We live in a world that loves remakes, reboots, and recycled properties. Movies are being remade and reinterpreted, rebooted in new formats, and the toy aisle is filled with all of the same properties that I remember as a kid in the 80s: GI Joe, Transformers, He-Man, Ghostbusters, Care Bears, Strawberry Shortcakes, etc. I love seeing these relics from my childhood come back around again (and for some, this isn’t their first time being reimagined!) and I love to see how they’ve been reinterpreted for a new generation: are they creating new looks and new stories, or are they building on the classic style with better technology and manufacturing methods – the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach!
When I think back to school shopping (one of my favorite activities!), Lisa Frank immediately comes to mind. It was impossible to go into any school supply aisle in the 80s and not be assaulted with a barrage of neon unicorns, dolphins, leopards, and other fantastic creatures on notebooks, folders, pencils and pencil cases, and the ever-coveted Trapper Keeper. Personally, Dolphins were my ‘thing” in the Lisa Frank line, but I loved their wild and whimsical play with color. As an adult who doesn’t need school supplies but still needs a steady supply of color, I was definitely intrigued when I saw that Morphe was collabing with Lisa Frank to create a 35-pan eyeshadow palette – and like the Trapper Keepers of my youth, the palette came with a choice of covers!
I was originally drawn to the alien design, but it was sold out very quickly. I almost passed on the palette altogether; nostalgia is cute, but I have a huge collection of rainbow palettes already – did I really need one more? It turns out the answer in my makeup-loving heart was yes, because when the palettes came to Ulta I grabbed the unicorn cover. I actually had kind of an emotional response when I opened the palette. I love dolphins, and I really did like the Lisa Frank dolphin items that I had, but I also gravitated to the dolphins because they felt “safer” than the unicorns. In kindergarten, I had brought some My Little Ponies to show and tell, and the other kids were…well, let’s just say that they were not very welcoming to my enthusiasm for the glittery plastic unicorns and pegasuses…pegasi? This was just one of the ways that I started to restrict myself and cut myself off from things that I loved in order to try and fit in.
Didn’t know you were getting a maudlin trip down memory lane with your makeup review, didja?! Well, we turned down that street and now we live here.
I love that this palette has the foldover clasp to mimic a Trapper Keeper – if you’re not a child of the 80s, I don’t think you can truly appreciate how desired those were! Inside is a rainbow collection of 35 shadows, a mix of mattes and shimmers.
I’ve been somewhat disappointed with the more recent Morphe releases that I’ve picked up – the eyeshadows anyway; the blush trios are bomb! – but I was excited to play around with these, and I was excited/relieved to find that they were a bit better than some of their other recent releases. They had nice saturation and blended well, though they still don’t hold a candle to a lot of indie brands out there that specialize in bright, vivid color.
The swatches are done over the Ulta brand Matte Eyeshadow Primer, but this time I just did brush swatches. There are 35 goddamn shades in this palette, and I’ve stated many times that I’m not as likely to fingerbang a shade onto my eye, especially a matte, so brush swatches are more representative of my application style. The top photo is under my studio lighting with no flash, and the bottom photo is under the same lighting with a flash.
First complaint: the background of the palette is a black holographic material and the shade names are printed in a thin font in a muted fuchsia pink, which is fucking hard to read. I think I have the shade names correct, but it’s hard to be sure. I love holo, but this choice is a pain in my ass as a reviewer, and for anyone who likes to read shade names in their palettes (it’s part of the whole experience!); especially annoying because all of these names are references to specific Lisa Frank designs.
L to R: Blanca, Princess Pearls, Roary, Casey & Caymus, Sunflower
Blanca is a matte white, not bad in terms of the pigmentation and opacity, but certainly not the best I’ve seen. If you are hesitant or are just learning, this is a great place to start, but for queens or people who want to create a super crisp white in their look, this may disappoint. It’s much more suited to blending out the other shades. Princess Pearls is a pale beige matte, nice and bright and pretty opaque. Roary is a buttercream vanilla shimmer, a little sheer but pretty enough and very blendable. Casey & Caymus us a bright lemon yellow shimmer, and it performed better than I expected. It’s a little sheer, as light yellows tend to be, but it builds up fairly nicely and gives pretty good coverage. Sunflower is a bright marigold yellow matte, a little abrasive looking next to those softer pastels, and the swatches got a little patchy around the edges, but it’s not bad. This can definitely stand on its own.
L to R: Playtime Kittens, Markie, Balloon Buddies, Elephant John, Sasha & Shanti
Playtime Kittens is a peach matte, nice opacity, though sometimes when you are blending it can kind of go a bit bald. It’s workable, but…it’s work. Markie is a silvery peach shimmer. Balloon Buddies is a deeper peach-leaning-orange matte. This one looked really beautiful and blended out nicely. Elephant John is a light coral pink matte, nothing super special but it did the job. Shanti is a really pretty coral shimmer with pinky gold reflects.
L to R: Ballerina Bunnies, Purrsilla, Rainbow Chaser, Buzz, Hunter
Ballerina Bunnies is a bright baby pink matte. Purrsilla is a blue-toned light pink shimmer, very pretty and played well with the other shadows. Rainbow Chaser is sort of a dusty rose pink shade, yellow-toned and fairly muted. Buzz is an intense Blood Orange matte, very opaque and a lot of personality. Hunter is a slightly lighter and more yellow-toned orange matte. This row was pretty impressive overall in terms of performance. I didn’t have any major concerns, and Buzz was so bright and opaque that it really surprised me. The pinks were lovely, and I love the shimmery femme pink of Purrsilla.
