Review

The Gloss Report: Christmas Palettes

10 December 2016

1 / 22

The Gloss Report: Makeup Palettes

At this time of year, makeup brands come out in full force with beautiful palettes to wrap up and put carefully under the tree for a loved one - though of course they're also ideal for self gifting, given how irrestistible this year's launches have been...

Some palettes do it all, while others are targeted to one area be it eyes or lips - but with some having a hefty price tag and with so many out there to choose from, how do we know which is the best palette to pick up?

That's where we come in. For this week's Gloss Report, the Glossy Posse are trying, testing and giving our honest reviews on the newest Christmas palettes out there.

Scroll through the gallery to see our honest reviews...

2 / 22

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Edit in Surreal Light, £69

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The promise: “Introducing Surreal Light – a sheer nude powder evoking the magic hour of perfect lighting where the sun brings the softest, most flattering glow to the complexion. These never-before-released shades of powder, bronzer, blushes and highlighter are available exclusively this holiday season.”

We give it: 10/10

Review: “The Hourglass Ambient Lighting palettes are talked about so much on the internet and I can see why. This palette is just incredible. From the beautiful white marble-esque packaging to the incredible quality of the powders, this palette goes a long way to perfecting your base.

“It features the powder in Surreal Light that gives you the look of a glow from within, the bronzer in Surreal Bronze Light which gives a very natural tan or subtle contour, and the blush in Surreal Glow which is a beautiful pale peony pink marbled with the Surreal Light powder. It gives a beautiful pop of colour to the cheeks and I love using it with the other blush in the palette, Surreal Effect which is a pink rose shade blended with a soft and warm peach that gives a natural flush. The final shade in the palette is Surreal Strobe Light, the beautiful peach toned highlight which finishes off the look perfectly.

“I use all of the powders in the palette as they blend beautifully. The palette gives a subtle lit-from-within look and it feels incredibly luxurious. Plus it’s an absolute saviour if you’re a little on the hungover side (which is just perfect for this time of year!).”

Reviewer: LP

3 / 22

Bobbi Brown Golden Eye Palette Shadow and Mascara, £29.50

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The promise: "A classic eye palette with a sparkling, smokey twist that's perfect for the party season."

We give it: 10/10

Review: "There is no simpler or more candid way of putting this: I LOVE this palette. The colours, the texture, the staying power and the presentation of all the products encased in this neat gold and brown leather-effect box are all sublime.

"The trio of eyeshadows comprises of a very light, matte cream for the base, a most divine metallic dusty gold which glides like silk onto the lids, accentuating my hazel eyes and the perfect colour for both day and night, and a deep matte black shadow, which, using the flat end of the nifty dual ended brush, can be applied just like an eyeliner or blended easily into the gold for a softer, smokier look. The creamy mini black mascara adds an impactful amount of volume and length to eyelashes to complete the look.

"Bobbi Brown has really created a versatile, statement-making eye palette, suitable for almost anyone at any time of the year, although the sparkly gold makes it particularly special at Christmas, and makes the perfect gift - so much so, that this is just what I am buying for my friend this year!"

Reviewer: GP

4 / 22

Stila Star Light, Star Bright Highlighting Palette, £32

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The promise: "This palette of unique, radiance-enhancing highlighters with ultra-fine light diffusing particles are gossamer-light, melting into skin for a natural looking glow."

We give it: 7/10

Review: "Looking at Stila’s highlighting palette as an image really doesn’t do this beauty product justice. You really need to see these powders in the light to see how remarkably fine and glittery they are - and if you are someone that likes all things sparkly, you will love this palette.

"Applying each of the pressed powders is like applying very fine crystal dust, which sits delicately on the skin and gently catches the light - this is good as you don’t want to have too much glitter on the face, but if you really are looking for more of an impact, then I recommend adding a blob of liquid highlighter underneath. The only thing that I might change with this product if asked, are the colours. My favourite shade in the palette is the bronze, which I think will look heavenly on bronzed or dark skin, but the opalescent pink is simply too light and too pink for me - I think I will be giving this shade a miss in the future."

Reviewer: GP

5 / 22

Morphe Brushes 35 Colour Neutral Matte and Shimmer Palette (35W), £21.75

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The promise: "These 35 eyeshadows will enable you to make up like a makeup artist – blending colours seamlessly to achieve a flawless, photo-ready finish."

