As promised, we've expedited the remaining installments* in The Beauty Blackout's comprehensive overview of the Victoria Beckham x Estee Lauder Fall 2017 collection. In today's post, we'll be discussing the eye products that we haven't yet reviewed: the Eye Metals in Bitter Clove and Blonde Gold; Eye Ink in Black Myrrh, the Eye Quad; the Eye Matte Duos in Noir/Vanille and Saphir/Orange Vif; the Eye Ink Matte Liquid Liner; the Smudgy Matte Eyeliner; and the Eye Ink Mascara. (Phew.) We've already reviewed the Eye Foils in Blonde Gold and Burnt Anise, and you can find that post HERE.
This year's VB x EL collection was heavily focused on the eyes, with several entirely new products being introduced to the line-up. We tried all the new formulas - and, of course, revisited the returning ones - and we're going to take the opportunity to preface this review by strongly encouraging you to read it in its entirety. For a good reason - the eye products in this fall's VB x EL collaboration were definitely a mixed bag. Some slam-dunk winners, yes. And also some real duds. (Not necessarily the ones you think, btw). We hope this review will help you avoid the dud products, and direct you towards the winners. This is a lengthy post, so we recommend getting a warm drink and making yourself cosy before reading on to find out which products wowed us, which products were...meh, and which products we decided needed to be thoroughly trashed. (Because beauty bloggers aren't meant to love everything...although you'd be forgiven for thinking otherwise.)
Oh, quick PSA: over the weekend, Victoria Beckham announced on Instagram that her website has restocked the previously impossible to find Eye Ink Mascara in Blackest. So if you had your eye on that, heads up! Although, we do suggest that you read our review of it first...NOT a spoiler, btw. It’s equally possible that we hate it, that we love it, and/or that neither of us even bought it. So scroll on. Starting with (in true no-spoiler spirit) a couple of the duds!
*The last installment in our overview of the Fall 2017 Victoria Beckham x Estée Lauder Collection should be up within the next couple of days. You won't want to miss it - we'll be covering the lip products and there will be lip swatches galore!
The Eye Matte Duos
The Eye Matte Duos (available in three different colour combinations) are one of the new additions to the VB x EL line-up which made their debut in the Fall 2017 collection. Priced at US$60 a pop, each duo contains two contrasting shades of "highly pigmented eyeshadow" and comes housed in a chic pebbled leather compact. You get 1.8g of product, which seems a little stingy given the fact that the Eye Metals are $15 cheaper and contain a whopping 3g of shadow.
For the sake of science, I purchased two of the Eye Matte Duos - I only did it for science, remember that. Also, I'm currently trying to restrain myself from picking up the last duo, which I also think is the ugliest one but hey, it IS limited edition and it IS part of a VB x EL collection. Should I do it - for science? Let me know in the comments!
I was able to justify the Noir/Vanille Duo to myself quite easily, using the ‘these are basic, essential shades that I will reach for everyday’ argument. I also assumed that the formula would be excellent, based on my experience with the Eyeshadow Palette from the 2016 Collection (which is so fantastic I actually bought a backup, FYI).
As for the Saphir/Orange Vif Duo, it arrived in one of my subsequent orders, after I decided that the shade combination was a particularly striking one (also, one which I could never imagine myself wearing. Blue and orange are not my go-to eyeshadow shades, needless to say.) I don’t think I’ve reached for this one at all, other than for swatching purposes. I want it to work, I really do, guys , but I'm just more of a neutrals girl at heart.
Colours out of the way, it's time to talk formula...
The Eye Matte Duo in Noir/Vanille
Straw Poll: how many of you feel like your eyeshadow collection suffers from a dire lack of black mattes Or is it the basic bone/cream shadows which you're in desperate need of: Any takers? …No one? Just me, then? Damn.
The formula of the Eye Matte Duos is described as being “intensely pigmented”, with the ability to “blend easily”. I’m afraid this was not my experience with either of the duos. In general, I found that the lighter shade in each duo outperformed its darker counterpart - Vanille and Orange Vif were creamier and smoother than the Noir and Saphir shades.
The black eyeshadow in the Noir/Vanille Duo is the absolute height of mediocrity - black eyeshadows are a dime a dozen anyway and this one is just… so incredibly blah. Just take a look at the swatch pic below. As for the Vanille shade, I swear I swatched it very heavily and, yep, it's pretty much invisible.
