The New Graphik Eyeshadow Palettes from Hourglass: A Review of Expose and Vista

Since it was acquired by Unilever back in July, Hourglass Cosmetics has been on a real roll. In the last couple of months, they’ve broadened the shade range that their Immaculate Liquid Powder Foundation is available in (and revamped its packaging to boot.) Given the controversy over Tarte’s decision to include a single token dark shade in their Shape Tape foundation, I think it’s awesome that Hourglass got on the post-Fenty bandwagon sooner rather than later. Hopefully more brands will follow suit.

Foundation, however, is not the topic of today’s post. What I’ll be discussing today are two of the new Graphik Eyeshadow Palettes from Hourglass. If you haven’t heard of the Graphik palettes, I don’t blame you. They only launched about a week ago - pretty much emerging out of nowhere. They’ve also had to contend with the Vanish Flash Highlighting Sticks (a.k.a. the hottest Hourglass product of the moment.) And as if all that wasn’t enough already, Hourglass has also released a brand new range of tinted brow gels. Phew.

I’m highlighter-saturated at the moment, so the Vanish Sticks held no appeal for me. (My bank account is thankful.) Similarly, I’m in a happy - albeit not entirely monogamous - relationship with the new Suqqu Framing Liquid Eyebrow Pen. If I hadn't encountered Burberry's dual-ended Full Brows pen a couple months ago, I'd have committed to Suqqu but now - well, who the hell knows.

Eyeshadow, however, is different from other types of makeup: it's capable of making my resistance crumble, capable of making me open up my wallet time and time again, despite knowing full well that I am inundated with eyeshadow, heck, I'm practically drowning in it.

So what did I do when I saw two of the new Hourglass Graphik eyeshadow palettes pop up on Net-a-Porter a week ago?* I added them both to my cart straight away. Fuckin' duh. As of the time of publishing, there aren't (to my knowledge, anyway) any comprehensive reviews of the Graphik Eyeshadow Palettes on the Internet. So consider that purchase + this post a small act (acts?) of public service from me to the The Beauty Blackout’s much appreciated readers. I only did it for you.

As it turns out, there are another two other Graphik eyeshadow palettes, which I didn't see on Net-a-Porter. One is Ravine, which is described as a mix of 'warm neutrals' in a range of finishes (to me, it looks like Vista, so much so that I have had to go through this post multiple times and correct 'Ravine' to 'Vista'. Don't buy both). The last Graphik palette is called Myth, and it contains five no-fuss matte neutrals. All four palettes are currently available to purchase at various online retailers, including the official Hourglass website and Nordstrom.

Hourglass Graphik Palette in Ravine

Hourglass Graphik Palette in Myth

Now, in an ideal world, there would be swatches and reviews galore to pore through on Google before buying any new product (preferably before the actual launch date too). But the sad reality is that, most of the time, we don't know what we've gotten ourselves into until after the product has been paid for, after it's been delivered and after we've ripped open the packaging. To all you Americans reading this - know that you are truly blessed. In the rest of the world, we don't have the luxury of returning stuff once it's been opened. Luckily, I live on the wild side with my online spending, and have come to embrace my role as a guinea pig/tester for the rest of you. You're welcome.

For the full lowdown on the Hourglass Graphik Eyeshadow Palettes in Vista and Expose, keep on scrolling. Oh, and there are plenty of swatches too.

*Yes, I do keep tabs on NAP’s ‘What’s New’ product page - they email me three times a week, okay? What am I meant to do? Not click on the emails? Unsubscribe?

Price & Packaging

An Hourglass Graphik palette will set you back US$58, which definitely isn’t cheap. However, given the stingy 1.2g of product you get in one of Tom Ford's Private Shadow singles (which we've reviewed here and here, btw), the 1.4g of shadow per shade included in the Graphik palettes - there are five shades - struck me as generous to the point of sheer benevolence.

