having characteristics of both sexes or no characteristics of either sex; of indeterminate sex.
"the sort of epicene beauty peculiar to boys of a certain age"
I love trying out new indie brands, and it's even more fun when the brand is owned by someone I am less than 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon away from knowing! If you've seen any of my more recent video where I've been (FINALLY) updating my wig wardrobe, all of my gorgeous new lace front wigs are from Forgots Locks (@forgotslocks on IG), run by a queen named Acacia Forgot who used to live and perform in Grand Forks before making her way to New York and now LA. Well, her partner, Mx. Austie (@mx.austie on IG), recently launched a new cosmetics brand called Austie Cosmetics, so I picked up the Epicene collection consisting of a 15-pan eyeshadow palette and 2 liquid lipsticks.
I've never met Austie, but it still feels a little bit like supporting one of our local performers by proxy. Now, I've bought some real cack over the years to support small indie and local businesses, so can you imagine my delight when the products turned out to be kinda good?!
The palette is a pretty good mix of basic neutrals with some pink and red colorful shades to give it some spice. This is the kind of palette that I would recommend to someone who is new to makeup or trying to learn drag makeup because it has both a matte white and a matte black, which really help with learning how to build a more structured drag look.
Let's get to the swatches. Can I just say that these shadows are silky and gorgeous! They aren't patchy and you can get nice opacity right away, or you can be a little gentle and get a mroe sheered out application and build it up. For the swatches I did a finger swatch on the left with a brush swatch on the right over the Ulta Matte eye primer. The top photo is under my studio lighting with no flash, and the bottom photo is under the same lighting with a flash.
Chastity is the matte white shade and it has a nice ghostly application. It does look a little bit chalky when it's sheered out too much, but it builds up beautifully. These shades are very forgiving in that if you put a little more on than you wanted, you can blend the intensity away pretty easily with a fluffy brush. This white is a staple in good drag palette and I really like the way this one performers.
Mercury is the first of only three shimmers in the palette; if I had a major complaint about this palettes it would be the lack of shimmers. The mattes are gorgeous and blendable and they have amazing performance, but I'm always looking for more shimmer and sparkle in my life! That's a minor complaint though. Mercury is a tarnished silver, nice shine and a bit of a metallic finish.
Coy is your go to champagne shimmer, and this one has a yellowy buttercream kind of undertone. It can get a little chunky with a dry brush, so I recommend a bit of spray or applying with a finger if you're getting any unwanted texture.
Cheeky is a bright bubblegum pink matte. These two pink shades on the end were the first two I swatched (I always work right to left to make sure I have room on my arm!) and I instantly knew I was going to love this palette. This is a bright pastel shade, but it's not at all chalky or inconsistent. It's light and bright, but there is nothing boring about it. This is how pastels should be done.
Pump is 80s fuchsia "hooker pink." This is another gorgeous shade, great performance and it blends out beautifully. A gradient with Pump and Cheeky? Shut your damn mouth! This is such a great shade for blending with the reds in this palette, but it's also a good start if you want to work with this palette and add in some purples to make a more berry kind of look.
Ignore the white spot in the pics - I have a bug bite that was looking a little gnarly and I thought I had left myself enough room to get my swatches and crop it out, but I was wrong. I corrected for the rest of the swatches.
Flawless is an egghsell matte shade, great pigmentation, not at all inconsistent of patchy. These light shades can be tricky sometimes, because of how much white pigment is needed to get them that light and bright, but this one goes on like a dram.
Allure is a very warm camel brown matte. This is a pretty basic shade; in fact, this row of neutrals isn't offering anything really new for anyone who has neutrals in their collection, but it's a great base shade and would pair well with either of the more warm-toned shimmers. This one has a strong mustard tone to it, so I'd be wary of it with the silver shade Mercury, but it's a good basic.
Androgyny a warm milk chocolate brown, another great basic.
Deluxe is a slightly more neutral to cool-leaning brown shade, a great medium blending option.
Tempt is your deep brown shimmer, great for darkening the outer corner of a look or adding some dimension around the crease.
I know I didn't spend as much time on this row but let me live: I've been doing makeup for ages and I'm a technicolor nightmare. A row of brown neutrals is never going to flood my basement. But these are solidly formulated shades that blend well and have great color payoff.
