Earlier this year, as I sat watching a YouTube makeup video—a review of some gimmicky product, maybe Farsali Unicorn Oil or Ciaté Glitter Flip lipsticks—my boyfriend walked past and wondered, “Do you actually buy anything you see on YouTube?” With some pride, I said no. I’m generally immune to YouTube hype, since most influencers gravitate toward products and looks that aren’t even close to my style. I use their reviews and tutorials as a brain break, a 15-minute period during which I don’t have to think about my dissertation defense (Dec. 7, bitches!) or Trump or Harvey Weinstein or whether I’ll have a source of income next semester. But let me not be too smug. Watching consumerist videos for fun means participating in consumerism. It means that I come home from a day of passively absorbing the advertising that we all encounter as we move through the world, and I voluntarily expose myself to yet more advertising. And, inevitably, some of those messages worm their way into my cranium. If not for the gushing praise of YouTubers, I wouldn’t have bought one of the most hyped-up products of 2016: Wet n Wild’s Megaglo Highlighting Powder in Precious Petals.
Yes, I said 2016. I have yet to encounter a single Wet n Wild limited-edition display in the wild (if you will), so when the brand released Precious Petals and a darker peach highlighter, Crown of My Canopy, as LE products for spring 2016, I didn’t even bother searching for them. It wasn’t until Wet n Wild made the two shades permanent this spring that I began to consider buying Precious Petals. At $4.99, it wasn’t exactly a big-ticket item, but I’m picky about highlighter. I don’t wear it more than a few times a week, and I prefer cream formulas to powder ones. So I spent a month wearing an eyeshadow of a similar color on my cheekbones, and when I was satisfied that a peachy powder highlighter would fit into my makeup routine, I bought Precious Petals. (If only I were this discriminating about lipsticks.) I’ve now been using it for a few months, so I thought I’d use the waning hours of my Thanksgiving break to write up a review!
The Megaglo highlighters come in a cheap-looking square compact, though who cares when you’ve got that beautifully embossed pan? The lid doesn’t snap shut as securely as I’d like, but since I don’t travel with it (I prefer cream products for travel), no harm done.
Precious Petals has a slight duochrome effect, with a peachy pink base that shifts to a lighter, yellower peach. In the pan, it looks a little dark for me, but it sheers out nicely on my skin.
Here it is swatched with a finger on my arm. The formula has a stiffer, more powdery texture than I expected, but it’s still workable.
And here’s Precious Petals between theBalm Stubborn eyeshadow (top), which served as my practice peach highlighter, and ColourPop Super Shock Cheek in Lunch Money.
Precious Petals is more opaque and metallic than either Stubborn or Lunch Money, and it’s easy to see why YouTube types love it: a few layers of Precious Petals applied with a small round brush will produce that coveted BUH-LINDING shine. The thing is, I don’t want to blind my enemies or send signals to Mars or whatever other metaphor YouTubers like to use. I prefer a subtle, diffused glow that’s not immediately identifiable as highlighter. And that’s the danger of succumbing to online hype: you end up with a product that might be perfectly fine in the abstract, but doesn’t work for your own lifestyle or preferred aesthetic.
To sheer out Precious Petals, I apply it with my Sonia Kashuk fan brush. However, a fan brush (or perhaps just my fan brush?) isn’t the best implement for this formula. The bristles don’t pick up the product very well, so I always find myself applying more than one layer. Part of the problem, I think, is that the formula is quite granular. You can see the individual specks of shimmer in a swatch or on the cheekbone, and some of those specks are larger than others, which makes them less willing to cling to bristles. That brings me to another quibble: in direct light, especially artificial light, Precious Petals is not just shiny but sparkly. Here’s two layers under fluorescent light:
Of course, it’s not like I’m nuzzling up to a fluorescent beam in my daily life, so here’s a closeup in indirect natural light. We’re not talking full-on glitter, obviously, but trust me when I say that it’s noticeably sparkly IRL. Say hi to my poorly blended concealer!
And here’s my full face from today. I tried to use products I’ve been neglecting, so in addition to Precious Petals, we have two shades from Urban Decay Naked2 Basics (Skimp and Cover) on the eyes, with NYX Brown Perfection on the upper lashline and Cover on the lower lashline; Sleek blush in Flushed (not a neglected product: I use it multiple times a week in the fall!); and Kat Von D Studded Kiss lipstick in Mercy layered over NYX lip pencil in Cabaret. What do you know, I wrote my review of Mercy exactly a year ago! Wearing it today, I was reminded of its tendency to emphasize dryness and its extreme unwillingness to stick to the inner part of my lips. I have half a mind to destash it, actually.
Despite my complaints, I think Precious Petals is a good highlighter, and I’d recommend it to anyone who wants an intense shine. For me, though, PP has been most serviceable as a reminder to think selfishly when I shop for makeup. Regardless of how a product works for a blogger or a YouTube reviewer, I need to consider how it will work for me. Will it suit my complexion and my lifestyle? Will it play nicely with the products I already own? Or is the person reviewing it so far from me in style, profession, and taste that I should think twice before snapping up a highlighter she loves? These days, I’m better at asking myself those questions before making a purchase. It’s taken me years to reach this point, but it’s a nice point to have reached.