As someone who grew up with all of the various incarnations of Madonna, from material girl to sex goddess to euro-trash cowgirl and beyond, it’s very interesting to watch Lady Gaga’s career grow and change. The constant comparison of Lady Gaga to Madonna is perhaps annoying to both women, but not completely unwarranted: both women tend to push the creative envelope and survive by continual reinvention; in the more capitalist sense, both have expanded their creative ventures from music/dancing into acting and product development.
If you’re looking for a discussion on whether or not Haus Laboratories as a whole is just a celebrity cash grab, I’m afraid you’re going to have to wait. I have another post about the brand coming in a couple of weeks where I talk about more of their products, the quality, and how “authentic” the brand feels. I’m not going to give any spoilers on where I land with that question, but I will say that this palette does have some elements that suggest cash grab that I’ll talk about after my review of the product itself. If you want deeper, more composed thoughts about the larger questions, well, then I’ll see you back here on the 24th.
The Stupid Love palette is an 18-pan eyeshadow palette – none of the shades are marked as pressed pigments (not entirely surprising given the color selection) – and it comes in a heavy, high quality cardboard packaging that is silver and reflective. I appreciate the move to cardboard, and I think this is a step up from the Glam Room palette packaging, but anything reflective like this, especially a palette, is impossible to keep clean: it gets covered in fingerprints, smeared product, etc.
The shades are mostly named after songs from the new Chromatica album. “Sine from Above” is shortened to just Sine, and there were a few shades that are not on the standard album track list: Light Up, Enemy, Peace, Motion, and My Mind. I’m not familiar enough with the whole album to know if these appear as lyrics, or a couple of them might be tracks on the expanded, Target-exclusive CD. And of course, the palette itself is named after the debut single. The color story is heavy with blues, as well as contrasting oranges, a couple of pinks, and some white/silver notes.
Even before doing the review, I used this palette in a couple of looks: one in my Facebook Live as part of Dakota Outright’s Virtual Pride 2020, creating a Trans Pride flag-inspired look, and once in my first Don’t Drink & Drag series video where I tried to create a look done by NikkieTutorials when she reviewed the palette. I’ll include that video here, not because the look was fantastic (it wasn’t) but because it’s a lot of fun. I’m not great at makeup when I’m sober, so it didn’t take long for things to go off the rails.
I did the swatches over the ABH primer. Because I had already played with the palette for two complete looks and I had a better handle on how the shadows performed, I just did brush swatches instead of a brush and a finger. The top photo is under my studio lighting with no flash, and the bottom photo is the same lighting with a flash.
L to R: 911, Free Woman, Enigma, 1000 Doves, Plastic Doll, Stupid Love
911 is a matte white, a little chalky but not at all unworkable. Needs a little blending to work, but you can get pretty good payoff. Free Woman is a slightly blue-tinged gunmetal silver shimmer. It’s fairly chunky and like most of the shimmers in this palette would benefit from a finger or setting spray to foil them. That’s what I ended up doing with one of the shades in my video above, and it helped things come together. Enigma is a matte cyan. 1000 Doves is a gorgeous silvery baby pink shimmer shade. It’s slightly less chunky than some of the other shimmers, but still would be smoother with some moisture. Plastic Doll is a matte pink; it looks duller and more dusty in the pan, but when applied the color really brightens up and is almost like an eraser pink. It’s very pretty, and don’t worry if you see it in the pan and aren’t impressed – it’s a hidden gem! Stupid Love is a warm toned medium to deep chocolate brown m matte. It was a little underwhelming, but not terrible. Just needs a little extra blending.
L to R: Light Up, Sine, Rain On Me, Alice, Sour Candy, Enemy
Light up is a metallic silvery white shimmer. It’s a little more sheer than I would like for a typical lid color, but it blends nicely. Sine is an electric blue that is a little tricky but pigmented and can be blended out to a really beautiful finish. This is the vivid blue that has started popping up in a lot of palettes recently, and this is an excellent version of the shade. Rain On Me is a light blue shimmer that has almost like a gunmetal kind of reflect – like, it’s silver, but not a bright shiny silver. Alice is a bluish – almost a little bit mauve-y – silver shimmer with a lot of chunky metallic shimmer to it. This one definitely needs to be wet to be at its best, or patted onto a wet/tacky base. Sour Candy is a bright copper brown shimmer. Enemey is an opaque, pigmented burny orange matte.
L to R: Peace, Fun Tonight, Motion, Replay, My Mind, Babylon
Peace is like the deeper, slightly turquoise leaning sister shade to Enigma. It brings in just the faintest hint of green tones that really changes up the blue color story. Fun Tonight (one of my favorite songs off the album, and also one of my favorite shades!) is a deep blue shimmer with some bright reflectance. It’s somewhere between a royal and a navy. Motion is a black with glitter suspended in it. It’s a little drier and grittier than a lot of the other shades in the palette, but the glitter does seem to stay put a little better than I see with a lot of shades of this kind of formulation. I would still recommend a glitter glue with it, though. Replay is a blue-based purple shimmer that also helps expand out the color story and I think it’s lovely. My Mind is a very cool-toned latte brown matte. Babylon is a deep copper orange metallic.
These shadows are generally pretty creamy and easy to work with, but there is a TON of fallout and kick up in the pan. Motion, the matte with glitter in it, is probably the driest formulation, and even that has a soft, silky kind of texture. The shimmers can tend to chunk up a bit, and really do best when foiled or laid down over a tacky/wet base to help them grip. The mattes are soft and blendable, and generally the pigmentation is there. I love this color story: the contrast of blue and orange is great (if a little Denver Broncos-y for my taste) but the inclusion of the pinks, the blue-based purple, and the almost turquoise shade help to harmonize and allow for a surprising amount of versatility.
In terms of the “cash grab” question – I’m really torn. On the one hand, it’s so clearly a tie-in product to promote her new album. It looks like a pieace of promotional merchandise, with the design being very similar to other products that came out to promote the new album: coffee mugs and sweatpants and other random merch. The palette does not look like any of the other products in the Haus Laboratories line. Those products feel like their own cohesive collection…but this feels like Lady Gaga. This is the first product that really feels like it’s a Gaga product. The shade selection is colorful, interesting, and impactful. The packaging, while looking like a merch item, is also very high quality and it feels expensive. If it is a cash grab, it’s the best kind: it’s a blatant promo item that is also very high quality and delivers the kind of quality you would expect from a product at that price point.
It’s not perfect – it’s messy as fuck, and I had some trouble recreating the NikkieTutorials look that can’t be completely blamed on the sweet vodka cocktails. I’m glad that the brand is starting to “feel” more Gaga, but I’m not sure that it’s enough to really seduce me over into a full on Haus Laboratories fan. I need to check out more of her products and see what the quality is like overall. Lucky for you, dear Reader, you’ll have the answers to that question soon enough: Haus Labs was having a sale, so I picked up the Glam Room 01 palette, 3 Le Monster Matte Lip Crayons, 3 Le Riot glosses, and one of the Glam Attack Liquid Shimmer Powders (I would have skipped these, as I don’t love liquid shadows, but there is a green shade so here we are). A full review of those products, and my final thoughts on the “cash grab” question, will be published on August 24th at 11 am central!
I’m a Gaga fan, and I want to see her succeed. This palette is pretty good overall, and I’m satisfied with having it in my collection. But we’ll have to see if Haus Laboratories can sustain my interest. I want to give her the applause, applause, applause – but the products need to rain that quality down on me!
(Can I also just mention that I thought this song was a total yawn when it came out, but I’ve decided that I was wrong and this song is definitely, as the kids would say, a “bop”)