I do think that, in real life, Vanille shows up better and it has a decent texture but there isn't a whole lot more to say about it. You probably have half a dozen dupes at least. All in all, is this duo useable? Yes. It’s not useless. But you definitely don’t need it, and certainly not at this price point.
The Eye Matte Duo in Saphir/Orange Vif
Why I went back for a second Eye Matte Duo after my underwhelming experience with Noir/Vanille is a mystery - I think I was bored during a seminar and feeling sorta spendy (there's a direct correlation between spendiness and how boring a seminar is, I've observed).
Anyway, at some point during those three hours of paralysing boredom, I went and placed an order for the Saphir/Orange Vif Duo. I definitely think it's superior to Noir/Vanille, if only because the shadess are more unique. But how often do I attend events where I'd feel at ease sporting a graphic orange and navy editorial-style eye? If you guessed ‘not many’, congratulations, you’re right and man, I hope my life doesn’t sound THAT boring (does it though?)
Just in terms of formula, Orange Vif ended up being the stronger shade in the duo for me. I found that Saphir was prone to patchiness and in general, was more of a chore to blend. I do think Saphir outperforms the black shade in the Noir/Vanille Duo but that’s not exactly a high bar to set. For $60 a pop, I don’t think the Eye Matte Duos are worth your money. (But just out of interest, do you think I need Nude/Electrique? For completion purposes? Second time I'm asking, I know, but ...this is science!)
Based on no evidence whatsoever, I doubt that we’ll see the Eye Matte Duos appear again and, I must confess, the propect isn't overly distressing to me. If this review has (somehow) ignited a burning desire for any of the duos in you, I would suggest buying it soon. And asking yourself: ...why? Not necessarily in that order.
The 2017 Eyeshadow Palette
When I began compiling my wishlist for this fall's collection, the 4-shade Eyeshadow 'Palette' (henceforth referred to as 'Quad') was very near the top, if not at the very top. I wanted it. The colour combination looked stunning. I also assumed that the formula of the shadows would be as soft and silky as the one used in the original six-shade Eyeshadow Palette from the 2016 collaboration.
Then, I read that review of it. If you've been following the Victoria Beckham and Estée Lauder collections at all, you know the review I'm talking about. The one that Christine posted on Temptalia. The review in which she rated this quad an F. I trust Christine enough that I wrote off the eye quad immediately. Well, for a while. Don't get me wrong. I love Christine and the amazing resource she's created in Temptalia, but I’ve learned that - while she's always well-intentioned - Christine's grades have increasingly begun to seem slightly... off. (To be fair, I am in awe of her ability to review and swatch so many products. Respect.)
However, Christine got it really, really wrong in her review of this quad. An F is outrageous. I couldn't believe it was THAT bad, which led to niggling doubts. So, a few months ago, I grilled a friend who had read Christine's review and bought the quad anyway (she is a truly brave soul) to get her take on it. She told me that while Gris could be better, overall, she loved the quad. This friend knows what she's talking about when it comes to makeup. And so into my Sephora cart the quad went.
In the official description, the VB x EL quad is described as an “eye palette with four shades featuring different intensities and finishes, from sheer wash to soft matte to high-pigment shimmer.” This was consistent with my experience and I do wonder if Christine took into account the fact that the shadows were intended to vary in terms of intensity and finish. On the other hand, I do think it's genuinely confusing that all four shades are described as ’gel-creme powders’. Surely, if the formula was identical, as that description would seem to suggest, the finish and intensity of the shades would be more consistent? So does the blame fall on Christine, Victoria and/or Estée Lauder? Who knows.
Perhaps the main thing to take away from all this is that ad copy does matter, and that brands should keep this fact in mind when it comes to penning it. Heads up, beauty brands - your products will be evaluated accordingly.
But back to the Eye Quad. Starting from the top left and going clockwise, the quad is comprised of:
- Blanc; a sheer white pearl with a shimmer finish
- Gris: a translucent grey with a matte finish
- Noir: a soft black with a matte finish and;
- Bordeaux: a deep wine with a shimmer finish.
I have to say that the offical descriptions above are completely consistent with my experience with this quad.
