Note: I purchased this product with store credit from my Glossier referral link. Thank you to everyone who has ordered through my link and enabled me to test and review more products!
I’m taking a break from my masked-lipstick series to review a new release that has received a fair amount of buzz in the beauty community. The Monochromes eyeshadow trios are Glossier’s first foray into powder eyeshadow. Each palette contains three eyeshadows—a matte, a satin, and a shimmer—in more or less the same color. Glossier made the bizarre decision to house these trios in square palettes obviously made for four shadows, which irritates me to no end. It would have been so easy to either go for a rectangular palette or include a fourth shade, maybe a cream. But, of course, they had to leave room for that all-important G imprint!
I was skeptical of the Monochromes when they came out in September, both because of the trio-in-a-quad-palette thing and because Glossier failed, as usual, to provide decent swatches on their social media. Into the Gloss even ran an article about monochromatic eyeshadow without actually using the Monochromes on their model! (They also misspelled “monochrome” in the URL, but that’s par for the course.) However, once I started investigating the ten Monochromes, I found myself tempted by Heather, described as a “neutral rose.” Almost five years ago, Buon Fresco from the ABH Modern Renaissance palette initiated my love affair with rosy eyeshadows, and I’ve since found that almost any eyeshadow in the pink-rose-berry-plum family not only flatters my cool olive complexion but also makes my green eyes pop.
So I had some misgivings about Heather, but I also had Glossier store credit (many thanks to everyone who has clicked my link), and last month I ordered Heather along with Cloud Paint in Eve. I’ve been using both constantly in the last few weeks, and here are my impressions of Heather so far!
Like many beauty brands, Glossier has been moving in a more “sustainable” direction recently (I put “sustainable” in quotes because, of course, they’re still encouraging consumption), and the metal Monochromes palettes are advertised as refillable and recyclable. (You can order just the refills at $18 for a trio instead of $22.) I was surprised at how heavy and bulky the tin felt. It also contains a mirror, from which I haven’t yet removed the plastic because I’ve inherited my mother’s family’s immigrant mindset of Never Removing the Protective Cover from Anything.
The brand-new pans in indirect natural light:
In direct sunlight, after two weeks of use:
The metal insert containing the pans is easy to remove from the tin. Theoretically, you can buy refills in multiple colors and pop them in and out of just one case as needed, but that raises the question of how to store the refills when they’re not housed in the case. Of course, you could pry the individual eyeshadow pans out of the insert and put them into a magnetic palette, but then what would you do with the empty piece of metal? Why not just make the insert part of the case and sell the pans on their own? One wishes Glossier had given a little more thought to this half-assed attempt at sustainability.
Swatches in shade (done with a finger, one swipe each), in indirect natural light:
In direct sun:
Out-of-focus closeup for a better view of the sparkles:
Finally, here’s the matte shade (two swipes this time) with some other shades in the mauve-rose family. L-R: ColourPop Imagine That (from the Lilac You a Lot palette), ABH Buon Fresco (Modern Renaissance), Heather (matte), Dose of Colors Spaced Out and Rosy (both from Marvelous Mauves). Most of the shades that I thought would be similar to Heather are actually much cooler; only Rosy comes close to being a dupe. Top photo in shade, bottom in sun.
Now for some reflections on the formula of each shade!
Matte: This shade, a terracotta rose, is…finicky. It can look great, but only with the proper technique. The formula is thin, semi-sheer, and very finely milled, reminding me of the eyeshadows that dominated the market when I first got into makeup a decade ago. I generally prefer sheerer, drier formulas to softer, more pigmented ones, but I find this particular shadow hard to work with. If I apply too little, it barely shows up; if I apply too much, it becomes blotchy and impossible to diffuse—and the difference between too little and too much seems to be roughly ten granules of powder. I’ve found that the best application method is to start with a very thin layer and gradually build it up. I’d recommend using a little less than you think you need, because this shadow has the curious tendency to “develop” like a Polaroid and become darker with time. However, it has amazing longevity over primer (Urban Decay Primer Potion, specifically), lasting a good twelve hours without much fading or creasing.
Satin: The first thing I noticed about the Heather trio was that the satin shade was warmer and darker than the other two. It’s a deep cranberry brown with fine pinkish red shimmer. I bought Heather hoping that the satin would be an everyday one-and-done shade, but it’s too dark and red to serve that purpose for me. Like the matte shade, the satin can look patchy and muddy if I apply too much at once. I’ve taken to applying and blending out one thin layer, then using my finger to pack on a little more color so that the fine shimmer comes through. Also like the matte, the satin lasts all day when applied over primer.
Shimmer: The shimmer shade is the most impressive one in the trio, a deep rosy pink with densely packed pink sparkles. It looks almost foiled when swatched. I generally use it as a topper for the matte or the satin, but it works well as an all-over lid shade if I’m in the mood for more glitter. Surprisingly little fallout throughout the day!
Obviously, the Monochromes don’t lend themselves to spectacularly creative looks. As someone who generally does her makeup in less than ten minutes while half-asleep, I’m fine with that. Here, from just this morning, are the matte (crease) and satin (lid) shades on my eyes. As you can see, the satin looks a little duller on my eyes than it does in the pan.
And here’s the same look with a bit of the shimmer shade patted on top:
Another day, another angle (I’m wearing Cloud Paint in Eve here, by the way):
As I’m sure you’ve gathered, I find Heather a little underwhelming. I don’t regret my purchase, but I’m glad I was able to use store credit instead of spending $22 on three eyeshadows. That’s $7.33 per shade, and I have $4.50 ColourPop singles that perform better than Heather’s matte and satin shades. Heather is a flattering color story for me, and I anticipate using it a few times a week this fall and winter, but I’m not exactly champing at the bit to order another one of the Monochromes…though Almond does look awfully pretty…