In terms of presentation, I like the intuitive layout of the Graphik palettes. You can tell immediately that the colour scheme for each palette was chosen with care. Most eyeshadow palettes these days - at least based on my in-person visits to Sephora - feel overwhelming and disjointed. Too many shades, no coherent colour scheme, way too big for a normal-sized human being to use, etc. The Hourglass Graphik palettes are different. The shades in each palette flow together beautifully, and the choice of five different colours gives you variety without overwhelming you. Proof: I haven’t had to raid my stash of singles at all when using these (I'm willing to forego an inner corner highlight when it comes to Vista. I have eyes the size of saucers anyway, so whatever.)

Packaging-wise, Hourglass gets another thumbs up from me. Each Graphik compact is sleek, light enough to carry around in your purse, and includes a generously sized mirror. There are no brushes or applicators included but personally, I find those things useless anyway. (Although you may feel differently, and that's fine....we just disagree on a fairly fundamental question.)

Graphik Eyeshadow Palette - Vista

Vista was the first Graphik palette that I spotted on Net-a-Porter. It was also the one which I gravitated towards most strongly. The combination of 'earth tones', as Hourglass describes the colour scheme, is right on point and nicely edited. But what really sets the Graphik palettes apart from the average eyeshadow quint/quad at Sephora is the quality and complexity of the eyeshadows themselves.

With one exception, every shade in Vista is richly saturated and capable of being built up to full opacity. (You can also wear the shimmers and satins as a simple, I-woke-up-late wash.) Vista sold out on Net-a-Porter a few hours after I bought it, so I’m going to hazard a guess that this palette will be a popular one.

From left to right: Champagne Gold, Rich Olive, Deep Brown, Bronze, Black

I'll give you my take on each of the shades, but remember - it's all subjective, and you may love what I hate, and vice versa. I am not liable for any disappointment, in other words.

Champagne Gold: A more accurate name for this shade would be ‘Antique Gold’ rather than ‘Champagne Gold’. It’s several shades darker than what I would typically think of as ‘champagne’ and it has strong yellow undertones that place it firmly on the warm end of the spectrum. Texture-wise, Champagne Gold is super smooth and creamy - a definite A+ shade. In general, I found that the shimmer shades were the stronger performers in the two palettes I tried. If you’re very fair-skinned, Champagne Gold may be too dark to use as an inner corner highlight shade (this was the case for me.) However, I can testify that it works wonderfully as a gleaming wash of gold swept across the eyelids.

Deep Olive: I found that the texture of Rich Olive was more like a satin than a shimmer shadow. This shade doesn't contain any visible glitter in it although it has a soft, burnished-copper sheen that mutes the khaki green base down to what is, essentially, almost a neutral. While Deep Olive is a beautiful colour, I do think that it was a tad weaker than the Champagne Gold and Bronze shades in Vista - not as smooth and not as pigmented.

Top to bottom: Champagne Gold, Rich Olive, Deep Brown, Bronze, Black

Rich Brown: This was the only shadow in either of the palettes that I found disappointing. Rich Brown is a matte shade and while it's no secret that mattes are notoriously tricky to get's always disappointing to encounter. The surface layer of the shadow has a hard texture and when I swatched it, I noticed it ‘skipped’ almost immediately, barely leaving any pigment on my arm. I had to swipe several times in order to get the colour to show up to what you see in the swatch pictures. All of this is not to say that Rich Brown is a total deal-breaker. When I apply it with a brush, I notice that it blends out more easily. It can even be used to define the crease if you use an appropriately light hand. In terms of colour, it’s what I would describe as a ‘burnt umber’ - a reddish-based brown, firmly on the warmer end of the the spectrum..

Bronze: Bronze is absolutely stunning and is probably the stand-out shade in the Vista Palette, in my opinion. It’s a rich golden bronze packed with pigment. (A little goes a very long way with this shade.) In terms of finish, while Bronze is definitely the most shimmery colour in the palette, I wouldn’t call it frosty. It glides on smoothly when swatched, and there are no discernible glitter particles in it (at least to my eye.) It has a textured, antique lustre that sets it apart from your typical bronze shadows. Like the other shades in Vista, Bronze has enough brown in it to be wearable for daytime - it isn't metallic. At certain angles, it can almost look like it but the sheen is just that - a sheen. Nothing brassy about it. (Translation: this is 'grown-up shimmer'. Whatever that means. But you know what I mean, right?)

