I’ve never been a huge fan of MannyMUA; the first time I tried to watch one of his videos he said, “If you don’t like me…(blah blah blah)…don’t fucking watch!” and I was like, “Done and done!” He keeps getting wrapped up in stupid drama that gets filtered to me through the various beauty YouTubers I do watch (some of whom seem to think they are low key drama channels themselves!) but I don’t really keep up with what he’s doing. When he first launched the Life’s a Drag palette, I thought it was mildly interesting but looked mediocre, but I did eventually pick it up when I was in Arizona and had the chance to go to a Morphe store and actually swatch the shadows for myself. None of his releases since then have drawn me in enough to purchase (though that Strawberry Dreams palette is damn close), but when I saw that he had launched a palette for Halloween AND that the palette was available through Sephora…we’ll that was all the prodding I needed! I’ve been starved for Halloween makeup this year!
As not only a general human being with eyes but also as a dyed-in-the-wool book nerd, I am in love with this packaging…except for one huge, glaring mistake. The cover is meant to look like a book with a ton of gilded details and spooky symbols, and there is a raised detail on both the back and the front that looks like a lock. The edges of the palette are gold, but they are textured to have the appearance of pages. The problem? The spine is printed the wrong way.
If you look at books on a shelf, most don’t have text running vertically; it’s preinted horizontally, and it’s positioned so that if the book is laying on a flat surface with the cover facing up, the title and author on the side will be right side up. Not this palette. If you set it on a flat surface with the cover facing up, “Moon Spell” and “Lunar Beauty” are printed upside down. I mean, from what I know of Manny, I’m not entirely surprised that he’s not familiar enough with books to spot that obvious mistake (yeah that was shade – whatcha gone do about it?!) but was no one else doing quality control and raise this issue? And it’s doubly weird because pretty much any other palette that I have that has words printed on the spine are also printed so that the words are right side up when sitting on a flat surface, so it’s not like this is some unique quirk of books. It’s one of those things that will irk me until the end of time, but if the makeup is good I’ll just grit my teeth and bear it.
Swatch process is same as usual: Crayon Case Glue Stick eye primer (although I’m almost out – recommendations for what I should pick up for swatching when I run out?), finger swatch on the left and brush swatch on the right. Top photo is studio lighting with no flash, and bottom photo is the same lighting with flash.
L to R: Prue, Piper, Phoebe, Paige, Sabrina
Prue is a beautiful pinky lavender duochrome shimmer – a little chunky on a dry brush, but would apply more smoothly with a wet brush or a finger. As you can see with the finger swatch, though, it does sheer out the base pigment a bit, so the trade of is that it will be smoother and you’ll have to build it up. Piper is a bright orchid violet, not really a matte – more of a satin finish maybe? It’s deep and pigmented and really lovely. Phoebe is a lovely pink/violet/blue duochrome kind of shade, though it falls more on that pink/violet sort of spectrum. Sort of a toned down version of Urban Decay’s Asphysxia or Jeffree Star’s Oral from the Mini Breaker palette (I think that palette is on my mind for a comparison because I’ve got a review of the Halloween Mystery box exclusive items coming later today!), but with less blue-tone to it. It’s pretty and I loved the coverage with a brush. Paige is a berry pink matte, a little weak with a finger but was just fine with the brush. Sabrina photographed really bright for some reason in the pan, but it’s a deep purple matte, more true purple and less “blurple” than it appears in the middle – I think the gold foil was doing something to the light balance when I was shooting the palette close ups! This shade struggled a bit, and you could build it up, but it always had that darkening around the edge. You can use that to your advantage when blending, but be aware that it will be there when planning your look.
L to R: Winifred, Sarah, Mary, Samantha, Kiki
Winifred is a basic medium tan shade, ho hum in terms of color but it performs alright. It grabs the primer a little more than I would like, but not unworkable. Sarah is a lighter brown and more cool-toned, and interesting contrast to the first shade in the row. I like that it almost has a gray tone to it. Mary is a woody brown metallic, a little warmth but not super chocolatey. A nice, unique kind of shade to what we usually see. Samantha is a rosey brown metallic. This kind of shade is a staple of what I’ve seen of Manny’s looks, and this one performs nicely and I like it in the context of the other shades in this row. Kiki is a deep brown matte, a little rough to work with but not bad. Mostly just boring. Kiki and Sabrina were two really dry mattes, drier than most of the other mattes in the palette, and they seemed to have the biggest performance problems of the shades.
L to R: Hermione, Bonnie, Marnie, Nancy, Fiona
Hermione is a bright gold metallic shimmer. It’s pretty enough, but I wish he had kept all of the neutrals to one row and given us another green or teal shade, like a green shimmer. It does match these shades nicely, but you know me – I’ll always take a bright over a neutral! Bonnie is a swampy green, a little dry and a little fussy to work with, but overall I liked the color and the performance. Marnie is a medium, army green matte, mostly consistent with a brush though the finger swatch got a little wonky and needed to be fixed up a bit. Not a big worry as I don’t use fingers for mattes, but something to be aware of. Nancy is a bright teal matte shade, very consistent and lovely. This is the perfect shade to transition from the warmer, swampier colors to a couple of cool-toned shades. Finally, Fiona is a teal green matte with a reddish base. It’s so subtle, but it’s there and it definitely makes the shade more interesting than your typical shimmer shade. Look at this row: proof that you can definitely use warm and cool-toned shadows together to make gorgeous looks!
Setting my minor quibble about the gold shade in the bottom row aside, I really like the color story of this palette and I don’t mind that there is that row of neutrals. I think the design of this palette is actually really smart: there is that middle row that gives your basic witches a nice selection of browns and bronzes for creating neutral looks, and they pair well with the other shades. Then each of the other two rows gives us a coherent color story, berry pink or swampy greens, that you can use for self-contained looks within the row, combine with the middle row neutrals, or to get a little wild, with the two colorful rows! Everything is beautiful either together or separate. I wish more palettes would be designed with that much thought.
What do you think of this palette? Is she using her powers for good or for evil? Are you under the spell, or did the magic fizzle? Is there a Lunar Beauty palette you like better? What’s your favorite Halloween-themed makeup product of this season so far? Let me know in the comments below!
As for me, I don’t think I’ll be subscribing to Manny’s channel anytime soon, but I give credit where credit is due: this palette is damn good. Or bad, depending on which type of witch you like better! There is variety here, but it’s all coherent and all works together to give you a wide variety of options without just being a rainbow palette. The shades are all pretty decent, with only a few fussy ones that up the skill level a bit, but nothing here is unworkable. The spell has been cast, and I am all the way here for it!