We give it: 8/10

Review: "I’ve been told that this is the eyeshadow palette that all beauty bloggers love and I can see why. It’s astonishingly good value, contains an array of dazzling shades and gives you an endless choice of subtle or striking combinations all in one place. This particular palette is a combination of matte and shimmer colours, many of which are pink, but you can find a spectrum of other colours and textures in the Morphe Brushes range. The powder too is fairly good quality, but not A-grade as it clumped a little too easily in the creases of my eyelids. As with many things budget, be it makeup, clothes or shoes, they are best worn when mixed with more expensive items."

Reviewer: GP

6 / 22

Tarte 20 Piece Colour Vibes Amazonian Clay Eyeshadow Palette with Brush, £54

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The promise: "A 20-piece Tarte eyeshadow palette featuring a sumptuous array of colours, all in the long-wear Amazonian Clay formula."

We give it: 9.5/10

Review: "Tarte really know how to do eyeshadow. This palette features 20 wearable shades that are perfect for creating so many looks. It is perfect for day wear, with subtle matte and shimmery nudes and beautiful smokey shades to take it straight into the evening. The shadows have a beautiful colour pay off when applied to the lids. They are incredibly buildable and blendable - no chalky pigments here, which is something that really grinds my gears when it comes to palettes. The range of shades in the palette are perfect for either creating a one-tone sweep of colour across the lid, or something with a little more depth as there are shades that are ideal for highlighting, shades that are better for applying to the socket and crease and others that help to blend the look.

"The shadows have been laid out in the palette so that they can be used in four groups, with five shadows for each (highlight, lid, bridge, crease and liner) or you can be left to your own devices and use whichever shade wherever you like. The brush that comes with it is actually great as it picks up plenty of pigment with its super soft bristles and blends it out seamlessly. The shadows themselves last incredibly well and the mirror is huge - so a perfect travel companion if you can't decide on something smaller."

Reviewer: LP

7 / 22

bareMinerals Glow Together Complexion Finisher Palette, £29

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The promise: "This mattifying and illuminating trio perks up cheeks with a gilded rose glow, formulated to instantly vanish on all skin tones, giving you a fresh–not flat–look. Buff on the oil-absorbing Matte for a hint of colour and layer on the Glow for an effortless touch of highlight."

We give it: 8.5/10

Review: "This face palette from the bareMinerals Christmas collection is the perfect addition to your makeup collection. If you're looking to save space, add to your travel stash or just get a glow then you should definitely think about picking this one up. The palette features three powders; a highlight, a blush and a bronzer and they work beautifully together to give you a brighter complexion and flush of colour across the cheeks. They blend really well, don't make you look super shiny but give a hit of radiance that's needed for this time of year."

Reviewer: LP

8 / 22

Dior 5 Couleurs Splendour Palette in 776 Precious Embroidery, £43.50

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The promise: "The legendary palette bears the sequin motif inspired by the work of the Haute Couture ateliers. The texture blends into the lids and sculpts the eyes with pearly light and dense ultra-pigmented shadow."

We give it: 7.5/10

Review: "The idea of a Christmas palette is always to be luxurious and this definitely is. From the moment I spied this beauty online I fell in love, and that didn't stop upon opening the palette for the first, second or third time. The palette features five shades, all beautiful mauves, pinks, silvers and deeper tones to smoke up the look. The shadows are embossed with a sequin motif which gets me just about every time I open up the palette as it really is so stunning. The shades are beautiful and blend together nicely, but the colour pay off needs a bit of building to get the shades as desired."

Reviewer: LP

9 / 22

NYX Beauty School Dropout 101 Nude Palette, £12.99

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The promise: "This miniature set includes 6 rich, neutral shades in a range of matte and pearl finishes."

We give it: 7/10

Review: "This palette doesn't look like much at first glance. In fact as Christmas palettes go, it really isn't festive at all - however, the shadows themselves is where this excels. The palette features 6 eyeshadows in a range of nude-esque shades. They are all incredibly wearable, even if they don't look particularly special in the pan. However when applied they really come to life. The pigmentation is incredible, and if you're looking for a more subtle look then a little goes a very long way. They blend incredibly well and make applying eyeshadow in the morning so quick and easy. They did crease a little throughout the day, so just make sure you apply a great base or eyeshadow primer first to prolong your look."

Reviewer: LP

10 / 22

Marc Jacobs Object of Desire Face and Eye Palette, £55

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The promise: "Create captivating eye looks with six luxurious eyeshadows that deliver sumptuous payoff. Contour and glow with O!Mega bronze, a plush blush and the limited-edition luminizer, all wrapped up in a Marc Jacobs metallic gold vegan patent leather case."

