You know I’m a whore for a good liquid lipstick, and no one did a better formula than Makeup Monsters! They were one of my OG faves when I was first trying to figure out how to wrangle this kind of product and not end up with it drying to a stain all over my face. The formula was light and watery painting on very easily, but it was opaque and offered not only great coverage but pretty fantastic lasting power. Darkness Prevails, their black shade, won the first ever black liquid lipstick Makeup Thunderdome, beating out Jeffree Star’s Weirdo and Lime Crime’s Black Velvet (when I did a rematch a year or so later with some new brands, it was unseated by Pretty Zombie Cosmetics’ Black Cat, but still placed in the top three – long story short, I’ve purchased more black liquid lipsticks than any reasonable person should!).
When the owner of Makeup Monsters announced that they were discontinuing that brand and were going to be relaunching as Menagerie Cosmetics, I was torn: obviously I don’t buy a brand because of the name or becuase of the cute packaging – well, maybe not only for the cute packaging – but I loved the creepy and cute vibe of the brand. A lot of people were all up in their feelings before any products were ever announced or launched. I was interested to see what they would do and whether or not they would bring back that coveted lipstick formula, but when they did show up with a dozen or so liquid lipsticks I just didn’t find the time to work them into my shopping “agenda.” There were always colors that I wanted out of stock or some other issue, so I didn’t get to try any of the new lipsticks once they were launched under the Menagerie brand.
Fast forward to earlier this year; I start to see drama videos popping up talking about Menagerie Cosmetics. I try not to watch drama channels, but several of the beauty YouTubers I watch like to include drama and gossip in their own videos of reviews or GRWMs, so I was able to get the broad strokes: the owner of Menagerie Cosmetics had posted something to Instagram complaining that she wasn’t seeing the support that she was hoping for and didn’t think she’d be able to afford to launch an upcoming palette, called the Whalesong palette. It wasn’t all that ranty, and as usual it was completely blown out of proportion, but at least it brought the Whalesong palette into my consciousness, and once I saw it I was hooked: a whole palette filled with stunning greens and blues? Yes, please! When she announced that pre-orders would take place and she was going to produce the palette in a smaller run, I knew I had to get my order in as soon as the pre-order opened!
Now, there is also a whole long saga about how the palette was delayed by a couple of months, they were dealing with a scammer who stole thousands of dollars from them, and the palettes shipped way late. I don’t hold that against them, and neither should you. That kind of thing can happen, and if you don’t want to deal with manufacturing or other delays, the answer is simple: don’t place pre-orders. I only mentioned it because it ties in later on in the video.
While I was waiting for the Whalesong palette, I also ordered their Courtship mini palette, a 6-pan palette of warm reds and golds with gorgeous flamingo artwork. Not long after receiving that palette, the 12-pan Whalesong palette also arrived. I figured, “Why not just combine both palettes into the same review?!”
First up, let’s look at the Courtship palette. Swatches in these are done over a primer (The Crayon Case Eye Glue Stick) with a finger swatch on the left and a brush swatch on the right. The top photo is my studio lighting with no flash, and the bottom photo is the same light with a flash.
L to R: Caramelized, Keepsake, Serenade
A lot of the people I watch on YouTube regularly rave about the Menagerie formula, and there’s a reason: it’s amazing! It doesn’t look that great in the swatch photos, but there’s a reason: the mattes tend to grab the primer and can clump up or darken a bit. I am not one to set my primer ( I like a tacky base for my tacky face!), but when applying these shades, especially the mattes, it’s best to use a packing, patting motion and then blend at the edges rather than the typical swiping motion I use when doing swatches. I’ve play with these a bit on my eyes to make sure that they perform and they do. I probably should have reshot the swatches with a different process, but I figured it was better to show what they look like and what can happen with a different technique and just talk you through it. C’est la vie!
