I’m not a millennial, but sometimes I act like one: I actually found Ruby May Cosmetics through an Instagram ad for their Street Art palette. It was a lovely bright rainbow palette, but I wasn’t sure about the brand; there are a lot of those cheap Chinese dupe brands out there that advertise on IG, so I waited. One of the performers from Arizona that I follow posted something about a pageant that he was competing in, and one of the sponsors was Ruby May, so I decided to give them a chance. But as is the story of my life, when I went back the Street Art palette was already sold out.
What they did have in stock, though, was a trio of three smaller palettes; they are 8-pan palettes with 3 grams per pan, so I’m hesitant to call them “mini” palettes, but I appreciated the smaller size and one of the palettes had a similar sort of vivid, rainbow vibe as the street art palette. I decided to pick up all three in the bundle deal: #Mood, #Vibes, and #Brights.
#Mood is kind of a grungy, jewel-toned answer to a rainbow palette. There are six shimmers and only two mattes; that suits me just fine, but some people might like more of a balance. #Vibes is an odd color story, but I generally like the colors: the top row is peachy pink and girly, with three mattes and one shimmer. The bottom row is all shimmers and there is a deep plum, a light lilac, a bright turquoise blue, and a gold. It’s an odd combination, but I kind of like it. Finally, the #Brights palette is a rainbow palette, but with shades that lean more neon than the traditional spectrum. It’s very on trend with what’s coming out on the market these days.
As I played with the shadows, I had some concerns. Let’s look at the swatches and then I’ll explain more of what I mean. Some of these swatches are a little rough, but I don’t think the palettes are junk, they just would work better with certain application techniques.
Also, something about these palettes made me lose my damn mind and I forgot my typical swatching process. For these, I put down some primer (the Crayon Case’s Glue Stick eye primer) and then I swatched all 4 shades with a finger, and then all 4 shades with a brush. I don’t know what happened. I did one row, and I thought about reswatching, but it was at the end of a long night of swatches so I decided to just own it…and try to never do it again. Just let me live.
L to R: #drama, #chaos, #omw, #killingit
#drama is a deep, bluish berry red matte. Common with a lot of the mattes in these palettes, it tends to catch on the primer. #chaos is a bright pink bordering on purple and it’s a gorgeous shimmer. #omw is a nice medium purple, not too blue or too red. #killing it is a bright blue metallic shimmer; it looks navy or teal in the pan, but it has some brightness when applied and the shimmer can really shine.
L to R: #fire, #extra, #cosmic, #queen
#fire is a really gorgeous orange shimmer, very true orange without getting too coppery. This is the sort of shimmer orange that I’m always looking for! Same with #extra: it’s yellow yellow, not just a yellow leaning gold metallic. These two shades are my favorites in this palette, and I love the way they feel. #Cosmic is a blue-toned purple shimmer. #queen is a brighter, more royal blue shimmer.
L to R: #tea, #rose, #glow, #flirt
The first row of this palette is three mattes and one shimmer, and with these swatches you can really see an issue that I’m going to talk more about later: the lighter patch in the middle with the darker outside, especially with the finger swatches. Stay tuned. #tea is a peach shade, not quite orange and pretty good consistency. #Rose is a coral pink matte, brighter than you would think looking at it in the pan. #glow is a champagne shimmer, pretty standard but this one performs well enough. #flirt is a deep raspberry pink.
L to R: #shade, #babe, #mermaid, #psychic
#shade is a red-toned berry purple, great shimmer and very consistent. #babe is a lovely blue-toned lavender purple. #mermaid is a bright turquoise blue, very bright and reflective when applied. #psychic is a brassy gold shimmer.
L to R: #lol, #bananas, #goals, #motd
#lol is annoying af…it’s one of those mattes with glitter suspended in it. Why do brands keep doing this to us – literally NO ONE asked for this formula. The glitter gets lots in the matte pigment, or just ends up everywhere else other than where you placed the color. The orange base is pretty enough, but the gold glitter is an issue. #bananas is a bright yellow, more of a medium-toned, true yellow than #extra from #Mood. #goals is a bright lime matte, a little inconsistent and not the easiest to blend. #motd is a bright blue matte, sort of like the bottom of a pool. It’s pretty pigmented and the formula is very soft, so be careful that you don’t go overboard too quickly with this one.