We give it: 6/10

Review: “This palette has all bases covered, a bronzer, a rose blush, highlighter and six eyeshadows on the purple/copper/mink spectrum. For me - I have green eyes -  this is the perfect combo for making party eyes pop, with as much smokiness as you need and not too much (ageing) shimmer. I like the fact that the blush and bronzer are tonally on the same wavelength as the eyeshadows. When you are applying more dramatic party makeup in artificial light it’s harder to  tell whether collars and cuffs match, which is where a face palette scores.

“The gold clutch bag casing with tassel looks expensive, but for me it’s too clunky for a night out - especially as you also have to BYO brushes and applicators. Why they didn’t include them is a mystery and is reason enough for this palette not to come to the ball, but to stay in my bathroom on party night.“

Reviewer: VW

11 / 22

Burberry Complete Eye Palette no. 28 Golden Shimmer, £40

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The promise: "A limited edition set for the festive season, it enhances eyes with a golden, illuminated make-up look."

We give it: 7/10

Review: “These three golden brown tones and eyeliner are softness itself; they blended smoothly without creasing or smudging as my night wore on (this is quite a feat as my eyes stream at the merest hint of cold, and I’m always checking streaky cheeks). I was impressed with their pigment depth and used all four shades, which made this kit seem good value for money. The peachy gold shades are warm and soft with the mid brown working well as daywear to accent the eye socket and create a low key eyeliner.

“This kit comes with a set of three brushes in a travel pouch, however this swiftly parted company with the palette (if there’s something I can mislay, I’ll do it).  The pouch stayed at home while the palette came to work with me, only for me to discover that I had nothing to do my eyes with when I got there. Why not put the brushes and applicators inside the palette?  Other than that minor gripe, this is a sumptuous kit that feels pleasingly weighty and delivers on pigment and pizzazz.”

Reviewer: VW

12 / 22

Giorgio Armani Halo of Light Holiday Palette, £99

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The promise: “The Holiday Palette is women’s beauty ally for custom makeup at any time of day.”

We give it: 9/10

Review: “Is it wrong that I want to give this palette 10 out of 10 on the packaging alone? Finally a brand has answered my calls for longer, luxurious eyeshadow applicator brushes (praise the Lord!) and an amazingly glossy compact case that doesn’t open spontaneously in my makeup bag to reveal it’s pigmenty contents. To seal the deal, the palette has a snug little velvet pouch to sit in (how very on trend!). So now onto the palette itself, which is comprised of two layers (this truly is the jumbo jet of makeup palettes). The top layer houses a collection of 10 eyeshadows - one glitter, four shimmers and five mattes. The bottom has two concealers and a luminous silky powder, together with two spongy applicators. These were a perfect match for my skin tone, which is fair. The eyeshadows work really well together as a collection and I was pleased with how well they lasted over the course of the day. It's a very high price to pay for perfection, which is why it doesn't get full marks - but if money is no object, it's a sound investment."

Reviewer: AEM

13 / 22

Kevyn Aucoin The Essential Eyeshadow Set, £46

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The promise: “This chic palette can be used to create an array of smouldering eye looks and is the perfect desk to dancefloor palette.”

We give it: 8/10

Review: “Some people think a smokey eye should consist of greys and black, but unfortunately these shades don’t always suit everybody. I, for one look extremely tired if I wear black eyeliner because it leaves a cold shadow under my eyes. Warm browns are much more flattering on my pale complexion and this palette of modern browns from Kevyn Aucoin would suit everyone. Containing everything from a pretty pale beige, a barely-there nude and three shades of brown from a milk chocolate to a pale brown nut shade, this palette really will take you from day to night in a modern, sophisticated way.”

Reviewer: ST

14 / 22

Topshop Limited Edition Smokey Eye Palette in Battle, £15

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The promise: “Each shade is specially selected to complement the others, with endless colour combinations that you can customise to suit your chosen look this Christmas party season.”

We give it: 8/10

Review: “Some of the colours in this palette could, at first glance, look a little on the scary side for the uninitiated. Army, sorry ‘olive’ green? Muddy brown?* But don’t stop there readers because this palette is a great piece of party kit, and best of all, at £15, it’s really not going to break the bank. Meaning you can continue to self gift (let’s be honest) whilst blithely neglecting the rest of your Christmas shopping for friends and family.

"I really liked the palette and the shades work well together as a set. The textures are soft, shimmery and delicate, even the ones that look quite blocky at first. The applicator has both a brush end and a soft tip to make blending a doddle. Finally the packaging - at £15 it’s never going to be anything more than a plastic case, but it’s lightweight and will definitely fit in that party clutch."

*these are not the actual names

Reviewer: AEM

15 / 22

Laura Mercier Master Class Colour Essentials Collection 2nd Edition, £90

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The promise: “An essential colour collection for eyes and cheeks, complete with the tools to create endless looks for any occasion.”

