch had a bit more depth. Come Play is a deeper navy shimmer, and Room 208 is a slightly darker than usual turquoise blue shimmer.
L to R: Derry, SS Georgie, Lovers, Float
The warms shades looked a little better in general, but were still pretty sheer and the shimmer shade, SS Georgie, was surprisingly dull for a shimmer. Derry is a matte brick red and had the best pigmentation of any shadow in this group. SS Georgie is a bright champagne gold shimmer. Lovers is a bright but slightly mustardy yellow. Float is a orange-brown matte.
None of these shadows was particularly memorable and they all seemed sort of sheer and lifeless. I was ready to chuck this in the declutter bin straight after the review…but the story doesn’t end there. Let’s talk about what happened with the Stranger Things palette.
The packaging on the Stranger Things palette is a little bit better. The 10-shade palette is long and narrow with a matte black cover featuring glossy black embossing showing Mike, Eleven, Lucas, and Dustin on their bikes like in season 1, and the Stranger Things logo in red. When you open it up, they play with the idea of the Upside Down: the mirror features a black outline of Will being chased by the Demogorgon. The shade names are printed above the shades, upside down. It’s clever, and it’s executed pretty well; this palette is clearly not luxury, but it seems like better quality than the IT palette.
For the swatches, I did the same process and lighting described above, but the swatches are over the Crayon Case Glue Stick primer. You’ll notice that the pigmentation and opacity of these shades is much better than the swatches on the IT palette. Hmmmmmm…
L to R: Babysitter, 011, Castle Byers, Upside Down, Palace Arcade
Babysitter is a light peachy shimmer with silvery reflects. 011 is a matte baby pink, and it was pretty chalky. This one will definitely need some work. Castle Byers is a brown shimmer that leans a little red, but the shimmer looks like it’s a little bit silvery. It’s an interesting combination, and I’m excited to play around with this shade a little more. Upside Down is a deep navy shimmer. Palace Arcade is a bright matte purple, a little patchy but can be worked with to get a pretty solid color.
Waffle is a bright marigold yellow with chunks of losse glitter in it that look like straight up craft glitter. Plus I think the glitter is an overspray, so scratch that shit off, because it’s fallout city and the yellow is actually not that bad separate from the glitter! Hawkins is a bright maroon shimmer. Demogorgon is a bronze brown with a very nice metallic shimmer. HNL is a medium gray with silver glitter like the Waffles shade. Why? I mean, just…why? The gray is find, but the glitter is immediately a mess. Scratch it off and then move on with your life if you want to use the gray shade. The Void is a black shimmer that actually reads pretty black, which can be rare for these Hot Topic palettes! Usually they come off more gunmetal or smoky gray. This one is nice, and the black almost has a bluish undertone. Another interesting one that I want to play with more.
Here is a closeup of the two shades with the glitter overspray:
Look at how the glitter is completely separate from the shade itself and just spreads out and makes a mess. Why do companies keep making shades like this, and doing these awful oversprays? Who the hell asked for this?!
I immediately noticed that this palette swatched much better than the IT palette. At first I thought it might just be different formulas; they are from different companies, with the IT palette made by Centric Beauty LLC and the Stranger Things palette made by Taste Beauty. But I also wondered if the primer that I used might have made a difference. Like I noted above, I swatched the IT palette over the ABH primer, which dries down almost immediately and doesn’t have any tackiness, and I swatched the Stranger things over the Crayon Case eye primer with is much thicker and stays tacky if you don’t set it with a powder. I decided to do a brush swatch of all 8 shades from the IT palette on the Crayon Case primer. Here’s the comparison:
I’m sure you figured this out, but the middle photo is the new swatches, and it’s like a whole new palette! There is still some inconsistency – the red shade in particular had a hard time with the stickier primer and was a bit patchy – but overall the shades are smoother, more consistent, darker, and less sheer. This is why when people say that primers don’t matter, I have to respectfully disagree. What’s more important is being able to understand the shadow you are using and use the right primer that will work with the shadows. The ABH shadows, especially the mattes, are really dry and they respond well to a drier primer like the ABH primer formula. If you’re using a tackier primer with shadows like that, make sure to set it with powder before applying. But for shadows like this (and I think for cheaper, less pigmented shadows in general), you are going to get a more vibrant and impactful look if you apply them over a tacky base.
What do you think of these horror palettes? Are they exactly what you needed for this spooky season, or does your spirit have some unfinished business when it comes to Halloween-themed makeup? Do you have the Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street palettes from last year? How do you think these compare? Do you have a favorite? Let me know what you’re creepin’ on in the comments!
I’m sad that there wasn’t as much Halloween-themed makeup this year – it seems like the perfect holiday for makeup companies to use to create collections around! I’m hoping the products that come out do well to encourage more to get in on the fun. An annual parade of Halloween makeup collections would be positively spooktacular!