Alright kittens, strap yourselves in: it’s finally time to review the palette that is part of a much larger (and much rockier) conversation happening in the beauty space. I finally received my order for the Shroud Cosmetics x Beautbean It’s Freakin’ Bats palette! I ordered this palette on October 6th, 2020, and received my shipping confirmation on May 3, 2021. We’re going to talk more about that a little later – first, let’s look at this beauty!
This color story is exactly the kind of thing that I would like to see more of: cool tones, greens, purples, gorgeous duochrome shifts, and a spooky theme! I think that everyone went “batty” for this palette because it’s not the typical warm neutral palette that we see over and over again. There are no brown or beige shades to be found, and it’s an interesting mix of colors that you don’t really ever see put together by more mainstream brands.
The palette was produced in collaboration with YouTuber Beautbean. The original plan was to have a small number of palettes available at launch, and then do a series or rolling restocks. The first launch of palettes sold out in just a few minutes, and people took to social media to vent their rage. There was a whole lot of “you’ve ruined my life” and “I’m never coming back” and, importantly, “You should have known how big this was going to be!” Fairly soon, Shroud and Beautbean announced that they were changing things up, and instead of doing a series of announced restocks, they opened it up to a general pre-order. They did make it clear that they couldn’t guarantee when palettes would be ready and that it might take a few months to get everything made and sent out. Orders continued to roll in, and eventually they shut down the store to focus on fulfilling orders from this launch.
Let’s look at the swatches. These are done over the Kaleidos Makeup Tone Activator eye primer with a finger swatch on the left and a brush swatch on the right. The top photo is under my studio lighting without a flash, and the bottom photo is under the same lighting with a flash.
L to R: Handbook, Spooky, Apparition
Handbook is a bright lime green metallic shimmer with golden tones. Spooky is a periwinkle blue matte. It reacted with the primer and darkened around the edges, but was generally fairly easy to work with. Apparition is a lavender duochrome with golden pearly shimmer.
L to R: Addams, Sam, Trapa
Addams is a strong teal matte, very opaque and blends out gorgeously. Sam is a light celery green shade with strong silver metallic reflect. Trapa is a swampy chartreuse matte. This one also reacted with the primer and darkened around the edges of the swatch. It’s blends out fairly well, but this is probably the most difficult shadow in the palette to use.
L to R: Zero, Derry, Grim
Zero is a lovely cool blue-toned lavender shimmer with green and purple duochrome shimmer. Derry is a deep blackened plum matte, nice and pigmented with good opacity. Grim is a bit of an oddball: it’s a bright peacock blue shimmer that’s blendable that really brightens up when applied. It’s not a great match to a lot of the shades in the palette, so definitely expect a contrast when using this shade.
So the shadows are lovely. A couple of the mattes are a little bit finicky and don’t want to play well with the primer underneath, but in general these shades are all beautifully pigmented and blendable. I love the colors and most of the colors, except Grim as noted above, work really well together to create a variety of cool green and purple looks.
Although it’s not the first palette to sell out lightning fast, and probably won’t be the last, it is a palette that really kicked off a certain kind of conversation in the beauty space that I don’t really remember seeing before. There has been a trend recently of smaller indie brands working with smaller creators on collabs. Think Midas x Smokey Glow, Kaleidos Makeup X Angelica Nyqvist, or Menagerie Cosmetics x Annette’s Makeup Corner (review coming soon!). It’s impossible to really know how the brands determine how much to manufacture at a time, but all of these collabs sold out very quickly, as did restocks for a number of them. It’s hard to know how a YouTuber’s subscriber count will translate to sales. You can’t assume that every subscriber will purchase one, and you also can’t assume that every person who wants one will be a subscriber. I don’t subscribe to Beautbean, Smokey Glow, or Annette’s Makeup Corner, but I bought all of their palettes because I liked the colors and wanted to try them out. You also can’t know for sure how much overlap there is between subscribers on different social platforms. They might have 10,000 subscriber on YouTube and 10,000 followers on Instagram, but maybe only 5,000 of them follow both platforms, and the rest are only on one or the other. Then multiply that by the number of different platforms, and…well, you can see how difficult this guessing game can be, especially for small brands only run by just a couple of people.
A common theme I have read in comments was “Why didn’t you make more? This was so hyped!” Besides the calculations I just mentioned, there are some problems with this criticism. First of all, “hype” is impossible to measure. Just because it’s being talked about in videos or on blogs doesn’t automatically mean that those mentions are going to translate into sales. The brands have control over their own advertising, but very little knowledge (or even awareness, in some cases!) of how the information is being spread across the interwebs. And even if they can gauge the “hype” to some degree, there is also the reality of running a small business: materials, packaging, time, and money are all finite resources! Even if you anticipate that something is going to sell really well, that doesn’t automatically mean you can buy the materials necessary to meet that anticipated demand. So should they go into debt to make a larger amount? The butthurt commenters would certainly say yes, but what if the hype doesn’t translate to actual sales? Then they’ve put money they don’t have into a bunch of product that is now taking up space, and taking up resources that could have been put into new products and new revenue streams.
Clearly people don’t want to engage with the tricky realities of running a small business, let alone doing so in the middle of a global pandemic! But I don’t think brands and creators should be quite so dismissive of the criticism that this sort of experience might drive consumers away from smaller indie brands. I recognize that I have a different perspective on this issue because I am a content creator, both here and on my YouTube channel, but I think this is something that people need to think about and grapple with as they are planning out these collabs. I love these colors, and there was no way that I was not going to get this palette for my own use and love of makeup. But as a creator, if I wasn’t completely in love with this color story I probably would have fought to cancel my order. I personally don’t mind reviewing old products (and yes, even though it’s been trickling slowly into people’s hands this is definitely considered an “old” product!), there isn’t the same return on my investment to stick with a pre-order for seven months. I might do something with this product on my YouTube channel (and it will definitely show up in my May Review Roundup) but is anyone still checking for this palette? It feels like a wasted opportunity – people who were waiting for this palette couldn’t really take part in the discussion and the looks that were slowly coming out, and by the time they could, it might seem like a waste of time.
I honestly don’t know what the answer is. I still set my alarms for launches that I’m interested in, but if I miss it on the first go, I am much more reluctant to actually keep checking and spend my money for a product to review unless I also really love it personally. I want smaller creators to keep doing collabs, and I still want smaller brands to do interesting and innovative partnerships, but I also want some degree of reliability in the products that I’m purchasing. I own more makeup than god, so if I have to wait 7 months for a palette I can live with that – but what if someone doesn’t have a lot of money and they bought this palette and then they have nothing to show for it for more than half a year? Does this mean that we’re only going to be seeing reviews of smaller indie brands from those creators who get it in PR, and not from other small creators who purchase on their own? This is going to lead to less diversity in reviewing, and might drive people away from these brands. If people leave, that reduces the amount of capital they have available to put into stock on a new launch, and…well, you can see where this all leads, right?
This is a tough situation, and I think a lot of the emotion around this palette was ridiculous. At the end of the day, it’s still just makeup. No one will live or die based on how long it takes them to get a fucking eyeshadow palette. But these issues, if they persist across brands and with different creators, could have a detrimental effect on small indie brands. I want indie brands to be successful so that they can keep bringing the sort of unique perspectives that we don’t often see from the mainstream brands.
But in the meantime, we might need to develop just a little bit of patience.