We give it: 9/10

Review: “At first glance I was really dismissive of this palette - it was just another palette of eyeshadows for party season! That was until my colleague slid the eyeshadow trays away and revealed a whole new array of cheek colours and eye liners below - it truly is a treasure trove of makeup and you need it before it runs out. Including a total of 12 eye colours, three cheek colours, two eyeliners, an eye pencil AND brushes, you are set for everything with this palette - it's perfect for me as I'm heading away for New Year  so I have everything for eyes and cheeks within one palette. Probably a little huge for the everyday makeup bag, but a little luxury on your dressing table for sure. The shadows themselves are highly pigmented and with their slight creamy texture, they easily blend to create a party smokey eye or a subtle neutral tone. The colours range from mattes, to metallics and glitters, all gorgeous and so versatile. The blush also has great pigment so a little really goes a long way. All in all - yes it's expensive, but you get a lot for your money out of this palette, and what's party season without a little self-gifting, right?”

Reviewer: SM

16 / 22

NARS Dual Intensity Blush Palette, £40

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The promise: “Define your favourite facial features with the NARS Cosmetics Limited Edition Narsissist Dual-Intensity Blush Palette; a mirrored compact that houses four shades of highlighter, blush and contouring powder.

We give it: 10/10

Review: “At first glance this NARS palette is gorgeous. Probably best described as an all-in-one palette for cheeks - which is perfect for me as I love a compact that is multi-purpose - it contains a selection of four (classic NARS-style flattering) powders, including a highlight, a blush shade, and two different shades to contour. What's so great about the Dual Intensity Palette is that they are designed to be used both wet and dry depending on the type of finish you are looking for. I much prefer to use it dry because I have quite pale skin and too much intensity can look a little clown-like for me, but if you like something with a bit of oomph, then use it wet because the finish is stunning. When using all three together it gives a glow to the skin making me look as though I've had more sleep than I have, and inherited some sort of model-like bone structure. The soft texture easily blends in and I've started using the Soft Tulle and Damask with Gold Sheen as eyeshadows - multi purpose which I love. This palette is limited edition so get it fast!”

Reviewer: SM

17 / 22

Estee Edit Gritty & Glow Palette, £42

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The promise: “These silky-soft, creamy formulas are designed to be super blendable for easy application.”

We give it: 10/10

Review: “Palettes usually follow a familiar pattern with me - one or two shades get used to death, while the others often go undisturbed to look as perfect as they did on day one. Not with this duo of limited edition palettes though. I found a use for each and every one of them to ensure no hue went unused.

“The value for money is of particular note, with two palettes to be found at the usual price of one (when compared with other brands in the same market). The powder formulated shadows and highlighters offer pigment, longevity and super blendability in equal measure, providing the perfect amount of shimmer to sophisticatedly take my makeup from day to night. The Gritty eyeshadow palette has fast become my new smokey eye essential and the Glow Face + Eye palette has become quite addictive for giving the higher plans of my face a soft wash of much-needed luminosity. With wonderfully wide mirrors and sleek outer casings that click satisfyingly into place, they offer a great choice for all things Christmas makeup which I’m certain to continue using long after party season’s over.”

Reviewer: AM

18 / 22

Rosie for Autograph Makeup Palette, £25

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The promise: “A versatile selection of 6 eyeshadows, a cream blusher, a powder bronzer and a highlighter shade for a naturally chic look.”

We give it: 7/10

Review: "Having heard good things about the Rosie for Autograph collection since records began I was keen to try it out for myself, and what better introduction than with this 9-in-1 kit of everything from eyeshadows and blush to bronzer and highlighter.  It’s fair to say that this palette is rosey (!) inside and out with various shades of light and dark rose gold together with bronze and deeper chocolate brown hues.  For me, this colour range is just right, allowing soft smokey eyes and the option for something more dramatic of an evening.

"Not a huge fan of shimmer, however, I did find myself avoiding the lighter, more sparkly shadows and highlighter too.  My favourite piece of this palette is actually the Bronzed Beauty bronzing powder which, though just a touch too dark for me, has a brilliantly soft and fine texture allowing the powder to apply really evenly across the face for an instant and believable glow.  At just £25 this really is value for money, and likely a flattering set of shades for many complexions.  It’s bring your own makeup brushes for this one though I’m afraid!"

Reviewer: GB

19 / 22

Lancome Auda[City] in London Eye Palette, £42

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The promise: "Create infinite looks for every occasion with these London-inspired shades."