L to R: #glam, #iconic, #snatched, #boo
#glam is a bright fuchsia pink, definitely neon vibes if not actually neon. #iconic is a bright, slightly more red-based purple. #snatched is a purple shimmer; I can’t decide if it’s more of a “blurple” or if I just am thrown off by its contrast to the more reddish #iconic. In the pan it looks like a true purple, but swatching it I feel like it’s more cool-toned. It’s not too far into the blue to be used with most purple looks, just something that I was thinking about while swatching. #boo is the worst shade in this or any of the three palettes. It’s the softest and the crumbliest, and you can see the swatch…woof. It’s got the same problem that I had with all of the mattes, but for some reason this one was the most pronounced of any of the mattes. When the palettes were first shipped, this shade was actually broken and they had to send me a new palette. When I was swatching this shade with the brush, the color started to break apart so that I had almost the same level of mess as the initial broken palette!
Alright, so let’s talk about these shades. Some of those swatches are…ratchet. I’m not afraid to say it. But as I was playing with these palettes, I don’t actually think these are bad quality, I just think they are the type of formulas that need specific sort of applications methods. Unfortunately, the type of application is would benefit the mattes is completely opposite of the techniques for the shimmers.
If you go back and look at the swatches above, you’ll probably notice that the mattes overall look worse than the shimmers. If you compare the finger swatches to the brush swatches, you’ll probably notice that the mattes overall look better with the brush than the finger, and the opposite is true for the shimmers. I hate that I screwed up how I swatch, because I think having them next to each other would make comparison easier, but it’s too damn late for that Karen. I do my swatches similar to how I do my actual eye makeup: I always set down some sort of primer, and I leave the primer tacky. I like to give the shadows something to stick to.
For the shimmers in these palettes, most of them are foiled, metallic shimmers. People often describe the consistency of these sorts of shadows as crumbly, chunky, or flakey. They are best applied over a tacky/wet base, and they work best if you use a finger or a wet brush. That’s because the flakes or chunks react with the oils on your skin or the liquid on the brush and make sort of a paint that you can then spread over your tacky base to hold it in place. Because my base was tacky, I was able to get pretty good swatches with both the brush and the finger, but the finger swatches look better because of the oils on my finger. When you use a dry brush on a tacky primer, you will sometimes find that the shadow hits your skin and immediately clumps up a bit and needs to really be worked to even out the coverage. That’s because it’s the tacky base that’s activating the pigments, rather than activating it first on the finger or wet brush and then applying.
I think the mattes could be used beautifully, but the problem I ran into is that they tended to grab the tacky primer and stick. The first layer that hits the primer tends to darken and stick in place, hard to blend. If you put more over the top, it’s lighter and more true to the color in the pan. That’s why the swatches tend to have dark “halos” around the edges of the swatch. The brush swatches are better for these because they are applied dry to the tacky primer. With the finger, the mattes were mixing with the oils on my skin and then also hitting the tacky primer, so it was even more of a mess. With the formula of these mattes, which is softer and a little creamier, I would suggest setting the primer first, patting it on with brush (rather than swiping/dragging), and then blending the edges.
So you see the problem, right?
You’ve got mattes that work best over a set primer with a dry brush, and shimmers that work best over a tacky primer with a wet brush or a finger. But usually people like to use the mattes and shimmers in a palette together! I think you can work around it; for the shimmers, I think the finger/wet brush aspect is more important than having a tacky primer, so I would probably suggest setting the primer and working with both kinds of shadows that way. That’s a disappointment for me because I don’t usually like to set my primer; I like to keep it a tacky base for the shadows to stick to. But that’s how makeup works, right? Some of it is perfect for me, and some of it is designed with other people in mind. That’s life, baby! I just was so drawn in by the color stories with these palettes so I was a little disappointed that the performance with my way of applying them wasn’t where I wanted it to be. I think these are pretty great shadows, but not necessarily great for me.
Except for #boo. That shade is a straight up pain in the ass, and it messed up my bathroom floor for days. Fuck that guy.
What do you think of these mini palettes? Which color story is your favorites? Do you think they would work well with your style of doing makeup? Would you get all three, or just a particular favorite? Have you tried any other palettes from this brand? Tell us your thoughts down in the comments!
I’m excited to see what else Ruby May has to offer, and I’m hoping some of their shadows will be a little more tailored to my application style. We won’t have to wait long to find out…I’ve got another palette from them I’m going to be reviewing separately very soon, something that ties in with the recent theme of marijuana-themed makeup! Coming soon!