P:S. So, just in case you couldn't tell, I was really impressed with Bronze.

Black: Why an earth-toned palette would require a black eyeshadow is beyond me. Don’t get me wrong. Black (the shadow) is a solid performer - it’s a much better quality matte than Rich Brown, btw, and swatches opaquely, as you can see below. There's only minimal fallout, even if you don't bother with eye primer ever, like me. But I just can’t help but think that a deep cocoa would have been a more cohesive fit with the ‘earth tones’ theme than Black - and more useful. As a shadow, Black is too stark to work easily into an everyday eye. Don't write off Vista just yet though. I've been experimenting and I've found that Black makes a rather good eyeliner. Using a damp brush intensifies the pigment to impressive levels of sootiness. Alternatively, smudge a smidgen of shadow right across your lashline to add a soft, hazy bit of definition to your eyes. Both are good looks. Given all that, I don't think the inclusion of a black shade in Vista is a dealbreaker.

Top to bottom: Champagne Gold, Rich Olive, Deep Brown, Bronze, Black

Overall, I think Vista is a solid performer, and it’s definitely worth checking out if you like warm neutrals and/or want to ease your way into wearing green eyeshadow. A lot of warm neutral palettes these days tend to be of the orangey-red variety, which sets Vista apart. (I'm sorry but oh well, I'll just say it: orangey-red eyeshadow almost always looks lab rat-esque to me.) Back to Vista though. I really like it! Worth checking out for sure.

Graphik Eyeshadow Palette - Expose

From left to right: Ivory, Plum Taupe, Silver Gunmetal, Black Violet, Plum Mauve

Ivory: Hallelujah! For once, here’s an ivory eyeshadow that is actually ivory. Ivory seems to have become synonymous with ‘white’ and ‘porcelain’ - at least in makeup terminology - so it was refreshing to see the word employed properly. Expose's Ivory shadow has an ever so slightly yellow tinge to it. Imagine the colour of thickened cream, paired with a delicate, demure sheen - or an an old satin wedding dress, carefully packed away in layers of tissue. Ivory is the warmest shade in Expose, but I think it's a perfect fit with the other shades. It does double duty too: lovely as a soft inner corner highlight and also useful for subduing the cooler, starker colours in the palette. The formula of Ivory is somewhere between a shimmer and a satin and the texture is so creamy, I almost want to skip a brush entirely and smear it onto my lids with my bare fingers. (Don't worry. I have some self-restraint.)

Top to bottom: Ivory, Plum Taupe, Silver Gunmetal, Black Violet, Plum Mauve

Plum Taupe: this is a muted lilac colour with plenty of grey mixed into it. As far as taupes go, it's a cool taupe rather than a warm one. As for 'plum', I personally associate ‘plum’ with warm undertones, which aren’t really present here. Obviously, colour is subjective. But - at the end of the day - I would categorise this shade as a lilac/mauve rather than a plum. It is darker and more pigmented than it appears in the pan so use a light hand - you can see in the swatches that I picked up too much pigment (my fault, not the formula!). The finish here is a shimmer but, again, devoid of any frostiness.

Silver Gunmetal: this is the most shimmery shade in Expose. Colour-wise, the name is right on point. Silver Gunmetal is an anthracite-grey with cool blue undertones. It has a polished pewter sheen that makes it look metallic when packed onto the lid more heavily. Expose, by the way, is a fantastic day-to-night-time palette (ugh, I feel like I'm edging into Charlotte Tilbury territory writing this - desk to disco references, I promise.) It's just that the Silver Gunmetal and Black Violet shades in Expose make fantastic colours for a smokey eye. Toss the palette in your purse and you're good to go - you can amp up your desk-eye a few notches with either/both shades and then head to the disco.* Summary: I think Silver Gunmetal is stunning.