We give it: 9/10

Review: “It’s no wonder this palette deserves top marks given that the 16 shades have been selected by Lancome’s Creative Director and pioneering makeup artist Lisa Eldridge. If you’ve ever watched her tutorials you’ll know Lisa is truly an artist in every sense of the word, and she’s poured that expertise and creativity into this dream palette that’s inspired by London. The shades range from nudes to mauves to soft greens and finally into varying depths of grey, with each set being completed by a corresponding glitter top coat. I often feel giving high marks seems less genuine, but everything about this is flawless in terms of what you want from a palette; a mix of matte and shimmer shades, highly pigmented shadows, shades that work for day and night, and a decent brush. The brush was the most pleasant surprise in fact - a fluffy brush on one end that delivers colour effortlessly and a flat, more precise option on the other. All the shades are incredibly wearable, with the rich matte shades providing perfect bases for every look you can think of (and with very little fallout to boot), be it straight and shimmery or layered and smokey. The sparkle top coats are also very, very subtle (a little too subtle for me, hence the missing point); this is a sophisticated grown-up’s palette that still manages to be playful - exactly as makeup should be.”

Reviewer: JJ

20 / 22

Sleek i-Lust Palette in Diamonds in the Rough, £7.99

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The promise: "Six rose gold, iridescent and champagne shades for a shimmering, sparkling eye."

We give it: 7/10

Review: “I took an instant liking to this palette because I wear shimmery, golden shades every day - plus I adore cream eyeshadows so I liked that this had a combination of powder and cream. The golden hues are where this budget palette really shines; it has a perfect combination of a yellow-gold, light rose gold, champagne-like gold and deeper rusty shade, as well as a pale and iridescent cream colour and a slightly warmer creamy gold. However, though the colours are spot on, I did find it lacking slightly when it came to application. The brush is very average, and though the powder shades have a rich pigment they also have quite a gritty texture, which means there’s more fallout. I found it far more effective, though, to apply them with a fingertip rather than the brush - it allowed for a far smoother finish. The cream shadows weren’t quite what I hoped - designed to layer on top of the powder, I found it looked a little too cakey; most frustrating though was that the texture meant my liquid eyeliner wouldn’t flow over the top (note to self, do not use a felt tip style next time). That said, if you choose either a powder or a cream finish and stick with one - bearing in mind the cream is not highly pigmented, more of an iridescent gloss - you’d definitely be happy with the result.”

Reviewer: JJ

21 / 22

Kat Von D Metal Matte Eyeshadow Palette, £50

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The promise: “22 to-die-for shades in two high-contrast finishes.”

We give it: 9/10

Review: “You’ll need to prepare for this palette to move into your life; it is HUGE. I felt like a borrower/ professional artiste when using it, and you’ll require decent sturdy brushes to get the most out of these shadows; tiddly, fiddly travel sizes ain’t gonna cut it. Basically, Metal Matte is massive, no matter which way you look at it, from intense pigmentation to shade range and versatility. Even pale, matte shades make an impact, and the metallic finishes are so fine that there’s no risk of glitterball imitations. Blending is speedy and easy, there’s very little powder fallout and I had not one crease to speak of at the end of the day. Nine metallic shades and 13 mattes mean that the array of looks on offer is mind-boggling, and the clever calligraphed case reads ‘metal’ one way and ‘matte’ when you look at it from upside down, which is just too cool.

"Things that are not so cool are the costliness and weightiness - good luck travelling with this shadow suitcase. Then again, eye wise it’s all you could ever possibly need, and it’s bound to be years before you get to the bottom of even a single shadow pan. You’re playing the long game with Von D, and the fact that every shade not only shows up on dark skintones, but looks frankly awesome, is something that should be standard across the beauty industry, but for shame, is not. Major kudos to Kat.”

Reviewer: AH

22 / 22

Tom Ford Eye Colour Quad in 20 Disco Dust, £64

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The promise: "Each Eye Colour Quad is designed with four opulent complementing shades that achieve multiple looks, from a bold, smokey eye, to a sexy slash of color and everything in between."

We give it: 10/10

Review: "Tom Ford have aced the Christmas eyeshadow palette game here. When looking for a palette at this time of year, I don't necessarily want the packaging to scream Christmas, I just want it to feel luxurious and it to be great quality. This palette is absolutely that in every way. The packaging is beautiful and the eyeshadow palette itself, well, is incredible too. It features four shades that are perfect for a neutral day look but also work incredibly well to smoke up for the evening. The shadows blend well together and last perfectly when used with an eyeshadow primer. I think I may have found a new favourite here... maybe this will be the end of my palette addiction?"

Reviewer: LP