Gris - the least impressive shade, I suppose - was designed to be “translucent” and, sure enough, I wouldn’t call the pigmentation here robust. There are definitely more fun formulas to work with. But Gris is a pretty, very versatile, soft dove-grey, and - if we must be pedants about the ad copy - sorry Christine, Victoria and Estee Lauder's description of Gris is entirely accurate.
Noir as a “soft black with a matte finish”. In my experience, this shadow was richly pigmented - a fairly intense black rather than a soft one - and also possesses a slight sheen. It's certainly not shimmery but it has a creamy lustrous quality that sets it apart from being a basic matte. I really have been surprised with how much I ended up liking this shade (the entire Quad, actually).
Blanc is a glimmering silvery white with an almost-opaque but-not-quite-there finish. It's this slightly translucent quality that prevents Blanc from ever veering into frosty territory. It's what a shimmer shade should be - ethereal. (Btw, anytime I describe a product as 'ethereal', you can be assured that I love it.) The pearlescent gleam brightens the whites of your eyes, and makes them positively shine. (Don't believe me? Check out the nifty little gif below!)
I don’t think you could ask for a better inner corner highlight shade - this is appropriate for daytime, night-time….well, just about anytime. If you’re running short on time and even shorter on sleep, Blanc is fantastic as a one-and-done wash across your lids - instant celestial radiance that will have you looking like a well-rested angel.
But the unquestionable showstopper shade in this quad?
Bordeaux. Described as a “deep wine with a shimmer finish”, Bordeaux is one of those rare burgundy eyeshadows that doesn’t make your eyes look bruised, and is therefore actually wearable. It's something in the undertones that makes Bordeaux particularly unique. The purple in it isn't that same generic shade of plum you see everywhere these days - it's a cool-toned grape. However, while Bordeaux sits on the cooler end of the spectrum, there's an earthiness to it - like dampened clay soil - that keeps it muted rather than bright. The finish, by the way, isn’t really a true "shimmer" - with its richly saturated, burnished lustre, Bordeaux would more aptly be described as a sateen.
So, now to address the big question. You probably haven’t bought this quad, which is understandable given the absolutely abysmal rating it received from Christine. I admit that I nixed the quad from my list too after reading that review. Because here's the thing: while I may disagree with Christine at times (like now, for instance), I've always respected her dedication to providing her readers with objectively written reviews, sans the BS/brand-provided ad copy.
It may be that quality control is to blame. There's also the fact that Christine managed to buy her quad from Bergdorf's during that brief window when they prematurely started selling certain items in the collection before the official launch date. (They were pulled later - telltale sign of human error.)
Here's the bottom line though: I strongly disagree with Christine’s rating of the 2017 Victoria Beckham x Estee Lauder Eyeshadow Palette. And I owe a big thank-you to my lovely friends who went ahead and purchased what could have been a diaster but - ultimately - was anything but. You know who you are <3
P:S: I will admit that, if forced to choose between this year and last year's eyeshadow palettes, I'd have to pick the OG six-shade palette from the 2016 Collection. But, since last year's palette only ranks among my top three eyeshadow palettes, quads included, of all time....this year's version is still absolutely superb. I strongly encourage readers of The Beauty Blackout to go out and buy this beautiful quad before it's pulled from the shelves. (Save yourself the trouble of hunting it down later on eBay.)
Grade: A+ with all the honours.
The 2017 VB x EL Eye Palette retails for US$75 and contains 7.9g of product.
The reason that we haven’t separated these two products (initially, anyway) is basically, this: together, they're a match made in heaven. And, on a less romantic note, they both launched in the original 2016 Victoria Beckham x Estée Lauder collection. In VB x EL parlance, that means that Black Myrrh and Bitter Clove are hero products i.e. bestsellers worth re-promoting.
Formula(s): before going any further, we should probably clarify that Black Myrrh and Bitter Clove are different products with different formulas. Time for the sub-headings, in other words.
Black Myrrh Eye Ink
Black Myrrh is the only shade in the Eye Ink formula, a fact which is rather bewildering because this product is an absolute home run. Normally, we don't quote ad copy, but we've make an exception here because this really is an “innovative, pressed, gel-creme formula” in a “deep, rich, almost-black shade with a touch of pearl.”
