If you follow me on Instagram, you'll know that I was in California earlier this month which partially explains why I've been so quiet on here in the last few weeks. I still have to edit the photos I took from that trip to do a proper travel recap. But in the mean time I wanted to show you the makeup souvenir I purchased for myself while I was in San Francisco.
TheBalm is well known for their cheekily named eyeshadow palettes but did you know they sell individual shadows as well? You can order them online but the swatches on the website aren't great and not many people have reviewed the individual shadows. Awhile back I saw on Reddit that TheBalm has a flagship in their home city so I made my way to Valencia Street to see the eyeshadows in person.
The store itself is really adorable in true TheBalm fashion. The boutique is small but not cramped at all with ample room to explore and try products on. They also provide services like brow grooming and waxing. The right wall of the store is dedicated to the build-your-own-palette stations. The shop assistants were all really pleasant and not suffocating at all. They let you play at your own pace and don't badger you with unnecessary talk which I really appreciate.
You can choose to buy the shadows individually for $6.50 each, a 9-pan shadow palette for $44 or a 16-pan shadow palette for $64. There are five different palette designs in each size to choose from. Obviously if you break down the price of the palettes, the 16-pan one is the most cost effective per shadow. But I didn't love 16 shades to build such a behemoth of a palette. It's probably no surprise that the shades I chose are all quite wearable shades.
Each eyeshadow refill is packaged separately and to my dismay, these don't have proper names and only numbers. It makes it a lot harder to remember eyeshadow names when they're simply random numbers. Another issue with the names is that there's a little sticker on the back of each metal pan with the number but when you open the plastic packaging that seals the entire pan, it will inevitably rip off the sticker with the name.... I've had to write the numbers back in and I just don't love the way that looks so I hope TheBalm figures out a better way to get the names on each eyeshadow. Each pan contains 3.4 grams (.12 oz) of product which is double the standard eyeshadow from Mac and Urban Decay. So you're getting a lot of shadow for the price you're paying here.
As soon as we got back to our Airbnb, I excitedly popped my shadows into their places. I love that it's really easy to put the magnetized pans into the palette and the grooves make it easy to take them out again. These pans magnetize to a ZPalette with no extra magnets or accessories needed.
You'll see that almost all the shades I chose were shimmers. I was disappointed to see only a couple of matte colors to choose from. I was looking for a warm matte midtone brown to serve as a staple crease transition color but there was none to be found. I had to settle for #44 which is more cool toned than what I'd prefer.
All the shadows I chose have very fine shimmers in them but there were definitely a few colors with larger glitter particles in them. I'm a sucker for warm peaches and browns so #21, #10 and #6 are right up my alley. I wanted to throw in some color so I picked out a couple of lavender shades in the form of #32 and #20. I really like #28, a beautiful plum, and #19 the cool toned taupe as well. Though, to be honest, none of the shadows are really blowing my mind in terms of something I haven't already seen before. If I really looked through my collection and swatched shadows all over my arms, I'd likely be able to find some good dupes for these shades.
Here is another look at the swatches in less direct sunlight. These shadows are pigmented but also very soft - they don't have that ultra opaque metallic finish that you get from Urban Decay. They also don't have the creaminess of Lorac shadows. I don't own any TheBalm palettes (yet) so unfortunately I can't compare these to those. The finish of these shadows is reminiscent of the shadows I own from Rouge Bunny Rouge. The shimmers are sophisticated and understated. You should definitely wear an eyeshadow primer before applying these shadows. I didn't the first time I wore these and the creasing was very apparent after a few hours.
While not the end all and be all of eyeshadows, I'm happy with my custom TheBalm palette. The eyeshadow formula is not the rich, buttery formula that many brands like Urban Decay and Anastasia Beverly Hills are known for. But if you appreciate a more natural look, you will probably really like these TheBalm singles. Did you know TheBalm sold individual eyeshadows? Would you consider making a custom palette?