Caramelized is a light yellowy tan shade. I find the color on the eyes to be closer to how it looks in the brush swatch, but if it grabs and darkens, you can build it up and get it to look a bit lighter. Keepsake is a bold, brassy shimmer gold, very metallic and smooth. Keepsake is a deep burgundy red, very consistent and deep, but still blendable.
L to R: Bon Bon, Besties, Tutu
Bon Bon is a medium, hot cocoa brown. You can see how both swatches really grabbed the primer and darkened at the edges, so be careful applying this one if your primer isn’t set. Pack and pat, and blend it later! Besties is a really pretty pink with a silvery metallic flash to it. I love this shade, and I love how bright and yet pastel it is. Tutu is a faded red matte, and I hate that the swatches don’t show how beautiful this color is! It’s a really nice red – it’s like someone took true red and let it lay out in the sun to fade, really beautiful and kind of unique.
The Whalesong Palette is the same kind of formula and the same quality, but with a cool-toned green and blue color story.
L to R: Pearl, Plankton, Barnacle, Cetacean
Pearl is a champagne shimmer with slightly buttered yellow tones. It’s a creamy shade and is brighter than you would expect looking at it in the pan; it’s actually a nice option for inner corner highlight. Plankton is a drab olive matte that tended to grab the primer a bit, but blended out pretty nicely even with that problem. If you like to set your primer, you probably won’t have any problems with this or any of the other mattes, but if you like a tacky primer like me, just work with patting motions to lay down some color first, and then blend the color as needed. Barnacle is a gray-toned blue matte., not quite navy but with some good depth to it. Cetacean is a bright baby blue matte, very pigmented and smooth.
L to R: Fluke, Reef, Bubble-Net, Breaching
Fluke is such a gorgeous minty green shimmer, not too blue-toned but rather pretty balanced for a pastel. Reef is a cool green matte, very pigmented and blandable, doesn’t take much to build this up to extremely saturated coverage. Bubble-Net is a forest green matte, really deep and lovely. There is so much more personality to this shade, more than I typically associate with a green this deep. Breaching is a deep navy matte.
L to R: Kelp, Dive, Splash, Whalesong
Kelp is a swampy, algae green matte. Very trendy right now, and right at home in these shades. I feel like I always see shades like this with oranges and reds, and while those combos are lovely, I’m not sure why more people don’t include them with collections of greens and blues! Dive is a bright true cyan matte. Splash is a deep emerald green with a shit-ton of shimmer; and yes, that is the technical measurement! Whalesong is a lovely medium blue shimmer with a subtle greenish-teal shift that really makes this shade interesting and surprising.
I haven’t had a chance to play with either of these palettes for show makeup, but I’m loving this formula, and I can see why so many beauty YouTubers are raving about these palettes. They definitely don’t look as good in my photos because the softer, slightly creamier formula for the mattes means that they don’t always mesh perfectly with my process for swatching. But as I’m swatching and playing with them, even if I’m struggling to get good photos, I can see how they perform and how they work together and I’m super excited! They have a new mini-palette that is shades of purple, and I can’t wait to add that to my collection as well!
What do you think – are you living for this fabulously feral rebrand? Are you still mourning the Makeup Monsters brand? Do you love these shadows, or are you waiting for a different kind of color story to ignite your creativity? What kind of animal palette would you love to see them make, and what would the color story be? Let me know all of your thoughts down in the comments!
And with the delay that happened with the Whalesong palette, for anyone who stuck with their pre-order and waited for it to be shipped out, the owner of Menagerie also included two liquid lipsticks with the order! I gave her some shades I was interested in but told her I was happy receiving whatever – there are so many great colors! I got Leviathan, a bright teal green, and Alpha, a greige with a tough of mauve, and both are amazing. I’ve only worn them a couple of times, but I’d ventured to say that the Menagerie formula is just as good as the Makeup Monsters formula!
Personally, I’m loving this “new look.” Yes, I love monsters, and I think there aren’t enough fun horror and spooky themed brands out there, but I’m much more invested in the products than I am in the decorations on the packages. A rose by any other name, would kick just as much ass as these amazing shadows!