So, yeah. The Eye Ink formula is legit amazing - like Modern Mercury, it has a creamy, gelée-like texture, which feels almost bouncy in the pan. The formula is very buildable so you can build it up easily to your desired level of intensity. For a really dark, sultry, smokey eye, I recommend using a dampened duo-fibre brush to apply Black Myrrh. In fact, Black Myrrh is pretty much the base of any smokey eye, as far as I'm concerned.
While you absolutely can wear Black Myrrh on its own, here's a hint: combine it with Bitter Clove for the ultimate night-out eye. That’s when the magic really happens.
First thing to get out of the way: Bitter Clove is the polar opposite of those obnoxious and obligatory glitter shades present in virtually every single Tom Ford eye quads. Like all the VB x EL Eye Metals, Bitter Clove has an incredible molten metallic finish - imagine liquid lava mere moments before it begins to set.
Bitter Clove is described as a “rich, creamy, ultra-pigmented powder eyeshadow” with a "high-shine...metallic" finish. Not much to add other than that we - again - thoroughly concur. The formula of the Eye Metals is truly spectacular.
But back to the A+ pairing of Black Myrrh with Bitter Clove. The swatch pics speak for themselves, we think, but if you still need persuading, we’ll flesh out our endorsement in (even more!) words.
Application: Sure, you could use use a brush to apply Bitter Clove, but why bother with brushes when you can achieve full opacity with one firm finger swipe across each eyelid? (Yup, those arm swatches pictured below are one swipe only).
I like Bitter Clove best as a night-time eyeshadow combined with - you guessed it - Black Myrrh Eye Ink. Pair the two together and you’ll get lids the colour of an oil slick, washed over with a filmy glaze of liquid gold. The finished result is grunge-y, sooty, and very rockstar-ish. (Oh hey there, KATE MOSS!)
Is Bitter Clove a must have? That depends. If your taste in makeup leans quite conservative and/or you have an unfortunate allergy to shimmer then no, best to stay away from Bitter Clove.
BUT, if you’re just obsessed/in love with makeup, and like the idea of smouldering smokey eyes with a Studio 54 vibe…...you definitely need Bitter Clove in your life. Buy it.
*If you prefer a less dramatic look, you could just pat Bitter Clove lightly onto your lids for a subtle, grown-up take on daytime shimmer. Also very pretty.
Like Bitter Clove, Blonde Gold is an Eye Metal and therefore shares the same A+ formula we raved about above. If I’m going to be a little nit-picky, I would say that Blonde Gold feels more like a traditional powder eyeshadow than Bitter Clove. It has a noticeably creamier texture and I suspect the pigment is more densely pressed together than the pigment in Bitter Clove.
I recommend using a brush rather than a finger to apply Blonde Gold, due to its more densely packed pigment. That’s another way of saying that it’s easy to go overboard with Blonde Gold - the shine is pretty spectacular, I will say - so exercise caution. It’s very creamy and a little bit really goes a long way.
Out of the two eye metals released in the 2017 Collection, Bitter Clove is definitely my favourite. For some reason - maybe it’s the more dupeable ivory gold colour, maybe it’s the more conventional feel of the formula - I just feel less enthusiastic about Blonde Gold than I do about Bitter Clove. Blonde Gold is lovely, don’t get me wrong, but it can’t compete with the multi-faceted depth and complexity of Bitter Clove.
....Or how about just buy both? True, it’s an extra $45. That’s how many days of eating ramen for dinner? At most, what - five? Trust me: five days of ramen for dinner is more than worth having both of the Eye Metals in your collection. Ramen is temporary. Eyeshadow is forever (okay, until ‘you hit pan’ but since that almost never happens, let’s just go with forever).
P:S: My absolute favourite Eye Metal is Charred Emerald, whcih was sadly not brought back this year (we encourage you to write to Estee Lauder headquarters and beg for its return. Strength in numbers!). I’ve thrown in a swatch pic that includes Charred Emerald below - not to be needlessly cruel but to help cement your decision to buy it when it does return. Not if. When.
The Eye Kajal in Black Saffron/Vanille
The Eye Kajals were offered in two more shade combinations this year in addition to the returning Black Saffron/Vanille: Java/Vanille and Saphir/Vanille. Why Vanille had to be included in all three Eye Kajal combinations is a mystery to me because I find it mediocre at best, and actively irritating in general. The Kajals aren't cheap (surprise!) and I know I'm not the only one who finds one half of each pencil useless.