*Har-har. Funny, eh?

Top to bottom: Ivory, Plum Taupe, Silver Gunmetal, Black Violet, Plum Mauve

Black Violet: I’d describe Black Violet as a charred aubergine - not too charred of course, but just enough to lend it a slightly smokey quality. It’s as neutral as a purple can get and I've found it works with both warm and cool shades. Out of all the shades in the Graphik palettes I've bought, Bronze in Vista and Black Violet in Expose are the most richly pigmented. However, Black Violet is easier to incorporate into a daytime eye as there’s no visible shimmer in it, like there is in Bronze. This is a really exceptional satin formula with a rich - almost bordering on decadent - texture that is a breeze to blend out. It's also fantastic for adding definition to the outer v.

Plum Mauve - Plum Mauve is another non-plummy misnomer of a shade, but I shall refrain from harping on about it. Above all else, Plum Mauve is pretty. Really pretty. It reminds me of the wild heather that you see blowing in the wind on Scottish moors.* I cannot stress how gorgeous this shade is just worn as a one-and-done wash across your eyelids. The misty mauve colour is almost ethereal but, at the same time, firmly rooted in nature. I think it's the cool greige undertones in the base that are responsible for keeping Plum Mauve neutral and un-fussy, rather than simply pretty (hey, Scotland's moors aren't exactly the most temperate of climes....that gossamer-like heather gets a real beating from the weather. As did I during my time there. Don't miss it too much.)

*No, this isn't just flowery writing. I have actually spent a decent chunk of time living in the middle of nowhere in Scotland so, let me emphasise: I'm not just BS-ing here. The heather comparison is for real.

Bottom line; I highly recommend Expose to those of you looking for a cool-toned neutrals eyeshadow palette appropriate for everyday use. For some reason, it seems as though all cosmetics companies have decided to abandon cool-toned neutrals en masse. We've been bombarded with oranges and reds for SO long now. (Don't get me wrong: some people can pull these shades off beautifully but on other people - me included - it is not a flattering look). Realistically, you'd probably want a separate matte shade for defining the crease but other than that, Expose could easily work as your daily, go-to eyeshadow palette. And not that this matters but, I admit, it is my personal favourite of the two.

The Bottom Line on the Hourglass Graphik Eyeshadow Palettes

The verdict? I’m really impressed with these palettes. Even more so given how disappointing I found the Modernist Palettes (which I assume will be discontinued in the not-too-distant future...) From what I can recall of them, the Modernist Palettes were hard, chalky, and less than impressive in terms of pigment Not only that but they weighed 5g - which is 2g less than the Graphik palettes - and are priced the same at US$38. It's rare for brands to get it right when they reformulate products and even rarer for the replacements to give you more bang for your buck.

Each Hourglass Graphik palette is priced at US$58 and, since each of the five shades included in the Graphik palettes contains 1.4g of product, you end up with a total of 7g. That’s a pretty good deal - definitely better than the US$53 you’d shell out for a Charlotte Tilbury Luxury Eyeshadow Palette (5.2g total). Kevyn Aucoin’s The Smokey Nude Set is another cool toned palette which I highly recommend, however it's composed mainly of mattes (the opposite of Expose basically). Like the Graphik Palettes, each Kevyn Aucoin Essential Eyeshadow Set costs US$58 and has an assortment of five different colours. However, while you get 1.4g of product per shade in a Graphik palette, you only get 0.95g in an Aucoin. So, if the maths is of particular importance to you.....there is a better deal. (Pssst: it's the Hourglass Graphik Palettes. You're welcome.)

I took a gamble when I bought these palettes, and I’m pleased to report that not only do I like them - they’ve managed to surpass my expectations by quite a signficant margin. Are you thinking about buying a Graphik palette? Already bought one? I'd love to hear your thoughts so leave a comment below! Questions welcome too.

-- Emily