I love a subscription box. I’ve done some horror-related boxes, some of the nerdy ones, and for a while I did both Birchbox and Ipsy. I do love trying new things, and I love the surprise element. Even when the items are revealed early or you get to pick from a selection, there is something fun and different about receiving a curated collection of products that someone else put together for you.
I did Deck of Scarlet for over a year. It was fun, and I like the products that I received, but ultimately it wasn’t for me. I’m planning to do a whole video about the experience, show off the items I received, and talk about why it wasn’t for me on my YouTube channel, but for now let’s just say that I’m not the sort of makeup consumer that the service was created for.
Recently, I’ve been going through Nerdy Girl Makeup’s old videos watching some of her tag videos, and I remembered that she always got the subscription box from The Collective Cosmetics and always seemed to like it. Then I saw the brand pop up recently on Audra At Home’s IG. I decided to head on over to The Collective Cosmetics and see what was up.
The theme of the collection was Superbolts and it had to do with lightning and lightning strikes. I have wanted to try something from Collective for a while, so I decided to sign up and see what I thought.
There are two options for the boxes: Decadence and Austere. Decadence is $50 and includes all of the products in the monthly collection, usually 4 shadows, a highlighter, a lip product, and an accessory. The Austere box is $30 and includes fewer products – I’m not sure is included or if it changes from month to month, but you can check their website or IG for more details. There is usually one shadow from their permanent collection included, but everything else is exclusive to the box.
I also got a thank you gift for subscribing: one of their Extra Large empty palettes, perfect for holding the singles from the box.
Spoiler alert: this review is generally going to be pretty positive, so remember that when I say: this palette is cheap trash. The cardboard and construction is flimsy, the magnets that hold the cover closed are super weak, and the plastic in the cover is warped. I’m not mad about it, because it was free, but this is also a product that they sell on their website for $26. ABH still has some of their magnetic palettes in stock that are smaller, but they are only $10 each. I’m going to use it for now, but I have a couple of other palettes that are empty so this may get ditched sooner rather than later. And this palette isn’t the focus of this review, so let’s get on to the main event: the makeup!
The collection comes with four single shadows: Cloud to Cloud, Here Fishy, Smooth Channel, and Anvil Crawler. Here Fishy is the shade that’s available in the permanent collection; the rest are exclusive to the box. I did swatches over the Ardell In Her Prime Eye Primer with a finger swatch on the left and a brush swatch on the right. The top photo is the shadows under my studio lighting with no flash, and the bottom photo is the same lighting with a flash.
Cloud to Cloud looks fairly purple in the pan, but it’s actually a bright vibrant azure blue with coppery sparkle. You’ll want to use a glitter glue with this one to help the sparkle stay in place, but be prepared for a little bit of fallout. The blue is bright and beautiful, and the glitter is an interesting contrast.
Here Fishy is a bright cyan blue with a golden duochrome flash. It reminds me of light flashing on water, and it’s really beautiful when applied. It’s a little bit sheer when first applied, but it can be built up very easily to full opacity.
Smooth Channel is a bright balanced green with a turquoise shimmer reflect. This one is fairly sheer at the base, and even when built up still have a bit of a sheerness to it. The reflect is bright and almost seems to float on top of the base.
Anvil Crawler is a medium mustardy brown matte. It blends nicely with other shades, though when it’s by itself it can get a little patchy on the edges so I would recommend using a skintone transition shade if you’re using it at the edge of your look. It’s got nice depth and it’s a pretty decent matte.
The shadows are a drier formula, more of a gritty feel than a silky feel, so I wouldn’t recommend using them on a very tacky primer. A primer that dries down is probably the best option for these, or if you have a little bit of stick make sure to tap rather than drag to get the best color transfer without muddying. They are a fun, earthy collection of shades and I’m excited to play with them more. Once I get a few more shades from the brand, I plan to do a Face Friday using them .
The collection also includes a highlighter and a liquid lipstick. One minor complaint is that neither of the shade names appear on the packaging. I went to their IG and couldn’t find the names, and the page for subscriptions is currently down (I think they are probably getting it updated for February – can’t wait to see!). It’s a little thing, and it’s definitely more bothersome to me as a reviewer than as a makeup lover, but it’s just one of those little details that would improve the overall experience.
I swatched the highlighter over Uoma Beauty Say What Foundation with a finger swatch on the left and a diffused brush swatch on the right. I wiped down the area where the lip swatch was done to make sure there wasn’t any foundation. The lighting is the same as described above.
I admit defeat: I could NOT get a photo that truly showed how beautiful this highlighter is. In the pan it is a stunning pattern that looks like a lightning bolt against a pale pink background. The highlighter has a white base that comes through when it’s more saturated and built up, but it diffuses into a sort of wet look highlight with lots of pink glittery shimmer and maybe some hints of silver. When it’s layered on thicker, it’s got that creamy metallic look of like an Ofra highlighter; when it’s diffused it’s more glittery and the base sheers out. These are the types of highlighters that always defeat my (limited) photography skills, and all I can do is tell you that it’s really gorgeous in person. I will use it in an upcoming Face Friday post so that you can see it in action!
The lipstick is a deep brown shimmer metallic that applies a little bit sheer. Like a lot of metallic liquid lipsticks, it’s a little bit patchy and inconsistent, though I found this one easier to work with than a lot of brands that I have tried. This one can be worked into a nice opaque coverage, but adding a lip liner in a similar shade of brown should solve any problems that you have. It dries down but I didn’t find it uncomfortable at all. It moved and flexed with my lips.
The collection also came very thoughtfully packaged. There was a handwritten note in the box, everything was wrapped and protected, and there were some promo sheets on paper instead of thicker glossy card stock. They still looked beautiful and less materials were used/wasted and the end product is more easily recyclable than the thicker cards. I approve. In this photo you can also see the accessory item: it’s a lightning bolt ear crawler )in the black organza bag). Full disclosure: I’m not here for the accessory items. I’m a big drag queen, so I evaluated the value of the box on the makeup alone, and if I happen to get an accessory that works for me, that’s gravy. Most of the accessories will probably end up as gifts or in giveaways. I don’t have pierced ears anymore, but if I did, I would probably wear this piece. Since my ear holes have grown closed, Mama Champagne has already laid claim and I’m sure she’s going to enjoy it.
A small note for people with chemical sensitivities: my box came with the tissue inside sprayed with a fragrance (I think it’s a perfume they sell on their site, but I’m not sure). I thought the fragrance was lovely, but it was definitely there. I’m not sure if they do that with every box, but if you are sensitive and you want to get the boxes, I would recommend opening it somewhere open and ventilated, and disposing of the paper/wrappings right away. I didn’t notice any fragrance on the products themselves, and again I’m not sure if that’s a standard thing. You could also write to the brand and see if they could skip that.
I’m seriously impressed with my first box from The Collective Cosmetics. Is it as polished and perfect as some of the bigger brands? No. But the small “flaws” that come through aren’t so much problems as just the hallmarks of something that is being hand-crafted in small batches. It’s rough because humans are rough, and you can really feel the human touch in these products. I’m excited to see what else is headed my way in 2021!