L to R: Dashly, Rainbow Majesty, Lollipop, Puppy Love, Roxi & Rollie
Dashly is a matte mauve pink that has good opacity though it tends to sheer out a little more around the edges than I would like. It’s not a problem, but it means that you may need to work a little more on the blending with that shadow if you’re using it with other colors so that it doesn’t get overpowered. Rainbow Majest is a bright Barbie pink (I know, I know – I’m mixing franchises!) with a strong blue undertone and a silvery blue shift. Lollipop is a rather lackluster electric pink. Maybe it just looks kind of blah because it’s next to Puppy Love with is bright and electric and an absolute joy. Roxi & Rollie is a rich plum matte shade that needs a little work; you can kind of see on the left side of the swatch that it looks much lighter and more pink in tone, so watch for consistency as you’re applying it and blending it out.
L to R: Peekaboo, Zoomer & Zorbit, Dancing Dolphins, Saturn Sundae, Forrest
Peekaboo is a bright acid green shimmer with some silvery reflect. It’s a little weak, but the apple green shade is pretty. Would probably be a bit better over a white base to help the color really pop. Zoomer & Zorbit is a bright grass green matte, a little bit weak as well (you’ll notice a trend with most of the greens…which of course I hate, because green is my favorite!) but you can build it up to get fairly good coverage. Dancing Dolphins is a somewhat patchy emerald green matte. It’s also a bit patchy, but not as bad as the weakest shade in this row, Saturn Sundae. This teal-leaning-green is inconsistent, especially around the edges, and needs some work to make decent. Forrest (yes, with two Rs) is the best shade of the row, a rich deep green matte. I hate that they only gave us one green shimmer, especially since most of the green mattes were riding the struggle bus hardcore.
L to R: Miss Galaxy, Prancing Unis, Violet & Velvet, Skye, Hollywood Bear
Miss Galaxy is a bright turquoise matte, good pigmentation and blends out nicely Prancing Unis is a lilac matte that blended out nicely though it can be a little inconsistent on the edges. Violet & Velvet and Skye are two purple mattes that look really patchy around the edge of the swatches, but in use they are fairly easy to beat into submission as long as you aren’t trying to cover a huge area. I used Skye in my Color Reveal Barbie Face Friday post that came out on Christmas Day – if you missed it, you can find it HERE. Violet & Velvet is a more red-leaning violet and Skye is the more balanced purple shade. Hollywood Bear is a satin-y shimmer brown. The shimmer is very subtle, but it’s still pretty.
L to R: Tikanni, Angel Kitty, Spotty & Dotty, Panda Painter, Max Splash
Tikanni is a bright cornflower blue matte; it’s a bit finicky, but the color is so beautiful that it’s worth the extra effort to make it work. Angel Kitty is a bright blue matte, very pigmented and blendable. This was probably the best of the blue mattes, and one of the most solid mattes in the palette overall. Spotty & Dotty is a gorgeous blue shimmer, very bright and pigmented, and this one blended out like a dream. Panda Painter is a navy shimmer. As you can see in the lower right of the swatch it can get disturbed and look a bit bald when worked with, so be careful of that when you’re blending it into other shades. Max Splash is a nice pigmented black matte that has a subtle satin shine to it (so not technically matte, but you knwo what I mean). This is a pretty good middle of the road black: it doesn’t fade out to gray, but it’s not so intense that it will scare off beginners.
First of all, let me just say a big “Fuck you!” to anyone and everyone at Lisa Frank who was involved with designing how those shade names were printed, or saw this palette in production and didn’t say, “Just an idea – maybe the lettering on this should actually be fucking readable?!” That was a goddamn chore. The black holo is very cool and it fits with the colorful aesthetic of the whole palette, but it wouldn’t have been that hard to use a thicker, bolder font or a brighter color. Every single name has a TM symbol after it, so clearly these names are special to the Lisa Frank brand (the whole palette felt a little “Tyler Perry Productions presents Tyler Perry starring in a Tyler Perry Production of Tyler Perry’s [insert film name] by Tyler Perry” – know what I mean?!) so why not celebrate that by making it so that people can actually read and enjoy them. It could have encouraged people to dive deeper into the Lisa Frank brand, looking up their favorite design to see what name it had and what color it corresponded to, instead of eliciting my rage and frustration. Just a thought.
Beyond that, however, this is a pretty decent palette. By Morphe standards, it’s one of their better palettes, but in comparison to other indie palettes and shadows on the market, it’s just ok. it will get the job done, it’s got a nice range of colors, and it’s a relatively inexpensive choice for people who either want to play with more color in their makeup or just ride the nostalgia wave of favorite products from their childhood. The biggest issue I found with the palette, which I talk about in the Face Friday post I linked above, was that all of the blues were all medium in tone – I had to bring in a BH Cosmetics Sweet Shoppe palette to get lighter blue shimmers to tie the whole look together. There are some lighter shades in the palette, but there isn’t enough range of shades within each specific color group – why have that many blues or greens or purples, if they are all going to be mid-range in tone and most of them are going to be matte?
In the end, I’m glad I have it, and I liked it enough to keep it around to play with more. I’m preparing a big declutter that may get kind of savage, and I anticipate Morphe being strongly represented in the items that take their leave of my collection, but this palette will live to die another day. Nostalgia isn’t perfect, and sometimes it keeps you from moving forward and coming up with new, inventive ideas, but it awakens that warm place in your heart that can bring up warm feelings of a younger and simpler time – and at the very least can keep you off the chopping block.