In a world where palettes seem to be getting bigger and bulkier all the time (think Jeffree Star’s Alien and Blood Sugar palettes, or the Urban Decay Elements palette), there are still some brands out there reminding you that good things do indeed come in small packages. In my pre-2019 Low Buy Year shopping, I got ahold of a Violet Voss Fun Sized Palette and the two Lime Crime Plushies palettes, and I decided to mash them together into one review about the pleasures of the petite!
Let’s start with the Violet Voss. Before Christmas, Violet Voss released 4 mini palettes: 10-pan “Fun Sized” palettes with a selection of shades and formulas. There was a berry palette (Berry Blast), a nudes palette (Crème Brulee) and a vivid palette (Fruit Sorbet) that I didn’t pick up – though that vivd palette, not that it’s finally back in stock, may end up on my February Low Buy list! – but I got the metallic shades of the Le Macaron palette. All 4 palettes retail for $18 and the pans are 1.2 grams, for a total of 12 grams at $1.50 per gram. I don’t usually get all Stephanie Nicole on your asses and do the math like this, but a common misconception, especially lobbed at the Huda Obsessions palettes, are that these are just a sampler and aren’t worth the money, but 1.2 grams is comparable to a lot of other shadow palettes (the pans in the Violet Voss Flamingo palette, for example, are 1.8 grams). It’s just a nice way to try out a brand and see if you like them before you invest in one of their bigger palettes.
(All swatches in this post are done over Too Faced Shadow Insurance Primer. Top photo is with studio lights and no flash, bottom photo is studio lighting with flash. If a shade is swatched twice, the left swatch is a finger swatch and the right is a brush swatch. If a shade is only swatched once, it’s a finger swatch)
I decided to go for this mini palette because I already have a couple of Violet Voss palettes (Rainbow, Flamingo, and the Like A Boss palette that I recently decluttered – just too dark for me!) and while their mattes can be a little hit or miss for me, I know that I adore their shimmer metallic! This is a fantastic accomplice to pair with the Rainbow palette as it has shades across the spectrum plus a rose gold, a tarnished nickel kind of shade, a bronze, and a red-based brown. This is the same great shimmer formula that I love from Violet Voss, and while there is definitely some fallout, it’s a fairly easy formula to work with. These little palettes are great for travel (even though my version of travel includes bringing half a suitcase of makeup, so what do I know?!) and I really love this formula. Honestly, the Rainbow palette usually contributes at least one or two shades to every stage look I do lately. I am in love!
Now, on to Lime Crime!
The Plushies quads have been around for a little while, and I was hesitant to pick them up because I didn’t know what I should expect. The Plushies lipsticks are very similar to things like the NYX Powder Puff Lippies, and they seem to be like a Lip Stain 2.0 – they are sheer coverage with a lot of pigment, but the pigment is translucent instead of opaque, leading to a soft focus, blown out effect. The Plushies quads were advertised as “sheer pressed pigments,” and I wasn’t sure how that sort of look was going to translate to an eye product.
Surprisingly well, actually. These have that same, soft focus sort of feel, and they aren’t necessarily great for created super sculpted, architectural drag looks, but if you want a color to blow out around the perimeter of your eye, or want a light version of a smoky eye that is diffused and edgeless, but still packed with color, these are the shadows for you. I think there is a little bit of a learning curve with them, and I’m still trying to really get them figured out, but overall I like them.
The Sweet Blends quad is the more pastel version of the two, and the shades are softer and much more diffused. Rosebud is a light, bubblegum pink. Chocolate Milk is a soft medium brown and Melon Smoothie is a lighter beige brown; both of these shades are very cool-toned. Blueberry is a light denim blue. All except Blueberry have coordinating shades of the Plushies liquid lipstick. These are a little trickier to work with as they are less bright and vivid, so figuring out how to use them, as opposed to a more opaque neutral from your collection, is going to be a challenge. I like the formula, and Melon Smoothie is a great option for blending out the crease in place of a more opaque transition shade, but you can see from the swatches how they have a color to them but they are still sheer and show the skin underneath.
Jackfruit is the oddball in the Fresh Squeezed quad that doesn’t have a coordinating Plushies lipstick (though a sheer yellow like that would be fire!), and it’s a little bit more powdery than any of the others. Orange Juice is a bright true orange, and really stands out from the group as being the most richly pigmented. This is the one that probably performs most like a typical eyeshadow. Mango is a peachy orange that goes on a little darker with a brush. Dragon Fruit is a cool-toned fuchsia pink.
I’m still trying to figure out how best to incorporate these products into the makeup that I do, as I tend to like a lot of pigment and presence (I’m a drag queen after all – we ain’t painting for the Church social, y’all!), but it’s a fun challenge. This is going to sound weird but the consistency of these reminds me of sidewalk chalk – not in a bad way, as they aren’t chalky the way we usually mean when we say an eyeshadow is chalky – and the closest thing I can compare them too is like a slightly more sheer version of the formula that Kat Von D had in her Pastel Goth palette.
I love that brands are putting out smaller, less expensive mini palettes for a number of reasons.
First, it’s a cheaper way to try out a brand or, in the case of the Plushies, a new formula that you might not be as comfortable with. If the Plushies formula came in a big old monster palette the size of the Venus XL and was $60, I probably wouldn’t have given them a try. Although I did buy both of them at $22 each, so they did get me to part with $44 – maybe they are more clever and cunning than I’m giving them credit for!
Second, they can be more playful and inventive with the color stories. When there are 8 to 12 pans in a palette, brands always seem to feel the pressure to cater to those annoying “one and done palette” heifers who just can’t be bothered to open more than one palette at a time and then suddenly every g.d. palette on the market has a matte cream or a matte white, a black, a deep brown, etc. You could do several complete looks with these quads, if you’re adventurous and like color, but with only 4 shades, those one-and-doners pretty much expect to have to bring in some help so the colors can be a little bit more interesting and cohesive.
What do you think about mini palettes? Are you a fan of the smaller, more compact size? Are you annoyed that you’re not getting the same explosion of colors and possibilities that you get with larger palettes? What’s the perfect number of pans in a palette for you? Let us know in the comments!
Big palettes aren’t going anywhere any time soon, but I’m so glad that brands are working on providing options for a wide range of customers, including those who want to pay less to get a sampling of the brand’s offerings and formulas, proving once again that good things really do come in small packages.