Surratt Beauty, among other things, makes a selection of shadow, blush, and contour products, which you can customize to place in their empty compacts. In theory, I love this. I have pretty specific (and narrow) taste when it comes to eyeshadow, so being able to customize a palette is an attractive option for me. Many other brands offer similar custom systems: MAKE UP FOR EVER ($25 CAD for 0.07 oz, plus significant volume discounts), Buxom ($15 CAD for 0.05 oz), shu uemura ($19 CAD for 0.049 oz), and Inglot ($12 CAD for 0.08 oz), to name a few.
I’m not an eyeshadow fiend, and I was intrigued by the possibility to create a contour and highlight duo. I chose Griseille and Aureole from their Artistique Blush range. These powders fit into the 2-pan compact.
The first shock came when I looked at the bill and saw the price for the empty palette.
Are you ready? Can you guess?
The empty. Plastic. Rather small. Compact. $18. $18!
It has a mirror, which is unique for similar custom systems, and it’s much more luxe than similar offerings from MUFE, Buxom, et. al. But still. Yikes. I should have turned right around and returned it all, but I wanted to stick it out. For you.
The $18 compact wouldn’t have hurt as bad if the powders I had to put in it were reasonably priced. But no, they were similarly expensive $35 each (for 0.14 oz). With the exception of Inglot, Surrat’s Artistique Blush powders actually cost less per ounce than the other examples listed above.
I have nothing against expensive makeup when the quality of the product, packaging, or experience lives up to the price tag. These powders, however, are far from mind-blowing. I’ll get back to that. I’m not done with the packaging.
For starters, I like that the compact is pretty small. For travel and storage it’s a generous amount of product in a format that doesn’t take up a ton of space (looking at you, Marc Jacobs #Instamarc). Unless you are a makeup artist, you really only need one contour and highlight shade each (if you are even interested in contouring and highlighting). Otherwise, step away from from those massive palettes that have six to ten pans.
So I’m into the small format.
One thing I’m not into, is that this teeny tiny $88 palette uses a sticker to affix the pans to the compact. A sticker! Not a magnet, not a physical locking mechanism. A basic adhesive that isn’t even effective — my highlight shade jumped out of the palette this morning with zero effort (I was trying to see if I could easily remove the pans, and tipped the compact on its side). Somehow the sticker isn’t even tacky anymore, and I’ve barely had this for a week!
What is this tomfoolery? I find such an unreliable design to be unacceptable at this price point, especially when literally every other aspect of the packaging (including the box the empty compact comes in) is so luxe. SMH.
As for the products themselves, sigh. From the lousy cave that is buyer’s remorse I must say: steer clear of Surratt Beauty unless you hate money.
For a customizable system, it would be great to see an expanded shade range: there was only one contour shade and one highlight shade to choose from. There are eight additional blush colours, ranging from soft peach to a deeper, classic red. The eyeshadows ($22 CAD) are available in 24 shades and are half the size of the blushes, fitting four shades into the small, $18 palette. While there are definitely many ways one could create a lovely quad of eyeshadows with the existing colours, an extended shade range would be welcome. MAKE UP FOR EVER, Buxom, Inglot, shu uemura — they all offer much greater choice across both colour and finish with their custom systems.
One thing I love about the Surrat system is its golden mean-inspired design: the eyeshadows are half the size of the blushes, so you can fit them alone or together in each palette. The small palette could be customized to contain any of the following combos: two blushes, four shadows, or two shadows plus a blush.
Griseille and Aureole
Both powders feel amazing to the touch (creamy, soft); unfortunately neither perform especially well. Griseille blends easily but lacks pigment and the shade is a little warm for contouring. I can barely detect Aureole on the skin aside from the glitter it deposits. Had it swatched as poorly with my finger as it did using a brush on my face, I never would have purchased this palette.
For comparison’s sake, I prefer contour products that I have from Marc Jacobs, Pixi, Sleek, NYX, and MAC. My inexpensive highlighters from essence, Anastasia Beverly Hills, and NYX outperform Surratt Beauty’s Aureole by a considerable margin. I remain baffled by the cost of the empty Surratt compact, which doesn’t even securely hold my $35 powders. The convenience of having a highlight and contour duo unfortunately doesn’t outweigh the lacklustre performance of these products.
Yes, a two-pan customizable palette for highlight and contour would be bomb (I could totally create one with MAKE UP FOR EVER eyeshadows). Sadly, my attempt to create one with Surratt Beauty’s offerings completely missed the mark.