The Black Saffron end of the OG VB x EL Eye Kajal is a rich and intense black, suitable for smokey eyes and nights out. It will smudge eventually even after it sets, but it's a perfectly serviceable black eyeliner and delivered on its claims. The description states that the formula is "exceptionally soft and creamy", and sure enough this eyeliner was so soft it broke just about every time I attempted to use it. I recommend storing it in your fridge, which makes it easier to sharpen and way more easy to control. The Vanille side of the duo is confusing. I expected a neutral cream shade like...well, vanilla. Instead, you get a medium-toned peach, and as this end of the kajal is meant to be used along the waterline, the overall effect is....less than than flattering.
All the Eye Kajals come with their own sharpener which is helpful but probably contributed another $5 at least to the US$38 price. There's 1g/0.03oz of product in each kajal but given that only one side is useable, it's not a great deal. Hint: buy the By Terry Kohl Terrybly. (You will read this over and over again on the Beauty Blackout - known that it comes from the heart. That eyeliner is everything I thought no pencil eyeliner could ever actually be....it's holy grail.) Moving on. .
The Eye Kajal in Java/Vanille
Quality control was clearly not on duty to inspect my Java/Vanille Eye Kajal because this pencil was one of those bad ones you get every so often (not with By Terry Kohl Terryblys btw.) It just refuses to sharpen without breaking. See the picture below. One would think I’d used BOTH ends of this dreadful pencil quite liberally. No, that was not the case. It was just a real b*tch to sharpen.
Alright, whining aside, onto the colours. As we’ve mentioned, Vanille (the "eye-opening nude" shade) is very confusingly named. Instead of a pale cream, it's a straight up peach with a touch of pink. I don't love Vanille, and neither did I love Java. Together, they made a rather weak brew (geddit?*) Instead of a rich dark espresso shade, Java was a boring old brown.
*Didn't geddit? That's okay. Our advice when it comes to the Eye Kajal in Java/Vanille is: don't geddit. (Geddit? Okay, okay. )
The Other Two (New!) Eyeliners
In addition to expanding the Eye Kajal shade range, this fall's collection also brought us two entirely new eyeliners, pictured above. In the black tube is the Eye Ink Liner in Blackest (Victoria has a rather annoying tendency to recycle product names that aren't particularly original anyway. There's also an Eye Ink gel-creme eyeshadow and an Eye Ink Mascara - also only available in the shade 'Blackest' in this collection.) In the much nicer gold-toned tube is the identically-priced Smudgy Matte Eyeliner in Graphite. Why it got better packaging, we have zero clue but - spoiler alert - the lipsticks are also housed in either boring black or shiny gold tubes, on a seemeingly arbitrary basis. This is frustrating because we prefer the gold. (Anyone who doesn't is probably lying, I mean, come on.) Whinging about packaging mostly concluded, scroll on for our thoughts on the Eye Ink (Liner) and its Smudgy Matte counterpart.
The Eye Ink Matte Liquid Liner in Blackest
The Eye Ink Liner in Blackest is essentially a classic liquid eyeliner, albeit one with a "skinny felt tip and intense pigments that allow for sharp precision and a dramatic graphic effect." I'm not sure I agree with the description of the applicator as 'felt tip' but perhaps that's because that phrase makes me think of markers and pens, not flimsy little wands attached to plastic caps. Since this eyeliner will set you back US$45 for 0.8oz of product, you'll probably want to know whether it's really all that.
So, quibbles with the 'felt tip' aside, we'll move on to the promise of "intense pigments" and a "super matte" finish. Below is a swatch pic and let's cut to the chase here. "Intense pigment?" Hmmmm....I would say that 'blackest' is probably a stretch. "Super matte"? Nope. Not matte. Like seemingly all liquid eyeliners (sorry, I'm just not a fan of them), the Eye Ink 'Matte' Liner has that slight sheen that I'm sure I can't be the only one who finds sort of off putting. That sheen is insipid looking. If you want 'matte', there's no beating a good kohl pencil - for one that's completely opaque, intensely black and capable of staying perfectly imtact in no less than 80% (minimum) humidity, try By Terry's Kohl Terrybly in Black Print.