Cherub is a bright brassy shimmer with warm, golden tones. This is a great shimmer option for the neutrals in the middle row.
Red is a bright popsicle red matte. This one has a little bit of sheerness to it, even when built up, but it's a lovely bright shade that almost borders on neon.
Fatale is a true red matte, very similar to Red without the brightness. It's a little too close to Red for my liking; most of my quibbles with shades in this palette are just a matter of preferences, but I'm just not sure that these two are different enough to warrant both being here. I would have loved a red or pink shimmer to go with all of the red, berry, and pink mattes so that you could add some shimmer without going neutral.
Insatiable is a medium to deep violet red. I don't know why so many people think that you can't use pink and red together - pink is literally red with white added! If you've got a red and a pink that you want to use together but you feel like it's a jarring transition, a rich berry shade like this can be the perfect way to bridge the gap.
Finally, we have the matte black shade, Sex. This is a pretty good black. It's not the most pigmented black in my collection; again, this ain't my first time at the rodeo. But even if it's not black-as-my-shriveled-soul black, it's got pretty solid pigmentation and can be sheered out to a charcoal gray or built up for a true black color. This is blendable and is a good black for people who are intimidated by black shadow.
If you couldn't already tell from my shade descriptions, I think that this is a great palette for beginners. If you're new to makeup, this palette has some great shades that are staples of a well-rounded collection. The middle row of neutral mattes is basic af, and if you have a fair amount of makeup you probably have several dupes for most of those shades. Having said that, however, these shades are really well formulated and really easy to work with. So, while you may already have some of these shades, you may not have them in a formula that performs as well as these do.
The ratio of mattes to shimmers isn't my preference, but again, this is something that serves beginners well. Shimmers are the frosting, the sprinkles, the fun decoration that everyone notices because they stand up and announce themselves. But when you're learning, they can be intimidating. And no frosting is worth a damn if it doesn't have a great cake to sit on top of! Learning how to work with mattes to create depth and dimension is very important; once you've got down the basics, you can start to find ways to amp up the looks with shimmer and shine and glitter. The shimmers in here aren't terrible adventurous, but they are lovely for what they are, and again, they really complement the colors in the palette.
This is also a great beginner drag palette. I get that I'm an old broad and drag is forever changing and evolving and all that shit. And I'm not saying that anyone has to learn makeup the way that I did "back in the day." If you want to paint yourself solid green and wear tentacles, you do you. But I think that regardless of what type of drag you want to do, it does help you explore the art form if you learn some of those basics. Isn't there some sort of truism about needing to know the rules of something before you can break them? This palette is great for that because you have a really good quality white and black, which can be used to lighten and darken as well as sculpt out the eye area. The shades in this palette allow you to create a smoky eye, a halo eye, an all-matte look, a brown neutral look with a champagne shimmer, a monochromatic red or pink look, etc. And if, as you're developing your style, these shades become part of your typical looks, these shades will give you a ton of performance. Generally, I'm a fan.
The collection also came with two liquid lipsticks: Punch and Epicene. These two shades give you a light and a dark option to match the colorful shades in the palette, and they can also be used to experiment with ombre lips, another drag staple. I know that they are sort of out of fashion in the beauty space right now, but I love liquid lipsticks, and these are pretty good. They dry down nicely, and I don't find them uncomfortable at all. The formula is a medium thickness - it's definitely not a think liquid, but I always wouldn't describe it as mousse-y. They can be a little sheer if you put them on with a gentle hand, giving you that sort of "blotted lip" effect that keep popping up, or you can paint it on thicker for full opacity.
Punch is a medium rose pink, and Epicene is your trusty Taylor Swift classic red lip. The pink was taking a bit longer to dry down, which is why it still looks wet in the picture, and I found that these had a longer drydown than a lot of other formulas I've tried, but that can be a good thing as it gives you more time to shape your lips, move the product around, fix mistakes, etc.
I think that this introductory collection for Austie Cosmetics is a perfect first dip into the makeup space. It gives you a lot of basic, staple colors in formulas that perform well. They are easy to work with for beginners, but more experienced users will enjoy them for the rich pigment and blendability. I hope that as they continue to expand that we'll see the colors get more adventurous (and absolutely more fucking GLITTERY!) but they've set a high bar for themselves with this gorgeous, high quality launch.