Well, well, well – we’re five months in to my year of the Decadence box from The Collective Cosmetics, and we have some of my favorite shades to date. We also have the first time that I have run into any real problems using the products. We also have a super full month of reviews here, but I really wanted to try and get this out while the box was still available, so this is sort of a Face Friday bonus for you! I’m super excited to tell y’all about this box!
So May’s theme is Dark Matter, and the Decadence box comes with 5 shadows, a highlighter, a liquid lipstick, and a pair of earrings for the accessory item.
This color story is right up my alley! Green is my favorite color and I love blue and purple shadows, so this is a collection that feels tailor made for me. Now, I’ve said before that I judge the value of the box based on the shadows and the highlighter; the accessory item and any lip products are just a bonus, love ’em or hate ’em, doesn’t really matter because I am here for the color! But can we just take a second to talk about how cute the accessory item in this box is?!
I don’t have pierced ears anymore; my ears are super sensitive and they were always getting infected and gross. These earrings are so cute, it actually makes me miss earrings! I’m torn about what to do with these. I might make a necklace to match and include them in an upcoming collection, or I might take these apart and use the pieces on a charm bracelet for ME! Still undecided but I really like these earrings – they are so cute!
Also, I’m sort of loving the lip color this month: Stardust. It’s sort of a pinky-purply nude with a subtle shimmer. I typically do big colorful clown lips, but I’ve sort of been loving some more neutral options. This with a deep brown liner – very 90s, which is very me! I think this color would pair beautifully with the Trixie Cosmetics Bottle Blonde palette. That’s the palette that I used for today’s Face Friday look, and the full review will be up on Monday at 11 am!
So even though I don’t really consider the accessory items or the lip products in my evaluation of the value of the box, these are some of my favorites so far!
For the swatches, the shadows are all done over the Kaleidos Makeup Tone Activator primer with a finger swatch on the left and a brush swatch on the right. The highlighter is done over bare skin with a finger swatch on the left to show the color built up and a more diffused brush swatch on the right. The top photo is under my studio lighting with no flash, and the bottom photo is under the same lighting with a flash.
Now, let’s get into the shadows and the highlighter. Obviously I loved the highlighter this month – it’s green!
Pandora’s Cluster is a gorgeous pale green, but it has some gorgeous bluish purple shift. It’s a lovely duochrome and you can see in the photo that you can build this up to be very green, and just get a bit of the flash as you move, or you can diffuse it out and the duochrome shift is much more obvious and dynamic. You really can’t go wrong either way! The photos really don’t do it just – like most duo/multichromes – but it’s my favorite highlighter from them so far, and I love that this one is a more blue-toned green. So many of the green highlighters that I have are a more golden green, so this is a nice change!
Now, for the shadows. There were two that I really struggled with, but the others were great! I’m going to talk more about what happened when we get to those shades – they were the two darkest colors – but first let’s dive into these gorgeous greens!
Gamma Ray is a really gorgeous chartreuse. The more you build it up and the more you look at it, the more green it appears. When I first unpacked it, I thought that it was a yellow with maybe some green undertones, but this is definitely a swampy, yummy chartreuse matte. This is such a fun shade. You can see with the brush swatch that it can look a little chalky when you’re just applying it, but with a little bit of work you can get a much smoother application, more akin to what you see with the finger swatch. I really don’t have a lot of shades like this in my collection – if any! The shades I have are either much more green, or more yellow with a green shift or undertone. This is going to be a fun one to play with!
One thing that I love about the shadows from The Collective Cosmetics is that what you see in the pan is never the entire story – there are always little surprise notes that come as you’re applying and blending the shades. I was already in love with Abell 520 when I saw that it was a bright lime green with golden sparkle. I knew I would love it. But then I put it on and there is this unexpected blue undertone at the base and I was absolutely transported. I look at that shade, and I can’t even make it make sense in my head – it’s all of the things that I love. I think that this is probably the best shade that I’ve gotten so far in the five months of my subscription. If you don’t like greens…well, then I’m not sure what you’re doing here, but if you do I think you will love the complexity of this shade. Absolutely my favorite.
Coma Galaxy: this shade is another stunner! It’s a bright blue and almost looks like it’s going to be matte, but then when you apply it there is this glitter sparkle that is so perfectly matched to the powder that it almost looks like satin fabric. This one was so much fun to play with! It can look a little patchy around the edges if you don’t blend it out well, so just make sure you are taking some extra care. This is another gorgeous shadow!
Ok, now let’s dive in to these last two shadows.
All of the cosmetics from The Collective are handmade. There is no mass production happening here, so I imagine that can lead to small inconsistencies. I’ve always found their shadows to be on the drier side, a stiffer formula sometimes needs a little coaxing but that you can get some really beautiful coverage with. What I think happened with the last two shades is that I think they might have been pressed a bit harder than the others. When I first took a brush to them, I really had to dig the brush in to get any powder, and even then I got very little. When I went in with a finger, I got pretty immediate hardpan. In order to get these swatches, I had to scrape across the top of the shadows with my depotting tool, and then pick up that powder with my brush or finger.
Roswell is a bright red-leaning purple shade, and this is the one that’s in the permanent collection. It’s a beautiful color, but as you can see I just couldn’t get the powder to go one with any consistency. I’m not a bitch who gives up, so I think what I’m going to do next is try using a white base and just place the color with a dense brush, and I’ll ignore the edges until I put a color next to it, and use that color to buff it. I’ll probably also run the tool over it to get the powder loose and moving. I’ve seen other people using this shade and not having any problems, so I really do believe that it’s just this particular pan being a little harder pressed than usual.
I had the same experience with Dark Energy, a deep purplish navy. Before I scraped the surface, I couldn’t get any powder to lay down, but once the powder was loose you can see that the swatches came together fairly well, maybe a little bit patchy at the edges, but you get nice coverage. Ignore the little bits of sparkle: I had swatched the highlighter on a different part of my arm, but when I wiped it off I apparently went after it like a mad cow and got glitter halfway up my arm- so the sparkles are totally my fault!
I’m going to keep playing with these shadows. If nothing else, I can always scraped them out of the pan and chop them up to either re-press them or use them as a loose powder. Where there’s a will, there’s a way!
So, is this month’s Decadence box worth the $50. If you’re a green lover, I’m surprised you would even have to ask – it’s a no brainer! I’m surprised you don’t already have it. Do you even do green makeup?! For those without that particular obsession, I would still say yes, especially if you like the lip and accessory items. I struggled with two of the five shadows, but they aren’t unusable, and even though I usually don’t consider the accessory or the lippies, they were fantastic so that boosts the value for me. I’ve mentioned this before but I think it bears repeating: if you’re looking for “no muss, no fuss” makeup, this is probably not the subscription box for you. These handmade cosmetics are not the same as mass produced products, and they sometimes take a little more effort to get the most out of it. But makeup like this isn’t designed around ease – even if a lot of the products are very easy to learn and use! What you are getting are unique and dynamic colors in interesting collections that you don’t see other places. You get products that have been thoughtfully designed and that reward perseverance. They aren’t always beginner friendly, but I think that they can inspire you to want to keep working on your skills.
Even when I struggle a little bit, these boxes actually make me excited to dig in and experiment and play – and that’s what I think makeup should be about! I don’t mind a little bit of an adventure along the way, and a challenge can be just what you need to spark your creativity. I’m definitely here for it!