As a bah-to-liquid-liner type of person, I would have loved Victoria Beckham to come out with one that I could love whole-heartedly. Instead, I'm here to report that this one sucked. I really dislike the (non) felt-tip applicator and....I don't understand why the cap/wand seems to be filled with mini ball bearings. Is there a reason for this? What's up with all the ball bearings?
The Smudgy Matte Eyeliner in Graphite
This is the more interesting option of the two new tube eyeliners, neither of which are must-haves, btw (oops, spoiler). This one - also US$45 for 0.7g/0.02oz of product - has the better packaging, though, so it gets a bonus point right off the bat. Nor do I disagree entirely with the official description: "an innovative, loose powder eyeliner in graphite grey sparked with golden pearl". I do find the use of the word 'sparked' innovative, mainly because it makes absolutely no sense in this context. Do they have a dictionary over at Estée Lauder HQ? Because, little Vocab 101 nugget of the day: 'sparked' = 'ignited'. Given, you know...the whole Chernobyl thing, it might be best to avoid using "graphite" and "sparked" in the same sentence.*
*The good news is that the FDA approved the Smudgy Matte Eyeliner, and that evidently, it doesn't take much talent to write ad copy for Estée Lauder. So if you flunked SAT vocab, don't be disheartened, Estée Lauder may be just the place for you.
Okay, derisive commentary aside, I would agree that the Smudgy Matte Eyeliner is aptly named. This is definitely smudgy. Not sexy smudgy. More like tired smudgy. Suffering from the flu smudgy. The ‘graphite’ colour isn’t my favourite either, regardless of whether it's sparked with gold pearl. It's about as pigmented as a 2H pencil which is something I've never understood the point of, given that a HB pencil is already too light (that's why you need to use a 2B for the SATs!). Do you agree? Yes, right? OK.
So, having established that the Smudgy Matte Liner Graphite is about as (un)pigmented as a 2H pencil, I should also note that it has a slight olive tint to it, which makes this liner particularly unattractive when it begins to migrate. A grey-green tint underneath your eyes is not a healthy look. As for the gold pearl, I don't see it, but at least the powder comes in a gold tube so that's a consolation.
I don't think this is an absolute fail as a product, btw. It's entirely possible that more adept hands than mine could achieve more impressive results….But an eyeliner which has ‘smudgy’ in its name is already a little iffy, if you want my honest opinion. I mean, ALL eyeliners smudge - yes, even the very best ones will eventually, even if it's just a little. So emphasising the inevitable a.k.a. smudginess is - well - not exactly a strong selling point.
*Unfortunately, The Smudgy Matte Eyeliner is sold out almost everywhere. Fortunately, I’ve just given it a rather underwhelming review so you can rest assured that you haven't missed out on anything too great.
The Eye Ink Mascara in Blackest
So, I have a confession: I really liked this mascara at first. Why? Um... because it was from the Victoria Beckham collection, which I’d fallen in love with in its entirety long before I knew any of the substantive details? Because this mascara was one pricey MOFO? Because the tube is looooong and slender and pretty darn sexy looking? Could be all or any of the above. Regardless, I confess that I told several people this was AMAZING and that they needed to buy it during the first week I used it. (In my defence, I don’t think any of them did buy it so...guilt conveniently averted!)
My main issue with this mascara is that it takes FOREVER to dry down. Make that forever and a day. Literally every single time I use this stuff I end up with mascara smeared around my eyes even though I’m meticulous about blinking, checking my reflection in the mirror ten minutes later, etc. This stuff just won’t dry and I have to say, that’s a dealbreaker. This is the first mascara I have ever used where I have encounterered this problem. It’s bizarre.
What else can I say about the Eye Ink Mascara? OK, honestly, it wasn’t terribly impressive. Which makes it like most mascaras. That’s why it's rare to be in a monogamous relationship with any mascara. Yes, sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever meet the one (as in, a HG mascara.)
Does a HG mascara exist? Who knows. Comments section is below. My money is on it not existing, I’d go so far as to put my money on it never existing. Well, during my existence anyway. (You have no excuse not to comment now.)
The Eye Ink Mascara in Blackest was restocked yesterday in a surprise gesture of benevolence by Victoria. It should be available on her website. If it's already sold out, don't beat yourself up over it. Buy whatever mascara you want instead. It’ll mean just as much to you when you’ve finished the tube: not much. Just like literally any other mascara.